joining the 21st century

Last night, while he was out and about, my husband stopped by our local Radio Shack and bought us a cell phone.  We have lived in Silicon Valley for almost eight and a half years, and we have never owned a cell phone.  But, we are finally giving in and joining the party.

It’s not a fancy phone; it’s simply a Tracfone.  However, it’s an honest-to-goodness cell phone, and it works!  I even dialed it all by myself this morning and called a friend.  (Hi, friend! :))  I’ve been futzing with it a bit, and while I haven’t figured out much, I did discover how to turn the ringer off – a VERY important skill for any cell phone user to know.

So, now when I or my hubby (usually my hubby) is out and about, we have a way to keep in contact!  It’s probably a good thing JJ just made the decision and did it, because if it were up to me, I’d continue to think of reasons to keep putting it off.

But I’m glad we have it, especially as it seems very possible that we may become a one car family again.  Have a cell phone will be helpful.

Whee!  Look at me!  I have a cell phone!

But, if you want to call me, you should continue to call me at home.  This cell phone is for emergency use only.  You know, emergencies, such as “Honey, can you please bring a pint of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream home tonight for dessert?”

You understand.  REAL emergencies.  😉

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Haitian orphans

If you’re like every other American with a pulse, your heart has been touched by the stories coming out of Haiti in the aftermath of its 7.0 earthquake two weeks ago.  What breaks my heart the most is knowing how many orphans there now are in Haiti.  Story after story has come out about lost children who no longer have parents or someone to take care of them.  Today in my local newspaper there was a story about three young children brought to medical professionals after the quake who haven’t said a word since being rescued.  Not a word.  A small baby, estimated to be a week old at the time of the earthquake, was also found in the rubble, reportedly found in his dead mother’s arms.

Wow.

It’s certainly given me cause to give my daughters extra hugs and kisses this week.  Even more, I’ve wondered at God’s plan.  Why am I and my family so incredibly well off compared to the rest of the world?  Why wasn’t I born into extreme poverty?  Why did God choose those Haitians to be born where they were?  Why has my life been so easy and the lives of others so inexplicably difficult?

I don’t have any answers to those questions, and the only response I can make is to thank God for his gracious kindness, not only in giving me an upbringing and a current life situation where I and my family have so much of … everything, but even more to thank him for making me His child.  I had no hand in it.  I didn’t choose a family to be born into, any more than my daughters chose to be born to JJ and me.  And I certainly didn’t choose to come to faith in God.  God has been so good to me in so many ways, and I don’t deserve any of it.

Compared to the unfortunate people of Haiti, I almost feel guilty at the lavishness of my blessings.  For better or worse, this feeling of almost-guilt has created a desire in me to share something of the bounty the Lord has given me with others not as fortunate as myself.

Such as the orphans of Haiti.

My husband I have casually discussed adopting a child off and on for most of our married life.  We always knew we wanted biological children, and, again, thanks to the great kindness of God, we have been blessed with two daughters whom we love with all our hearts.  Lord willing, we plan to have more biological children in the future, too.

Adoption would be something we would do not to create a family, but to share our family with a child (or two) less fortunate.  With the current situation in Haiti, adoption has been on my mind frequently over the past two weeks.

Recently on NBC’s Nightly/World News, they did a story about Haitian orphans, and I pretty much cried through the whole story.  NBC first presented the great number of children who need help, their dire need for the most basic of life’s necessities, and then they talked of the future of these orphans.  Should these children be adopted out of Haiti, or should they ideally stay in Haiti?  One dewy-eyed 20-something American woman said, quite rightly, that Haiti needs to have a future, and their children are their future.  If a large number of the children leave, what future will Haiti have?  A middle-aged American male relief worker responded saying, quite logically, that Haiti is in ruins and cannot possibly adaquately take care of these children right now.  If they stay, they will have nothing, and adopting them out gives them hope and a future.

I see both sides, I really do.  I said to JJ yesterday, “I think it would make the most sense for us to sponsor a child, or a few children, so that they can stay in Haiti and be part of rebuilding their country, but they can still have access to the basic necessities of life.  Plus it would be a huge change in our family to adopt a child or two from Haiti.  I don’t know if I would manage it well.”

Then I read the story about the children so traumatized that they can’t even talk.

Then I read another story about how officials are worried that these children with no place to go, no one looking out for them, and in great need will be picked up by human traffickers, and sold as slaves and/or prostitutes on the world market.

!!!!!!!

I don’t know what our family will ultimately decide to do.  Frankly, I don’t know if there’s a perfect solution that meets the needs of Haiti and meets the needs of its children.  I still don’t know how I would do at mothering an adopted child or two.  Would my husband and I love them the same as our biological children?  Would we be ready and willing to handle the likelihood of there being special challenges raising a child who has already had to endure the worst life can give a person?  Would my children adapt well to new siblings?  Would I get over my feelings of survivor guilt to love that child as s/he is, rather than merely feeling sorry for him/her?

I’m nowhere close to feeling settled with answers to these questions.  It will continue to be a situation for which my husband and I will be giving prayer and consideration in the future.

But in my heart, I know that if my husband and I were dead and buried under the rubble, and my daughters were wandering the streets with no one to look after them (Oh, I can’t even imagine it without tearing up), I would say, “To h*## with the rebuilding of a country; give my kids a chance!”

Perhaps, just perhaps, our family can give one or two Haitian orphans a chance.

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Now that I’ve got your heartstrings all tugged good and proper, however, read this article written by adult adoptees of color who make a convincing argument that fast-tracking adoptions of Haitian orphans is not a good idea.

funny girl

Lately, Curious J has been so funny.  Just like her big sister is “Miss Enthusiasm,” J seems to be carrying on the sisterly trend.  She can be hysterically funny and is full of enthusiasm for life, especially at the dinner table.  Much to her father’s delight, she uses the “Go Pack Go” chant frequently and energetically at the table, although she adapts it to whatever is on her mind.  For example, tonight she was singing, “Go Thomas Go!” (meaning Thomas the Tank Engine).

She’s continually talking more, understanding more, and is tantruming a little less all the time.  She’s still a Momma’s Girl, but she’s becoming more of a Daddy’s Girl, too; she’ll often ask about him when he’s not around.  She’s so much fun to be around, and she keeps all of us laughing at the dinner table every night.  I think we’ve got our family’s comedienne!

it never rains but it pours

Last fall, around Thanksgiving, a much-needed new roof was installed on the parsonage in which my family and me live.  The cost? $24,000.  Yikes.

The heater in the parsonage has been acting strangely for over a year.  We have called it a “temperamental” furnace, because we never knew when it would decide to function as a heater should or when it would decide not to turn on at all.  It has gotten worse in the new year, to the point where last week it was hardly turning on at all.  The temperature in our house got down to 55 degrees, although we have two space heaters which we used strategically to warm up the rooms in which we spent our time.  We had someone out to look at it last Friday.  He discovered what the problem was, but couldn’t fix it.  However, in all his maneuverings he did something to the furnace that has caused it to now run almost like normal.  However, the head repair guy came out today to take a look at it.  Since he knew what kind of furnace he was going to find, he looked it up online, and discovered that our furnace had been recalled almost ten years ago, due to a high fire risk.  Great!  Apparently it’s already showing a few burn marks on it, and while it’s probably okay for the short term, we are going to need a new furnace.  The cost? around $3000.  Yikes.

While the heating guy was here today, I had him look at our upstairs guest room toilet as well, since he repairs both heating and plumbing problems.  That toilet will run and run and run — and we’re never sure when it will finally shut off.  So, we rarely use it.  However, with the likelihood of guests staying with us this year nad needing to use that bathroom, we wanted to get that toilet fixed.  The guy looked at it, said that these kind of toilets aren’t made any more (in fact, some of it’s mechanisms are now illegal!), and it would be more expensive to rebuild it than it would be to simply buy a new one.  The cost? around $500.  Yikes.

And, finally, our own car, our 1996 Saturn SL-1 with 180,000 miles on it, is having problems.  Engine oil is mixing with coolant, which is a big problem.  Before the Saturn line went defunct a year ago, there was a wonderful Saturn dealership about 20 minutes away from our house where we always got our Saturn serviced.  We liked it very much, and we always felt very good about the quality of work as well as the price.  Well, that closed about a year ago due to the economic downturn, so this time we took our Saturn to a different dealership, one that our old Saturn dealership had recommended to us.  This new dealership said that with an engine problem like ours, they would have to take out the engine to see how it would need to be repaired, and just doing that alone would cost $1500, which does not include doing the repairs and is more than the car is worth.  So, again, Yikes.

I don’t distrust any of these repair people, but I feel like it would be a good idea to get some second opinions.  Since the church just had to shell out $24K for a new roof, asking them to shell out more money for our house is not going to excite anyone.  Hopefully some cheaper options will present themselves.  However, we don’t want to go too cheap, as that’s been a problem with this house and with the church and school in the past.  In fact, the repair guy today said that the furnace we currently have is the absolute bottom of the barrel for cheap-ness.  You get what you pay for, and while no one wants to spend money unnecessarily, one does want to get a product that will last for a while.  Hopefully solutions can be found to these situations that don’t break the bank, but aren’t going to just cost us more money in the future.

In all honesty, I’m not stressing out about any of this, but it is unusual that it is happening all at one time.  It leads JJ and me to shake our heads and say, “It never rains but it pours.”

what a difference a good remedy makes

During the nasty cold I had last week, I experienced times where I had no choice but to use some cough drops to quell my coughing spasms.  I had to teach my music classes.  I had to play organ for church.  I had to take something to get to sleep at 2am.  I knew that the camphor/menthol in them had a strong risk of antidoting my homeopathic constitutional remedy.  But, I was desperate, so — I used the cough drops.

It turns out that my fears were justified.  I DID antidote my remedy.  I can tell that my anxiety is creeping back, slowly but surely, and just as insidiously, my motivation and ambition to accomplish projects is slipping away.

But, there is a difference this time.  I am not anxious about feeling anxious.  In other words, I am confident that I definitively know how to get rid of this anxiety, and that gives me strong hope in the face of my fear.  I emailed my homeopath to send me another dose of my constitutional remedy, and once I take it, I should start noticing a difference in a few days.  My homeopath also thinks that the remedy will get rid of the final vestiges of this cold that continue to linger on: a stuffy nose, post-nasal drip, and a dry, nagging cough when I lie down at night along with a junky cough for the first hour of the morning.  It would be lovely to feel completely well again.

I don’t enjoy experiencing a renewal of my anxiety.  But, I cannot tell you how vastly better it makes me feel to know that there is something specific and precise that I can take that will cure it.  It is SUCH a relief!  So, even though I feel anxious right now, I’m feeling very at peace about the situation.

This time I can say it and actually believe that it’s true: Everything really is okay.

blogs that tug on your heartstrings

I’ve found a new blog that has tugged on my heartstrings: NieNie Dialogues.  Stephanie Nielson was a normal wife and mother (and blogger) to four little ones when she and her husband’s small plane crashed in August 2008.  Stephanie experienced severe burns over most of her body, and her road to recovery has been long and hard.  Once her fingers were able to type again, she resumed blogging, sharing her heartaches and successes with her blog readers.  Read a story written about her in her local newspaper here.  It’s long but absolutely worth it, so allow yourself some time.  Have tissues ready.

And, in happy blog news, The Spohrs Are Multiplying posted that their new baby arrived today!  You might remember that the Spohr’s first daughter, Madeline, died unexpectedly back in April 2009.  Her mother had been a mommy-blogger, and the blog world was rocked when Maddie died at 17 months.  Not long after, Heather, Maddie’s mother, revealed that she and her husband were pregnant again.  Maddie had died of a lung infection, due partially because she had been born prematurely and with very weak and susceptible lungs.  However, the doctors discovered better ways of treating Heather’s blood-clotting condition that had led to Maddie’s premature birth, and a little girl was born today, just a few days shy of 37 weeks.  I’m so happy for the Spohr family!

wives, are you hearing what you’re saying?

I am not a perfect wife.  Not even close.  If my husband were honest about my flaws, he could tell you just how not-perfect of a wife I am.

However, to his perpetual credit, he remains silent on my flaws.  He certainly never criticizes me in public, and only very cautiously criticizes – or even questions – me in private.  While some of that is an ingrained and wise “don’t air dirty laundry in front of your neighbors” habit, the fact is that there are ways to say things subtlely that come out sounding as criticism, and he doesn’t do that.  If he has a problem with something I’m doing, he will tell me, but he takes great pains to phrase it in the nicest way possible.  He’s always been very sensitive to how things are phrased, much more so than I am.

When I got married, one of my goals as a wife was to never criticize my husband in public or to say things in such a way as to make him look bad.  I have, of course, failed at this many times.  But, if I’m honest, I think I do a pretty good job, although I’ve certainly become better at it from seeing my husband’s excellent example towards me.  Besides avoiding saying bad things about him, I also try to look for ways to compliment my husband both in public and in private.  He seems to like it :), so I have had positive reinforcement to continue.  It’s not always instinctive for me to watch what I say and how I say it, but JJ says I’m doing better than I used to.

Because I have tried to sensitize myself to this, I now notice when other women don’t talk nicely about their husbands.  Many times it’s not so much that they speak negatively about their husbands (although that does happen), but it’s the words they use to phrase a statement about their husband.  Their subtle digs and indirect innuendos often surprise me.  “Don’t these women hear what they’re saying?” I wonder.  “And why don’t their husbands tell them to stop talking that way?”  Sometimes it’s almost embarassing to be part of a conversation where the wife is saying things that reflect negatively on her husband, especially when the husband doesn’t seem to react to it at all.  That kind of situation makes me think: “Poor guy.  How many times has she said these sorts of things already?”

For the record, I think there are ways to constructively bring up problems that a wife might be having in regards to her husband, or vice versa.  No couple is perfect, and sometimes a spouse needs to talk about problems with a trusted friend in order to gain insight and a new perspective on a situation.  But I don’t think that constructively discussing an inter-personal problem is the same as ripping on one’s spouse.

Just as parents should never say anything nasty or harsh about their children in front of their children, that same consideration should be shown to spouses.  I believe it’s important for a couple to put on a united front to the world.  It’s not one person’s decision, it’s “our decision.”  It’s not one person’s problem, it’s “our problem.”  And for wives, it’s not “He said that I have to…”  Instead, it’s “He thought it was best to…”  It’s important to speak kindly of those we love, and it’s even more important when there are children involved, with their little ears listening not only to our words but also to our manner of speaking.

I love my husband, and I pray that I will love him even better as our marriage progresses.  He’s not perfect, but then neither am I.  We are an imperfect match, but together we make a pretty good pair. 🙂