Friday, May 29, 2009

You Know You Need to Diet When....

This is a true story. You know you need to diet when....

After enjoying a campfire in your backyard and eating a big dinner, you sit on the toilet and it BREAKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Come on now, I know I could stand to lose a few pounds, but breaking porcelin?!!!!!!!!! There goes $150 down the drain. ha ha. Down the drain! I CRACK myself up! CRACK! My friends try to make me feel better and tell me that it must have had a hairline fracture. Hairline fracture, my bu**! There I go again. It's a good thing I have a sense of humor. I never did like that toilet anyway. So, there.

But this does remind me of another humbling time. It was back when Joe and I lived in our "cabin" in Wawona (Yosemite). The entire cabin was 125 square feet for a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom. I was cooking ribs one day in the crockpot, but since we had no countertop, I had the crockpot on a TV tray. I turned around in my "kitchen" and my big rump knocked over the TV tray, sending the crockpot crashing to the floor, along with my delicious ribs. Dang. They looked so tasty laying there on the floor with shards of crockpot scattered. You know you need to diet when.....

Monday, May 25, 2009

Such Sweet Boys

Memorial Day Weekend, the carnival comes to town. Whenever we go to a carnival or fair, the boys know that we only allow them to go on one ride. We walk around first and decide which ride to go on. Otherwise, you could spend a fortune on rides. And the funny thing is, the boys know this and expect to only go on one. They don't even fight us.

Well, this time, Jack decided on the roller coaster. I gave the man our $6 (robbery!) and strapped the boys in. Jack was soooooooooo excited. He was beaming from ear to ear. Joshie was not too sure. He started out fine, but every round he got more worried. At last, he started to cry.

Jack is so sweet. Instead of just smiling and enjoying his roller coaster ride, he bent over his brother (they were sharing a seat) and consoled him. Remember, Jack knew that he was only going to get this one ride and he could have just ignored his brother and kept on having fun. But instead, he took care of his brother. So sweet. I love my boys.

"New" Boat

You are probably thinking, what are they doing buying a boat? Well, let me tell you. First and foremost, when we moved here, Joe gave up his boat. He had a little fishin' boat, motor, and trailer. He got it dirt cheap because it needed a lot of work. In fact, the motor wasn't even running when he got it. But, you know Joe, he got it working and patched the boat and made it ours. We used to spend the summer on the lakes, with Pepper in tow. Joe's first Father's Day was spent at Mammoth Pool with me, Pepper, and Jack. But, we moved just a few short weeks after that and just couldn't find a way to bring it with us....

Now, if you know Joe at all, you know he is a fisherman. He enjoys fishing streams and shore fishing, but his passion is trolling. He loves to find quiet coves. To find the inlet. And he hasn't been able to do that for 3 years. When we moved here, the draw was that there are 80 lakes within 80 miles. And some of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen. Not big CA lakes with commercialism. But, secluded, pristine, high in the pines lakes.

Since Joe has been feeling better, I have had a passion for finding a boat, trailer, and motor for him. I had a budget. I surfed the internet. I asked friends. Most motors alone cost over a $1000. We just don't have that kind of money laying around for a hobby. So, I kept searching.

Things have been doing better here. Joe has been working over time with the ice company. Something about warm weather, summertime crowds, and holiday weekends have people buying lots of ice. I say, "Support your local economy. Buy ice!" When Joe does get a free day (or sometimes after work), he has been doing his business again. And that is jumping! He can't keep up. So far, we have been socking away all that extra money to save for winter, because ice is going to dry up in the winter, as will his business. And then we got this blessing...

Joe's dad came into town unexpectedly. I love Joe's dad. He's Joe, 40 years older. Laid back. So good with the kids. Sweet. Fisherman. Like I said, he's Joe, 40 years older. Well, he has been watching the boys while we are working. So, I don't have to pay a babysitter. For two weeks, that's $300. Then, the other day, Joe took his dad to the casino. We don't gamble. Ever. But, his dad enjoys it and since he has been working so hard babysitting, it was his little treat. I'm telling you, we don't gamble. Joe had $13 in his pocket. He figured that he could play that money while his dad played for awhile. He put $1 in the first machine he saw when he walked in. BAM! Two hundred dollar payout! Cash out, time to go! So, we now have an unexpected $500.

Then, Joe's boss says to him, "I have a boat, trailer, and motor. I am selling my house and my realtor wants it off the property. Can I store it at your house? In fact, do you want to buy it?" Joe asked how much. $450. Is that amazing or what? So, now Joe has cash to pay for it, plus extra money for life vests.

The boys were so excited when he pulled it into the driveway. They climbed into it and didn't want to get out. I am so happy for my husband. He deserves this so much. He is such a hard worker and he never complains (well, only when he's not working). He is a loving husband and a WONDERFUL, top-notch father. I can only imagine the fishin' trips now, with the two boys. Oh, the memories we'll make....

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

All I will say is this... this is the couch.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bike Rodeo

Our little town does some amazing things sometimes. We have an annual Bike Rodeo, which has tons of free activities for kids. We did it last year, but since the boys are older this year, they got more out of it. First, they went in the bounce house and jumped around for a bit. Then, they saw the miniature horse and alpaca. They got free bike helmets. We had a free BBQ. They had raffles for free stuff (like bikes and bike accessories), but we didn't stay that long. They got to sit in the fire truck. They got to go inside the fire safety house. This was their favorite.

It just looks like a regular RV trailer from the outside, but inside is a little kitchen and benches for you to sit on. They talk to the kids about fire safety around the home, like going out the door or window if there is a fire, not touching the pot on the stove, etc. They sounded a smoke detector, so the kids would know what it sounds like and wouldn't be scared. Then, they had this special attachment in front where they can set something on fire and then put it out with sprinklers.

I honestly thought the fire safety house would be too scary or just too advanced for them. No way. They loved it. And since then, Jack has been talking about fire safety. He asks me about 3 times per day to tell him a "fire story". I'm glad we went and I look forward to more fun events in our little town.
P.S. Since then, the boys got to do "fire" again. Saturday was "Fill the Boot" day and all the fire trucks and ambulances were out at the grocery store. The boys were excited just to see the trucks, but one nice fireman offered to let them get in the truck. They looked so small in there. Those things are HUGE inside. Then, when the boys gave him their quarters, he gave them these fire helmets. Jack goes EVERYwhere with his helmet. He even wore it to church that night.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Sorry I haven't posted anything fun lately. This end of year paperwork for teaching is killing me. You think that kids are the only ones who count the days.... Let me tell you. Ahhhh! And the paperwork is amazing! But, all my files are due today (which included over 300 assessments), so I should return to Susan-as-usual tomorrow. Until then...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Coolest website

So, you know that I love technology. I especially like it when it makes my life easier and more streamlined. I found the coolest, free website.
It took about 5 minutes to set up, but here's what it does. It syncs with my Outlook Calendar at work. I can set up the calendar to be color coded for all the boys in the house.
The screan saver finds all my photos and makes this cool collage. I can type in my shopping list and then if I forget it at home, I can have it texted to my phone.
I could send Joe messages to his email or his cell phone.
It has a blog page, but I already have a blog (you're reading it right now).
Check it out. I'm loving it with my Google Sidebar. How did I exist before these things?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Brand New Backyard

So, I just realized that I haven't blogged about our "new" swingset yet. We are so blessed. We basically have a brand new backyard for free.

First of all, we have the best backyard ever! It borders undeveloped forest and the view is fantastic. There is a trail through the forest that leads to Show Low Lake. I have taken the boys on many walks through there. The backyard itself is great too. It has a lawn for the boys. Shade trees. Fruit trees. And a fire pit! A real, bona-fide fire pit.

And now it has a swing set. The other weekend, a friend of mine called to ask if we wanted a swing set. I said, "of course!". She said to come and get it. She is selling a house and the property had a set. Sherri just asked if I could have it. And the lady said yes. The boys just love it. Jack is already a pro at swinging himself.

But, we needed a table/chair set and a bbq. God is so good. Remember how I blogged a few months ago about our "new" entertainment center? A lady was moving and another realtor friend of ours gave us some furniture. One piece was an entertainment center. Another piece was a glass-top dining room table and 3 chairs. We put that in the garage with the intention of selling it at the yard sale. We already have a wonderful dining room table and 4 chairs. Well, our yard sale came and went and the table didn't sell. I was a little discouraged at the thought of having to store it again in the garage for months on end. Then Joe had a brilliant idea. He suggested we use that table and chairs for our patio furniture. It's perfect.

Now the bbq. We had a bbq in CA, but it was a cheapy one and had seen better days. It didn't quite fit on the UHaul when we moved, so we figured we would buy a new one when we moved. Well, then we found out I was preggers and all our money went to that. So, long story short, we have had NO bbq for 3 years! I know, I know. I can hardly believe it myself. We have used our kiva for a bbq. A kiva is like an outdoor fireplace. Perfect for the southwest. Of course, we dreamed of buying a bbq, but they are expensive! Last summer, our neighbor bought a new one and gave us her OLD, old, old one for free. It needed work. Joe tightened things up and put in a new ignitor. All we needed was a tank. So, for the price of a tank, we have a "new" bbq.

If you live close by ( or even if you don't) come over! We want to bbq and eat outside every night.

Hospital Blessing

So, it comes as no surprise to you that money is tight around here. I get a teacher income (even lower in AZ than it was in CA) and out of that I pay for health insurance for all of us. Also, what remained of that would cover all our bills, until just recently. (Joe just got a small raise). I am grateful for our health insurance, especially now that Joe has been diagnosed with Kidney Disease. Although we pay nearly $500/month, the insurance only covers 80%. That was no big deal when we were all healthy, but this was a hard winter. I had pneumonia in October. Jack got it in November. And Joe was hospitalized in December. All these contributed to high ER and hospital bills.

I had contacted the hospital before and told them our woes and they put us on a payment plan. I was faithfully paying a little each month, but they had a rule where accounts had to be paid off in 12 months. Well, the bills just kept coming and I couldn't keep up. I tried to be a faithful servant, but it was getting close. It was getting down to paying the hospital bill or buying diapers. So, we called the hospital again and asked for any assistance. Maybe they could stretch out our payments to 2 years. Maybe they could waive some of the fees. We filled out a ton of paperwork and then waited. And waited. And waited. In fact, we waited so long I thought they were trying to wait us out to see if we would pay. And then today, I opened the mail....

The letter explained that they have completely, 100%, fully erased our debt! All $2909! And think, that is only our 20%! We are still grateful that my insurance agreed to cover the other 80%. This makes me think of Someone else who has 100% erased my debt. And those wages were more than $2900, they were death itself. I am forgiven. If you haven't experienced forgiveness or have any questions about God, call or email me. I would love to share my experience with you and help you find peace.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Field Trip

In Arizona, the Fourth Grade field trip is the Grand Canyon. We debated on not going, as our school is tight for money and bus drivers. But, we started to ask our students how many of them had ever been to the GC. Only one! We only live 3 hours away, yet only one had ever been. So, we decided to take the kids on a Saturday and have the parents pay as much as they could. I'm so glad we took them.

We didn't all fit on one big bus, so we took another smaller bus. We call it the lunch box (don't really know where that name came from). I took turns driving with a friend of mine. As soon as we got to Holbrook, the kids started to get excited. Excited about the strangest things. They noticed that a gas station had a digital display. They oogled over it. Then a train was driving alongside the highway. The kids all ran to one side of the bus to count the trailers on the train. And each time we went under an overpass, they got excited, shouting, "bridge!". Remember, I teach 4th grade, not kinder. They just never get off the rez.

And they are so sweet. One girl pulled a half-eaten apple out of her backpack, to snack on. Half-eaten! How many of us would have thrown that away and paid big bucks for another snack? Anther girl had a bag of pretzels, and instead of eating them all by herself, she shared with everyone on the bus. So sweet. In the gift shop, the kids had a few bucks to spend. Instead of buying things for themselves, almost every child bought something for their mother. Even my "hardest" boys. My kids have hearts of gold, so pure.

The GC itself was beautiful, but uneventful. The excitement happened on the way home. Thank you so much for your prayers for our safe trip, because guardian angels are the only way to explain this. I had parked the bus at the GC and we walked around for a few hours. Then, when it was time to leave, I was still herding some kids out of the bookstore, but my friend and the other kids wanted to get into the bus. Although I had locked 2 doors, they discovered that I had left the emergency door unlocked. They opened it, climbed in, and "closed it". We drove off down the highway at 70 miles per hour for about 45 minutes. We had to stop for gas and I decided to check the back door. Sooooooooo glad I did. It wasn't latched. It wasn't even shut! It was agape by about an inch. Technically, the door should have been able to swing open just sitting there; let alone driving down the highway with the windows down. How on earth it stayed "closed" is a miracle and that no one fell out. (if you have ever read "This Present Darkness" you could see the angels holding the door shut)

I'm home now and recovering after a long week and 14 hours in a bus and a national park.

where Glory meets my suffering