Many, many things have been happening in our lives, but for some reason, I've had a loss of words to describe them. They are easy to describe. Why can't I write?

In November, we found out that we are having another baby! Yay for us! Unfortunately, this has supremely increased my already incredible nostril powers, and I can now smell everything in the entire world. In fact, the sweater that I am wearing right now is emitting a faint odor of kitty litter. We do not have a cat, and I have not worn this sweater to anyone's house that has a cat. Yet I smell kitty litter. Where is it coming from?

I just took the sweater off and sniffed it thoroughly. The smell is not coming from the sweater. Where is that cat! I'm at the office right now. No cats here. I believe my nose is leading me to insanity. Maybe I am smelling a cat who lives three blocks away. Yes, that is probably it.

Moving on.

Last night, we purchased a minivan. A minivan. We are officially old.

It was pretty incredible to see how God worked all of this out. We knew that Jenny would not be able to hold another car seat, so we stopped off at a dealership on Saturday to casually check out larger vehicles. A salesman named Rich talked with us about our needs, and we informed him that we owe more on Jenny than her blue book value so trading in would add about $4,000 to the price of any vehicle we chose to purchase. In addition, because of the new baby, we were actually looking for LOWER monthly payments than we already had. He absorbed all of our information and then offered us a test drive in a hideously ugly van that had NONE of the features we requested and payments that were almost double our current payments. We kissed him goodbye rather quickly and drove out of the dealership with him hanging on our bumper, begging us to stay.

On Monday, Christmas eve, he called my cell phone and invited us back to the dealership because he thought he had found the perfect vehicle for us. I hung up.

On Wednesday, he called my cell phone again. I gave him Jeremy's number because I'm sneaky like that. Jeremy told him in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS exactly what we were looking for and exactly what price we needed our payments to be. Rich hung up.

On Thursday, Rich called Jeremy and described the minivan that he had picked out for us. The payments were five dollars higher than our goal. Jeremy decided that we would go look at the van that evening. When we arrived at the dealership, we looked at all of the white minivans in the lineup, trying to guess which one Rich had chosen for us. We both picked the same one, and hoped that it was THE ONE because we liked the looks of it better than the others. We found Rich, and he took us straight to our chosen one for a test drive.

Long story short, we bought it. The payments are drastically lower than what we've been paying for Jenny. The mileage is lower than Jenny's. The inside is bigger than Jenny. All around, the van is much better for our family than Jenny.

And I'm thankful.

But I really miss Jenny.
Instead of talking out loud to God when I'm spending just some daily quiet time alone with Him, I usually write letters to Him. This keeps my hyper little brain from jumping between three or four topics and never finishing any of them. Last night while I wrote to God, I considered the abundance of people throughout time that have existed on this earth. I thought about what I have to contribute and about how HUGE God is, and how small I am.

In humility, I wrote, "My Master, my Redeemer, my Carpenter, I am nothing special. I am not righteous. I am not worthy..." And while I wrote, the Holy Spirit gently whispered in my heart, "God thinks you're special. He died for you. God counts your faith as righteousness. He has made you worthy."

At work, Craig has been researching a new type of investment where the client pays a certain amount to gain access to this investment. Craig, a self-proclaimed "Tightwad Dutchman," hesitates to charge clients for this service because he is unsure that it will be perceived as valuable by every client. He and I have discussed several times in the last week, what is value? And we have concluded that each person assigns value differently. While one client may choose to accept the fee based on the value of the service provided, another client presented with the same choice, may decide to forgo the added service, assessing it as without value to them.

All of this logic flooded my brain, while the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart. And I realized something: God has assigned value to me. He valued me enough to pay for me. And since God is the Master of the Universe, His opinion matters!

Guess what? On Thursday, I will host my very first family Thanksgiving!

Last year, we collaborated with our friends for the holiday. They brought the meat, and we supplied the house and the fixings. This year, our family is driving to our house, and I get to make all the food, clean the house, put on my apron and pearls and high heels and greet our guests happily at the door. I am SO EXCITED! I feel like a real grown-up.


I've never made a turkey before.

Send chocolate!
My friend sent me this link to the 2008 Presidential Candidate Calculator. (Thanks, Kristin!)

It asks you a series of questions and gives these instructions: Mark the column for Yes if you support the issue and No if you oppose it. After that, select how important the topic is to you. If you are unsure or have no opinion on a topic, just mark the Unsure column. You will be scored based upon how well you match the current views of each of the 2008 presidential candidates. The calculator also supplies a description of each topic for your convenience.

My top candidates turned out to be:

1. Mike Huckabee - 87.10% match
2. Mitt Romney - 87.10% match
3. Fred Thompson - 83.87% match
4. Sam Brownback - 80.65% match

I am now off to do some more research on these particular candidates. Hey, call me a nerd, but at least I'm a patriotic nerd! :-)
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Our family doctor called on Friday.

He said that the CBC conducted at the hospital showed all of Liberty's blood to be in the upper normal range! The two tests done in our family doctor's office were incorrect.

There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with Liberty, and in fact, the brilliant spot light provided by the CBC dispelled the shadow lurking in our corner for good.

Thank you, God! Whatever the outcome, You are worthy to be praised. (But personally, I like this outcome the best.)

PS> Thank you, also, to all of our friends and family who contacted us to pray and support. It's nice to be loved like that :-)
I have not talked about this before, mainly because so far it has just been a lurking shadow in my life, vaguely threatening, but never coming out into the open to do harm. But now, the shadow has moved slightly from it's corner of darkness towards the lighted room where my family lives and laughs and loves.

You may remember the blog that I posted about my brother Peter. If not, you will need to read that post to understand what I am about to write. Our baby girl, Liberty, was born with a few of the physical characteristics that people with DBA demonstrate. Because of those characteristics, her pediatrician in the hospital ran some blood tests for us. He found some anomolies, but nothing exceptionally out of place, and so together, we decided to "keep an eye" on her symptoms.

Liberty Grace turned one at the end of September. At her one year checkup, her hematocrit was low. Not drastically, just one point lower than the range. Our family doctor, a different one than the pediatrician at the hospital, prescribed iron and asked to see her again in one month. Although, I knew a low hematocrit could be a sign of the DBA rearing it's head, I chose to wait a month and administer iron.

Yesterday, I took Libby back to the family doctor for a second hematocrit to see if the iron had helped. It had not. In fact, she is four points lower than last month. Our doctor told us to go immediately to the hospital where they would conduct a CBC to distinguish specific levels of platelets and red and white blood cells. They told me a doctor would call me the following morning to give me the results.

So now, we wait.

I utterly despise waiting. I usually focus on the unknowns and begin to worry. I would rather know that something is wrong, than wait to find out about it. Last night and this morning, I had some long talks with God, and I have chosen to fasten my heart to these facts:

1. God is ALWAYS good.
2. God is ALWAYS in control.
3. If He chooses to do something that I would not choose, like
letting Liberty have DBA, He is still GOOD.
4. So I will praise Him. No. Matter. What.

That is my choice.

Lovely drips of color trickled onto my windshield this morning. As my car passed a maple tree, vibrant reds and oranges leaked down. Warm buttery gold dropped from another nearby tree. Everywhere, sizes and shapes stormed from their upright homes. Large chunks of beige sedately floated to the ground while tiny greens and yellows skipped and flipped happily towards the earth.

I watched as a mother and child holding hands on their way to school walked in the rain of colors. A small boy with a bookbag on his back trudged through the sunny leaves, oblivious to the shower around him. I imagined myself in the swirling drizzle of leaves, raising my face and hands to God, enjoying the beauty of His autumn. My heart delightfully kicked piles of calico carpeting into the air. My arms scooped up loads of lightweight, vibrant paint. God's paint-chips.

Kimmie, Liberty and I finished our drive to school pointing and aaahhing at God's creation. How beautiful He has made our Fall!
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1979 - Til when?

This past Friday, a 14 year old girl named Kayla who lived in our town, died from eating pizza laced with E Coli. Eating pizza is a normal activity, especially if you are a teenager. She told her parents the next day that she wasn't feeling well, like she had the flu or something. When she began vomiting blood, they took her to the hospital. That was almost two weeks ago. Within days, her kidneys began shutting down, and soon she was put onto a ventilator. Her lungs slowly filled with fluid. Now, her tombstone in Monroe's Silent Cemetery will list the year she was born and the year she died with a dash in between, representing the years she lived.

Right now, I am living in the dash of my tombstone. What am I filling it with? Kayla filled her dash with smiles and action. With verses memorized at AWANA and quoted during every day life. With close friends and a boyfriend. With parents and a sister. Kayla lived in such a way that her actions did not block her father from trusting God to forgive his sins just hours after Kayla died.

James 4:14 & 17 "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes...Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."

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We had a full weekend together as usual. Friday's sunny afternoon found us speeding driving leisurely along the highway towards Newton for Kimmie's permit test. She did not pass the test, but she plans to study again and retake it. Realistically, I would have been surprised if she had passed it this past Friday. She had a book that she was studying from months ago, but she lost it. Since Newton is the only spot to get a replacement book to study from, and it is a thirty minute drive from our house, we decided that it would be a good idea to pick up the replacement book and have Kimmie take the permit test even though she expected to fail it. That way, she could get some practice and see what kinds of questions would be on the test. So, this coming Friday, we are going to try it again, and she fully expects to pass the test this time.

We stopped off at KFC for Friday night's supper and took home a bucket of chicken and some biscuits, then I creamed Jeremy and Kimmie at a game of Clue. (I rock! Oh yeah!) Jeremy chickened out of a rematch, and Kimmie and I played our own version of Clue with just the two of us.

On Saturday, Kimmie and all the other cheerleaders went to Des Moines to spectate at a cheerleading competition that her school is hoping to compete in next year. They were scoping out their competition. Kimmie came home and reported that she had a headache from watching so many cheerleaders move around so quickly, but she is excited to be part of it all next year.

Jeremy, Liberty and I went shopping with Liberty's birthday money while Kimmie was at the competition. We bought a high chair, some footy pajamas and a potty chair. Liberty inaugurated her high chair Sunday at lunch time. She was quite funny to watch. Because her new seat is actually a booster seat that sits on a dining room chair, she sat at the table and excitedly analyzed our eating habits. She kept grinning and with her wide open blue eyes, watched food disappear from our plates. She really enjoyed watching us eat, and we really enjoyed watching her watching us eat.

Sunday morning, Jeremy and I joined Kimmie's youth group Sunday School class, just to see what they were talking about. Almost 30 teens showed up, and Jeremy and I laughed most of the morning at the comments and antics of the class. Their teacher did a great job of communicating truth, and he was fun to be around. They talked about controlling your tongue, from James chapter five, and the teacher challenged the students to see how long they could go without complaining about something. So Jeremy and I decided to take the challenge ourselves. So far, we're doing great! We'll see how long it lasts!

Jeremy is on day shift this week!!!!!!!! He is on a special team at work, so I get to see him every evening after work. Oh! I am so excited to see him this afternoon! Kimmie has a Bible study after school today with a lady from our old church who she really enjoys being with. Parent teacher conferences are this week, and I'm thankful that this year Jeremy will be able to go with me. I don't like doing parent stuff by myself because it feels very lonely, so I'm really glad that the special team came up during this particular week.

I have more to tell you, but no more time. So I'll continue tomorrow.
I am leaving work early this afternoon to take Kimmie to Newton for her driver's permit test!!!!

We are all VERY excited for her to get her permit, and maybe I'm crazy, but I'm looking forward to teaching her to drive. Jeremy is scared out of his mind about it. (Hm, maybe he is "the only sane one here, " as he tried to quip during a family game night several years ago. Except, back then he accidentally said, "I am the only INsane one here," and he has been trying to live down that slip of the tongue ever since.)

Jeremy has this weekend off, so the four of us are planning to do some serious family hang out time. Think games, movies, popcorn and laughter!

And Kimmie and I have a date with an empty parking lot on Saturday! If I can't type on Monday, you'll know that my hand was broken in a collision with a telephone pole. Send chocolate.
Just me, pondering:

Today, Kimmie called from school to ask if she could order a shirt sponsored by our volleyball team that has made it to State. (Woohoo!) She told me how she did not have enough money to pay for it right now, but the money would not be due until Tuesday, and she has a babysitting job lined up for Friday that should give her enough money, and could she PLEASE order the shirt today?

As much as I longed to say yes and hear her happy voice, I chose to tell her no, thinking ahead to future decisions that she will need to make. I kindly explained to her that it is not wise to order something, knowing that you do not have the money to cover it. Yes, a babysitting job is scheduled for the future, but there are many things that could happen between now and then. The job could be cancelled for any reason. You could get sick and be unable to babysit. It is not wise to use money that you have not yet earned. Kimmie hung up the phone, upset with me.

And I thought: In this situation, she probably could have ordered the shirt, and even if her babysitting job fell through, the shirt would have been paid for appropriately somehow. But I am training more for her future than for her present. She needs to learn wise actions now that will help her throughout her life. A shirt is not a bad gift. In fact, it is a good gift. But I know of a better gift: a debt-free, worry-free life.

I wished that Kimmie would realize that I am doing something nice for her, learn the lesson that I was trying to teach her and say, "Thank you for trying to do what is best for me, even if it is not what I originally wanted. Thank you for being willing to be 'the bad guy' in order to give me a better future. "

While I thought this through, Matthew 7:7-11 popped into my mind. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

My mind continued to wander down that thought path, and I pondered a request of my own that I have been asking God for several years now. I have been quoting "Ask and it will be given to you" to God in a "Well, what's the hold-up?" tone of voice, and He's been sitting quietly...

...wishing that I would realize that He is doing something nice for me, learn the lesson that He is trying to teach me and say, "Thank you for trying to do what is best for me, even if it is not what I originally wanted. Thank you for being willing to be 'the bad guy' in order to give me a better future."

Apparently, God is giving me a better gift than the one that I have been asking for, and I have been very ungrateful.
Last night, Kimmie babysat Liberty for me, and I had a girls' night out!

I went to the home of Mary Kay, one of the ladies in my Sunday School class. Evelyn, Candace and Julie were also there, and we talked and talked.

And laughed and laughed! Mary Kay had a bowl of questions that we passed around and answered, and oh my, the hilarity that ensued!

I learned of Evelyn's husband's affinity for clocks and watches and just about any kind of timepiece, and how despite his love of timekeepers, he is always late. He physically resembles the white rabbit on Alice in Wonderland, so the picture presented was just that much funnier.

Mary Kay treated us to an imaginative story about her children's attack rabbit that she insists was out to get her. The pet rabbit lived outside but would come into the garage for food and shelter. Her washer and dryer were also located in the garage, and she told us how the rabbit would rush her feet (and she claims he was trying to jump up to bite her face) whenever she walked out there to finish laundry.

Julie painted vivid pictures of trick-or-treating when she was a kid. We laughed our way through memories of her and her brother running in fright from a kindly neighbor dressed as a witch and secretly giving "poisoned" candy to their mom for her enjoyment. They would watch closely to see if she had a reaction, and only after they determined the candy was safe would they eat it themselves.

Candace regaled us with tale after tale of crazy customers arriving at her pharmacy window to pick up prescriptions. She and Mary Kay also told us more than we ever wanted to know about Abe and Mary Lincoln! Yikes!

I laughed so hard I choked on my delicious pumpkin cake, and had to quickly glug down some of Evelyn's yummy hot apple cider! Now, isn't that a shame? ;-)
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We didn't make it to State. Our football team, formerly 7-1, played the Trojans, ranked 6-2, and lost. The other team is going to State. I'm not sure how that works, because with our loss and their win, the teams are tied at 7-2. Why do the Trojans get to go to State? Can someone enlighten me on how this ranking thing works? I love football for the excitement, but I'm lost when it comes to the technical aspect of the game.

Kimmie had a Great Pumpkin Hunt with her youth group yesterday evening. They divided up into several teams. Each team began the night armed with one car and driver and one riddle which led them to another hidden riddle which led them to another hidden riddle which eventually led them to a hidden pumpkin somewhere in town. The team that found the pumpkin, won the game. Kimmie told me they started at the church, and the first riddle told them to find the largest rock in town. They drove over to Lake Red Rock and under the sign naming the lake, they found the next color-coded clue. After solving each riddle, they had to drive back to the town square and check in with Pastor Greg before embarking on the next adventure. Kimmie's team did not win but had a lot of fun in the process of losing, and the entire group had pizza and a devotional together before ending the night.

After only one suppertime of my will against hers, Liberty has decided that she will eat what is served during each meal. I'm very glad that the learning process was so short, because I was dreading hours and hours spent teaching her to eat what I give her. She cries to let me know that she doesn't like it, but she willingly eats it. Amazing. There have been no more incidents of hitting or scratching. At least not yet, but she has begun crying ferociously whenever something doesn't go the way she wants it to. And she's so cute when she's crying that I have a hard time not giving in to her. But I keep reminding myself that that behavior will not be cute in the future if left unchecked. So I'm pressing onward towards the mark.

Thankfully, Liberty is so much fun most of the time, that the small amount of time spent training is not a big deal. Yesterday, while Kimmie was at her youth group outing, and Jeremy was catching up on sleep, Liberty and I built a fort. We turned her old walker sideways to form one wall, and used a dining room chair to form the other wall. Then we draped a baby afghan over the two to create a ceiling. Liberty loved crawling in and out of the fort using the bars on the dining room chair as a jungle gym. She would climb inside, and then poke her smiling face out at me and giggle. Then she would quickly pull her head back inside, wait a few seconds and repeat the process. We spent about an hour giggling together before she decided to move on to another game. This baby goes NONSTOP, pitching headlong into one adventure after another, and she has the war wounds to prove it. Thankfully, she copes well with bumps and bruises and any other wound that she comes up with.

Sunday morning, just before we left the house for church, (in fact, Jeremy and Kimmie were already in the car waiting) I quickly popped two black shoes onto Liberty's feet. It was not until after church was over, that I looked at her feet more closely and realized that I had put two different shoes on her. One was a size two and the other a size one. They were both left shoes, too! When I checked with the nursery workers, they told me that she spent the entire morning running, and she did not complain once about her poor little right foot being crammed into a too small left shoe!

Speaking of church, I am absolutely LOVING our new church. (I can't remember if I told you that we changed churches or not, but if I didn't tell you...we changed churches!) We have been attending this new church for a month now, and every single time I leave church, I tell Jeremy, "That is exactly what I needed." I've tried to explain the wonderfulness of this new church to my friends, but I have a hard time putting it into words. I receive so much joy and love from being around the members of the church, and it is extremely obvious that they are there, not because it is Sunday, but because they LOVE God and LOVE being with each other. I do not believe that I have ever in my life attended a church this alive! And it's not just a Sunday/Wednesday thing. I know many of the people in regular life, and they are constantly living what they believe. Since we've been going there, three different ladies have had me over to their houses for fun stuff, usually, just chatting with five or six other ladies, and it is so wonderful! The pastor preaches reality. He reads the Bible and then applies it directly to our everyday lives, and he expects us to follow through with what we have heard. It's not just another sermon. It's practical. It's Biblical. It's applicable. I leave, knowing precisely what needs to be carried out in my life for that week and going forward.

It's encouraging. It's convicting. And I wonder, why in the world didn't we find a church like this years ago?
Well, Libby's going through some changes. All part of getting older, but not so much fun for me. She is exercising her sin nature. She has decided that there are certain things that she will and will not do, and there are certain foods that she will and will not eat. So now I get the wonderful job of disciplining. Yesterday, I REALLY wasn't feeling well, and I needed to fight with her over eating her green beans, but after a few times, I decided to put that battle off until the next time we eat them. Which is going to be very soon because I want her to learn that she cannot throw things on the floor and refuse to eat them. She hit a boy a few days ago and later screamed at her babysitter because she was not allowed to play with the newly folded laundry. She has also started scratching my face when she is upset with me. So we have a little (a lot) of training to do, and I am really not looking forward to this stage in her life. I wonder if this is going to be a long stage, or if she'll figure out that I'm the boss pretty quickly and go back to being my fun baby soon.

Kimmie got a B- on her English test!!!! This is one of the two classes that she was failing, and she got a B-!!!!! Can you believe it? She was so excited, she called me from school to tell me the news. Oh! I am so proud of her, not necessarily for getting a good grade, but for diligently and intelligently studying beforehand for this test.

Something else that I am proud of her for...this weekend, she told me that God has been working in her heart and telling her that she needs to start being friends with people in school who do not have many friends. I've seen her putting this into action both at school and at church. Now that's a beautiful girl!
Libby had a doctor appointment on Monday morning, and our doctor declared her hand much, much better. There is no more oozing, and I can see the shiny, new skin growing thicker over her palm. He told us to leave it unwrapped as much as possible so that her hand could breathe in order to heal, but in the short drive from our doctor's office to her babysitter's house, Liberty chewed on the wound enough to break through the light layer of skin. So I wrapped her back up again. I unwrapped her for her bath last night and kept the bandage off all night while she slept. But this morning, she was in a lot of pain again and had a hard time calming down even after receiving her pain killer and bandage. Monday was our last doctor appointment since Libby has healed so much. I've decided to keep her wrapped during the days and unwrapped at night. Although, I might give her a dose of pain killer right before bedtime each night. It is so hard to gauge what is happening with her, since she rarely complains. Her cries this morning were unusual for her, and therefore disturbing to me.

Kimmie has not yet received a grade on her English test, but I am still excited for that to come. She reported that her Journalism test yesterday was a lot harder than she expected because she had studied the wrong definitions, and she has a Math test today that she spent about ten minutes studying for last night. She just looked over her problems, verifying that she understood the examples in the book, so we'll see how this one goes today.

The football team is 7 and 1 with one game left in the season. We are really hoping to be able to go to State. Kim is working hard to get her grades up so that she will be able to cheer if we do go to State, and I have been so proud of the way she is working at this. Last night, the cheerleaders met at Coach's house for a movie and snacks, and Kimmie received her basketball cheering schedule that lasts through February.

Jeremy made a funny discovery after the last football game. We were unable to attend this one, and he stopped by the field afterwards to pick up Kimmie. He asked her what the score was, and she told him, "I don't know, but we won!" He asked several other cheerleaders, and none of them could tell him the final score. One of them said, "I don't pay attention to the game; I just cheer." He and I laughed over that when he came home.

Today, Craig and I are presenting retirement plans to a large company, so I will be out of the office until 5 PM. Craig's dad, George, is having a pacemaker installed in his heart tomorrow, and he and Craig's mom, Dee, are having a rough time waiting. Waiting always seems to be the hardest part of anything. If you would like to, I'm sure Craig's dad would appreciate your prayers for him. George and Dee have become part of my family. In fact, Liberty took her first official walk in their living room, and now George calls her his Little 410, because 410 is their house number.
No, I am not over the weekend, but the weekend is over, so I'll report on it.

I picked Kimmie up from school on Friday, and she excitedly informed me that her English test was EASY! We'll see if her grade ends up matching her confidence level. She studied for a Journalism test over the weekend, and she's taking that test today.

We drove up to Newton so that Kimmie could take a written test to get her permit, but the DMV was closed. So we stopped off at McDonald's drive thru for breakfast, and then headed back home. Kimmie begged to be dropped off at home with Liberty because she wanted to study for her upcoming test, and Jeremy and I continued on to Pella where we enjoyed strolling around downtown hand-in-hand and window shopping. A sign outside of the local bakery told us that Apple Bread was only $1.00 for a small loaf. Jeremy and I read each other's happy faces and wordlessly chose to enter the shop. Inside, two girls from Kimmie's high school greeted us from behind the counter. We purchased our Apple Bread and continued walking in the sunshine outside, sharing torn pieces from our tasty loaf. Of course, we stopped in at the bookstore, because everyone knows that those are impossible to just pass by, and we stopped at a photography studio that Jeremy has been telling me about. He wants to get our family pictures done there, but I think it's going to be pretty expensive. The owner was out taking photographs, so we wandered around, enjoying his artwork and wondering what the prices would be like. We ended our date at Walmart where we talked about Christmas presents for Kimmie and Liberty before grocery shopping for the week.

Saturday evening, after Libby went to bed, Jeremy, Kimmie and I watched some movies that we had borrowed from the Library:

Cadet Kelly with Hilary Duff (Kimmie's choice) was cute and lively, and despite a few eye-rolling moments on Jeremy's part, all three of us enjoyed the movie. We were also able to have a small family talk about the importance of order and discipline in our lives as well as enjoying the artistic and crazy sides of our personalities. Everything in balance is Jeremy's motto, and this movie presented that theme very clearly.

Red Eye, about a hotel manager who is accosted on an airplane, was my choice, and I was pleasantly surprised that it did not end with a lot of stupidity and screaming on the heroine's part the way most suspense thrillers do. Instead, the heroine was creative and determined. The villain was also smart and determined. There were no unnecessary dramatics. I REALLY enjoyed this movie. Tim De Loge would have approved it; it was a thinking man's thriller. (As is Alfred Hitchcock's Twelve Angry Men and Rear Window.)

I also picked up The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy because we had never seen it, and I had heard it was ridiculous. I must warn you that this movie requires a certain mindset to enjoy it. (I enjoyed it, but Jeremy and Kimmie spent most of their time saying, "This is so dumb.") Think Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail which I thought was hilarious or Napoleon Dynamite which drove me to tears for the boring-ness or Space Balls which drew an occasional chuckle from me and much eye-rolling. Now, I wonder if my varying reactions to these movies was due to my own mood at the times of viewing. Anyway, Hitchhikers Guide was silly, obnoxious, ridiculous and surprisingly teaching. Mid-movie, I realized that the writer had written more that just a silly movie. He was searching for the meaning of life. Why are we here? What is our purpose? These questions were asked repeatedly with no real answer ever being given until the end. The writer of the movie had decided that real purpose in life came from finding someone to love, who would love you whole-heartedly in return. After the movie was over, and I was in my wonderful bed, I continued pondering that answer. I realized that many movies, TV shows, songs, you-name-it gives this impression. That true happiness and meaning in life can only come when we find someone to love who will love us whole-heartedly in return, just the way we are. I was amazed, after turning this concept over in my head for a while to realize that that is exactly what God does for us. He loves us whole-heartedly. Not looking for anything in return. Just the way we are. He does not ask us to live up to a certain standard. He does not ask us to give things up to earn His love. He just loves us. He loved us before we even knew He existed. He loved us before time even began. Before the world was created.

He loves.

He loved us so much, that He was willing to die for us. Thankfully, He was also powerful enough to rise from the dead...for us. He took the punishment for all of my sins, even the ones that I have not yet committed, because He loved us. Yes, the movies and the songs and the TV sitcoms are right. Love is the meaning of life. Humans' love for each other is just a picture that illuminates the void we are searching desperately to fill.

That void can be filled. It has been filled in my life! By God. I have accepted His gift of forgiveness. I don't have to measure up, or do good, or be worthy.

Because He loves me the way I am! Yay for me! :-)
My baby woke up several times in the night due to the pain in her hand, which she must have attributed to the gauze wrap. She pulled her bandage off three times, and then screamed when the air touched her flesh. I groggily stumbled into her room to soothe and re-wrap the offending hand. In the last three days, I believe I have had a total of 10 sleeping hours. Unfortunately, Liberty's had even less.

This morning, we visited the doctor again, and I noticed that her hand looks decidedly better. It is no longer bloody, just oozy and red. A thin layer of skin has grown over the previously exposed muscle, and our doctor was pleased with the progress. He set up another appointment for early Monday morning, but he instructed me to call him at home if her burn looks the slightest bit different over the weekend.

Kimmie's cheering at her last home football game of the season, and she is so sad that it might be over. However, our boys are 6-1 right now, with only two games left in the season. (One home, and one away.) They are talking State, so it may not be over yet!!!! Keep your fingers crossed!

Kimmie really struggles with her grades, and last night she and I spent hours studying together for English. Her test is today, and based on the answers she gave me when I quizzed her last night, I think she might get an A or a B on this one! I'm so excited to pick her up from school this afternoon and find out how she thinks she did on the test... I'll let you know on Monday.
Yesterday, Liberty burned her hand while exploring our friend's house. She touched the glass in front of the fireplace. The fire had been out for almost an hour, but the glass was still hot enough to burn her little hand. She now has severe second degree burns on her palm and milder second degree burns on her fingertips.

The fingertips have blistered up, but the skin on her palm has come off, exposing the muscle beneath. It is sick looking, very slimy and bloody, and she screams when air touches it.

This morning, the doctor cut away the hanging skin around her palm. He put a salve on her hand and re-wrapped it. He is very worried about infection since such a large section of skin is missing, and he scheduled us to come in again tomorrow morning so that he can take care of it again.

After screaming all evening yesterday, Liberty has calmed down and turned back into my happy, easy-going baby. She laughs and talks and climbs and runs like normal, and only complains when her painkiller wears off or when she falls forward and breaks her fall with her hands.

I'll keep you posted on what the Doctor says tomorrow.
My creativity has dried up. The muse is gone.

My last post said that I would be too busy to blog, and that was true up until a week ago. I am no longer too busy to blog, but I can't think of anything to blog about. It's not like my life is boring or anything. It's just that I can't seem to come up with the juice to blog it. I've sat down at my computer several times and begun typing, but it was all just words...not interesting, not striking, not funny, not really anything.

So in a desperate effort to get my groove back, I am just going to narrate for a while. Maybe after a few days, weeks or months of narrating my life for you, my groove will return. Hopefully, it will flutter in through an open window and land gently on my shoulder, instead of dive-bombing me and leaving a mess of droppings on my shoulder. (Not sure where that came from, but there it is.)

As I pondered the possibilities of narrating my days, I realized that I had originally started this blog based on requests from family and friends who lived far, far away, and that they might enjoy hearing a daily narrative of our lives. So here goes. Not my favorite style, but at least it will be regular and informative, and what more could anyone ask for, really?
My posts will be random and few for a little while because it is quarterly statement time again! But never fear: I will return.

You have brought so much laughter with you into the world!
Since three years of age, I have desired to be a coffee drinker. My mom is addicted to the stuff; she drinks it black, and I grew up watching her relax as she sipped away at a steamy cup of liquid heaven. The smell, too, entices me so. It smells like sophistication and laid-back happiness.

My earliest attempt at coffee came one morning when I was four. Mom allowed me to take a sip out of her cup after it had cooled sufficiently. Excitedly I slurped it into my mouth and held it. The acrid taste shocked my poor little tongue, and I automatically opened my mouth to let the liquid escape. It cascaded down the front of my nightgown, and Mom decided that she would not be giving me any more sips from her cup even though I begged often.

Over the years, I have attempted a few other times to drink coffee or any variation thereof. In high school, a friend recommended adding a half cup to our hot cocoa, and I enthusiastically agreed. At last, a coffee concoction that would stay in my mouth, I thought excitedly. The first sip quickly informed my tastebuds that this was not an option for me, and I sadly gave the rest of my chocolate coffee to my friend.

Once, in college, I dumped enough milk and sugar into a coffee cup to rival General Mills' entire sugary cereal division, and I couldn't even swallow the first sip. (It wasn't because of the milk and sugar, either.)

So you can imagine my skepticism when earlier this summer, Melody said, "Here try some of this; you'll love it," and thrust a Smokey Row cup of Sweet Georgia Brown towards me. I inhaled wistfully before reminding her of my coffee-challenged taste buds. "But this has brown sugar, honey and steamed milk in it," she replied. Hope poked a tiny hole in my cloud of skepticism, and I tentatively lifted the styrofoam cup to my lips. My tongue depicted a hint of the acrid espresso but welcomingly embraced the brown sugar, honey and milk. The two flavors danced tastefully on my tongue before my throat opened. I had officially swallowed my first mouthful of coffee! I carefully tasted three more sips before handing the drink back to Melody. With a face of delight and a voice of awe I told her, "I liked it! I really liked it!"

However, four days later, when Mel surprised me with my own cup of Sweet Georgia Brown, I knew after the second sip that my mouth would no longer cooperate. The acrid espresso dominated the drink, and it was too much for my wimpy tastebuds. Sadly, I poured the aromatic remaining liquid into the sink and disposed of the cup.

Then last month, Kathy and I explored the small town of Clear Lake, and Kathy insisted on entering a local coffee shop called The Coffee Cabin for her daily caffeine fix. I decided to try once again. I ordered a small, turtle frappaccino and instructed the barrista to give me only half of the normal amount of espresso, while Kathy eagerly informed the woman that she would gladly accept the other half of my espresso in addition to her own. My order arrived complete with chocolate syrup, whipped cream and caramel drizzlings. And it was good! I drank almost the entire glass, wimping out at the end due to a sugar high instead of my normal espresso reasons.

Once back in my own town, I began longing for the air of sophistication that I associate with casually sipping a cup of coffee. Well, that and I had begun craving the mixture of sweet and sharp flavorings and the smell of roasting coffee beans that only a cup of java can supply. So when Craig told me he was making a Smokey Row run and offered to pick something up for me, I immediately ordered an iced Sweet Georgia Brown with half a shot of espresso. (Except I had forgotten the name and called it an Alabama Brown? Lousianna Brown? until he laughed at me.)
He brought the drink back to our office, and I luxuriously pulled sweet draughts of the cool beverage into my mouth. I sucked on it all morning, reveling in the sweet acridity and the incredible aroma.

I've found the secret: lots of steamed milk and only half a shot of espresso. That's how I drink sophistication.
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Kimmie was tuning the radio a few nights ago and became frustrated over a weak signal. She switched to the AM frequency and we began listening to a news cast.

Kimmie: You know this isn't really happening. This is tomorrow morning's news.
Me: (puzzled) Why do you say that?
Kimmie: Because I switched it to AM.

At least she used some logic!
I am very thankful for the extremely powerful imagination that God has given me, but sometimes it gets me into trouble...or at least into embarrassment.

When Jeremy and I first got married, he caught me in the bathroom "talking to the wall," and he has been teasing me about it ever since. What he doesn't know (and what he is learning right now if he is reading this) is that I was not talking to the wall. I was talking to an imaginary person who happened to be in the room with me. I'm sure some of you are now backing away from your computer screens and searching the phone book for the name of a good psychiatrist to refer me to, while others of you are smiling and nodding in identification. (Or at least I hope some of you are smiling and nodding in identification. I would hate to be the only grown up who still talks to imaginary people.) Yikes, now I'm getting paranoid about letting this blog out into the world, but oh well, this is me. Laugh if you must! :-)

My imagination sometimes makes it hard to separate fantasy and reality, especially when I am involved in a REALLY good book. This is difficult to describe, but even though I KNOW what reality looks like, sometimes when I'm reading or just finished reading, the edges of fact and fiction begin to blend.

I can remember one Saturday night when I was in third grade. I had entwined myself into a fictional account of a scientist who frantically experimented to refine a miracle drug that would save millions of soldiers' lives. The book was set during World War II, and the drug being refined was penicillin. Dr. Joe's top secret experiments with penicillin were somehow being leaked into enemy hands, and a plot had developed to steal his notes and discoveries before he could finish. The story was intense, and I secretly holed up beneath my blankets and read by the glow of a flashlight until 5:00 AM. (If my parents had found out, my book would have been taken away.) The next morning, after being dragged from bed, I attended Sunday School. I have no idea what the teacher, Miss Linda Ramsey soon-to-be Mrs. Scott Rankin, was talking about, but for some reason, she said the word penicillin, and I shouted, "No!" and jumped to my feet. In panic, I had assumed that she was telling Dr. Joe's secret, and I had immediately, patriotically jumped up to stop her. Once on my feet, I sheepishly realized that my reaction stemmed from the book I had read the night before, and I slowly sat down. Amid student laughter and teacher questions, I sat down again while my tired mind foggily struggled to sort out which world was real. (I soon came to the correct conclusion, but it worried me slightly that my brain had reacted that way.) Of course, I told no one...until now.

This has happened several times throughout my life, and Jeremy and Kimmie complain that when I am reading I cannot hear them talking to me, and I sometimes yell at my book. This does not bother me at all. I enjoy becoming part of the story, and I feel like I am constantly meeting new friends.

Last night, around 3:00 AM, I finished a bit of science fiction. American scientist, Albert Morrison joined a Soviet team of scientists who miniaturized a ship and sailed into a human brain. Albert brought along a machine of his own design, which he later accidentally discovered would aid in reading others' thoughts. This morning, while driving to work, my imagination subconsciously kept "seeing" arteries and glucose molecules, white blood cells and dendrites floating past the front and side car windows. Later, while in a meeting at work with Craig, he said something about sensing another person's personality. I had sensed the same thing when speaking with that particular person, and my mind immediately jumped to Albert's telepathic machine. I smiled and nodded, thinking that Craig was talking about the machine. It took me a few minutes to remember that the machine existed only in my book, and that Craig had not read the book so he could not possibly be discussing the machine.

Once I discovered my mistake, I amusingly told Craig about my too-vivid imagination, and we laughed together. He then confessed that he has had the same confusion with reality when he reads a really good book!

So, maybe I'm crazy, but at least I'm not alone in my insanity!
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This weekend is Ladies' Retreat for my church and many other churches in our state. I am so EXCITED to be going. When I was little, my mom would pack up once a year and enjoy her weekend with the other ladies in our church, and I wanted SO DESPERATELY to go with her. She always came back full of fun stories and laughter.

When I became a teenager, I decided that I must finally be old enough to join my mom on her retreat weekend, and I begged her to take me with her. She would don her "quiet face," which is my name for her facial expression when she is thinking way more than what she is saying, and she said, "No, Missy. You're not old enough yet."

Now, I realize that what she was really saying was, "Are you crazy? I need this weekend to get away from you and to remember how much God loves you and to find out how I can better love you. If you come too, I won't get to retreat, and when I come back, I won't be the wonderful mom that you need me to be."

You see, NOW I realize that, but then I just thought she was being mean.

Yay for me! I get to retreat! :-)
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Spring cleaning hit our house rather late this in over Labor Day weekend.

We emptied the garage of EVERYTHING, swept, built storage cabinets, hung bike racks and shovel racks and tool racks, raked grass clippings, dug up a circle around our sad little pine tree and refilled the circumference with specially fertilized dirt. (We are desperately trying to get the puny tree to perk up.)

At one point, Kimmie asked, "Isn't this supposed to be a holiday?"

"Nope, it's LABOR Day," I cheerfully responded.

We can party any old weekend.
Saturday morning dawned beautifully and warmly. Brilliant blue sky kissed green and golden harvest-ready fields. Jeremy woke early (around 10:30 AM) and as previously arranged, Kimmie babysat Liberty while Jeremy and I drove to Olive Garden to use our gift card.

I ate a scrumptious Smoked Provolone Alfredo over Angel Hair. The dish arrived sprinkled with breadcrumbs, diced tomatoes and chopped parsley. Beautiful and delicious! Jeremy ordered the never-ending pasta. He started out with Spaghetti and Meatballs, moved on to Sausage and Peppers and finished with Alfredo over Angel Hair. (I guess the never-ending pasta did come to an end.)

We then conducted a napkin-folding contest while Jeremy digested. Our waitress judged the results, and Jeremy won. Sigh. In my defense, my cloth napkin was older and floppier than Jeremy's crisp linen. I've already challenged him to a rematch when we return to Olive Garden six months from now.
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The football team wasn't the only entertainment last Friday. Liberty kept one section of the crowd smiling by climbing up and down the bleachers and stopping to "talk" with anyone near her path, and Kimmie awesomely performed her cheers for hours in front of the crowd.

Our Eagles seemed to be well-matched against BGM, who had beaten us last year, according to Kimmie. They intercepted several of our passes throughout the game and gained an early touchdown in the first quarter, but our defense skillfully held them back throughout the rest of the game. We entered the final quarter 7-6 BGM, my voice already hoarse from screaming "Stop it!" after each interception.

The other team had possession. A beautiful pass soared through the night and landed into the outstretched hands of OUR defensive player! He ran it down field about 50 yards! The Eagles crowd screamed and leaped to our feet while Liberty laughed and clapped, enjoying the excitement. We fought to score the touchdown and easily obtained the two-point conversion. With almost three minutes left in the game, the scoreboard read 14-7 Eagles! Could we keep it?

BGM quickly raced the ball to their 36 yard line. "They only need a touchdown and a field goal to tie up. A touchdown and two-point conversion to win," Jeremy muttered in my ear. If I were in the habit of biting my nails, I would have been chewing away at that moment. Kimmie and the other cheerleaders began chanting, "Hold that line, Eagles. Hold. That. Line!"

BGM's quarterback snapped the ball towards his open receiver, and seemingly out of nowhere, an Eagles player catapulted into the sky and snatched the flying ball. He ran down field as our bleachers erupted into screams of joy. We jumped, we stomped, we yelled, we threw popcorn. We were a victorious mess!

A touchdown and a two-point conversion later, we walked elatedly to our cars. The first game of the season belonged to us!

PS> I had some awesome pictures of Kimmie cheering, but the camera's memory card wimped out on us afterwards and deleted everything.
It's football time again!!! Tonight is the high school's first game of the season, and Jeremy took off work to join Liberty and I as we watch Kimmie cheer on the players. Oh, I can't wait!

Football has got to be my favorite sport. I love the passes and the tackles and the full-speed treks down field. I love the excitement and the cheering crowds, the crisp weather, and the blankets and jackets and game food.
After my horrific experience with book three in the Grace Chapel Inn Series, I hesitated to open book four. More than anything else, I wanted the fourth epistle to return me to pleasant times and gently flowing stories, and I was afraid that reading it might crush my tentatively outstretched hopes forever. (Now does that sound dramatic or what? :-)

The first two pages filled me with relief, and I read the entire book last night. Kimmie laughed at me when after the second chapter, I hugged the book and pronounced, "I LOVE THIS BOOK!" Oh, I am so thankful for Melody Carlson (who was also the author of the first book in the series, so it makes sense that I would love the fourth book).

In other news, Dr. V. checked Liberty's ears with a machine, and he said that she had fluid behind her ear drums. Since there is not a whole lot that we can do to get rid of it, he told me to keep a sharp eye on her and to bring her back in a month for another ear exam. Eventually, we may need to put tubes in her ears, but right now, he is hoping it will dry up on its own.

Please pray for that.
Kimmie and I visited the library yesterday. My librarian friend and I started up a conversation, and she ended up recommending a series of books to me, called the Grace Chapel Inn Series. I read the first book and was immediately hooked. The story centers on three sisters between the ages of 50 - 65 who love and support each other and get along well (other than disagreeing on how to decorate the inn, and even that is resolved with ease). They start up a Bed and Breakfast in a tiny town called Acorn Hill filled with quirky, lovable characters. The book meandered through it's story line, pointing out wonderful qualities and marring flaws in each resident of the town, including the three heroines. Each person was described in a normal looking way, not overly beautiful, or overly ugly. Not exceedingly handsome or fat or scrawny. They were normal people (which is hard to find in most fiction.) I LOVED THE BOOK, and immediately returned to the library for the next three books in the series. The second book filled me with peaceful joy, just as the first one, but last night I began the third book. Each book has a different author, and I believe this author must not have read the two previous books before scribbling her own. This author, Judy Baer, crashes through the town creating drama where none previously existed. She describes the two older sisters as uptight and mean, while the youngest sister longs for her old life in San Fransisco and wonders if she will ever fit in with her sisters or the town. All of the lovable townspeople have ugly dispositions and no redeeming qualities. The youngest sister is devastatingly beautiful with the body of a teenager, and the two men (suddenly) in her life are incredibly handsome. The townsfolk, in addition to their radical personality changes, are also either fat or scrawny or ugly in some way. The youngest sister is not only beautiful and misunderstood, she is also angelically good to everyone around her. She rescues a homeless man, a stroke victim, and a small child as well as saving the inn from financial ruin, while cooking superb chef-style meals, growing award winning garden flowers, starting her own side business of designing and selling jewelry, and unraveling the mystery of her dead mother.

I read the first 20 pages or so with growing dismay and forced myself to read the next 50 pages. Finally, Kimmie asked me why I continued torturing myself (and her, since I kept exclaiming over how Judy Baer has ruined the town). I have never, EVER, in my entire life quit on a book. Even when I hate them, I have to read through to the end to see if somehow the author can redeem him or herself. I hate to put a book down in relief that the writing is finally over, but this book was so horrible in comparison with the first two, that I wanted to cry. I finally decided to skip to the end and read the last 30 pages. Of course Judy's version of good triumphed over Judy's version of evil, and the youngest sister learned to smile at people who hated her and turn to God for help in trouble (which I am definitely NOT knocking), but the book left me with sadness for the older sisters and town residents who could do nothing to defend themselves against the slander on their characters created by Judy Baer.

I plan to begin the fourth book in the series tonight, and I frantically hope that the fourth author has read the first two books and has chosen to stick to them.
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A week and a half ago, Liberty had Rosiola and the beginning of an ear infection. Her doctor prescribed the Bubble Gum Medicine! (Amoxicillin), and told us to come in for a follow-up visit when the bottle was empty. So Libby has an appointment today, and I'm very glad for it. She has been pulling at her ears for a couple days now, and yesterday, she couldn't seem to keep her balance, even when she was just sitting or crawling. This morning, I noticed quite a bit of drainage in her nose and throat. I'm hoping it is nothing, but I'm thankful that our doctor will be checking her out.
Liberty and I have invented a game that we call Ferris Wheel. I lie down on my back on the floor. She crawls over to my feet and plops her little rear down on top of them. Then I hold her hands and slowly raise my feet together into the air until they are level with my knees. I gently bounce her up and down a few times while she squeals in delight. Then I hold onto her waist and lift my legs into the air until she is upside down and vertical. My arms take over from there, supporting her head and back while I place her onto the floor behind my head. In this way, she does a complete flip in the air while passing over the full length of my body.

We did this several times a few days ago, and later that day I wondered why my stomach, chest and arm muscles were so sore. It took me a while to figure out the reason, but now I know that I can workout and have fun with Liberty at the same time. It's great!
Friday night, Jeremy took me out on a surprise date.

We ate at a restaurant that we had never tried before and split a meal and a dessert, and oh my goodness was it ever good! We plan to return often. We then headed to the cinema to watch (finally) Bourne Ultimatum where the constantly moving camera always leaves me feeling slightly ill. Afterwards, we discussed many aspects of our lives, and made decisions that we have been putting off for a long time.

When we arrived at home, both of our girls were already asleep so we had the house to ourselves and enjoyed the peace and quiet.
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In our basement there are two large egress windows with a deep well dug around the outside of them. I would guess that the wells are at least 4 to 5 feet deep, and with all the rain we have had recently, several small frogs have taken up residence in our window wells. At first they were amusing to watch. They nibbled on the bits of foliage that has begun growing in the wells and chewed on crickets and spiders that were unfortunate enough to move into the neighborhood. (Do frogs eat foliage? Maybe not. So they probably aren't nibbling as they hop about in our window, but it still sounds like a froggy thing to do, so I'm going to leave it.)

But now the frogs have become silently pathetic. They can only jump about three feet high, and their suctiony feet always seem to lose grip about halfway up the window. They are stuck in a glass case, and cannot get out.

That's how I've been feeling recently, too, and I don't really know why.

Maybe it's the weather: hot, humid, overcast, rainy. Yesterday, I pressed my nose against the chilly panes of the sliding glass doors in our dining room, watching the rain pour down and longing to run around in it playing "Call the Fire" with my brothers and sisters like we used to when we were kids. Maybe it's the fact that school just started up again. I've always loved attending school, and now that I'm grown up there's no more school in my future. Maybe it's the Texas let-down. I had gotten excited at the prospect of new adventures in the Lone Star State, but upon researching the educational system in that part of the country, we have come to realize that this is probably not the best move for our family at this time. (I say probably, because our decision is not completely set in stone yet, although it looks like it will be pretty firm.) Maybe it's my lack of good tennis shoes. The ones I currently own were purchased (against Jeremy's will) a size too small (because they were SOOOO cute, and they had sold out of the right size). Therefore, I can wear them to events that require me to stand around looking cute, but I cannot wear them to go running.

Whatever the reason, I am feeling trapped. The urge to break out and do SOMETHING lurks strongly just under my calm demeanor.

This morning, I strolled into Craig's office with some paperwork to discuss, and I told him, "Craig. I need to do something fun." "Like what?" came his response. I pondered the question.

I want to buy a motorcycle and go zooming around Iowa. Stop randomly at little hole-in-the-wall places and have adventures like tasting every ice cream flavor known to man, or exploring a cave, or riding in a hot air balloon, or rappelling down a rock wall, or jumping off a cliff and landing in a river (I did that years ago into the Hudson River), or canoeing, or SOMETHING ACTIVE.

All of that raced through my mind, but I calmly answered, "I don't know," and quietly lamented my too-small tennis shoes and my bicycle with the flat rear tire.
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Guess what? I heard yesterday that the producers of the movie Facing the Giants made lots of money on that film, and they are planning another movie. This one might be about a firefighter. Oh! I am so excited! Jeremy and I have decided to move to Georgia, so that we can be part of the church that makes the movies!

(Not really, but that sure would be wonderful!)
What really happened this weekend?

1. I made breakfast. (Fried eggs and toast)
2. Jeremy and I emptied the pool together. (But we did not scrub the green slime off the bottom. Instead, we tipped the pool upside down on the back deck. We're sportingly giving the pretty microbes a head start before we eliminate them...because we didn't feel like scrubbing at the time. This is now on my To Do List for this afternoon when I get home from work.)
3. We did absolutely nothing with the blinds in the bedroom.
4. I created a menu for the week. (I get to have Tacos on Thursday!!!!)
5. We went grocery shopping. (And forgot to pick up vacuum bags.)
6. Jeremy went back to the store and bought vacuum bags. (He then vacuumed the carpeting in the family room right as we were trying to start a movie -- Facing the Giants, one of the most awesome movies of all time!)
7. Jeremy and I discussed Texas, and we now feel that we have a game plan. (We listed certain criteria that will be researched before we make a decision on accepting a job and moving.)
8. Happy Birthday, Colin!!!
9. Your present can be this blog to you...all you have to do is print it and frame it. (Aren't I a great friend?) See Colin's comments on my previous blog entry.
10. We went to a nearby town that we have never explored and ate wonderful food (I had Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo; Jeremy had Spicy Jambalaya, and Kimmie ordered Garlic Cheese Bread and shared my Fettuccine and Jeremy's Jambalaya. Liberty snacked on apple juice and Ritz crackers, sampled my Fettuccine and entertained our waitress.)

And thus ended our lovely Saturday. :-)
I've been sitting at the computer screen trying to think of something to blog about, but my mind is more focused on what I have to do today. Maybe if I get this list out of my head, it will free up some brain space for blogging.

1. Make breakfast (I'm starving.)
2. Empty and scrub the kiddy pool. (Green slime is growing on the bottom.)
3. Help Jeremy put the blinds up in our bedroom. (Only one window left to do.)
4. Create a menu for the week. (But not before breakfast, otherwise my hunger would fill the menu with unnecessary food.)
5. Go grocery shopping. (And don't forget to pick up vaccum bags.)
6. Vaccum.
7. Discuss Texas with Jeremy. (That's a list all by itself.)

Now that that is out of the way, I'm going to make some breakfast! :-)
Today is my first day back at work this week (as you can probably tell by the several new posts). Liberty has been sick, and I've been home with her.

Liberty is MUCH better, but I am missing my cuddle time with her very badly right now. I really enjoyed staying home with her even if she was miserable, poor kid. I'm so glad that when I dropped her off at her babysitter's house, she was smiling hugely and back to her old self again.

Guess what? She talks now!!!! She imitates what I say. Like if I say, "Say Hi Grandma!" She says, "I Gaaa." If I say, "Say Hi Mommy." She says, "I Ma-ma." She tries to say Kimmie, but it's not recognizable, although it is always the same sound.

So back to work for me.
On his way back from Texas, Jeremy stopped and bought me a notebook and a bookmark. Now does my husband know me, or what? The notebook is cute and small enough to fit in my purse. It is so cute that it inspires writing (unlike the ugly legal pad that I have been lugging around with me).

The background colors of my bookmark merge from green to orange to red to blue, and the foreground is littered with smiling yellow faces in varying sizes. The faces smile up at me so happily that I have to smile back at them.

I'm so thankful for Jeremy.
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This afternoon, I'm driving to the airport to pick up Kimmie, returning from North Carolina. Yay! (Hopefully, her plane will make it all the way here without falling to pieces!)

Since we'll be in the city, we plan to meet up with a friend who I used to work with before we moved. I'm looking forward to catching up on his life and on everyone still at the old job.

Plus, we're going to one of my favorite restaurants! Kimmie will enjoy her first meal back in Iowa!
Fever. Panic. Baby so hot.

Lukewarm bath.


Shivering goosebumps. Blue fingertips. Burning forehead.

Does cuddling help?

Thoughts swirl.

Capture one and put it into words. Four, five words. They fragment.

New thought swirling past. Reach out.

Missed it.

I want to write!
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To be able to write while soaking in a luxuriously scented bubble bath would be ultimate happiness for me. My mind dreams of blueprints for a bath desk that would hook over the sides of the tub, dip low enough that my hands wouldn't lose circulation while I write, and be flexible enough to push out of the way when writing is no longer desired. Oh, and a cup holder would be nice. Hmmm. :-)
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The more I study Rebekah (Isaac's wife and Jacob and Esau's mom) the more I realize that I am like her. We both enjoy sizing up a situation and acting accordingly. That's the good part. But we also both lean towards acting on our own instead of waiting on God's move. That's the bad part. Thankfully, God put Rebekah in the Bible as an example of how messed up my family can become if I lean to my own understanding instead of waiting on God.

Jeremy is in Texas right now interviewing for the job down there, and I am up here. Freaking out.

At least I was until I finished the first paragraph. Then I took a walk around town and recited two verses to myself: "Great peace have they which love Thy law, and nothing shall offend them," and "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusts in Thee." After that, God brought this song to my mind:

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come, why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home, when Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m free! For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled.” His tender word I hear, and resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears. Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see, His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise, when songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him. From care He sets me free. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me (and Jeremy). :-)
I thought my blog today would be sappy and sentimental about dropping Kimmie off at the airport and knowing that I would not see her again for another week. But instead it is going to be about Kimmie's incredible airport adventures. Things happen to her in airports that I have never seen happen to anyone else.

Prior to joining our family a couple years ago, Kimmie had never flown before, and she was nervous to fly from her current home in North Carolina to us in Iowa. Although Jeremy and I assured her repeatedly that flying was fun and easy, she persisted in her fears and worried about all the possible dangers.

It turns out that Kimmie's fears are very well founded -- at least for her. When she flew for the first time, the plane that she was scheduled to ride in had collided with a bird during the previous flight. After landing in North Carolina, the airline boarded all of the new passengers including Kimmie and then proceeded to sit on the tarmac for two hours while they discussed the defect in the plane that the bird collision had caused. After two hours, they moved all of the passengers to another plane. This one had something wrong with its toilet, causing yet another delay. When Kimmie finally arrived in Chicago for a layover, crazy weather delayed her again. She waited in the airport for three more hours where she made friends with other unaccompanied minors and was given more cookies and snacks than she knew what to do with. We were very relieved when she landed safely in Iowa.

Yesterday, Kimmie attempted to fly uneventfully from Iowa back to North Carolina for a week long visit. That plan failed miserably.

You see, Kimmie had been scheduled to fly to North Carolina earlier this summer, in June. However, circumstances prevented her from taking that trip, and we switched her flight out for one in August. In June, when I switched the tickets, I spoke directly to an airline operator named Jerri, and she told me that we had to drive to the airport and exchange the paper tickets in person before June 7th, or the electronic tickets on hold for us would drop out of the system and be lost. Jeremy graciously took time out of his day (and gas out of his car) to drive to the airport (an hour away from us). He conversed with Linda, a employee at the airport who worked for that specific airline. She told him that the electronic tickets were already ours, not just on hold for us, and that we could throw our paper tickets away because they would not need them. Our tickets had already been exchanged. Jeremy was confused by this statement, because it was not what Jerri had told us.

Jeremy called me on his cell phone and had Linda speak directly to me. I questioned her words several times, and I told her what Jerri had instructed us to do. Linda adamantly repeated that we did not need the paper ticket at all; she told us that Jerri's instructions were incorrect. Jeremy returned home with the original paper tickets and the understanding that we could throw the tickets in the garbage because Kimmie would only need her ID when she arrived at the airport in August.

Yesterday, Jeremy took Kimmie to the airport. He dropped her off outside (in order to save the dollar that it would cost him if he parked the car and walked her inside). Kimmie walked up to the ticket counter and spoke with Linda. She gave Linda her ID and her itinerary code. Linda informed Kimmie that there were no tickets on hold for Kimmie and that the itinerary referenced was not paid for. Kimmie called me at work, slightly panicked from the ticket counter, and gratefully handed me over to Linda. Linda then informed me that we DID need to turn in those outdated paper tickets after all and that they would not let her on the plane until I turned in the paper tickets in exchange for the current electronic tickets. Her plane was scheduled to depart at 1:00 PM. Our house is an hour away from the airport. It was currently 11:47 PM. I realized immediately that it would be impossible for Jeremy to drive from the airport to our house to pick up the paper tickets and drive back to the airport in time to get her onto her scheduled flight. I begged Linda to delay the flight as long as possible, and I dropped everything at work. I fled for my car. Reaching our house in record time, I frantically flipped through paperwork, searching for a ticket that may have been thrown away already.

I found it in my bedroom and triumphantly waved it over my head as I raced out of the empty house. I set Jenny's cruise control at 72 (the speed limit was 65), and prayed that the cops would not be bored that day and looking for a person only going 72 down the deserted highway. Jeremy had driven halfway out to meet me in order to save time, but when we met at the gas station, he parked his truck and hopped into my car. Together we sped into the city. My phone rang when I was five minutes away from the airport. It was Kimmie and Linda again. They wanted to know how far away I was because Kimmie's plane was fully boarded, and they could not hold it much longer. The time was 12:48. "Just wait! Just a minute!" I cried into the phone. "I'm almost there!"

"Watch out!" Jeremy yelled. A large truck pulling a trailer full of lawn mowing equipment slowly pulled into my lane. I hit the brakes, and Jeremy and I braced ourselves against the invisible force pulling our bodies towards the front windshield. Slowly, I followed behind the truck, imagining myself climbing onto the roof of my moving car and leaping movie-style onto one of the mowers in the trailer ahead of us. In my mind, I ramped the mower off of the trailer and sped through the grass past all the traffic in front of us to get to the airport on time. Unfortunately, my body did not follow my imagination's instructions. By the time we arrived at the airport, it was 12:57, and there was no way that Kimmie would be able to make it through security and to the plane in time. I breathlessly handed Linda the paper tickets and gave Kimmie a commiserative hug.

Linda frowned at the computer. "Now why isn't this going through?" she muttered to herself. She double-checked the information on the paper ticket and then verified what she had typed into the airline's system. After several more unsuccessful attempts to exchange Kimmie's ticket, Linda informed me that she would need the original form of payment in order to force the exchange through. Did we use the Star Wars credit card? I asked myself, Or was it directly from our bank account? I had left my purse in the car along with my husband because we had assumed my sojourn into the airport would be less than five minutes, so he had stayed with the car in the "No Parking -- drop off only" lane which was "Strictly Enforced" according to the signs. I ran back outside, but neither my car Jenny nor my husband was in sight, and I realized that he must be circling the airport due to the strictly enforced no parking laws. I returned to the ticket counter and showed them my empty hands. "I don't have my original form of payment, and I don't remember the number."

Marci sighed. (This is getting very long, so I'm going to abbreviate.) Jeremy, Kimmie and I sat at the airport for two and a half hours waiting for them to get the exchange to go through. Once Kimmie had her tickets in hand, we rejoiced, and Jeremy and I decided to walk with her as far as security in an effort to prevent any more of her weird airport bad luck from following her. We hugged goodbye and said I love you several times. But no more misadventures occurred, and we watched her disappear up the escalator towards the gates.

Her bad luck struck again when she arrived in Milwaukee for her layover. Apparently, the Milwaukee airport had had a fire just before she arrived. When her plane de-boarded, the lights in the airport were out, and the computer systems were down. Fire fighters walked the concourses, directing passengers to appropriate gates. Kimmie followed instructions and arrived at her assigned gate. After waiting a little while, another airport employee came by and re-directed the waiting passengers to a different gate. Kimmie obediently followed the crowd to her new destination.

Thankfully, she arrived safely in North Carolina late last night. She called home to let me know that she was there, and she told me of her Milwaukee adventures.

Jeremy and I have now decided that if we ever need to use an airplane for a family vacation, we will book Kimmie's tickets on a different plane. That way she will keep all of the trouble to herself, and we will enjoy a stress-free vacation!
Kimmie and I had a garage sale on Friday and Saturday. She felt very grown up and responsible because she got to run it alone on Friday. (Jeremy was inside sleeping and could be questioned if necessary, but she only woke him up twice. He told me that she did such an awesome job with the customers that she could very easily do a great job in sales someday.) We made lots of money on Friday, but in the pouring rain on Saturday we only made $4.00. A friend of mine is having a garage sale in two weeks, so we're going to combine our leftover stuff with hers and make another fun day together out of it at her house. This time, hopefully, we'll sell the rest!

Libby had a doctor's appointment on her 10 month birthday. (It was supposed to be her nine month checkup, but I procrastinated horribly.) She now weighs 13 pounds, 11 ounces, and she is 23 inches long. Her weight is still not on the growth chart, but her height is in the 3rd percentile! Yay! She finally made it onto the chart!!! Her head circumference is in the 15th percentile. Our doctor was a little concerned about whether her mental growth could be behind, so he asked me a LOT of questions about her current capabilities. He also examined her very closely and had her do a lot of things, and he decided that she is completely normal and even slightly above in certain areas of development. It is just her body that is tiny. He doesn't expect her to ever catch up physically to other kids her age. He thinks that she will always be a smaller person. (Which is fine with me, I won't have to buff up my arm muscles in order to lift her.)

She has so much personality now! I really enjoy being around her. She gives kisses, and she claps whenever she hears one of us say "yay" even if the "yay" is not directed at her. She likes to make others laugh, so she has this one face that we call her scrunchy face. She crinkles her nose and eyes up and purses her lips and breathes in and out through her nose very rapidly. It is very cute, and of course, everyone around her laughs. Then she looks at everyone with a big grin. She stands on her own now, and she tries to walk. She can't walk by herself yet, so she insists on grabbing our fingers and taking off across the room. She LOVES walking. She also loves to cuddle. It's really funny when we are at home, because wherever I am, she wants to be there too. If I am in the kitchen cooking, she is under my feet, trying to climb up my legs. If I am walking around the house doing various chores, she will crawl along behind me. Usually by the time she gets to where I am, I am finished being there, so she has to turn around and catch me in another spot. She gets frustrated with that, especially if I am not paying enough attention to her. So I try to take a minute to stop and play with her when my path crosses hers as we come and go from room to room.

Kimmie is going to North Carolina for a week to visit family. She's leaving this Tuesday and will come back next Tuesday. This will be her first plane trip on her own, so I'm anxious to see how it goes for her. She has one layover where she will need to change planes, and I have printed out a map of that terminal, so that she can know where she is and how to get to where she needs to be. She is SO EXCITED for this visit, and I am really excited for her. She has plans to visit old friends and meet up with relatives and see the BEACH. I am just imagining all of the fun this will be, and I can't wait for her to come home and tell me all of her adventurous stories.

Jeremy had an interview at his current workplace for a job that he has been wanting for a while. They have a few more candidates to interview, and we are waiting to hear what their final decision will be. Jeremy also recently had a phone interview with a job in Texas, and this Friday, they are flying him down there for a second interview. His dad lives in the area, and has already set up an appointment on Saturday morning with a real estate agent to look at possible houses. On Saturday afternoon, Jeremy is meeting with a school administrator to discuss Kimmie's possible enrollment there. We do not even know yet, if we will be offered that job, but we are preparing our fields for rain (that was a Facing the Giants reference, if you didn't catch it), and we are willing to do whatever God wants. If He wants us to stay here, we will stay here happily because we love it here. If He wants us to move to Texas, we will move happily because God has wonderful unknown plans in store for us there. We just need to know for sure where God wants us.

My friend Melody came to visit me last week, and we had such wonderful adventures together, many laughs and incredible talks. Oh, I miss her! We saw "Much Ado about Nothing" on the lawn outside of an old mansion, and the cicadas were out en masse. A few of them landed on the stage and frightened one of the actors, which was quite funny to me. :-) We explored our small town from top to bottom, and we decided on the spur of the moment to make a quilt. Neither of us have ever quilted before, but we bought the fabric, and discussed buying a pattern. In the end, we tossed the idea of the pattern and decided to make our own. (Melody ended up making the pattern herself, really. I just gave suggestions and approved her design, and it was so much fun!) We sewed the center square of the quilt together, and whenever Mel finishes it, she is going to email me the pictures. Oh! Speaking of emailing me pictures! She hasn't emailed me the pictures of our week together yet. I just realized that. We drank hot peppermint tea with honey each night and read books to each other. We started the first of the Sisterchicks series, but we didn't finish it. (I read it several years ago, so Melody took it home with her to finish on her own.)

Jeremy and I had our four year anniversary a couple weeks ago. He surprised me by kidnapping me and taking me to the Hilton Garden Inn where we had a suite of rooms with a jaccuzi. Kimmie babysat Liberty while we honeymooned again. It was very wonderful and relaxing!

Hope you're caught up, now! Summer is awesome! :-)
My family is leaving us today, and I am very sad. My two brothers, Nate and Joe, and my sister-in-love, Suzy, are going home either tonight or tomorrow morning. I'm at work today, but when I get home, their things will be all packed, and there will be no pile of luggage and no dogs to remind me of their presence. (Nate and Suzy brought their two dogs with them: Bonnie - a cute Scottish Terrier, and Montana - a small German Shepherd/Chow.)

I've decided that my family needs to move closer to us. We have a small subdivision that would work nicely for our clan.
Kimmie is coming home today!!! She's been visiting my parents and siblings in Illinois, and she's riding home with two of my brothers and my sister-in-law. I can't wait to hug her (although she called yesterday and informed me of a terrible sunburn that she has recently acquired, so she may not be so thrilled to receive my hug!)

Jeremy and I are both off of work for the rest of this week, and we have tons of fun planned for Nate, Suzy and Joe's week long visit. Think picnics and hikes and fireworks!

How old is too old to have a sleepover? I remember when I was eight or nine years old, I asked my friend's mom why ladies her age didn't have sleepovers, and she laughed and said, "You'll understand one day when you are my age."

At the time, she had three kids, and she was in her late twenties or early thirties. I am 28, and I have two kids. And tonight, two of my friends are going to sleepover at my house. They are each in their early forties. One lady has one child, and the other lady has four children. They are leaving their husbands and kids behind to PAR-TAY with me.

My husband works night shift, so he will not be home until 3 or 4 in the morning. Kimmie is in Illinois visiting my parents and siblings, and Liberty will go to bed around 8:00 tonight, leaving us ladies free to TP the neighborhood or freeze the underwear of whoever goes to sleep first.

The only difference between this sleepover, and the sleepovers of my childhood will be that we're not going to camp out on the floor in sleeping bags. The three of us will sleep on my wonderful king-sized bed, where I plan to start a vicious pillow fight!
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I noticed several funny things while on my way to work this morning that brought me joy, and I drove through town with a silly smile on my face.

1. The Perky Intern: My favorite radio station is based out of the Big City an hour away, and they have hired a summer intern who brings a very upbeat vocal quality to the air waves. She sounds extremely young, although I know she must be in college, and her voice is always extremely happy. This morning, they put her in charge of reading the news.

She read in her cheerful, upbeat voice: "It was dark and late last night when a city policeman was killed in a hit and run. The officer was kneeling outside of his squad car using a radar gun to catch speeding motorists when one of those motorists ran into the back of his car pushing it into his body and crushing him to death. Also last night, a bullet ended the life of a young man, who police are declining to identify before giving the details to his family. The neighbors in the small neighborhood where he was shot are shocked and concerned that this has happened so close to their homes. A presidential candidate is crashing a debate party today. Paul Don (I think that's the name that she said) was not invited to the presidential debate involving many other candidates, so he has decided to throw his own the same building as the debate and at the same time. He is offering free hamburgers and hotdogs to the first 500 people who show up."

I have to tell you, it is hard to take the two deaths mentioned seriously, when the newscaster is so joyful about it. And then I cracked up listening to the Paul Don party crashing. He sounds pretty fun to me. Although, I'm not sure what type of president he would make if he was crashing cabinet meetings all the time, and what would he do if a UN negotiation didn't go his way? Find a creative way around it, or just do his own thing to the detriment of others?

2. The Mismatched Flowers: As I entered town, I drove past a house with six beautiful hanging baskets of flowers on the front porch. Each basket overflowed with dusky pink blossoms, all but one basket that is. The last basket dangled the same flowers, but in a distinctly orange tone that did not match the house or the other flowers at all. I laughed out loud as I imagined the surprised homeowner discovering for the first time that the promising buds on the newly purchased plants were not the same color on every plant.

3. The Practical Joke: On my way to drop Liberty off at her babysitter's house, I passed another victim of the town's ongoing practical joke. Twenty, pink, plastic flamingos perched on thin metal stems on the front lawn of a house, and a posted sign in the yard read in large, black letters, "YOU HAVE BEEN FLOCKED." These same flamingos and sign were in the front yard of a house four blocks away two days ago, and I remember seeing the birds and their accompanying verbiage several times at various houses last summer, too. At the time, I thought it was a practical joke, and I got a great laugh out of it, but just before blogging about it, I decided to search the Internet to see if anyone in town has said anything funny about the incidents. It turns out, the birds are a fundraiser for breast cancer. Townspeople secretly vote on who should be the first victim of the flocking, and in the middle of the night someone sneaks out to the house and flocks the front lawn. The birds remain at their posts until the homeowner donates to breast cancer research. He then chooses the next person to be flocked, and in the middle of the night, the birds migrate to the next nominees' yard. That's the best fundraiser that I've ever heard of!