Fire

The local news hit a little too close to home today, or perhaps I should say, too close to my brother’s home. This story tells of four Dallas homes ravaged by fire, two of them completely destroyed. They sit in a row on the street directly behind where Peter, Katie, and our two sweet little nieces live. The backyards of the homes that burned back up to my brother and sis-in-law’s backyard. They told me they awoke at 4am this morning to see the house behind them engulfed in flames. How terrifying.

Tonight we are thankful that no one appears to have been injured in this three alarm fire, and that the flames did not encroach onto my brother’s family’s property. It was a sobering sight to drive by the scene of the fire today and see the devastation that can be wrought in just a couple hours’ time. May God comfort those families who have lost much in this disaster, and give them the means and support to rebuild and recover.

Poem #2

Actually, it is Abigail’s first poem, written back in March, but I forgot to post it. Enjoy!

Our world is very sinful
But God is full of righteousness
He came to earth as a tiny baby
Long, Long, Ago…
He will come back someday –
We don’t know when
But God knows when
And when He comes back
We will all crown Him as our KING.

WWWLJD

My brother is asking some questions about WWJD. I’ll leave such questions to him, and instead turn the question on its head (or inside out, or something). Whatever one thinks of WWJD, I suggest it is particularly unhelpful to read the Bible in such a way that it condemns Jesus and his activity while on earth as recorded in the gospels.

Oddly enough, this means we have to leave a bit of room (perhaps only a small space over in the corner) for a single man, perhaps even a pastor or elder, to spend time in the the company of women of ill repute. And he might just be drinking a beer. And picking up the tab.

And now I’ll open the floor: anyone want to try to unpack the acronym WWWLJD? Take a shot at it in the comments.

Car Audio

I bought a used Acura TL back in November of 2004 when the head gasket gave out on my 12 year old Acura Legend (for the second time… had already footed an insane bill once to repair the same thing). I immediately took apart the dash, put in an adapter that converted the CD changer input to a couple of RCA audio jacks which I then ran through the dash into a little cubby/storage slot. After adding a gooseneck PDA holder, I had an iPod-ready car.

For my birthday in January of 2005, I got a set of Polk Audio DB6500s on the cheap off eBay and installed them myself. This involved taking the doors apart, cutting out portions of the doors, and yes, sticking a knife in my leg. For the next year I had fantastic audio in the car minus any bass whatsoever. The car had come with a subwoofer, but it was horrific, so I disconnected it. Great music sans bass. Until my next birthday.

For my birthday in January of 2006, I got an Infinity Basslink, a self-contained small profile 10-inch subwoofer and amp combo thingy (again, courtesy the fine folks at eBay). This time I had Best Buy do the install, and they did a great job. Since then I’ve been enjoying a wonderful audio “experience” as I motor around town. The subwoofer takes up very little room in the trunk and provides a terrific sound, though it is designed more for quality rather than quantity. I can’t entertain neighboring cars with heavy beats.

I really do recommend the approach of putting a solid pair of tweeters and mids up front coupled with a subwoofer. I mostly fade out the back speakers so they are inaudible in the front seats and just provide a bit more sound in the rear seats. You end up with a great shape to the music and by putting all the sound in front it maximizes the illusion of the bass originating from up front as well.

Trick – R – Treat

The weather started turning cold early Tuesday evening as we headed out for some Halloween fun, carrying hotdogs in one hand (supper on the run) and empty pumpkins in the other. We joined up with a large group of our new neighbors who also have fairly young children, to trek down a couple streets, and it was a great time for parents and kids alike. Josiah, er I mean Eeyore,

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only stayed awake long enough to pose for a couple of pics, then promptly fell fast asleep in his stroller. When it got dark, we returned home in order to greet the very large number of costumed visitors who came to our door begging for candy. There were so many that despite the copious amounts of sweets we’d purchased, we had to turn our porch light off at 8:30 because we were all out of treats!

Here are some pics of the rest of our little Trick-R-Treaters, who, with the help of Mommy and her valiant sewing machine, put together some very fun costumes this year:

The lovely ladybug:

Abigail Ladybug
A brave cowboy:

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Another, perhaps more silly cowboy:

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Simple Joys in our New Home

As our readers are aware, we have moved. In the last several posts, I have alluded to the fact that we are living in somewhat sparse conditions, compared to what is likely considered normal for an American family. We have left most all our furnishings at the old house, to enhance its appearance for showing (and thanks for asking – we average about a showing a day, but no offers yet…we truly hope there might be one soon!). But anyway, we are admittedly missing our things, not because we own grand, expensive furniture, but because the house doesn’t quite feel like home without, for instance, our beds and pictures, and other personal belongings.

Yet in the midst of the sparseness, we are enjoying so many blessings here in our new place. Here are just a few:

family games of basketball on our long flat driveway

beautiful shade from our beautiful, huge, old trees

some of the friendliest neighbors we’ve had yet in our married lives

less time in the car, fighting traffic, and more precious moments at home

the rustle of the 40 year old cottonwood in the breeze (this is a completely new sound to me!)

a simpler floor plan inside, and no stairs to deal with (ok, the kids liked these, but the parents don’t miss them!)

the charm of a picket fence and gate out back

sweet friends and schoolmates just three doors away

roses in five different colors that began blooming just as we moved in

bike rides on the trail down the street

Paying Tuition

Three years ago (pretty much to the day), I opened an account and began trading mechanical systems of my own design. Those early months are what I now refer to as a time of “paying tuition”. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, let me keep the entry brief:

Paying Tuition

Perhaps there is a different path to take… I don’t know. But if any of you become interested in system trading, be prepared to paint your own pretty picture like the one above.

If you want to be a doctor, or get an MBA, or go to law school, you know you’ll have to pay tuition. Trading really isn’t so different.

Cookie Decorating

Since, as I stated in my previous post, the laundry and dishes will always be here, there are days when it wise to just ignore them for a bit in favor of doing something a little out of the ordinary…especially when that something brings your children so much happiness! You should have seen the kids’ faces when after school on Friday I announced that we were going to bake and then decorate sugar cookies. I believe “You are the best Mommy ever!” was the comment offered in response. High praise indeed!!

We had a great time all afternoon making a mess of the kitchen. The kids cut out pumpkins, bats, ghosts, and little cats in honor of the upcoming holiday. It was my very first attempt at creating decorating icing with egg whites – the children chose the colors for the various bags of icing, and much to our delight, it worked! The icing hardened beautifully after we piped and spread it on the yummy cookies (it was easy enough for the children to work with themselves), and held all our sprinkles, etc in place. Here is the recipe I used.

As you can see, we were all very proud of our tasty creations!

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Update on life at the new casa

Having been “settled” in our new home almost one month, it might be nice if I was wowing you with all the fantastic projects we’ve been doing to “pretty up” the place. You’d think after four weeks, this place would be glowing with our personal touches and evidences of hard work. You’d think a month would be enough time to accomplish amazing feats around here. You’d be wrong.

Because well, ordinary life doesn’t cease to exist just because we moved: there are still 4 children, 2 adults and a dog who live here. They like to eat three meals a day, wear clothing, go to school/work/ballet/choir/gymnastics (though we haven’t been able to get the lazy dog to engage in any of these activities), wake up in the wee hours of the night with bad dreams, and other ailments, and basically continue to have lots of needs and priorities outside of the many projects looming all around them.

The mommy of the house is finding that setting up housekeeping in a new place, while fun, is also a huge challenge. First, there is the unpacking. Again, life continues…so no, the unpacking is still not complete four weeks into the new place. Unpacking naturally means things have to go in a certain place, so there is a whole process of figuring out how best to organize the space for the way we live. That requires lots of thought, especially if you tend to stress about these types of things just a little too much, as she is wont to do. And then there is the tiny little detail that we left almost every piece of our furniture at the old place, for “showing” purposes, while the house is still on the market. We are living here without the benefit of bookshelves, toyboxes, dressers, nightstands, etc. So truthfully, stuff stays pretty messy (much to my dismay). I must, however, note that we do have great builtins and closets in this house that we are loving; despite about 600 fewer square feet of living space, our current home actually has more storage capacity than the previous, much larger one did.

The everyday stuff like laundry, dishes, and pickup all seems to take much longer in a new place too. I can probably owe the dishes thing to my new “vintage” Kitchen Aid dishwasher (we think it likely that is is original to the 1965 house!), which though it works beautifully, doesn’t seem to have the capacity, or the intuitive loading abilities my previous washer had. So we appear to be using it more often than we did at the previous house. And I am owing the huge mounds of laundry (despite doing loads ALL THE TIME!) to the time of year; the weather is in that wonderful, yet unpredictable stage where the temperature can be either freezing or way too hot. This means that almost every article of clothing we all own is in play at the same time. Most of the rest of the year, the out of season clothes are packed away, and I suppose that will happen soon enough.

But overall, I do think it just takes time to develop a rhythm and way of doing things that is efficient and smooth. So I really am trying to be patient – I know my many projects can eventually happen…but for now they are more a working out of ideas in my mind than a reality unfolding before my eyes.

And I am also remembering that all the everyday and sometimes mundane stuff I am doing is freeing my husband up to accomplish some very needed projects around the house – projects much more crucial to the ongoing soundness of the home than painting every room, adding crown molding here and there, putting mirrors and light fixtures and towel bars in all the bathrooms, refinishing the wonderful back deck, and sprucing up the landscaping (and no, this is not the full list!). But as much as we look forward to these activities, we have a few responsibilities prior to starting on the cosmetics around here. You see, the home had not been “loved on” in many ways, so there is a lot of basic maintenance that needs attending to. And Jay, outside of his many commitments with work, children, school, and church, has been seriously attending to it!

So far, some of his wonderful successes have been:

*replacing locks/doorknobs/handles on all outside entry doors;

*installing (with the help of a very kind friend) a brand new toilet in our master bath – the other one had begun leaking in a nonreparable way;

*replacing the laundry/garage/attic venting system for the dryer;

*rescuing and preserving the boys’ bedroom carpet and pad and floor from ruination despite several thorough soakings courtesy of a sprinkler head aimed directly at their window, thereby flooding part of their room;

*planning and executing a garage storage system to fit everything that used to reside in a 3 car garage into a 2 car garage (and he’s done a great job – it works!);

*replacing all the “innards” in the boys’ toilet so that it is now useable again;

*customizing a kitchen cabinet/desk builtin to house our computer and all the stuff that goes with that (So I am typing this while seated in my cheery kitchen/breakfast area, and enjoying a cup of fresh coffee.)

*gradually replacing EVERY electrical outlet in the entire house, as well as every lightbulb (he found a couple inside some outdoor lights that actually aren’t even manufactured anymore – guess it’s been a while since they were changed, eh?)

and the list goes on….

Well, I’ll try and keep you posted a bit more regularly than I have been. But for now, it’s back to the dishes and laundry!