Thursday, May 29, 2008


Fred and I were discussing nicknames today. I'd like to come up with one for each child, to use on the blogosphere. And, yes, we really discuss things like this when we go on walks!
So, anyway, we decided on The Artist, The Naturalist... and then we got stuck for the youngest two boys. I asked the kids what we should call Mr.T.
The Naturalist responds, "Call him the CRAZIEST!"
And then Fred pipes up, "No, we should call him the NUDIST."
Ha! That is pretty funny. The kid takes his clothes off whenever he gets the chance. Still, calling him the nudist on the internet probably isn't any safer than using his real name, is it?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Garden Parties and happy days

First, just to let you know, the knee is completely better and so is the house. I tried the "ignore and focus method," but I broke down and vacuumed the whole house. It's a disease, I'm telling you.

We had a great day today, too. Friends came over for lunch, then I got to hang out with my sis and take pictures. When Fred got home we played with the kids outside, took a walk, played Uno after dinner, and then he started reading the kids Old Yeller. It's days like this that I just fall in bed with a smile on my face. :-)

And now- da da DAAH (as Trevor says)-- the pictures from the Garden Party on Memorial Day:

This is our fabulous group. So many amazing ladies that I'm blessed to know.

Sherri and Rebecca

Laura and Ginger

Ladies visiting after the meal. Look at some of those dresses and hats!

Our beautiful hostess and chef, Sam, and her darling handsome boys, who graciously served us our entire 3-course meal and desserts.

And my new profile picture is taken from the Garden Party as well. What a wonderful time!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

knee stress and house mess

Two things:
First, I hurt my knee. I'm not sure how... maybe it was from hanging upside down on the monkey bars with the kids during a picnic playdate on Thursday. Or maybe it was from riding Trevor around on my back, on all fours, yesterday. Or it could be that I fell down when I was trying to chase Isabelle around the van. Man, that kid is fast. She puts me to shame.

At any rate, I look like an old woman trying to get up off the floor. The knee hurts. Ugh.
I'm not even 30! I'm not supposed to have a hurt knee! I'm still supposed to be bouncing around. So. Anyway, Just needed to complain.

Second thing: I need to be okay with the messy house. I get WAY too stressed when my house is cluttery. But, let's face it: 4 small kids + 1 cozy cottage + 1 rather sloppy husband = MESS.
A wonderful friend gave me some good advice about a week ago: she simply said that I need to NOT CARE. Let it go. Relax. If the hallway is messy, I can still do reading with the kids. Go outside, if necessary. Do the important things first, not the "urgent things" (yes, I realize that hallway cleaning may not seem urgent, but you don't live in my brain. I may have some OCD tendencies. For one thing, I can't handle food on the floor. UGH. Or clothes. Or even toys, for that matter, unless they are in the playroom. Which is why, you see, my dear friend told me to put the blinders on and FOCUS on the "real stuff. It's not as if I was ever realizing my dream of the perfectly clean house anyway. And would I be satisfied if I got it, or would I just move on to toilet and tub scrubbing, as I've been known to do? Okay, enough in parenthesis already!)

So, there you have it. I'm determined that for ONE week (must start with baby steps!), I will let some things go. I will laugh when I usually cringe. I will focus on just being outside and reading and having fun, and I will not worry. I do a lot of "FUN" stuff and outside stuff anyway, but I usually have this nagging worrying tone in my head that says "and what if someone stops over? And shouldn't the house be clean for Fred when he gets home?" (ha, as if he cares!!) Shut up, voice. Enough.

So I warn you right now that my open door policy has temporarily been revoked, until I come to terms with my new focus. Call first. Please. Don't make me suffer needlessly. ;-) And, above all, when you do call first and then you come over to a messier-than-usual home, say only good things. (which is good advice anyway!!) :-) Thank you in advance.

Oh, and just for the record, I only hold myself to those standards. When I visit friends I couldn't care less how their house looks. Ironic, isn't it?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Making Craft Books

I always enjoy doing crafts with the kids. It's one of my "green light" activities; one of the things that excites and energizes me. There's just something about ribbon and glue that puts a smile on my face.

Fridays are our craft days. All day. Just crafts. So you see why I love Fridays. We make play dough, sew, paint, scrapbook, you name it. This morning I tried a new playdough recipe, and it worked out great. I tripled the recipe, and used kool-aid for coloring instead of food coloring.

Then we took our crafting supplies outside to the picnic table. Isabelle and Ethan helped me design & decorate little notebooks and journals that we have. I have one for my Bible notes and prayers, and one for each one of the kids, for all of the funny things they say and do...(plus my thoughts on certain matters, that they can read when they are older.) I got the inspiration for this from Simply. :-)

Party Animal notebook is Trevor's, of course:Fred writes in this one, about our family field trips and vacations:This one is empty so far. I don't know if it will be large enough to store my special homemade cards from friends...

This is my Bible/ prayer journal. I'm sure many of you have seen it, back when it was just yellow. Ah, the power of ribbon.
This is my day planner. Might as well give everything a dress-up!
My journal for Isabelle:
My journal for Nature Man, Ethan:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

How to tell a person's character by the way they respond to opposition

In case you didn't know, I was a psychology minor in college. Fascinating stuff. I love to learn about myself, and about everyone around me. What makes them tick? Why do they respond like they do? How does nature and nurture affect the outcome? And why can't everyone just be like me? Just kidding. ;-)

In general, people tend to filter the information they receive through their own "lens" of preconceived notions & experiences, reading their autobiography into other people's lives, or projecting their own home movies onto other people's behavior. (paraphrased from The Seven Habits...) So true.

It's amazing what you can tell about a person when you disagree with them. Will they become immediately defensive? Will they respect your convictions, just as your respect theirs? Will personal attacks follow? Is anyone ever swayed "to the other side," or do people pretty much stay planted in the first thought/ impression, even if it doesn't hold water? Not saying that either side in this case is like that.

I've had some sweet "good goin'" emails from friends. I've had some respectful disagreements, which I welcome. I respect you, you respect me, and it's all okay. I've also had some rather hateful notes, and a couple with personal attacks on me or my family. That, of course, is uncalled for, unprofessional, and just plain mean. Come on, y'all, I'm not being mean to you, so don't be mean to me.

Problems or differences should be recognized as opportunities to deeply understand and help others. "The word 'crisis' in Chinese is written as two character. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity." (John F. Kennedy) We have an opportunity here to better understand each other.

Now, when people start using personal attacks to manipulate others they lose credibility. It also speaks volumes about the foundation of your friendship. I don't take myself so seriously that I can't see some humor in criticisms. Still, anything very personal can sting. I try to exercise restraint in responding to these. I usually just respond, "I hope this doesn't affect our friendship..." because I am, after all, the "bigger person." Heh heh.

Often, either the person writing the attack desires to change the subject, trying to distract me from the real issue because they don't have enough facts to stay on topic, or they have confidence issues about themselves. (In either case, they need pity, not anger...) Some people will try to pull you down no matter what. These people become obsessed with making the other person lose, even at their own expense. This is the philosophy of adversarial conflict, war, or of highly dependent persons.

I've also been blessed by a couple of "empathetic listening" messages. God is good to balance out the emails for me. :-) I didn't even think to pray for that!

Empathetic listening is listening with intent to understand the other person's frame of reference and feelings. You listen with your ears, eyes and heart.

"Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival - to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, and to be appreciated." People who understand that will go far in this world. It is a blessing to have conversations with them. People like this are rather rare, though, so when I come across one, I always try to personally thank them. You know who you are, my dear reader. Thank you again. Keep in mind, this person respectfully disagreed with me. And that is okay. As she put it, "we are two smart mothers trying to do what we think is best for our families and being willing to stand up for it." Who can argue with that? We both did our research, we both prayed about it, and we are both willing to stand up for our convictions. It's okay to disagree. Think: Principle-based behavior.
So the next time you disagree with someone, first do your research. Are you right? Do you really know all the facts? Either way, be willing to listen and hear the other person out. Maybe there are things you don't understand. If you still feel convicted about your stand, remain respectful and thoughtful. It does no good to bring the relationship down a notch just to get the last word in. Think Win/Win - Seek mutual benefit. 'Nuf said!

What it's all about

I love posting about family activities. I love the self-indulgent "look-at-my-awesome-kid" posts. :-) Things like that just make me smile.

However, desperate times call for desperate measures. Saddle up for a serious post. I don't do this all that often. ;-) There will be another one that follows this, too, related more to psychology. Aren't you excited?!! Heh.

So, now that you've been warned...

The aforementioned "letter" to the editor has been published in two papers thus far. And the responses have been pouring in. Mostly good, a few disagreements, and a few personal attacks. I'll get to that next.

I might as well bite the bullet and let you know what all this is about. It's about school and taxes. Specifically, it's about raising taxes to pay for a new high school. It's complicated because people on both sides of the issue have good motives. Obviously the school is practically falling apart. It was pathetic when I was there, and it's not getting any better. So there are good motives behind wanting a new school. That is not my argument.

I take up issue with the taxes. Taxes. Ugh. We're talking about increasing property taxes. The property tax is especially onerous in that it continues to tax us for something we already own. Unlike payroll and sales taxes, it increases taxes for people who haven't increased their income or their consumption. More and more of their money goes to the government just because they continue to own something. This hurts low-income property owners (my family!) and retired people (who are often on a fixed income) the most. We can't afford more money on our property, especially with the cost of food, gas, etc going up.

Our city's property taxes are already high. The average school district millage rate in Arkansas is 35.84. Ours is 39.6, which is more than 10.5% higher.

The average total millage, including city millage, in Arkansas is 43.39. Ours is 46.7, which is 10.7% higher. You can read more about numbers here.

If the numbers hurt your brain, just know that we're already paying a lot. The problem is that, although the tax base has grown, and more tax is being collected, it cannot legally be used for new buildings. Now, this sounds like a messed up system to me. I think everyone, on both sides, would agree that the way this is done does not make sense. The real problem here is allocation of funds not lack of them.

There is enough tax money, but we can't legally use it, so we need to collect more tax money. Make sense? No, I didn't think so. But that's the way it's done. And ask yourself this: if the millage goes up, do you think it will ever come back down? This is permanent! And money isn't growing on trees! If only...

Again, I'll say that I'm NOT against a new school. I'm just against using property taxes to do it. I think it should be funded differently and with less expense.. Right now property tax seems to be the only option. So can we just put our effort and time into getting that changed? In the meantime, I feel the obligation to protect my home. I've thought about this, prayed about this, accepted godly advice from friends. I am praying simply for God's Will to be done in this matter. I will pray, I will vote, and then I will leave it in the Lord's Hands. Can anyone argue with that? (Don't answer that, if you're feeling at all riled up!)

Early voting June 3-9. Voting day is the 10th.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Silver Dollar City

Our little mini-vacation to Branson was about a week ago. The first day was pretty bad. It rained and rained on us. Try walking four little kids around in the pouring rain ALL DAY. They close the rides during storms, so we just stuck to shows, shopping, and eating.

Isabelle looked darling in her Mimi-made skirt, athletic shoes, pink jacket, braid, and polka-dot umbrella. I'm so thankful that she still looks like my little girl. :-)It did finally clear up towards the end of the day, the the kids rode the Lost River ride and some others.

We were able to ride the train, too.

The hotel was HORRIBLE. Seriously, I've never stayed in such a bad place. The carpet was coming away from the wall at the bathroom entrance, and Fred hurt his foot. The room was tiny, with two queen beds crammed in, and one tiny window near the door. And I mean, it was so small and high-up that the kids couldn't even see outside. Argh. I'm a light person!!

There was no shampoo in the bathroom, and no phone book or directory in the room. Man, am I spoiled or was this just really crummy? And no breakfast in the morning-- not even continental.

What really gets me is that I checked this place out. I looked online at pictures, read customer reviews, checked prices.... how could we have such a horrid experience when others seemed to like it so much? Huh.

Anyway, my parents met us there the second day, and the weather was beautiful. Fred rode every ride in the park, and he dragged the bigger kids or my mom along with him. Isabelle and Ethan both rode Thunderation, and hated it. Isabelle and Trevor both rode American Plunge. Isabelle went twice and wanted to go again. My kids aren't very brave, so this totally took me by surprise!

It ended up being a wonderful mini-vacation b/c the second day trumped the first one so well! We did decide to head home after that, though. Who wants to stay in Hotel H*ll, when driving home is just 2 hours away. Andmy precious grandparents were still in town. I'd rather have time with them anyway! :-)

Friday, May 16, 2008

I might as well tell you...

I wrote a letter to the editor of our paper about an upcoming local election. Before I wrote it, I sought advice from godly friends, then prayed about the issue, and waited. When I felt at peace about it (two weeks later,) I sat down and wrote the letter. I actually asked the editor to withhold my name, or publish with initials only, because I don't want the wrath of those who oppose me. However, the publisher explained that they only publish with full names, to prevent unscrupulous editors from creating letters to benefit a certain topic. Plus, it just keep everything on a personal and professional level. I understand that, but I withdrew my submission... initially. When I had time to think and pray and revise, I resent it. The editor thanked me, complimented the article, and now it will be published.

Today I received a call from another area paper asking if they could also publish "the letter." Apparently it has been circulating. He told me it is a great letter, and he would like to forward it on to someone else. (nice). Long story short (er), it will be published in three papers in the next week or so.

All that to say, that it is a controversial subject around here right now, and I have many friends on the other side of the fence. So now I am asking for prayer and understanding. Each of us must stand by our convictions. As my sister put it, "don't worry; if you are taking a stand for something, you'll inevitably have some opposition, but that's ok--no one made a difference without disagreeing with someone or something in order to change things, you know what I mean? There's nothing wrong with that--look at all the opposition Jesus and his disciples had for standing up for what they believed in. I hope you won't worry about what other people think of your article!" I love my family.

And, I know, I'm all vague and mysterious. Heh. I may post the letter on here, or a link to it, when it shows up in the paper. I feel strongly about this issue, so you can anticipate more about it... :-)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

An aversion to kissing

We've had a packed couple of weeks, from precious grandparents in town visiting to Young Authors to Branson trip, and so forth. So much to blog about, so little time. ;-)

I let my sweet grandparents know right off the bat that Trevor has a strange aversion to kisses. He does. NOT. like. them. I know, It's strange.

We're a very affectionate family, always lovin' on the kids, hugging, smoochin'. But that one child just thinks it's so icky.

Mimi is so accustomed to cuddling and kissing on the children, and it was hard for her to remember not to. I catch myself all the time.

My Mom captured it well...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Fred's family

Time is just slipping through my fingers. I'll be out this week, so I won't be able to show you my Wednesday picture until next weekend. In fact, I may not get to post at all for awhile, due to an insane schedule approaching.

Part of today went to portrait time with Fred's siblings. They wanted to get a rare picture with all of them, and the spouses (only me, so far, and Kayla's fiance.)

I think they turned out well.

Here we are... 11 years this year. Can you believe it?

In this picture we have Cindy, Kayla and Eric, older sister Stacy in the middle, and younger brother Justin at the bottom, and me & Fred. Yes, Kayla and Cindy are twins.

I'll be doing the photography for Kayla and Eric's summer wedding, and I'm currently on a mission for a beautiful (and cheap!) dress. The colors are black, white, and red. I'm so dang picky about dresses. It needs to be below the knee. And I only like my shoulders revealed if it's warm outside and I stay outside. Otherwise I just get too cold. I also must wear heels with a dress. It's a given.

I like tube dresses and strappy things on other people, but I have yet to find a bra that will work for me with those kinds of things, and going bra-less really isn't an option right now. Hmmm...