NPR: My lifesaver!

Lately, NPR has been my lifesaver in so many ways. It is what blasts out of the alarm clock every morning at 6:00 so that I know it’s time to get up and get ready for work. It is what I listen to while laying in bed contemplating on getting up and going to work. It is what I listen to while getting ready for work. If it weren’t for NPR, I would be clueless as to what is going on in the world.

I also discovered that NPR keeps Chris and Noah quiet in the car. Noah is notorious for asking questions in the car, and Chris is notorious for answering and elaborating on Noah’s questions. This can become a bit overwhelming for Maddie and me. They discuss everything: politics, religion, war, computers, etc. Most of their discussions are debates, but they sound like arguments to Maddie and me. We like it quiet and peaceful in the car. Maddie escapes by way of her ipod. I don’t have that luxury. I must have quiet if I am to to hone in and point out any mistakes the driver may be making. I cannot afford distractions.

I discovered that NPR fascinates Noah (and Chris). If you turn it on in the car, neither one wants to talk. They’re too busy listening and soaking it all in like the sponges they are. During the occasional commercial, the two may discuss something mentioned that they both found interesting, but as soon as the program resumes, …. silence! It’s heaven.

But NPR doesn’t stop there. Apparently, they know that I’m not the only mom who is doubling as a taxi service. In fact, they sell survival kits for other moms just like me! Yeah, NPR rocks.

Published in: on June 28, 2008 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

HTML for Dummies

I think it’s time I consider buying this book. As I become more computer savvy, I want to do more with my blog than wordpress will allow to without knowing how to write html. Fortunately, I married a computer science major who understands html better than English. Unfortunately, I’m stubborn and don’t like asking him for help with things on the computer. I don’t know why. I think it has something to do with a simple question turning into a thirty minute long lecture, I mean lesson. If I would just patiently sit through his explanations without yawning every half second, I would probably learn something.After helping me work out some of the kinks on my page tonight, he noticed I had written some html in some of my posts concerning font size and style. He asked me if I had done it myself, and when I answered yes, he was rather impressed. Then he asked me where I learned it from. Uh oh. Do I tell him what he wants to hear, or do I tell him the truth.? I decided to come clean. I confessed that I had “consulted” another man by the name of Google. I can’t help it! This man has an answer for everything!

The thing is, Mr. Google doesn’t sit me down and go into all the different possible scenarios I might encounter, like how to “cut off” things like italics or large font sizes in a posting so that the command isn’t carried out on the rest of a web page. No, I learned about this through trial and error.

So, how did I solve the problem? I got a second opinion. I swallowed my pride and asked my old man for help. The outcome? Another thirty minute lesson in html. Only this time I listened. Now if he can only get Noah to listen…

Published in: on June 26, 2008 at 1:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Oh Darn!

I’ve had my eyes on these buttons for several months, but I could not bring myself to pay $100 for them despite their cuteness. The other day I stumbled across them on sale, and thought I would be frugal and wait until pay day to purchase them. Well, I just went on Pottery Barn’s website to see if they were still on sale, and they are gone!! Darn, darn, darn.

Published in: on June 25, 2008 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

My little girl’s not so little anymore…

Maddie then…

Maddie now…

A lot changes in twelve years.

Published in: on June 23, 2008 at 1:18 pm  Comments (1)  

Look at how far he’s come!!

This is Noah last summer. He took swimming lessons nearly every day all summer long at our local YMCA. Even though he was ten, he had never overcome his fear of water. If I managed to get him in the water, there was no getting his face wet. For ten years I could not convince the boy to learn how to swim. In his world, he thought he knew how. Finally I forced him into reality and literally drug him to swimming lessons. As soon as he graduated from the Pollywogs class, I enrolled him into the Guppies. By the end of the summer he could float, swim with a flotation device, and blow bubbles while his face was immersed! We were so proud of his progress.

Fast forward to this summer. Talk about a complete turn around. He begs to go to our local pool almost daily. He gets on the large water slides one after the other. I got on one of them the other day and it liked to have scared the dickens out of me. But Noah, he can’t get enough of them! The other day he began eyeing the diving board. I clinched in fear. I could just picture him jumping…, and then… sinking. Noah tends to have an unrealistic view of his abilities. If he can dog paddle for 3 seconds, then he thinks he can swim well enough to dive into 13 feet of water unsupervised. I don’t think so.

Instead I encouraged him to practice swimming in the eight foot section until he was comfortable with swimming in water over his head. Up until this point he had never done that without a flotation device. Today we went back, and he practiced a while. Then he looked up at me and confidently stated: “I’m ready to dive now.”

I threw down my book and jumped to the edge. In a very mommylike fashion, I asked, (well, probably begged) him to jump out toward the ladder so that he had less distance to swim. He climbed up the ladder, he walked across the board, he bounced up and down a few times, and then SPLASH! into the water he went. I waited, and to my amazement, he resurfaced, and dog paddled right to the ladder!

The lifeguard commented on him jumping toward the side and requested he jump farther out next time. What!? Can’t she see I’m the one in charge here?!! I had everything under control and didn’t need her help a single bit. I gave her the stink eye and had to bite my tongue. I just reminded myself that she’ll have kids of her own one day and then she’ll understand the jump out to the side method! Noah took her advice and to my surprise he made it! Again, and again, and again! You go Noah!! I’m so proud of you!

(Unfortunately I did not have a camera with me today. Next time we go diving, I’ll be sure to snap a picture!)

Published in: on June 20, 2008 at 3:35 am  Comments (1)  

Take Back Your Neighborhood!

The other day I posted about fear stemming from crime in my neighborhood. It’s funny because not even a month ago my husband wrote about how much he loved the community in our neighborhood. And then our other neighbor’s fence was tagged right next to my bedroom window. Talk about destroying a sense of community. It took me no time at all to paint over it. It freaked me out that someone was able to do this at night without us hearing or seeing them. I never thought about it before now, but having the house on the corner may be something to avoid.

I am not certain who tagged this corner, or what their intentions were. What I do know is they tagged a lot more than a fence. They tagged shock, fear, anger, vulnerability and a lot of other negative emotions in me. God is already coming through (when does He not?), because the fear is beginning to diminish. In fact, I am beginning to feel proactive. I’ve done a little research, and my husband and I are hoping to initiate a neighborhood watch. I found a great article with tips on how to take back your neighborhood. Although many of the tips seem to be for more extreme conditions, it’s great to know what other neighborhoods are doing. I am including the link in case you too are interested in “taking a bite out of crime.”

Please continue to pray for us. We will gather the most strength in large numbers. We need active participants in our neighborhood who are not afraid to take a stand.

Published in: on June 19, 2008 at 7:02 pm  Comments (1)  

Dog Swapping

Several years ago my family started a tradition called dog swapping. It started about five years or so ago. When I got divorced the kids and I stayed at my dad’s a couple of months before moving into a duplex that didn’t allow pets. My dad assured me not to worry, that he would keep my miniature schnauzer, Buddy until I was able to move somewhere that did. Suddenly, Buddy began spending a lot of time with my dad. When my dad plowed his garden and mowed the fields, so did Buddy. Not only did Buddy go for tractor rides, but he went for four-wheeler rides and truck rides. When my dad bought a street bike, Buddy started prancing around in little denim vests and hats that sported the Harley Davidson logo. My dad was even taking him to work with him. Even though my time in a duplex was short-lived, Buddy’s stay away from home was not. My dad claimed that Buddy would not be able to handle being separated from my him. “Buddy” was too attached. It was obvious to everyone but my dad. Buddy would adjust to living back at home. My dad wouldn’t.

For a couple of years, I fought this pretty hard, but eventually I gave up. My children and I reluctantly agreed to let Buddy continue living with my dad, and we got a new dog, Gracie. The arrangement infuriates my stepmother because she thinks my dad “stole” Buddy from us. Dad fiercely disagrees. He says Buddy needs someone that understands and can relate to him. You see, both have gotten rather grumpy and snippety with age. So now the agreement is this: Buddy stays at my dad’s, and Dad has to bring him over whenever he comes and visits. The picture above is one of those recent visits. Although Buddy is always super-excited to see me, he never lets my dad out of his sight for long out of fear of being left behind. He comes in, jumps around excited to see me, loves on me a bit, and then jumps in my dad’s lap to sit there for the remainder of the visit. I think my dad has brainwashed him!

Recently my brother, John and his wife, Nohora decided that they needed to get rid of at least one of their dogs. They have a bull mastiff mix that Chris and I just adore. Whenever we have dogsat for them in the past, we would tease that Bruiser ran off, or something of that effect so they couldn’t get him back. Well, my brother decided that Bruiser could come live with us! This was extremely difficult for my brother to do, but it is kind of like the Buddy situation. Bruiser is still in the family, and John can see him whenever he wants. Plus, I sort of got a free security system out of the deal. He is a vicious looking dog, weighing about 120 pounds, but gosh is he a sweety! He’s like having a huge piece of furniture in the house. He is trained and lethargic, super loving, and gets along great with Dooley and Gracie. Here is a picture of him with Dooley.

All you dog owners, beware of my family. Do not bring your dog around us if you think we will fall in love with him. We will find a way to charm you into “giving” him to us.

Published in: on June 17, 2008 at 5:38 pm  Comments (1)  

Overcoming Fear…

Today my post is much more serious than usual. Recently there have been some things happening where I live that have me living in fear. Graffiti seems to be popping up on every corner. Gangs tend to be increasing in our city, and I am not certain my neighborhood is exempt. Last night a lady was mugged while coming home. I am terrified for my children to roam around unsupervised, even though children play safely in our streets every day. Tonight, the fear came in so fiercely that I finally broke down crying uncontrollably. I do not like what this is doing to me. It is causing me to suspect and not trust others living around me.

In addition, the fear is causing extreme dislike to creep into my heart. I do not want to become a bitter or prejudiced person because of the fear I’m living in that is brought on by ungodly people and ungodly behavior. I want to be the kind of person who boldly stands against things that are wrong, but fear prevents me from being this kind of person.

Tonight I am just meditating on what God says about fear. Psalm 27 says it best:
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

That last verse: Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. That is what I am doing. To all my Christian friends out there: Please pray for my family’s safety, for my children, my husband, and me. Pray for the safety of others in my neighborhood. Pray that violence does not creep in. Pray for our law enforcement, that they will be guided in the right direction so that they are able to zone in on the right people. And pray that I remain strong, take heart, and wait on the Lord. I know He has it all worked out. I just have to have faith.

Published in: on June 17, 2008 at 8:41 am  Comments (2)  

NO Deal!

Well, I met the bike I blogged about on Friday and took her for a test drive. She failed to meet my expectations. She was too heavy, too hard to pedal, and the front brakes weren’t working. I tried to negotiate, but I didn’t have much luck with that either. The woman selling her was only willing to come down $10, which might have paid for the brake repair, but not the hassle. I guess the deal was too good to be true.

So, I got to thinking that maybe a 7 gear cruiser would be better. Unfortunately, no one but Target had one in stock, and they would not allow me to test drive it because they thought I was a liability. However the salesman and manager (yes, I asked to speak to a manager!) told me 7 gears should be all I needed and that I could always purchase it and return it within 90 days. So, I did. However, it didn’t take 90 minutes, much less days for me to decide that she wouldn’t work for me.

Despite being pepto pink, she is a cutie. However, she didn’t live up to the great online reviews that had been given to her. No matter how low of a gear I put her in, I ended up carrying her up the hill, and I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be the other way around.

After days of internet research, several trips to various bike shops, Wal-Mart and Target, I decided that I really didn’t want to skimp in style. I want to have FUN riding my bike. I want people to stare at me when I ride by because my bike is so cute they can’t take their eyes off it. I want people to say “WOW! I want one of those!”

I am not normally this materialistic. We own a 2003 Honda Odyssey and a 2000 Honda Civic. Although both are practical and very functional, there is nothing stylish about either. However, after looking at stylish after stylish bicycle, I decided I was going to have to give it up and go with practical and functional. My husband is rubbing off on me:)

I ended up opting for functionality and practicality, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not sacrifice style on this purchase. I shopped and shopped and shopped until I found a bike that met my expectations: The 2008 Trek 7100. She rides great; she’s functional; she’s practical; and she’s stylish!! She is actually a hybrid bike, but she has a very vintage look about her. This is as close to a cruiser as I’m going to get. Besides, she rides much better than any cruiser I looked at!

She’ll be even cuter with a wicker basket and bell! I had a hard time landing this bike. Unfortunately, the 2009 models are being released, so a lot of stores only want to sell you the new model rather than just ordering you the older one. (There were only 26 left!) This makes sense considering they hacked the price up over $100 on the new model! (The new model is exactly the same except for the color; the new model is a robin’s egg blue, which is o.k., but I like this salmon color much better. It’s unique and better complements the leather seat and hand grips. O.K. Elise, FOCUS!)

Because of gas prices, more people are going green, and bike companies have decided to cash in by suddenly raising all their prices at an astronomical rate. Fortunately, I am too stubborn to fall for their ploys. My persistence saved me about $130, but unfortunately I still don’t consider my purchase a DEAL. I still spent a considerable amount more than I had hoped. I am nervous about how much I spent, but I am excited and cannot wait for her to come in. I am able to feel muscles in my rear and upper thighs I haven’t felt in years just from all the test riding I’ve been doing. I am hoping this will help me get off the last 10-15 pounds I want to lose. Now that will be worth every penny!

Published in: on June 17, 2008 at 3:52 am  Leave a Comment  

“Riding along on my bicycle… ” Sung to tune of “Riding along in my automobile…”

O.K. So I’ve been contemplating getting a new bike for several years now. I have an old Schwinn mountain bike that was all that back when I bought her many years ago, but when I went through my divorce I stored her at my dad’s for a year or so. If you saw what she looks like now, it is apparent that the divorce took as hard a toll on her as it did the kids and me. However, she never sprung back. She is still rusted, her tires are still flat, and she is still covered in dirt. For years now, she has been sitting in my garage looking pretty pitiful. I haven’t had the heart to get rid of her. I tell myself that I’ll take her to a bike shop to get her tires pumped up, her chains replaced, her gears readjusted, and somehow get all the rust removed, but I cringe at what the bill will be. I know that I’ll probably be best off donating her to Goodwill and upgrading to a much newer, more improved model. No pun intended, I swear!! It’s a logical idea, but I cringe at making big purchases like this for myself.

Now that I’m no longer living in the country, I actually have a neighborhood with streets. This has me thinking a cruiser bicycle might be perfect for me. They are just too cute and fun to look at! Talk about feeling nostalgic. And I can justify a purchase like this too. Kroger isn’t even two miles away, and our local tax commissioner has spent some of our SPLOST dollars on building a new sidewalk outside my neighborhood into the shopping district. I’ve been talking to my best friend Craig, and it turns out that a few people near me have what I’m looking for slightly used, assembled, and much cheaper than I can buy new in the store. Currently this one is calling my name. She’s just sitting in someone’s garage hoping for a new owner that will actually ride her. Could it be fate?

I can’t say blue would be my first color pick, but for $100, she’s a beaut, especially if I add a cute basket to the front! And who knows, with my negotiating skills, I might get her for at least 25% off!

Published in: on June 13, 2008 at 6:02 pm  Comments (4)