Saturday, June 30, 2012

Meeting a Judge at Church

Today I got to meet a judge! And this judge wasn't behind an intimidating desk in a quiet courtroom. She was just like any other person at our church. She's a real human being, not some scary enforcer.

I learned a few things from her today.

1. She was happy to answer questions about the court system as long as I didn't talk to her about a particular case.

2. A trial can be delayed by the defense for up to five years in California. The prosecution can't delay very long. So what seemed to us like a very inefficient system might just be the defense buying time to build up their case. So the birth family's murder trial may just be delayed because of their own lawyers, not because of the judge, the DA, or the court in general. Oh, and yes, they can all be tried for a crime at the same time with the same conviction, especially if it may be gang related. It doesn't matter if one of the group pulls the trigger, and another just helps him escape. They are all looked on as part of the same crime and can be tried together. That's something I'll have to drill into my kids' heads before they think of hanging with gang members or other questionable people.

3. Judges don't often see the good results of their rulings. They see when things go wrong, but rarely do people come back to tell of how well things have worked out. It's no wonder people involved with my kids looked at everyone, including us, in a negative light. We are thinking of going back to some of the legal team and social workers who have been involved in our foster/adoption. They need a bit more encouragement!

4. The Prop 36 program that the kids' birth mom is on is awesome. It is designed to help people with addictions to get the support they need to get off drugs and not just spend time in jail. The judge who runs it really cares for the people and wants them to succeed. Our new judge friend encouraged us to go to that court sometime to see how it's run. It has an upbeat feel, and people are applauded when they do well. She said it would be a great experience. I think it's really helped the birth mom. Even though she wants to have the freedom to not have to go through all the classes, tests, and check ups, I hope she will stay with it as long as possible. She really does well with the extra support.

5. Judges don't always like to have to make certain decisions, but they have to uphold the law. It doesn't matter if they think something, like foreclosing on an elderly woman's home or sending someone to jail for a minor third strike, is not moral or the best thing for those situations. They don't have as much leeway as one may think. The only way they can challenge a law is like everyone else, at the ballot box.

6. Even though I may not agree with this judge's political bent, she really has a good head on her shoulders and cares for people. She is very friendly and likeable. My view of judges is changing, just by meeting this one.

I'm so glad I got to meet this judge today at church.  I really learned a lot.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Grandson Time!

The past couple of days have been good. They have been good because I have been watching my grandson while his Green Mama helps her mama with her dog. He's had a great time here, especially looking at the planes. When he is outside, he points to every plane he sees, which is every few minutes since we are near the flight path of San Jose Airport.

Grandson Pointing to Another Plane
And even better, at least to Grandson, today was garbage day. He loved watching the garbage and lawn debris trucks! He squealed with delight! It doesn't take much to entertain this little guy!

Green Mama has been teaching Grandson sign language. He's picking it up pretty quickly. So now he's learning ASL, English, and Tagalog. I'm so glad he is being exposed to different languages. Even though it might slow him down at first, it will be good for his language development in the long run.

I also made a prefold diaper out of bamboo, organic cotton, and hemp today. Green Mama will wash it at home so that we can see how much it shrinks and then I'll make more. Grandson is quickly growing out of his old diapers!

I am so glad I'm able to spend time with Grandson. We are getting ready for a yard inspection for guide dog puppy raising. It was supposed to happen tonight, but will be tomorrow or this weekend. I didn't realize how stressful inspections still are for me. I had such a bad experience years ago when we had a surprise inspection because of a false accusation of abuse. The whole family, except for our two young foster kids, either had the flu or were just recovering and so the house fell apart a bit. We also had relentless rain which filled the pond up again that Hubby had drained, which was a big problem with the inspector. Oh, and Hubby had set up a tent in the living room so that the kids could be prepared for a coming camping trip. I was too exhausted from the flu to function. It didn't help that the kids freaked out every time they saw me lie down, keeping me from healing more quickly. So the inspection, which happened at the worst possible time, was pretty traumatic for me. So now, just the thought of having any kind of inspection causes so much anxiety. Hubby is understanding, though. I asked him if I can just go somewhere else while the yard inspection is happening, and he said he'd handle it. I don't expect any problems, but it's good for me to know I don't have to face that fear. Someday I know I'll need to deal with it. I just am not ready at this point. I'll just enjoy my grandson instead!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Only Six Months Until Christmas!

Today a friend posted on her Facebook page that there are only six more months until "ho ho ho"! Reading this is sending me into a mild panic. If I'm going to make many of my Christmas gifts this year I'd better start now, or I'll really regret it later this year.

So I put aside the major cleaning, sorting, and organizing for a couple of hours so that I can get some sewing done. Maybe if I work on Christmas gifts a little each day, I'll be able to get projects finished. I've already decided to set aside about half an hour a day for yard work, and it has really helped to get the outside areas more under control. I'm trying to do the same with organizing. Work tends to be easier in the long run if I work on things a little at a time, rather than tackle these type of projects all at once. I don't get as burned out. I can't sprint a marathon, but I can easily walk it in a week.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Solar Cooking

Today we are cooking a couple of things in the sun!

I'm making a chicken in our Sun Oven. I'm able to roast it without heating up my kitchen. It comes out so tender! I stuffed it with an onion and some rosemary and put it in a slightly greased pan that came with our oven. I just have to remember to move the sun oven around every so often so it faces the sun. In case you wonder whether or not the sun can heat up the chicken enough to cook it, here is a video I took of ours cooking. Do you see the juices boil?

Hubby is also using the sun to melt the cocoa butter for his chocolate. He found out that by putting it on a sunny windowsill in a jar, the cocoa butter melts well and he doesn't have to worry about scorching.

Other accomplishments today (and this weekend):

I sorted through two more boxes of paperwork and junk. Our bedroom is slowly getting less embarrassing. I found some things that Hubby can take on his trip to Nicaragua in August. If you know how much I hate sorting through stuff, you'd realize what an accomplishment this is!

Micro bio daughter sorted through our socks yesterday and worked on our backyard this weekend too! I am so thankful!

Hubby delivered more food yesterday and today to people in need. We also took a van load of food yesterday on the way to church to the people on the summit who had fires a few years ago and are still getting on their feet.

My shoulder doesn't hurt after getting prayer last night!

I picked another bowl of blackberries today. They are so good over vanilla ice cream! We will eat well today!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

I just had to include in the picture the blackberries I picked this morning!
Today I did something I haven't done for months, maybe years. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And I liked it! I didn't even use my home made blackberry jam. I used store bought strawberry. And I still liked it!

Why the excitement? Well, growing up our family didn't have a lot of money, especially after my dad went blind. I know what it's like to come home hungry from school and having only mustard in the refrigerator and spices in the cabinet. We ate a lot of oatmeal for breakfast and peanut butter for lunch during that season of my life. I got tired of oatmeal and peanut butter. Really tired of it! Eating oatmeal or peanut butter also brought back the anxiety of not having enough, even as an adult. I didn't mind the taste after awhile, but it still wasn't enjoyable psychologically. It brought back so many difficult memories. So I didn't eat either of them, even though I bought them for my family. 

So today, as Hubby was making a PB&J sandwich for lunch, I decided to try to see if eating peanut butter would bring up the feelings it did earlier. It didn't! Maybe after all these years I'm starting to heal. I'll have to try oatmeal soon!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Going to a Guide Dog Puppy Event

Tonight the guide dog puppy raising group had a picnic, and I was able to make it this time. I forgot to take pictures! I enjoyed talking to people about their experiences, and they gladly answered questions.  The dogs behaved themselves pretty nicely. This kind of event is part of their training. It was good to see Ms. D interact with the dogs and with the other people there. She talked to people, which is a pretty big thing for her. Usually she is pretty shy with people she doesn't know. But I think their connection with dogs helped break down the barriers.

A week from today we will be having a yard inspection. I'm glad that the lady who is doing our inspection seems more at ease and helpful than the other leader. I hope it goes well. At least we don't have school and it is supposed to be a bit cooler, so we can spend more time getting the yard ready.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I've Got the Blues!

I don't know if it's because my shoulder has been hurting for a week, I'm fighting the start of a migraine, spending the day sorting paperwork instead of at the beach because Ms. D has cramps, the ninety + degree heat, or something else, but I'm feeling kind of down today. I feel lonely, fat, and blah.

Fortunately I know that's not reality. My feelings may be wonked out a bit, but I know it's only fleeting. And if being on this earth for fifty years has taught me anything, it's the bad times are followed by good, and I have something wonderful to look forward to both in this life and in heaven.  I have so much to be thankful for. God. Hubby, Kids, Family, Friends, Health (other than a few aches and pains), Provision.

I am blessed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Help From A Friend

We have a neighbor who has been out of work for a couple of years. We actually are finding more and more people in their late fifties to early seventies that have been really affected by the economic downturn. We know people who have planned to retire but have to still work because the equity in their houses disappeared. There are others who had planned to keep working but lost their jobs. It's pretty difficult for people that age to find work, especially work that pays well enough to live here.

Although we are still struggling a bit, we are a lot better off than most. We still have our home. Hubby has a good paying job. We have enough to eat. And although we still have some debt from when Hubby was out of work, we are slowly paying things off. I'm so thankful we are doing well.

We also have been involved in a ministry that distributes bread and other food that has been "spoiled" in stores to various people in the area. Hubby picks the food up Friday nights and delivers it to group homes, sober living environments, and to people we know, like our neighbors who are out of work or struggling financially. Sometimes we give extra to people, so they can be givers also. There is nothing like giving to break a spirit of poverty.

We have been amazed at the extent of poverty in such a "rich" place like San Jose.  We've been finding more and more people who need help, but because poverty is such a new thing for them, they don't know what to do. Some are hoping the next interview will result in a job. Others are living on retirement savings that are quickly disappearing. Hubby overheard at a party one woman telling a friend that she was down to one meal a day. He delivered some food to her the next morning.

Although we are seeing more poverty, we are also seeing people give more. They are giving more of their time, their possessions, their finances. People pass on the extra food given to them, to others who need it also. Young families receive clothes and toys for their children from those with children who are a little older. We have even been blessed this week. One neighbor we have been giving food to looked on a neighborhood list and found a family who was remodeling and had a dishwasher they were giving away. Another person was giving away a small air conditioner. She asked us if we needed either one of them. One of our adult daughters lives in the attic and fans just weren't enough to cool her room down at night, especially on the 90 and 100 degree days we've been having lately. And even though I tried to fix the dishwasher, it still isn't working very well because of a bent part. So my neighbor was able to bless us by keeping an eye out for things we need. We are blessed!

I hope Hubby can spread this message to people in Nicaragua when he visits them in July. There is so much corruption, so much hoarding of resources, and a lack of care for community property. I understand how it feels when you have next to nothing and you keep whatever you have, even if you don't use it. I still do it to some extent. But I'm finding I'm healing by giving. I hope Hubby will be able to communicate it to his friends, so that they can be healed too. As they bless others, they will be blessed themselves.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mrs. Fixit Strikes Again!

Our dishwasher wasn't working well again and needed a couple of filters cleaned out. I learned a couple of things, though.

1. Don't try to fix something like a dishwasher that has many parts that have to be reassembled while watching a couple of young children, even if you have older kids helping. There are many distractions, like kids escaping outside, using a computer as a writing pad, or one child mistaking a little brother's mouth for a tennis ball. Wait until things are calm and you can work in one stretch so you remember where all the little parts belong. Of course, that still doesn't assure you'll remember where all the little parts belong, but it helps.

2. Saving time by holding the other screws in your hand while screwing in another is not really a time saver. It is too easy to drop the extra screws down holes you never knew existed. Although this time dropping two screws did help me to find another filter that was clogged, so I guess it wasn't all that bad.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sister Visit!

Today my sister and brother in law came down from Seattle for a visit. We always love to see them and have a great time. My brother in law loves to joke around with the kids. And of course it's always good to chat with my sister. We know each other well because we have grown up in the same house. This time we joked about how at the table growing up, we used to grab as much food as we thought we'd need and could get away with. Every man kid was for himself! It was only after leaving the house that we learned to make sure others had food as well.

My Sister With My Grandson
 Today we had our traditional pizza and bowling.

I'm so glad that my sister was able to come! I love my sisters!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Date with Hubby!

Hubby and I went out on a date yesterday! I'm sorry to say that we haven't done something like this in ages. Well, we've gone to some of our older kids for dinner, we went to meetings and called them dates, or we've gone shopping together. But doing something fun and out of the ordinary? We just have been too busy and distracted. That's not something I'd recommend!

So on this first official date in a long time, we went up to Sausalito to go on a sailboat ride with Ohana Sailing. I grew up sailing and racing, and hubby has been boating since he was a kid too, so it was pretty nostalgic. Of course, sailing in a large boat under the Golden Gate Bridge and around San Francisco Bay is a lot different than the little boats I've sailed on Midwest lakes! The views were beautiful! The wind was a bit stiff at times, so there was just enough splashing to make it fun.

Heading Out
If you are wondering why we were all bundled up when it was so hot in San Jose, it's really cool on the bay! I had on a hat, fleece coat, and my rain jacket, and I was comfortable! I was really glad for the jacket because a few waves splashed on board. Hubby had a special cover for his camera, so we didn't have to worry about ruining it, though there were a few water spots on the pictures.

Sailing Toward San Francisco

Hubby Under the Golden Gate Bridge

Happy Girl!

 After sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge, we sailed past San Francisco and around Alcatraz and Angel Island. The skipper and his wife were so knew so much about the history of the area, the America's Cup race and sailing in general. It brought back so many memories of racing. I'm so glad we went!
By the Bay in Sausalito
After sailing, Hubby and I walked about town, looking at art galleries and cute shops. I've never been to Sausalito before. We've always whizzed by on the highway. Every time I go to an art gallery or museum I get inspiration to do more creating myself.

One gallery in particular was full of art I really liked. The owner of the store was a lady from Venice, and loved to talk about the different artists and pieces. Hubby liked the t-shirts that were dyed with chocolate at a specialty t-shirt shop. Unfortunately, none were manly enough. I guess most people think chocolate is a girl thing! I loved the jewelry at one shop that was cast in leaf and flower shapes, a bit like my wedding ring. The jewelry was a bit spendy, but beautiful. Maybe casting jewelry something I'd like to try my hand at some day, as if I need another arts and craft thing to do! Hubby can do the stones, and I can do the metal. That might be another idea for us to do something together.

For dinner, we looked around for something the kids wouldn't like to eat. We settled on Thai food. Hubby had a seafood plate and I had chicken and spinach with a peanut sauce. We also splurged on deep fried coconut battered sweet potatoes. Wow, they were good!

We then walked around town to work off the food and came across a concert in the park. Here is just a taste of the event.

Doesn't all this look fun? Even though we probably won't be able to splurge like this for awhile, I think I'll have to make it a priority to spend more alone time with the man I love.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Black Berry Jam and Why is Sadie in the Bathtub?

I thought I'd show you a picture of the 8+ jars of blackberry jam I made last night. All eight of the cup sized containers I made to give away or save for later sealed! Happy Dance! I also put some jam in a jar I cleaned and reused that we can eat right away. It looks like we'll get a lot of blackberries this year. Even though the vines are taking over our back yard, I asked Hubby not to trim them back too much until after the harvest. Most of the blackberry vines are thornless, but we do have some which were mislabeled and scratch my arms as I pick them. But the bunnies still like to eat the leaves, so they get a treat as I clear out the brambles.

Lest you think I'm all Miss Perfect Homemaker, I do have a question. Why is Sadie the hamster on the edge of the bathtub?

I just can't figure that out. Photography son and his wife took Ms. D to the zoo today. Mr. I had a friend overnight, and then this morning another friend came over, and another, and another... I also have a ton of candles in the bathroom which weren't there when I picked up the dirty towels this morning. It's the only room that doesn't have a window and can get dark. Hmmm...noisy boys, candles, dark room, hamster? I just can't figure it out!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Can I Rest a Bit Now?

Wow! I think I need to take a breath and slow down a bit this evening.

The day started with the plan to drop Hubby off to his dentist appointment while I returned some leftover celery that we just couldn't find homes for during our normal food delivery. When I started to back out of the driveway, I noticed that the car was acting a bit sluggish. It wasn't the parking brake, it was a flat tire. So we transferred the box of celery into the van and continued on our way.

Next was a meeting with the regional center for Ms. D. It was good that Hubby came also, because it was pretty emotional for me. The regional center needs more info and more tests for Ms. D to see if she will qualify. I was a bit put out that they assumed that because she was home schooled, she wasn't being socialized. Anyone who knows anything about the home schools realize that most people don't sequester their kids in the house 24/7. One question they asked is if she went out into the community for walks, to friends, to the store, etc. at least once a week! How clueless can people get! Despite that, the meeting went fairly well, though I don't think the people there understand how FASD affects the brain. Just because people who have FASD can talk well doesn't mean they don't have some major deficits in other areas. All you have to do is look at some of the statistics, and you will see the need for a lot of support, which is now mostly filled by the criminal justice system.

The meeting was a bit stressful for Ms. D. She doesn't like talking about her life. So to lighten things up on the way there, we started to look around for humorous people on the road. I told her about how earlier today, I saw an old, beat up pickup with a makeshift tow bar and a scruffy guy behind the wheel. I told her it looked a lot like Mater in the Cars movie. Then we saw a middle aged guy in a convertible Corvette rocking out, singing, and seat dancing as he was driving next to us. Ms. D spotted a woman curling her eyelashes as she was changing lanes to go on an off ramp. We laughed and laughed! I hope Ms. D remembers this as one of her "good times"! While at the regional center, we saw an old friend that Ms. D knew when she first came to our home. It was really good to reconnect. Of course we talked awhile. Ms. D was getting pretty hungry by the time we finished, so we headed on over to an In and Out, which was her choice for lunch. She earned it!

The tire was still flat on our other car when we arrived home. The tire fixing fairies were slacking on their jobs, so after Hubby put the spare on, I went to the tire store. I spent a couple of hours in the waiting room, reading and trying to ignore the bizarre daytime television offerings.

On the way home, I visited Blackbelt Daughter at her studio and then got some jars so I can make some jam tonight or tomorrow morning. After I came home, the newly widowed mother of my neighbor stopped by. She, her mother, and grandson were waiting for my neighbors to come home from work and so they waited at our house. It was good to talk.

When they left, I started dinner. Ms. D and her friend had been waiting all afternoon for me to dye their hair, so I did it while I was making spaghetti. Despite my multitasking, their hair turned out pretty well. I wouldn't recommend trying that again, but I got away with it this time.

So now that everything has settled, I'm trying to figure out if I should attempt to make some jam tonight. The next few days are supposed to be scorchers, so it would probably be a good idea to do it while it's still relatively cool.  I just need to get my "get go" going one more time. We'll see if I can, or if I just vegetate on the sofa.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Perfect Day for Solar Power

Today is the perfect day for using the sun! One of the perks of living in California is that we get a lot of sunshine. I wish we had solar panels for electricity, but they are out of our budget right now. But we do have a Sun Oven, a clothes line, and little solar lights for the front yard.

I got a replacement Sun Oven for Christmas, and I'll be using it a lot this year. Today I'm cooking beef stew. I like the way my solar oven cooks food evenly and gently. It's almost like cooking in a crock pot, though the temperature gets up to about 350 degrees, hot enough to bake brownies! It's nice that it doesn't use electricity. But the best part is that the house stays cooler on these hot days.

I don't have a very large back yard, so I put the oven on our trampoline. Notice the clothes hanging behind the oven.  They dry really quickly on hot, arid days.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Getting Away

Not many would think that manning a booth at a homeschool conference would be energizing, but that's just what happened to me this weekend. I love encouraging people and talking with others about one of my passions. One woman remarked how cheery I was. That's because I loved what I was doing and it was so different from my day to day routines. I should remember to do something outside of the usual from time to time so that I can be refreshed. It wasn't completely restful physically, because of the long hours, the difficulty sleeping in a hotel room, and the long drive home. But it was restful emotionally and psychologically. So even though I am tired today, I am cheerful and content.

There were so many interesting people! I enjoyed talking to the missionary woman from Indonesia, the young father with three preschoolers who was checking out homeschooling, the couple from HSLDA who were expecting their first child, and the lady from a PSP who was rushing to put her booth together before she had to speak. A military mom came, confidently shaking my hand, and told me all she was doing for record keeping. She is so conscientious, she has been doing more than what is required by law to homeschool in our state. It was good to reassure her that she was doing fine.

People were so diverse! There were people of all nationalities, many different Christian communities, and people who had one child and others who had many. There were some women with head coverings and long skirts, and others in jeans. There were babies, young parents, teens, and grandmas. There was really more diversity than you would find in most churches, yet people were kind, loving, and encouraging toward each other.

One of the highlights of the two days was sitting in a booth next to a retired couple who had fostered and adopted medically fragile children. It was good to share stories of raising kids like ours with someone else who could really understand and not pass judgement. Sometimes even the best of parenting cannot erase the brain damage, past trauma, and mental illness that some of these kids come with. There are those who would quote Titus 3:4-5 and judge those who have taken children into there homes, raised them the best they could, yet the kids don't "turn out right". So talking to the couple next to me was refreshing, because they've walked the walk that I may have to walk in the future, yet they still have a love for their children and a heart for God and people.

It was a good weekend. I had fun. The house was clean when I came in the middle of house church. My two older daughters worked hard, cleaning and making banana bread. Ms. D draped herself over me when I sat down to the last few minutes of church. We had a number of new people, including another lady who homeschooled! I just couldn't get away from homeschoolers!

Hubby had gone to the neighbor's surprise birthday the evening before, talking to others with Asperger's and encouraging them. He found more people at the party in need of food, so when he delivered food yesterday morning he included them on his route. He also went to another neighbor's father's memorial service, representing our family. He said the music was beautiful, and Bob's two children shined in sharing their memories of their father. I wish I could have been there.

Oh, and last night about 1:00 I got a call from Mr. I. He had gone to a friend's house in a town about twenty or so miles from here and got sick. Well, all three boys in the house were sick with food poisoning at the same time. They think it was the Slurpies they drank earlier in the day. So even though I couldn't walk straight, I drove down to pick him up. He was chatty on the way back which kept me awake. It was interesting to see all the police on the freeway and overpasses checking for drunks. One group of about four police cars had a few guys sitting at the side door of a van. Mr. I told me he saw another young man who was stopped that looked like he was having a sobriety check. The police were sure busy! I've always told all my kids that if they ever feel uncomfortable with something at another house, are at a party where there is drinking and don't have a sober ride home, or even babysit and the parent driving them home is drunk, to call me and I will pick them up. I'll even pick their friends up and take them home. I'd much rather wake up in the middle of the night and pick people up at a house, instead of going to a morgue, a hospital, or a police station.

So today I'm tired, but happy. Maybe I'll take a bit of a nap.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Preparing for an Overnight Without Kids

I volunteered to man a booth this weekend in the Sacramento area for Chea, our state homeschool organization, months ago. At the time I was asked, our family had just gone through a three month string of hospitalizations and doctor visits. Escaping for a day and a half seemed like a great idea at the time, even though it isn't anything like laying around poolside in the sun. I really am looking forward to it. I love talking to people about homeschooling and encouraging people. It will be a nice change to talk to adults without my kids listening in on every word, even though they might not be in the same room. Sometimes I think the kids' hypervigilance is almost as tiring to me as it must be to them! It takes a lot of creativity on my part to ask people for prayer and support without saying anything about the kids, their birth family, or situations that happen during the week that are overwhelming to me. What makes it even harder is that the kids assume I am talking about them all the time. I really don't, even though they are a big part of my life right now.

Because I'm leaving later this morning and coming back tomorrow while our church meets at our house, I'm having to clean things up as much as possible. Of course it rarely is as easy as I would hope. We wrapped up the school year this week and I tried to fit as much as possible into the last few days. I also had a bit of a virus earlier this week that was pretty mild, but the aches and fatigue slowed me down. Ms. D caught it too, and she stayed in bed most of yesterday. That means I had less help cleaning. But Mr. I noticed, and he cleaned his messes up and did dishes yesterday without any prompting by me! I think this is a first! He even went up into the attic this morning to get a carry on for me. He is using his words, not weird behaviors, to tell me he doesn't want me to leave!

My family has a birthday party and a memorial service to attend so they'll be pretty busy too. But as long as everyone pitches in to do the finishing touches on the house before people come tomorrow, the house will be fine. I suppose this will be one of the times I'll have to relax and trust my family. If things fall apart while I'm gone, I'll have more practice in putting down my pride. But if I assume they will do well, I'll have a much better time. So that's what I'll do.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Guess I'm a Bit of a Science Geek Too

Hubby is a computer geek. Computers are a bit over my head, but I have to admit to being a science geek. I missed my Help One Child meeting because I got all engrossed with NASA's coverage of the Venus transit. I tried to get the kids to watch with me, but I couldn't get them to do more than glance for a minute or so. They were more interested in playing with their friends, even though I told them they probably won't see it again. It will be over a hundred years until we'll have another transit of Venus. Oh well! At least I found out that NASA has a pretty cool educational site. Bwaahaha!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Little Things to Be Frugal and Green

There are so many little things we can change in our lives to save money and be good stewards of the world God gave us. The little things we do may not make a big difference, but added up over time can make a difference. And just when I think I've got saving all figured out, others in my life come up with new ideas.

Yesterday we went to Green Mama's, my oldest son's, and my Grandson's house for dinner. We had veggie burgers and roasted cauliflower with rosemary and garlic. Yum! Green Mama is always learning how to be even greener! She's been eating healthier, cutting out the meat, and making more things from scratch. It has been easier on their pocketbook, better for the environment, and it's good for their health too!

I just have to include a picture of my grandson! Here he is showing us his neighborhood park and being silly with Grandpa! He loves green smoothies and wears cloth diapers. Green Mama is starting him off right. I wish I could have done that with Ms. D and Mr. I!

Today, Blackbelt Daughter had a great idea for saving water. We are having a rare June rain and her car was dirty. So she had the idea to wash her car and use the rain to rinse the car off. Since saving water is a priority in California, I thought it was a pretty cool idea! Our tap water is so hard, it usually leaves white spots all over the cars if we don't wipe it off right away. Rainwater doesn't do that. When the sun comes out, we'll be able to see the difference!

What are some other ways we can save money and be good stewards of the earth?

Some of the ways we save are:

1. Hang our clothes on the line instead of using a dryer. The kids don't like the stiff towels and jeans, but they soften up pretty quickly when they are used, or we can just fluff them in the dryer. I love the smell of clean sheets that are air dried! When we lived in Oregon I figured out we saved about $80 a month by air drying and using cooler water for washing.

2. Walk instead of drive, and if you must drive, combine trips. This one is fresh in my mind because Mr. I is obsessing on getting a shelf for his flag football trophy. I'm trying to get him to wait until we need to make another trip. Every time we go out in the car, we use up gas and spend money on stuff we don't need, but want. Which leads to...

3. Shop with a list, limit the trips to the stores, and beware of online buying. Planning. This can be a real saver. I sometimes forget that I already bought something like a one pound package of yeast, and end up with two large packages that take forever to use and take up room in the cabinet. A list helps me from over buying. I don't spend money if I don't go to a store, and am more likely to use what I already have. Online buying can save and it's a good way to get hard to find items, but sometimes it's too easy to click, especially when you are just a few dollars short of free shipping!

4. Go for what is reusable, rather than disposable. Diapers, napkins, washcloths, cleaning rags, jars, grocery bags...

5. Go for what is recyclable or what you can compost rather than throwing it in the trash. We once lived in the country where there wasn't garbage pickup.  I became very aware of what I was buying and how I would eventually dispose of the trash. We would go to the dump once a year. Now that I live in the city and have mandatory garbage pickup, we use the smallest garbage can available for our fairly large family. Even though we are probably doing better than the average, I find that I sometimes get lazy and throw out what I could put in our compost bin.

6. Grow it yourself, make it yourself, fix it yourself...or have someone in your family learn to do it. It's fun to make food from scratch, to sew, or to paint your own walls. Yes, it's a lot of work, but think of the money you're saving! Every time I cut someone's hair in my family, I think of the $20 I've saved. I've learned how to do a knockdown texture on my walls watching Youtube videos. And if I don't have the time or inclination to do something, maybe one of the kids can learn. My kids know how to change the oil in the cars better than I do!

7. Trade and share with family, friends, and neighbors. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Some love to cook and wouldn't mind trading a home cooked meal with someone who would mow their lawn. Babysitting is easy to trade, as long as you take into account ages, difficulties, and numbers of kids. Does everyone in the neighborhood really need a twenty foot extension ladder? We've freely shared some of our tools with neighbors, and have borrowed something from them at other times. My grandma and grandpa once lived in a community near a lake. Grandpa loved to fish and so he traded some fish he caught for a neighbor's fresh tomatoes. Each thought they had the best of the bargain. Both were blessed.

8. Don't go into debt, and if you are in debt, get out as fast as you can. We just paid off our Prius and the title came in the mail today!!! That will be $350 more a month that we can roll into paying off some credit card debt we accumulated from when Hubby was unemployed. The snowball method of paying off debt works really well as long as you stay away from any more borrowing. I should build up more in savings too, so that when we have car trouble, taxes, or dental bills, which were our biggest "surprises", we'll have a way to pay for it instead of reaching for the plastic.

Well, those are some of the ways we try to save. There are more, but this is a start. I don't do well in trying to change things all at once, and so I add a new way to save from time to time to make it a habit. I'm obviously not perfect in doing these things, but I'm working at it. I also have to take into account time and energy I have to live greener and cheaper. If I'm tired or stressed I tend to do what is easiest at the moment. But each of these little choices I have each day make a little bit of difference, which put together can make a big difference in our lives.


Mr. I and his flag football team won the tournament! He is still flying the next day.

On the way to the games, Mr. I was so anxious, he told me he thought he was having a heart attack. But he settled down, worked hard, and had a great time. It was really good for him to learn to overcome anxiety, listen to the coach, and not give up.  This was his first year of flag football, or any other team sport, because I wasn't sure he'd behave well on the field. He did far better than I had expected. He is a champion, not just because his team won, but because he overcame his fears and worked well with the rest of the team.
Mr. I running

Mr. I and his trophy
Mr. I (the shortest) and his team

Ms. D was also a champion by working hard when she went to her guide dog puppy class with Hubby. This time they walked all over Los Gatos. Hubby said she did a great job.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Last Horse Class

Yesterday was Ms. D's and Mr. I's last horse class at Victory Ranch.

After all the fussing the first couple of weeks, the kids both enjoyed themselves the more they got to work with the horses. They went from sullen, pouting, and disrupting the class, to smiling, participating and even giving Ms. Pat a hug. Mr. I even asked to come back sometime to visit  Dunnit, the horse he rode and came to love.
Ms. D, With a Big Smile, Riding a Horse
 Mr. I and Dunnit
Kids and Horses Graduates and Volunteers
In the evaluation for the class, one of the questions asked about any improvements in their behavior outside of the class. When talking about it with Hubby, I realized that not only did the kids overcome their fears about participating in a class with people they didn't know and working with large animals, but Ms. D has not had a pseudo-seizure since the class began, despite very emotionally charged incidents with the birth family. I also hope they learned that trying new things can be fun.

Friday, June 1, 2012


When the Israelites were camping for forty years in the desert after leaving Egypt, they experienced hunger, thirst, and the fear that comes from not believing God would take care of them. Well, after listening to their cries, God did provide food in the form of manna and everything else they needed. It always puzzled me that time after time they lost hope, forgot that God had just got them out of a bind, and complained that they were better off before they started their journey.  But God would come to their rescue and provide for them again and again, despite their whining.

I've been puzzled at their behavior, but then I realize I've done the same thing. Since I was hungry as a child when my dad became blind, I've tended to worry unnecessarily about finances. Sometimes I don't even realize that I'm worrying until I see that I've been collecting too much food and the cabinets are overflowing. I've laughed at myself many times because of my odd way of showing my lack of trusting God to provide for my needs.

An interesting thing has been happening lately that's been breaking my fears. A friend from church recently has started a ministry of receiving "spoiled" food from some stores and distributing it to those in need. There has been so much food, she asked others to help her distribute it. Hubby and I have been able to help her. I especially enjoy distributing food because I know what it's like to be hungry. There are so many people who have empty kitchens, despite living in such a prosperous country. We've found more and more people who need a little help in this difficult economic time. Hubby and I have given food to neighbors who are unemployed or struggling, a group home, an organization that has outreaches to disadvantaged, churches with soup kitchens, and many others. The more we look, the more we've found. Sometimes we come home with a van load of bread, meat, and produce. I don't know how we'd ever be able to pass all of it out, but in a few hours it is all in the hands of those who need it. Just like the Israelite's manna, we can't hoard the food, but pass it out to others, quickly and freely. The act of receiving the food and passing it out has been so healing for me. I think I've been blessed far more than those who get the food.

Another thing that excites me is that we sometimes give extra food to others so that they in turn can bless others they know. So those who have little are able to know the joy of giving and build their faith by giving to others. Being thankful and generous breaks the spirit of poverty.

A Food Box Given to a Woman With Health and Financial Difficulties

A Lot of Food Went Here Today