Minutes and seconds

Do you ever have one of those days or moments where you realize that life comes down to the minutes & seconds? Maybe you get stopped at a stoplight, and you're miffed. Then when you get through you come across an accident and realize if you hadn't gotten stuck at the light, it could have been you? Or some such?

Late start at school today. Plus it was -5, so I bundled both girls in snowpants to walk across the street to school. Captain America had shoveled the driveway to get out, but not the sidewalk, so we had to go around. Once we got onto the school sidewalk, Ella ran ahead a bit. I usually like her to walk with me, but today I thought it was fine. I called to her, to tell her she could go ahead. Once she got to her locker she should get her stuff off and Natalie and I would be right in. She stopped long enough to listen and by that time we caught up to her. It was right then that I saw an SUV kicking it in reverse and backing up pretty quickly. I grabbed the girls hands, because it was kind of heading for us. Then it stopped.

And I looked ahead of it. Where the giant school bus was barrelling backwards. It went up over the sidewalk we were walking on and landed in a snowbank. Probably about 10 feet from a classroom window. The driver of the SUV hopped out, and ran to the bus to see if anyone was on it. Another person ran out of school to check it too, followed closely behind by the driver of the bus. Sounds like the driver had parked the bus in front of the school door and gone inside, and the brake had slipped. Well that was scary, I thought. But I was just glad no one was on the bus, and the SUV driver had the presence of mind to get out of the way, and that no one was on the sidewalk there at the time.

So I dropped Ella off and went home with Natalie.

Where I freaked out.

Because I thought about it.

The bus had gathered some decent speed by the time it hit the snow bank -- it rolled at least 6 ft into a good sized bank. 30 seconds later, and we would have been walking in that spot. If the sidewalk had been shoveled, that was 30 seconds. We could have left 30 seconds earlier. I had almost just let Ella run ahead about that far.

I can be sort of a chicken little/drama queen. But it's just made me think how often our lives come down to 30 seconds. Or minutes. Split second decisions. How easily things can change. And I feel confident that God is there in those seconds. No matter how they end. This morning we watched it from a relatively safe distance. Had it ended differently, I know God would have been there all the same.

In any case, no matter how I complained about all the snow yesterday, I'm glad it was there today. Too much snow to take the sidewalk in front of our house. Enough snow to stop the bus before it got to the window of that classroom. So (at least for a few days), when I want to complain about the extra FOOT or so of snow we've gotten a couple of days before March, I will bite my tongue.


Welcome to Narnia!

Before Aslan comes. The land of eternal winter.

It's snowing. Again. It started at 7 a.m., and at 7:45 they decided to close school at 9 a.m. It starts at 8. So Ella went over for an hour of school. Which I suspect was a little book & puzzle time, followed by breakfast, followed by get your things back on you're going home. I didn't attempt to take Natalie to preschool, because they usually close when the schools do.

So I'm home. Shoveling. Listening to the high volume of fighting. Or playing. It sounds so alike these days.

I have made The Announcement. I will not be listening to fighting all day. There will be no screaming. There will be no crying. If you need something, you will ask for it nicely.

They have gone to the playroom in the basement. What does this tell you?


Works for Me Wednesday - Credit Cards

Works-for-Me Wednesday has actually moved to We Are That Family's blog. In any case, I wanted to share how Captain America and I rack up the credit card every month, and pay it off every month, earning ourselves cash or gift cards in the process.

Ever since we've been married (10 1/2 years), we've put everything we can on the credit card every month. Target. Gas. Groceries. Restaurants. Everything. Every. Thing. But the trick is, every time we make a purchase on it, we write it down in our checkbook as if we had written a check (or used a debit card), only we code it VISA instead of a check number. That way the money is subtracted out of our checking, and we consider it gone. When the bill comes, everything is accounted for. We sit down with the bill and the checkbook, and mark each item off. Then if we've missed one (it is McDonald's, never fail) we write that into the checkbook. And then we pay the card off online (the entire amount is already subtracted out of our checking, just by the individual purchases throughout the month).

We have never carried a balance. We have never been charged interest. Meanwhile, we're getting points on a rewards card, and every couple of months we either get cash or gift cards for bonus spending. Since we use the card so much, our points add up quickly. We also happen to have a card that gives us triple points for gas, grocery store & drugstore purchases. Sometimes we get cash as our reward, and we split it for some extra fun money to blow. Last time we were able to cash out $300 in Target gift cards to cover a few of our regular Target trips. That was free money, because we never paid a dime in interest and our card has no fees.

It's also like giving yourself some revolving credit. We sometimes let ourselves go a little in the hole in checking, because a good deal of the money is on the card and we'll get more paychecks before it needs to be paid. It just gives us a little flexibility.

The key is, you HAVE to be diligent about it, and write down every single purchase you make on that card. I usually just hang on to my receipts, and then write them into the checkbook every few days (ideally, but I sometimes forget and then have a bunch to do after a week or two). In the meantime, we have built up some great credit, we've always paid the card off every month, I'd bet we've saved a bit in using less checks, and we get some great rewards just for using a credit card instead of a debit card. See? Credit cards don't have to be evil.

I have to give COMPLETE credit for this process to Captain America. It never would have occurred to me. Left to my own devices, I would probably be swimming in credit card debt. But being married to Mr. Financial Responsibility sometimes has really nice benefits. Like Target gift cards.


Hey. Remember me?

It's not that I don't have anything to say. There's so much going on. It's just a challenge to put together coherent thought. NOT THAT IT'S STOPPED ME BEFORE.

Last week was crazy. Natalie got a little fever Monday night. With ibuprofen it would go away. She was playing. Feeling good. Just warm. Tuesday afternoon. She's fine. Next thing I know, she's all red, can't get up, and the ear thermometer says 106. 106!!! We hightailed it for the doctor. Remember how I live in Lake Wobegon? Yeah. I sang in high school choir with the nurse practitioner we saw. And you know what? She was awesome. She was great with Natalie, she explained the slew of tests and their findings well.

Starting with the strep test. Because her tonsils were swollen & yucky. Certainly it must be strep. Natalie had said it felt like there was a frog in her throat. So NP said she needed to tickle the frog with the big qtip. Natalie thought that was funny. Until she did it. Results: negative.

Then there was the flu test. Do you know what they do for a flu test? They shove giant skinny qtips up your nose. She told Natalie she had to try and get to the frog that way. Again, it was funny until she did it. Then it made Nattie gag. Results: negative.

Next stop, a urinalysis and blood draw. Oh good. It was definitely a challenge to convince her to pee in the cup. And the blood draw was just ugly. Brennan held her down and held her face so she didn't look. I held her arm in place. Lab Girl did the sticking & drawing. Not our happiest family moment. Blood results: not bad. Evidence of infection fighting. Low-ish hemoglobin, we should get her to eat more red meat & leafy greens. No problem on the leafy greens, good luck on the red meat. Urinalysis results: Holy infection, Batman!!! She explained the numbers, but I've since forgotten. All I remember is the number that was supposed to be 0-5 was 50-100.

Poor Natalie had a bladder infection. With apparently no symptoms but a fever. Because she says she hadn't been in any pain at all. After starting around 4:45, it was now 6:30. And because we live in Lake Wobegon, I had to bolt for neighboring Bigger Lake Wobegon to get to the Target pharmacy (everything here was closed by then). We pumped that girl full of ibuprofen, tylenol and amoxicillin, and put her to bed.

Meanwhile, our sweet Ella was at Grandma's, telling Grandma that they should pray for Natalie because she was so sick.

Natalie wasn't down for long. By the next afternoon she was pretty perky again. And by Thursday she was bouncing off the walls and fighting with her sister again. And I kept trying to remind myself how glad I was that she felt better, so I should be happy to hear the fighting.

* * * * *
In other news, I got my permanent crown today. The dentist was very concerned that the lab had sent a white gold crown instead of yellow gold. I told him I just wanted to chew, and I didn't think anyone would be looking to closely at my back molar. If I had known I should have picked, I would have chosen white gold anyway. It feels weird, but I think after a month I was just used to the temporary crown, and they feel nothing alike. This one feels shiny & costly. (bonus points for that vague song reference)


Friday's Fantastic Festival of Facts!!

I don't know what that means. But everyone always has these catchy day-related titles. I feel scatter brained & random today.

Natalie (3) has started making use of manipulative threats. Yesterday as Captain America was heading back to work after lunch she said, "NO. You can't leave. If you do, I will NOT eat, I will just sit here and whine. For 60 minutes." Then at rest time she wanted a movie. I said no, after your nap you can watch one. "Then I will NOT nap. I will NOT listen to music. I will just lay in my bed and whine." For what it's worth, she does not follow through on the threats. Yet.

At Christmas Ella (5) felt we needed a gift for her teachers. Her teachers are apparently any adult that has ever crossed her path at school. The same was true for Valentine's. We needed to send one for the music teacher, even though he'll be gone, AND we need one for his sub. Etc, etc. I think it's nice though, that she remembers everyone. Including the woman who visits them once a week or so to teach them sign language.

Natalie is observant. I mean above and beyond observant. Yesterday she saw a big beach towel in the bathroom that has a spikey sun on it. "Mom, did you get this at Pamida?" I wasn't sure what she was talking about at first. Then I remembered the Pamida logo has a spikey sun in it. We drive past it on the way to preschool.

I need more tea. So far on my Teavana wish list I have the rooibos chai, the kamiya papaya oolong, and the zingiber ginger coconut. I'd like to go to the store and sniff them, but this is probably not the best use of resources since the closest one is 2 hours away.

Had a fascinating talk with Ella about God. And how He can even hear your thoughts. Ella seemed kind of relieved. Apparently there's a little boy in her class that they have a hard time understanding when he talks. "You mean God knows what he's saying all the time?" She thought that was pretty cool for that little boy.

I'm ready to stop wearing boots. I would love a new pair of wedge sandals. I have my eye on these. And these.

Are you doing something wonderful for Valentine's Day? I'm going to a wedding. Of people I don't really know. It'll be a nice date though, and I can dress up a little.

Ok then. Until next time.


Thankful III

I am way overdue on a Thankful list. And I'm feeling like my attitude has shown it.

So. Back at it.

Today, in this moment, I am thankful for:

Music. I love music. Favorite songs & artists change by my mood. I love what a good song does when I feel reflective. Or the way it can bring you back to a moment with the first few chords. I'm on our church's praise team this week, and we're doing a song I don't think we've ever done before. But the song was on our constant playlist for Intervarsity when I was in college (Shoutout to the IV peeps -- it's "Light the Fire" -- the "Don't let my love grow cold" one). So just like that I am time warped back to my sophomore year and Mike is breaking guitar strings weekly and Schreiner is coming up with amazing bass intros and the room is full of people who can't get enough Jesus and then we're going to Applebee's for appetizers and I can vaguely remember what life was like before it got so busy and there was no plan past next week. Within about 4 chords. Amazing.

Tea. I can't say it enough. I blame my recent cold on the fact that I stopped drinking tea for a while. I'm scraping the bottom of the Teavana tin, and this is not good.

Captain America. I am really very lucky.

My job. As stressful as it can get to try and work from home with a demanding 3 yr old running around and her and the 5 yr old screaming at each other when she gets home from school, I am so thankful for this. I was struck with it this morning how lucky I am to be drinking pretend tea and eating pretend fries with ketchup while I typeset forms. (Thank you to Kelly @ Love Well for reminding me today that there's another way of looking at things)

Internet and my imac. This is what's making it possible for me to be home. And it's what makes it possible to keep in touch with friends (real and cyber), thereby saving a shred of my sanity. And, hello, online window shopping. I heart you.

Betty Crocker's low fat brownie mix. Hello sweet chewy deliciousness that I justify with the words "but it's low fat." Thank you, Monica, for introducing me to this life changing brownie last summer.

A few days of warmer temps. After over a month below freezing, we had a few days of high 30s. Tropical, I know. And the rain did some damage to the huge amount of snow that was piling up. Only now it has all frozen. And we had 3 falls on the short walk to school today. But that's ok. It was warmer than freezing for a little while.

Dearest readers, I am thankful for you. Few though you may be, sometimes a little blogging is therapeutic. And never fail when I'm in a quandry someone comes to my rescue. Awww...group hug!!


My new favorite Facebook application

Ok, my confession for today is that I'm a Facebook junkie. I need my fix. But I really have to tell you about my new favorite application, because it's the best yet.

For some reason, I have a subscription to Lucky magazine. Because I apparently like to know what $5K bag is in style, even though I will never own it. In any case, I recently got an email from them saying, "Hey, check out our new Facebook application" and I thought that was dumb, why would I do that? But I looked a little closer and HOLY CATS! How cool!

I had to install the application to my Facebook and my browser - easy peasy. I shall now bring you through a tour of My Lucky Wish List.

So I'm surfing the web... looking for who knows what... when I come across this cute dress on Ann Taylor Loft.

So I think it's cute, and what if I want to come back to it later? Will I remember where it was? HA. I can add it to my wish list. See up there in the toolbar of my web? Here...

I just click on that while I have the dress up. And then I get this...

I choose the thumbnail picture I want to use. I can add a comment. Maybe an idea of where I could wear it, or the color I'd like it in, or WHATEVER I WANT. Then I click post, and it's posted into my Facebook app.

Which I can later click through to see all the things I've saved, from however many websites.

Like this...

Ah yes... I love these shoes. In brown patent snake. If I click on it from Facebook, it takes me to the shoes on endless.com where I found them.

Or here...

Look at this super cute purse from Coach! My Wish List is handily on my Facebook profile in case any of my friends or, perhaps, Captain America, would need a birthday gift idea. I'm just sayin'. Alright, FINE. But a girl can dream.

Anyhoo. I love this thing, and when Big Mama put up a Mr. Linky for Fashion Friday, I had to share. (You can add it to your Facebook profile by searching the applications for "My Lucky Wish List.")



Oh virtual friends, I have a confession. SHHHH. Between you and me. Or you and I. Certainly my sister the English major will help me out there.

I like dogs. I do. My dog and I were inseparable when I was growing up. I loved that dog. I am partial to medium-sized and smaller dogs. They're nice, when they belong to other people and don't bark.

Captain America and I have vowed to live a dogless life. We want our freedom to go away for the weekend without finding dog care (not that we do that, but we COULD). We don't want to worry about the dog needing to go out (even though I work at home all day). We don't want to pick up dog poop. I don't want dog hair, or dogs jumping on couches and beds. I don't want dog smells. I REALLY don't want a dog that doesn't ALWAYS do doggie business outside.

I say this to remind myself, I don't want a dog. I do not. Want. A. Dog.

Despite the fact that S.'s mom brought their insanely cute lovie puppy to preschool today at the end of the day, and Natalie was chasing him all over outside and was in doggie love and it was enough to put a tiny chink in my I-don't-want-a-dog armor and I think Natalie sensed this and added "Mommy? It would be so fun if S. came over to play and brought her doggie Max..." Ouch. Kid, you are killing me!

I don't want a dog.

I think maybe Max was a Bichon. Please tell me how awful these dogs are. Even though this one let half the class pet him all at once. Without nipping or barking.

I don't want a dog.


Day 3

It was Day 3 of no Captain America. We were all doing surprisingly well until about 5:30 today. They're starting to miss Daddy, so I'm losing them. They're done listening and are rather cranky. I have lost my steam. Thank you Jesus, he comes home tomorrow. I don't think the cabin fever of more below freezing and below zero temps have helped either.

I am not a rough houser. I am the paranoid mom of girls. I see every near injury. So I generally don't even watch the rough housing. Needless to say, the girls are missing it.

Today the girls told me their favorite thing about Daddy is when he plays Tickle Monster. Their favorite thing about me is a hug (I was so relieved. I had braced myself for something much less lovey. Like "I love when you let me do what I want" or something).

I made a funfetti cake today. Because nothing announces "Daddy's gone but we're still having fun dagnabbit" like funfetti. After one piece Natalie announced she wanted another one. I said no. "Then I'm not giving you any monkey hugs." Nice. Moment one for today of my children trying to lord something over me.

Then they had baths, but each cried because they had to miss part of Mary Poppins (it's working -- an obsession to replace Annie!!). Generally speaking, baths are my least favorite parenting task. There's not much I mind doing with my kids, but I don't enjoy bathtime. They fight over who goes first. I have to argue through hair washing. "Tilt your head back, lean back, farther, tilt it more, just tip it back, tip, Tip, TIP..." Then they refuse to get out. "But I haven't gotten to play yet." And then, I have to drain the tub and start all over. We cry through hair combing. We want to hang out in robes all night and never get dressed. But tonight, in an effort to miss as little Mary Poppins as possible, we whipped right through it.

Then for fun, they got mad at me about something else and Ella said, "Well I don't want bunk beds anymore. I want my room back," because she is only 5 but still has an idea of how to be manipulative. They always go right back to wanting to share a room, because I think they feel more safe having each other in there. But I'm getting tired of the argument. While I love having an office, and moreso love having my kitchen/dining area back, they don't ever really let me be alone in here anyway. Either they're in here all the time, or they're running & yelling past the door. So I'm torn.

Captain America, come home. I'm not even coherent without you here anymore.


All by MYself... don't wanna be...all by MYself...

Captain America flew the coop for warmer temps. A "work conference" is his flimsy excuse. And it's Dallas, so it's not like it's a tropical island or anything, but there's no snow on the ground there. And it wasn't -16 in Dallas this morning.

I'm pretty sure God brings me these weeks to remind me I'm in a partnership. Because when Captain America's gone, I miss him. And all the things he does around the house and with the girls. Watching American Idol together. Chatting online because he's in the living room and I'm in "the office" and the girls are sleeping.

Anyway, we're getting by here. Ella's shown some real interest in presidents lately, so I got her an Abraham Lincoln book out of her Firefly Scholastic catalog. Which, of course, led to me having to explain slavery to a 5 year old last night. Stemming out of "Why did they SHOOT HIM??" and followed by a series of "Why did ____?"

I actually managed to get up, get showered and have all of us out the door before 8 for school. I was the helper at preschool today. So thankful the kids were pokey, and didn't have time to go outside.

Natalie and I went to Target, and picked up lunch at Arby's. This afternoon we all watched Mary Poppins. I'd forgotten how long it is. But it was fun to sing along, and the girls loved it. I'm hoping it takes Annie's spot for a while and they forget about Annie til they're a little older. Before they start singing the "Dumb Dog" song or asking what gin is and why Miss Hannigan drinks so much of it and why does Miss Hannigan kiss so many men? I'd prefer "Spoonful of Sugar" for now. (The girls LOVE musicals. Any you can think of that are age appropriate, or really just not awful, for a 3 & 5 yr old, I'd love some suggestions)

Then we worked on Ella's homework. Which is really just reading a book that she brings home from school in addition to her library book. Some of them are really easy. Since, you know, it's kindergarten. But tonight's book had words like "vacation" and "surfboard." And I'll be darned & kicked in the butt if she didn't read those words with ease. But my favorite was when she said, "We read it like that because there's an excited mark!" And then, "That one has a mystery mark." So I felt obligated to correct her, despite the cuteness. "Honey, it's a question mark." "Well I like to call it a mystery mark, because it's a mystery."

I wonder how long she can get by with that in school...