I am home!

And a six hour car ride with three kids and a husband ended up not even close to as bad as my nightmares had predicted. We left Iowa at 2:30 PM yesterday, and pulled into my parent's driveway around 8:30 PM where a welcoming committee of Zach, Faith, Pete, my mom and our beagle, Rosie enthusiastically greeted us.

I'm thankful to be home.

"I really hope we didn't forget anything important," I worriedly told Jeremy once we had officially gotten on the road.

"Impossible," he reassured me. "Not after all those lists you made."

I mentally reviewed all my lists and relaxed into the roomy passenger seat of our van. "You're right. We should have everything."

"Where'd you put Mercy's bottle?" I inquired after glancing at the clock a few hours later. She would be ready to eat any minute now.

"Her bottle?" he glanced at me strangely, "I thought you had packed that in the side pocket of her diaper bag."

"I did last night, but I grabbed it out this morning to feed her. I thought you were going to wash it and put it back for me."

"You're kidding, right? Tell me we didn't leave her bottle at home."

"Uh, I think we left her bottle at home."

Jeremy groaned. "I'll start looking for a store." It took two hours before we found a town large enough to hold a bottle-selling store, and thankfully, Mercy overslept.

I'm thankful for car vibrations.

After all the enthusiastic hugging and lugging of suitcases, I walked into the old farmhouse, wondering where my two youngest daughters had been kidnapped to. I discovered Mercy lounging on my sister Charity's lap! Charity lives in Ohio, and she told me she wasn't going to be able to make it for Thanksgiving. Her almost-fiance' Caleb sat on the couch next to her. They both wore pleased little smirks.

"You tricked me!" I shouted out happily.

"Yep!" she acknowledged. "But it wasn't my fault. Caleb and I were planning to have Thanksgiving at his mom's and Christmas here. At the last minute he changed his mind and surprised me...and you."

This means that all of my brothers and sisters will be in town at the same time this Thanksgiving!

I'm thankful for surprises!

They put us in Faithy's large room with a queen bed for us, a crib mattress on the floor for Liberty and a playpen in the corner for Mercy. The arrangement worked wonderfully until Jeremy and I climbed into the bed. It moved. We froze. A clunking sound occurred. "Um, did we break the bed?" Jeremy asked gingerly.

I sighed, "I sure hope not." We waited tensely for the bed to go crashing down to the floor. Nothing happened. "I think we're good?" I ended on a question mark, and we continued arranging ourselves into the bed. It swayed again. We froze again.

I carefully exited the mattress and laid down flat on the floor to peer underneath at the metal bed frame. Good news. It was on wheels. The swaying did not indicate brokenness. But the center bar with one end resting on the floor did. Apparently, my 98 pound sister isn't heavy enough to sink her mattress down, but the combined weight of Jeremy and I pushed it far enough that it sagged slightly in the midde all night.

I'm thankful for my bed at home.

This morning, Mercy woke up at 5:00. I didn't want her to wake Liberty up with her crying, so I quickly scooped her up and took her downstairs to eat. The four gigantic picture windows surrounding the living room displayed a gorgeous sunrise over the cornfields that Mercy and I enjoyed immensely. Pinks, blues, oranges, and yellows smeared across the sky as far as I could see.

I'm thankful for God's paintings.

An hour later, my dad came downstairs. After putting his socks on and finding his glasses, he eagerly took Mercy from my arms. He began talking and cooing to her. Happy noises oozed from both of them. They discussed vocabulary words like vargueno and the archaic meaning of virtue. They moved on to the policital state of the Union, and finished with plumbing and electricity. Mercy is much smarter now than she was when she arrived.

I'm thankful for her Grandpa.

As I sit here at the computer, waiting for the rest of the family to begin stirring, I think of my brother Nate and his wife Suzy and two month old son Abraham Michael who are driving right now from Ohio to join us here today. I think of my sister Hannah and her husband Craig and two kids, Roman and Destiny who are probably still in bed (if they're smart) at their home in town and who will join us tomorrow. (His family is in town today.) I think of my sister Charity and her boyfriend Caleb who drove from Ohio a few days ago to surprise us all. I think of my brother Joe and his fiance' Melissa who are at her family's house today, but should stop by here later. I think of my brothers Zach and Pete and my sister Faith who live here at home still. I think of my mom and dad who have always loved us, and still provide a safe place where we can all retreat for laughter and warmth and love.

I'm thankful for home.
Guess what?

Kimmie got her driver's permit on Friday!

AHEM!!! KIMMIE GOT HER DRIVER'S PERMIT ON FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, in honor of the fact that there are only THREE days until I get to see my newest nephew, Baby Abey, I give you: THREE Car Rides.

I picked Kimmie up from school around 11:30ish and took her to the testing place. Almost two hours later, she came out with a permit card waving proudly over her head. And we proceeded to take
Car Ride # 1.

I handed her the keys, and she freaked out, "No! You can't make me drive right now! I just got my permit. I don't have any experience!"

I just smiled at her. After a few minutes of protesting, she adjusted the seat and the mirrors and put her seat belt on while I went over a few preliminaries with her like:

"If I ever say stop...even if you don't know why I said stop...STOP IMMEDIATELY!!!"


"Do you know which pedal is the brake? NO! It is NOT the long skinny one on the right!"

I stood behind our minivan to help direct her as she backed up into the empty street, and I told her over and over. "KEEP YOUR FOOT ON THE BRAKE. PLEASE DON'T RUN OVER ME." She did a great job backing up and getting herself situated and ready to drive. I hopped into the passenger seat, and we prayed together.

She said, "God, please help me drive well."

I said, "God! Please keep us alive! AND don't let our insurance go up! AND let me still have a minivan in one piece when she's done! But if that is not Your will...please let Jeremy remember which flowers I want on my tombstone. THANKYOUVERYMUCH. AMEN." Then I tied myself down and gripped the overhead handle.

She stomped on the gas, and our heads flung backwards. "Oh. Sorry."

"No problem," I smiled. "Just a little less gas next time."

We proceeded down the road.

She stomped on the brake; our heads rushed toward the windshield. I looked around for a car, or a small child, or a squirrel. After finding nothing, I asked, "Why did you stop?"

"There's a stop sign."

I looked ahead...twelve miles. "So there is. Good instincts, Kimmie. Let's inch slowly towards it. And next time, you can stop closer to the sign if you'd like."

We rolled forward three inches and abruptly jerked our heads towards the windshield again. I smiled, feeling safer. "Okay, now go forward some more..."

Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at the stop sign.

Car Ride #2
On Sunday afternoon, I handed Kimmie the keys. "But we don't have time to drive around the neighborhood before work," she informed me.

"I know. You're driving to work, instead."

She immediately panicked. "No! I can't drive on the highway! I've only driven once so far!" She then appealed to Jeremy, "She's going to make me drive on the highway! Tell her I don't have any experience on the highway!"

Jeremy came to the passenger side of the car and leaned into the open window for a long farewell hug. "I love you." He seriously informed me. He didn't seem to want to let go.

Kimmie adjusted the seat and the mirrors and put her seat belt on while I went over a few preliminaries with her like:

"If I ever say stop...even if you don't know why I said stop...STOP IMMEDIATELY!!!"


"Show me again which pedal is the brake."

Then we prayed together. She said, "God, help me to do a good job on the highway, and keep us safe, please."

I said, "GOD! Don't let it be painful. I want to go quickly, please. Amen."

Then she backed carefully and accurately out of our driveway. I breathed a sigh of relief...followed by a shrill "NOOOOO!!!!!! STOP!!!!" And maybe a brief swat at her arm. "STOP!!!" As she zoomed quickly backwards towards our neighbor's mailbox.

"Oh, sorry." She said sheepishly, "I forgot to put it in drive."

I began breathing again. "That's okay." I wheezed out. "Now you know."

She drove amazingly well on the highway...I didn't want her to travel above 50 miles per hour, even though the speed limit was 65. Although, when I thought that logic through, I wondered what I was hoping to gain by that. Fifty is still a LOT faster than 25 which is what she drove in town on Friday. And when I got to the hospital, would a doctor be able to tell me, "Boy, it's a good thing you were only going 50. If you'd been going 65, we wouldn't be able to help you right now."

Kimmie maneuvered the curves and allowed the four cars on the highway to pass her without getting flustered. She approached the town turn-off well, and even managed to stop AT the stop sign at the end of the ramp. She did NOT look for cars before she jumped on the gas pedal again, but thankfully, there were no cars around. She even pulled herself into a parking spot at her work and managed to stay almost between the lines.

I am very proud of her.

She sat at the wheel and breathed for a while. Then she shakily informed me. "Driving is fun! But I don't want to do it again for a while. Please don't make me drive home."

I grinned at her in understanding. "Okay."

She walked into the building, and I headed home.

An hour later, I received a phone call.

"Hi, it's Kimmie. I'm not off work yet, but when I am...can I drive home tonight?"

I had to tell her no, because it would be dark and even I am horrible at driving on the highway in the dark, but soon she will be able to.

Okay, technically, there is no Car Ride #3,yet, but if I told you there were only two car rides, then it wouldn't have worked with my countdown. So pretend there was a third, and enjoy your day.
In SIX days, I will get to see my newest nephew for the first time...so here are SIX random things about me that will make you wish you had your SIX minutes back after reading:

1. I always, ALWAYS read after I get into bed.
If I am extremely tired, and I skip reading, then it will take over an hour for me to finally fall sleep. However, many times my habit backfires on me, and I get so caught up in the book that two or three AM creeps up on me.

2. I make friends with trees.
My earliest tree memory comes from when I was four years old. I used to climb into a beautiful dogwood tree named Rosebud and sit for hours imagining or reading. When I was eight, we moved to a new house (my family and I...sadly, not Rosebud and I) with new trees:
  • two apple trees named Caleb and Jane (I spent most of my time in Caleb)

  • one giant oak tree named Big Oak, who was the leader of all the trees in our yard

  • one regular-sized oak tree (which actually was two trees that grew together) named Watch Eyes. I would perch in the crotch of the twin trees to spy on our neighbors or to look out for King's Men who may be coming to destroy our village

  • one wonderfully twisted dogwood tree named Rosebud II whose limb split in the center one day when my brother, sister and I all decided to bounce on her together. After that, I had an excellent hiding spot to put secret love notes to a handsome prince. Thankfully, when I wrote notes back to me from the handsome prince, I knew where to find them inside the split branch.

3. I was overjoyed to find out a few years ago that my grandma names and talks to her trees. My poor mom - who has NO IMAGINATION - wants to claim that she was adopted, which dissolves her relationship with Grandma, but she knows I wasn't adopted. Since she's stuck with all the crazy...she might as well enjoy it!

4. I collect recipes, but rarely make time to use them.
I usually stick to tried and true, but when my sister Faith came after Mercy was born, we had a blast pulling out stacks of recipes that we tried with great success. Now that she's gone, I'm back to tried and true with the occassional adventure food thrown in every two weeks or so amidst protests from the fam.

5. I am told that when I read, I talk to the characters in the book as though they can hear me. I have even caught myself praying for several of them on various occasions throughout the years.

6. I love speed, and I have won several spontaneous drag races on rural highways.
I blame my dad for this, because (although he would never consider speeding even if he were being chased by aliens trying to take over earth) every morning on the way to school he would pretend we were in a NASCAR race, and he would narrate: "The Blue Goose is coming up on the Black Turtle. They're neck and neck! Will he make it? He does! The Blue Goose passes the Black Turtle! But it looks like the Blue Goose may be in serious trouble if he doesn't hang onto his slight lead. The Golden Rocket is right behind him..." But the truth is, the love of speed comes from my mom.
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I was tagged by Tiffany to answer the following questions.

1. In January, a man told me he wanted to marry me. We discussed the logistics of it all.
2. In February, I found out he was being frisky with someone else.
3. In May, I finished my freshman year of college.
4. In September, I was shocked to discover I had fallen in love with my best friend, Jeremy.
5. In November, he asked me to be his girlfriend!!!!

1. Prep turkey for supper tonight
2. Email Kimmie's teacher about driver's test
3. Deliver thank you note to friend
4. Give Liberty amoxicillin dose for her ear infection
5. Take notes on Trenches book for work

1. Invest and use the interest to:
2. Pay off debt
3. Pay off parent's house
4. Set aside for kids' college
5. Find a family (or several) to help

1. Illinois
2. Tennessee
3. New Jersey
4. Florida
5. Iowa

1. Construction
2. Human Resources
3. Energy
4. Recruiting
5. Finances
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Sorry it took me so long to update you all on my dad's finger status, but here it finally is. He went to the doctor on November 12th to get his stitches out. They could not find them due to all the dried blood, and they have a policy not to pull anything that is hidden from view. (A sensible policy, I believe.) He is supposed to go back in three weeks. In the meantime, he has started physical therapy, which is not like a trip to Disneyland, unless of course you get sick on all the rides at Disneyland, and then it is like a trip to Disneyland. Also the doctor says that the swelling should have gone down by now, and it has not. Now the swelling has turned into scar tissue (I have never heard of that before, but I'm trusting the doctor on this one, since you know, I never completed medical school) and the scar tissue may require surgery before Dad can use his fingers again.

Dad's keeping his fingers crossed.

(Okay, you groaned, but I got a tiny snicker out of typing that. Admit it, it was funny.)
Dad's stitches were supposed to come out on Tuesday, October 28th, but his fingers were too bloody for the stitches to be found. While the doctor dug, Dad began to go into shock from the pain, so everything has been called off until Wednesday, November 12th.

Also, the doctor had told Dad not to return to any type of work until his stitches are out. My dad is not a lounger. He tried to finish his home project of remodeling the front porch, and he hurt his fingers again slightly. Then he began "directing" Mom as she home-schooled, but now he has taken over home-schooling completely. Mom is thrilled because now she gets to sleep in a little, and Dad is happy because he feels useful.

A win-win situation.

In other news, my sister and I will be wearing yellow on Saturday because it is supposed to rain. (Well, in Ohio,where she lives, it might rain. In Iowa, where I live, it's supposed to snow.) Together, we will represent the sunshine. I'm here to represent, yo!

Although, really, YAY FOR SNOW!
(Remind me in February that I said this.)
I am so sad. All of those stores that are giving out free food if you vote are not within reasonable driving distance for me. At my parenting group which meets every Tuesday at lunch time, we discussed organizing a protest in front of Smokey Row and Sports Page here in town to get them to give us free election food! Well, we discussed it, at least...

Yesterday, I was crossing Main Street to get to my car after work, and someone honked and yelled at me, "Go vote Obama!" I had a cup of water in my hand, and I looked around, wondering who I needed to throw it at. I didn't see anyone looking particularly guilty, so I continued walking. After a little bit, an SUV pulled up next to me. My friend Jackie sat inside grinning at me. "Did you hear me yell at you?" she asked. I know she voted for McCain, so I wondered why she had just promoted Obama. She continued, "I saw you look around for who yelled, so I figured I'd better pull around and let you know it was me. I didn't want you to think you had a stalker or anything."

My eyebrows scrunched in a confused expression. "What?"

"I yelled, 'Whoa, Hot Mama!'" she explained, "and I didn't want you to think some crazy person was stalking you."

"Whoa, Hot Mama?" I thought she had said, "Go vote Obama!" HAHAHAHA!

Yesterday, I wore red and white representing that I wanted McCain (the red team) to win. Today, I am wearing purple (because red and blue mixed makes purple. I'm silly--I know this.) to represent that we are one nation, and I am an AMERICAN who will support our new president-elect and respect him. Even if I disagree with his standards. Sigh.

But having these made up themes in my head has helped a lot when choosing what to wear. I'll have to think of a good theme for Thursday.
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