Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Post By Liana

We woke up in the morning and got in the car and drove to the beach. We met the Gallaghers there, which made it very exciting. We walked down to the beach and played in the water. Julia and I tried to build a sand castle but we forgot our sands toys, so it didn't work out very well. Mrs. Gallagher then suggested that we go on a walk at the edge of the water. While we were walking, Julia and I were on the lookout for good seashells. I found a very nice one called a kitten claw. Plus I found lots of shells with holes in them to make necklaces.

Later on we went on the boardwalk and found a penny arcade. Julia told me it was a tradition in her family that they play skeeball every time they go to the beach. Just like it's a tradition for Arielle and me to go on the merry-go-round. It was getting late so we headed over to the rides, which was a bit far from where we were.

First we went on the merry-go-round. Then Julia suggested we go on the log ride. It was my first time so I was a little scared. As we were going up on the conveyor belt Julia and I screamed. When we raced down the slope, everyone screamed, even Mrs. Gallagher. After the log ride, we went on the ferris wheel which was much calmer than the log ride.

When we were done with the rides, we drove to Obadiah's and ate dinner. After dinner, we said our good-byes to the Gallaghers and drove home. We got home very late and I was very tired. It was a fun time at the beach.

Day at the Beach

Post by Arielle:

Yesterday we went to Ocean City, New Jersey for a day with the Gallagher family. Most of the time we were just on the beach, but we also went on the boardwalk. We went to the arcade because part of the Gallagher's traditions is to play skee-ball. Before dinner we went on the rides. Mrs. Gallagher, Liana, Julia, Jacob, and I went on the log ride! It was so much fun! I think we got more wet sitting on the seats in the plastic log then getting splashed by the water. It ended up that on that same day my church went to the beach for a day with the middle school and high school kids. All day we tried to find them. I wanted to look for my friends, and Jacob wanted to look for his. It was at the end of the day we finally caught up with them on the beach. When we were on the big ferris wheel we saw a group of kids on the beach. After we got off the ferris wheel we went to check out if it was the right group. It was funny to see my friend's faces when they saw me because I knew they were going to be at the beach, but they didn't know I would be there too. It was around eleven at night when we got back home. I was so tired I fell right to sleep. I hope we can go back to the beach this year again.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Fellow Americans

Counting the people has ended, as least in our area. I am out of work and I feel guilty for being so happy about that. I feel guilty for hating my job so much. I told my team leader one day that was I was very disappointed in my fellow Americans. I encountered such hostility! Such rudeness! Such distrust of government. But now that it's over, I think maybe this is not such a bad thing. Americans are tough and don't like to be pushed around. We are independent and private and don't like intruders asking nosy questions.

In just a few months I feel like I've seen it all--every kind of American. I've knocked on the doors of million dollar homes and run-down apartments. I've traveled through mobile home parks and retirement communities and even tattoo parlors. I've seen all colors of people. I've met people from all walks of life--housewives and bikers and businessmen and day laborers. I've found people in all kinds of circumstances. A single dad with a baby in diapers clinging to his leg, too busy to talk because he was trying to cook dinner. I met an elderly woman whose husband had recently been admitted to a nursing home. She was lonely and scared and wanted someone to listen. One man just buried his wife the day I was on his doorstep. I felt like the worst kind of intruder. I found a woman sitting in the sun on her front porch. She said, "I've been waiting for you." I enjoyed talking with her. I was invited inside homes for refreshments and shown family portraits. Now that I am writing this, I realize how many people I met who were not rude or hostile. Maybe many were guarded and wary, but kind and helpful. I liked all these people. They shared a glimpse of their lives with me. But then there was the other side of this job.

I've been threatened and yelled at and had the door slammed in my face. I've heard people ranting and raving about politics. If I could have removed this intimidation factor, I would have enjoyed meeting all the people who live in my community. But there was always the fear of what kind of person would answer the door. These people made the job miserable.

Now it's over. What an experience! I told my team leader today, "See you in ten years!" He said, "No way! Never again!" I know the feeling.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Good-bye, Hello Kitty

The girls wanted to get new clocks for their rooms. They don't like their cute Hello Kitty clocks with the built-in nightlights anymore. Instead, they are interested in decorating with the dorm room accessories that are sold everywhere this time of year.

This must be another milestone. It was sad for me to unplug their childhood clocks and replace them with square, fluorescent digital clocks with no nightlight, which means I can't see their sleeping faces when I check on them in the middle of the night. Maybe they don't need checking anymore.

Arielle is almost as tall as I am now. She rides in the front seat. Another milestone. Liana doesn't need her booster anymore. Where did my little girls go? My adorable, chubby babies with the colorful barrettes in their shiny black hair? Fred cleaned out the storage room and took the big plastic wagon out to the shed to be used now for gardening. As he rolled it out the backdoor, my heart broke. Fred knows we won't ever again be rattling down the boardwalk with the girls in the wagon, both of them giggling in the cool breeze of the evening after a day in the sun at the beach.

Maybe all this struck me this week because I have been going through old boxes, sorting through the memorabilia of my little boys' lives so long ago. I found soccer trophies and an old Pinewood derby car. More trophies for Raingutter Regatta winners, plaques and ribbons of every color for track meets and writing contests and orchestra events. I searched for the boys' names in old, yellow newspaper clippings. I found school report cards and standardized test results that seemed so important at the time, but now are meaningless. Who cares if you made an A or a B in high school biology? I laughed when I pulled out an old postcard that Dominic wrote when he spent a few weeks in North Carolina with his best friend when he was maybe 10 or 11. His postcard reads, "It is fun here. I almost got my ear chopped off, almost drowned in the ocean, and almost got killed by a tornado. " The next line, "Brad and I chewed 8 packs of gum." Dominic always loved the drama!

Arielle and Liana, who are always in trouble for bickering with each other, were delighted to discover Dominic's eyewitness account of a battle between his two younger brothers. Dominic meticulously recorded a word-for-word narrative of what I'm sure was a typical day in the life at home with my boys. The chaos! The noise! My rough and tumble boys! I miss them so much.

I found lots of creative writing assignments the boys wrote through the years. These are small windows into their minds as they grew up. Jon, full of ideas even back then, had words of praise written across the pages by teachers who appreciated his talent. Damien's stories were always short and to the point. He had better things to do than silly writing projects. Nick had quite the imagination. He won a short story contest in high school. It was supposed to be a true story, but I guess real life was too boring, so he made up a "true" account. Dominic's writings were more serious, essays on freedom and government.

Best of all I found volumes of funny, sweet cards the boys made for me through the years. Not just for birthdays, but for Valentine's Day and the Fourth of July, Easter and Christmas. Cards that were cleverly cut and glued and colored with pencils or crayons. Oh, what a fortunate mom I was to receive such gifts! And I am still so fortunate. Yes, I miss my little ones, but I have my grown-up sons and my growing up girls. Life is rich. My heart aches with each milestone passed, but each day brings new treasures, and years from now these things will be the precious memories.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I planted these black-eyed susans years ago and they were pitiful. Only a few bloomed each year. Then we had a huge maple removed from the yard due to ant infestation and now the flowers have multiplied and flourished. They just needed more sunlight. It was as simple as that.

Sometimes when God is trying to tell us something, we will hear a message over and over. This morning I got a devotional in my e-mail from a man at our church. He was an ER doctor and he wrote about going to school and gaining a lot of knowledge but the real test came in how he applied that knowledge. It didn't do him much good in the ER if he couldn't take what he'd learned and use it to help his patients.

It made me think about my walk with God. I have a lot of Bible knowledge. I know what God's word says. But what good is that if I don't apply it to life situations? If I don't have patience with my husband and children, if I complain about circumstances, if I lose hope at the first sign of a disturbance in my routine? I am like what James 1:22-25 describes--the person who looks in the mirror and then walks away and forgets what she looks like. This person hears the word of God in the morning, but then lets it slip from her mind for the rest of the day.

Fred left early to go to breakfast with his friend. I opened my Bible to where I left off in my reading. I was on I Timothy 4. At the end of the chapter, these words caught my attention. "Set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have been given. PRACTICE these things, immerse yourself in them. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this..."

Now I am not a leader in the church like Timothy, but I have my own little sphere of influence, namely my family. What kind of example am I setting for my children? What do my actions teach them? That life is a difficult drudgery to be endured? When my words are harsh and my actions say nothing of my faith, my children are watching.

We've been given all the tools and resources we need. We have power from on high. Our Lord is there to cheer us and give us strength when we spend more time in the sunlight. I'm not one to promote endless introspection but maybe I need a little more honest evaluation on how I interact with my family. My husband and children are precious gifts from God and I love them more than anything else in my life. Today I will PRACTICE godliness in my speech and conduct and attitudes. Practice implies a good effort, not perfection. It might be hard work, but not impossible. Today I will not walk away and forget God's words. My family will be grateful.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Laughter and guacamole

Dominic and Stacia came for the weekend! We haven't seen them in awhile and it was a wonderful visit. Since they don't own a car, they rented one to drive here and haul back a lot of goods. So we got to go shopping with them, much to the delight of the girls.

We spent Saturday at Ikea and it was so much fun watching Dominic and Stacia buy furniture and plan for their lives together. Arielle and Liana loved exploring the store and imagining their own dream homes. After making sure we had seen every item in the entire store, we came home hungry and there was still dinner to prepare. Dominic had brought two ripe avocados from his house, so we searched my cupboards for something to use to make guacamole. Here is our improvised recipe: It was yummy and we wolfed it down immediately with a big bag of tortilla chips.

2 mashed avocados
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tomato, chopped
hot pepper sauce
2 T. lime juice

For two nights after dinner I enjoyed conversation with my soon-to-be daughter-in-law while Dominic and Liana cleaned the kitchen and did the dishes. (Liana never helps me like that.) What a treat! Years ago my mom and I always lingered at the dinner table after everyone ate. We picked at the leftovers and shared one-on-one time while the rest of the family took off to avoid having to help with clean-up. Back then the dishes awaited us. Not now! Dominic and Liana gave me a break. Stacia also gave Dominic and me an opportunity to talk by spending time with the girls as the three of them colored pictures.

It was Chrissy and Jon's first anniversary this weekend, so when I reminded the kids of that, Dominic set to work making a very silly card. I told the girls I have a big box of silly cards he's made for me through the years. He always brings such fun to our house.

On Sunday Dominic and Stacia packed the car and we said our good-byes in the street. I think of many other farewells when my heart would break not knowing when I would see my son again. But now he is not so far away and his future is full of promise. Stacia is a lovely woman and became part of our family the day we met her. I'll be glad when it's "official."

After all the drama of the last few weeks, Dominic and Stacia lifted us up from the gloom and doom and made us laugh.

More drama

For family following Fred's health, we have more drama. Last week he was having severe abdominal pain and went to our family doctor. A stat CT scan was ordered and he went to the hospital. Of course, no dental appliance could be seen. The best test for that would be an MRI, but our insurance won't pay for it. But the radiologist did see evidence of the appliance because Fred has an intestinal infection. The doctor ordered heavy duty antibiotics. What next? No one seems to be able to predict, or even guess, the outcome of this event. Fred presses on, working and doing all he has to do. He has lost a lot of weight and looks very thin.

As for me, I pray and trust. Fred is in God's hands. I went out to the garden with the earth radiating heat from our 103 degree day and spent a couple of hours picking beans. Life goes on.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Guinea Pigs

Post by Arielle

The baby boy guinea pigs are now bigger. They fight for some of the vegetables and fruits we give them even though there is another one on the ground next to them. They like to jump on top of their box houses, and they are really fast. The two girls are totally opposite. They do not like to jump on top of things, and they don't really like to run fast. We trained the girls, and when we give one of them some lettuce, the other one does not try to steal it from the other. The other one waits her turn. I think it's funny how they do that. Here are more recent pictures of them and two little videos showing how the boys run fast and like to steal each other's food.

A video of Clover and Nutmeg running

Both boys fighting for an apple

The 4th

Post by Arielle

Yesterday was so much fun! Last night we went to our library park and watched fireworks outside on the grass. My mom's good friend and her two daughters, and my brother and his family went with us. It was nice seeing everyone. Here is a picture of one of the fireworks.

I also took a video of part of the show.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Holiday weekend

Holidays are family time. We started a little early this week when Marissa asked us to go biking with her. Fred and I had so much work to do that day. Why do we hesitate to take the time and have fun? So we are glad we dropped everything else and just enjoyed the day. It was a cool, beautiful morning with a light breeze and high puffy clouds in a perfect sky. We biked along the river with green surrounding us on every side. The drought has not yet taken its toll on the trees and plants, and we reveled in riding in and out of the lush shade. The river sparkled in the sunlight and we did something we rarely do--relax! Maybe Arielle and I were the ones doing most of the relaxing. We led the way while Fred and Marissa trailed behind to keep a watch on Liana.

Later in the day Nick came over with ALL of his children. We rarely see them all together, so this was a special event. Liana and Mattie immediately retreated in Liana's room to play fashion show, changing into many different outfits and occasionally modeling them for us. Arielle was torn between talking with Kelsey and Seth and playing with the babies. I was just glad to have everyone here, especially having time to talk with my oldest son.