Sunday, March 8, 2009

Things I am growing...

I am married to a genius with big ideas. He dreams big and has big successes. I have never been one with big dreams, just reachable goals. I don't have a dream job in mind. If I suddenly had a billion dollars, I wouldn't know what to do with it; you can only travel so much and shop so much. Well, it is me, I could probably shop it away, but in the end, there would be no super-mega business idea out of any of it.

Tom has always wanted me to come up with a business idea that we can do together. I have always done work to help him with his dreams and he wants to be able to work with me on one of my own. Although I do have an idea of an energy company, it is more of a pipe dream than an idea with a business plan. I seem to stick to the small plans. Right now I am growing ideas, but none are money-makers or universe-changers. Just a few things I have in mind -- a few reachable goals:

This spring, I will be starting a garden. I have never had a successful garden, despite having the ultimate green thumb grandpa. My grandfather never used tractors or machinery, except for his lawnmower. This man used tools that belonged to his father-- hand tools. He had huge gardens, one year indulging in filling a lot with a co-gardener in addition to the huge garden taking up the back 1/3 of my mom's yard and a small plot in his own. Nope, I kill everything. He made it all look so easy that I didn't even know I should be helping, asking, taking notes, and trying while I had a master gardener in my life. I have found a series of books on layering that consider soil prep like a lasagna. Today on Home Grown, Bob and Jeneen discussed Organic Gardening Magazine's editor's choice tools for gardening, including a self-watering pot for container gardening http://www.organicgardening.com/feature/0,7518,s1-2-10-1746,00.html. That took me on a search to make my own, since the featured one was about $60! I found http://www.green-trust.org/freebooks/Earthbox.pdf I have also found some books and ideas on container gardening that may help this goal actually happen! (My grandpa enjoyed Fred Wiche, so listening to his daughter, Jeneen makes me smile).

I am also going to read and study the New Testament this year. Every study brings me to outside sources that fascinate me, so this has already taken me to quite a few books, slowing my progression, but I will get there. This started last year. The Gospel of John took me to Rob Bell's Jesus Wants to Save the Christians - A Manifesto for the Church in Exile. Next was Reimagining Christianity, The Secret Message of Jesus, The Power of Praying Through the Bible. A study at church on The Gospel of Mark has taken me to all sorts of outside sources as I search for answers to our study guide. My Sunday School class, in its efforts to dip into multiple bits of scripture have led me to All the Women of the Bible, An Illustrated Life of Jesus, The Lost Books of the Bible, Religious Literacy, and Praying the Names of God. I think God speaks to us and, although I could ignore these other books and just get the Bible read, I would be missing the message God had been giving me. I was led to the book The Shack during a journey class at church. I am so glad I read that book. It helped me to get a different view of God-- one that helped as I read the Gospels. I am reading Luke right now. A radio interview lead me to Jesus Interupted. A television documentary led me to a book on the Gospel of Mary. Searching in our church library led me to Walking the Bible dvd. As you can see, the goal of reading the New Testament this year is no small task, not because those texts are too challenging, but because of where they take me. Understanding the words is one thing. Understanding the culture, questioning the meaning, finding value in the wisdom for my own life, and putting into practice what I find takes so much time.

I am actively doing the Love Dare, using the Love Dare book. My marriage is what I would call healthy, but I often take my husband for granted. He is sometimes the overlooked part of my chore list or a verbal punching bag on stressful days. A less wonderful spouse would not put up with me. I am so fortunate and I want to be a better wife. So far, Tom has actually noticed the changes in me. I am lucky, like I said. My husband is honest and loyal. I want to keep it that way. As I look around at other marriages, I cannot help but notice what they lack that we have. Tom and I have talked about this so much. Even our worst days are better than many of their best days! I have folks in my life who actively and openly lie to and hide things from their spouses. Tom and I have always had much to be thankful for, not the least of which is a beautiful and brilliant child, a happy and comfortable home, and an honest friendship with each other bonded with a fulfilling and wildly exciting sex life. (yup - I said wildly exciting and he would tell you the same) We date each other. We talk. We laugh. This book has helped me to remember how I was with him ten years ago when we first started dating, but with the fortune of the experience and memories of these past ten years. This project will end by Easter, but hopefully will have a lasting effect on our life together.

I have been working on getting our daughter into a 'classical school'. After all of our prep work, review, efforts, and even bribes to our daughter, she is only on the waiting list. Now the work of finding an alternate school begins. This is just kindergarten. I cannot believe I have made this so important, but I have. It is a delicate thing to find the right kind of school for the next 13 years of your child's life without fully understanding her style of learning, strengths, and weaknesses. She cannot even read yet. This will be completed before March is over. Thank goodness.

Financially, Tom has several things for us that have been just around the corner for most of this long, long winter. Finally, his natural gas well will be connected to Delta. http://rockcastleenergy.com/ They should be done this week and we should see (and so should our investors see) the first checks from this in about six weeks. We should be getting our first check from a compressor we are leasing in a couple of weeks. Financially, this this has been a tough time for us. I am not complaining, many folks have it worse, but it is getting a little too tight. All along, Tom has said, "In 60 days," everything will work out. The last time he said it, I put it on my calendar. The 60 day mark is April 28. By then, if things don't look better financially, Tom will be mighty happy that I completed the Love Dare!!!!!!!!!!!! We still have the racing series and the pulling series starts this year. The racing has been an emotional drain as folks we have trusted have betrayed us and stolen from us... shades of the past. The new pulling series... well it should be profitable, but again, an emotional drain.

I have revisited Piper's cookbook, this time methodically creating my hand-written pages as Word documents and taking pictures as I re-create dishes for dinners and parties. I am thinking of creating a blog to create money with this or even printing it. I am wanting to find a way to work on her college fund that doesn't interfere with our living expenses or retirement; in other words, finding a new source of income. This project has no deadline- it is a hobby, much like this blog, that gives me a smile and sense of accomplishment that could be something bigger one day.

Lastly, I have hit rock bottom again on my weight. There is something about me that requires bottoming out before I can improve in this area of my life. It is frustrating, embarrassing, and brings out things in me that I am not happy about. It is so hard to deal with but increasingly required for my health. I am giving myself five months to have a positive impact on my health. My own physical health seems to be the step-child in my life, but if I am to be a good wife, mother, Christian, employer, employee, and friend, this has to change. I have started back on a fitness routine. Tomorrow Weight Watchers re-enters my life. Doctors appointments that I have long since cancelled need to be remade. The warm weather this weekend has re-energized me. Sixty pounds have to be removed. My child doesn't even weigh 40 pounds, so I have quite a task at hand. The goal will be completed in maintenance by the end of the year.

Prayer, reading, loving, gardening, exercising, and writing will be my jobs to get to the things I am growing. A little something extra for your glittering eyes:

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. John 15:7

Let the praying begin!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spiderman, Tubes, and Chocolate Cake...

Last evening, I took my daughter to a classmate's birthday party. We were late (of course - it is us afterall) but not too late to allow her time to play, eat, watch her present being opened by the birthday boy, and exhaustedly climb back into the car.

Earlier, she and the other kids climbed through tubes high over the floor in the facility's play area. At the beginning, she was stuck; she wanted to get down but could only see ways of going higher toward the ceiling. The birthday boy, Skylar was asked by his mommy to show Piper how to get around. In an instant, he was with her and taking her across a swinging tube to a giant four-twist tubular slide. (Nope, I wasn't going through that to get to her!). Skylar acted like the Spiderman on his cake, saving a stranded lady. Piper, in classic kid form, raced behind him and was not stuck again, learning the secret passages as I watched through the mesh 15 feet below.

Piper is shy and unassuming. She never speaks negatively about anyone, except Daddy when he has been unfair, and then it is through tears. Otherwise everyone else in the world is either wonderful or free from comment. She finds joy in cheap HappyMeal toys, costume jewelry, fairy-sized foods, snow, sand, and animals. Piper finds joy in simple things, appreciates efforts, laughs when she thinks something is funny, and cares to lightly step around the feelings of others. I want to be Piper when I grow up.

Fact is, there were no harsh words last night. No pushing, no shoving, no angry tones. Parents intervened when a 'thank you' was omitted, but otherwise, these were angelic children. Part of this I have to believe is that these kids are in a small class of 14 together and are used to two teachers. They are given assignments like 'give a gift that doesn't cost anything' at Christmastime and 'learn to wait for others to finish eating before leaving the table' at lunch. My daughter attends a Parents Day Out program that is run like a preschool for two half days a week. I feel that this is such a fortunate thing for Piper.

She is in environments all the time where she is loved. She told me on the way home last night about a 'helper' (parent I guess) who assists at school sometimes named Kim. Piper told me, "She loves kids; she loves us." Piper exists where even at school she is reminded that she is loved.

In a world of anger, greed, need, and want, my daughter seems to feel and understand care, love, kindness, and cooperation. No superhero can provide that. That is straight from God and I feel so fortunate about that for her. Chocolate cake always tastes better and play areas are always more fun when you feel the love around you and God within you.

Monday, March 2, 2009

In like a lion...


March has finally arrived and it feels just like January and February did. The opportunity with a long, cold winter this year has been the discovery our our public library system with my daughter, Piper. She is suddenly interested in chapter books and audio books while still being thoroughly intrigued with new picture books. I have finally shaken my Amazon habit just in time for the recession.

I just read The Last Lecture yesterday afternoon and evening. The book chronicles Randy Pausch's Carnegie Mellon lecture, and like the lecture, tells about his life and life lessons told at a time between his terminal cancer diagnosis and his death. As a best-seller, it is at our local library and pretty much at every Target, Walmart, bookstore, and on-line bookseller.

If you are too busy to devote an evening, check out his actual lecture on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo If you would prefer to read a transcript of the speech:
http://download.srv.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch/Randy/pauschlastlecturetranscript.pdf

The book, of course, reads better than the speech and includes some of his thought processes as he wrote. Unless I missed them in scanning the 26 page transcript, the speech also misses some of my favorite passages that are in the book: Randy's time management tips (very important not only for persons with terminal diseases as we all only have a finite amount of months to live if you think about it), his argument on spending money for scientific discovery over the fight for poverty as a means to inspiring the masses and not just the fringes, and his tips for working successfully in a group (I know that sounds lame, but very few people do this well) mirrored with his equally helpful routine on apologies.

Piper has discovered the Junie B. Jones audio book collections. Having vowed with my husband to overcome the temptation of putting a television in Piper's room, finding her happily playing with dolls while listening to books on CD gently affirms our decision. We typically visit our local library once or twice a week and our church library once a month. With so many wonderful choices, I can reasonably provide as some of Piper's recent favorites Opera Cat by Tess Weaver and Sleeping Beauty beautifully illustrated by Kinuko Craft. (To see other fairytales illustrated by K.V. Craft, check out http://www.kycraft.com/childrens_books.html.)

Although I am a lover of fiction, The Shack was so intoxicating, I have been on a mission of sorts and have discovered a few gems myself: Stormie Omartian's Praying God's Will for Your Life, When Couples Pray by Cheri Fuller, Journaling as a Spiritual Practice by Helen Cepero.

This winter also brought a creative spark after the sadness this past year losing Baer Fabrics to the vile monster 5/3 Bank. This happened before everyone nationally was angry at the greedy financial giants and just at the time when they were trying to save themselves by stealing all they could to stay afloat before their failures went public. In the discovery of a new creative turn, I found a few helpful tools that I suggest to everyone. I am not a scrapbooker; I am a seamstress. Hmm... yet I haven't made a garment since last spring but I have created several scrapbook pages last month alone. Some of us are in denial, hiding behind the ease of paper crafts over the supreme fiber arts, but time is an issue (our months are finite, remember?). So lift your hanging head and find these wonderful, new tools to [quickly] unleash your imagination:

Zutter Bind-It-All 2.0! This tool cuts through metal, paper, chipboard, and illustration board to punch holes. Then closes wire binding to create an inexpensive and professional finish to your own books. Purchase the binding machine and Bound 2 Bind book along with a selection of wires. The best thing about living in the information age is that you can Google Zutter and a few YouTube instructionals come up! I have never created handmade books so quickly.

Cricut Expression. If you don't have this electronic die cutting machine, you are missing out. Purchase the Design Studio software to allow your PC to help you design your layouts and alter the images. The Jukebox will allow you to design and cut from several different cartridges. You will need a healthy supply of cartridges, mats, blades and a few essential tools, but you will be like a kid in a candy store! It is like brain candy-- mind-numbing, fun, easy. Now available to use with your Cricut are kits to create rubber stamps! magnets! This will mean purchasing a new housing and special blade, but the economy needed stimulating, right?

With me and tools, it is all or nothing. Good thing I beat that Amazon habit, huh?

My current obsession is with the Bible. I know it sounds a bit trite, but it is true. Although I am a Christian, a practicing Methodist, the Bible is also a plethora of historical and literary gems! The more I read and study, the more I am drawn in. I recently watched Bruce Feiler's Walking the Bible and The Visual Bible's Matthew. I love new perspectives and these provided more than I had anticipated. I am near the end of a Bible study on Mark at church and have discovered Tom Wright's "For Everyone" series of Bible commentaries. Bible study is when time travel seems most appealing as I struggle with the cultural differences that disguise meaning. Rick Warren has a new magazine complete with DVD and study guide. His focus is on relationships. These are the tools that have helped me excitedly follow my Bible obsession.

Happy discovering! Happy reading! Happy crafting! Until my own economy gets stimulated and I can afford a Kindle 2, I will be hauling bags of books... heck, even then, I will be taking my little girl to the library! There is nothing like walking through aisles of books and picking them up at random to turn their pages!

A last little something for your glittering eyes:
You are blessed when you're content with just who you are-- no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. -Matthew 5.5 [Message]

But wait! There's more! Click 'older posts' above!

But wait!  There's more!  Click 'older posts' above!