Friday, March 30, 2012

My Beautiful Girl

I mentioned in an earlier post that we couldn't afford to buy my daughter's senior portraits this year. It broke my heart, and I think my daughter was more disappointed than she said.

Yesterday though, a close friend of my daughter took a bunch of gorgeous pics with her own camera. They turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself!

Isn't she pretty?

What's even better than her outside prettiness is her inner beauty. She wants to change the world, possibly as a medical missionary. She has such a merciful and tender heart to those less fortunate than her. Whenever any of her friends try to describe her, the only word they have for her is "sweet." I agree.

I'm so proud to be her Mama.

From Bummer to Atta Boy

Honey has started looking for jobs. He is on track to graduate in December, so he is setting his feelers out to see what's available.

He's wanted to work for a railroad. But he's gotten rejected for several management trainee positions he's applied for. He really had his hopes for a Union Pacific position that he was completely qualified for, but he got his rejection e-mail on Thursday.

He was pretty disappointed about it. He kept looking back at the original job posting to see if there was anything he missed. I could see his whole mood was deflated.

I've prayed several times that Honey wouldn't chase dead ends when it comes to jobs after graduation. He is a very single-minded man, and once he has his eyes on a certain goal, it's very hard for him to let go. I have prayed that wouldn't happen. My desire for Honey is that whatever He wants would be the path the Lord wants him to take.

My answer to Honey after this most recent rejection was, "Well, you need to decide if working for a railroad is what the Lord wants for you to do. You can keep applying to see if the right railroad job is still to be found, or start applying for other jobs in different industries. Maybe after you get a couple years' other experience, you can apply for the railroad again."

He was still pretty down when he went to school that evening. But when he came home, he had a huge smile on his face. It seems that another professor walked into his class and announced to everyone that Honey had been accepted to the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society. Only the top 10% of business students are accepted!

After receiving such an honor, Honey's feeling better about the right job coming at the right time. I hope to get some good pictures of his induction ceremony later next month!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nooooo! PLEASE!! Not Yet!!

I have a sinking suspicion my 3 year old may be giving up his naps. Oh, I am so not ready for that!

He's had a hard time falling asleep lately during naptime. On the days he can't fall asleep, I'll let him read books quietly in his bed.

The trouble is, when he doesn't take his nap, he is super cranky in the evening. So I know his body still needs a rest. As I type this, though, he's been in bed for over an hour, but he's still wide awake.

I may have to start letting him "think" he doesn't have to take a nap anymore. I may plug in the good old Baby Einstein collection of DVDs while he lies down on the sofa. He usually does fall asleep if he doesn't think he's "required" to take a nap.

I know the day is eventually coming when my precious "quiet time" disappears each afternoon. My daughter gave up her naps at age three too, unless she was coming down with a sickness. I always knew she was getting sick if she took an afternoon nap. But I am soooooooo not ready for my three-year old boy to be nap free yet!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Garden Update

Here is my garden as seen from my back door.

I mentioned to Honey that I thought a green bean tepee would be fun for the boys. Wow, did he ever give them one to be proud of!

I planted many, MANY more green beans than I'd intended because of this massive structure. (I can stand up completely inside of it and turn around with ease.) Honey covered the tepee with jute twine for vine supports. So I went seed crazy and planted more than 60 pole beans around that bad boy! All but a few of the seeds have sprouted. (Can we say "freezing and canning time"?)

Honey made somewhat of a frame around the tepee for me to plant corn (extra shade for the boys in the summer heat), so I planted 44 corn seeds. They haven't sprouted yet, but I only planted them last Thursday.

In the front part of the garden I've got 8 cucumber seedlings, with room for a few more. I'm also hoping to get some cantalope going soon. Both the cukes and melons will be on the trellis (you can see half of it on the left side of the photo.)

In front of the trellis, I planted lettuce and spinach. Hopefully the cukes will grow quickly to provide them some shade (the view of the photo is facing south, so the lettuce and spinach are on the north side of the trellis.) Last year I didn't get any spinach or lettuce, because it all bolted too soon! Hopefully the shade this year will help it a bit. I told Honey that I want to put some lettuce in pots, and place them on the east side of the shed (not in the picture, but to the left if you kept on looking). That spot gets good afternoon shade, so we'll see if I have success there.

You can only see two large pots in front of the garden, but I actually have three. They've got tomato sprouts in them. I seem to have the best success with the Better Boy hybrid tomatoes, so that's what I'm sticking with. I might buy some tomato seedlings and put them directly into the ground if I have extra space, but right now there's just the three little plants.

I've got radish and carrot sprouts. Still waiting for the beets and scallions to poke through. In seed pots I've started broccoli, watermelon, collards, zucchini, marigolds, and miniature sunflowers. I've already transplanted the yellow squash I planted earlier. I also want to get some spaghetti squash started soon.

I've never had good success with peppers started from seed. So today I bought 8 bell pepper plants and transplanted them in. I only paid $1.77 for them, so I figure it'll still be a savings if I get a decent harvest from them.

I bought 6 more asparagus crowns today. I'll try to get them in with my one surviving crown soon. I planted three crowns last year, but it seems only one has lived.

Behind the shed my blueberry bushes have just started setting fruit. I bought some bird netting today, in the hopes that I'll actually get to eat some berries for myself this year!

My fig tree has 8 little baby fig-lets near the leaf buds. It's still a baby tree, we planted it as a small sapling last year.

My wish list for next year, if we stay in this house, includes an apricot tree, a pear tree, a pomegranate bush, and a grape vine. I'd also like to get a strawberry patch started behind the shed. I'd really like to get more perennial types of fruits and veggies going.

A few months ago, Shawn from Eclectic Edibles and I had a conversation regarding my garden. I told her that I'd only plant a few things, nothing really to 'write home' about. Ha!!! Little did I know...

It got so warm so early this year. Based on all the long-range forecasts I've found, we don't expect any more frost this year. So I've been really planting on faith that we'll have good weather from now on. We don't usually get our last frost until almost mid-April, so this is definitely some weird gardening weather!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Smell of Dirt and Other Stuff

I love the smell of fresh dirt. Is that weird? Today I opened up a bag of potting soil, and sniffed (and sniffed over and over again) that earthy aroma. Oh, how I love it! I think of forests, gardens, fruits and veggies, and pretty flowers.

I also like the smell of freshly mown grass. I enjoy sitting outside with a glass of iced tea right after Honey has cut the lawn in the backyard.

But I also like a few other things that Honey thinks are downright gross. For instance, I LOVE the smell of a new shower curtain. Whenever I buy a new one, I just shove my face into it and inhale as deeply as I can. But I try to wash and reuse our shower curtains until they are worn out, so I don't get to buy new ones very often. New plastic baby dolls used to have that same plastic-y smell. (It's been so long since I bought a doll, though. Do they still smell that way?) I've never known anyone else who would admit they like that odor. Everyone looks at me with an "are you crazy?" face when I tell them.

I also love the smell of a wet sidewalk. I don't even know how it can make a smell, but I enjoy going outside after a short rain to smell the wet roads.

I also like the smell of water rides at amusement parks. If you've ever been on the Pirates of the Carribean ride at Disneyland, you know exactly what that smell is like. I think it's great!

Please, somebody tell me that you like "weird" smells too. The smell of magic markers, new carpet, and fresh paint are also enjoyable to me. Do you like any unusual odors?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

When the Internet Can Save You Money

My oven stopped working last night. Right in the middle of baking pizzas for supper, too. My broiler still worked, so I would run the broiler until my store-bought oven thermometer read 400 degrees F, then I'd turn off the broiler and let the pizzas bake until they were at least edible. The cheese was melted, but the crust was too soft. Not the tastiest pizzas I ever made.

The whole time I was struggling to get dinner made, my mind was racing. How in the world are we going to afford a new oven? I bet a repairman is gonna rip us off. Why does it seem like everything breaks down all at once around here? Why can't my kids stop screaming for dinner when I'm doing the best I can?

I'll be honest, I wasn't in the best mood last night.

Honey was at school, too, happy as a clam having intellectual conversation and having tons of fun, too. I was sooooooo jealous. He was probably having a grand old time, completely oblivious to the fact that my whole house was falling down around me! (Okay, that's kind of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.)

So once I got my boys fed, I sat down at the Internet and did a search on "oven doesn't come up to the right temperature". This is the article I found:

That sounded like a fixable problem. Based on what the article told me, I thought it was the heating element. Based on the costs I found on the Internet, it looked like a $20 to $50 fix.

So today, Honey took out the old heating element and went to the nearest Lowe's Store. But they didn't sell them. At least the appliance guy there recommened a smaller locally owned appliance store. So Honey went there. And wouldn't ya know, they didn't sell oven elements either. But at least they were nice enough to send Honey to an appliance parts store that we didn't even know existed.

Long story longer, the parts store sold our oven element for $60. So back home to see if it fixed the oven. Yay, it did!! My oven works again! Honey saved the day!

What would I have done before the Internet? I would have spent a LOT more money trying to get a repairman out here.

So to the eHow contributor that taught me how to fix my electric oven: You are AWESOME!! I would totally sing your praises at the foot of your article, but I don't have Facebook (weird, I know) so I can't comment.

Oh, by the way: don't ever try to fix your oven unless you're also willing to undertake a major cleaning job once you pull it away from the wall. (That was seriously nasty, just sayin'.)

Monday, March 19, 2012

That's one theory

This morning my son told me:

"Mommy, in the day, when the clouds are out, they come crashing down. That's rain. At night, the clouds go back up high into the sky so we can see the stars and go night-night."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

When a $30 teeth cleaning isn't a bargain for me

My daughter got her teeth cleaned today by our regular dentist's hygienist. She also had her annual check-up. We've used this particular dentist for many years, and he's a really great doctor. All his hygienists are great, too. In fact, one of the dental assistants is our pastor's sister.

When Honey retired from the military and we lost our dental insurance, we decided to bite the bullet (no pun intended) and pay cash get our teeth cleaned and examined once a year. No fancy panorex x-rays, no sealants, just the bare essentials for now. We're praying that we don't have any major dental work that needs to get done before Honey graduates and finds a job that offers dental coverage.

I paid $111 for my daughter's cleaning. Okay, I can handle that. It took some budgeting, but we can manage it, Praise the Lord.

When we got home from the dentist, I started wondering if our local tech school that offers dental hygiene certification would clean our teeth for free or cheap.

I called and spoke to the dental hygiene department. The receptionist told me that the school does clean teeth, but we'd have to wait until the fall semester. All the appointments for this semester were filled, apparently.

Okay, I could wait. I need to get my teeth cleaned, but it's not a big job (yet). Most hygienists compliment me on my good oral hygiene. (Not bragging about it, though. I got a major tongue-lashing when I cracked a tooth from eating ice.)

The receptionist then told me that the tech-school cleanings were only $30. Wow, that would be awesome!

But then...the deal breaker. She told me that the cleanings take place over 2 to 4 appointments, and each appointment lasts 2 to 3 HOURS!!

So, for $30 I could get my teeth cleaned, but it could potentially take 12 hours to get done?

Uhmmmm. No thanks. I don't have time for that. I'll just pay the $111 to my own dentist's hygienist and be done in less than one hour.

What do you think? Do you pay more for certain services in order to save time? Or do you always pay less, without time considerations?

Daughter's First Day of Work

My daughter thinks she'll like her job. Last night was her first night, and she's already in charge of the salad bar and handing out the kids' small arcade prizes (kind of like Chuck E. Cheese, but a smaller business). She got to talk to the customers and play with the kids. She walked throughout the dining room carrying pizza, asking the diners if they'd like to try it. She also offered them drink refills.

She works again tomorrow. I think she's excited. She's not bored, but the work isn't complicated (yet).

Monday, March 12, 2012

Yay! Praise the Lord!

Thanks for your prayers about my daughter's interview. She got the job! She starts on Wednesday!

Expanding Garden Plans

I told Honey I just wanted a very small garden this year (maybe just some lettuce and bush beans). I did, however, want to make a green bean tepee for the boys. I wanted to plant some corn around the perimeter of it to make some shade, too.

Oh my, did the garden plan expand, and expand, and expand! Honey chopped down six trees on his Spring Break last week, and he outlined a big garden area for me. I wasn't expecting he'd make the garden plot nearly as big as he did! Now I will be growing corn, zucchini, pole beans, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, beets, radishes, scallions, collard greens, broccoli, watermelon, yellow squash, bell peppers, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, and carrots. I'll have marigolds scattered throughout the garden space. I shouldn't have to preserve much of the harvest, because hopefully we'll eat it as it ripens.

At one end of the garden, Honey left my asparagus bed from last year. I've got one stalk already coming up!

Our blueberry bushes have blossoms on them already, and my fig tree is putting out new leaf buds.

So far I've spent less than $4 on the garden, on potting soil for starting seeds. We got rid of our redneck truck-topper style compost bin we inherited from the previous homeowners, and I want to set up a better three-bin system. But as of right now, we don't have any compost this year to start seeds. My seeds have been stored in the freezer, but they're all about three to five years old, so I might have to plant more than I hoped in order to get the amount of plants I want. But this year, cheap frugal is the theme I'm going for. I will need to buy some netting to keep the birds away from the blueberry bushes, but that will hopefully be all.

My hopes are that 1) the summer will not get too hot too quickly. Last year my spinach bolted before I got any of it. 2) the cat, dog, and children will stay out of the garden. 3) we'll get some really good harvests to help control our burgeoning grocery budget.

Do your garden plans explode out of control, too?

Say a Little Prayer

My daughter has a second interview this afternoon at a local pizza place. Please pray that if this is the job the Lord wants her to have, she'll get it.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mommy Caves, or, Did I Do Enough?

A friend of mine who is a stay-at-home mom recently posted on her blog that she feels like she is not doing enough. This amazing woman has three biological children of her own, five internationally adopted children, and is working another adoption. Yep, she's working on her 9th kid. (Can we all say a collective "Wow!") I admire this gal so much!

Recently though, she confessed that she worries if, when she sees God face to face, she'll feel like she had done enough on this earth. She had a good nursing career before she became a full-time Mom, and she feels torn between keeping her nursing skills current while still maintaining her house and home.

I'm sure many moms feel the same way. We want it all, don't we?

I had a career before I had kids, too. Honey and I decided that I should stay at home with my daughter when she was born, though. Then I gradually went back to work as a substitute teacher, working only when she was in school. Later, when she started high school, I was a paralegal for a bankruptcy attorney who was also an elected official. He was active with the school board and state- and local-level politics. I've discussed issues with the local head of the Republican National Committee! I wrote campaign letters for our City Councillors!

I had a great job, but I knew in my heart that I needed to stay home again with my son when he was born. A few months ago, my old boss asked if I'd want to come back to work for him. I'll be honest: I really thought about it. We could have really used the extra money, and I would have been able to work my schedule around Honey's to avoid putting the boys in day care. But in the end, I decided that staying home with my two littlest ones was the smart thing to do.

Sometimes I miss my "old life." On some days, I feel like I'm in a dark little Mommy Cave, while the outside world just keeps moving along without me. Somedays the only adult conversation I have is with my Honey. My house and backyard is the extent of my world.

Other days, I realize what an important job I have. I am raising the next generation! I am preparing other human beings to be productive members of society! We've decided to homeschool our sons through at least elementary school, and that is a huge commitment that I don't take lightly. As a stay-at-home mom, I can raise them single-mindedly, without having to worry about how I'll get dinner on the stove after I get home from work. I don't have to worry about what the day care is teaching my boys. I don't have to worry about who will take care of them when they are sick.

I do stay busy with our church, volunteering in the nursery and running the children's Wednesday night music program. However, I am doing far less than what I was doing before my sons were born. Before they came along, I taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, and played my flute at each of the services. I taught Vacation Bible School and served on church committees.

People at church often come up to me and ask when I'm going to start singing again. I just answer, "Someday." Deep down, though, I HATE it when they ask me that. I just can't do as much as I used to. The devil wants me to think I don't matter. (But I DO matter! The Lord has just given me a detour in my life, and He wants me to raise the kids He's given me right now. I am in a different chapter of my life story, that's all! I am not less important now that I am raising kids in my Mommy Cave.)

I think that sometimes most of us Stay At Home Moms feel like we've been left behind by the rest of the world. We think we'll go back to work someday, so we keep our career wardrobe in our closet. The problem with that is, when we do eventually go back to work, those clothes are seriously out of style! We've been stuck in our Mommy Cave while we raise our offspring. When we emerge back into the world, we're surprised at how much things have changed.

We Stay At Home Moms sacrifice a lot for our families. Trying to make ends meet on one income is really hard these days. Sometimes we have to give up a few things in order to stretch our husbands' paychecks. Usually, we give up something for ourselves--clothes, shoes, haircuts. (Can I just confess something really crazy right here? I recently bought new underwear for the first time in three years--yes, THREE years. Would you believe I felt GUILTY about it? My kids needed new shoes, and I really would have preferred to spend the money on more espensive kid shoes than myself. Isn't that silly? But I'd guess many of us SAHMs feel guilty about spending even a small amount of money on ourselves.)

Mothers who Work Outside the Home feel guilty too, albeit a different kind of guilt. When I taught preschool, there were moms who confided in me that they really, desperately wished they could quit their job to be a full-time mommy, but their family finances just didn't allow it. They were stuck in a job they hated, felt guilty about putting their kids in day care, and were miserable with a hamster-on-a-wheel mentality. They HAD to keep going to work, even if they were only maintaining the status quo and not really going forward. They felt like they were missing out on their kids' childhoods. And there was no escape.

Now, why would We SAHMs be jealous of that? If I'm going to feel guilty no matter what I do, I'd rather feel guilty about buying new underwear.

So, to my nurse friend who feels like she is not doing enough: You ARE doing what the Lord has called you to do right now. WHEN He opens the door for you to leave your Mommy Cave, please realize that the time you spent in that cave was not wasted!

The Lord may have detoured your career. Enjoy the detour! You only have one childhood to give to your kids, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lymph Nodes Praise!

Our son saw an ENT today. The doc saw absolutely nothing to worry about! Yes, my son's lymph nodes are knotty, but they are movable knots and less than 1.5 cm in size. That means they're fine.

The doc said they feel worse than they actually are because my son is thin. As he grows and becomes more muscular, the lymph nodes will become less noticeable. (Almost as if he'll grow into them.)

If any of the knots do grow bigger than 1.5 cm in size, we are supposed to go back. But otherwise, my son is free and clear! Praise God!