Wednesday, April 29, 2009


When I was in Kindergarten I had a desk next to a girl named Jamie. One of the kids in our class had a birthday and instead of passing out cupcakes for his birthday, he passed out twinkies. We all got one twinkie. I ate mine and then noticed that Jamie had not eaten hers. I asked her why she didn't eat her twinkie. She said she was saving it to give to her mom.

Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with remorse for heartlessly eating my own twinkie and not saving it for my mom.

Sitting there, in my Hollie Hobbie dress and white laced anklet socks, with cream filling on my face, I made a terrible decision.

I waited for my opportunity.

School was almost out. Jamie was momentarily distracted. I reached my hand into my best friend Jamie's desk, and swiped her twinkie.

My mom picked me up from school and my aunt was visiting. In the car I pulled out the stolen twinkie and said in my sweetest voice,
"Here Aunt Judy. Here is the twinkie that I saved for you. Most of the kids ate theirs, but I wanted you to have mine."

A teensy twinge of guilt washed over me.

Later that night, my mom came into my room and said,
"Lori, I just want you to know how proud I am that you saved your twinkie and gave it to Aunt Judy. That was such a big girl thing to do and I'm so proud of you."

Mom had no idea that her big girl was anklet deep in a life of crime and deceit.

Ugh! Now I felt the guilt of my sin. I still could not bear to tell my mom the truth of the twinkie heist, and so I prayed for forgiveness and hoped that Jamie thought she mistakingly ate her twinkie.

I often think back to poor Jamie and wonder what happened to her. I hope this wasn't the beginning of the end of her selfless acts of kindness and compassion. I hope she didn't develop an eating disorder out of fear of never having enough. I hope the teacher believed her at the end of the day when she said she lost her twinkie and was saving it for her mom and could she please have another? I hope Jamie was able to connect with future desk mates and that she did not develop a deep seeded distrust of humanity that would end sadly and tragically on a water tower later.

I'm so sorry Jamie! If you're ever in the area please stop by. I have a whole box of twinkies that I can't seem to eat.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blessing my Home

In the interest of loving my family and keeping my sanity, I have been spending time organizing my home by creating "zone" cleaning areas - based on cleaning in 15 min. increments. Now, I am a fairly neat and tidy person -most days - However, I seem to have some areas that never quite get tackled.

I am retraining myself to not just clean my house, but rather to "bless my house." I have discovered that when I change the way I look at housework from "chores" to "blessings" it really changes my attitude of what I am called to do. I love my family and I want them to thrive in a place of peace and order. I am more at peace when my home is well ordered so I know my family must be as well. I am also reminded that "housework done imperfectly still blesses my family."

I love to have an efficient system for things and I think this zone cleaning thing may be the ticket. We'll have to wait and see.

We are also working on finding 27 items to either throw or give away every day (actually within 10 min.), purging our house of accumulated junk. The kids were in charge of finding 27 things in their rooms today in the span of 10 minutes. Brooke found 72! I said hey great - that's 27 backward! Way to go! In case you're wondering why "27?" - in Hebrew, the numbers represent letters which, when put together, make up a word. The two that make up 27 translate into English as "pure, spotless, clean." These ideas can be found by going to flylady - she is the founder of this system. She actually calls the collecting of 27 items the "27 fling boogies" - now, as an elementary school teacher, "boogies" mean something entirely different to me. It took me 2 chapters to figure out she meant dancing. It is still a little hard for me to get a rather icky image out of my mind here. I must rename this assignment. Here are a few ideas that have worked rather well for me in the area of housecleaning:

~ start the day by always making your bed - first thing!

~ get dressed first thing in the morning - you will be more productive if you're dressed for "work". It is easy for stay at home moms (this is me this year) to stay in sweat pants or pj's but you will increase your productivity and desire for a clean home if you do this one little thing .

~ have one day a week you plan your menu for the entire week, make up a grocery list at the same time.

~ clean in 15 min. increments

~ keep your sink clean! Don't let dishes pile up in there.

~ decide the night before what you will wear in the morning- this is a very helpful tool to teach your kids - they will learn that a little forethought gives them peace in the morning.

~ Divide your home into 5 zones. Clean one zone a week.

~ Give yourself one day a week for weekly "house blessing" - this will be one hour of house cleaning that must be done. Stay focused here! Set your timer for 10 min. increments and "bless" away.

~ Keep bathroom cleaning supplies in every bathroom. I teach my kids to swish the toilet with the toilet brush every day - I let the toilet brush sit in a disinfectant solution so this is really easy for them to do. You won't want to do this if you have really little kids! Every time you go into the bathroom clean one little thing.

~ Don't wait to see dirt before you clean. Clean one zone faithfully for 15 min. every day even if it doesn't look dirty to you - this is proactive cleaning so you won't have a big job later on.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's That You Say?

I will be 41 in a few weeks. I think I'm losing my hearing, or maybe it's my concentration. I tend to forget things also. I find that I'll be right in the middle of a sentence- usually it's a very impassioned plea I am making about something - like why the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice is the only acceptable version to watch and how I find that I must catch myself from rolling my eyes in contempt when someone tries to convince me that the most recent Hollywood version with Keira Knightly as Lizzie is not an exercise completely "wont of all propriety" (I like to throw in a little Austin-esque style for effect), full of ludicrous scenes that could never take place given the customs of the day and way too skinny girls - I am certain Miss Austin would be turning over in her grave - Oh, where was I... I have no answer for this phenomenon.

A few months ago we were attending a mock trial competition with our kids and other parents from our school. We were all standing in the hall awaiting our time to go into the courtroom. I was the chief photographer and was hanging around doing nothing in particular. Somewhere in the background I heard my friend Eva say, "Clara Path" in her cheerful voice. I thought - Oh, how funny, small world - you can go just about anywhere and find someone you know. I was lost in this thought process when I heard her yell, louder this time, "CLARA PATH!" I thought to myself, "Oh, I hope Clara sees her because wouldn't it be disappointing to see someone you know who maybe you haven't connected with in years and be so close and yet not make contact with them." Soon other voices joined my friend Eva's, all yelling "Clara Path!!" Oh - why can't Clara hear us all? Inside I was thinking why doesn't Eva take off running to catch Clara before she exits the building? Now, the really weird thing was - while all these thoughts were running through my head, Eva was just staring at me. Well, I know she knows I'm not Clara - but I could not account for that bewildered look in her eyes. Then I saw it in my husband's eyes as well - you know the look - when someone looks at you like you're from another planet - usually I'm the one looking at people like that - so it was disconcerting to be on the receiving end of the look. Jim, my husband, reached over and moved me up against the wall - just in time to let a woman with a large cart of some type pass by. It was then that I realized that Eva wasn't yelling out to her long lost friend, Clara Path. She was yelling at everyone to "clear a path".

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Architecture of Worship

I am married to a builder. A very good one at that. He has given me an appreciation for my man-made surroundings. Over the years I have become increasingly concerned with the lack of architectural beauty and ingenuity that pervades our landscape.

As I look through pictures of buildings I can't help but wonder what has happened to our cities? Has the adage "don't judge a book by its cover" been applied to the places we inhabit as well, or did that cliche' first stem from our compromise with architectural beauty?

It seems to me that we can learn a lot about a person or people by the buildings they inhabit. For instance, when did we decide that it was okay for our places of worship to look like boxes?

My husband and I like to play a little game we call, "name that denomination." When we are traveling through a new town we try to guess what type of church we are looking at before we ever see a denomination name.

For instance, Episcopal churches are some of the prettiest little churches around. They are generally easy to spot. The steps always lead up to the small front door, which may or may not be hand-carved, and
is often, but not always, painted red. Stained glass is always present, and if the building is a few hundred years old, you might get lucky enough to find a church cemetery on the grounds. Episcopal churches are also generally quite small.

Contrast this to a Nazarene church. I'm sorry, nothing against Nazarenes, but did someone decide to design the ugliest building they could think of? Most Nazarene churches look the same. A long rectangular building, definitely Stoic inspired, with that ever popular - flat roof with minimal slant, usually painted a salmony-pink or other pastel color. Sometimes it is difficult to tell where the front door is on a Nazarene church - but rest assured, when you find it, it will be a big door. Hmm... gotta wonder if this says something about theology as well! For me, I prefer worshiping in a small front door, big back door type of church. But, that's another conversation.

Lutheran churches are also relatively easy to spot. They are larger than Episcopal churches and have stained glass, however, I think they're concerned with their dwindling numbers because they seem to be caught in a conundrum, unwilling to give up their Episcopal roots entirely, but secretly hoping to confuse unsuspecting worshippers from the Nazarene church.

I won't even mention the mega-non-denominational church. Besides, you wouldn't be able to find it, it just blends right in with all the other buildings around it. Like I said, our buildings reveal way more about us than we would ever be willing to admit.

"...One more question," Kung Chen urged. "Was it the compromisers or the resisters who came to our city?"
But Yang Anwei could not answer. Yet after a little while he said with his wrinkled smile, "I daresay it was the compromisers, for see how they have settled into our people! You have only to look at their ruined temple. Who goes there now to worship on their sacred day except a handful of them?"
"...There is something strange in them," he declared. " It is not in all of them but it is in some of them."
"What is the difference?" Kung Chen asked.
The old man hesitated and then he said shrewdly, "If they worship their god they are strange; if they do not worship him they are like other men. In my long life in this city I have seen that the worship of a special god makes a special people."
"Then what we should do," Kung Chen declared, "is to steal them away from their god, so that they will become like us."
Yang Anwei laughed noiseless old laughter. "Or else destroy their god," he retorted.
"How can we do that?" Kung Chen asked. "This god cannot be seen, he is not of stone or clay, as the gods of our common people are. He is a subtle god who lives only in their minds."
"Then destroy the god in their minds," Yang Anwei said.
"It is not hard to destroy that god."

~ Excerpt from Peony, by Pearl Buck

Friday, April 17, 2009

Traveling with Friends

Some people have that innate ability to connect with others immediately. I am married to one such person. There are no strangers when it comes to my husband, Jim. If he is in a line at the grocery store for any length of time he will emerge from the store with all sorts of new friends. I must admit, it bugs me. I love my husband dearly and appreciate this quirky side of him; but I don't get it. I am single minded when I enter a store - get in, get out, don't forget anything on your list. That's pretty much it. My husband however, is much more about the journey.

I have learned to not be surprised anymore when he finds someone in line in some obscure place that is either related to him or went to school with someone he knows. While traveling on our honeymoon we stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast in Boston. Jim began a lengthy conversation with the couple that owned the establishment and discovered they knew a judge from his small hometown of Fallon, Nevada. Several years ago we were waiting in line in Disneyland and Jim began chatting with the gentleman standing next to us. Wouldn't you know it - this guy actually lived in my husband's small hometown a number of years earlier.

The weirdest time we met someone with whom we shared a mutual connection was when Jim went into a local art supply store. He had been taking some art classes and struck up a conversation with the lady who was helping him in the checkout line. He discovered she used to live in the old Wenatchee house that we were currently occupying.

We bought the home when we first moved to Wenatchee and fell in love with the 1910 architecture and the central location. Jim and I both have a passion for older homes and always want to know the "story" behind each one. When we moved into our older home we made a bizarre discovery.

Up in a corner, on a ledge, we discovered the cremated remains of a woman named "Eleanor". She was in her original packaging with her name and date. We checked with the former owners but they never noticed the container. Eleanor soon became a part of our house; or maybe we became a part of hers.

We left Eleanor in the room where we found her - the basement laundry room. I began greeting her whenever I came in to do laundry - I was secretly hoping she might do the laundry when I left. I do believe in creating "good house vibes" and wanted Eleanor to know I respected her position in the home.

Jim, on the other hand, did not share my sincerity. He thought it would be okay to dump Eleanor out. I would have none of this. I'm not sure if he really thought that would be okay or if he was just messing with me. I was determined to keep Eleanor happy until we could find her safely home.

At one point, early on, I became uncomfortable with my role as shared mistress of the house. I suggested to Jim that we might take her to the police department - maybe they could put her in their missing persons department or something. Jim didn't seem to think this would work.

Over time, Eleanor and I developed an understanding - I was her protector and would converse with her in a respectful manner - and she would not haunt me. In the end, it was my husband with his friendly ways who saved Eleanor.

It turned out that the lady in the checkout line used to live in our old Wenatchee house in the 1970's. Jim told her about our laundry room discovery and she almost passed out.
"That's my husband's aunt. We misplaced her!"

The very next day, bright and early, the lady's husband showed up on our doorstep to claim their missing person. While I was relieved to finally have Eleanor returned to her family, I began to miss her. Something was wrong with the house - it was like losing someone, sort of. My husband just shook his head and didn't understand. But I think Eleanor understood. Eleanor and I had an understanding - protection in exchange for peace. The sad thing is, after Eleanor left I stopped sneaking a peek to see if maybe -this time- the laundry was mysteriously done.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chasing the Sun

After 4 months of cold and cloudy weather in our beloved Washington state, we decided to take a trip to Palm Springs for Spring Break. Our three kids are 15, 13, and 12 and a trip to some place sunny - any place sunny - was a sure hit. We planned the trip with two other families with kids of similar ages and everyone was happy. We were all able to stay at a VI resort through a friend of ours who rents out units for a reasonable rate. Some great deals were available on airfare into Ontario, California and we arranged to rent a car from there. Our friends decided to load the car and make the 24 hour road trip instead. Our flight from Seatac was scheduled to leave at 7:50 p.m. - My dear husband decided to make the travel arrangements this time - which never happens - I am the travel guru around here and enjoy all the preparations that go into trip planning. We were off to a bumpy start before we even left our home since my husband thought he got tickets for a 7:50 a.m. flight. After some brief gnashing of teeth, we decided to look on the bright side and realized that while yes, we would miss out on one whole day of sunshine, we also would not be leaving our home at 3:00 a.m. to catch our flight. Since I tend to be over prepared for almost everything, I decided we needed to leave our home by 2:30 in the afternoon to catch our 7:50 flight. This would allow us plenty of time for dinner and a lovely cup of coffee with time for people watching at the airport. We are roughly 3 hours from Seattle so this provided us with 5 hours before our flight was scheduled to depart. While traveling to our destination we encountered our first disaster - literally - an avalanche had just occurred on the pass and we found ourselves in 26 miles of backed up traffic and no way out. I will say that the first hour of being trapped was unfortunate, but we knew we had more than enough time, so it was not an experience of desperation, yet. After waiting for a good hour and a half, traffic resumed and we breathed a sigh of relief. No, I would not be enjoying Anthony's fish tacos like I always look forward to - but we would make our flight and for that I was downright gleeful. And then we saw the brake lights. How is it possible to have another avalanche 30 minutes down the road? What are the odds? Apparently, pretty good. We waited for another hour and a half. At this point we knew -barring an act of God - which we had already encountered - we would not make our flight. And yes, it was the last flight to Ontario that day. I immediately called the airline and explained the situation and they booked a flight for us to LAX - of course, they get you with the fees - side note- Alaska was great to work with and waved the bulk of the fees for us - which I am still very thankful for. We soon realized our sweet deal on airfare was now $375 more than we allotted for - no problem, I am frugal and announced that we would make this up in savings along the way, no golf, granola bars instead of lunch, - no one was very happy with this announcement. We arrived in L.A. around midnight, rented a car - which was not without considerable difficulty, since we did not make our scheduled pick up in Ontario - and headed for Palm Springs around 1:30 am. arriving at our destination about 2 hours later. Lesson learned - buy trip insurance and Jim does not make the reservations.
Day 2 - After sleeping in, we were able to put the series of unfortunate events behind us because we saw the sun! Oh, it was glorious - laying by one of eight pools, reading a book for pleasure, kids riding bikes, playing tennis - Oh happy day! Yes, people needed sunglasses to protect their eyes from the glare off our Washington bodies, but that was their problem. Yes, the cares of yesterday slipped away. Later that night -Jim experienced some pain - before he even said anything we knew what it was - kidney stones! Now here is where I am personally disappointed in myself. My family affectionately refers to me as having a little O.C.D. (obsessive- compulsive disorder) I am generally over-prepared for most things - for instance, I always throw in a pharmacy before leaving home, especially if anyone in the family shows any signs of physical ailments. Jim had been struggling with kidney stones about a month prior to our trip. He had not had any recurrence and in the hustle of preparation he and I both neglected to pack any pain medication. Thankfully, he was able to contact his doctor and good friend around 6:00 a.m and he called in some medicine for him. Jim had kidney stone trouble throughout our trip (I should know this happens - this is our third trip where he has had a kidney stone attack- the last one at Disney World) however, my amazing husband is a trooper and he pushed through - even golfing during an episode.

4th day of trip - We planned a multi-family trip to Disneyland. Now, I am a huge Disneyland fan - I have been to Disneyland upwards of a dozen times. I still love it as much as ever and I know this is probably disappointing to some. Nevertheless, I believe in total Disneyland immersion - which means opening and closing the park. Now, I have already mentioned that I'm frugal - so is the group we traveled with. We wanted to do Disneyland but were looking for discount tickets. Before we left I did a little research - which I love - and discovered adult tickets for $59.00. This is a big break from the otherwise $94.00 adult ticket price. I sent the web page to my friends who were going on the trip and we felt like it was a legitimate site, although the poor grammar made me a bit skeptical. We had to buy one day of a three day pass in order to get this great deal and then return the tickets at the end of the day. A little more of a hastle but for the savings it seemed worth it. The day before our Disneyland trip we got a call from "Peter Weeter" (our representative for Disneyland tickets) who said that just that day a group of 35 people had lost their multi-day pass and so our passes would not be available for the following day. He said he could give us a bigger break if we were willing to purchase a 6 day park hopper pass through Disneyland and return the unused portion to him. He would pay us what we were out. Okay, I am not an idiot - but I do like a good deal. And it does seem legitimate that a group could lose their tickets - especially if they sent one person to get fastpasses for the entire group - we discussed if we could be getting scammed but figured since we were purchasing through Disneyland - not Mr. Weeter - we would be safe. The worst that could happen would be we were out the cost of a 6 day pass - which was around $176.00 a person or so- which would definitely be bad - but we reasoned there would be nothing in it for Peter - so it was relatively safe. We went ahead and purchased our tickets online and followed Peter Weeter's instructions. Everything went great during our day at Disneyland. I had purchased a program called "RideMax" which is now my new favorite thing. It computes all the rides you want to ride on (there is a list of every ride provided and you check the ones your group wants to ride) providing you with a schedule that takes advantage of the fastpass system as well as computing the shortest wait times for each ride. It is truly a modern marvel! I am completely sold on this product. It was only $15.00 and made our Disneyland Spring Break experience a dream! We had 18 people in our group - this schedule took out all the standing around and debating over what ride to do next, etc.. I will never go to Disneyland again without RideMax! That's how strongly I feel about it! At the end of the night we made our way over to Mr. Weeter's home -not his travel agency - which was definitely weird - some of us (the wives) were getting creeped out at this point -but we were traveling in a group so we figured "safety in numbers." Upon our arrival the guys got out of the cars and disappeared into the garage and then into what I guess was the side of the house. After waiting a good 30 minutes, which seemed interminable, I called my friend, Sara, who was in the other car - she answered and said, "this is really weird". I told her I was going in but I put her on speed dial. On my way I yelled back, -" if I don't come out call 911". I didn't have to go in, they all emerged shortly. In the end, we were only charged $40.00 for each ticket and he did reimburse us what we were out, however we left the Weeter garage and felt a little "slimy" about the whole thing. He does have a legitimate site but we felt like it was definitely on the shifty side of things. Would not recommend this in the future. I suppose the lesson here is anyone with the name "Peter Weeter" should probably be avoided.