Panang and Petroleum

Although people who know me might laugh, I often think that flexibility is a key part of being content. So many times, we get worked-up about things that are outside our control, when we could have had the peace and joy that God intends.

Personally, I really hate disappointment, and so I often manage my expectations so that being disappointed is unlikely or even impossible. But I am not always successful in this. As a life choice, it definitely has its down side, since I have limited my ability to enjoy things when they do not disappoint. But I digress.

With Joshua and Kelsie here, we wanted to go out to eat at our favorite Thai restaurant, but we had a hard time finding an evening that would work with their whirlwind schedule. Finally, we settled on Wednesday night, after AWANA. Then we found out we needed to watch some kids for a mom in our church, and that we’d be bring her kids home with us, after AWANA, so the dinner plans were off. Then we found out we weren’t needed, and the plans were back on again.

Three girls at Chili Thai.  If only we had Rachel, then we'd be complete!

Three girls at Chili Thai. If only we had Rachel, then we’d be complete!

When we arrived at the restaurant, we discovered that they closed in a few minutes. Kathy cleverly ordered our entire banquet as take-out, but it was funny for seven of us to arrive in separate cars, only to drive both cars the 20 minutes back home. Happily, we were all feeling very flexible, and gleefully tucked into our Thai food around our own dinner table. It is easy to be flexible when you still get your beef panang curry.

Similarly, gas prices are another thing that you just have to take in stride. Tonight, I filled up Kathy’s van for $32.00, something that hasn’t happened in many a year. Although I remember (as a third-grader) gas selling for $0.33/gallon, the cheapest I ever bought it for was $0.69/gallon. Here in Washington, we’ve seen the prices exceed $4/gallon, especially in the city, where I work. I think I remember filling Kathy’s van for $64.00 or more — talk about ‘pain at the pump’!

$1.93 for a gallon of gas.  Mmmmm.   Thanks, Costco!

$1.93 for a gallon of gas. Mmmmm. Thanks, Costco!

It is so nice to see the prices at reasonable levels again, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m sure that prices will rise again; when they do, I plan to be flexible.

Project 365, Day 29

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Don’t Run Him Over

Daniel’s school parking lot accident rendered Tim’s car a little beat up. But, with two pillows stacked behind his back, the driver is nice and comfortable and can actually see without any trouble.

Needless to say, the insurance company issued us a rental car while we settle things from the accident. What kind of car did we “happen” to get?

Pretty red car

Pretty red car

I had to chuckle when the man at the rental company offered us a red Toyota Corolla. On Friday, the day of the accident, Tim mentioned in his blog post that he’s been pining for a sporty Corolla since he drove one at 17. I think he might have spent more than a few hours on Saturday researching new and used cars (cough cough, okay mainly just Corollas) online. On Sunday afternoon, as we snuck off for an unexpected date, Tim asked me if I wanted to go test drive a Corolla. Ha. I didn’t. We ended up walking around Steilacoom and getting coffee at Starbucks.

Sunnyside - last January

Sunnyside – last January

I don’t know why I was surprised, then, to end up with a new Corolla as our rental car for the week. Of course, it “happened” that the only one they had available was red. Tim knows I have a weakness for red cars. I usually stick to red minivans, but a bright, shiny sedan is certainly fun.

"May I help you in?"

Tim shared the car with Joshua and Kelsie.

Of course, now another sad reality has hit us. Braces. Oh dear. Daniel is getting braces tomorrow. He’s got a rather pronounced under bite and, before they do jaw surgery, they want to try and correct it with braces. Ouch. And then Sarah is due to start with spacers in a few months.

Um, braces are no where near as fun as a new (or even new-ish) car. But they cost a whole lot. Can you hear Tim’s desolate ‘harrumph’ through the internet?

We continue to pray and trust God to guide and direct our decisions and our finances. Not always easy. I am keenly aware at how blessed I am to have been able to stay home with the children all these years. And I am incredibly thankful to Tim for working so hard to provide for and take care of us.

I wish I could buy him a brand new Corolla and spoil him for once.

Some of us like to pose with our cars.

Some of us like to pose with our cars.

Thank you for all the sacrifices you make for us, Tim!

Project 365 – Day 28

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They Gave Each Other a Pledge?

Sadly, it is time to face reality.

I gained a lot of weight over the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, and have now officially returned to my pre-appendicitis and pre-cancer-surgery weight, which is very unfortunate.

So yesterday, Sarah and I made a pact. We made a pledge. We swore an oath. We are going to stick to a rigorous diet and not-very-rigorous exercise regimen until both of us reach our weight-loss goals.

This is our official 'before' picture.

This is our official ‘before’ picture.

We’ll keep you posted. So far, I’m up half a pound. But, as is often the case, I already feel much skinnier after only two days ‘on the plan’.

Please pray for us, that we would stick to it and be faithful to encourage and hold each other accountable.

Project 365, Day 27

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Solving for X

A math problem from IXL today:

-2x =6
x = -3

We are constantly working on math in this household. Determined to learn from our challenges (and victories) in homeschooling over the years, Tim and I have made several changes in our approach to math. No longer content to let the kids direct the pace where they could be easily distracted by other subjects, or fall behind as Mom/teacher gets busy with life, we added two distinct things.

Loading the bow takes precision.

Loading the bow takes precision.

First of all, we (okay mainly Tim) require the kids to complete an IXL math skills daily. We’ve had a family membership to IXL since Feb 2012. Tim bribes rewards the kids for finishing an entire grade level of IXL (to 100% completion) with a hundred bucks. Admittedly that doesn’t work out to be very much per hour when you think that Sarah alone has done 40,000 math problems and spent 618 hours (not including the time when the computer “timed out” and stopped recording) working on math since we started.

Sometimes you gotta put your feet up.

Sometimes you gotta put your feet up.

In addition to daily IXL work, we also decided to have the kids do math with The Potter’s School, an online academy. Normally the classes are offered only one day a week, but understanding that math needs additional practice and teaching, TPS offers a two-day a week option. David and Sarah are both taking their math courses with TPS twice a week. I still work with them on homework, additional teaching (as needed), and study/prep/review for exams, but the primary teaching and the maintained deadlines/assignments/schedule are put in place by the TPS teachers.

Hit the mark!

Hit the mark!

I strongly believe that homeschooling with grace and confidence is an ongoing challenge. It requires constant work and a humble heart that is willing to ask for help, try new things, admit when a curriculum or course of study isn’t working and to rejoice when new discoveries are made.

Project 365 – Day 26

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Indian Spring

In western Washington, we are generally blessed by a very mild climate. Our winters are warm, and our summers are cool. It rarely drops much below freezing or above 85 degrees, Fahrenheit. I wear the same light rain-resistant jacket pretty much year-round. Having spent five winters in Detroit, I am often thankful that in Washington, we keep snow on the mountains, where it belongs.

But I must admit that Novembers and Januaries are a little bleak. It is not unusual for the rain to settle in for weeks at a time in those months, and some people (like my beautiful Kathy) get a little depressed because of the gloom. (They actually have a name for it — Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.) At such times, we spend hours looking at pictures of Turks and Caicos, and trying to remember what the sun looks like. Unless, of course, there is an Indian Spring.

Today we had a respite from our usual January weather — the sun came out, and pretty much everyone and their uncle went out for a walk. It reminds me of the first thaw in Michigan (usually in March) when the temperatures would rise above freezing for the first time. People would be out in shorts and t-shirts, in 35-degree weather, because it felt so warm, compared to 15 degrees.

The trees don't have any buds on them yet, but there is hope of Spring in the air.

The trees don’t seem to have any serious buds on them yet, but there is hope of Spring in the air.

It doesn’t often get this warm (or sunny) in January — usually we have to wait until the end of February for such weather. In any case, I am so thankful that we are allowed to live here. We have lived in this lovely house on a peaceful, double-ended cul-de-sac for more than ten years, now. At times like this, I am deeply grateful that God has made our world so beautiful, and that He has taken such good care of our family.

Our actual house.  Lots of life and happiness has been enjoyed under that roof.

Our actual house. Lots of happiness has been enjoyed under that roof.

Project 365, Day 25

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The musings and ravings of a bloggart family