Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mary Jane

Three years ago today marks the day my sweet grandma, one of the most influential people in my life, lost her battle with breast cancer and went home to heaven. She lived to see my mom and cousin turn a year older on the 25th. She lived to see my son Pete turn one on the 26th. Then she went home to live with Jesus forever on the 27th.

To say I am emotional about it, even three years later is an understatement.

I am so grateful we were living in Ohio for the last three years of her life. In fact, we lived just a few miles away. We talked on the phone almost daily and even though she was battling cancer and I had three kids ages 4, 2 and a newborn, we still managed to get together for dinner or lunch almost every week for the last year she was alive.

I remember the day she died clearly.
Early morning phone call from my mom.
The flock of birds above my house.

That last one I need to explain. I hesitated to even include this part of the story for fear ya'll will think I am crazy, but it happened and it is part of it all. After I got off the phone with my mom telling me that grandma had died, one of the first things I heard through my tears was birds. I know that may not strike you as odd, lots of people hear birds outside their windows each day, but, we were living in my hometown in Ohio at the time and the neighborhood we lived in was a very new subdivision. Not a lot of trees around and the trees that were there were skinny and small. Seeing a bird, not unusual, hearing a flock of birds as they flew south, not unusual. Hearing a flock of birds flying just above my house without them flying away, unusual. All morning long in my grief I heard those crazy birds flying above my house until it finally hit me, "Oh, this must be a God thing!"

I believe in my whole heart that God sent those birds to fly above my house, maybe even designed a detour as they were heading south for the winter, for as long as it took for me to get the message...Grandma was flying free. (OK, I have to stop myself from yelling, "Free bird!" right now as it might, just might interrupt the mood of this all) The message was clear... no more pain, no more suffering. My grandma was complete and whole the minute she stopped breathing as only someone in Christ can be. She was as free as those birds.

And this girl in Ohio needed to know that. I needed to be reminded that because grandma was ok, I was going to be ok too.

Even though at that moment I could not imagine it.

Could not imagine the holidays coming up without her there. Could not imagine moving to Texas in a few months without here being there to see us go. Could not imagine a lot of things without her.

But I knew I was going to be okay.

I noticed those crazy birds flying above our house for the next several mornings. In fact, the first day I noticed the birds were gone was the morning after her burial.

Pretty appropriate, I think.

There are so many things I could write about her, but I decided to honor her by posting one of my favorite recipes of grandma's. It is a recipe for a homemade chocolate cake with homemade caramel icing. I used to request it for my birthday or special dinners. Boy could she cook and bake. I will probably never make homemade noodles quite like her or this caramel sauce as perfect and creamy as hers. But I will keep trying. In fact, one of my most favorite things I have of grandma's (along with a chocolate cardigan she wore and one of her nightgowns) is a copy, in her own writing, of all her recipes.

Pretty priceless, I would say.

Hope you enjoy the recipe. It's one she had written out for someone. I am going to include it just the way I have it with her comments and everything.

Take care,

Easy Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour Sift these together
6 TAB. cocoa
1 tea. salt
2 tea. soda

Add 1 cup oil (I use canola)
2 tea. vanila
2 Tab. vinegar
2 cups cold water

*Use a fork and stir till smooth. Bake in 9x13 pan at 350 for 30 minutes

Caramel Icing
2 cups brown sugar (packed down)
1/2 cup milk
about 1/2 to 3/4 stick of margarine or butter

*Stir up good and cook one minute after coming to a complete boil. Beat till it begins to get a little sugary look. I take a fork and punch holes all over top of cake and spread some of the icing over cake and let it run down in the cake. Just use a thin layer of the icing. Keep beating it with a spoon till it gets the sugary look. Then spread the rest of it on the cake. You have to watch as it can go to sugar fast. The main thing is not to cook it over the 1 minute. I usually cook it 1 min.+ 15 seconds.
Good luck , (grandma had a smiley face here :)
Mary Jane

You can always add powdered sugar to icing if it just won't go to sugar for you.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Baby!

My baby turns 4 today. Four. I can't believe it. We've been talking about this day for a long time and counting down the days until it arrived, but it still seems to catch me by surprise.

My little guy is growing up.

In all honesty though, "little" is not a good word to describe him. He's been big since the get go. He weighed ten pounds and two ounces at birth.

Yes, you read that right. 10lb. 2 oz. Born naturally and he never even got to wear newborn diapers. That just doesn't seem right.

Big. Big in his size, big in personality, big heart, all boy and full of life.

The other day he got a birthday package from my older sister in Ohio. I kid you not, his hands were shaking with pure excitement as he tried to open the gifts. With each gift he opened he stood up and shouted, "It's exactly what I wanted!" Kind of makes you want to give a kid like that the world.

Lately he has been into playing Candyland. We probably play about 4-6 times a day. Whenever he wins (which happens almost every time and I swear I do not rig the cards) he wants me to shout, "Give it up for Pete!" and then start clapping wildly. He thinks it's absolutely hilarious. It really gets him going if I pretend I can't stop clapping, as in "Oh no! Pete, I can't stop clapping! AAHH!!" Lots of laughs. (By the way, here's how you can tell if someone is a dear friend or not. Remember the other day when I taught in my daughter's Kindergarten class? Pete when over to my dear friend Yvonne's house for the day. She knows all about his love for Candyland and while he was there they played several games of CandyLand. Pete had her doing the whole "Give it up for Pete!" and clapping wildly for him. I'd say that's a good friend!)

He is confident and happy. Loves school and doesn't even look back when I drop him off. I have to find him to give him a kiss good-bye.

When he was a baby I used to sing him the chorus from one of my favorite artists, Chris Rice. It was on his Amusing cd. The chorus went something like, "and to our dreams we'll gladly go and see you in the morning. You are the light you are the proof the Lord looks down and warms my roof. You are the light you are the sign that I am loved and life is mine." I can't think of that song without remembering my baby.

So, let's, "Give it up for Pete!" today.

Happy birthday baby. Mommy loves you.

Take care,


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some Random Thoughts

Hey there!

Just wanted to say "Hi!" Hope you all are doing well. I'm taking a break from Friday's Favorites tomorrow because a special someone in my family has a birthday. It's not me, but you'll have to come back on Friday and see!

By the way, Mom, if you are reading this today, "Happy Birthday!" I'll be calling you soon!

Have a great day and I'll talk to you all tomorrow.

Take care,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Just the good 'ol boys..."

Earlier in the summer at lunch one day my oldest child asked me if we could super glue our Volkswagen van's doors shut and start climbing in the windows like the Dukes of Hazzard. The other kids quickly chimed in, "Please,mom, please!"

I paused a while before answering them so I could choose just one of the many reasons floating through my mind as to why that would not work for us.

I said,"Do you see how high up the windows are on our van? You would need a step ladder just to even reach the windows and that would seriously take away from the Dukes of Hazzard effect you are wanting to create. I mean, did you ever see Bo or Luke Duke climb up on a step ladder to get into the General Lee?"

They thought about that for a while.

Finally my oldest said, "No, I guess not."

"Besides" I added, "the Dukes of Hazzards car was closer to the ground, that's why they could just hop on in."

Then one of them came up with the idea that maybe they could ride in their grandma's convertible next time we were in Iowa.

There we go, problem solved I thought until my daughter told me she liked the girl from the Dukes of Hazzard.

"You mean Daisy Duke?" I asked her.

"Yes." She replied.

Now we have a completely different problem to deal with.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Parenting Phenomenons

Ever since I became a mom I have noticed certain things that occur repeatedly in our household. I refer to them as "phenomenons". I want to share them with you. See if any of these ring true in your home.

1. Why is it that my kids are always starving after I tell them it is time to go to bed?

2. I have noticed the number of shampoo bottles we go through is definately not in proportion to the number of kids we have. I am not sure how a child can manage to use half a bottle of shampoo while washing ones hair.

3. When I am talking on the phone it is like a honing device has gone off in their head saying, "Find mom. Bug mom. No matter what, DO NOT STOP!!!"

4. Why do my kids announce every toot (or for that matter any bodily function) like it is a national event? Is this really necessary?

5. For the life of me I can not understand the commercial choices on some of the kids TV channels. Things like, shampoo for women, miracle plant waterer and mighty putty which can, in my daughters words, "pull a huge, huge, huge, huge truck and can hold anything." I don't need my kids coming up to me asking me if I want beautiful, silky hair like the woman on TV.

6. I have noticed my youngest child has an uncanny ability to put his clothes on backwards about 99% of the time, even his underwear.

7. My kids sudden inability to walk or use their arms when it is time to pick up the house at night, or go upstairs to bed. Very uncanny I would say.

What about you? Any parenting phenomenons around your house? I would love to hear them.
Take care,

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Have you seen the movie, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"?

Saturday night I finally got around to watching a movie I have wanted to see for a while, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly".

Have you seen it?

It is a film based on the memoir, "Le Scaphandre et le papillon" by Jean-Dominique Bauby. The author was the editor of Elle who suffered a stroke, went into a coma for 20 days and when he came out of the coma was unable to move, talk or do anything except blink one eye. His mind, sight and hearing were intact. He was diagnosed with what is called "Locked-in Syndrome". The therapist who worked with him came up with a code where Jean-Do (what his friends called him) would blink at the letter he wanted when the therapist went through the alphabet. He was able to communicate this way and eventually wrote the book I mentioned above, which is translated, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A memoir of Life in Death".

The movie is based on this book, although not without controversy. His closest friends say that the movie is not entirely accurate. Some issues are minor...he had two kids in real life, the movie shows him having three, but some issues are bigger. I do not want to give away any of the story line, so let's just say you can read about the controversy here.

I loved the film. It was beautiful to watch and I walked away from it re-affirming life. How can I complain about my life when here is someone who can only blink one eye, yet he's publishing a book?! I have no excuse to not be productive with my life. On those days when I feel down or discouraged about my life I want to choose to be grateful and thankful for all that God has blessed me with, and focus on the good instead of all the negative.

I'm planning on checking out the book this week and reading it. It reminded me of another life-inspiring story...Dick and Rick Hoyt, the father and son team who have completed Iron Man Triathalons together. The son, Rick, has cerebral palsy so the dad pulls a boat with his son on it for the swim, pedals for him during the bike ride and pushes him in a wheel chair for the run. You can watch a video about them on You Tube but I do not know how to include it in a post. (If you do know, please enlighten me and open up new worlds for me to explore in the world of blog posting!)

Hope you have a great week. Go live a great life and do good things.
Take care,

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday's Favorites #5

Lately I have seen a lot of blogs posting their fall reading list or their favorite books from the summer. Now that it is a comfortable 80 out as I am writing, I thought I would go with that theme for this week's Friday's Favorites. If you are new to this blog you can read all about Friday's Favorites here.

I picked four of my favorite books to highlight. Some have been a favorite for years, others have become a favorite recently. I have to say, some of the books have things I don't agree with, one of the books disturbed me, but they all made me think and in that respect earned a spot as a favorite.

My first book is a recent favorite, "The Shack". In fact, it was the topic of my last Friday's Favorite. I won't spend a lot of time re-saying the same things. You can read what I wrote about it here.

One of my favorite authors is Donald Miller. His most popular book he's written thus far is "Blue Like Jazz." I liked the book, but the book he wrote that I want to mention is "Searching For God Knows What". It is just great. Here's a quote from the book, (on page ix) ...

"Sometimes I feel as though I were born in a circus, come out of my mother's womb like a man from a cannon, pitched toward the ceiling of the tent, all the doctors and nurses clapping in delight from the grandstands, the band going great guns in trombones and drums. I unfold and find flight hundreds of feet above the center ring, the smell of popcorn in the air, the clowns gather below, amazed at my grace, and all the people chanting my name as my arms come out like wings and I move swan-like toward the apex, where I draw my arms in, collapse my torso to my legs, roll over in perfection, then slowly give in to gravity. My body falls back toward earth, the ground coming up quick, the center ring growing enormous beneath my falling weight.

And this is precisely when it occurs to me that there is no net. And I wonder, 'what is the use of a circus?' and 'why should a man bother to be shot out of a cannon?' and 'why is the crowd's applause so fleeting? amd...'who is going to rescue me?' "

Next on my favorite's list is a book called, "A Severe Mercy" by Sheldon VanAuken. It's a love story but it also is the story of the author's conversion to Christianity through his friendship with C.S. Lewis. It's beautifully written and it's been my favorite book since I first read it in college.

Two other books I like are "Jesus Land" by Julia Scheeres. This is the pretty disturbing one, although its written well and riveting. The author grew up in a Christian family in Indiana with two adopted african american brothers, a cold and abusive physician father and an even more distant mother. It's heartbreaking.

The other book I read through as quickly as possible was, "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer. This is the author's version of what happened on that fateful Mt. Everest expedition the author was on in 1996 that took the lives of many. Jon Krakauer has written other great books like, "Into the Wild". I saw a book of his the other day that I thought I'd like to read. I can't remember the title but it involves a cult.

A couple of other books I would like to read this fall are:
"What's so amazing about grace?" by Philip Yancey
"A long way gone" by Ishmael Beah
"Persuasion" by Jane Austen

What about you? Any book you hope to read this fall? Let me know.
Take care,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This is going to be one heck of a ramble!

Right now I am at home while all the kids are at school. I have ABBA's number one hits CD going as loud as it can.

This is going to be a good post, if I can get it written because of all the breaks I'm taking so I can stop and sing along. Tell me, is it possible to stand or sit still while ABBA is on? I don't think so.

Pardon me for a second, "Mamma Mia" is on.

Ok, I am back.

Let me just re-introduce myself, it's been a few days. I'm Julie, I have a blog, "Tales from the Eurovan". Here's the problem though, our van is still in the shop. TWO weeks later. I'm not going to complain about it, I know life is a lot worse for folks reeling from Ike. Plus, the VW place loaned a Passat to us while the van is being worked on. We just may not give it back!

"Dancing Queen" is on right now. I never knew the line was..."Dig in the dancing queen." Now I know.

Last week we rented a Dodge Stow and Go van for our little hurricane evacuation trip to San Antonio. The kids loved it, lots of room, automatic doors, all good stuff. If we ever decide to get one I guess I'll have to change the name of the blog to , "Tales from the Dodge Stow and Go".

All of us in South Texas are loving the fall like temperatures we are experiencing. Let me explain though, fall temperatures to someone is south Texas is a comfortable 72 degrees, not low sixties like in the mid-west where I am from. Yesterday I started putting out "Fall" decorations. I never did that the first couple of years we lived here. Somehow putting out fall pumpkins and leaves when it's 80 out just didn't seem right.

The other day my daughter's kindergarten teacher asked me to sub again on the 29th of September. I am excited. This time I will be prepared. I know how to handle who rests by who, which kids can go to the bathroom together and not be gone 15 minutes and I will ask ahead who the line leader is supposed to be. (Apparently this is a BIG deal and threats of unfairness ring out if the same child gets too many turns.)

I talked to my family in Ohio today. Apparently they were hit pretty hard on Sunday with strong winds from Ike (gusts of up to 75 mph). Lots of trees down, power out for a couple of days. It's so odd that we were a couple of hours from the storm and we were fine and here they are over 1,000 miles away and they were out of power for several days.

I believe I am completely out of ramblings for now. I'm going to go and focus all my energy into folding about six loads of laundry.

Take care,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Teaching and Vomit on my Black Suede Shoes

On Monday I had the chance to substitute teach in my daughter's kindergarten class.

Her all day kindergarten class.

Her all day kindergarten (that didn't have 45 minutes of music in the morning because the music teacher didn't make it back after evacuating for hurricane ike and I had the kids without a break from 8:15-1pm when they went to PE) class.

I loved it! (Although a morning break would have been useful for little things like going to the bathroom)

I believe every parent should be required to substitute teach in their child's class at least once a year so they can gain perspective and understand what teachers do day in and day out without a lot of fanfare.

Let me just say that while I loved it and hope to do it again, I was exhausted and my feet hurt.

Teachers wear sensible shoes for a reason.

I should know.

I used to teach.

One time when I was teaching 6th grade I had a kid throw up all over my black suede shoes.

Let me repeat that: "BLACK, SUEDE SHOES"

To adapt the lyrics from one of my favorite songs of all time,"Lake Marie" by John Prine, "Do
you know what vomit looks like on a pair of black, suede shoes? Disgusting! D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G!!"

Anyway, it smelled, my shoes were ruined, and I began wearing more practical, vomit proof shoes to school.

All this to say, it was a fun day. I loved getting to see my daughter in her element. She was so happy to have me as her teacher and thought it was just the coolest thing, ever. I want to capitalize on that because all too quickly she will grow up and suddenly it will be embarrassing to have your mom teach your class.

Take care,

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Let's Chalk This Up As A Learning Experience

Wednesday night I decided I would evacuate. At that point the forecasters were not exactly sure where Ike would hit. Corpus was still listed as a likely hit.

Have I mentioned I've never been through a hurricane before?
Have I also mentioned my husband is not able to evacuate with us due to his job?
Have I talked about my need to feel safe and secure?

Basically, I have no desire to be a hero and tough it out on my own at home.

All of those reasons combined with the fact that I didn't want to be stuck in thirteen hours of traffic headed to San Antonio, caused me to stay up late packing on Wednesday night and get up very early on Thursday morning and head out to San Antonio.

I'm glad I did.

I would do it all over again and not change anything.

By the time Thursday rolled on it was pretty clear that Ike was not going to hit us directly. We still didn't know what kind of conditions might affect our city so the kids and I stayed in San Antonio until Saturday.

Those pictures above were taken on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. I'm amazed at the damage done to our area from the storm surge considering we were on the good side of the storm.

My thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives and homes were completely devastated from Ike. I can't imagine what they are experiencing right now. Or those who are without power. Let me just say, it is hot here in Texas. I'm sure they're feeling it. I know I feel like I've been on an emotional roller coaster just going through this week and we ended up being spared in Corpus. Those affected have got to be not only physically exhausted, but emotionally exhausted as well.

I have learned a few things, though, from this experience.
1. Apparently I am skilled at removing the plastic covers off the outside parts where the hurricane shutters will go.
2. Next time I will enforce the "one stuffed animal per child" rule considering my oldest child packed 15 stuffed animals for the trip.
3. We may have to leave the hurricane shutters up since it allows me to convince my kids it's really time for bed, even if it's only 7pm because it is so dark with them on.
4. We have enough bottled water to probably last the month and enough canned goods for just as long.

On a positive note, on Monday I am subbing in my daughters kindergarten class for the day. She is so excited! I am as excited and a bit nervous since I haven't been in a classroom to teach since I taught 4th grade in the Bronx back in 2000. I have a feeling though, that these 5 year olds might not be so rough!

Take care,

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hurricane Ike, go take a hike!

Pretty creative title, huh?

Right now I am in high gear getting ready to possibly evacuate due to hurricane Ike.

Thinking there's a possibility your house could be completely leveled is scarey. Going through your possessions and deciding what is most important to bring with you should you not be able to return to your home is overwhelming. The fact that my husband has to stay behind doesn't help either.

I will probably spend the better part of the evening trying to get organized. If you think about it could you please say a prayer for our family as well as all the families who could potentially be affected by Ike.

Right now the plan is to head to San Antonio and then possibly on to Waco or Dallas, depending on where Ike decides to go.

This is a whole new world for us.

Take care,

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Her bite really is worse than her bark

I want to introduce you to our dog, Rosebud.

She is a real killer.


On Friday my oldest son ran in from the backyard yelling, "Mom! I think Rosebud KILLED something!"

I said, "What do you mean she killed something?"

He replied, "There's BLOOD mom, BLOOD!" (This got the attention of his sister and younger brother as well as myself)

We all went outside and sure enough, there it was...a small pocket gopher, covered in blood and still alive (barely). My first thought was, "Oh, how gross! I think I'm going to get sick!" followed by empathy for the poor thing struggling to breathe. I looked over at my almost 6 year old daughter to see how she was doing. She is THE official animal lover in the family along with my husband, who unfortunately was at work. I said to my daughter, "How you doing sweetie?" She said she was sad and felt bad for the pocket gopher.

Poor, innocent, pocket gopher holding on to his life by a thin thread.

This is where I have to interject that my husband disagrees with me completely on this point. He argues that the pocket gopher got what was coming to it and that Rosebud was only doing what she was designed to do, which is hunt and dig and chase down these creatures. My husband is quick to point out that the "poor, innocent pocket gopher" has torn up our yard on multiple occasions, done considerable damage to our grass and are generally a big nuisance. Let me also say that my husband has tried for the better part of TWO years to kill the pocket gopher problem in our yard with no luck.

He's tried: flushing them out with the hose (futile because they have miles of tunnels under the ground), smoking them out (did not phase them a bit) and poisoning them (nothing happened and it probably tasted like candy to them). My husband even threatened to borrow a gun and "blast them away!"


Until our 4 pound miniature yorkie got a hold of one.

To say my husband was proud of her would be a huge understatement.

So, we let the pocket gopher die in peace. At least that is what I am telling myself. Truth be told I really was not up for putting the gopher out of its misery.

I must say I do feel a bit safer with a killer dog at our house. Plus, I have not seen a pocket gopher since.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Eurovan Saga Continues

I feel so tired right now! I just watched Serena win the US Open . Great tennis. I'm hoping Federer wins tomorrow. I am disappointed Nadal lost. Once Andy Roddick lost I was hoping for a Nadal/ Federer match, however, now I'm hoping for Federer win over Murray.

Just a quick van's not fixed.

After I got home Friday from picking up the kids, dropping off the rental car and getting a ride home, I get a call from the dealer telling me that although they had the van fixed (I believe he used the words, "It was purring like a kitten"), the fuel pipe broke. It's not their fault, he tells me, but since he feels bad it happened he is not going to charge us for the labor to have the pipe fixed.

Bottom line? More money and no van until Tuesday afternoon.

It's a volkswagen.

Take care,

PS Can I just say I don't care for the TV commercial (I just saw it) that uses the baby talking like an adult to promote its product. (I think it's selling stocks) The baby just spit up everywhere. I think it's a gross and an odd commercial. Am I just missing something? Do you all know what I'm talking about? Does anyone like it? Let me know.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday's Favorite #4

Welcome back to Friday's Favorite. If you are new here to this blog you can read about Friday's favorite here . Last week I took a break since I was in NYC doing lots of stuff, but mostly watching tennis.

This week I have picked a book for Friday's Favorite. It's one I started reading on the plane last week. It's called "The Shack" and it is written by William P. Young. I first heard about this book over at the Burnside Writers Blog. The review caught my attention, but I wasn't planning on reading it, for whatever reason I had at the time. Then, I read another story on The Big Mama Blog referencing to the book. Her story got my attention also, but I was holding strong in my conviction not to read the book. Then I left for NYC. I got to my hometown airport and it took all of ten minutes to get checked in and go through security. I had some (lots) of time to pass before my flight left and I thought I'd go buy a book. In my mind "The Shack" came up and I said something to God along the lines of "If this really is a book I'm supposed to read then I will buy it if I see it in the giftshop." Completely thinking there's no way our tiny airport giftshop is going to have it.

I don't have to tell you what the first book was that I laid eyes on.

That's right, "The Shack". Right there in plain sight.

Do not try to tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor or that He does not use different people or means to get His message across to us. For me, it was this book. I knew that the minute I started deciding how God does or does not get His message across to people that at some point I would read this book and that it had something important just for me.

"The Shack" is the story of a father, Mack, who has an unspeakable tragedy happen to one of his kids. He's angry, blames God and has what he calls "The Great Sadness" come over him. One day he receives a letter in the mail from God asking him to meet God at the shack. Mack goes and the rest of the book focuses on this encounter between Mack and God. (By the way the book is fiction)

What I walked away with after reading this book is that I don't really know the heart of God as much as I thought I did. There's a section in the book where Mack comes face to face with what is in his heart. God says to him, "The real underlying flaw in your life, Mackenzie, is that you don't think that I am good. If you knew I was good and that everything- the means, the ends, and all the processes of individual lives-is all covered by my goodness, then while you might not always understand what I am doing, you would trust me. But you don't." (pg. 126)

Pretty convicting.

This book covers a lot of questions I'm sure we've all asked at some time. Things like God's love and bad things in the world. Sin and pain and suffering. Basically this book caused me to re think my relationship with God in a very moving and powerful way.

If you get a chance, check it out and let me know what you think. Also, any favorite book you've read lately? Let me know.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How do you spell "frustration"?

We drive a volkswagen van. (pictured at top) It's a vehicle we love. It's where I got the name for this blog. When you have little kids in car seats, it's perfect. There's only one problem.

Volkswagens can have problems and when they do it is expensive to fix them.

Recently we noticed our van was beginning to leak oil. Then the air conditioner went out a day after that. Since we live in south Texas where the temperature has been an amazing 100 degrees lately, going without air conditioning is not an option. My husband took our van to our local mechanic which is very close to our house. They took one look and said NO WAY, leaving us with the only option of taking it to the dealer. I guess we could do nothing and drive it until it catches fire or we pass out while driving from the heat, neither of which is going to work.

Wednesday we dropped off the van at the dealer here in town. Waited all day to find out what was wrong only to have them say they got backed up and wouldn't be able to look at our car until Thursday. On Thursday my husband called me around lunchtime to say he had some news about our car.

Not the good news we were hoping to get.

Apparently both fans of the air conditioner are broken as well as some pipe which is causing the oil to leak. All to the tune of over $2,000. That's right two thousand dollars. Do you know what we could buy, where we could go, what we could do with two thousand dollars? Painful best describes it.

However, we are not naive. We knew Volkswagens have expensive parts. We knew it, but were hopeful we would not have to deal with problems.

We were wrong.

All this to say, it's going to take several days to get our van fixed which is the reason for the second picture, our rental car.

Have I mentioned I have three kids? One in a booster and one in a car seat? That's my eight year old son standing beside the car. Did you see how he's almost as tall as the car? Have I mentioned I drive the kids 25 minutes to school and then repeat coming home?

I think we are going to have some very close bonding moments in the next couple of days due to our close quarters.

Isn't life great?

What about you? How do you spell frustrating in your life?
I just have to say it feels good to be back home and get back to the blog!

Take care,

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Thank you for the memories

Well, I made it home and survived the New York City Trip.

Exhausted? Yes.

Thrilled? Yes.

After I got on the last flight all I could think about was seeing those three sweet faces of my kids which make me do what I do and need a break from what I do.

Parenting sure is complicated.

Not a lot going on here right now. Watching some tennis (Go Andy!), tearing out Math pages for my daughters kindergarten teacher (Yeah, I'm a room mother!) and packing lunches for tomorrow.

Yes, it's back to reality.

I will post more tomorrow, I'm tired and needing some sleep.

Thanks for all your prayers while I was gone.
Take care,