Monday, June 30, 2008

a great summer read!

I just finished an amazing novel. Marlo Schalesky is a new author for me...this is the first one of her books I've read, but I know I'll be going back for more. I loved this book, and I know you will, too. I'm going to...yes, GIVE IT AWAY. Hooray! Just leave a comment on this post, and I'll enter you in the drawing. And watch for two more book giveaways this week.

And, AND, I have something I'm particularly excited about trying--and giving away--a new game to exercise my brain. And you KNOW that my brain is in need of serious help. So more about that later. On to the book.




The storyline from Beyond the Night took me on this rollercoaster ride of emotion and had me alternating between holding my breath and trying to read faster so I could find out what happened next.

Maddie Foster is going blind, and it isn't a pretty picture as she tries to avoid facing it. Paul Tilden is best friends with her, but when he falls in love with her, it seems like everyone is against him having a relationship with her. But the most fascinating part of the story for me was being able to eavesdrop on Maddie's on-again off-again relationship with God.

She goes through the entire gamut of emotions, alternately blaming God and then begging Him for a miracle. But once she comes to grips with her fear of being blind, then her life starts to open up.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book. Paul is thinking about hope and Maddie. He says he used to think that hope came in comfort, and that if you just lived well, God would spare you from heartache and fear. A good life was one free of trouble. But then he realizes that Maddie is teaching him that God is in the sorrow, and He works in the pain.

Love that quote! It's so simple and so profound that it takes a minute for it to soak in. It makes me want to weep just thinking about it again. He's right there. Right there with us when it aches so badly we can't bear it. And that's just the beginning of the book. By the time you read the ending, you'll have gone through the better part of a box of Kleenex, and you'll be sitting on the edge of your chair, waiting for her next novel.

If you head over to the Multnomah Publishing site, you can also read the official publicity piece about this book there.

When she was asked about this book, Schalesky said:

It was all God’s fault. And it started with a dream. Not one of those 'I have a dream' kind of dreams, but a real, honest-to-goodness, it’s-3am-and-I’m-asleep kind of dreams. I dreamt Paul and Maddie’s love story. And when I woke up, I couldn’t get the two of them out of my head. I thought about them in the shower, on the way to seminary classes, in the grocery store. Everywhere! For weeks, I found myself replaying tidbits of their story in my mind, until I finally figured out that maybe God wanted me to write their story.

“But,” said I to God, “there’s not enough here. It’s not compelling enough.”

“Yes,” said God to me, “but Maddie’s going blind.” (Well, maybe it wasn’t so much in those words, but just in the revelation of what was going on with Maddie.)

“Oh,” said I, “That’s very interesting. But it’s still not enough. Not quite.”
Two more days went by, and Paul and Maddie’s story still kept teasing my mind. “It’s not enough,” I kept saying to God. “There’s got to be more.”

And then I saw it – the big twist. The incredible truth that I had no idea about before. It took my breath away. So, after I finished picking my jaw up off the floor, I sat down and starting working on the proposal for Beyond the Night.
As I fleshed out the story, I realized that this is exactly the type of book I’d like to keep writing – something with the poignancy of a Nicolas Sparks love story (without the sap!) matched with the knock-your-socks-off twist of a M. Night Shymalan movie (without the horror!). That kind of story excited me, spiritually, emotionally, mentally.

And I figured that there had to be more people like me out there – people who want to be both moved emotionally and surprised and delighted intellectually. People who want to be changed, challenged, and caught with wonder by a story. People who just want something more in their stories, because the typical story is just not quite enough.

Happily, Multnomah agreed. When my agent sent them the proposal for Beyond the Night, they asked for two more ideas in one week. But how could I come up with two more stories like that in such a short time? It usually took months, even years, for me to find the right story. But God was faithful again.

On the first day of that week, the storyline for Book 2, Faces in the Sand, came to me. And on the last day of the week, I got the idea for Book 3 (with five very nervous days in between). Multnomah contracted all three, and now I’m pressing forward, writing these books that God has given me to write, and praying every day that I’ll see the story as He has dreamed it. And I’m hanging on to the belief that He who gave me this mission will be faithful not only at its inception, but in the execution and beyond.

Schalesky talks about her experiences as an author. She says:

You’ll find that most of my books include a theme about life not turning out the way you plan or expect. That’s because God has given me the equivalent of a PhD in “My plans are not your plans, saith the Lord . . .” And my publishing experience has been a significant course in that learning process.

Nothing in my experience with publishing has gone according to expectation. At first, that was just because I was naïve. I thought I just had to write some good stuff, and I’d get a contract for my first books, which, at the time, was an end times series (this was before the Left Behind craze). So, I went to conferences with my proposal and heard from all the editors, “We aren’t interested in this type of futuristic fiction.” What they meant, of course, was they weren’t interested in that type of story from a newbie like me.

So, I tried historical fiction. And got a contract just as expected. Except the contract was canceled . . .that was unexpected. And it hurt.

Eventually, another publisher contracted that book and it became my first published novel. I received a few other contracts, had those books published, and then came another rude awakening in the form of sales figures. I expected to write a good book and have it do well.

But that’s not how it worked for my third novel. Because of internal publishing house changes, sales went badly. And there wasn’t anything I could do about it. That was hard because I’d written the story as an act of faithfulness to God’s call, I felt He was pleased with it, I’d done everything I could in promotion and marketing, and still it “failed.” Ouch!

At that time, I was told to expect the numbers for that book to prevent other publishers from wanting to publish future books of mine. “It would have been better for you if that book hadn’t even been published,” they said. But God was about to crush that expectation as well.

A publisher contracted my next historical novel, I wrote it, and then just before it was scheduled for release, the company went through a large restructuring – they cut fiction, most of the members of the PR department left, the fiction editor left, and my book was stranded. I hadn’t expected that either.

But God was up to something in the meantime – a new story idea that I simply had to write. A story that so moved the Multnomah team, even in its synopsis form, that they wanted to publish it despite my previous sales numbers. They wanted that story, plus two more. The story was Beyond the Night. It came as an unexpected gift from God.

And just like everything else in my publishing experience, it has taken me by surprise. Pre-readers are calling me and emailing saying how the story has moved them, impacted them. But it’s not because of my great planning. It’s because God has again done something that I didn’t foresee, didn’t expect. And I thank Him for it.



So go ahead. What've you got to lose? Post a comment, get a chance to win. Easy peasy. You know you wanna.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

no reading tonight

Please, oh please, can I find a new job?

Today was okay because we actually had something to do, but if my feet had eyes, they'd be killing me with looks right now. Striking me dead.

I'm waiting for my ride home (the lovely Dee is picking me up), and I only have a half day tomorrow because of the summer hours. However, it will be just as busy at home, because we are watching Pearlie's babies, too. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It's fun to have them, but I always breathe a little *whew!* when we're done, because it wears a body out chasing those little ones.

So probably no reading tonight, either!! Who would have thought it could be so difficult to just read a book? Even when the kids were little, I got to read. I would take them all to the library, check out some books to take home, and sure as can be, they'd be quiet for hours, reading the new books. You know I didn't go home and clean the house, don't you? I was reading, too!

Speaking of cleaning, it is NOT my passion. It is not even on my list of like-to-do's. In fact, I think it is on my list of avoid-at-all-costs! I was using the little carpet sweeper at work today after we finished counting inventory, and one lady says to me, "You could be at home doing that, couldn't you?" Ummm...NO. I would not be doing that. I only clean house once a week. And I only clean more than the surface stuff when I can't stand it anymore. I call it efficiency, but honestly, it stems from just being lazy.

I had a girlfriend once who loved to clean. Loved it. She would move all her furniture every week, wash the windows, wash, iron and starch her curtains...you know, take down all the glasses from the top shelves so she could wash them (both the dishes and the shelves)--you get the idea. I wonder if that could be considered a disease.

One day she was telling me how upset she was because one of the kids had walked on the living room carpet after she vacuumed. She could see the marks in the plush carpet! I couldn't believe it. I told her she had been in the house waaaay too long, and that she should get out more. She didn't seem very impressed with my advice.

Sorry in advance to all the cleanies who I know I just offended...my philosophy is that life is too short to spend it cleaning, especially if you're cleaning up after someone else! Now, that should tell you how messy my house will be if you come visit me the day before I clean. Consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

wacky web wednesday 06-25-08

Just an FYI--I've started reading, but I'm not ready to post yet...so here is a distraction for the day. And I know, this was yesterday's post, but I did not finish it in time, so here is Wednesday's post on Thursday. Reflective of my life!

Are we so hungry for instant gratification that people are actually successful using emails like the one I received this week?

Hello Dear

My name is Mrs. Elena Morris; I am a dying woman who has decided to
donate what I have to you and the charity organization around your community. I am 62 years old and I was diagnosed for cancer for about 2 years ago immediately after the death of my husband who has left me everything he worked for and because the doctors told me I will not live longer than some weeks because of my health i decided to WILL/donate the sum of $5.700.000.00 to you.

Here is the Contact information of my Attorney below:
VAN DER JOEL ADVOCATEN
ANTWOORD 1070 AM PARNASSUSWEG BOULEVARD
AMSTERDAM NETHERLANDS


and tell him that I have WILLED $5.700.000.00 to you I know I don’t know you but I have been directed to do this.

Best Regards,

From Mrs. Elena Morris.


Honestly. Yes, you have chosen me, and the hundreds of other people who received and posted about this exact same email. "I know I don't know you but I have been directed to do this." What?? And there's pie up in that sky, and a nice bridge for sale cheap out in the middle of the desert. The sad part is that some misguided people really fall for these things.

And just to be technical, don't you already have to be DEAD for people to benefit from the will, Mrs. Elena Morris? Hello? Wow wow wubbsy. I can't believe it.

*****

And on the subject of fraud, we just got a phone call today, too. It was a recording:

"This is cardmember services. If you would like to reduce your current card interest rate, please press 1."

Well, we pressed 1, of course. Who wouldn't want to get a lower interest rate? Yes, we're trying to get it paid off, but for now, yeah, let me just say that we definitely have a balance.

The guy started asking questions about our account..."What's your balance? What interest rate are you currently paying?"

Wait just a little stinkin' minute.

"Shouldn't you already have that information?" we asked.

Here is the funniest part. The guy actually admitted, "Well, we're not from your credit card company."

When we said, "Well, we're not talking to you then," all we heard was a *click* on the other end. Let the naïve beware!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

another day, another snafu

No book reading today...just a chaotic morning, and a torturously long day at work. I spent it walking around the floor, trying to look busy to avoid triggering these sharp, pointy, frequent emails from the financial person to the managers, "Don't they have something to do?"

Okay, it's probably best to stop there. I will draw a careful line between work and blog. But I only have one question. If this person has time to watch us try to look busy, don't they need something more to do? There are already four manager-type people in there already to oversee us and give us projects.

But to shake off the strings of ick that wrapped themselves around me at work, I climbed into my welcoming little wrinkled car, and sang at the top of my lungs as I turned up the volume on the CD player to extra-loud, bumping Tobymac, the Newsboys and Selah on the way home. Yes!

My honey was just finishing making his yummy homemade mac and cheese when I got home. He made it with cut up rotisserie chicken in it instead of ham this time. Dee-licious!! What a sweetheart he is.

For inspiration after dinner, I visited Mel at A Long Way from the Theta House online. Ya gotta love her. Her hubby runs an inner city kids ministry in Dallas, and she is along for the ride. Mamelissa, as her kids call her, took on some bike thieves, and you can read about it here...what a gutsy lady!

And I also visited newly found bloggy friend Kori. Her husband has CF and he was recently was diagnosed with colon cancer as well. Visit her and share some love. She is a sweetie!

My first (of the three) book reviews should be up tomorrow. I'm anticipating some good book reading time in the morning, y'all.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

weekend in fast forward

The weekend just flew by. I've got giveaways galore this week. Prayers were answered. I got lots of things done this weekend. We have back steps again. My honey got them put up, so now we can go out the back door. Yay for a productive weekend, and praises for a loving God who cares about every single thing that matters to us.

I talked to the boys on Thursday, I think it was, and they weren't too happy. There are four shifts of guys at the mine. Each shift works a different schedule...and it's a weird schedule, too. Theirs is something like four days on day shift, one day off, three days on night shift (they work 12-hour shifts), two days off, four days on, one day off, two days on, a day off, three days on, and then seven days off in a row. They switch back and forth between day shift and night shift throughout that time.

Well, Lewie and Robbie were both on the fourth shift, but Thursday, fifteen minutes before they were supposed to catch the bus home, the first shift supervisor told them they had to switch to first shift. So instead of having three days off in a row coming up, they had one day off and had to start working again. Boy were they in a tiff about that.

They had just started getting to know some of the guys, they had plans to go to a rodeo this weekend, and zip! Everything changes. I know they had been getting compliments on their work already...people were noticing that the shop was always clean, and that they were always looking for something they could do after the equipment was clean.

They were so disappointed to have to change. Plus, the first shift had a reputation for not working very hard. I was thinking that perhaps the boss wanted someone on his shift who would get some work done.

I prayed for those boys. I prayed that even in their disappointment, that they would be able to draw on God for some strength and comfort, and that they would direct their energy into doing a good job so they could move up more quickly to a different position. I prayed that God would help them deal with this disappointment and keep a positive attitude. This was all on Thursday.

On Friday, Lewis called. They had been switched back to fourth shift!! No explanation was given...no reason at all. But they were so excited. So was I. I just said, "Thank you, God!" You know, even when your babies are in their twenties (or thirties), they are still your babies. The boys would disagree, but they're not parents yet.

My original plans for Saturday went sailing out the window. I wanted to stay home all day and knock things off my to-do list. I forgot that I told Luvvy that I'd come over and take more pictures of her jewelry for her Etsy shop. When she called me, I knew I couldn't put her off again. Last Saturday, she called to see what time I was coming, and I had forgotten all about it. So my honey and I went. (Yes, that is his ex. I know it's weird. But it's okay.)

We did that, and then we bought pizza from Papa John's. It was so good. Then Dee was finishing her laundry last night, when all of a sudden the washing machine started making a horrible noise. The agitator stopped working. We had to pull her towels out and squeeze them out one by one. The pump still pumped all the water out, thank goodness, but there must be something stuck somewhere. Maybe a bobby pin or something. My honey will have to look at it.

So today, I took our laundry to the laundromat. When that was done, I brought it home to dry it. We made our two week meal list, and I made a grocery list so we could go shopping. We had turkey burgers and corn on the cob on the grill tonight, and steamed asparagus--mmmmmm!

I even got some more stuff checked off my to-do list today. Oh, hooray! Tomorrow is the last day this week I can work on my to-do list until the weekend again. Tuesday I am supposed to go down to orientation at the U for Gee, which I neglected to register for. Grrr. IF I can find the paper she gave me, I'll check it out to see if I can still go. It'd be a good reason to take a day off. :D

I also have to read one of my books that I'm going to review. I've got three books that look extremely interesting...I'll give ya the scoop on them this week. In fact, I'll be giving them away, so if they sound good, be sure to leave a comment on the post to be entered in the giveaway. (Not this post. Ha! The posts about the books you like. The ones I haven't written yet.)

Clear as mud, right? Yeah. Welcome to my world.

Friday, June 20, 2008

a productive bloggy day--hooray!

The best thing that happened today was when my coworker in the bookstore said to me, "I want to draw something. Tell me what to draw." (You can tell how slow it was all day, can't you?)

I immediately thought of my blog header, which I have been wanting to revamp. It's been over a year since I updated my look. So I told her the story of the song "A Daisy A Day," and how the man promised to always give his sweetheart a daisy a day, and how he kept his promise, even after she died. Only then he was bringing her daisies to her grave.

I told her about my blog, and how I named it because my honey planted beautiful perennial gardens for me, so that all summer long, he would be giving me a "daisy a day," or whatever flower happened to be in season. I soak up the beauty every time I walk outside.

And I told her how I had been looking for a picture of a shy little boy handing a daisy to his sweetheart. So I asked her to try to draw it. In about fifteen minutes, she had drawn the delightful picture you now see at the top of my blog! Yes! Fifteen minutes. Including the coloring. It was simply amazing.

It took me several hours, however, to photoshop it into a header the right size and finish it off with brushes, coloring and words. I'm so excited--I learned how to use brushes, and how to customize and create my own. You have no idea how much fun that was!!

I'm so happy to have a bloggy facelift. I still like the rest of the coloring, etc. so I didn't mess with the rest of it. If I find a background that I really like, I may change that later. But it's just like rearranging the furniture. It's very satisfying--putting a new face on it so that it doesn't look like the same-old, same-old.

In other news from the home front, the great gopher hunt is on. There is a gutsy little gopher (or mole) leaving little piles of dirt all over the back yard. Last night when my honey was mowing, he ran over and flattened all the little piles. Less than half an hour later, when he was still out there mowing, there was a new pile on the grass. That little stinker came out and did it practically right under his nose.

He was all fired up tonight when he and Johnny found one of the tunnels that had not been filled in. He grabbed the hose, shoved it down the hole, and started it going. I hope the little sucker runs for the hills before it's too late. I don't want him to drown.

Yes, you know I'm sappy if I feel sorry for a little critter that is destroying the lawn. I do the same thing during deer season. If they come home without a deer, I'm cheering. "Yes!! Another successful season!" (For the deer, of course.) Ah, well. Somebody has to be on their side.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

a better day at work...

I am amazed. Today zipped by. It was so cool. We were actually busy with customers most of the day. Well, it was the third day of classes and the last day to return books for this session, so we had lots of purchases and lots more returns. You know, people either are in such a hurry the first time they come in that they just pick their books quickly and get the wrong ones. They don't read the signs. (Guilty, as well - when I was a student.)

Then, when they return their books, they don't read the return policy that we attach to every receipt. They can have it in their hand and from what they are saying, you can tell they never even looked at it. (Also guilty.) And the ones who just kill me are the ones who stop into the bookstore two minutes before we close, and get upset when we won't keep the bookstore open just for them while they run down to financial aid and request a voucher. (And I know that I waited till the last minute for many more things than that!)

But it's so different looking at it from the selling side. Oh, my gosh. I recognized myself all over the place while I was waiting on these stressed-out, running-behind, frustrated students. So while I can chuckle at the people who get snappy over the little details, I'm registering it all at the same time. I know that I will have more patience with people when I go shopping again.

Then after I got home (a little after 8 pm), I bit the girls' head off (PMS kicking in), I washed the rest of the dishes (resentfully), I made dinner (easy meal tonight--rice pudding), and then, then, I started creating in the kitchen, which made me feel much better.

Cub Foods had berries on sale last week, and I bought blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries. They were buy-one-get-one, so I got two containers of each. I decided to make a triple berry compote. I've been craving this since forever. I had it at someone's house a loong time ago, and I've been wanting to know how to make it.

I was inspired by the Nester, as I wrote yesterday, with her post about something imperfectly beautiful, and I decided to just jump in with both feet and try to make some. I googled the recipe, looked at a few different versions, and combined several of them into one. It turned out so good!

Here's what I did:

Clean and slice two pounds of strawberries.
Wash two pints of blueberries.
Wash two half-pints of blackberries.
You could add raspberries, too.

Put them all in a big pot, and add 1-1/3 cups of sugar. Smash some of the berries with a potato masher, and stir thoroughly. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup of water and turn the burner on med-high. Stir occasionally until mixture gets hot.

Pour 1/2 cup lemon juice into a bowl, and dump in 1/4 cup cornstarch. Use a spoon and stir it together until the lumps are gone. Add the lemon juice/cornstarch mixture to the berry mixture, and keep cooking it until mixture bubbles and sauce turns thick and clear.

Serve over ice cream or rice pudding, or use to top pancakes, french toast or waffles. Refrigerate leftovers in a covered container.

I should have taken pictures of the whole process, but I didn't think of it until I read Sarah Mae's post about making yummy strawberry freezer jam. But here's a shot of the final product, poured over my creamy rice pudding in my take-to-work container for lunch tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

nose to the grindstone again

Well, I made it through one more day at work. I should say, my feet made it through. I had my doubts for a little while, there, but I made it. 52 days to go. Someone asked me today if I like working there. Ouch. What do I say? No, I hate it? I can't get the words to come out of my mouth.

I automatically look for something positive to say. Sugary little things trickling out in my voice, overflowing with sap and sweetness. "Well, I like the variety." When there is actually something to do. Or, "It's very interesting." Learning about how many ways a person can come up with to look busy."

All day long at work today, I was dreaming about canopies and poufy curtains. Ya gotta go check out this post at Melissa's blog. Is that not the most beautiful peaceful-looking bedroom EVER? I'm determined to get curtains sewn for the house this summer. If I break up the job into pieces, I can do it, even if I can't get it all done at once. Every night when I go to bed, I dream of making the bedroom a refuge. Peaceful, beautiful, uncluttered, and serene.

I found a big bolt of beautiful cream colored fabric with dusty blue and sage green roses kind of etched into the design--I have that in mind for my living room curtains. I have a lovely fabric in shades of green and tan that I want to use in our room, and a dandy piece in muted mulberry, golds and creams that I'll sew into a curtain for the girls' room. Right now we have vertical blinds in the bedrooms, but I really would prefer curtains all around.

I'm totally enthused. Even though I know it won't be perfect, I got inspired by this post over at the Nester. You know how we perfectionists get scared away from trying any experimental decorating techniques because it might not look just right? Well, the Nester encourages everyone to just do it anyway, and enjoy the beauty of it, even if it isn't perfect! It's like completely letting loose the little kid artist that is inside of me. Sca-ry!

And on a side note, my honey survived the day nicely, no thanks to E-girl, who SLEPT half the day away because she had to stay up half the night playing SIMS2 (which is now removed from my computer, by the way). To be fair, she did help him out for a little while, changing diapers, making some lunch, and putting X-man down for a nap.

But it sounds like he did the bulk of it in the morning when she was zonked out on the couch. He was still wide awake when he picked me up from work. Supper was already done, AND he was up for a trip to the grocery store at 9:30. Amazing. He is knocked out now, though. I got a few more things ticked off my list, and now I better get my little self in the shower and off to bed.

morning comes early

I got up at five this morning to make sure Pearl got up. I was so tired that I was lucky to find my way out to the living room. When I staggered out there to see if she was up, I didn't see her. I'm looking and looking, and all of a sudden she stands up. "Oh! There you are." It's pretty bad when she is three feet from me, and I don't see her. She was bending over, getting stuff out of the diaper bag.

She was already awake and operating at what seemed like a magical speed. The baby was changed, and she was getting ready to change Dal. Then she got her stuff together, took a shower, and got milk ready for the baby for the day. She had everything done in about 45 minutes. She even had time to snatch a quick nap before she had to leave for work. Wow.

I didn't do much the first hour I was up. I held baby Jay while she took her shower, but I didn't get going on my stuff until about six. She left at 6:45, and I had to wake Erica up to hold the baby while I braided my honey's hair. She was whining...well, mostly because she was tired.

But the whole time, all I heard was, "I suck at this. I don't know how to burp him. How much does he drink before you burp him? I don't know what I'm doing." Give. Me. A. Break. If she wouldn't have stayed up till 3 am, playing the stupid Sims2 game, I'm assuming, she might have not had so much trouble focusing.

I didn't even stay up past midnight, and I'm still whining. I still don't feel up to par yet, I'm whining about all the stuff I forgot at home when I left, and I'm wishing I had a little cot in my office. I'd take a nap until it was time to go to work. Listen...do you hear it? It's coming down the street...it's getting closer...why, yes! It's the wha-a-a-a-h-m-bulance. Yeah, that's about how much sympathy I'd get, since I was the one who didn't go to bed early.

Monday, June 16, 2008

is it a bad thing if I hear my brain buzzing?

It was a quiet day with everyone gone. My honey went out target shooting, the older kids went to work, and E-girl was here watching X-man. Em bought the Sims2 and spent part of the day here, completely enthralled in creating and decorating her virtual house. She and E were just mesmerized by the whole process.

I stayed home with an upset stomach, but other than numerous visits to the little girl's room, I was up and about. I walked through part of the house and made a list that was a page and a half long of things I thought I could get done today. I looked at it just now, and I only got to cross about half of them off the list. What a bummer. That is so typical of me, trying to shove twenty pounds of potatoes into a five pound sack.

I'll just start a new list tomorrow, and move the stuff to tomorrow's list. Maybe I can get a few of them done when I get home from work.

But tomorrow I don't start till 11:00 am. If I ride in early with Dee (she's using my car while hers gets fixed), I can find a computer and work on some applications until it's time to start work. Then my honey can pick me up at 7:30. Tomorrow is the day when my honey is going to watch X-man (Dee's little guy), and Pearlie's two babes. Baby Del is two and a half, and little Jay is just two months old. It's a darn good thing Erica is going to be home to help. They are staying overnight tonight so Pearlie can go to work straight from here, so there is an extra amount of chaos tonight.

Baby Del is all about drama these days...he's just at that stage where everything is either wonderful or terrible. It's so funny, because having to come inside when he wants to play outside is a tragic incident. Not being able to find his hockey puck is another dramatic crisis. He is a hockey freak. I'm so serious. He sleeps with a hockey stick and at least two pucks. Every night. He's pretty good with the hockey stick, too! He can line up those pucks and whack them a good long ways. We have to keep a tight rein on him indoors.

But trying to type a cover letter when the kids are clamoring, and the beeper from the banana bread is beeping, and the dog is barking to go outside, and children are talking in my ear telling me what to type, is ridiculous. It makes concentrating absolutely impossible. I give up. Completely and utterly. There are no thoughts left in my head that have not bounced around like ping pong balls for the last hour. I'm going to totter down the hall, wiping the drool off my chin as I try to find my toothbrush. G'nite all.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

more about the boys...

The boys found a two bedroom house to rent--hurray! Now they can get a PO Box and get mail from me. The three boys are living there together now, but as soon as Will finds a house to rent for his family, I think he'll be out of there.

Lewie texted Gee a picture of the house they're living in...do you think she remembered to show me? No. She deleted it. "On accident." Yeah. So I can't really tell you about what it looks like. All I know is that it's a square-shaped house with a wrap-around deck along two sides of the house. He said there is one tree in the yard. One. And they have it tied down to three posts in the ground. I guess if it weren't tied down, it probably would have blown away because of the strong wind they get out there. But the weather is cool--in the 60's, dry, and breezy right now.

The house is east of town, so they have to drive a ways to catch the bus. They have to get up around 3 am to get ready for work. They take the freeway and drive 80 mph to get to town in time to catch the bus to the mines. Lewie said everybody brings a pillow and sleeps on the bus on the way out there and on the way back. The first couple of days the boys didn't sleep, and they were the only ones awake. Then they caught on.

I thought they got paid for the bus ride, but that is another company that does that. They work for twelve hours and ride the bus home again for an hour, drive the twenty miles home, eat, go to bed, and get up and start all over again. But they'll be happy when they get their first checks. Rob put in 72 hours his first week, and Lewis put in 84. They are motivated to pay off their bills...more power to them!

They wash machines at work, and sweep up the shop if they get done and there's nothing else to do. I think Lewis wants to train to operate the earth mover machines they have out there. The earth movers are absolutely humongous. Each tire is about fifteen feet tall. That's taller than our house! I forget how tall the rest of the machine is, but he said that one "bite" with the scoop takes about forty cubic yards out of the earth. That's like more than a whole entire one of those huge dumpsters that people get for trash removal or construction debris. They have to watch out for falling dirt when they clean them. Lewis told me about one guy who wasn't paying attention, and a huge dirt chunk fell right next to him--it was as big as a refrigerator!

I asked what they were eating. "Oh, we're eating like kings," they said. Hot dogs for supper, sandwiches for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch...I don't know what kind of king eats like that--king of the road, maybe? I'm sure they have some frozen pizza in there somewhere, too.

And they said you never go to Walmart in town at night. The food in the store is pretty much cleaned out then, and there are so many people there at night that you could end up waiting for half an hour or more in line to check out. I can't imagine. It must be a really strange way to live, but I guess people adapt and do what they have to in order to get the bills paid.

Friday, June 13, 2008

recovery day, and a weekend to play

Oh boy oh boy oh boy!! Today is only a half-day at work. I'm done. I'm free! At least for the weekend. I absolutely LOVE Friday afternoons when the possibilities are floating in front of you. The options seem endless. And as a person who avoids making decisions, simply because one reduces one's options when one does so, I love having choices, just not making them. If you're thinking, "Geez, what a dork," I already know that. My kids tell me all the time. But that's okay! I revel in my dorkiness! Ha!

So my choices are...go grocery shopping, oh, wait. That's not a choice. That's a necessity if we want to eat this weekend. So after that, my choices are clean up the HUGE mess that is left from the grad party, which is liberally spread all over the living room, dining room, and kitchen; or go around with a huge garbage bag cleaning out little pockets of stuff in the house; or work on my closet and put my things away; or weed play in the garden...

I just picked up on something here. Nothing on my list, NOT ONE LOUSY THING, has to do with anything but work. Bleahhh! I am hereby adding: read a book. In fact, read two books is now on my list of options. I have two FABULOUS new books to review and report to you on. I'm so excited!! I can't wait to dig into them and tell y'all all about 'em.

And now, without any further ado, I have to get in my little wrinkled car (if you saw it, you'd agree that it is, indeed, wrinkled from all the accidents that keep happening to it) and I'm going to drive home to do some very exciting shopping for food! Yippee! Yeah, I'm trying to roust up some enthusiasm, cuz I don't have any yet. I'll check back with ya later and keep you posted on all my fun. Oh, and I have more news about the boys out in the wild west. Later!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

it's getting better

Oh, my gosh. On Monday after work, I limped to the car and eased myself down into the seat. The drive home took about a half hour. When I got home, I almost could not get out of the car. How did I get into this kind of shape, for crying out loud? I used to compete in gymnastics and now I'm a lump. I don't like it.

My legs were so stiff that I walked like an old lady. Seriously. I felt like I was 80 years old, taking baby steps up the stairs to the door. I headed straight for the bottle of ibuprofen. I wanted to OD on it, but I limited myself to four of my little magic pills.

I had a hard time falling asleep that night because my legs hurt, so I took four more little magic pills. Tuesday morning I felt a little better. I didn't have to go in until 11:00, so I slept in a little. Work went pretty well. I wasn't as sore when I left work yesterday, either. And today, my legs actually feel pretty good. It's just my feet that hurt a little. But I've been wearing my Crocs every day to baby my feet.

You know, it's not helping customers, or stocking books, or stocking shelves, or even inventory that I dislike. It's trying to pretend to be busy when really there is NOTHING to do. Let's see, I could unfold all the shirts that are folded and refold them so they are a little more perfect than they are right now...NOT. I can't stand trying to create busy work just for the sake of not being idle.

So when I was bored today, I made a little calendar and counted: I have 59 58 days left to do this job.

Monday, June 9, 2008

my poor, aching feet!

I've been looking for temporary work since my seasonal position ended for the summer. I got an email last week with an offer to work at the bookstore. The position requires you to stand, stoop, stock shelves, unload boxes, wait on customers, etc. "Can you lift 50 pounds?" they asked.

"Well, I think so. My grandson weighs over 30 pounds, and I lift and carry him okay."

We got all the details confirmed, and to make a long story short, I started working at the bookstore today on a temporary basis. I used to cashier a long time ago, but I forgot how hard it is to get used to standing all day.

My feet are KILLING me. They're screaming, "What did we do wrong?! We're sorry! Please stop!" I get an hour for lunch, and I'm sitting on my backside, giving them a break. I'm typing really fast, cuz I'm on a deadline here. Lunch is going fast.

The party went well yesterday, but other things are kicking in to make life stressful. My honey had to take D-boy and T-boy's momma in for a minor surgery this morning, which was going to be okay, but just before I went to bed last night, this ridiculously loud alarm started screeching in the back hall. I woke up my honey, and it was the alarm that warns you when your lift pump in the septic tank quits working. Oh, my gosh.

Everything just seems to pile on top of the mess before. Last week it was the appraisal of the roof damage, then the party...just one thing after another. It's just crazy. I need to just keep remembering: God is bigger than any problem I'll ever have. I just have to lean on Him. A lot.

But at least I'm back making money. Yippee!! A little something to tip the scales back the other way...once I get used to standing on my feet again. *groan*

Sunday, June 8, 2008

oh, what a day!

Today started out really stressful. I woke up dreaming about fruit salad and wishing I had stayed up last night to cut up the fruit. It sounded so much better last night when I said I was going to do it first thing this morning. So instead of being calm, cool and collected, I started out the day feeling like I was running uphill in a mudslide. Bleah. I had a mental list running laps through my mind, like Gee's little hamster in its wheel, going round and round but getting nowhere.

I found a smaller cage for the hamster, by the way, but now he stuffs his wheel half-full of bedding and sleeps in there. I'm afraid he's going to get stuck. We also have to keep the cats and the dog out of the girl's room because now they can reach the cage. Augie got in there and was clawing at the cage in no time flat. Save space and kill the hamster? Or something like that... Okay, 'nuff about the hamster.

So I got up in a hurry and started looking at my list to see what I should do first. Gee disappeared--okay, of all the days in the world she could have picked to start teaching preschool at church, today would have been the last one on my list. But I think it just all happened kind of fast...I know if it were me, I would have had a hard time saying no at her age, too.

So she was gone. E-girl was gone--she went to church this morning. Johnny was gone--he went to church with Jessica this morning. Dee took off to the store...everyone was abandoning ship. I was completely freaking out. Angie had showed up at the house last night just to help, so I got on the phone and asked her if she could please come help me again. Of course, she says. What a sweetie.

I had to go to the store. I had to buy trays and bowls, three big bags of ice, and an outlet strip in case we needed it there. I just barely managed to avoid getting sidetracked by some oh-so-CUTE pink fabric for my closet wall. It was a narrow escape, too. Those fabric bolts have a pretty strong magnetic pull. I made it up to the checkout line with ONLY the things I went in for, a small miracle in itself. I asked the clerk to ring up three big bags of ice, and went on my way.

In the parking lot, I checked my receipt because I had an inkling that she rang up small bags of ice instead of big ones. She did. She only rang up two of them. I kept walking, but the little voice was talking. "Go back in and pay for what you got." I ignored it. It got louder. I put my stuff in the van, ignoring it still.

"I'll do it later. I don't have time." Now I'm talking back out loud. I started the van.

"No, do it now. You'll never come back and do it. You'll forget."

"Fine!" I got back out, fuming under my breath. "Does this mean the weather's gonna be nice and the day's gonna go good?"

"No, it's not a flea market/barter kind of thing. It's about obedience."

I got to the customer service. I had to stand in line! I was resigned to the fact I was going to be running behind. "They better appreciate this," I mumbled.

The little voice kept talking. "It's not about a pat on the back either. It's about doing the right thing."

I told the lady my problem, that they rang up the wrong thing, and I had to pay more money. She stared at the receipt, no expression on her face. I couldn't tell what she was thinking. I always feel like somewhat of a lunatic when I do this. "You want to pay MORE money?" But I usually get a positive reaction.

So anyway, she refunded the two bags to my card, charged the three bags, and had me sign the stuff...I walked away, just wondering what that was all about. Why do these things always happen to me? I hardly ever get ripped off, but people are always trying to give me more money than I have coming, and I have to keep giving it back. But it's like I told one lady, who was trying to refund me more than something cost when I was returning it. If my integrity is only good until I hit $1.88, what have I got? Really.

But then it came to me. The people who give me a positive reaction about being honest already value honesty themselves. The people who think I'm crazy to do that are the ones who I probably most need to set an example for. Even if I do it grumbling under my breath.

P.S. The rest of the day did pretty much go well, and the rain held off just until the grad party was over and we had everything packed up in the van. Yay!!! Friends and family came, and we had such a good time catching up and visiting.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

life comes at you fast!

I just looked, and the last time I posted was Monday--it's Saturday night already! Between trying to get a ton of things done before I go back to work (yes, I found a temp job until September--yay!!), watching X-man, and getting ready for Gee's grad party tomorrow, my week has flown by.

Let me think about what is new in my world. I heard from the boys...they found a house to rent. Three of them in a two bedroom house for $800. Not bad. It's about a half hour from where they catch the bus to work, but at least they have an address. But get this! They can't receive mail there...no mailboxes. They have to go into town and rent a PO Box. Now that's crazy. Even in town, some people have the same deal. No mailbox. Very strange. And you can't get a PO Box without a permanent address, so they had to wait till they got a place. Whew.

All the other kids will be at the grad party tomorrow...at least I hope so. I wanna see my grandsweeties. We're having it at a park where there is a shelter. Lots of room for the kids to run, and playground equipment for them to play on. I hope the weather stays nice--no rain until we're done!

I'm so tired I can hardly walk...we worked our butts off today getting stuff ready. I forgot how much work it is. We haven't done a party since Johnny graduated, which was four years ago. Ten kids done, one to go. Whoopee!! Look at those milestones fly by.

Okay, and speaking of flying by, I saw the funniest commercial today. It's an insurance commercial, and I think it's by the same company who did the light switch one where it says, "Life comes at you fast." I gotta share the smiles.

Monday, June 2, 2008

everyday moments...

It was a random kind of a day. I got one job application submitted, and found two more that I could apply for. You would think that in a whole day, I could find enough time to do more than one application.

But...I slept in with the baby, first of all. He is so cuddly that it's irresistable. You can't not cuddle up with him and snooze. When I got up, the adjuster had just been here to look at the hail damage on the roof. The verdict is that it needs to be replaced.

My honey spent the next hour trying to figure out the estimate they gave us. Then he paid bills, which is another long drawn-out endeavor because he only pays bills twice a month. It takes a while to sort them out. So he was at the desk a good long while, and I watched little X-man.

Then when he finally fell asleep for his nap, I made coffee and something for lunch. Chasing him keeps a body busy! I think I'll be more than ready to go back to "work" and slow down a little. How did I ever do it with the bunch of them? I do not recall. I think maybe I have been blessed with selective amnesia!

I remember that when I was trying to get my application submitted before the deadline today, Lewie must have texted Gee to have someone find out online if there is a Chipotle in Wyoming! Just ONE minute, please...I was frantically typing this app. "But I'm starving," he says! What. Ever.

After that, I don't even know what happened. I did read "Life Artist" by Ali Edwards...just a few pages of it. Enough to stir the creative juices, but I only had enough time to read a few pages, not enough time to do something myself. Dee and Gee took X-man for a walk while I made supper. The day kind of disintegrated and before I knew it, it was bedtime. Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

it went like this...

Got a phone call last night, it went like this:

Hello.

Hello. It's Robert.

Hey Rob, what's up! Are you at Will's yet?

*static* ...ulp .. bert...ack *static*

What? You're breaking up.

*silence*

Hello?

...wheel came off.

What?! Your wheel came off?? Where?

Off the car.

No, where are you?

In the car. The wheel came off.

(Rob is very calm and cool at this point, and it is so typical of him. I, on the other hand, am going crazy.)

Your WHEEL came OFF??? Are you okay? How are you going to get it back on? Is the car okay? What are you going to do?

*silence*

Rob?

(My honey's eyebrows had sailed up past his hairline by this point, and he sat up straight in his chair.)

Are you at Will's?

No, in Staples. Lewis kept going. He was ahead of me. He's gone.

Are you kidding me?? Didn't you call him?

His reception must not have been very good. He kept going.

What are you going to do?

Mmmmm, look at it in the morning, I guess.

In the morning? Where are you going to stay? In a motel?

Sleep in the car.

What? Why in the car?

Why not?

Aren't you in Staples? Find a motel.

I'm about fifteen miles out.

What? You're out in the middle of nowhere?

(My honey was ready to put his shoes on and go.)

Oh, by the way, Will said if you're getting rid of the bunkbeds, he would take them.

What do you mean? When did you talk to Will? Is Lewis there already?

I just talked to him.

Did you tell him what happened to your car?

No, I'm sitting here on his couch.

Wha...you're sitting...what do you mean? Aaaaahhhhhhhh, you SUCK!!!!!!!

(His snickering and the laughing in the background come through loud and clear)

That boy could get rich playing poker. I am so getting even.