Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Rules

Every time Jeff goes out, I give him 'the rules.' I can't remember exactly when it started. But I've said them so many times that I can reel them off in mere seconds.

When Jeff is picked up by one of his friends, I often give the rules to them as well. So, several teenagers in our community have heard them too.

But just in case you haven't OR if you want to share the rules with your teenager, here they are.

No sex.
No drugs.
No alcohol.
No cigarettes.
No breaking any laws.
No breaking any hearts.
And no doing anything that will embarrass your mother.

We have other rules too. If you're going to live in my house, you're going to church with me. I'm not a real stickler for this one as long as I know he's going to church. But usually, he does go to church with me. I love that!

This is not our only rule that's based on a commandment. Absolutely no cursing at each other and if you're saying the Lord's name, you'd best be starting a prayer. I'm ashamed to say that we had a time in our past where we yelled a lot in our house, but no more. Home is once again a haven...for both of us.

Oh and then there's the one that is abused ALL the time. The driver is in charge of all vehicle controls, including the radio station and the volume. Jeff HATES that one. That's probably why he disregards it at will. But my car has radio controls on the steering wheel. So when Jeff gets too comfortable messing with my radio, I subtly change it back to where I want it. He gets the hint.

I found the following rules on I thought they were pretty interesting and thought-provoking. Enjoy.

1. You can't be in the room when I'm working unless you're working too. It's ideal because you're giving them the choice to either help with the chores or to leave. I don't know about you, but I HATE it when I'm working and the boy just sits there watching me.

2. I don't work past 8pm. Yeah, right! This one is supposed to get your spouse and your kids to help you get everyone ready for bed BEFORE bed. I don't have that issue with my 17-year old. But let's be real -- so, I don't necessarily have to work at getting my young'un settled into bed, but I work...either on things that I should have left at my day job, on one of those things that I volunteer for, on my latest writing assignment, household chores, etc. Yeah, I would totally fail at this rule.

3. You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit. It takes the old adage "life isn't fair" up a notch by spelling out both the essential truth of the inequities of life while dictating the only acceptable response...get over it!

4. Take that show on the road. Sometimes it's loud. Sometimes it's annoying. And sometimes I'm simply not in the mood to have to listen to it. So, it's fair to say, I've listened until you made your point and now I'm done listening for awhile. But the wording of the rule may work better for kids.

5. We don't argue about money. The basic point of this rule is to cut short any begging or pleading for things. When your child asks for something, you reply with a yes or a no, but you don't discuss it. If they press you, simply remind them about the policy...we don't argue about money.

6. I can't understand you when you speak like that. No whining. No screaming. No being rude. The trick is to not reciprocate your child's behavior. Simply whisper this rule until they change their way of speaking.

7. There is no such thing as boredom. My version of this is NOT my job to entertain you. In this day and age, if you can't find something to do (work OR play), then you're just being lazy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Baby Cat

Linus has made a friend. Not the opossum that he used to share his dinner with last summer. So, perhaps I should be thankful. No, this one is a tiny, gray, long-haired baby cat.

The first time I saw him, he was crying constantly. Meow, meow, meow, meow…in that little squeaky, high-pitched voice. So, I reached down to pick him up. Two things jumped out at me immediately. First, all four limbs on this cat stretched out like the bright orange, bouncing Cingular icon that I miss so much. It seemed apparent to me that this baby cat had never been held. How sad.

The second thing I noticed right away was that he was obviously sick. One eye was nearly matted shut; the other one could possibly have been missing. That's how bad it looked. I immediately put him down.

I then gave Linus a lecture about NOT getting sick from this baby cat. I also told him that the baby cat could NOT stay and that Linus was NOT to share his food with him. I even started making Linus come inside to eat.

This morning as I was leaving for work, I saw the baby cat…in Linus' bed, the one he inherited from Bo. This tiny, baby cat was all curled up in a ball like they sometimes do. I picked up the bed, which (needless to say) startled the baby cat to a heart rate the speed of a locomotive. I explained to him that this was NOT his bed, NOT his home, and that I would NOT be feeding him, so he might as well go back to where he came from. He scooted back as far as he could to the back of the bed and meowed.

It then crossed my mind how much alike Linus and Jeff are. Jeff was never one to bring home every stray animal he found. (Thank God!) But he always seems to befriend the kids most in need of a friend…kids that are a little outcast, undesirable…trouble-makers. I still to this day don't know why he has such an affinity for this echelon of society. Perhaps one day he'll be a philanthropist, meeting the needs of the young and underprivileged.

At any rate, there is now a baby cat who is making himself at home in Linus' bed. His left eye has almost healed. His right eye now just looks really sick. And I'm debating whether or not to feed him and even take him to the vet so that I don't have a SICK baby cat roaming around my yard with my healthy cat.

Ugh! I really don't want another cat. What are the chances he'll leave? If I feed him, zero. So, what are the chances he'll make Linus sick? If he sticks around long enough and sleeps in Linus' bed, probably pretty good. I'm going to need a sensitive scale to weigh these two alternatives.

On a more positive note, and because I'm totally a glutton for punishment, I've done a bit of research on a scientific page that outlines kingdoms, phylums, classes, genuses, etc. And I've come up with a couple of potential names for the baby cat. My favorite is Panthera Leo. Linus and Leo, kinda cute, huh? But there was one that was defined as "wild cat" -- Felis Silvestris. He could be either Felix or Silvester. Then again, both of those names are well documented in cat cartoon history. Panthera Leo, it is.

Ugh, I really don't want another cat. I hope he finds some other home BEFORE I start calling him something besides "the baby cat".

Saturday, July 26, 2008

93 Years Young

This is my grandma with four of her great-grandchildren (all of my parents' grandchildren). This picture was taken just three weeks ago.

Today my grandma turned 93. I stopped by the nursing home to visit with her. She seemed to be having a good day. I talked with her for a few minutes. Then I just sat with her. At one point, she was looking right at me. So, I just smiled and looked into those crystal blue eyes. I swear, it doesn't matter how old or how tired Grandma gets, she has the bluest eyes of anyone I know.

This picture was taken at Christmas in 2006. This is three of those same kids from above. If you click on the picture, you can see those bright blue eyes I mentioned before.

As we sat there in silence watching each other, I noticed that her hand was shaking. So, I reached out to hold it. And she squeezed my hand in return. We just sat there, smiling and looking into each other's eyes, holding hands.

Eventually, she fell asleep. I let go of her hand, kissed her on the head and wished her a happy birthday.

After mass and dinner with my parents, Jeff and I did some shopping. At work, we're gathering items to send to the troops. So, Jeff and I got TONS of things. It was really cool to do that kind of shopping together. As we were getting ready to check out. Jeff said that I should put bible verses on them. What a great idea...JEFF! So, I ran to grab labels that I can print bible verses on. I can't wait to stick them all over the things we're sending over there.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Sun Visor

Every day I come in to work and start my day out the same way. I boot up my PC, plug in my Blackberry, get a Coke Zero over ice (inadvertent commercial plug), update my voicemail message, and put on my hat.

I'm not much of a hat person; you'd be hard-pressed to see me wearing one unless I'm sitting at my desk or mowing my lawn. So, why the hat, you ask? To block out the sun, of course.

The way my cubicle is situated, my monitor sits almost directly under the lights in the ceiling. And they're bright. I find myself squinting. And before the end of the morning, I have a headache. So, I decided I needed a way to block out 'the sun'. That's what I call the lights...the sun.

I've tried moving my computer to a different place on my desk, but the cables aren't long enough. At one point, two of the bulbs burnt out in 'the sun'. For a short time, the light wasn't so bad. You could actually see me at my desk without the hat. But then some guy with a ladder came through the whole building and replaced our traditional fluorescent bulbs with energy efficient bulbs. (I thought all fluorescent bulbs were energy efficient. Goes to show you what I know!) Anyway, 'the sun' is now brighter than ever. So every day without fail, I wear my hat.

I could be wearing heels and a dress, but still, I wear the hat. It could be 10 degrees and overcast outside, but still, I wear the hat. I could have co-workers in my cubicle, but still, I wear the hat. I take it off when I'm leaving our immediate office. And I'd take it off if we had important visitors coming through. Otherwise, I wear the hat.

But I like the hat. It's green, like an old Army hat. And it has American Red Cross along with the the red cross logo embroidered on it. I got it as a thank you gift during one of the many times that I gave blood. So until I change guessed it...I'll continue to wear the hat.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Latest Inspiration

A couple of weeks ago, some of my friends and I joined a local gym in order to lose weight and get into better shape before our 20 year class reunion next year. I know I'm overweight. I have been for awhile.

But the proof is in the pictures. I've had my picture take a few times in the last couple of weeks, mostly because all of my family was in town. And every time I look at myself in these pictures, I am disgusted by what I see.

So now I have to avoid the one thing that normally comforts me when I'm unhappy with

Pictures like this have become my new inspiration for improving myself.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I cannot contain my excitement!!!

Months of prayer have been answered. Months!

Tonight during dinner at Los Bravos, my son completed (and signed!) his Chrysalis application. He is attending the Chrysalis Flight set for August 14-16!

Last night, while driving Jeff home from his dad's, I asked him if he'd taken any time during his vacation to think about attending the retreat. He said he did not. After a long conversation about it, I ended with one request. I told him that I wanted him to do one thing. As he was lying in his bed with his eyes closed, I wanted him to take a deep breath and simply ask God if He wanted him to attend this Chrysalis weekend. If his heart rate sped up or some other obvious answer came, Jeff should go. If he felt nothing, it simply wasn't his time.

Jeff said that he was NOT going to pray that prayer. When I asked him why not, he said that he was afraid of the wrath of God. I just laughed and reminded him that God appreciates it when we ask what His will is for us. No, Jeff was afraid of what the answer to the question might be. I told him that if he prayed that prayer, we'd honor God's response no matter what it was.

The next morning I asked him about the prayer. He said he didn't pray it, then he had this silly grin on his face. We discussed it a little, but I didn't press him.

Later that day, I invited him out to dinner. One of the errands I'd run was to go to the library and print out the Chrysalis application. So, I took it in to dinner with us. As we sat and talked about it and ate our chips and salsa, Jeff filled out the application. He even signed it. Afterwards he said, "well, now I guess I have to go."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

And on the 7th day...

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. Genesis 1:1-5

And God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters from the waters." So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. Genesis 1:6-8

And God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together were called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with seed in it." And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. Genesis 1:9-13

And God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth." And so it was. God made the two great lights--the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night--and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. Genesis 1: 14-19

And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky." So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, of which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiple and fill the waters and the seas, and let the birds multiply on earth." And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. Genesis 1:20-23

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps across the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let's make humankind in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw everything that He had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:24-25

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from the work that He had done in creation. Genesis 2:1-3


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Why I Don't Date

In a nutshell? Men make me nervous.

This evening I stopped by the local grocery store. I had several things I needed to purchase. But instead, I walked out of the place with only a handful of them. Why? Because of a man. Strange as it sounds, it's true.

I was walking towards the produce section. I wanted pears; I love pears. Anyway, I was following a man, only in that he was already going in that direction. He looked over his shoulder at me a couple of times. Then he stopped so that I'd have to walk around him. And I did. In that instant, he asked me if I was from the area. I immediately thought about all the times my mother taught me not to talk to strangers AND all the times I taught my son the same thing. But I didn't want to be rude. So, as I kept walking...quickly...I said yes.

Then he asked me where I worked. I did not stop walking as I asked, "Why?" It should have been obvious by the look on my face that I was a little uncomfortable. He said he was just curious. So I told him that I worked at Crane. THEN I immediately thought about all the stories I've heard about intelligence operatives getting information out of people who work on government installations. This conversation with this stranger was making me nervous...and it was about to get even weirder.

He then asked me what I do. I never stopped walking, but told him that I did computer geeky kinds of things. That's usually enough to keep people from wanting to go into it further. People who do computers, talk computers; other people think we speak a completely different language.

So, I head over to the pears and quickly grab a couple without even adequately inspecting them as I normally would. This strange man asked me if I liked cucumbers. I told him that I did sometimes. He proceeded to give me his favorite cucumber recipe. Three medium-sized cucumbers, one small onion, 1/2 cup of Italian dressing, and sugar. Mix them all together and you have a wonderfully different sort of salad that's really good if you like cucumbers. I assure you, I'll have to take his word for it because I NEVER intend to make it!

I totally thought this man was just passing through our little town, but he said hello to another man in the store that I didn't know. So, I'm guessing he's a local. Nevertheless, I was so glad that he saw something shiny and was momentarily distracted. At the same instant, my friend Karen walked by. She was working; she stocks the beer shelves. I walked along side her and started up a conversation in order to make a clean getaway from 'the guy'.

Ultimately, I told her about the guy. She completely misunderstood and thought I was interested in him. She even offered to get some information out of him. He was making his way toward us and I only had a few seconds to convey to her that the opposite was true, that he totally freaked me out and that I was in no way interested in learning any more than I already knew. I think she got the hint and I high-tailed it out of there.

I was so focused on getting the heck out of there that I didn't even purchase the things that I went in there to buy. But I have two pears!

So, here's the deal, this man was in no way threatening. He didn't touch me or invade my space really. But he didn't introduce himself and asked a lot of questions. But I could NOT get away from him fast enough.

So obviously, I could never be wooed by a stranger because the whole idea just freaks me out a little. I constantly find myself wondering what they really want from me. And I don't date men I work with because I think that's just bad business. And since I spend more time with them than anyone else in my world, those are the people that I know the most. So, I'm not interested in men I don't know or men I know really well. I don't as a general rule date men that are younger than me. My excuse is that I assume they still want children and I'm too afraid to see if I'd fail at that again. I think I'd date men older than me, but I went out with a man that was significantly older than me and didn't have any interest in pursuing that. So, no dating anyone that is closer to being a peer to my father than me.

That narrows it down, doesn't it? But I also have other requirements. I would only date a Christian man. He can't be jealous or possessive. He must appreciate his mother and women in general. He can't smoke or do drugs. And he has to be able to talk. I talk a lot and any man I date is going to have to keep up his end of the conversation. I'd appreciate it if he was intelligent and witty too. I like to laugh and I like to think. Don't make me do it alone. : )

But the fact is, I don't mind being single. I don't miss dating. I honestly don't care at this point in my life if I have a boyfriend or not. I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. I never feel like I'm alone; I am on my own. Perhaps that's why I do what I can to repel any man that gets closer than I want him to.

Who knows? All I know is this strange man freaked me out. And now I have to go back to the grocery store again tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Grade "A" Day

I did not sleep well last night. So, I wasn't sure how my day would go. But it was GREAT! I wish EVERY day could go as well as today.

I spent much of the day putting together metrics charts. I didn't have to gather the data; I just put it into charts once someone else figured out the numbers. The first time I make a chart, it's a bit of a challenge. But mostly, it's fun for me. (I LOVE Excel!) The charts have to be easy to understand, not too busy, and convey just the right message. I think I accomplished that...for SIXTEEN different metrics.

Then I went to a baseball game. I know, I is so NOT my sport. Much too slow. Way too boring. But this was a Little League All-Star game. My twin's youngest was playing. I went to their game last night and they won by the ten-run rule. Tonight was a much closer game, really fun to watch. I honestly enjoyed the game and the company. I'm going back again tomorrow night!

THEN I went to the gym! Two weeks ago, I met with a few of the 89ers to start planning our 20 year class reunion over dinner. In the last two weeks, we've made amazing progress in tracking down some of our classmates. But just as exciting, we decided that we were all going to join the local gym, get into better shape, and lose some weight. I have to say, I'm LOVING it! I don't know how to use all of the equipment yet, but I'll get someone to teach me along the way.

To top off my day, I got to spend some one-on-one time with Linus Felinus on the front porch during the minor thunderstorm that we had. I've already taken my melatonin, so hopefully I sleep much better tonight. The perfect ending to a perfect day.

Monday, July 7, 2008

It's a Monday

Man, it is always so difficult to go back to work after an extended weekend. I had four days off in a row and wasn't ready to come back in. Actually, that's not true. Although I have plenty of chores on my 'To Do' list at home, I am MUCH more productive at the office. So honestly, after a few days off, I'm usually ready to come back to work.

It's raining today. We've already gotten an email warning us about potential flash flooding. This is the kind of weather that I enjoy when sitting on my front porch with the cat in the evening. Constant pitter-patter of raindrops. Very few other people interrupting the ambiance. I wonder if it'll still be raining like this in 12 hours as that's the soonest that I'll get the opportunity to sit out and enjoy it. Let's hope not!

I have so much to do today. Last week, it crossed my mind that I should have worked the previous Saturday. I talked to my boss about whether or not I should work Thursday the 3rd (my RDO) or Saturday the 5th. He told me not to worry about it and to enjoy the time with my family. So, I did. I took my PC home with me, thinking I might work yesterday, but I didn't. I sure hope I can get this documentation done today. I'm sure I'll be working pretty late to ensure that's the case. But so far, things are going well. I have a lot to do, but I'm getting a lot done. Then again, it's already after 1 PM. The day is FLYING by! Time to kick it in.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

OMG! I can't breathe!

I got the most unsettling news today. I was minding my own business, watching a movie on a Saturday afternoon. Then in walks my teenage son. He told me that one of his former girlfriends is due next week. As in, having a baby. My jaw just dropped to the floor.

He got a new phone. Somehow she got his number. So she text'd him the news.

First, I have to make it clear, the baby is in no way related to me. Thank God!

Second, if I remember correctly, this girl is a year younger than J. So, we're talking 16 years old. She's an honor roll student, an amazing athlete, and a pretty good kid.

Lastly, I KNOW it crossed my son's mind that one of his ex-girlfriends has had sex but not with him. And let me tell you how much that scares the breath right out of my lungs!

I asked J what he thought about her being pregnant. He said it was too overwhelming to think about. I asked him a couple of other questions, but he said he didn't know any further information because it was just awkward discussing it with her.

I didn't know exactly what to say to him as I was still somewhat in shock myself. But I told him that I did NOT want him to be a teenage father. He told me not to worry about it. But I assure you, I do.

Lord, protect our teenagers. Be with them and guide them every day in all they do. Help them make good, moral, Christian decisions. Amen.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fireworks in Amish Country

It's July 3rd, the night of our local fireworks display. Every year, we go to my aunt and uncle's who live across the lake from the festivities. We sit on their deck and watch the fireworks over the lake. It's absolutely beautiful. I truly enjoy spending time with family too.

This year, we had rain late in the afternoon. I questioned whether or not they would even have the event. But they did. It was really humid and hazy. As a result, the fireworks didn't go nearly as high in the sky. Also, the smoke created by the fireworks hung in the air, making them more and more difficult to see as the evening wore on. It was a little unusual. I'd never seen anything like that before.

My aunt and uncle live near a large Amish community. Because of that, several Amish families come out to see the my aunt and uncle's yard. Well, in MANY of the yards surrounding the lake, that is. As we're sitting up on the deck and on the lawn near the house, strangers are milling through the yard and taking their seats near the waterline.

The Amish are a very peaceful and friendly people, so it's not that we're disconcerted with their presence. We share this event with them every year and will continue to do so in years to come, I'm sure. But what always baffles me is the fact that they set off fireworks in my aunt and uncle's yard. Not just sparklers and firecrackers, but things that whistle and fly through the air and make lots of noise. To me, it's dangerous, leaves a mess, and is wholly inconsiderate. But no one ever asks them to stop, so they continue to do it ever year.

No one in our family sets off fireworks. We've done sparklers in the past. But with the kids being so young, we normally leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals...and the uninvited guests. We just do what we can to keep the little kids close to the house and out of harm's way.

This year as I was leaving my aunt and uncle's house, I saw two buggies all decorated with lights. It was like Christmas. Red, blue, and yellow flashing lights. They also had glow-in-the-dark things on the spokes of their wheels. Very festive. I'm pretty sure it's all for safety reasons, so that they're easily seen on the roads. Nevertheless, it seems so anti-Amish. They normally avoid anything decorative or flashy. So, the dichotomy made me smile.