Thursday, January 31, 2008

So who's watching LOST tonite?

I'll have to wait til tomorrow to catch it online, since we're TV-free here. Just to catch myself up, I'm planning to watch the season 3 finale tonite. LOST: Bring it on!

A Heart Attack a Day Keeps Tranquility Away

I had a major stressful scare today.

Four days a week my youngest child goes to morning preschool, and every day I pick him and his friend Camila up after school and we drive Camila home. She lives about 5 houses down from us. Her parents both work full time, but she has a babysitter at her house. My son is very chivalrous and loves to walk Camila to her door and drop her off every day. So that's our routine. I pull up in the driveway, Camila and my little guy get out and he walks her to the door, the babysitter lets her in, my kid gets back in the car, and we go home.

So today we got there and there was a different car in the driveway, but it's one I've sometimes seen there. So, no problem. The kids get out of the car and walk to the door that she usually goes in, and nobody comes to it, so they go to a different door. The door opens, Camila goes in, my kid gets in the car, and we go home.

And an hour later Camila's babysitter is at my door to pick up Camila.

And I don't have Camila, because I took her home.

And assumably left her with her babysitter.

Who now tells me she had not been there.

Because she was at a doctor's appointment.

And supposedly Camila's mom was going to call me this morning to ask me to keep Camila here until the sitter could pick her up.

But she didn't.

And so I ask my son, "Who was at Camila's house when we took her home?"

"Her visitor."

"What visitor?"

"I don't know. Her visitor that's always there."

"You mean her babysitter?"

"Yeah, I guess."

So I tell the sitter that someone was there, and she figures that maybe Camila's mom just called someone else to hang out at the house to take care of Camila until they could get there.

I mentioned that a red car was there. The sitter says that yes, that was her car, but she had left her car there and taken a different car to the doctor's appointment because it had more seating that was needed.

So she leaves, and I'm left wondering, If the car that was there was left behind by the sitter, who on earth was at the house? Because there was only one car in the driveway.

And I start asking my four year old the same questions in different sorts of ways.

"Was the person at Camila's house a woman?"


"What color hair did the person have?"

"Maybe kinda like yours."

And eventually I hit on the most important question:

"Did you actually SEE a grown up at Camila's house?"



And I'm starting to feel a heavy sense of dread.

After a couple minutes I call over there to make sure that everything is ok with Camila. But that's not what I find out.

"Camila's not here! We can't find her anywhere. We are looking under all the beds."

I felt like I was going to faint.

Had I managed to drop off a five year old at an empty house?! Or with a stranger? Just today a story came out in our local paper about Camila's family, and there was a picture of the girls. Had some creep broken into their house and taken off with my son's best friend?! My friend's child?!

I just about burst into tears, threw on a jacket, grabbed my keys, told my older kids that I had to go over to Camila's real fast because there was an emergency. I felt like I was going to die from stress overload.

I got there in a minute to relaxed faces telling me that everything was ok, that Camila's mom had come to pick her up, and all is well. Phew!

Which was great, except, Camila's mom's car was not there when I dropped Camila off, which left me wondering about that small detail of Was There An Adult At The House When I Left Camila?

So all afternoon I have been stressing, waiting until I could see Camila's mom when she brought two of my children home from school. Her version of the story was very interesting.

At about 11:10 she was in the middle of working when she said, "God beeped me, and I just knew that I needed to call home." So she called, and Camila answered, in tears, because she was all alone and didn't know what to do.

Fortunately, her mom works about 3 minutes away from home and was able to drop everything and go get her daughter, while talking to her on the phone the whole way.

What time had I dropped Camila off? 11:05 or so.

And why was it at 11:05?

Because the clock in the preschool class was messed up, and so the preschoolers didn't get out to the cars until 10 minutes after they normally would have been.

And so, those are a couple of pretty nice coincidences, eh?

Interestingly, whereas I've been about to die of stress all day, Camila's mom was very relaxed about it. To her, it was pretty simple. God was helping her, nobody was hurt, and she realized that they should get a kid-friendly phone list on the wall in case Camila or her little sister ever needs to make a phone call. We will also make sure that either I always take Camila to the door and do a fingerprinting and retina scan of the person I leave her with oops! I mean I will make sure that I get visual confirmation that a responsible adult caregiver is there.

To those of you that would like to turn this into an example of why mothers should never work and all that jazz, just. don't. I know what you're saying. But I'm not going to bash my friend for her situation or decisions, and you aren't either. Not here, anyhow.

If you want to bash me, well, you can't say anything worse to me than I've said to myself today. Live and learn, they say. And I will.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Pioneer Woman Comes to My Rescue!

Not ONLY does The Pioneer Woman have her regular blog, but also a cooking blog. A beautiful, wonderful cooking blog, where she dazzles you with umpteen photos of every glorious step in every single scruptious-looking recipe.

I may have told you before that I do not like to cook. I have been thinking that it would sure be nice if i could figure out a way to reprogram that part of myself, and somehow become a person that does like to cook. I noticed, the other day, that now that I have my glorious Tomato Bisque Soup recipe, I enjoy making it even though it is not quick and takes several steps and dirties up several large bowls. So, if it's worth it to me to make THAT, maybe all I need to do is find enough truly inspirational recipes, that maybe I'll be sailing with glee through my kitchen every day, loving to cook each and every meal.

What do you think? is it possible?

I have just found some serious inspiration at the Pioneer Woman Cooks. On my list of things I hope to make sometime soon:
Olive Cheese Bread (I may just run right out to the store and buy the ingredients right. this. minute)
Chicken Spaghetti
Twice Baked potatoes (which I have made several times, but she makes it look like it would be worth doing again. AND, I hadn't really considered the possibility of freezing these, which really makes it sound great for having on hand....

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Do You Know About The Pioneer Woman?

A friend of mine at church told me about one of her favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman. I got reading over there and couldn't stop. I think it's one of my favorites now, too. It's the tales of a gal who went from being an LA City Slicker to the wife of a rancher, living in the boonies, and loving it. She tells their love story "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels" here. I have loved reading it. Go check it out.

Working on the Phooey

Hey all--I have been in contact with the designers. Although I have not named them here, they seem to be concerned that I have misrepresented the situation with my blog design, and that they somehow will be damaged by the information I shared. I specifically did not mention their names because I was simply venting my frustration, not trying to damage them.

Apparently, through having them design 5 web sites for me over the course of over 3 years, I missed the little detail that the images used and installed by them through their photobucket account were only guaranteed to be left that way for 6 months. So, unfortunately, now I will have to hire them to redesign my sites again. But, the good news is that I now know that I need to go and get all of my web images safely onto my own photobucket account. I would strongly recommend that any of you with custom designs on your blogs or web sites check on this issue before you find yourself with a naked site. :) Hopefully in short time Dollymama Strikes Again will be looking pretty, as usual.

Oh Phooey!

You know, since I don't have much time to come by this here mighty fine blog very often, it had escaped my attention that my blog design is GONE! Gone, as in, no it is not because my computer is going slow on loading up the page--it's just gone. Because the designer that I used let her photobucket account expire....and all my design images are down the tubes for this blog and for my business site. I am Not. Happy.

So now I am scurrying around trying to contact this person, trying to back up all the images for all of my web sites.....ackk! Thankfully, I at least know how to do this. (If only I had known that I was going to have this problem--I would have been happy to handle all my photo hosting on my own.)

So, that's why my blog looks sad and plain.

A Perfect Unschooling Day

Yesterday was just the kind of day that I love. My 9 year old son woke up full of ideas about a story he wanted to write. I set him up on Word and he got to work, writing his story of Paulie's Adventures. Paulie is a penguin who finds buried treasure! My 11 year old daughter got into the act, helping him with some of the typing and spelling, and then she started making illustrations on Paint. She did a good job, too!

Every now and then they would come out to ask me how to spell something, or how to make their pictures turn up where they needed them to in the story, etc.

By the end of the day they had two finished books (the other was a cookbook by my daughter) and they were just beaming with happiness. My daughter told me that she knew she had really learned a lot about how to use the computer and the programs. That was especially encouraging to hear because up til this point she has really had a hard time understanding that she is learning even if there isn't a number grade or a star sticker to prove it. I have tried to explain to her many times that you don't need to be graded to prove you know stuff, but it sunk in on it's own when she could experience it in that way.

Later in the day my daughter got out a drawing program that we had been given, and started working on drawing with charcoal. She really loved it and did quite well.

Overall, the perfect unschooling day. If I had said, "Today for Language Arts you have to write a story" it might not have come at a time when they were inspired. By allowing them to run with the winds of inspiration they got so much more out of the experience, and are still writing books today. I love that.

Monday, January 28, 2008

100th Day

Bad Mommy. Bad Mommy!

I just dropped my kiddos off at school this morning, and then came home and looked through the papers that I had just taken out of their backpacks. (They had a lot of extra papers because they missed two days of school last week because they were sick.)

So what did I miss? Sending something for 100th day, that's what.

And what's 100th day? It's the one hundredth day of school. The kids in most classes are supposed to bring 100 of something. Like, 100 stickers or goldfish crackers or pieces of rice or crayons or whatever. They count and sort and compare and good educational stuff like that.

And now my kids are without a contribution to 100th Day. :(

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weight Loss Can Be So Easy...

Would you believe that I lost 50 pounds over night?!

Yeah, me neither.

The new scale had some accuracy issues. We would step on it and get one weight. Step off and let the thing go back to zero. Step on again and get a weight 4 pounds heavier than 10 seconds before. Get off and let the thing go back to zero. Step on again and get a weight 2 pounds less than the first weight. This morning I stepped on to find myself roughly 50 pounds less than yesterday. My husband also experienced an amazing weight loss of 40 pounds. Some of the kids lost 10 pounds within a day! Whatever we ate yesterday, I guess we need to do more of that.

In short, not exactly a helpful gadget for someone trying to lose just. one. pound. Right?

So back to the store it went. Not sure what I'm going to replace it with yet. I don't have the time or energy to keep buying and returning quirky scales.

In the meantime, I used the refund money to buy cookies. :) NO, not for me. (Well, I will confess to eating one......or two....) We are going to a church chili cookoff tonite, and we are taking cookies. (not chili) I will be a judge for the chili, so that should be fun. I've never gotten to judge a cooking contest before. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Already thinking about next year's schooling options

This has been an interesting school year. I've had the pleasant surprise of discovering that, although not easy, I am not hating homeschooling. In fact, I think I could safely say that I am enjoying it! I'm enjoying having my two homeschoolers here every day, and we've had many good conversations and enjoyed many good books together.

It's also been harder than ever to send my youngest three kiddos to school. In years past when I so desperately needed to NOT be homeschooling, it was a blessing that my little guys absolutely loved to go to school. At night when I would tuck them into bed they would ask, "Is tomorrow a school day?!" and when I would tell them yes they would smile and cheer. They ran out the door each morning so happy and looking forward to their day.

This year I still get asked, "Is tomorrow a school day!?" except that when I say yes they pout and cry and say, "I don't want to go! I don't feel good! When do we get some days off?"

I'm not a big believer in formal schooling for younger kids, especially boys. The only way I was able to have them going to school so far was because they enjoyed it so much. Now that I have little boys consistently not liking school, I feel like I'm no longer doing what I feel is best for them.

I've learned from past years to never make big decisions about school in January. The cold, dark, cheerlessness of the month never seems to do any of our outlooks much good. Unfortunately, I can't blame this on January. This has been going on for the whole school year. I even talked to my son's kindergarten teacher about how unhappy he was at the first 9 week conference.

So, I'm watching. And I'm thinking. And I'm wondering--what about bringing the three younger boys home for school next year?

I've noticed that I've enjoyed having all the kids home on weekends and breaks. For awhile there it was kind of overwhelming for me to have everybody home. Partially it helps that they're older, partially, I've done better and better at working on behavior stuff and helping them keep their energies moving in a positive direction. I love seeing the creative stuff that they come up with. I buy them fabric and they design costumes. They make play money and stores and play "town" complete with bankers, businesses, keeping track of their money, etc. It's pretty fun to see what they come up with on their own.

My wheels are turning. I'm taking stock of what I would need to change in order to take on three more homeschool kids. I'm thinking about how it would work to homeschool 5 kids at once. I'm thinking about what each kid needs and wondering how I can best offer that to them. What would it look like? How would it work? So far, I'm optimistic.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Today I did something that I always said I would never do.

I bought a bathroom scale.

I've been thinking about this for awhile now. When I was younger I hated getting weighed because even when at a perfectly normal weight and even able to wear a bikini without shame as a 19 year old, being a six foot tall woman comes with weight numbers that are considerably higher than most teeny-weeny teenagers have.

Then for all the years when I was pregnant, I felt like it was just pointless and depressing to know my weight.

And now my baby is almost 5. I've got to lose some weight, and that's hard to keep track of if I have no idea where I'm at.

I really like the idea of just losing one pound at a time. I got this idea from some interview with Cheryl Tiegs quite some time ago. Basically she said that every morning she steps on the scale, and if she has reached her weight limit, she immediately exercises a little more and eats a little less, and keeps doing that until she beats back that one pound. Although I have far more than, ahem, one pound to lose, one pound I can lose. And then I just keep losing one more pound. And another one. And another one.

So that's why I have a scale now. I didn't want to get a depressing one that would remind me of what I weighed yesterday or last week, or one that would calculate my body fat index. I just got a plain Jane, no-reminders scale. It'll get the job done. Hopefully I will too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sad news: Heath Ledger has died

My husband has just called to tell me that one of my very favorite actors, Heath Ledger, has died today. Just yesterday I was talking about how much I enjoy his work. I've admired Heath's ability as an actor who plays so many different types of roles so skillfully. I'm really very sad about this. What a terrible, sad loss, and what a sad situation that his life had gotten to the point where he has had either an accidental or purposeful drug overdose. Only 28 years old. What a waste. And now his daughter has to grow up without him. Sad, sad stuff.

Snow Day

No school today thanks to a small amount of snow and ice that made morning driving slippery, but was all melted away by noon. :) My kids are hunkered down watching a stash of kiddo movies while eating PBJs. I have all this quiet-ish time that I could be getting stuff done, yet I'm just kind of hanging out here avoiding turning my head 45 degrees to see what's on my To Do list.....

Friday, January 18, 2008

Happy Dance!

I guess I should have asked you all to pray for me months ago when I started this whole thing with DHL…because a few minutes ago I received a phone call from the same woman I spoke with yesterday, and she told me that I will be getting the refund!!!

I asked her some about what happened and found out that she did not speak to my driver, but did speak to the manager of the DHL station in this area. Apparently there were even more messed up things about the shipment than I was even aware of. I’ll spare you all the boring details. But, the point is that they were able to determine that both my driver AND the station personnel messed up. So, they agreed that I did not get the service I was wanting, and approved the refund. Supposedly (pardon me for being skeptical!) I will have a check by the end of next week.

Sadly and interestingly, the refund isn’t coming because of anything I’s only because of other things that I couldn’t have even known about. I’m glad it worked out, but sorry to learn that DHL has so little regard for the word of their customers.

I did email the president of DHL this morning, and rec’d an email this afternoon saying that they would contact me within 24 hours. Although my own case is resolved, I do hope that I get to talk with someone so that I can let them know how many steps along the way were messed up. I am actually thinking of making a list, because it’s mighty spectacular! There is seriously not ONE person that I have dealt with during this process that has not messed up in some way. I cannot imagine how a business gets to be as big and well-known as DHL when they are so disorganized and don’t believe in real customer service. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I ever treated a customer so poorly.

You can be sure that I will never use DHL for any shipping in the future, and will go out of my way to try to avoid receiving anything from them as well. They have lost my trust and have showed me far too many holes in their system that cause me to have absolutely zero confidence that my account information or packages will be safe with them.

So, THANK YOU for praying and for caring! I was able to have a pretty good day without too much stress, and now I will just be praying for the refund to come without any problems.

Old, Tired Dog

An old, tired-looking dog wandered into the yard.

I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home.

He followed me into the house, down the hall, and fell asleep in a corner.

An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out.

The next day he was back, resumed his position in the hall, and slept for an hour.

This continued for several weeks.

Curious, I pinned a note to his collar:

"Every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap."

The next day he arrived with a different note pinned to his collar:

"He lives in a home with ten children -- he's trying to catch up on his sleep.

Can I come with him tomorrow?"

I could use a little prayer about this

This is kind of off topic, but I could really use some prayer support. Back in October I sent a large shipment of my product to a vendor in Texas, using DHL. They completely messed up my order by not giving me the proper paperwork for the shipping I wanted (slow, ground, cheap), and instead I ended up accidentally getting overnight air delivery (fast, air, over $69 per box!). I was charged over $400 more than I was planning on. Needless to say, this has been annoying.

Since that time I have been going through the channels to try to get this fixed with DHL, and I have asked for a refund for the overage I was charged. I have had one problem after another with them messing things up, and I have been working my way up their chain of command. Yesterday I had a particularly upsetting phone call with a person in middle management. She basically told me that I was stupid to have trusted them with my credit card information (I had no choice), that I should have known all the ins and outs of their paperwork myself so that I could have prevented this myself, and that she thought I was lying. It was very frustrating. As we left it, she said she was going to try to talk to the driver who picked up these packages to see what his side of the story was.

I would like prayer that this man, if she gets to talk to him, will remember what happened and be honest about that with her. I am not sure if he would be in danger of losing his job or some other penalty if he admits that he did not handle my order properly, but I would also like protection for this guy. I’m sure he needs his job just like everybody else needs theirs.

Also, I need prayer that DHL would give me some good customer service and give me the partial refund I am asking for. Thankfully, because I run my businesses debt-free, this hasn’t been the huge blow that it could have been, However, it is very discouraging to have an extra $400 taken from me and kept away from me for months.

Last, I could just use some prayer that my spirit could be peaceful while I wait and walk through this. I have not been so upset about this situation until yesterday, because the person was so rude to me. I do not do well with things like that, and tend to have stuff roll around in my stomach and head, stressing me out. My family and I had a fun stress-buster evening last night, watching our new Tim Hawkins DVD. He is the comedian in the video clips a few posts down. It felt good to laugh. But, this morning I’m up early and am already feel that stress creeping up on me…

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Go Tell Alana Happy Birthday

It's Alana's birthday today. They've been having a tough time. Go leave a comment on her blog and spread some birthday cheer.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Funny For You

I always found it funny that Christians pray for food to be blessed to their bodies, even when they are eating total junk. Tim Hawkins has a funny comedy shtick about this. This video takes a little while to load up, but totally cracked us up.

I also thought this was was hilarious. My kids and I were about doubled over laughing over this one:

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Ready to get lost?

Lost returns on January 31. YAY! I am really looking forward to it. If you failed to get into Lost right from the start, or if you missed a significant portion of the episodes, good news! You can now watch seasons one and two at abc by going here. There is so much back story for the characters in each show, it's very helpful to see each one in order to understand all of the six-degrees-of-separation things going on.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Once Again Contemplating the Merits of Becoming a Super-Early Riser

For whatever reason, I was unable to sleep last night. I had a hard time falling asleep, and was easily awakened several times, until I finally gave up and just got out of bed. It was a combination of sleep not coming easily, ideas and concerns swirling through my head that wouldn't quit, and plenty of energy to go-go-go! I've been taking some new supplements and I have had SO much more energy than usual--it has been really wonderful. But, maybe I took something too close to bedtime last night or something.....because energy isn't something I need in the middle of the night. (unless somebody has thrown up or wet the bed)

Anyhoo, I got up at 3, ate breakfast, did some work on the computer for my businesses, blogged (twice now), emailed, folded 3 loads of laundry, put away 6 loads of laundry, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, cooked breakfast for my husband and then for 3 of my kids, started another load of laundry, made my bed, got dressed not just to my shoes--but even to my BRA!! (an important detail that I've not seen Flylady address!), finished organizing the coat closet (a project started before bedtime yesterday), put away a bunch of stuff, straightened and generally tended to several areas of the house, got three kiddos up and fed and bundled and out the door to school.....and probably a couple more things I am not thinking of right now. 1 more kid to send to school, 2 more to get homeschooling with.....

It feels so great to start a day with so many things already done. (and hey--4 hours of work done right off the bat!) So once again I wonder if I should just go to bed once I put all the kids to bed, and just get up early and get everything done that I want to do without interruption. Unlike evenings, in the early morning nobody comes around to see what I'm doing, ask for another snack or drink, tattle on one another, or try to see what movie I'm watching.

I'd like to say I'll try it for a week, but I don't know how realistic that is. At the very least, it's been a good start to today.

Slow Down

Do you ever catch yourself rushing from one thing to the next, or even hurrying through a task when you don't actually need to be hurrying? I have experienced a lot of that, but have been trying to be mindful to s-l-o-w down in the past few months. I want to be a person that, as much as possible, has time for the important, time to enjoy the moment, and time to enjoy serendipitous opportunities.

Today was a perfect example. On my way around town I had to drop off our water bill. Once there, I realized that I was right next to our local nursing home. A gal from church is temporarily living there, so I decided to pop in to see her. I had never been in the building before, wasn't sure where I was going, but knew I'd figure it out once I got going.

I was able to surprise this gal, and brighten her day with a quick visit. She had a few things she was wishing she had, so I went right over to the store and got those things for her, and then took them back over to her. She seemed really surprised and pleased that I had stopped by, gotten her the things she had wished for, and come back like I told her I would.

The whole thing probably took less than a half hour, but I bet it meant a lot to her. I was just glad that instead of feeling rushed, I was able to take time to reach out to somebody. We miss so much when we're driven by the hurrying forces in our life.