Mystery Shave

One recent morning I was faced with a mystery.

There was no chalk outline, and the police did not festoon the area with yellow tape, but it was still deeply perplexing.

(Not that this is saying much; it doesn’t take much to perplex me.)

In order to save time (and hot water) in the shower, I habitually shave in the car. Driving the quiet back streets in the early hours of the morning, I use a little battery-powered portable shaver given to me by Kathy’s brother (thanks, Phil!) to assist me in my grooming. On this fateful day, I picked up my portable shaver (I keep it in the console of my little silver car) and turned it on, but nothing happened.

Pocket razor

“Curses!” I grumbled. Sometimes the AA rechargeable batteries I use, get cold in the car, but usually they have some life in them — enough at least to power the blades so that they grip onto my little chin hairs and yank them painfully instead of cutting them. I cast my memory back — no, the last time I had shaved, the batteries were fine.

Something felt wrong about the shaver — I shook it hopefully and turned it on and off a couple of times, still nothing. I swiveled open the base of the shaver to look at the batteries, thinking perhaps some dust was obstructing the battery terminals, but found instead an empty hole: the batteries were gone.

Shaver sans batteries
A shaver without batteries is a sad, lonely sight.

This was very strange. I mostly use my little silver car to commute, and Kathy rarely drives it. There’s nobody else of driving age in the house, and nobody else shaves (at least not with my little shaver). Even if Kathy had driven my car to church or some other event, what could possibly have happened to my batteries?

Miss Innocence
Sarah looks innocent, but could she be the culprit?

At work, I shared my puzzlement. Soon, intrigued by this mystery, the hypotheses began to fly, as my cow-orkers tried their hands as amateur sleuths.

“OK, here’s how it played out,” suggested my boss. “Some local car thief was looking for valuables or planning to steal a car from the parking lot where you leave your car. He broke into your car, but just then, his Walkman™ ran out of batteries. As everyone knows, car thieves need heavy metal music to encourage them to steal, so he took your batteries as replacement for his own. He didn’t leave his dead batteries in your car for fear that there would be fingerprints on them. Just as he was getting ready to steal your car, something scared him off, and he left.”

Not an actual head-banging car thief.

I tactfully suggested that my boss not quit his day job to become a detective. Another cow-orker piped up with a competing theory:

“With gas prices what they are, these days, your car’s gas tank was targeted for theft. As a professional gas thief, the guy who chose your car has a battery-powered siphon, which chose that moment to run out of power. He noticed the shaver in your console (he’d already broken into your car to open the gas cap cover) and so he took your batteries to run his siphon.”

It does seem as though I fill up my car a lot more often than I would like, and with gas prices at an all-time high, it doesn’t seem unlikely that gas thieves (even savvy ones with battery-powered siphons) would abound. Still, I’ve never actually seen a battery-powered siphon — the one I have in my garage (still in its original packaging, for private use only, of course) is powered by a little bulb that you squeeze (or so I’ve been told). I cast about for another theory. Fortunately, my cow-orkers are an imaginative lot, and work was dull that day:

Battery-powered gas siphon
Turns out there is a battery-powered gas siphon.

“One of your neighbors has a daughter who lost her kitten. Out at night searching for it, he ran out of batteries in the flashlight he was using. Noticing your car was unlocked, he helped himself to your shaver batteries, intending to return them the next day, with an explanation. A few minutes later, he found the kitten in the tree in front of your house, and in the excitement and tearful reunion, forgot to return your batteries. Now that several days have passed, he is too embarrassed to give them back.”

Cute kitten
Not my neighbor’s actual kitten.

Sometimes I wonder about my colleagues. Kittens, gas and car thieves, what will they think of next? I shouldn’t have wondered, as another team member chimed in:

“You people have got it all wrong. What happened, is that special operatives were conducting a sweep for terrorists in Tim’s neighborhood, when suddenly they spotted a ‘person of interest’ to their investigation. As luck would have it, the agent responsible to direct the operation experienced an equipment malfunction (his night-vision goggles ran out of batteries). Assessing the situation and keeping a level head in this emergency, he cannibalized Tim’s shaver for batteries in pursuit of this vital mission, as National Security hung in the balance. Neutralizing the suspect, the operative determined that Tim would rather lose two AA rechargeable batteries than be detained indefinitely as a result of knowing too much about this covert operation.”

Night Vision Goggles
Not an actual covert operative.

Some of my peers watch a little too much TV, I think.

When I got home, I rounded up the usual suspects, and opened a Court of Inquiry.

Crafty David
This boy looks guilty, don’t you think?

“OK, come clean. Which of you stole the batteries in the shaver I keep in my little silver car?”

“Not me,” chimed several voices, even as my wife and oldest daughter exchanged meaningful glances. The focus of my investigation narrowed.

“What do you think happened to them?” my wife sweetly countered, innocence personified. Sometimes I think she would make a good defense attorney.

Rachel, trying to sell tomatoes
Or could it possibly be … Rachel?

I shared a few of the wilder hypotheses that my cow-orkers had invented, while my wife and daughter giggled maniacally.

If you have a theory as to why my batteries were missing, please leave a comment, outlining your theory. I’ll send a valuable prize, worth hundreds of Colombian Pesos (COP), to the person who submits the best guess (either closest to reality or most imaginative, whichever seems right to me).


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Anyone Got Dirt?

Tim ordered some dirt for his garden last weekend. Right now most of it is still sitting in our driveway, which you could probably see on Google Earth if you were bored.

get your cars and let's play

The kids, of course, found a better use for the dirt than silly ol’ gardens. It does make you wonder why we spend money on fancy toys, gadgets and other gizmos.

queen of the mountain

Just get them some dirt and they’re happy.

Project 366 – Day 150

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Tomato Stake Parenting

Yesterday was a lousy day. Not the whole day, just one little slice of it (or maybe two or three slices). As a result of some mother/child interactions that were NOT pleasant, Tim and I have decided to begin a major Tomato Staking project with Daniel.

Daniel My Boy!

Until we see some serious, character changes that reflect a true heart transformation, Daniel is going to be “tomato staked” to one of his parents. He will be in the same room with one of us, he will work on school, chores, and other projects with supervision. Any play time (outside or otherwise) will be done only in an observed, supervised manner.

Tim and I discussed this at length last night and are resolved to be firm and committed to this course of action. This morning we brought Daniel upstairs and shared with him this new Change of Life and how it will affect him.

Today ended up looking something like this:

Daniel worked on school downstairs near me in the morning.
I accompanied him to his PE class at the YMCA.
In the afternoon he did school upstairs in the bedroom while Tim worked.
I was hit with a migraine (haven’t had one in over two years) and went straight to bed.
Tim moved his laptop downstairs and supervised Daniel’s work and the rest of the children while I slept.
After a LONG nap, I helped Daniel (amidst frustration and tears) with his geography assignment then handed him off to Tim while I did school reading with David and Sarah.
Rachel and Joshua went to a church picnic/party – Daniel did not have permission to attend.
Daniel finished his difficult assignment (hooray) and played an hour computer game with Tim.
Time for bed.

Tomorrow we begin all over again.

…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5

have a slurpee

I share this not to embarrass Daniel or single him out, apart from the rest of the family, but because I have great hope for what the Lord wants to do in Daniel’s life.

Because I believe parenting is worth doing well.
Because I think excellent parenting takes time and energy and sacrifice.
Because I believe we hurt our children when we let sin, disrespect and bad attitudes encamp in their hearts.
Because I think it is possible to hold our children to the high standard of godliness and maturity.
Because I hope others will be encouraged by our struggles and our victories.
Because I want Daniel to have this as a testimony of his parents’ love for him and the amazing work of God in his life.
Because I have complete and absolute faith in the veracity of the Word of God who promises He will complete the work He begins in His children.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

Kathy – Tomato Staking Mama

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WFMW – Free Grocery Money

wfmw Life changes when you go On A Budget. There is both freedom and boundaries. I find it an interesting exercise. It’s difficult to say “no” but I’m extremely grateful that many times all I am saying no to is a shopping whim. We have money for necessities (and some splurges) and God is providing the means to continue paying off our debt.

These thoughts crossed my mind this week:

  1. There’s no money left in the grocery budget so I’m NOT going to stop at the produce market on the way home, even though I’m all alone and could shop there without any kid distractions.
  2. I’m almost out of toilet paper but I can’t afford a Costco run (there’s no money left in the households OR grocery budget). The smaller pack from the grocery store (on sale) will do fine.
  3. Who’s paying for THAT unexpected little purchase?
  4. I wonder if we could ride our bikes to the grocery store or walk and pull a wagon. Save money AND sneak in a workout – perfect!

Robert does some financial teaching

Is Miriam offering to pay?

None of these are Momentous Thoughts that will save us hundreds of dollars in our budget. They are, however, little baby steps that reveal a gradual shift in my thinking. A move, I hope, away from “I want = I put on credit.” It’s difficult and I can definitely see why Dave Ramsey insists a truly effective Money Makeover must begin in the heart.

What Works for Me this month is using some of our tax stimulus refund to take advantage of our grocery store’s free money giveaway. Gift cards purchased at Albertsons are granted an additional 10%. A $300 gift card to Albertsons was credited to us as $330. A free $30 to a store we shop weekly. What a fantastic deal!

Here is a list of some other retailers participating in similar offers.

Anyone else using some of their tax money in this way?

Kathy – visit Shannon in Rocks in My Dryer for other Works for Me Wednesday posts.

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Teens in Service

Sometimes the house isn’t quite full enough with just five children. The signs include: periods of silence ranging from 10 to 45 seconds, cupboards and refrigerators with food still visible, and clean, tidy surfaces.

There’s only one thing to do in such instances – invite some more kids over, preferably for a sleepover. Throw in another family with five children, lots of pillows and sleeping bags and the house starts to feel cozy. If you can arrange for a few more kids to come by in the morning (and stay for the day), then you are doing an excellent job to remedy this terrible situation.

We had our church Small Group on Sunday evening. It was a lovely time of food and fellowship. We even managed to go through our parenting study. Talk about productive!

Libby is the boss

she tells the group how to play

Libby may be small, but she is definitely in charge!

As the night crept on and one family lingered, I realized it was time for my children to go to bed. Since the other mom and I were no where near finished with our lengthy conversation, the only thing to do was host an All Family Sleepover.

Well, not exactly “all” as mom and dad went home to their own beds, no doubt chuckling the whole time about convincing us to keep their sweet darlings overnight. Ha!

In the morning, after making a huge batch of pancakes, I realized shortly I would be heading out to pick up two of Rachel’s friends (sisters who would be spending the day with us). Instantly an email I had received earlier in the week flashed in my mind.

We are looking for any volunteers to come help paint the toddler room on Friday, May 23 and/or Saturday May 24 between the hours of 10am & 4pm.

Jenny, bethany, rachel, hannah and sarah

These girls are hard workers!

It wasn’t Friday or Saturday, but I thought there might be a good possibility someone still needed some painting done. I proposed the idea to the five pre-teen/teenagers devouring my pancakes and received an extraordinarily positive response.

Sure! We’d LOVE to paint at the church! all five enthused.

With that joyful reaction our day took on the shape of service. The kids piled into the van and we set off to pick up Rachel’s two friends. By the time we reached the church it was 10:30 am and we had seven ready and willing workers.

What a blessing! It was such a delightful encouragement to see the hearts of these teenagers (and almost teen agers) as they grabbed rollers and brushes and tackled the toddler room. We had the primer done in no time. When the children’s director asked if the kids could possibly come back and do some more painting in the afternoon, all five eagerly accepted the invitation.

Sure! We’d love to! If Mrs. E lets us.

Ah, that was a bit of the kicker. I was a cheerful part of the working team and heartily agreed to return after lunch. That is until I got home. And sat down in my chair. At that point I didn’t want to leave the house again until dinner time.

some paint on the walls, some on our bodies

Some of the paint actually ended up on the walls.

Tim, I said, shaking my head in disappointment no one else showed up to paint the toddler room.
No one in the whole church except Aleta, the Sunday School teacher, came. Isn’t that terrible?

But Kathy, he responded, they didn’t need anyone else. You all were there.

But, but, I sputtered, in indignation and disapproval.

You were the ones God used to work. You were the ones He provided.

Did I grade math assignments? Work on meal planning? Do laundry? Organize homeschool assignments? Email my parents who have been out of town this weekend? Or even sit down and read a book?


But I was given the opportunity to serve. Not only that but I was blessed to create a situation where my children and their friends were able to serve.

joshua and timothy were a huge help

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

And I think THAT is a pretty good way to spend Memorial Day.

Project 366 – Day 146

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