Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Can't Complain

I've been asked if I'll be posting pictures of the new house, and here's my complicated answer:

Yes and No.

Yes, eventually, when it's ours, but of course not for a while because that whole "We've just moved in with our three kids, two dogs, hamster, and WAY TOO MUCH JUNK!" look isn't quite what I'm going for.

No for right now because the 9th (and hopefully final!) amendment to the contract hasn't been signed yet, and as soon as I post a picture of it, the entire deal will fall through, and I'll cry. And no because it still belongs to somebody else, and she might not like pictures of her house on the blog. Some people are crazy like that.

For about 15 minutes today we thought all the negotiating was over, and that all was well, until we remembered that the roof has to be replaced before we move in, and we had to hammer all those details out (hence the 9th amendment). So we took a walk around the reservoir with my sister Leslie and her husband Jeremy and their impossibly-cute baby, Landon. It was a beautiful Pennsylvania day, chilly enough for sweatshirts, and the trees are just changing here so it looks like fall with flowering trees. Heavenly.

Except that Addison bit the dust halfway around, biting her tongue and scratching her face and suffering enough injury and insult to justify sobbing the rest of the way around in Chris' arms. And two minutes later Landon though it would be funny to fake a fall, except that he accidentally faked it better than he wanted, and he was sobbing and scratched too. So Jeremy picked him up. We made it ten feet from the parking lot when Caiden tripped over his walking stick, knocked the wind out of himself, and heaved his 48 pounds, sobbing, into my arms to hoist to the car. The only one smart enough not to try walking at all was Grayson, who was already hitching a ride in Leslie's arms. All four of us adults made our way to the car with three howling kids. We got stares from all the fishermen whose potential fish were being scared away by our kids, but we just laughed and laughed, because at that point Chris and I were already so stressed by all the real estate hullabaloo that the hysterical kids who sobbed through 1/4 mile of the prettiest location I've ever been in, was just plain funny. What else do you do?

Meanwhile, as we've weathered several frantic phone calls, scanned documents, and weighty conversations, I've given myself a pedicure, had lunch with my sister, watched movies with Chris, and taken a lot of baths. Except for the current real estate drama we've stuck in, it has been a really nice, relaxing time here. My parents aren't here, so we're just pretending this is our house, without the mortgage or bills. Every day we squeeze in some ice cream, or a beautiful walk in the woods, and lots of coffee, Diet Coke, and Swedish fish candy. What can top that? I can't complain.

And I guess that's the point of this random post: I can't complain. I want to, about selfish sellers and pushy realtors and ridiculous closing costs, loan approval committees, and outrageous taxes. The hectic pace of making, changing, and paying for multiple airline tickets, getting frisked in security with a baby on my hip (Don't even ask.), and house-sitting a big old house with two huge dogs, a furry cat, and fish. But when it's all said and done, I can't complain after all. God is good, all the time, even when I don't like the current journey. This will all pan out in the end, and eventually I'll be standing in my own kitchen, looking out the window at nothing but trees, instead of the 11 rooftops I used to, and I'll say it was worth it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Rollercoaster

Edited and Updated at 9:45 p.m. Monday.

I never have liked rollercoasters. The sharp drops terrify me, and I don't really enjoy the fear sensation. I'm not one for adrenaline, now that I think on it. So it makes sense that I'm really hating this whole moving process. In just three weeks we've experienced just about every hitch, difficulty, twist and turn, and annoyance in general, that we possibly could. Our house is successfully sold, and that's half of the move, but getting into another house is proving to be rather rollercoaster-y.

For today, we don't know if we'll even get this house, since the appraisal came back wacky and now our seller might use this as an excuse not to sell it, since she decided once our contract was accepted that she did, in fact, love the house after all. Just for clarification, we are without a home, and we're we were scheduled to close on hers in five days. We won't know a thing until at least tomorrow night, after a second appraisal and roof inspection. If we do get the house, we could move in on schedule, I could will stay here at my mom's for another week while waiting for a later closing date. I'll miss the marriage conference I was so excited about, and Addie's second birthday will be spent on an airplane. Two airplanes, actually, since we have a connection. That makes it that much worse, doesn't it? If the seller refuses to deal, we'll fly home as scheduled and start house hunting the next day, while also looking for somewhere to live for another month. And figuring out what to do about the dogs. And all the stuff we crammed in our neighbor's houses. Everything we own except what fits in our suitcases is in PODS, and not even all our PODS are in the same town. It's a little bit of a nightmare.

The nice thing, though, is that every time we take another sharp curve on this current rollercoaster, it's only a day or hour or five minutes before the track turns again, and that last problem is fixed. But then there's another problem that presents itself that also seems unsolvable. So there's no point in worrying whether or not all will turn out well tomorrow, since this current set of problems will probably be nonexistent by then. Or not. Either way, it's entirely, completely, unarguably out of my control, which is nice for someone like me, who really likes to be in control of my daily living. Without a chance of controlling this myself, it's less tempting to worry. It also helps that I'm staying at my parents' house, with a nursery and large wooded backyard and playroom downstairs. My sister lives nearby, so we've had mall dates, park dates, sleepovers, and the like. Chris and her husband have gone on hunting and fishing trips, and it has felt mostly like vacation. If I try really hard, I can forget that after the 4th of May I have nowhere to live, and that if we lose this contract, we'll be out several thousand dollars. Instead I focus on having a fun break in the middle of the current crisis, and at night I sit on the deck and watch the night fall onto the woods. The bats fly out over the trees, the kids at play eventually all turn in, and it's silent. Finally.

I read today in a Max Lucado book about worry. We all know the routine: it's wrong to worry because it shows a lack of trust in God's plan; we know He has our days in His control; He has a plan for us. We should pray instead of worry. We all know that because it's so tempting to worry, so we get really good at knowing what we should do. It's the actual doing of it that's the problem.

For today, while it's still Sunday and nobody can appraise a house or sit on its roof with a clipboard in hand, I'm enjoying not worrying at all. I spent the morning playing with the kids and cleaning the house, sat in a cozy recliner at The Farmhouse and drank coffee while reading (SO much better than Starbucks! If you live in this area, you'll want to spent a few hours there!)this afternoon, and spent the rest of the day at the park with my sister and our kids. Now we're putting our kids to bed and we'll drink coffee and sit on the deck and talk, just being sisters and friends and mothers together. It'd be a shame to waste this perfect day worrying about something that won't matter a year from now. (Unless I'm still looking for somewhere to live. That would be a problem.)

I'm getting better at the not worrying thing, after having lived through Addison's surgeries, Caiden's surgeries, a couple of bouts in the hospital with major illnesses (them, not me), and now this crazy, rollercoaster of a move. Every time I want to worry, the track turns, and when I look behind me I see that it wasn't so bad after all. Fear makes it all feel worse, anyway, and I guess if I'm strapped in, I'll probably make it through okay. Being out of control isn't so bad, once I just let go. Maybe a real rollercoaster wouldn't be so bad after all.

I'll let you know tomorrow (Monday). I hope I'll let you know tomorrow (Tuesday).

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Prescription

Evidently the prescription for stress and exhaustion involves eating a family dinner in a falling-apart, mildew-smelling Italian restaurant where the food's so good you want to eat til it hurts, and you laugh so hard you cry--several times.  Your stomach will ache the next morning, but your shoulders will come down from around your ears.  Top it off with several back issues of "Real Simple" magazine to read in the tub, many Diet Cokes and mugs of coffee, and lots of time hanging out with your family, and you'll wonder why you ever felt so stressed to begin with.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Vonage, Anyone?

Quick question: I'm interested in trying Vonage for our home phone service, but I'm nervous that it'll be echo-y or static-y or just poor quality in general. Do any of you use Vonage, and are you pleased? Or not pleased? Let me know what you think.

Edited 4/24 to add: Wow! I'm amazed at the input! Either you hate it, or you love it, it seems! I saw at AT&T today that I can get the same features (It's the unlimited long-distance that I want) for $24.99 a month, with the first month free. That's only $50 more the first year than Vonage's price, and without having to worry about whether or not it'll be clear, with good customer service. So I think, just to eliminate the possibility of a pain in the long run, that I'm going with good ole' AT&T! Thanks to everyone who put in their opinion!!

Houston, We've Landed

We made it to Pennsylvania (no small feat with a double stroller, four suitcases, three carseats, three kids, and various carry-on bags. You should've seen Chris' face as we lugged it all through the airport.). With only one detail left to tackle in buying the new house, I'm feeling a lot lighter to be sitting in Mom's kitchen, drinking coffee and looking at the woods outside the backdoor.

When some of my crunchwaves have grown back (Have any of you read the Steve Carell interview in the latest issue of "WIRED"?), I'll write. But for right now, I'm just looking forward to taking a shower, seeing my sister, and eating some more of last night's spaghetti. For one brief moment in time, that's all that's on my to-do list, and does it ever feel good!

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Monday, April 21, 2008

So Much for Goodbyes

I had, in my mind, a picture of what it would be like to say goodbye to our home. You know, walking through each room remembering our favorite moments, lingering in the kids' rooms, and praying for the new family moving in.

But then we were up until 2 a.m. painting the wall behind the armoire, mopping all the floors, cramming more stuff into the last PODS, and lugging our patio furniture to our now-former neighbors, who are furniture sitting while we're gone. When the friendly curmudgeon across the street came out and hugged us goodbye, I cried. When I painted the wall and remembered the color the walls used to be the first time I painted them, I cried. When I took a shower at 1:30 a.m. and realized I'd never take a shower in there again, I cried some more. And when I laid down on the bedrom floor, with nothing but our covers and a pillow, I really cried. Saying goodbye, even to a house, is hard for me.

But here's the thing: we rented three PODS, but we needed four. Half our junk is split between Bridget's house, our neighbor's guest room, and other places. We were frantically pushing the potty seat, computer, random Tupperware, and pillows in all the nooks and crannies left in our cars. At 7 this morning I stuffed the last trash bag into our neighbors' can, as my other neighbor carried my vacuum and some silk flowers into her house. It's hard to have a moment when you're scurrying around like crazy.

So I sighed my last sigh as I pulled the door closed, catching a final glimpse of the custom curtains my mom made for my dining room, smiled at my favorite azaleas framing the front walk, and got in the car. We drove to the closing, handed over the keys, and that was it.

And you know what? I'm sitting on Bridget's floor, wearing fresh clothes, and it's sunny outside. For two weeks we've got a (relatively) fat bank account, since we currently don't have a mortgage, and we'll be off after Addie's nap to a nice hotel in the area to relax. My dad's in town to have dinner with us, and tomorrow morning we'll fly to Pennsylvania for a couple weeks of family, food, and hopefully lots and lots of stress-free moments. Today, after shoving the last bit of junk into the PODS, it doesn't feel so sad. Today, after looking at pictures of the new house on Chris' computer, the excitement is coming back. And later today, once I've had a big Diet Coke and some lunch, I'm going to be ready to start this new adventure.

Now that the goodbye I'd been dreading is over, I'm kind of glad we started this. Two weeks from today, when we move into the new house, I know I will. It's all part of making new memories, and that makes saying goodbye a little easier, especially when saying goodbye doesn't happen quite according to plan.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Adrenaline

I've discovered the cure for the common cold:  adrenaline.

I mentioned earlier that I've caught a nasty cold, complete with fever, chills, etc.  It's the kind that makes you want to curl up in bed, but this is really not a good time in my life for naps.  With Moving Day #1 upon us, I can't see me pulling the covers over my head while Chris hauls out all our furniture by himself.  Today is a lull in the moving process, and Caiden and I were just saying that we were bored.  (Personally, I can live with a few days of "boredom.")  I was fully able to reflect on my misery, which only made me feel worse.

And then.

And then Caiden punctured his head on the staircase trim.  Chris and I were talking on the phone, when Caiden let out a howl that made me almost drop the phone.  He ran for the kitchen, looked up at me panicked, and then his head started spurting.  I did the calm, good-mother type thing:  I completely freaked out.   My next door neighbor, a former nurse and mother of four?  Not home.  My other next door neighbor?  Not home.  Bridget and Brittani, who both live close enough for me to drop off the kids in emergencies?  Out of town.  Chris?  On his way to meet the roofing inspector, 20 minutes away.  My mother?  She lives on the other side of the country.

It's in these moments when the magnitude of being The Mom weighs most heavily on my shoulders.  When the blood is shooting out of my terrified child's head, and I have to make calm, rational decisions, when all I want to do is scream my head off.  I wasn't this freaked out when Addison had open heart surgery.  I really, really hate head wounds.  They bleed a lot, and the idea of the brain being nearby makes me a little bit panicky.

So after I stuffed my heart back down in my chest, I said some stupid thing like, "It's okay, Caiden, it's just a little bitty boo-boo," grabbed sleeping Grayson out of his bed, jammed shoes on Addie, who was in pajamas, and headed for the nearest clinic.  Our dog jumped into the car twice while I was loading it, so I had to lure him out with treats, all the while wanting to kill him, and we were on our way.

The nice thing about walking into a clinic with a bloody head and shirt is that you get to go first.  Everybody cringed when we sat down, covertly staring at us.  One mom congratulated both me and Caiden for how calm we were.  I didn't stop to tell her that I was in Mom Mode, after having already freaked out, and that Caiden was in shock.  

While juggling Addie on my lap, pulling Grayson out of the other triage areas, and trying to help Caiden be calm while the nurses waded through his massive amounts of hair to find the wound, I realized that my cold had disappeared!  I felt fine!  No more congestion, chills, body aches!  I was cured!  Nothing like pure adrenaline to scare away a wimpy little virus.

The nursed mouthed the word "staples," and I called Kristina, our faithful sitter, in a panic.  She dropped what she was doing and got in the car to come get the little ones, and I called Chris, whispering about what was next.  All the while Grayson was hunting down any possible injuries of his own to show the doctor.  It wasn't pretty.  The sounds from our curtained area went something like this:

"Grayson, get out of the curtains!  No, you aren't bleeding.  Stop touching the doctor's equipment!  DO NOT TOUCH THE OXYGEN TANK!  Get off the floor!  No, they don't want to see your blanket!  Stop kicking your brother!

"Addie, quit squirming!  No, that's not your baby; it's the doctor's gloves!  No, you can't have my phone, and you can't get down, and you can't pull on the curtain.  Sit still!  Sit still!  Sit still!

"Caiden, the doctor isn't going to do surgery on you.  No, you're not going to have surgery.  I just said YOU ARE NOT GOING TO HAVE A SURGERY!  Please lie down.  Please quit moving.  No, you don't have to go to the hospital."

All at the same time.

The other mother, across the triage area, first looked at me with sympathy, which later turned to puzzlement and then finally judgment, and I wanted to tell her that juggling two toddlers and a panicked, bleeding 6 year old is no small feat, and that she and her docile little girl didn't have any clue what I was dealing with.  But I was too busy retrieving everything Grayson had pulled out of my purse, putting the ice pack back on squirmy Caiden's head, and keeping Addie from falling off my lap.  Even if the lady didn't feel sorry for me, I sure did.

And then, surprise!  The doctor proclaimed the wound a puncture, not a laceration, and said it would heal better without stitches or staples.  At that announcement, Caiden popped off the bed and marched halfway out of the room.  I had to threaten him with further bodily injury to keep him on the bed while having his head wrapped, all the while calling Kristina to tell her it was a false alarm, so sorry, and to tell Chris that no staple guns were involved in the current crisis. 

Two hours later, we were on our way home $50 poorer but with chicken nuggets.  Once the mad pitch had died down I remembered that I was sick, after all, and now I'm sitting here typing, feeling miserable once more.  I wonder if we can come up with another crisis, just to divert my attention until this cold is gone?  If adrenaline really cures the common cold, then maybe I should just go bungee jumping instead.  At least I could jump without taking the three kids with me, and that sounds easier than visiting the clinic with all of them ever, ever again.

On the other hand, maybe it would be easier just to succumb to the virus and pull the covers back over my head.

Hey Look! This'll be fun!

I have a nasty cold, which only seems fitting since we're in the middle of moving out, roof inspections, plane reservations, and the like.  It's ONLY FAIR that I'd also have to get the worst cold ever.  Not.  (Remember "not" from the 90s?  I'm bringing it back.)

Anyway, I'm blog-hopping this morning, since all I have left in my house is an armchair, a coffeepot, and a box of Kleenex.  With two more days here, this should be interesting.  I finished my last book too early, so now I don't have anything to do to distract me from my sinus misery.

All that to say that I found this!  Look how fun this will be!  Most everybody can participate in this, since showing a picture of a flower bed, or tree, or potted container won't freak out those who're scared of showing pictures of their actual homes on the Internet.  And the Preacher's Wife even extended the date of the Spring Garden Tour to include you Northerners who don't see highs of 84 degrees in April.  I think my mom said that she doesn't even consider planting anything before May 15.  That makes me shudder!  We have flowers year-round in Texas, which helps make up for the fact that it's hot enough in August to crack the pavement.

So if you're interested in participating in a Spring Garden Tour, let the Preacher's Wife know, and start sprucing up those beds!  


Friday, April 18, 2008

Finishing Up

I asked for questions from you a while back and have taken a looooong time to answer them.  In my defense, there were around 50.  Combine that with the number of questions the boys ask me everyday, and I burned out quick!

But the boys are distracted by the zillions of boxes in the house right now, so they're not asking me things like whether toilet water really goes to the sea like Nemo says, or how to spell things, or anything else.  And because nothing in this house seems to be wrapping up easily, I'll feel really accomplished to finish these off.  So here's what I've got left of your questions:

1.  My favorite recipe:  I don't have a favorite; I'm too flighty, but here's my long-standing favorite for when I can't think of anything to cook.

Texas Two-Step Chicken Picante
chicken breasts
dijon mustard
brown sugar
salsa

Spray a glass baking dish with Pam and line it with thawed or fresh chicken breasts.
Combine the mustard, sugar, and salsa together.  Use enough of each to make a mixture that will cover your chicken.  Amounts just aren't that important in this dish.
Spread over your chicken, pop in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes or til cooked.  That's it!  
Serves well with Spanish rice and black beans.

2.  My biggest fear:
Hmm.  Don't laugh at me, but I'd have to say it's a tie between being suffocated underneath the bed/mattress, or grasshoppers.  Having a grasshopper touch me while I'm underneath a suffocating mattress would send me over the edge.  Oh, and I've always been afraid of being falsely convicted of a crime and having to go to jail.  Am I alone in that one?

3.  What's next on my list to "conquer":
I'm going to read up on creating a compost pile.  Again, don't laugh.  I've always wanted one, and now we'll have the room for one, and I think next year's gardens will appreciate this new-found knowledge!  Not very romantic, is it?

4.  How did Chris and I meet?
We were both in the library at college, about 6 weeks into my freshman year.  He was hanging out with his fraternity brothers, and I was tutoring or doing something nerdy like that, and we caught each other's eye.  The rest is history!  It was Supreme Interest at First Sight. (But we didn't begin to date for almost 6 months, and we married about three years after we met.)

5.  What are good tips for getting blog traffic?
I'm really not authoritative in this at all.  In fact, the only time I've ever looked up the question to this was five minutes ago, to answer this.  If you're really interested in it, go here for a real list.  It was the first one I saw, and it looks good.  Other than that, I can recommend having a famous friend write about you on her blog, or having a major life crisis.  It seems to suck people in.  :)  

In all seriousness, if you're trying to supplement your income through ads, there really are good ways you can increase your traffic.  The list above has good tips, and you can probably Google "how to increase blog traffic" and get a lot more!

6.  Aunt Barb wants to know how long I was homesick in college:  (No, I don't refer to random bloggers as my Aunt.  She really is my aunt.)
See answer to question #4 :)  For six weeks I was a wreck, calling home 82 times a day, crying at all hours, sobbing into my Ramen noodles and mac & cheese, and begging for things like my cat's hair to be sent to me in a baggie.  Enter Chris.  End of homesickness.  Voila!  Nothing like falling head over heels in love to beat homesickness.

7.  And the very last question:  what are my favorite and least favorite things about being married to a pastor?
This is hard to answer, since I've never been married to anybody who wasn't a pastor.  Or anybody other than Chris, actually.  Even while we were dating he was in ministry.  My favorite thing is that I'm married to this pastor.  Okay, sorry, that didn't answer the question.  Hmm.  I love getting to be a part of what he does and is passionate about, week in and week out.  For a lot of professions, the spouse can't see day-to-day events and outcomes, but the wife of a minister is often able to be a part of the ministry.  Even though I'm not involved per say in the actual worship ministry, I'm involved in our church, and the people he works with are our friends.  It's a wonderful support group!  

My least-favorite thing about being married to a pastor is that my kids are in a fishbowl, as preacher's kids.  But hey, life as a Christian is in a fishbowl anyway.  So when you see me and my kids are going nuts, blame it on their worship minister.  His mother assures me they get their energy from him.  :)  

Okay, that's it!  I did have some of you ask me for the details of my proposal story and about my wedding, but Chris has vetoed me from answering.  Because the details are SO romantic and SO precious that he knows he'll be teased til Kingdom come by his colleagues and friends, many of whom are covert readers of this blog.  Hi Daniel. :)

Thank you for your questions, and if I've somehow forgotten any, please don't ask me right now.  My brain is currently packed away in a moving box somewhere.

p.s.  The PODS are coming today!  This is significant; just three more days of this, and we're off to start our sabbatical between moving out and moving in!  It's the light at the end of this tunnel, and if I never see another box again, that'll be just fine.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

We're big fans of the movie, "The Sound of Music," and since we're supposed to have thunderstorms today, I'm posting a list of some of my favorite things.  (If the logic of the previous sentence makes no sense to you, you might need to watch the movie again.  And then go sew some clothes out of your drapes.)

In no particular order:

1.  Shout wipes--a must-have item for the purse, diaper bag, car.  

2.  Addi Turbo circular knitting needles--super fast, smooth join.  And this website is pretty fantastic, too.

3.  Library card.  Can I tell you how excited I am that I'm going to live really close to the library?

4.  Mrs. Meyers Basil hand and dish soaps.  Who knew basil would smell so good as soap?  But I'm not as sure about the rhubarb.  Rhubarb, really?  Hmm.

5.  Pampered Chef baking stones.  I went cheap-o and bought the decoy from Bed, Bath & Beyond and regretted it immediately.  

6.  Snapfish.  When I get my computer back in working order, first on my list is to transfer my photos to Snapfish.  So the next time it dies, I won't have to worry about losing all my pictures.

7.  JoAnn Fabrics weekly coupons.  

8.  Craig's List.  Without it, I would've never found enough boxes to move.  I plan on checking this site out more this summer!  We have a big screen TV we want to sell, and I have a feeling it's the way to do it.

9.  Ziploc gallon bags.  They've saved my entire packing experience.  Jewelry, utensils, potpourri--you name it, Ziploc works for it!  And so does Saran Wrap, another great moving tip I've heard lately.  (Thanks Noemi!)

10. Chuck Taylor for Converse shoes, "Ditzy Floral."   The aqua and red ones are also super cute, and they're perfect with jeans. (On the other hand, what doesn't work with jeans??) 

There you have it.  A few of my favorite things. :)  Happy Thursday, friends!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Psalm 37 List

Once upon a time I had a huge Bible my parents gave me for my high school graduation.  Ironically, I didn't start using it until I graduated from college, because I was so attached to my older Bible, and by that time I had a new last name, so it it seemed odd to use a brand-new Bible inscribed with my maiden name on the cover.  We'll get back to that in a minute.  It's important to my story.

In this huge Bible is room on each page for notes, and by Psalm 37 I have written so many that I'm running out.  My favorite passage in that Psalm is this:

"Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord, 
and He will give you the desires of your heart."

Next to this passage, starting in 1995, I wrote out my deepest heart's desire, which may or may not have something to do with a charming Southern boy I'd met in college.  I'll never tell.

And then in 1998, when I was looking for a teaching job, I wrote another little inscription with the date, and a second date a few days later, when I landed my first "real" job.  And a tradition was begun.

Now that frail page is covered with petitions and dates.  With just a glance I can see what was on my heart almost each year of the last decade, and when I'm anxious about something large and looming, I go back and read the second set of dates, seeing tangible answers to prayers about jobs, children, major decisions.  I've only written down the "big" requests, and now I have just two that need answered dates on them.  One has been sitting there, in tiny writing, since early 2006:  "A country home."  When our house failed to sell that year, I didn't cross out the writing but kept on hoping and praying, and made it my mission to be content no matter where I was.

On May 5th, I'll be able to write the answered date next to that little inscription.  And I think I'll start a new tradition of including a picture with the answer.  Because when we first went to the home we loved back in early March, it was the first day it was on the market, and ours wasn't even ready to list.  I just "knew" that it was our home, but I also "knew" there was no way it would be ours.  So imagine my surprise when I stepped outside the mud room door to find a little brick-laid stopping place, and noticed that the bricks had my maiden name inscribed on each one.  No, my maiden name isn't Acme.  Or any other brick company I've ever heard of.  In fact, when we looked at the house the third time, we brought a house builder friend of ours, and asked him if he'd ever heard of the name on the bricks, and he hadn't.  So I snapped a little picture of the mossy bricks with my name on them, and took it as a sign that the country home would be ours.

Yesterday, with the contract finally signed, I took the roll of film to be developed.  I can't wait to put the picture in my Bible next to all the petitions and answers.  The next time I'm anxious about something big in my life, I'll open it up to Psalm 37 again and see the reminders that God does, indeed, care about me.  He cares about my loves, my fears, my dreams.  He knew all the time we waited for our country home that He had one being prepared for us (Ironically, the owner of the home bought it in late 2005 and spent all of 2006 renovating it.  Good thing we didn't buy it then!  It was built in 1978 and definitely wasn't a keeper before she spent all of her money updating it!  Now we can just move in and enjoy it, without having to scrape off popcorn ceiling paint or live with harvest gold laminated kitchen countertops.)

I'd like to say that each time I have a big desire, I read the passage of Scripture, see all His answers, and rest in the knowledge that His will is bigger and better than my will, and that whatever happens will be just great.  But my husband reads this blog, and so do my mom and Bridget, and they'd put up a billboard announcing that I'm a big liar.  I've been anxious, worried, fretful, dismayed, discouraged.  I've been grumpy and unmotivated and negative and disappointed.  All in the space of one day!  I've had to pull out Elisabeth Elliot's book over and over, reminding myself that God's not going to leave us homeless, and that if the house sale didn't work out, it was for our best.  I've taken many baths, drowning my sorrows in a good novel, all the while crying as I packed away the things in this house, wondering if we'd made a terrible mistake.  That's what happens when I dream.  I dream big, then fret that it won't happen, and then when it does, I still fret over a new set of worries.  Like rat snakes in the barn or how on earth can I take care of that many flower beds, and am I crazy to put the boys in one room?  You know, the stuff life is made of. 

Someday I'm going to learn that He really means it when He says "fret not," because He knew all along, when that house was built 30 years ago, that the little square of bricks with my last name would find me.  And that we'd finally get to live in our "country home," where we could put down roots and raise our children.  So I'll write down May 5, 2008 next to the request, made a few years ago, and include that picture of the bricks, and know that the next time I need to write down a request, I'll have one more record on my list of God's gracious gifts.  

Monday, April 14, 2008

Moving On

It feels funny to know that this is the last Monday I'll live in this house. I've spent approximately 286 Mondays here, and on the next one, we'll be handing over our keys. I wonder what the new owners will think when they see my Tinkerbell storm door key, or my tie-dyed house key? I wonder if they'll get new copies made, regular silver keys, or if they'll keep mine. Come to think of it, I guess I could get copies of mine made, and keep my own set. It seems sad to hand over Tinkerbell, not knowing if she'll be appreciated by the new people.

Today I'm tying up loose ends, canceling service for phone, satellite, electricity, and all the other stuff. The lady at one company asked for my forwarding address. Hmm. I don't have one yet. She seemed almost as disturbed at that as I was!

Amid all the chaos, though, is a growing sense of excitement. One week from tonight we'll be staying at a fun hotel in the area, and then we'll fly off to Pennsylvania for a couple weeks of rest. As I pack boxes, I relive memories of bringing Grayson and Addie home here, of watching Caiden ride his bike for the first time down the sidewalk. I remember way back to the first week we lived here, and I took brownies to each of my new neighbors, as their moving vans pulled up. Our street was brand new when we moved in, so we literally met each new neighbor as he or she stepped out of the car. I'm a little sad, and not having a house yet to move in to heightens that some, but it also adds to the sense of adventure.

Caiden discovered his first loose teeth yesterday. His face stretched into a wide grin, while I burst into tears. It doesn't seem fair that we've got a tangible sense of his growing up, at the same time as packing away years of memories into boxes. He was a baby in a crib when we moved here, and there's a good chance he'll move into the next house with a few missing teeth.

But that's part of life. Even if we never move out of a house, we're always moving on, saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new. Children grow, marriages weather, dogs die. Friends change, careers twist and turn, and although we feel the same throughout, we realize at a later bend in the road that we've changed greatly, too. On the anniversary of Addison's diagnosis this summer, I won't be able to wander through the rooms of this house and remember that horrible day. I won't sit in the same armchair in my bedroom where I grieved the loss of a dream. I'll be somewhere new, and that seems very fitting, as we saw last week that a miracle has truly occurred in our midst. This year on that anniversary, wherever I am, I'll look up at the sunny skies and see that all the while, God was working, and that this year I got to see the light at the end of that long tunnel.

If all goes well today, I'll be bringing my new neighbors brownies in a few weeks, celebrating a new bend in our road, and letting go of the years we spent in this place. Change is sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet, and sometimes both. I know where I want to be, but if it doesn't happen, I know that I'll be right where He wants me, and that is good enough.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Some Days

Update:  God blessed me to the heights when He gave me my husband, who knows me so well; Chris came home last night with a case of Diet Coke, pack of Twizzlers, and the offer of a movie night to watch "August Rush."  :)  

I wrote, the night before Addison was born, about having a "That's good!  No, that's bad!" kind of day.  (Terrific book, by the way!) You know, one of those days where something happens that's good, immediately followed by something that's not, and on again until you finally fall into bed exhausted, praying you fall asleep before something else happens.

It seems I'm stuck in the pages of that book, my own personal "Groundhog Day."

Except this time, it's not a day, it's a period of time.  Moving is never easy or smooth, and it always costs more, stresses more, and frustrates more than you plan on the onset.  But this move?  This move has the makings of sending me straight into counseling.  

Let me tell you the facts:  

Our buyers' realtor left for a cruise the day after we signed the contract, and the backup realtor was, shall we say, slightly less motivated to get things done.  I waited over 24 hours just to hear if the inspection had gone okay, even though the paperwork was on her desk, and she was sitting at it.  Considering we have only a number of days to completely pack the house, 24 hours wasted is more than I can afford.

And the seller of the house we want?  In Australia.  Evidently in the Outback, as she hasn't managed to get the signed contract back to us.  The contract we sent to her five days ago.  Have I mentioned that I'll be without a home in 9 days?  Her realtor keeps telling our realtor that she wants to sell, and she has verbally agreed to the counteroffer, but until it's in ink, we can't move forward with the inspection.  It's a little, teensy bit frustrating, if I were prone to understatement.  

So I decided to drive around the same area and see if there's a Plan B house if we need one.  The one that looked perfect on the Internet is, in reality, next door to People Who Hate Yardwork, Home Maintenance, and Tidiness in General.  Scratch Plan B.  And on my way home, I talked to a friend, only to realize that her husband, our primary moving help, will be out of town during our move.  And that since they'll be out of town, our source for childcare during the signing on our house is also not going to work out.  And then I opened the letter from our lender explaining that we'll need flood insurance because part of the property is in a flood plain.  Flood insurance is expensive.  So I laughed.  After all, what do you do?

So now I'm sitting in the house surrounded by bickering toddlers, no Diet Coke, and a mess in every corner.  I'm trying not to freak out.  This has been a roller coaster , and while Chris keeps assuring me we'll have a roof over our heads eventually, I'm finding the light at the end of the tunnel a long way off.  

Some days are just like that, you know?  A problem at each turn, not enough Diet Coke, and no end in sight.  I'd like to say that I've met the challenges with grace and good humor, but not today.  Today I've cried, thrown a tantrum or two, eaten too much chocolate, and wanted to pull the covers over my head.  If I were three, that would all be acceptable, but I'm the big girl in this house, and I'm going to have to get it together.  I believe the verse that says God works out all things for our good, and I know that someday I'll sit back in the rocker on the deck, watch the beautiful Texas sunset, and think fondly on these chaotic days.  Okay, maybe not fondly, but I'll probably laugh a little.

That's what I'm holding on to tonight.  That and the thought that in another hour or two, I can call it a day, take a long bath, and read a good book.  Maybe tomorrow will be one of those "That's good!" days.  If it's not, I'm going to have to go find some more Diet Coke.  

A Praise

If you followed Eliot Mooney's journey from earth to heaven back in 2006, reading Matt & Ginny Mooney's writings about their brief and beautiful time with him, you will be very glad to read their newest update here.  

If you don't know what I'm talking about, start from the beginning (with a box of Kleenex) and read their entire archives.  You'll be glad you did!  

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thank you, Craig

you saved the day!  Well, technically Tony from TX saved my day, but it was Craig in the first place.  Mom mentioned that I might find good boxes on Craig's List, and that might top all the great motherly wisdom she's given me.  A few hours later, I was the proud new owner of 80 great boxes.  I can't think of the last time I paid good money for paper and was this excited!  We loaded up two SUVs of boxes feeling mighty pleased.

And Unnamed Angels of Mercy, you two ladies saved the day, too!  Thanks to UAM#1 who had the brilliant idea of sending UAM#2 to my house to entertain my children all day long!  I can't remember the last time I was in my own house without any children for an entire day.  If I hadn't had 80 boxes staring me down, I might've forgotten all about packing and taken an actual nap.  In the middle of the day!  For no good reason!  Because it was so quiet!  Sorry, I'm getting carried away.  That's what happens when you go 6.75 years without an entire day to yourself.

So thanks to some very thoughtful ladies and Tony-the-Box-Guy I found through Craig's List, today was almost completely panic-free and stress-less.  Except for when I picked up a great-looking box off somebody's curb and brought it home with me, only to discover the contents of her ashtray hidden inside.  That's what I get for picking up box hitchhikers.  But other than that, Day 11 of the countdown was a great one.  

And thanks to everyone who's offered terrific moving tips!  I've already used more Ziplocs in one day of packing than in a year's worth of cooking, and tomorrow, when I hit the packing again, I'm ready to use some more of your great ideas.  But until then, I'm off to eat some well-deserved ice cream and take a bath.  

Oh!  And I forgot to write that I am now in possession of a camera, charger, and memory card.  All I need now is to find its USB cable, and I'm ready to post some pictures!  Of boxes!  I bet you can't wait. :)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The 12 Day Countdown

Chris and Caiden are sorting out fishing lures at the kitchen table, and I'm typing away after filling up with s'mores cooked in the backyard.  The little ones are asleep, and the evening is winding down, quietly.

If I sit right here and don't look anywhere past the family room, I can pretend it's a normal Thursday evening, dinner past and bedtime nearing.  But if I crane my neck around, I notice the enormous piles of boxes stacked against one of the walls.  The move has begun.  Thank goodness we have free long distance on our phone, because I called my mother and sister twice each today, panicking and needing support girls can get only from long, rambling phone conversations with other girls.  I vaguely remember moving last time, but we had six weeks to do it, and one child.  It's a different ball game when you subtract four and a half weeks and add two kids.  When Chris called this afternoon, and I announced that I'd packed the 30 boxes he brought me last night, he was impressed.  "What all did you get packed?"

"Hmm.  Books and sewing stuff."

"That's it?   You have that many books?!"

"Well, I packed a box of dining linens, too."

Silence.

So I introduced Caiden to the term, "bibliophile" today.  :) And after lugging the 20+ boxes of books around the house and to the central box station, I realized that this is going to take a million boxes, and that there's no way I can do this in 9 days.  At one point I called Chris in near-tears, begging for more boxes, because without an unending supply of them, I'm sunk.  

But after pacing the floors while talking to Leslie, Mom, and Bridget, I'm feeling better.  All the books in the house are packed, and evidently that was a bigger job than I realized.   Maybe the rest of this will be downhill?  Or maybe not.  (I feel palpitations coming on every time I open the door to the attic.)  I'm convinced that God uses all circumstances in life, from the big and major, to the tiny and seemingly insignificant, to shape us.  I feel rough edges being smoothed as I juggle taking care of the kids while packing our entire house, answering the phone a million times, waiting for final details to be lined up, and all the other trials that come from moving a family.

I know it'll all be worth it about a month from now when we're settled.  For today, I just keep repeating my mom's wisdom:  "Focus on today.  Figure out tomorrow, tomorrow."  Fifty-two boxes and a few s'mores later, I think I can handle tomorrow when it comes.  I'm praying God provides box-manna for tomorrow, because I'm completely out.   If not, then I sure hope Leslie, Mom, and Bridget are by their phones.  

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Long Day

Today is the funeral of a friend, one of Chris' colleagues.  They worked together for almost a decade, and because he's the worship pastor, he is in charge of the funeral.  It has been a very long week, balancing this and then also working out all the details on the sale of our home and purchase of our new one.  

We're still waiting to hear from Australia if our offer has been accepted (NO! We are not moving to Australia, our seller is in Australia right now.), and I'd be lying if I said my nerves were calm, cool, and collected.  We have to be out the 21st of this month, and working out the details of pet sitters, plant sitters, plane tickets, PODS storage, etc. is making me a little bit crazy.

So if you think of us, and especially our church family, today, I'd appreciate it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Please pray for our church family . . .

"It's Always Something"

That's what Bridget and I always say, anyway.  It's always something.  Sparks must've gone off in heaven when Chris and I married, because the combination of us turned our normal lives pre-marriage into lives where there's always something crazy going on.  Weird things happen to us.  Things work out for us that wouldn't normally work out, but then we also seem to invite our share of comic disaster, like dog impalings, random broken bone drama, and the like.  It's never dull around here, it's always something.  (If you've read about our lives even over the two years I've been writing here, you're nodding your head with me.)

In light of recent events around here, I'm changing the little header above from "It's the little things" to "It's always something."  Seems more fitting.

We had an appointment with Addie Friday that was nothing short of miraculous, Saturday we found a buyer for our house, and Sunday we decided on the house we want to buy.  YAY!

Oh, but there's always a kink!  Our buyers need us out in 13 days.  Let me say that one more time, because I'm having a hard time with it myself:  13 DAYS.  Three little kids, two dogs, a hamster.  And an entire house.  That's a lot to get out in 13 days, even if we had somewhere else to live by then!  But of course we don't, so we'll be farming ourselves, our pets, and our plants out.  (If you know me and want to borrow any of us or our pets or our plants for two weeks or so, let me know.  Not the kids, though--they're staying with me.)  

So we're renting PODS to store all our earthly possessions, which makes me giggle a little--Grayson and Caiden'll think we're turning into aliens for sure, which'll delight them beyond words--figuring out how to work a vacation into this, and trying to see if we can get the house we want, all in the right timing.  The details make my head hurt.

I keep telling myself, "Sarah, you sold your house in 12 days.  That's nothing short of a miracle.  In a month or two, this will all be GREAT!  You can do this.  You can figure out all the details, don't stress."  That works for a few minutes, but then I literally fall on my knees again and say, "Lord?  I'm giving all of this to You, because I don't have the answers I need, and I can't see how this is going to work out!  So it's Yours."  And five minutes later, when the worries start again, I do it all again.  Rinse, repeat.  

It's always something.  You probably feel like that, too.  Good thing we have a God who is big enough, kind enough, powerful enough, and wise enough to handle the details, give us extra grace when we're depleted, and teach us life-long lessons in the end.  And looking back, after the fireworks are over and the details are all settled, I always look back and think, "That was kind of fun."  Well, except for the time when my sister's dog got impaled on our watch.  Exciting, yes, but fun?  No.  I'm more hopeful this time that when the boxes are unpacked (somewhere) and the animals, plants, and people in our family are all reunited (sometime), we'll stand back and say, "Hey!  That was kind of fun!" 

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Pond People

We've been doing a lot of reading lately. I haven't been able to drag out the sewing machine and make a huge mess, so while the younger ones nap, Caiden and I have been reading. We started "Just David," but I think it's too advanced for him to pay attention to, so I'm shelving it for another year or so. I just got "Among the Pond People" from Amazon yesterday, and we started it in the car. (Anytime the house shows, we hang out in the car with the dogs. You can imagine how fun that is!) "Among the Pond People" is a series of books that tell nature stories that are funny but also really informative. It's written by Clara Pierson and was published way back in 1900, which always endears me to a book.

Nature studies is a hallmark of Charlotte Mason's philosophy of home education, and with little boys, it's also a huge hit in this house! Our neighborhood has several ponds with ducks, frogs, and crawdads, so we've been spending these pretty spring afternoons crawling around in the mud investigating. Everybody has a pair of crocs, even Addie, which makes that a little less messy. I can't tell you how funny she looks in her baby size 5 pink crocs! They're too big, so they flop off all the time, but she doesn't care. Anything to keep up with the boys and their crocs! So I have a feeling this book is going to go well with spring, ponds, and little crocs!

Anyway, I'm wondering if anybody else has heard of/read these books? There's also "Among the Forest People," as well as Meadow People and Night People, I think. We've only read half of the first chapter, but I can already tell these are going to be fun! Anybody out there who's read any of them?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Book Review: The Tale of Despereaux

Let me count the ways I love thee, "The Tale of Despereaux"!

1. Kate DiCamillo, the author, wrote "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane," which Caiden and I read after his tonsillectomy. Wonderful. And you might know her better as the author of "Because of Winn-Dixie," which we haven't read but is waiting for us on Caiden's shelf.

2. The pages of the hardback are rough-edged, giving the appearance of a very old fairy tale, which makes it even better in my book. No pun intended.

3. The name of the main character, Despereaux Tilling, is delightful! And the names of the other characters, like Chiaroscuro, Botticelli (both rats) and Miggery Sow (a girl named after her father's prized pig) all begged to be put into a story. I love great names!

4. The story starts out well enough, but about halfway through it gets so good that Caiden and I found ourselves neglecting all sorts of things today, hunched up on the couch reading chapter after chapter. Every once in a while I'd pretend to put the book down, and he'd screech in protest. I have to admit I wanted to know the ending as much as he did. And not to disappoint, yes, I cried at the end. At least I'm consistent. Don't even ask about reading "Farmer Boy." It was embarrassing.

5. I love fairy tales. This one is a different kind of fairy tale, involving a princess, an exceptionally small mouse, a servant girl, some soup, and red thread. No fairies in sight, but several wicked but well-named rats, if that counts.

6. There was a definite element of danger, which further captivated Caiden's interest. (Note: If your children are younger than 6 or are fearful or own rats, you might want to wait a while on this book. It had scary-ish moments, for a 6 year old, and lots of dungeon-esque themes.) I love what Charlotte Mason says about fairy tales--read them! Yes, we all know fairies and dragons and same such don't exist, but the ethics dilemmas and resolutions in fairy tales plant seeds of character in little readers' hearts. The prevailing theme of this story is one of love and forgiveness, and what could be better than that? The narrator called both "ridiculous" (in a good way) at one point, which led to a great conversation with Caiden about why deep love and true forgiveness really are "ridiculous" in the world's eyes, and why both are necessary.

7. This quote (from memory, so definitely not word-for-word) at the beginning of the story: "Reader, know that an interesting fate awaits those (whether mice or man) who refuse to conform." If that's not fodder for great conversation with our kids, I don't know what is!

So there you have it. Love, suspense, soup, Miggery Sow (Caiden and I have been exclaming, "Gor!" in honor of Mig ever since beginning the story.), rats in the dungeon, and a mouse with exceptionally large ears. The makings of a perfect story. You might need to run out right this minute and buy it. :)

Happy reading, friends!

(And if the underlined link isn't showing up for you, you can click on the title of the book at the beginning of this post and be taken to Amazon to buy it.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Happy April!

How is it already April? I find myself still writing "2007" on my checks. The year is flying by, and I'm afraid I'll never adapt to 2008 before it's 2009! My mom and I have told each other "Happy (Month Name)"on the first day of each new month ever since I was in college. Every once in a while we'll forget, and one of us usually calls late in the evening to make sure we don't miss it! It's those little traditions that make a family close, I think.

It's been a while since I last wrote. A new puppy and listing a house for sale don't make for a lot of free computer time. Even my husband noticed that I haven't written. I guess he's dying to read about more knitting?

I haven't forgotten your questions from a while back, so here are a few more answered:

How do my husband and I divvy the housework?
I do all the cleaning, shopping, and cooking. He does all the yard work, garage stuff, home repairs. When we're having friends over for dinner or a party, he's great at helping me get things ready, and oftentimes he's better at the details than I am. The one thing we truly "divide" is nighttime duties: one of us cleans the kitchen after dinner while the other oversees baths and bedtimes. With three children, we generally each take a child or two to put to bed. He's also great at running to the store for me if I'm in a pinch. But we are pretty traditional in our home activities: I am the wife, so it's my job to take care of the home. He's the husband, so it's his job to provide for our family. Fortunately for us, we both came from like-minded families, so this has never been a struggle between us.

What's my advice to a new pastor's wife?
There's so much I could say here. Whether your husband is a senior pastor, worship leader, student pastor, or serves in another capacity, there are some things that apply universally:

1. Be very patient the first six months of his new position. This applies to all husbands, not just pastors, I believe. (It probably also applies to newly-retired husbands!) My mom taught me this long ago, and it has helped me tremendously. A new job takes up a lot of extra time, emotional energy, and brainpower, and a husband is going to need much understanding and support during the first six month to a year. In the same way that a new baby requires some extra grace for Mom for a while, so does a new job for Dad.

2. Never, ever, ever, ever say anything about a church member, attender, or staff person in front of your children that you don't want repeated! The pastor's wife of a church I attended in college taught me this, and there is much wisdom in it. It's easy to turn negative, and that negativity will not only probably be repeated at the worst possible moment by your child, but it will also color your children's view of church and ministry. Force yourself to think the best of every person in your church. If you just can't, that's what a journal is for.

3. Find a ministry you can serve in, and do it, but don't offer yourself up for every ministry opportunity. Your husband is your first ministry, and if you're so busy serving in the church that you neglect him, what good is that? I volunteer in one area of my church right now. It takes very little time, uses my gifts, and is something I love. But I have three children and a very busy husband, so it wouldn't be a very good testimony if I spent half my time up at the church, dragging my children into childcare, so I can play the piano, serve bagels, lead a Bible study, hold babies in the nursery, and write letters to the sick, would it? Find the right balance!

4. And last, remember that as a pastor's wife, you have an obligation to loyalty and privacy. There will be many, many, many things that you absolutely cannot discuss with anyone except your husband. Not your mom, not your sister, not your best friend. Discretion is a wonderful tool in the hand of a pastor's wife. It will protect your husband, protect your church, and protect your reputation. Life as a pastor's wife is often life in a fishbowl, but really, as a Christian, it should be, anyway. If we are the representatives of Christ on earth, we should be careful with everything we do and say, anyway. It's easy to fail at that (especially when somebody leaves me a mean comment on this blog!), but it's something we should strive for at all times.

Best wishes to you, new pastor's wife. It carries many blessings with it.

And last, how do I get so much done in a day?
This was a common question, and I have to note two things about it. First, it's so easy to perceive something about a person, if all you know about them is on the computer. I might sew a dress, knit a hat, and bake some bread all in a short span of time, but my checkbook might not be balanced, my kids might not be eating real meals, and all the laundry might still be in a pile! You don't know the full picture if you can't see it all.

Second, I firmly believe that the secret to getting a lot done is this: Don't bite off more than you can chew. See answer #3 to question #2 above :) I stay at home most of the time, I get up early as often as possible, and I severely limit my TV and computer time. When I'm well-rested and well-fed, I have a lot more energy, and I hate to spend it sitting in front of a glowing screen! So I generally work like crazy in the morning after breakfast to tidy the house, throw in some laundry, and do the day's cleaning. Then we do school while the little ones play, and after lunch I have a couple hours to myself while the younger two sleep and Caiden has his roomtime. It's amazing what can be accomplished in two hours if there's no telephone, TV, or computer involved! I also knit at night, while sitting with Chris in the family room, and I sew on Sunday afternoons while the kids play. (Not while the house is on the market, sadly. Sundays are open house days, and my sewing is suffering because of it!)

To be able to knit, sew, bake, read, and play, this is what I don't do: I almost never watch TV. There's virtually nothing on TV that I like during the day, and even if there were, there's no way I could keep the children alive if I were glued to the TV. Addison loves to stand on the kitchen table, the puppy keeps chewing all the electrical cords, and Grayson is a mess in general. If my attention were diverted to the TV, I'm afraid for their lives! I also don't always answer the phone, my email, or the door. Not being a slave to the doorbell or telephone ring is a huge time-saver. And I don't run unnecessary errands. There's nothing less fun than dragging three children on errands, so I save them for Mondays when I have a sitter. For the errands I just have to do during the rest of the week, we make it a game to see how fast we can do them. Not being out a lot saves me precious time.

So there you have it! Three more questions checked off the list. I wish you a "Happy April" today!

(And Amy, if you're still pregnant, I'm praying that you don't go into labor today. I know this is the one day you said you don't want to have the baby!)


**p.s. Am I the only one waiting on pins and needles til 5 p.m. MT, when Sonlight opens up ordering for their 2008 catalogue? Have mercy, I'm excited! Thank you F.R. for introducing me to the company!!