Monday, September 28, 2009

Gifts from Taiwan

My husband just returned from 2 weeks in Taiwan and I have to share a story from his trip.

The kids love it when Dad travels because he returns with gifts. Anna told him she wanted a Japanese dress. (She calls everything Asian "Japanese".) So for the first week and a half whenever Eric was anyplace with stores he looked for authentic Asian clothing. Unfortunately, Taiwan has become so westernized that he could not find anything. All of the stores he was seeing were the same stores we have in America. Just a day or 2 before the end of his trip he mentioned to someone at work the fact that he could not find any of the clothing he was looking for. That person went to his secretary and instructed her to help Eric find what he was looking for. The secretary apparently went to the executive floor and returned a short time later with instructions for finding a dress. She had instructions written out in Chinese! However, she explained to Eric exactly where he was going to go and how much he was to pay for the clothing. Her telephone number was on the paper and she said if the store owner tried to charge him any more than the amount she stated that he was to tell him to call her. The secretary called a cab, took Eric to the cab and explained to the cab driver, who only spoke Chinese, everything that was to take place. Eric said they then left on an adventure through narrow winding roads and down back alleys. They arrived at some remote building and, as he had previously been instructed, he climbed the stairs to the 2nd floor and knocked on a door. He was let in by "a 200 year old" Taiwanese man. The man's wife was at work sewing garments together or embroidering them or something. Neither of them spoke a word of English and Eric doesn't speak a word of Chinese, but the secretary had told the man exactly what Eric wanted and apparently had negotiated the price. (I wonder, if the man tried to charge too much, HOW exactly was Eric to tell him to call the secretary?) Eric came home with this beautiful dress for Anna:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

As I've said before, I keep a journal. I don't write every day, mostly just when I feel like I'm seeing something new from God. I was looking back at it yesterday and marveling. Over the past year I've had "fits and starts" in my walk with God. I would have a glimpse of something wonderful but then I would do something awful.

I wrote just once during the entire month of April. I wrote that I had told God I wanted to love Jesus. I wanted Him to be more than a "fire escape" to me because I realized that quite honestly that's about all He was. Apparently God took that request to heart because the following pages are full of descriptions like this: the walls came tumbling down, my world exploded, I am adrift alone at sea, I have no anchor.

When the trouble hit I knew immediately that God wanted to be my God. The truth of one of the ten commandments hit home for me. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." I have had other gods of my own making. Knowing that I had to transfer my allegiance to God was frightening. But there it was, in my own handwriting, in black and white. (Or purple and white, as the case may be!) By my own hand I had said I want to love Jesus.

Among the many things that have happened in the months since writing that, the most recent is perhaps the most obvious example of God showing me He's answering my desire. A thought just happened to cross my mind that perhaps I should go to Bible Study Fellowship this year. (I had tried it once several years ago but there were childcare complications so I dropped out.) I began looking into the possibility and found out that this year they are studying the book of John. The book about Jesus. (Okay, I know the entire Bible is about Jesus, but this one is really about Jesus.) Last week I went to the first week where I was put into the "introductory class". If you're not a returning member you have to start there and hope they have enough discussion leaders that you can get into a group. I was in the midst of a very difficult week internally and so I was feeling desperate for...something. I said to myself "I've got to get into this study. This is my last hope." And I knew I meant it. That statement seems like it must have an "or else" on the end of it. I don't know what that "or else" was. I wasn't thinking about it, I just felt inside that I needed something and I needed it now and it needed to be this study of Jesus. Well, I got the call 2 days later from my discussion leader. I've never been so thrilled. Even now I can't tell you exactly why I am so thrilled, but I just "know in my knower" (I have a dear friend who says that and it always cracks me up) that I need THIS.

Today I am going to Bible Study Fellowship where I will be in a group and we will be learning about Jesus and how much He loves us. The Bible says "We love him because he first loved us." I think it is impossible not to fall in love with someone who loves us - truly loves us. So I expect I am going to fall in love with Jesus. And that is just what I need.

Friday, September 18, 2009

School Update

School is not going as expected. In fact, it is exactly reverse from what I expected, which is good. And bad. Depending on who you are.

Ethan loves school. For years (literally) I have agonized over when to send him to school. I have talked to countless professionals about it. Because his birthday is at the beginning of September I wondered if I should send him when he was 5 or 6. I took the advice of the professionals and waited, although I wondered over and over (and over and over and...) if that was the right thing to do. They (the pros) told me if he was the oldest he would be the leader, but I worried "He'll be so much bigger than everyone. Will they think he must be stupid?" I believe they were right. Ethan has told me of helping other children to write their names and I can tell this is exactly what he needs - it is making him feel good. Last night he told me (I'm quoting very loosely) that he wishes he could teach the other children how to behave. You have to really know Ethan to appreciate the humor in that. Ethan is a rule-keeper. When he was very young I scolded him for getting into something in my bathroom and as he walked out he said "I know da wules." And he does. He knows the rules for himself and EVERYONE else. He frequently reminds others of da wules. I believe internally he honestly gets frustrated when people are not keeping the rules. I don't THINK it's out of a sense of superiority, I think his world just functions according to rules and for him to be at peace he needs everyone to be following the rules. Note to self...

The school experience is turning Ethan into a little chatterbox. Not constantly (thank goodness!) but sporadically. He gets going about school things sometimes and he just goes a mile a minute. It is really wonderful to see him so happy. Really wonderful.

But then there is Anna. Anna who was dying to go to a real school. Anna who loved her new teacher and a classroom full of potential new friends and the books and... her mathbook.

Day 1...Miss L is so nice.
Day 2...Miss L forgot to take her not grumpy pills today.
Day 3...Today we defined what makes a quality teacher. Miss L wants to be a quality teacher but she is definitely not a quality teacher. (What makes a quality teacher? Someone who is kind.)
Yesterday...I wish I hadn't come today. Why? What happened? Miss L embarrassed me in front of the whole class.

"Friends" aren't being friendly. Math is difficult. Heavy sigh. This is not at all what I expected! Not from my happy little girl.

I wrote Miss L an e-mail tonight. I didn't tell her about the not grumpy pills or even the embarrassment in front of the whole class. I just stuck to the facts. Anna is in a radically new environment with a whole new approach to learning and could you please be patient as she makes this transition?

Miss L replied already - very quickly! She had no idea Anna was frustrated. Anna has not exhibited any signs of that. Anna is very good and when things are gone over (and over) it is for the benefit of some students who are not so good. She will work with Anna if she needs extra help with the new math.

I am greatly encouraged. I must find a way to pass this encouragement on to Anna.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Putting Myself Out There

I just sent an e-mail to most of my e-mail contacts. In case you're not on that list, I am going to put it here because I am passionate about this.

Hi Friends and Family,

Some of you know my political views and some probably don't. Like all of you, I was taught that it is not polite to talk about politics. But today there is so much going on in our country that I am going to break that rule and "talk" via e-mail, because there are some amazing shifts taking place in our country and I'm not sure how many of you are even aware of it.

Let me first ask, where do you get your news? If you read many of the "big" newspapers (like the Washington Post, which I get) or watch CNN, NBC, ABC or CBS the chances are extremely high that you are not hearing much of the real news. I know because I have gone through the papers and checked the websites and they are not covering the stories I'm talking about. Don't believe me? I challenge you: go right this minute to and then to

Just as a "for instance" (and a major "for instance" it is) FOX has been reporting for 5 days now about a major story involving ACORN. CNN doesn't even mention it anywhere on their homepage. The Washington Post isn't touching it. A couple of young people - a 25 year old guy and a 20 year old girl - have gone into ACORN offices across the country, pretending to be a pimp and a prostitute. Time after time they have told the people at ACORN that they need a loan to buy a house where she can practice her trade. They say they've been discriminated against by the banks because of her "occupation". Time after time the ACORN people have advised them on how to lie about what she does and how to set up her business so that she can get tax deductions. Not only that, but the pimp and prostitute say they want to bring some underage girls from El Salvador in to the home. They say they want to help the girls, but they also say they want to teach them the business. They SPECIFICALLY say the girls are between 12-15 years old. The ACORN people don't bat an eye. They advise them on all sorts of clever ways to disguise that and make money from the girls.

Want more information? Then go to It has all the information about this "sting" and some of it's fallout.

Here's the thing. ACORN is tight with Obama. They are a community organization, and Obama was a community organizer. I believe he represented them back in his attorney days. They are currently tied together in all sorts of ways. I know quite a bit more but I fear I will lose your interest if I try to lay it all out here. I BEG you: check into this for yourself!

This is a not a simple little thing. It is not a small difference of opinion. Obama and all of the people behind the scenes in his world are trying to undermine the foundation of our country. Please, PLEASE get informed and do not hide your head in the sand. The future of our country is at stake. I fear it is already too late, but I hope that it might not be. There were tens of thousands of people in Washington DC last Saturday (did you see THAT on your news? If not, look at this video- ) People are beginning to sit up and take notice.

There are those who are trying to say all of this is no big deal, a bunch of conservatives getting upset about nothing. They are throwing a lot of labels around. The one that makes me maddest of all is "racist". Speaking for myself, I can absolutely say this has NOTHING to do with race. I would not have voted for Obama if he was the last man on earth, but that had nothing to do with his being black. I would happily have voted for Allen Keyes, I would have voted for Colin Powell - less enthusiastically than for Keyes, but I would have been okay with him. They are both black leaders. I do NOT have a problem with color. I have a HUGE problem with everything Obama stands for. I looked into his Chicago church LONG before it was in the news because of Jeremiah Wright. I was SICKENED by what I saw. I read the transcript of testimony in the Illinois Senate when they were voting on partial birth abortion. I looked into Obama the candidate, I didn't just say "He's black so I don't like him" or "He's a democrat so I don't like him." I came to believe he is evil and could not possibly have anything positive to offer to this country.

Please, please, if our friendship has any value, then for my sake look into what is going on in our country today.

Sincerely and with hope,

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Here is a replica of a card I made for my brother's birthday. I liked it so much that I made a quick copy before I gave it to him! As usual, it doesn't look as nice in the scan as it does in "real life".

The kids are in school today. Yeah!!!!! I am enjoying a quiet house! Found a yummy cookie recipe on another blog which I will make shortly so that the kids can come home to home made cookies. They have a miniature Reese's peanut butter cup in the center of them, so they've got to be good.

Things went well this morning. I took several pictures of the kids, but they are on my "old fashioned" (i.e. film) camera so I won't be able to post them for at least a few days. Ethan, who seemed to be dreading school, was excited to get going and skipped much of the way this morning so at some point he must have changed his mind about things. Thank goodness! We were the first to arrive at his classroom. The door was closed and there was no teacher in sight. I must say Ethan, our strict rule-follower, was quite unhappy with the teacher for not being there. I think in his mind she was breaking the on-time rule. We found out she waits at the bus stop for all of her kids and walks them to class, so maybe he will cut her a little slack tomorrow!

I am dog sitting for a few days. My brother got a rescue dog a few months ago and she is the saddest little dog I have ever seen. She is afraid of everything. She has been S-L-O-W-L-Y warming up at my brother's house, but she is totally back in her shell at our house. She claimed Ethan's bed as her own and will not move off it, not for anything. We've carried her outside twice to go potty. Once back inside she beelines straight to the bed - won't take a treat or a drink of water. Poor thing. One thing seems to be certain: she will be easy to take care of!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

"The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"

Have you seen this Staples commercial?

I LOVE it. It makes me laugh and laugh. For the first time in 8 years, both of my kids will be going to school. Yeah! ALL DAY. YEAH!

In preparation, the kids have new haircuts. Here is Ethan "before":

And here is Anna "before":

Ethan "after":

And, more dramatically, Anna "after":

Yesterday was orientation for Anna. We met her teacher and some of the classmates. There are 3 Anna's in her class!!! When she was born we thought "Hannah" was the hot name and we didn't want her to be one of, say three kids with the same name, so we chose Anna. How original... You know, names are funny things. I had a grandmother I never knew - my Mom's Mom. She died when my Mom was 14, so obviously she was never a part of my life. She was so removed from me, in fact, that I often forgot what her name even was. It turns out her name was Anna! Her husband (a grandfather I also never knew because he died when my Mom was 17) called her Peg, so I guess if I had any name for my grandmother in my head it was Peg. So pretty much without knowing it I named my daughter after my grandmother. That's why I say names are funny - it seems like families gravitate toward certain names over and over throughout the generations and, at least based on my own experience, it is not even intentional! But back to the school stuff...

Anna's teacher is in her first year of teaching. That seems to be the case with MANY of the teachers at this school. I don't know if that is good, bad or indifferent. The teacher seemed sweet and projected a certain air of confidence, despite her lack of experience. My gut feeling is she will turn out to be good.

Anna loved everything. She loved the teacher, she met a new friend (Anna!), she was enthused when looking at the math book (!!!!!!!!!!), she is happy to be going to a "real" school instead of "one in a church". I cannot say I share all of her enthusiasm, but I cannot help but be happy that she is excited.

Ethan's orientation was today. Earlier this year we had attended a kindergarten thing at the school during which we met all of the kindergarten teachers. When we received our letter saying who his teacher would be, I knew he didn't get my first choice because she was a "Mrs." and this was a "Ms." (No one is referred to as "Miss" anymore. Why ever not?) Beyond the marital thing, I couldn't remember who the other teachers were because there are EIGHT kindergarten classes. So I had no clue who he was getting. As we approached his classroom today I saw that the teacher at the door was the one I probably liked least of all. Bummer. She is in her SECOND year of teaching (a seasoned pro compared to most, it seems!) She does not appear confident of anything. She has an assistant who is a "Mrs." and appears to be at least as old as me. I got the impression that this assistant is going to walk all over the poor teacher. So it will be interesting to see how things work out for Ethan. On the plus side, I believe this teacher leaned a little more toward an interest in science; perhaps that will be a good thing for Ethan. Unlike his sister, the experience today did NOT make him excited to start school. I asked. He said no. I can't blame him - I left his classroom feeling very disappointed too.

Nevertheless, I continue to call this "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year". Soon I will have hours of quiet every day. I can stamp! I can read! I don't have to interrupt what I'm doing to make lunch! I think it will take several weeks for it to sink in.