Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thirteen Reasons I Haven’t Written Lately

thursday thirteen
  1. Thanksgiving preparation. It wasn’t like I had everyone here or anything. It was just the baking of the pie and the rolls to take to my Mom’s. I had all three kids that day, because Anakin didn’t have school.
  2. Thanksgiving Day. We had a great time with Mom and Dad, my sis and her husband, my daughter, husband, and 2 of the kids (the other was with his mother), my son and his wife, my nephew and his wife and 2 kids, my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law, and a niece and her husband who stopped by for awhile on their way to somewhere else for dinner. It was a smaller crowd than sometimes, but plenty of commotion and enjoyment – and food. But not many left-overs.
  3. Friday after Thanksgiving. We just took it easy and had a good time being off work.
  4. Saturday after Thanksgiving. DC put up the Christmas lights outside, because it was such a nice warm day. I can’t remember anything else, but I know I didn’t get on the computer much.
  5. Sunday. Church, Sunday School, Church. But the big thing for me was that I couldn’t eat anything after an early breakfast. I had to fast for the big procedure coming up on Monday morning at 10:30.
  6. I had to start taking the yucky bitter water mixture at 7:00 p.m. I am a real wuss at drinking stuff that doesn’t taste good. I didn’t do a very good job of it. I was up most of the night, netting about two hours of sleep.
  7. The Procedure! It was a piece of cake compared to the preparation. If you have to get a colonoscopy, there’s nothing to fear once you get to the medical facility. It’s that terrible prep time! (Update: I had a polyp that they removed - I was hoping for none).
  8. The Aftermath. I was awake and ready to leave at 1:30. My mom’s house has become “The Recovery Center” for the family. I slept on her couch most of the afternoon, and then she kindly fixed dinner for us.
  9. I crashed as soon as I got home, making up for the lost night before, and sleeping off the remnants of the anesthesia.
  10. Work. Yes, I had to go back on Tuesday morning. I had over 300 junk mails in the Junk Mail official folder, plus about 75 in my regular e-mail. Not to mention the real messages I had to answer, plus the phone messages, plus the snail mail (which I never got to).
  11. The Meeting. When I got to work, my calendar reminded me that I had a two-hour meeting. Since I only work 4 hours on Tuesday, that didn’t give me much time for the e-mail, voice mail, and snail mail. Not to mention that the meeting outlined all sorts of changes that are coming that affect me very directly. I think I’m ready to retire. Too many changes.
  12. Christmas. I’m finally getting in the mood and mode. Tuesday after I got off work and got Care Bear to preschool, Feisty and I did a bit of shopping. She’s fun to take shopping, because she doesn’t ask for everything she sees (yet). She’s content to look and hold and feel. I have been preparing a box to send to New Guinea to a missionary family that our church is taking care of for two years with gifts, messages, prayer, encouragement. It has been fun, but time consuming. The girls each picked out some of their stuffed animals to send to the 3 little girls so far away. I was also preparing a basket for one of my profs who is taking a new position at the end of this semester. We’ve been good friends and I’ll miss her. She stops by often for a piece of dark chocolate and a chat. I bought enough pieces of dark chocolate to last her the first semester of her new job – she’s allowed one each day and she has to think of me when she eats it.
  13. The Tree. I finally bit the bullet and got an artificial tree today. I have one already, which I decorate as my “designer tree.” But we’ve always had a real tree. I love the aroma when I walk in the door. I don’t love the complaining DC does every year as he struggles under the tree to get it standing straight and securely, or the fact that it never drinks any water, or that it sheds needles everywhere and is bone dry within a week. I’ll miss a real tree. But practicality has taken over. This will be the one with the hodge podge of memories on it. Anakin helped me put it together, I got the lights on in between crises, and I had more help than I can remember in decorating a tree since my kids were little. Total chaos, but lots of fun to watch them enjoying my collection of ornaments. We also need to make some gingerbread men and some sugar cookies. I also got my Christmas letter composed, and that feels really good. So – not much time for thinking and writing. But I have thought of all of you often. I hope to catch up soon!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Wordless Wednesday

Care Bear and Feisty
Having fun in the park after library time.

Christmas 06 001
Imaginary bronze friends
Christmas 06 002
Peeking through the "spaceship windows" - the tunnel between the steps and the slide.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thanks Giving With a Grateful Heart

First of all, I am thankful for all of you who have stopped by with words of encouragement and advice. I am taking it all seriously. I am also thankful that I was able to help "nudge" a couple of you to join me in getting back on track with something you're dealing with.

My "thanks" list is long, and I have decided to limit it to one topic: my very large family, immediate and extended.

  • DC - my sweet husband. We are celebrating our 34th Thanksgiving together - the first one being when we were engaged and getting married in about a month. He is kind, patient, handsome, loving, generous with his compliments and with special gifts. He didn't know what he was getting into when he married me! But he has gone with the flow in so many ways. We look forward to growing old together and all that entails. We have some good role models there.
  • Kristen - beautiful, smart, a born mommy who wishes she could be at home all the time, overcomer of anorexia and other huge challenges and working on others, growing in the Lord.
  • Mike, Kristen's husband - loving daddy, really great drummer in our new Praise Band at church (something I didn't know he could do so well), handsome, kind, learning about God's ways and His goodness.
  • Kevin - survivor. If Satan had his way, he would not be alive today. We are looking forward to our first really good Thanksgiving with him in several years. He is handsome, strong, smart, clean and sober, serving the God who saved his life. He is great with kids and I pray that he will be a daddy one day, when God knows it is right.
  • Angela - Kevin's wife - beautiful Kenyan young woman who has adapted to America amazingly, courageous and loyal in the face of great odds in her new marriage, organized, smart, excellent cook.
  • Care Bear - funny, brilliant, creative, artistic. She makes me laugh every day. She loves life. She has her "moments" - don't we all??
  • Feisty - she fits her blog name, but she is also petite, thoughtful, sweet, a perfectionist, a peacemaker. What would we do without Feisty?
  • Anakin - handsome with dark eyes and hair, very bright, very very active, artistic, sensitive to God, struggling with issues of torn loyalty.
  • Mom and Dad - great role models for a long and successful marriage (60 years), amazing parents who began so young and reared 5 children to love and serve the Lord, made living in the parsonage a privilege instead of a burden, still serving Him every day in their retirement.
  • Mom C - the dearest MIL one could ask for, living with the loss of her sweetheart after 65 years and doing amazingly well, a servant heart (which I wrote about in an earlier post), pastor's wife for many years, raised her eldest son to be my wonderful husband. Dad C is in heaven since September 30 and I know he is having a wonderful time meeting all of his heroes of the faith.
  • Siblings - my sis and I are only 11 months and two weeks apart in age - we are "twins" for two weeks every year and have enjoyed that all of our lives (except I always knew what I was going to get for my birthday, because everyone got us the same things), wonderful mother and grandma, teacher of ESL, generous, my best friend throughout our many moves as kids, and still today just 4 miles away and in the same church. Three great brothers who always hoped to outgrow me in height - they all did. They are all brilliant in their own fields - one in music, one in theology in England, and one in public relations. I could go on and on, but there is not room.
  • Five wonderful sisters-in-law, all talented in their own ways; three brothers-in-law who have special spots in my heart. Our two families have become one in so many ways - we have celebrated many holidays with a mixture of both sides that the lines of family are very blurred, which has been a very nice way to live.
  • Nieces and nephews - 17 of them and one in heaven - I don't see them enough, but they have all brought joy to my life. All but 6 of them are married and have adorable children, which leads me to --
  • 22 great (or grand) nieces and nephews, with another one on the way. I said 14 in my last post, but that was only my side of the family. We are blessed with the most beautiful babies!
  • My church family - what would I do without them? I have mentioned before that we were married, dedicated our children, saw our children married, and dedicated our grandchildren all in the same body of believers. (My dad actually built the sanctuary when he was the pastor here). We have been with this extended family through some very lean, tough times, and through some very wonderful times. They have stuck with us through our tough times and have literally prayed us through. We are so blessed.

Blessings on my new friends - all of you. You have added a dimension to my life that I never dreamed possible only 5 months ago.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Truth Hurts

I don't usually post on Saturday, and most don't comment on the week-end. If you don't get the drift of this post, please go to yesterday's and it will make more sense. Barb is finding blessings in difficult circumstances today. I thank Nancy for helping us learn to do that more. I'm thankful I didn't win Pea's contest! No, really. I am an avowed chocoholic, and after this morning, I definitely didn't need to have that beautiful package of chocolates arriving in my mailbox next week. The truth is: I bit the bullet and stepped on the probably-very-accurate scale at the gym this morning. The good news is that I went to the gym! I have been among the missing there for way too long. The second piece of good news is that I had the courage to walk over there, take off my shoes, and step on the scale. WAAAH!! I want my old scale back that blatantly lied to me every time I stepped on it! But, as Dr. Phil says, you can't fix what you don't acknowledge. So now I've acknowledged that my suspicion was correct (you know when your clothes aren't fitting!) - I weigh more than I ever have.

More good news/bad news?? I have a colonoscopy scheduled for the Monday after Thanksgiving. What timing!! I understand I can lose up to 10 pounds during this process. Hmmm. Maybe I can keep it off! Blessing??

God has such interesting ways of getting my attention. I chose a stationery bike in a different spot than normal this morning. Right in front of my face was a magazine rack. I always have my book with me, and intended to make a good dent in the last third of Warsaw Requiem this morning. But this Woman's Day magazine caught my eye - it was an old one from September. I read much of it, and then "borrowed" it to copy some of the articles. I'll take it back. I promise! I could not believe it - this magazine covered almost every subject of yesterday's post. It's not anything that I haven't heard or read in a woman's magazine a thousand times. But it was the timing - a nudge where I needed nudging. "Lose Weight Without Dieting," "Look Fabulous Over 50," "Got an hour? Change Your Life," "Clutter Control 101." Now I'm not on the clutter level of the young woman who was on Dr. Phil the other day (do you think I watch Dr. Phil too much?), but there are definite piles that I need to get to and sort and throw.

I thank all of you who took the time to care and give me ideas. I appreciate them all. I'm going to definitely take some time to list the tasks that need to be done, and then cross them off one by one. That is such a good feeling. I think what bothers me so much is that I used to be that energetic, organized, in control-of-my-life-and-schedule kind of person. I need her back!

My sweet DC has suggested that I take a week off of work and get a feeling of control back in my life. I love the idea, but I don't have vacation time coming from those little kiddoes - any suggestions for that problem??

One more blessing I must acknowledge - my niece, Karen, gave birth to her third child Thursday afternoon - my 14th grand (great?) niece/nephew, with one more on deck! He is adorable, as are all of these little kids - we need a new group picture!

I hope everyone has a super Saturday and a blessed Sunday. Talk to you later!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Fifteen

I know, I know. It's supposed to be Thursday Thirteen. But I'm always a day late and a dollar short these days. I just wanted to catch your attention! I really don't have fifteen things to say, at least I don't think I do. I haven't made a list.

Proverbs 17:22 in The Message says , "A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired." I've always thought of myself as a pretty cheerful person. But I'm bone tired.

One of the reasons I'm bone tired is that I have gained weight and, I believe, I weigh more than I ever have. I haven't weighed myself, because my scale gave up and I threw it away (Little Feisty helped it to its demise by stomping on it every morning, but I didn't care because it was so old and probably not even accurate). I just know that my clothes don't fit, my jowls are back, my feet hurt, my back aches, and I am in general really disgusted with myself. I refuse to have my wedding ring sized larger!

I am a "backslidden" Weight Watcher. I have guilt on top of weight, because I know EXACTLY what I need to do, I just am not doing it. And now - we're heading into the hugest eating frenzy of the year, starting this Sunday afternoon with our church's Thanksgiving dinner. YIKES!! What if I win Pea's chocolate contest??

It's a cycle - I don't feel like going to the gym, so I don't go, which makes me feel worse. And guilty, because I'm paying for the gym. I can't go for the walks I used to do, because of the ankle injury. I need the exercise even more now because of the osteopenia diagnosis.

I don't know if there is a connection, but I just don't have the energy to do all of the things on my "to do" list (well, I don't really have a list, because I haven't had the energy to write it all down and see what all needs to be done). The thought of Christmas shopping is daunting. Even the thought of dragging everything up from the basement to decorate sounds like too much. No, I'm not depressed. I just feel so lazy! Even DC is beginning to worry about my lack of get-up-and-go. It got up and went! I just don't know where.

I know this isn't funny, inspiring, educational, or any of the things I like to read on other blogs. It's just the way I feel today.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Update on Micah

I don't have time to post this morning, but I just came from Micah's site and just had to encourage everyone to either go here, or link from the button on the sidebar. Thank you to Looney Mom for making that for us. This will bless your day!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Random Ramblings #3

We serve a wonderful God. That goes without saying, but must be said at times. I am in awe of the prayer warriors I have met the past months out there in blogland. It has been a wonderful gift. My last post was filled with sad stories, which all seemed to bombard my senses at once. I know many of you prayed.

The pastor who used to be in Colorado, whom I have not seen since he left here years ago, is improving miraculously. I know it is because of prayer - yours and those of hundreds around the country whose lives he has blessed. This picture is proof of the miracle - he is already doing physical therapy. He is not a small man - the P.T. is 6 ft. 4 " tall!


Rachel, my DC's second cousin, came very close to death, from what we have heard. The blood thinning to prevent clots backfired, obviously. They did a second surgery to remove blood from her abdomen. Another answer to prayer - her count was a 4, needs to be 12, she's back to 11. What a mighty God we serve! We trust that this experience will guide her and her family into personal relationships with the God who saved her life.

DC is back up and running. The two antibiotic shots were powerful. When they ran the tests on the urine, they discovered the ecoli bacteria. Who would have ever thought?? I thank God that he went to the doctor as quickly as he did, and that they were able to treat him with something so powerful. He is on meds for another week or so. Thank you for praying for my husband.

I don't have a late update on Daryel, the young man in California. I don't know how the family of the 58 year old woman who died is coping. I trust God is speaking comfort to conviction to their hearts.

I have been listening to our Christmas cantata the last two mornings on the way to and from work. I have missed two practices, so have some catching up to do. The message is seeping into my spirit and blessing me. One of the songs states that Christmas is Hope. You often hear the phrase that where there is life, there is still hope. I read yesterday a different thought - where there is hope, there is life. Another of the songs is "Be Not Afraid." We certainly need that thought at this time in the history of our world.

Speaking of Christmas, I haven't begun any shopping yet. I really do not enjoy shopping at any time of the year. I tend to prefer shopping by catalog. Because of that, I am inundated at this time of year with any catalog (numerous versions of each) that I have ever ordered from. And many that I have not. At this moment, the floor of my little study is littered with open catalogs and those with dog-ears on numerous pages. I need to sit down and list everything that I'm interested in, along with cost, to see how far out of left field I have gone.

I am on the last book of the Zion Covenant series by Bodie Thoene, Warsaw Requiem. It is taking me longer than normal to finish this book. A paragraph particularly caught my attention and I cannot get away from it. The context is Samuel Orde leaving Israel, against his will, to return to England. His days as a British soldier are over. He reflects, "I do not understand, and yet I trust in you, Lord. . . Tonight . . . for the first time he understood that the biggest battle was not fought against Muslim terrorists on the slopes of Zion, but against the doubt and despair that threatened to destroy true faith in God's love. . . . Orde bowed his head and said, 'Not my will, but yours be done." And I say Amen!

Kev is going to school as a guest student right now, and will be a regular admitted student in January. He has had some difficulty with his transfer credits from other schools, one of which was in Africa. He learned that he was going to have to take a prerequisite before he could even take an English comp class. More time and money to be spent on low level courses. Yesterday we looked at the web site for this African university. My word, have they come into the technological world since he and Angie were there! They had every course description on line. I printed it off, he went over to the English department, and they not only erased the need of a prerequisite, but took the African course as the comp class he needed. Transfer Evaluation had counted it as literature without even asking. Go figure! Praise the Lord for a small miracle. He has struggled with math this semester - has never "gotten" math! He was so happy yesterday that he aced his last test. There's hope for a decent semester grade now! I'd sure hate to see him ruin the 3.75 he came in with this year because of a 100 level math class! God is good.

I was a bit behind in my reading of My Utmost for His Highest, but got caught up this morning. I hate to miss any of Oswald Chambers' thoughts. This one about Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac really struck me: "Abraham did not choose the sacrifice. Always guard against self-chosen service for God; self-sacrifice may be a disease. If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; if He has made it bitter, drink it in communion with Him. If the providential order of God for you is a hard time of difficulty, go through with it, but never choose the scene of your martyrdom. God chose the crucible for Abraham, and Abraham made no demur; he went steadily through. If you are not living in touch with Him, it is easy to pass a crude verdict on God. You must go through the crucible before you have any right to pronounce a verdict, because in the crucible you learn to know God better. God is working for His highest ends until His purpose and man's purpose become one."

On a lighter note, and to get my day off to a good start, I have to give you some quotable quotes from Care Bear and Feisty. I have a great one from Anakin, but forgot write it down and it hasn't resurfaced on my brain yet. Hopefully it will.

Last night Feisty was having a really rough time with her mommy and daddy being gone to Praise Band practice. The other night she said, "I don't like Praise Band!" She picked up an armload of things that belonged to them and headed for the door, "going home." To get her mind off her troubles, I snuck her out of the house without Care Bear knowing that we were going to her favorite Walgreen's. Feisty and I cruised the aisles of Walgreen's looking for the bargains that I had seen in the paper. I couldn't find most of them, but we had a great time looking at all of the Christmas stuff and all the stuff in general. She wanted everything she saw, but she's much easier to distract than her big sister. She saw a huge Dora doll on a high shelf and of course wanted to hold it. I told her it was too high to get down. She said, "We could get a ladder!" Of course, what logic! The rest of the time she was making up a song about getting a ladder. So cute.
Care Bear: "Grandma, when are you going to have kids?"
Me: "I did have kids, Care Bear. Your mommy was my kid and Uncle Kevin was my kid. Now your mommy had you, so you are my grandkid."
CB: "But when are you going to have little kids?"
Me: "I can't have any more little kids, because I'm too old. That's why I have you now to have fun with."
CB: "But, Grandma, you have fun at work with big people, too!"

Hmm. How does she know that?

Care Bear and Feisty had a sleep-over with us Friday night. Early Saturday morning we were snuggling in bed, face to face.
CB: "Grandma, did you sleep with your mouth open?"
Me: "I don't know, CB, because I was asleep! Why?"
CB: "Because your breath smells bad - we need to go brush our teeth."
From the mouths of babes!

Last summer, as you may recall, we took a road trip in our minivan with CB, Feisty, Anakin, Kristen, DC, and me (their daddy couldn't off work) for a family reunion 800 miles away. To say the least, the van was packed to the gills. CB is thinking ahead:

CB: "Next year I think we should go to North Dakota for vacation."
Me: "Why North Dakota?"
CB: "Because I've never been there and I want to look around."
Me: "Any other reasons?"
CB: "Well, I want to visit Grandma P. I've never seen her house and I want to see what it looks like. But we should fly!"

Smart kids!

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Strong in the Strength of Someone Else

Strong in the strength of someone else,
Trusting a hand that never has failed;
Living a life of spiritual wealth,
Strong in the strength of someone else.

Daniel was thrown in the den of the lions,
Incredible odds said he could not win;
But He found a strength that was stronger than the lion's
It was making a church out of the lion's den.

David stepped out to battle Goliath,
Incredible odds said he could not win;
But he found the strength that was stronger than the giant,
With a sling and a stone, David's battle was won.

Strong in the strength of someone else,
Trusting a hand that never has failed;
Living a life of spiritual wealth,
Strong in the strength of someone else.

I live in a world that's filled with evil,
Incredible odds say I cannot win;
But I found a strength that is strong like a mountain,
Flowing through me from my Father's right hand.
In sickness, in health, I'm strong in the strength.
For richer or poorer, I'm strong in the strength.
Death cannot part us for I'm strong in the strength!

Strong in the strength of someone else,
Trusting a hand that never has failed;
Living a life of spiritual wealth,
Strong in the strength of someone else.
Strong in the strength OF. THE. LORD!!!

(Words and music by Roger Bennett)

This song has been running around in my head all week. I don't remember ever having a week or ten days that have been as full of sad news to think about and pray about.

A little more than a week ago, the news broke here in Colorado, and I'm sure elsewhere, of the moral failure of the pastor of the largest church in the state - Ted Haggard. He was also the president of the National Association of Evangelicals. It rocked us to the core. He admitted his guilt and resigned his church, but not before the other party broke it to the newspapers.

We began getting e-mails from the children of a pastor who used to be here in Colorado - one of my favorite people I've known. He was in serious condition with a heart attack. Prayers were going to heaven from all over the country as his children kept us apprised of his condition. His spirit was in tune with his Lord - though his family had to tell him several times a day why he was where he was and what had happened, he was able to quote scripture and his sense of humor was intact.

A young man (46) whom I've known since he was a teen had two heart attacks in that many weeks - has had 3 stints put in. He is a nurse and recognized the symptoms as they began, so was able to be cared for quickly. But he is discouraged and needs our prayers.

My husband's young second cousin (age 21, I think), developed blood clots while visiting in Italy. She was pregnant as well. This week they took the baby early because of the clotting. The blood thinners created other problems and she has had at least two surgeries since the birth of the baby (who is doing fine). She is not doing well at all.

One of our adjunct professors called in Monday morning saying that he was taking his wife (age 58) to the hospital. She'd been throwing up from what they thought was food poisoning and that morning had fallen as she got out of bed. She was immediately taken to surgery with a massive heart attack. Thursday she passed away. Such a shock! So sad. The only acknowledgement they ever made of God was in the form of "slang" at some point in every few sentences.

DC mentioned the other night that he wasn't feeling so hot. I didn't think too much of it, because there's a lot of stuff going around here. The next afternoon around 5:00 I got a call from a doctor I'd never heard of saying DC was in the office being treated for a severe bladder infection. I've never seen this man so sick as he was when he got home - he should never have driven himself home, but he did. He was shivering so violently that I could hardly help him get in bed. The strong antibiotic that they shot him with took hold quickly, and he returned for another one the next day. When the results of the urine test came back, we were shocked to learn that the bacteria causing the trouble was ecoli! We're trusting that the oral antibiotic he is taking will get rid of that disgusting and scary problem.

I myself went in for a bone density scan. Five years ago I was borderline and now I'm .1 point away from osteoporosis - it's called osteopenia. I exercise, I take calcium, but I guess I have to do more. I really don't want to join Sally Field and the Boniva gang.

Then of course there's little Micah, whose button I have on my sidebar - his family is updating every Sunday. What a sweet little face he has! My grandkids are praying for Micah.

And then there's Amy Wilhoite who is struggling with a bone marrow transplant after months of chemotherapy. I ache for her husband and her little baby boy. But what a wonderful example of grace and faith under pressure she has been.

All of this has been on my mind and heart this week and I've been singing the song above. I also have found the following scriptures that really comforted me.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Psalm 121:1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 9:9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Isaiah 40:28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

I John 5:4 For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

Have a blessed Lord's Day!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

On Being Grandma Dawn

I have a split personality. I am "Mother Dawn" half of the week, aiding MSW applicants and students through the graduate school process (which can be quite tedious and unfriendly). I become very attached to these students, as I have mentioned in the past.

The other half of the week I am "Grandma Dawn" for Anakin, Care Bear, and Feisty (as they are blog-named by Kristen in Throw in "mom" to two grown children and their spouses, and it's no wonder.

Kristen and I split job time when Feisty was born. She had already been working half-time in her job at our university since Care Bear was born and Anakin went to kindergarten. When Feisty was born, the cost of day care was absolutely prohibitive. I needed a change in my job as well, since I had lost my beloved boss to retirement. Several things led up to the need for a change. I decided to offer Kristen my services as caregiver the other half of the week. I proposed the change to my boss and I believe she was as eager for a change as I was. I kept the part of my job that I loved and was really good at and eliminated the other. Can't get much better than that, eh?

I've explained the "Grandma Dawn" moniker previously - it began when Anakin entered my life at age two as Kristen's stepson. He eased us into the grandparenting life a little bit at a time. When he was 4, Care Bear was born, and 20 months later, Feisty entered the mix.

Silly me - I thought if I stayed home half time, I might actually get something done while I was caring for the kiddoes. Silly me!!! They are a full-time job and I go to work to rest up! I truly get it that God planned on children being born to young women for a definite reason. But - I do have much more patience with them than I had with my own - spilled milk on the floor just doesn't bring the reaction it did for poor Kev, who spilled almost every meal.

I love these children with every fiber of my being. They make me laugh. They keep me on my toes. Anakin is ADD, so presents patience challenges every day. He is so very smart, but has so much trouble focusing and remembering his lunch box, homework, coat, backpack, on and on and on. But when he comes up with an observation that just zings me, I tend to forget those other things. For instance, the other day we were on our way to school when he noticed the sun was not shining here in Colorado, as it usually is. He said, "Grandma, look, the sun is hiding behind that big cloud up there. But it's starting to come out a bit more. It's like God's holy spirit shining down on us." I love it!

His biological mother has been picking him up on Saturdays, so he's missed church and dinner with us every Sunday for weeks. She has had a change of schedule recently, so he has been to church and SS the last two weeks. He has a fabulous singing voice and they really need him in the Christmas musical. Two weeks ago, he came in my house, plopped the CD into the player, sat on the couch, and proceeded to sing every song, right on tune, after the first time he'd been to rehearsal. I hope this new schedule continues so he can sing in the performance - and that his mother will come to see him presenting the story of Christmas. He has to dress up as some sort of toy, so that is presenting a bit of a problem. I suggested Woody from Toy Story, but he wasn't interested. Any good ideas? Keep in mind that Kristen and I are both costume-challenged.

Then there's Care Bear. Oh, my goodness, what an amazing little person she is. She chatters and sings non-stop all day long (except when she's in a program where she's supposed to sing - then she totally clams up)! But she has such an understanding of life and the way things work. She uses words that I can't believe she knows, and she uses them in the right context.

Yesterday we were driving down the road. Feisty (age 2) noticed that I did not have my seat belt on yet and called me on it. I said, "Oh, no, bad Grandma!" Care Bear piped up, "You're not bad, Grandma." I replied, "No, not bad, just forgetful." She said, "Yes, Grandpa P. is forgetful, too. He forgot his coat at our house." For much of the afternoon she was singing a made-up song about "surfing the web." What in the world does she know about surfing the web??

Feisty is living up to her name, big time. We thought at first that she'd be the calm, submissive third child. Uh-uh! She can hold up her end of the sibling rivalry just fine, thank you very much! But what a doll. She also sings in the car - they have 4 Christian children's cd's in my player in my mini van (which I bought to transport them, because it's so much easier on this grandma's back!) We have discussions every day about which cd is playing when - they each have their favorites. And they have their favorite songs on each cd, and I have to keep those track numbers in my head - for instance, Care Bear wants to start at the beginning of her favorite one every time, and Feisty wants to go to #20 - Who Did Swallow Jonah (whale did, whale did. . . Jonah wasn't an airy bubble, caused great pain to Jonah - hilarious!) So it goes on and on. I was actually singing that sing in my head during the night recently - couldn't sleep! Yesterday as we were walking to the park in the double stroller, Feisty was making up a song, "We're going to Grandma's park." Precious.

Well, that's a day in my life - it starts when I go 3 doors down to Kristen's house so she can head for work. Then we wrestle with getting Anakin ready for school and there by 8:10 (so he can play a few minutes on the playground before the bell); then home for breakfast, frequently baths and unwanted hair-washing, reading books, maybe watching a video from the library.

Every other Friday we go to the library and stock up on books and videos. The original intent was to go to story time, but Care Bear prefers to just do the art project while the story lady is reading the stories and doing finger plays. So sometimes we skip story time and just go get books and videos. On the way home, without fail (because I did it once and now it's "routine") they begin to beg to go to Kamp C (KFC - but it's too cute to correct, since it's one of the very few things she still says incorrectly). They each have a bowl of mac and cheese and split a caffeine-free soda. Because we went to the Dairy Queen one time after mac and cheese, they want that to also be part of the routine. Sometimes I give in.

They are little creatures of habit. They are gorgeous. They are fun. They are exhausting! I am blessed. And I want to believe that they are, too, to have Grandma Dawn in their lives so much of the time.

standing in matching outfits
anthony playing with spaceship

Monday, November 06, 2006

I'm Losin' It!!

What am I losing, you ask? Well, anything that's not tied down, it feels like. My mind, perhaps?? Friday I reached for the pocket in my purse where I keep my sunglasses - the first pair of really good sunglasses I've ever sprung for. What in the world made me think that I could hang onto an expensive pair of prescription lineless bifocal sunglasses, when I can't keep a pair of $10 Target ones?? I took a chance and really loved having such a nice pair of sunglasses. But, alas, they were not in the pocket where they belonged Friday morning. I wracked my brain for my last memory of having them in my hand. I was certain I had them when I came back to my office from lunch on Thursday.

I e-mailed my co-worker, asking her to hunt in my office, to put my mind at ease. No luck. They weren't anywhere to be found in my office. I fretted all week-end.

In the meantime, I went to the grocery store on Saturday, as is my custom. I'm a list-making, menu-planning kind of shopper. I have had this little rectangular Tupperware box for I can't remember how many years, in which I keep my coupons. Two of those coupons were worth $20 this week. I had also bought a birthday card for my aunt, had bought two garbage stickers (we have to put stickers on our garbage bags - long story!), my menus for the last year at least, and my little grocery list notebook, which contains a calculator on which I keep track of how much over my budget I am going.

I no longer have this little box - I feel lost without it! I have checked back with the store twice. I remember having it in my hand at the store. Where in the world could it be??

Some good news finally - I went to work this morning, praying that I would find my sunglasses. Sure enough, they were way under my desk. I keep my purse under there and when I went to put my sunglasses back in the appropriate pocket, I guess I missed! Thank you, Lord.

Now, if only I could lost these extra pounds so easily! And never find them again.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Journal of a Cruise

DC and I haven't taken many luxurious trips. We have had lots of fun vacations with the kids, including a trip to England to visit my brother and his family when they were 11 and 13. We celebrated our 25th anniversary on the Big Island of Hawaii and are hoping and saving to go back there for our 35th, next December. We had been going through a lot of stressful "stuff" for several years and decided we needed a BIG get-away. To my surprise, he arranged this trip to the Caribbean and told me about it when everything was ready - only two weeks ahead of time.

It was February 2005, so almost two years already. We flew to Fort Lauderdale, where we stayed in a really yucky 6 Motel. It was all that was available at that late date! But it was only a few hours, so it was okay.

The ship was absolutely gorgeous - a two-year-old vessel with an Italian company called Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC Opera was our ship). There was brass and glass and mirrors everywhere, and diligent young men keeping everything beautifully polished. Every announcement was made in 5 languages. The food was amazing. The evening entertainment was so much fun. One day DC got to spend the afternoon with a bunch of old pro baseball players who were on board to give baseball tips and tell their old stories. Of course, I had plenty of books with me.

All of the pictures of our room are paper pictures, and not having a scanner, I am left with the digital ones. I posted several of them yesterday.

If you want to be treated like royalty, check out a cruise. We met people who had been on so many. I'm not sure we'll do it often, but it was certainly a treat. I had prayed that we would have cordial dining companions, and the Lord answered that prayer so beautifully. We were placed with two other couples. When we bowed our heads to pray for our first dinner, we found out that they were Christians. What a blessing! We were able to pray before every meal, taking turns. One of the guys was a former pastor who was now a chaplain in a hospital. His wife was a psychologist. The other couple were hard working folks from Atlanta. It turned out that all of us had been going through some similar stuff with our families. Isn't God amazing?!

We looked forward to dinner every evening, not even for the food as much as for the fellowship. Every night we'd come armed with stories of our day off the ship, or a subject to discuss. We laughed so much that our waiter, a young man from Indonesia, told us the crew called us "The Happy Table." Since we prayed for every meal, he asked us one night, "You pray for me, too?" We assured him that we would.

The morning and noon meals were served cafeteria style on deck. As you've always heard, there's WAY too much food and it's really good! I tried so hard to eat sensibly (at least we never went to the midnight buffet!), but am still trying to get off the weight I gained that week. Unfortunately, we didn't discover the work-out room with the view until the last day. We sat in the same area every meal so that we could be served by this other great young man, who was from an island off of Africa, the name of which I cannot remember (I have misplaced my journal with all of these details). His English was not as good as the Indonesian waiter, but we became acquainted and enjoyed him so much. All of these young men are from very poor countries and are away from their families for 10 months of the year as they send home most of their earnings. We were privileged to see pictures of their children, whom they miss terribly. The watermelon carvings were amazing!
We were at sea for two days before we entered our first port - San Juan, Puerto Rico. We didn't get into the city until it was dark, which was a bit intimidating. It was such a short stop and we didn't see much, and almost wished we'd just stayed on board. The next stop was St. Thomas. It's a beautiful island, but very popular with cruise ships - there were 5 docked there that day, so we were among many tourists shopping. We picked up some t-shirts and a gold chain for me - their claim to fame is gold jewelry. We did hit a beach for a couple of hours that afternoon. The beach picture on yesterday's post was on St. Thomas.
The next stop was St. Croix. This was my favorite spot of all the ports of call. It is small island that has not become so famous to cruise ships. In fact, an old man on the street told us to go home and tell our travel agents to try to get more ships to stop there. We told him that would ruin St. Croix! We spent the morning in town, then went on a tour of an old Dutch plantation which grew sugar cane in its day. It is now a museum, and that was an enjoyable visit. The flower and fauna pictures on yesterday's post were from there. Here's one more. The beautiful beach picture yesterday was taken at St. Croix. Here are a couple more taken there.
The final stop was Nassau, Bahamas. It was the only cold, drizzly day. It is famous as a place where Oprah, Michael Jackson, and other "stars" like to spend their time. They can have it. Give me St. Croix or Kona, Hawaii any day!
The time spent between stops was so relaxing and enjoyable. We often sat on the deck and watched the wake as we read or snoozed (second picture on yesterday's post). You could, of course, sun on the deck by the pool, which I avoided because it was too crowded and because I don't swim. I preferred to find spots not too many people had found.
If you didn't get enough to eat at breakfast or lunch, and just couldn't wait until dinner (hah!), you could go to an afternoon tea. It was so lovely the one day we went - talented musicians strolling around the deck as you could consume thousands more calories on gorgeous pastries.
Before dinner and sometimes after, as we waited for the evening show in the ship's theater, we would gather in one of the waiting areas to listen to a wonderful Rumanian trio. There were all sorts of choices of musical style to choose from, but we couldn't tear ourselves away from this group. The electronic violin and electronic keyboard were played so beautifully while the contralto sang wonderful old songs, my favorites such as Moon River. Her accent was delightful and her voice was luscious.
All told, it was a wonderful week. We'd like to try another one someday, maybe to Alaska.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wordless Wednesday

Pleasant memories from a Caribbean cruise - will write about it later.