Monday, November 29, 2010

Basketball Blues

Early last spring, after the boys found out that some of their friends were playing basketball through a church league, they wanted to play. It was too late to get them signed up then, but I promised we'd look into it this fall.

In October I registered the boys to play basketball with Lake Pointe Sports, an outreach program of Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall. In November I was notified that the boys' teams did not have coaches yet, but we would be notified as soon as they were in place. (Since it's a church-run activity, coaches are generally parent volunteers instead of hired.) A week or so later, I got an email from Caleb's coach, and things got under way. He's already had one practice and has another one scheduled for tomorrow night. His first game will be Saturday.

Two days later I still hadn't heard anything about Jacob's coach, so I emailed the program coordinator. Two days later, on a Friday evening, I received a reply that I should've heard from the coaches already. She cc'd Jacob's two coaches and asked them to contact me. It's now 10 days later and I still haven't heard anything. Since Thanksgiving was in the midst of that, I allowed for extra time, but now there's been a full weekend on either end of the holiday.

This morning I emailed the program coordinator again, and I cc'd the two coaches she'd included in her reply to me. I told her that we still haven't heard anything from either coach. I mentioned that Caleb has had one practice and has another one tomorrow night, just for emphasis that things have been taking place with other teams. Then I asked her if I needed to try to get Jacob's jersey when we pick up Caleb's this Tuesday night or if I need to formally request a full refund of his registration fees. I softened that a bit by asking if there was another team he could be fit in with.

I really want Jacob to be able to play. He's had his heart set on this since the spring. After receiving confirmation of his registration, he's been ready to play. I'm willing to give Lake Pointe Sports a shot this year, but if things don't improve with Jacob's situation, this will be our last time to do anything with them.

This morning I got a reply from the assistant coach. He apologized that we hadn't heard anything, but the only information he got from LP Sports was a list of players, no contact info. He isn't sure if the other coach is another assistant coach or the head coach; he hasn't talked with him, I guess.

This afternoon I got a reply from LP Sports. The coordinator said this is not normal, that they had to find new coaches since many of the ones from last year haven't stayed on. (I wonder why...) She said we should have a practice day/time set tomorrow. (We'll see...)

Tonight after we got home from Caleb's practice, I had an email waiting from Jacob's head coach. Apparently he never got a list of his players' contact information or any kind of practice/location schedule. Thankfully that's all worked out now! Jacob's team will have practice one hour before Caleb's team at the same gym. That makes things easy!

Unfortunately Jacob's team will not get a practice in before their first game Saturday afternoon. I think it's going to be madness - and a hoot!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday Hodgepodge - November 17

Just when I was getting started with the Random Dozen meme, the author got swamped with life and stopped posting questions. Thankfully another RD participant, Joyce at From This Side of the Pond, stepped up and took on something similar. Here's what Joyce wants to know this week:

1. What is the most amazing weather you've ever seen?
"Amazing" as in wonderful: The weather we've been having right now! The days have been bright and sunny, the breeze has been light, and the temperatures have been cool - just enough for a long sleeve and a light jacket. Ahhhh, bliss.

"Amazing" as in astonishing, surprising: Last winter's snowfalls. Yes, that's plural. Although we weren't home every time it happened, I think snow fell in the Dallas area three times last winter. The most abundant one happened in February, dropping about eight inches or so in our neighborhood. It was nice the first day, okay the second day, and by the third day, I'd had more than my fill. In fact, I'd be happy if I saw not one tiny snowflake this year. :oP

2. What is a sound or noise you love?
my boys laughing
wind chimes
gentle, rolling thunder

3. Do you like seafood? What's your favorite seafood dish?
I like boiled shrimp and fried calamari. That about does it for me. I can't stand seafood gumbo. The smell sickens me.

I love boiled crawfish, too, but that's technically not seafood. It's more like ditch food.

4. What part of your day requires the most patience?
home school time

5. What's your favorite shade of blue?
Navy. I tend to lean toward darker colors: forest green, chocolate brown, burgundy, black.

6. Do people underestimate you?
Probably. Sometimes I underestimate myself. I think most people really don't know me since I tend to keep a lot of things to myself.

7. When was the last time you had butterflies in your stomach?
It would most likely be the last time I had to speak in front of a group, which I try not to do often.

8. Insert your own random thought here, and remember...I have a wooden spoon and I'm not afraid to use it.
I know how hard it is to keep a meme going because I tried several years ago. It was called Food for Thought, and the 5 weekly questions were food related. Sometimes I'd have a theme, say soup, and all the questions would be about that one topic. I enjoyed it, but I never got a following. Maybe one person answered occasionally. That's not very encouraging... Maybe one day I'll start it up again.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - November 15

We enjoyed having our week's supply of grilled meat last week! I hope we can do that again before too long.

On to this week...

Chicken Pot Pie

Portobella & Olive Farfalle
Caesar salad

Applesauce Meatloaf
Four Cheese Risotto (from a box)
Caesar salad



Biscuits & Jelly

We'll be having our annual "Pie & Praise" night at church this Sunday after AWANA, so we'll eat dessert for our meal and top off with something quick and light after we get back home. The boys love this!

Next week, the only thing on my menu is Taco Soup (and leftovers). We'll be enjoying my mother-in-law's dressing and other delectable Thanksgiving foods for the end of the week. Yum!

For more menu plan ideas, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Flashback Friday: Veterans

From Mocha with Linda:

Were/Are either of your parents or other family members active military personnel or veterans? What branch? When did they serve; was it during wartime or peacetime? Did they share much about their experiences with you or others? When you were growing up, was the USA (or your country, for those outside the US) involved in a war? What do you remember about it and how did it impact you? Are you, your spouse, or any of your children veterans?

Neither my husband nor I have served in the military, but both our fathers did, many of our uncles did, and we have many friends who have served or are serving now.

My dad served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. On July 7, 1967 - less than two months after he and Mama were married - he received orders to report for an "Armed Forces Physical Examination" to determine if he was qualified to serve in the military. On August 28, 1967, he received orders to report for induction into the US Army on September 7. Because he wasn't keen on the idea of ground fighting in Vietnam, he tried to join the US Air Force, following his father's footsteps. They had reached their current limit of inductees. They could've taken him later, but that would've been after the September 7 deadline. The Navy recruiter's office was just down the hall, so he went there instead.

Daddy started boot camp on September 5, 1967 - just two days before he would've been required to report for induction into the Army. After several months of boot camp and radio school, he was assigned to the USS Noxubee, which shuttled fuel from large oil tankers to fuel bunkers onshore. Since the ship's home port was Pearl Harbor, it was a shock to find out he was being sent directly to Vietnam. The USS Noxubee had been deployed. He reported to the ship on the evening of June 27, 1968, and was released from shipboard duty three years and one day later - June 28, 1971.

He was a radioman, sending and receiving messages in Morse code, audio, and teletype. His unit was also responsible for patching communications networks, if needed. It reminded me of that scene in Down Periscope where the guy patches two networks together and gets shocked because he licks his bare fingers before holding the ends of the wires together with them. :o)

During his time on the USS Noxubee, Daddy was stationed both stateside (Pearl Harbor, HI, twice; and Little Creek, VA) and internationally (Da Nang Harbor/Cua Viet, Vietnam), and he had the chance to visit many different cultures (Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, and Guam, as well as France, Spain, Italy, and Greece while his ship cruised in the Mediterranean).

Probably the most harrowing experience on board the USS Noxubee was when a couple of Viet Cong swimmers managed to plant a magnetic mine on the hull of the ship. Since it was night and the water was murky, a team of underwater demolition divers wasn't able to tell anything from their inspection. The ship was taken five miles from the base until morning, when the team would inspect everything again. Around 2:00 a.m., there was an explosion on the ship. Thankfully only one mine was planted - and it was attached a little forward of the cargo hold. The ship's damage control team went to work and was able to contain things until an auxiliary repair ship could make temporary repairs. Then they headed to Manilla, Philippines and went into dry dock for repairs.

Daddy received his Honorable Discharge from the US Navy on September 4, 1973.

Incidentally, I was born while he was on one of his tours in Vietnam. He was on duty and received the Red Cross message regarding my birth as it came through.

I am immensely proud of my daddy and how he served his country when called upon. He is my hero.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 2010 Book List

37. God, the Devil, and Harry Potter by John Killinger

I initially chose this book because I thought it would give me insight into how Christians who like the Harry Potter books view the series. It started out nicely, though there were numerous summaries of some of the plot lines of the books. That led me to believe it would be a good book for Christians who are curious about Harry Potter but don't feel inclined to read the books. The further I read, the more I realized that Killinger often mixes his Christian perspective with a worldly one. It didn't bother me that he points out similarities between Rowling's characters and those of the mythology of different regions. What concerned me was he not only quotes from the Bible, but he also relies heavily on other gospels as well as the Apocrypha. To evangelical Christians, that's a huge red flag, and that would put off many Christians who question the series.

I don't recommend this book to evangelical Christians who want to know more about the Harry Potter series, but I'm sure there is a book out there written by an evangelical - for evangelicals.

38. Making Rounds with Oscar by Dr. David Dosa

I'm a sucker for a good cat story, and this one was a gem! Dr. Dosa is a geriatrician who makes rounds on the dementia floor of a large Rhode Island nursing home. Rumor was that Oscar was always present for residents' final hours of life. Dosa was skeptical and began a quest to find out just what Oscar's "gift" is - how does he know when it's a patient's final hours, and how is he always right?

As Dosa talked with past patients' families about their experiences on the floor and with Oscar, he began to realize Oscar's importance to both the patients and their families. Generally aloof, Oscar would curl up on the bed beside a dying patient, would purr and allow himself to be petted by grieving family members. More than one family member called him a comfort. Dosa's appreciation of Oscar grew, as did his understanding of what his patients' families needed. He learned how the medical community was failing families of patients with dementia, how families felt a range of emotions but had no help, and how he could be a better doctor in bridging those gaps.

Dosa never really found answers to his questions about how Oscar "knows" the end is near. There have been scientific explanations about a "sweet smell of death" and animals having a keener sense of smell than humans, but none of those explain why only Oscar makes his rounds. He does realize the importance of animal therapy for the elderly, especially those with dementia. There's something about animals (and music, as he also learned) that reach into the deepest parts of a person.

Life Without Limits by Nick Vujicic

I can't count this book because I didn't finish it. It's good, but not what I want to read right now. I was expecting an autobiography with some inspiration thrown in, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. It's a Christian "self-help" book with short biographical highlights included every so often. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

39. Family Organizing Handbook by Amy Knapp

The subtitle is "314 Mom-Tested Super Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Take Care of Everything with Time Left for What Really Matters". (An older version has only 312 tips.) Quite a mouthful, but an overall quick read.

I don't think each numbered tip should've been a tip unto itself, since many of them piggy-backed on a previous one. Still, there were some good ideas here. The biggest thing that was emphasized for me was the importance of two things: calendars and lists. I already knew that, but this just drove the point home a little more, especially where lists are concerned.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - November 8

I don't know what happened with last week. I think the cooler weather slowed my brain! I do remember having Baked Potato Soup and homemade bread on Tuesday, and we had steaks, Caesar salad, and some seasoned sugar snap peas and potatoes (from a frozen package) on Saturday, but everything in between is a blur. Oh, yeah! I had a broken kitchen faucet so we dined on sandwiches, served on paper plates.

We finally got around to grilling Saturday evening (after my handyman hubby replaced my faucet!), so we've got our meat for the first part of the week.

Hamburgers (a grilled chicken sandwich for Caleb)
Bush's Grilling Beans
Caesar salad

White Beans & Rice (with some diced grilled hot link thrown in for extra heat)
*I'll be using my Red Beans & Rice recipe, but since ALDI didn't have red beans and I didn't have time to run by Wal-Mart for them, I decided to go with Great Northern beans. I'm sure it'll be great!

Sweet Potato Fries

leftover White Beans & Rice

Caleb will be at a pre-teen fall retreat, so we'll be doing something special with Jacob. Oh, the woes of being the younger sibling...

It's home team night again, and the day will already have been busy with a baklava cooking class I'll be taking, entertaining Jacob, and picking up Caleb from camp. I need easy!

AWANA night. Enough said.

I've got a little more variety planned for next week, so stay tuned!

For more menu plans, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness

I'm a little late getting started on this, but it's been a weird week. The cooler temps have me moving much slower in the mornings, then the days get busy...

1. I'll come back to this post and add something for each day of the month, but I might not get around to doing it each day.
2. I'm not going to put obvious things I'm thankful for. Those go without saying. This is more a list of the smaller things in life. On certain days there might be a more obvious "bigger" thing, so I'll include it as well.
3. I will provide explanations of most things - a story about why that particular thing came to mind that day. To me, that's more interesting than just a list.

November 1 - Laughter
Jacob can be a jokester at times, and he provided me with quite a laugh Monday morning. Each morning as we're finishing our breakfast, the boys and I take our medicines together: me, my vitamin, and them, their allergy pills. This time, Jacob took his early and saved back a Rice Krispy from his cereal. When it was time to take our medicine, he popped his into his mouth and crunched down on it. I thought it was Zyrtec, and I kept waiting for a look of disgust to come across his face. "Does it taste good?" I asked him, to which he replied, "It was cereal!" He got me, and we all laughed about that for a long time.

Biggie thing: Mama. Happy birthday!

November 2 - Soup
Even though we've been having soup nights almost weekly for nearly two months, the weather has finally cooled down enough to make it "necessary". Tuesday was very fall-like with gray skies, gentle rain, and temps in the low 50s. After a quick trip out to vote, it was nice to sit down to a hot bowl of homemade Baked Potato Soup.

Biggie thing: the right to vote

November 3 - Sandwiches and Paper Plates
The kitchen faucet started dripping several days ago. On Tuesday, I noticed water had started leaking from around base the fixture. Billy checked under the sink and found that it was leaking underneath as well. (Thankfully we caught it before it got to be a huge mess!) Then as I was trying to get the last few dishes washed up today, water started spraying out the back of the fixture and I lost pressure in the actual faucet. I managed to get everything washed, then I turned off the water under the sink. It took a few dish towels to clean up all the water that had sprayed behind the sink and spread along the counter. Needless to say, I didn't do any cooking for supper. We had sandwiches on paper plates, saving me a big mess to have to clean up at a sink elsewhere in the house.

November 4 - Growing Boys
...even though I don't like having to go through their clothes every season. The sudden cool snap has me going through their closet and drawers today, seeing what fits and what doesn't. First I go through Jacob's. What doesn't fit him goes in one of two piles: Once Upon a Child (resale) or Goodwill. Then I go through Caleb's and move what doesn't fit him over to Jacob's side. Then I make a list of what's needed so I can buy that when I get a chance. In spite of that hassle, though, I'm so glad they're healthy and growing at a steady rate.

November 5 - Public Libraries
I love to read, but I don't have the space or the money to buy books all the time. It's so nice to be able to check out what I want whenever I want it. I also have a Sony book reader, so I can download books, too! Today I found a perfect reading spot in the children's area: in a big comfy chair in a patch of sunlight. Well, I moved the chair so it would be mostly in the sun, but still...

November 6 - SWIM
I was heavily involved in SWIM (Seminary Wives in Ministry) while Billy was working on his master's degree, and I've missed being a part of it since I left the board a year and a half ago. While I don't want to be involved to the extent I was back then, I am glad that I can still go to the seminars they sponsor - like today's "RX for Spiritual Sleepyheads". Prof. and Jeanne Hendricks taught on Bible study methods, based on Prof.'s book Living by the Book. Great presentation from two great people!

Biggie thing: my handyman husband who fixed my sink!

November 7 - Cubbies
This is my fourth year working with the Cubbies in AWANA and I love it! Every year I get a table full of the sweetest little girls. This year I have Lilia, Caitlin, Hannah B., and Ella. They warm my heart, and I love getting sweet hugs and notes from them.

Biggie thing: godly pastors at my church who effectively teach the Word of God.

November 8 - Stay-Home Days
After busy weekends (or even not-so-busy ones), it's great to have a day or two that I know we can count on being home. It's a good way to kick off our school week and for me to get back on track with housekeeping since I only do the basics on the weekend. Usually.

November 9 - Crock Pots
It's so nice to be able to just put everything in in the morning and leave it to cook all day. And it makes the house smell great, too! I want to find some more great Crock Pot recipes so I can use it more often.

November 10 - Candles
Yankee Candles are by far my favorite, especially their "Thankful" scent. Since I don't have one of those right now, I've been burning one of my Shiraz (Vintage Wine) candles that they've discontinued. Luckily I found some at an outlet last summer in Branson, so I bought 3. :o)

November 11 - Music
I've loved music for as long as I can remember. I used to play the piano, but it's been ages. I've had a guitar for almost 9 years now, but I never really learned to play it. Whenever I hear beautiful music, whether it's classical, rock, or somewhere in between, I always wish I could play. Today I took my guitar out of its case for the first time in well over a year and started relearning a few chords. I don't think I'll ever be good enough to play in front of anyone, but if it gives me pleasure, then that's enough.

Two biggies: life (It's my birthday!) and veterans who have served and are serving our country.

November 12 - Fall Color
Seeing the beauty of the changing leaves each fall is one of the highlights of the season. I love the brilliant hues in all the reds, oranges, and golds. And it's usually right around my birthday that the colors start showing themselves. Thank You, God!

November 13 - Good Food
I learned how to make baklava today, and I can't wait to do it myself soon. At tonight's home team, Deb had made some scrumptious - and rich! - sopapilla cheesecake. Yum! And last Saturday at the SWIM event, I ate some of the best granola I've ever put in my mouth. It was homemade, and my friend gave me her recipe. :o)

November 14 - Rest and Relaxation
Well, I didn't take my nap today, but I did enjoy spending time at home with Caleb this morning. He was exhausted from his weekend retreat, and a late-night dose of Benadryl to offset a sudden allergy attack did nothing to help get him going Sunday morning. I stayed home from church with him so he could rest up, and it wasn't until nearly 11:30 that he perked up. While he rested and read, I did much of the same.

November 15 - Netflix
We just signed up for Netflix, and the few days we've been using it have been great! I got to watch an old favorite movie of mine - The Man from Snowy River - without having to borrow it from the library or drive to a Redbox rental to get it. It just streamed right through the Wii onto our TV. The boys have enjoyed watching several episodes of some of their favorite cartoons, and Billy has enjoyed watching old episodes of Pawn Stars. Today for science, the boys and I watched the National Geographic Explorer documentary Sea Monsters, about prehistoric marine animals. I can't wait to explore Netflix some more!

November 16 - Afternoon Walks
I finally got out to walk again after I don't know how long. It was nice to be out in the crisp, cool air. My iPod is a great companion when I don't have someone to walk with me. I really need to make this a regular thing!

November 17 - Calendars
Staying home a lot often leads to me getting my days confused. My calendar is a necessity, not only for helping me keep track of what day it is, but also for anything coming up that we've planned to do. Every year after Christmas, when calendars are on sale for 50% off, I choose one to get me through the next year. When I'm transferring important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) to my new one, it's always fun to see all the things we did the past year. And it helps me with my annual "Year in Review" blog posts. :o)

November 18 - Writing Opportunities
I've always loved to write, but I've never done much more than the usual drivel (and an occasional good post) in this blog. In August, I took on the task of editor of my Sunday school class newsletter. I'm responsible for planning the content of each month's issue as well as layout and design, contacting people for submissions (with the help of Deb Chisholm, the assistant editor and proofreader), and occasionally writing something myself. So far we've put out 3 issues and have gotten some great feedback. Last month, one of my former students contacted me about an online magazine she's putting out. I pitched an idea for her December issue that I'm currently working on; submitted an article for January's issue; and am fleshing out an article for February. It's not a paying gig, but it's good experience - and good practice.

November 19 - Short School Days
Every Friday is a short day for us since we have errands to run in town. We typically do language and math, then head out for lunch, the library, grocery shopping, and whatever else we need to do. I like only having to get out (usually) once a week.

November 20 - Good Sales
I'm not much of a shopper. When I need to buy something, I know what I want and where I need to get it - and I'm in and out and done with it. Christmas shopping is another matter entirely. No, I don't like it, but I can't go out armed with a list most of the time. I have to see things to spark more ideas on what to get for the people I'm buying for. After Billy's parents left with the boys earlier today, we went to the outlet mall to check on a few ideas for the boys. Not only were we able to get some good things on sale ($5 fleece vests for the boys!), but I was able to come up with a few more ideas to add to my list of things to buy. Maybe I can get this year's Christmas shopping done quickly...?

November 21 - Quiet
The boys have gone with Billy's parents for their Thanksgiving break. Today Billy and I vegged out in the living room and did pretty much nothing but watch a Pawn Stars marathon all day. I did a few loads of laundry, but it was mostly a do-nothing day - except for AWANA.

November 22 - Dave's Italian Roast
The IT Dept. has a soup day the week of Thanksgiving every year, and every year Billy has come home telling me how wonderful Dave's Italian Roast is. This year I finally got to go and taste it for myself. It's the best roast I've ever had. Well, I love roast with mushroom gravy, but this is different. It's a little spicy and a lot tasty. I went back for a little more - and I found out the recipe. I'm definitely going to be making this soon!

November 23 - Haircuts
It's been since March. Need I say more?

November 24 - Hair Color
Ahhhh, Sangria. It's been too long!

November 25 - Family Time
Every Thanksgiving, my parents and sisters meet us and my husband's aunts and uncles at his parents' house for an afternoon of feasting, visiting, and playing games. It's the perfect way to relax with everyone before the busyness of the Christmas season begins.

November 26 - No Shopping on Black Friday
I almost hate to shop. Need I say more?

November 27 - Naps on Long Rides
Put me in a moving vehicle for more than 30 minutes (sometimes less!), and I'm a goner. Within ten minutes of leaving Billy's parents' house, I was nodding off.

November 28 - Christmas Decorations
I like the bright little LEDs on our tree and the hodge-podge of ornaments hanging on it.

November 29 - Rain
Even though I'd rather drift off to sleep to the sound of rain hitting the roof, it's not too bad a sound to wake up to. It rained off and on for ahout 3 hours this morning. We desperately needed it!

November 30 - Christmas Music
I enjoy the decorations, but it's really the music that draws me in.