Thursday, February 26, 2009

After Dark

This is my driveway.

This is my front yard.

This is what lurks in my front yard. After dark.

Tonight King and I walked the trash can out to the road. So romantic. The stars were twinkling, we were holding hands. And the only thing I kept saying was, "Turn the flashlight on again!" I'm such a chicken. We have a creek behind our house and let me tell you, there is no shortage of creatures around our house.

I'm not really afraid of the foxes or other critters, but I am afraid of getting sprayed by a skunk. I have a very sensitive nose and I think I might turn inside out if I got near a skunk, much less sprayed.

What was supposed to be a sweet, romantic walk by starlight was instead a nervous footrace to the road and back to the house. Did I get sprayed? No. Did I even see a skunk? No.

But I'll betcha a skunk saw me.


To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.

This is what Princess's room used to look like. Lotsa stuff.

This is what her room looks like now.

My genetics are so apparent in my daughter. I have been messy most of my life. I am not very messy anymore. Princess is learning that responsibility comes with a cost. Taking the parable in Matthew 25 as our boundary marker, the King and I are trying to teach the Princess how to manage her blessings and responsibilities. It is my humble little opinion that many American kids are not responsible people because they are given sooo much and so little responsibility is demanded of them.

One night, in a sassy attitude, Princess was frustrated that I was asking her to tidy up around the house. I only asked her to gather her things from the different rooms and put them away. Her response, "Well, if you want to take everything that I have, go ahead." I had taken nothing away. Yet. Praying a silent prayer for wisdom, the following transpired.

Queen: "I don't want to take what you have. I want you to be responsible with what you have. Do you want me to take away everything you have?"

Princess: "Well, if you want to then just take everything I have."

Praying again, I asked her, "Are you sure?"

Princess: some sort of sassy comment.

Oooookay. So, I spent the next hour cleaning everything out of her room. When she went to bed, she had a bed, two lamps and a chest of drawers in her room. There were not even pieces of lint on the floor. It was all gone. Put into storage.

We talked alot about the parable in Matthew 25 and many Proverbs that address laziness, responsibility and hard work. We listened to her, prayed with her and encouraged her.

As it stands, each day that she is responsible, she gets to "buy" something back. She has "purchased" almost all of the things she wants back. The rest will stay in storage or be given away. She is learning so many lessons.

1. God is merciful, loving and just. Consequences come from all of our decisions.
2. We don't expect perfection, just progress.
3. We love her no matter how lazy or how resposible she is.
4. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but it produces a harvest of righteousness for those who are trained by it. (Hebrews 12)
5. Training is what persistent achievers do. They work at something over and over until they are really good at it. Sometimes you work so hard that you throw up, like marathon training. Still, the reward of the training makes it all worthwhile.

So many good lessons. And the surprising thing? She likes her clean room and does not want to clutter it up again. She's finding that less is more.

I think I could be learning a lot, too. I wonder how productive it would be to dump all my stuff out on the front lawn and only bring back inside what I want to clean and be responsible for? Hmmm.... I feel some spring cleaning coming on.

Matthew 25:14-28
14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip. 16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money. 19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’ 21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ 22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’ 23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ 24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’ 26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ 28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tortilla Soup

I'm getting closer to the perfect Tortilla Soup. I might have hit the bull's eye tonight. I forgot to picture the two chicken breasts and two boxes of Chicken Broth that I used (1 quart each).

2 Quarts Chicken Broth

2 chicken breasts, cubed, then shredded after cooked

16 0z diced tomatoes

1 can black beans

1 can corn

1 tsp chipolte chili pepper

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp cumin

1-2 tsp Chili powder

1 tbsp garlic powder

salt, to taste

Place cubed, raw chicken in chicken broth and cook. While chicken is cooking, add spices. When chicken is cooked, put cubes in food processor and pulse until shredded. Add chicken back to broth. Add beans, tomatoes and corn. Cook until boiling. Add lime to taste. Top with homemade tortilla strips.

Homemade Tortilla Strips

4 Guerrero "uncooked" tortillas

equal amounts: cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder

Salt, to taste

Spray oil

Place tortillas on cookie sheet and spray with oil. Sprinkle spices and salt on tortillas. Use pizza cutter and cut into strips. Broil on low for 3 minutes or until puffed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

MeRa Koh

Oh, dear Weblings! I am in a whole new love level with my hobby of photography. I have read MeRa Koh's blog for over a year, but never bought the DVDs to actually teach me anything.

That changed this weekend.

I purchased the two DVD set and I'm a changed woman. After watching half of the second DVD, I walked down to the creek behind our house and played with the aperture setting on my camera. Look at the picture I took! You have to click on it to see the bigger picture.

I am so in love with my camera. Thoughts of apertures, shutter speeds and spot metering dance in my head.

Friday, February 20, 2009

US Airways Flight 1549

The Lord works in mysterious ways, and with a sense of humor! Regarding the crash landing in the Hudson...

First: ... No one died!

Second: ... The passengers standing on the wing appeared to be walking on water!

Third: ... It removed Obama from the headlines for 24 hours!

Fourth: ... No one in the government could take credit for the miracle!

Fifth: ... It wasn't George Bush's fault!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I am completely overwhelmed with love for my nephew, but because I am not with him on a daily basis, I have a hard time living in his world and understanding his special abilities. That makes me sad, because I so want be able to be known by KK and to know him. Articles like the one below help me see the world through KK's eyes and draw my heart closer to him (is that possible?).

Here are 10 things every child with autism wishes you knew.

1. I am a child with autism. I am not "autistic." My autism is one aspect of my total character. It does not define me as a person. Are you a person with thoughts, feelings and many talents, or are you just fat (overweight), myopic (wear glasses) or klutzy (uncoordinated, not good at sports)?

2. My sensory perceptions are disordered. This means the ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of everyday life that you may not even notice can be downright painful for me. The very environment in which I have to live often seems hostile. I may appear withdrawn or belligerent to you, but I am really just trying to defend myself. A "simple" trip to the grocery store may be hell for me. My hearing may be hyperacute. Dozens of people are talking at once. The loudspeaker booms today’s special. Muzak whines from the sound system. Cash registers beep and cough. A coffee grinder is chugging. The meat cutter screeches, babies wail, carts creak, the fluorescent lighting hums. My brain can’t filter all the input, and I’m in overload! My sense of smell may be highly sensitive. The fish at the meat counter isn’t quite fresh, the guy standing next to us hasn’t showered today, the deli is handing out sausage samples, the baby in line ahead of us has a poopy diaper, they’re mopping up pickles on Aisle 3 with ammonia. ... I can’t sort it all out, I’m too nauseous.

Because I am visually oriented, this may be my first sense to become overstimulated. The fluorescent light is too bright. It makes the room pulsate and hurts my eyes. Sometimes the pulsating light bounces off everything and distorts what I am seeing. The space seems to be constantly changing. There’s glare from windows, moving fans on the ceiling, so many bodies in constant motion, too many items for me to be able to focus - and I may compensate with tunnel vision. All this affects my vestibular sense, and now I can’t even tell where my body is in space. I may stumble, bump into things, or simply lay down to try and regroup.

3. Please remember to distinguish between won’t (I choose not to) and can’t (I’m not able to). Receptive and expressive language are both difficult for me. It isn’t that I don’t listen to instructions. It’s that I can’t understand you. When you call to me from across the room, this is what I hear: "*&^%$@, Billy. $%^*&^%$&*" Instead, come speak directly to me in plain words: "Please put your book in your desk, Billy. It’s time to go to lunch." This tells me what you want me to do and what is going to happen next. Now it’s much easier for me to comply.

4. I am a concrete thinker. I interpret language literally. It’s very confusing for me when you say, "Hold your horses, cowboy!" when what you really mean is "Please stop running." Don’t tell me something is a "piece of cake" when there is no dessert in sight and what you really mean is, "This will be easy for you to do." When you say, "It’s pouring cats and dogs," I see pets coming out of a pitcher. Please just tell me, "It’s raining very hard." Idioms, puns, nuances, double entendres and sarcasm are lost on me.

5. Be patient with my limited vocabulary. It’s hard for me to tell you what I need when I don’t know the words to describe my feelings. I may be hungry, frustrated, frightened or confused, but right now those words are beyond my ability to express. Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation, or other signs that something is wrong.

There’s a flip side to this: I may sound like a little professor or a movie star, rattling off words or whole scripts well beyond my developmental age. These are messages I have memorized from the world around me to compensate for my language deficits, because I know I am expected to respond when spoken to. They may come from books, television or the speech of other people. It’s called echolalia. I don’t necessarily understand the context or the terminology I’m using, I just know it gets me off the hook for coming up with a reply.

6. Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented. Show me how to do something rather than just telling me. And please be prepared to show me many times. Lots of patient repetition helps me learn.

A visual schedule is extremely helpful as I move through my day. Like your day planner, it relieves me of the stress of having to remember what comes next, makes for smooth transitions between activities, and helps me manage my time and meet your expectations. Here’s a great web site for learning more about visual schedules

7. Focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do. Like any other human, I can’t learn in an environment where I’m constantly made to feel that I’m not good enough or that I need fixing. Trying anything new when I am almost sure to be met with criticism, however constructive, becomes something to be avoided. Look for my strengths and you’ll find them. There’s more than one right way to do most things.

8. Help me with social interactions. It may look like I don’t want to play with the other kids on the playground, but sometimes it’s just that I simply don’t know how to start a conversation or enter a play situation. If you can encourage other children to invite me to join them at kickball or shooting baskets, I may be delighted to be included.

9. Try to identify what triggers my meltdowns. This is termed "the antecedent." Meltdowns, blowups, tantrums or whatever you want to call them are even more horrid for me than they are for you. They occur because one or more of my senses has gone into overload. If you can figure out why my meltdowns occur, they can be prevented.

10. If you are a family member, please love me unconditionally. Banish thoughts such as, "If he would just ..." and "Why can’t she ... ?" You didn’t fulfill every last expectation your parents had for you, and you wouldn’t like being constantly reminded of it. I didn’t choose to have autism. Remember that it’s happening to me, not you. Without your support, my chances of successful, self-reliant adulthood are slim. With your support and guidance, the possibilities are broader than you might think. I promise you I’m worth it.

It all comes down to three words: Patience. Patience. Patience.

Work to view my autism as a different ability rather than a disability. Look past what you may see as limitations and see the gifts autism has given me. I may not be good at eye contact or conversation, but have you noticed I don’t lie, cheat at games, tattle on my classmates, or pass judgment on other people?

You are my foundation. Think through some of those societal rules, and if they don’t make sense for me, let them go. Be my advocate, be my friend, and we’ll see just how far I can go.
I probably won’t be the next Michael Jordan, but with my attention to fine detail and capacity for extraordinary focus, I might be the next Einstein. Or Mozart. Or Van Gogh.

They had autism too.

Freelance writer and consultant Ellen Notbohm is a columnist for Autism/Asperger’s Digest and co-author of 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders (Future Horizons). She favors "common sense" approaches to raising her sons with autism and AD/HD. She lives in Oregon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Unknown

What is it? It's rain. I know. I have forgotten what it looked like, too. Please note Mr. Ducky sitting on the table in front of the glider rocker in the lower right side of the picture. He has been a little out of place throughout this drought that we've had. Nevertheless, we leave Mr. Ducky out by the pool because we hope and pray for rain.

Not that I think Mr. Ducky brought the rain. (Thank you, Jesus.) It's just that seeing a little ducky out by the pool lends hope to a very chapped and dry wasteland that is our backyard.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Man's Imitation of God

Did you ever notice how "wise" people imitate God?

Take this quote:

“Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Does it not sound familiar to this?

"Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion."
-God, Proverbs 11:22

Monday, February 16, 2009

Customer Service

In my job, I provide customer support to any of our 6 million potential customers. Thankfully, most of the callers to our company speak very good English. I delight in speaking with customers from overseas as their manners are very polite.

Not so much with the good ole USA. ahem.

Today, Miss New York, New York felt the need to rip strips off of us via her voicemail on our PBX system. When I returned her call, she said (after a long pause when I identified myself), "I thought I said everything I had to say on the phone!"

Well, now. Yes, ma'am, you did. In fact, you said too much, ma'am.

Why can't we use good manners? One of the few things that separate us from the animal kingdom is our manners. (Besides the small fact that we are made in the image of God and animals are not). I know I sound every bit of the southern gal that I am. But, please. Let's all take a deep breath and just be nice.

I think when we call a company, we forget that humans answer the phone. Humans, not animals. Thus, we should all behave like we are the visitors at the zoo, not the occupants at the zoo.

Miss New York, New York was happy as a New England clam when we got off the phone. Glad she's happy, but I wish we could have avoided the whole name calling thing.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The True Meaning of Love

"For God so lo V ed the world,
That He g A ve
His on L y
Begott E n
So N
T hat whosever
Believeth I n Him
Should N ot perish,
But have E verlasting life."
John 3:16

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Last Sin Eater

Have you read this book? Stop what you are doing, go to Amazon and order the book. As soon as the nice UPS delivery guy drops your package at your door, rip the package open and do nothing but read this book. Order take out, leave the laundry, read the book.

Yeah. It's that good.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Simple Pleasures

A sunny weekend and a swing.

Doesn't get much better.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Worship Check

What do you worship?

Look at your finances for the past year, or even the past two months and break it down. What did you spend on/give to:


After breaking it down, do the percentages. How much did you spend, percentage-wise, in each category?

Now take your time over the past month and break it down the same way.

How much time did you spend in a week in the following areas?

with Jesus (and work does not count if you are in ministry.)
with entertainment
with food (includes snacking in front of TV, or anywhere else)
with driving
with investing in another person's life
with friends
with hanging out at the house
with pets
with children

Who gets the majority of your time and money? Do you worship your family? Your pet? Your friends? Your boat? Shopping?

It's good to check the heart and see where our true priorities fall. Something to ponder...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Cougar Lessons

Princess rode the cutest Arabian last Friday. His name is Cougar and he is a fiesty little guy.

It was good for her to ride a different horse. Sweet Snowflake, the white pony, will take whatever she dishes without much grumbling. Cougar, on the other hand, had to set some boundaries for Princess with regards to her riding skills. It was a challenge and he kept rearing up for the first 10-15 minutes of the lesson. Princess adjusted her reins, her seat, her expectations and they got along fine the rest of the lesson.

Poor Snowflake was lame last week, so he didn't have to do lessons. I hope he is better this week. Such a furry and sweet pony.

Monday, February 02, 2009

There's a Front Coming

I am a human barometer.

When I wake up paralyzed, take potassium, go back to sleep and I still wake up paralyzed ... I can guarantee that a low pressure system is about to move through.

It's one of those days. I will be paralyzed off and on all day today.