WFMW – Kitchen Organization

It would appear that something has happened to me of late. My night time energy has departed, abandoned, left me a sleepy wreck.

Normally, at this time of the evening (9:20 pm) I would be chortling with glee (snickering even), knowing there are HOURS ahead of productive thinking, writing, cleaning. Soon the children (even those pesky older ones who don’t go to bed at 8 pm anymore) would all be upstairs and the house would be quiet. Ahhh.

some of my favorite kids

These kids don’t look one bit sleepy!

Now I find myself looking at the clock and wondering how soon I can sneak off and climb under the covers. Occasionally I’m even upstairs in bed before the children. Gasp.

This is making a serious dent in my blogging time. Not to mention my waste-time-online-watching-movie-previews-for-over-an-hour. Okay, hard to weep over that particular loss.

I blame the combination of early rising and homeschooling. In order to get through our rigorous school schedule, we simply have to get up early in the morning. It’s either that or continue schooling after dinner. Getting up early is not something I do well, or gracefully.

It’s pretty ugly, actually. The only way I am able to drag myself out of bed at 6:30 am is if I get a good, solid (ie at least 8 hours) night’s sleep. I don’t understand this as I have spent months surviving (fairly cheerfully) on 4 to 6 hours of sleep. The key, I suppose is the morning hour. There is something so pleasant about waking up between 8 and 9 am. Even if I’ve gone to bed at 2 or even 3 am, it feels like sleeping in when you get up after 8.

sarah pie!

Sarah agrees with me, she LOVES to sleep in late. No early morning girl here.

What does this have to do with Works for Me Wednesday? Sadly, everything. These days, by the time evening arrives, I have no further creative energy remaining in which to blog. I’m drained and mentally ‘empty.’ This week’s theme is Kitchen Organization. I have five children, a husband and a kitchen. Surely I have numerous helpful tips to share. I can sense them, hovering near the surface, eager to be posted.

Alas, I’m afraid I’ve already written about my best hints, and all the new ones are waiting for the Old Kathy to return. The Late Night, Doesn’t Ever Get Enough Sleep but Blogs Like Crazy, Kathy.

going to the park with a friend is wonderful

Thankfully my friends love me whether I’m a night owl or a morning slug.

Oh, here’s one thing. I love the new rice cooker my mother gave me for my birthday. It’s wonderful to add water and rice, turn on the power and let the rice cook itself happily. One less thing to fret about, or just plain manage during the dinner hour.

Since I am loath to leave you tipless, here are some links to other Great Duckabush Kitchen Posts:

Life Skills – chores for kids
Favorite Foreman Grill
Homemade rolls
Breakfast Baking
Master Grocery Lists

Oh, one quick question, do you morning people blog or write during the early morning hours? I know people who study their Bibles and even exercise (shudder) early in the day, just wondering if anyone writes then. I LOVE to journal and blog late at night, don’t quite have the mental acuity to do so in the morning.

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Not a Day Trader

Over the years, I’ve worked at quite a few different jobs. I’ve been a grocery bagger, a lawn worker, a clerk/typist and a soldier. I’ve sold fish wholesale and worked the front desk at several hotels. I’ve spent time as children’s program director at a Christian camp and served behind the deli counter at a supermarket chain. I’ve been employed as a chauffeur and a bell-boy and purchasing agent. I was very possibly the lowest-paid political appointee in all of Washington, D.C., for one eight-month stint. More than 16 years of my life, I’ve been a programmer of one sort or another.

Some of these jobs didn’t really appeal to me as a career. For example, working behind the deli counter was interesting only for the first five or six weeks — there are only so many different kinds of meats and cheeses (and I tried ‘em all!). I wasn’t fast enough to make bagging groceries very remunerative. Selling fish, as it turns out, made me very popular with cats, but limited my social opportunities. And I didn’t like the hours of being a soldier.

Trust in my pistol?
At least I never had to ride a horse, for any of my jobs.

Sometimes I look back at my life and I wonder, “what would it have been like if I had become a … dentist?” Well, OK, I don’t spend much time wondering about that, but there were certainly other possibilities. With a little more work, I might have retained my ROTC scholarship and become an Army officer, like my brother and my Dad. Or I might have followed the call of missions and taken that job as a network administrator for a missions agency in the Ivory Coast. I’m not griping, but why have I chosen to spend all this time as a programmer? Is it enough that I’m pretty good at it?

Joshua joins the Sharpshooters
Joshua nearly was drafted into the Sharpshooters, on the spot.

One thing I’m glad I didn’t choose to be: a day-trader. I’ve always had a certain anti-genius when it comes to stock market investing. As the years have passed, I’ve seen my miniscule 401(k) investments grow into, er, slightly less miniscule 401(k) investments. When people talk about an average 8% return, I laugh uproariously — I’m lucky to see 3%. Just when a fund is about to show a profit, I am gripped with an uncontrollable urge to sell, and to buy a fund that is about to tank.

Of course, the last three weeks have not been kind to those with any kind of wealth tied up in our financial system. As in the days of the dot-com bubble burst, private investors are being sheared (perhaps even fleeced) at an alarming rate. I think my annualized rate of return is somewhere around -16%.

I read on the news that billionaire T. Boone Pickens has lost around $300 million so far this year, amounting to about 10% of his net worth, and somehow, that made me feel better. When wealthy men with a lifetime of investment experience and significant holdings in the energy sector can’t show a profit, I guess I don’t need to feel so bad about my own dire investment strategies.

But it raises an important question: where does my security come from? Do I trust in my stored up wealth? Do I take comfort in the appreciation of my home or other real estate? Do I place my confidence in my ability to work and generate income?

Floating a needle
… or do I trust in the viscosity of water?

For a follower of Christ, the answer is simple (even if it sounds a little trite): my trust is in the Lord. But let’s look at that a little more closely. Can I trust God to ensure that I’ll continually improve my quality of life, enjoying my retirement in comfort and ease? I don’t think so. While there are some general remarks in the scriptures about righteousness and diligence and their tendency to produce lasting wealth, the only real guarantees I can think of at the moment, speak more to persecution than they do to retirement. It may be the American Dream to acquire wealth and enjoy a better standard of living than one’s parents, but I think that Christians need to take a hard look at that dream before incorporating it into their spiritual life. I suspect that the American Dream is an idol that prevents many from giving their full devotion to God.

If God chooses to bless me with wealth that I can use to bless others and pass on to my children, so much the better. But placing my hope in a future of comfort and ease here on earth seems foolhardy. God promises me an eternal rest; but while still on this planet, all bets are off.

Kathy works on her Bible Study
Kathy in the sun with her Bible and her faithful Starbucks mug — a quintessential Kathy moment.

Since I first wrote this blog, the promised ‘bailout plan’ has failed in the House of Representatives, and the Dow Jones Industrial average has dropped more than 770 points (the largest ever in a single day, to include 9/11/2001). In one day, somewhere around 7% of the value of the stock markets has been erased, if only on paper. With any kind of retirement becoming less of an option, this seems like a really bad time to trust in wealth.

Partisan skirmishing
I don’t pretend to know if the bailout is a good idea or bad, but it has been pretty funny (yet sad) to watch the partisan skirmishing.

What do you think? Do hard economic times cause people to turn to God? Is this an opportunity for the church to reach out to hurting unbelievers? Is this a chance for people to turn away from the idols of wealth and ease?

Prayer before battle
At the very least, I hope it causes us to pray.


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A Civil Skirmish

Today, the kids and I attended a Civil War Re-enactment at a State Park about 90 minutes from our home. With only about 150 soldiers (both sides combined) it was more of a skirmish than a war, but that didn’t stop ‘em.

Conferderate Zoave Soldiers
The Confederate Army carried the day, mostly because of superior artillery support.

We all had a good time, viewing the battle and touring the encampments. Many of the Civil War buffs were available for questions, and would hold forth on their role in the battle or camp for 20 minutes at a time, much to the dismay of David and Sarah.

Photo op with a Union Cavalry officer
This man must be a lot tougher than he looks, because he was shot dozens of times and stayed in the saddle.

Project 366, Day 271

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Kathy and I had a hot date tonight. When we got home, she turned to me with that look in her eye. You know the look I’m talking about.

“Well sweetie,” she breathed, huskily, “… who’s paying for that?”

And people say there’s no romance in budgeting.

We went to see Fireproof at our local cinema — what a great movie! This film, created by the same church in Georgia who brought us Facing the Giants and Flywheel, was not in any way a disappointment.

What a great movie!

Yes, some of the dialogue was a bit stilted, and some parts of the movie were pretty predictable, but it was money well spent. We’ll definitely buy the DVD as soon as it is available. The plot moved along, and the characters were believable and likeable. I’m not going to tell you much more about it, if you haven’t seen it, because I don’t want to spoil it for you.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, I would encourage you to go see this movie. Don’t go to see it because you need to ‘send Hollywood a message’ about the need for decent movies for decent people (although that would be nice). Rather, you should go to see it because it will encourage you in your faith and in your marriage (if you have been blessed in that way) and it is good entertainment to boot.

Fireproof my marriage
It is certainly a chick flick, but I mean that in a good way.

If you’re not a believer in Jesus, but you’d like to know more about real faith for real people, go see this movie. It presents God’s love for you clearly, in a not-too-preachy way that is understandable and accessible.

Definitely a hot date. :)


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Blog Number Alert

Today one of my helpful students informed me I have a lot of blogging to do by the end of 2008 in order to remain competitive with 2007′s blog posts.

You know things are slow in school when your kids spend time reading bloggy stats.

“Really, what do you mean?” I inquired sleepily over my cup of coffee, it was a slow moment for the teacher as well.

“Hmmm, your blogging is down for 2008,” Joshua said with a disapproving look, “There’s still a chance you can redeem the year but it’s not going to be easy. Let me look at the stats. Okay, you have about 100 posts to write and 97 days in which to write them.”

At first I was inspired and challenged. My back straightened and my mind immediately turned to the dozens of creative bloggy ideas I’ve been neglecting.

“Wow, that would be a fun,” I grinned, “we’ve written a post a day before. It’s not that hard. Sure things are a bit busier this year with all this homeschooling we’re doing do all the children really need to be educated?, but we could probably pull it off.

Just as I was turning to the computer to begin writing, my eye caught sight of Joshua’s face.

two hombres

Joshua and Timothy aren’t sure. “It’s not going to happen, Mrs. E.”

“Um, Mom, I might have made a slight error in my calculations. It looks like you need 200 blog posts for 2008, not 100.”

“What?? Does that mean I’d be writing TWO posts a day?” I always was good at math.

“Yeah, plus a couple of extra to hit the 400′s.”

That’s an awful lot of writing, editing, cutting, pasting, and Photoshopping. I haven’t even taken more than 3 pictures in the last week. I’m rusty!

On the other hand, there’s nothing quite like a deadline and a challenge to motivate me. I think part of the reason I continued with the Project 365 last year (with stubborn tenacity) was the fact that one of Tim’s friends told him I would probably grow tired of it after a few weeks.

Ha! I showed him.

There you go, I dare you to tell me we couldn’t publish 200 more blog posts in 2008! In fact, we might just post 201, that would really set some records.

What do you think? Is it worth it? A fun idea or stupid waste of time? If the budgeting and general weight loss plans don’t pan out, at least we could point to the blog stats with pride.

Depending on your definition of pride.


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