Saturday, February 17, 2007

Today's Seminar

This morning my husband and I attended a workshop at the hospital. The social workers annually have a lecture on planning for the future for special-needs kids. They cover issues like guardianship, power of attorney, finances, health care, etc. We learned a lot. They threw a lot more at us than we could absorb in a day.

A couple of things stand out from this morning's workshop -- things that have nothing to do with what we were supposed to be learning. First, the sadness of some of the situations. A man sitting behind me struck up a conversation, and he mentioned that his power of health-care attorney is his wife and his doctor, because a man can't trust his wife not to bump him off with all that insurance money sitting there waiting for her. At first, I thought he had to be joking, but as he kept chattering on and on, I realized he wasn't. Another man was asking the speaker questions about trusts, and mentioned that he and his wife have trusts set up that ensure the money goes to the kids, inaccessible to the spouse should there be a divorce. Even the speakers admitted that these things need to be taken into account, because most families with special-needs kids will experience divorce. Oy! How depressing!

The second thing that impressed me was the comment about the tiny tiny amount of SSI benefits. And we're thinking that if Maggie got SSI benefits, we aren't sure how we could ensure that it all got spent. (You do have to spend it all and can't save it.) The only way she could spend that much per month would be if she had to provide shelter for herself, or if she got really frivolous with spending money. People were talking about making sure that your kids have some "quality of life," and are able to buy CDs and new clothes, take vacations, buy treats, get tickets to shows, etc. Good grief, if we can rarely give that to our kid while we're alive, how can we be expected to provide it to her even after we're dead?

In our discussions today of wills and money and insurance, we were teasing about the young bimbo Gary would marry after I assume room temperature. We realized that anybody who married Gary for his money would truly have to be one heck of a BIMBO!

Luke 15:30 + Matt 20:12

In Didache this week, we read the parable of the prodigal son. At the end of the story, the older brother resented the party for the younger brother. He complained that he had never transgressed the father's commandment at any time, while the younger brother had wasted the inheritance on harlots. Why had the older brother "wasted" his obedience to the father, without receiving a pat on the back, a young goat to make merry, or any other reward?

The Septuagesima gospel was the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Those who worked all day resented getting the same pay as those who began work at 5:00 in the afternoon. Why should they have "wasted" their whole day of labor when they could've been goofing off most of the day like those other dudes? Shouldn't there have been some reward for denying themselves the lazy indulgence the other guys enjoyed?

When Christians respond that way, it is evidence that they think they missed something. They "did their duty" and were obedient. But if they think they missed out on the fun, if they missed out on "living it up," then that shows that they didn't really want to be obedient. Their hearts weren't in it. They were obedient out of duty, out of desire for a reward. Their hearts were not caught up in love for the Father; their hearts were not desiring the same thing He desired. (I might even venture to say that they were trying to be good.) The focus was on the obeying instead of the focus being on the job that needed to be done or on the relationship with the people around them.

"Yea, heaven itself were void and bare
If Thou, Lord, wert not near me."

If we long for Jesus, then there is no loss in "missing out" on the hedonistic pleasures of the world. Rather, we are receiving the exact thing we want -- Jesus. "Thou art the Portion I have sought."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Cold Sore

The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day on Monday caused me to wake up Tuesday morning with a cold sore. It's right in the middle of my bottom lip. When I looked into the mirror this morning, I looked like Queen Amidala from Stars Wars.

And now for a pun that we got off Greg's facebook site:

It takes a village to raise a child,
but it takes a Viking to raze a village.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Self-Cleaning Ovens

The sweet potatoes leaked sweet juice out of their foil-wraps today while they were baking. I could've left the oven sticky and messy, like I normally do. But for some reason, it crossed my mind that I could just set the self-cleaning cycle and let it run. Now I have a clean oven. But you know what was even better?!? The temperature in the kitchen was comfortable for the first time in more than two weeks. Four and a half hours of the oven turned on as hot as it goes. Ah, that was even better than getting the mess taken care of. I have to remember this scheme to get warmth: "I was just trying to be a good housekeeper" she says innocently, with no intention whatsoever of wasting propane and hugging the stove.

Clinic Update

Maggie saw the cardiologist today for a follow-up to surgery. Apparently I had misunderstood how well her lungs were doing last time; the last appt merely showed the left lung to be no longer collapsed. Today's x-ray looked better than last time. The nurse reported to the doctor that it sounded like Maggie had a "squeaky tennis shoe" in her chest. The doctor used it as a chance to teach the nurse about the tail-end of liquid in the lungs after a collapse. He says that little pocket of liquid is "rattling around in there" now that her lungs have improved so much, whereas last time he couldn't hear the squeaky rattle because there was other gunk to listen through. I phoned up Matt and told him to be sure to bring his stethoscope when he comes over tomorrow night; he gets to listen to all sorts of cool chest-sounds that the other med school students don't have available.

Things look good. Even the funny chest noise is not a problem, the doctor said. Maggie has gained eight pounds in the last 6 weeks. Of course, she lost a lot of weight with surgery and the resultant lung problems, so altogether she's only gained four pounds over the last three months. Doctor said kids often gain a lot of weight after surgery. Oxygen and a properly functioning heart seem --for some odd reason-- to have a big effect on kids' growth and health. Go figure.

Saturday the hospital will be hosting a lecture/workshop on special-needs trust funds, estate planning, guardianships, and government benefits & programs. So we're going to go listen to what sort of possibilities are out there for the future.

Nanny McPhee

Nanny McPhee is another movie we watched recently. It's got Emma Thompson, and we like her a lot too. (Gee, it seems we're on a jag of hunting up movies that have British actresses we like!) Mom, this is one you'll like for sure! It's not unlike Mary Poppins, except the kids are much ornerier, and there's no Dick van Dyke and Julie Andrews dancing and singing. Gary watched the show while we were off at our play-day on Saturday, and he was raring to watch it again with the rest of us before it got shipped back to Blockbuster. I think this is one we may have to buy because I think it's the kind of show we could happily watch a dozen times -- lots of slapstick, some romance and family values, and then some extra silliness tossed in for good measure.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ladies in Lavender

Last night we settled down with a movie we'd never heard of, while I worked on paying bills and getting a month's worth of budgeting caught up. We chose it because it has Maggie Smith, and we've been liking her a lot lately. Ladies in Lavender is set in the 1930s in England. There isn't much plot. I think, after watching that show, I am beginning to understand what a "character movie" is.

Basically the plot is that a young stranger is washed onto shore after a storm. Two spinsters find him and take him into their home and nurse him back to health. It turns out that he's a talented musician, and he eventually goes on his way to have the chance to play. Not much of a story, but the sweet little laughs and the emotional part of the story is about the characters and how they interact.

Mom, Gary said you might like this. Ever since you asked way-back-when about movie recommendations that aren't full of violence and sex and foul language, we notice when there's a movie that might fill the bill. And this was one. The back cover says it's a "heart-warming story." And it is. Not real fast-moving. Not real exciting. Just a sweet story.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Whine warning! Whine warning! Look out below! Whine warning!

I was feeling sorry for myself last Friday because I had to miss a party with a bunch of my friends, simply because I live so far away. There was too much going on this weekend to be able to fit in a 2.5-hour roundtrip drive to the city. Saturday, however, the kids and I attended a homeschool get-together. That involved four hours of driving, and it was a very long day, but it was time spent happily with dear friends. Right now, it seems sad to be out in the country, so far from friends. The drifting snow is going to reinforce that feeling over the next few days, I'm sure.

Friday I got a phone call from a customer, and followed up with a phone call to the employee who'd offended the customer. It was not a pleasant situation with either phone call, and I thought I was going to lose the employee then and there. But I decided to chill out, check with my boss on Monday, do some more follow-up, and then make a decision. It was stressful to work it all out, and it took a significant amount of time. I am not a good team-player; I'd rather just handle things on my own than try to get other people to be responsible and own up to their duties. It seems, though, upon further investigation, that the employee may have just been having a bad day, that she is actually doing a bang-up job, and that there were just some personality conflicts between the customer and the employee. Not saying that everybody involved did what they were supposed to do, as they were supposed to do it. But after this afternoon's phone calls, I think it's all smoothed out and will work. Whew!

We woke up yesterday, on the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, to find snow. Lots of snow. So all the priorities got shoved out of the way because of the need to shove snow out of the way first. Shoveling and the cold weather had messed up my back and neck last week. The lovely D.O. straightened my spine on Thursday, alleviating much pain, and here I was headed out to the driveway to mess it up again. Ah, but it had to be done, and everybody else was gone.

Then I went over to church to get some milk for breakfast. (Our fridge isn't big enough, and a nearly empty fridge sits at church, so we store some of our groceries over there rather than getting a second fridge for the house.) Oddly enough, I started splashing as I walked into the back of church. Splashing? That's a sound that belongs at a beach or in the bathtub. Splashing when walking is not a sound that belongs in the fellowship hall of church.

After some sleuthing, I discovered the gurgling and bubbling noises were coming from a radiator in the coat-room. I didn't even know there was a radiator in there. After quite a few phone calls, one of the trustees began helping as best he could while still at work. One of the men in the congregation showed up to turn off the furnace at church and shut off the water, both of which were necessary to halt the small waterfall that was spreading its puddle throughout three rooms of the building. I ended up trying to take care of the mess. After an hour and a half of sopping up 10 gallons off the hard-floor, the puddles on tile were small enough to evaporate, and the puddles on carpet had been patted partially dry. I was ready to go home and get on with the day that I had planned to start 3 hours earlier.

I fetched the one kid home from his job. He volunteered to tackle the dishes and the kitchen counters. I headed to the laundry room with a huge load of sopping wet towels, just dying to head off to a warm shower as soon as the washer filled. Kitchen-Boy and I discovered the same thing at the same time. There was no water. When the helpful guy from church turned off the water so as to stop the waterfall in the radiator, he also shut off water to the parsonage. Oy! I was so grimy and so very cold, and I really wanted a shower. And I needed those towels washed and dried so that I could take them back to church and use them to clean up more of the mess.

So I went over to church and tried to figure out the maze of water-pipes coming and going through water softeners, rust filters, water heaters, furnace, church pipes versus parsonage pipes, outgoing pipes versus incoming pipes, and which valves did what. That took a lot of staring and thinking and deciphering. Finally figured out which valve I had been told to turn, shut it off, and turned back on the main water valve. Sure enough, we got water to the parsonage. Also sure enough, the off-valve was the wrong one, and the waterfall resumed pouring water onto the tile floor and carpet I'd just finished drying off. So off went the main valve again, only to leave the waterfall Depleted-But-Still-Running for another 15 minutes. Yuck -- more puddles!

Husband came home and discovered that there is no way to turn off water to church without also turning off water to the parsonage. He did, however, try shutting off water to the church furnace, and that worked. We could resume use of toilets, showers, sinks, and washers at home. Hooray! Matt said it sounds like I was on my way to hypothermia. Wet socks, wet shoes, wet jeans, in a 45-50 degree building for over an hour, not noticing the cold, and then (once I was back into a warm living room) really really noticing how chilled I was. After 20 minutes in a hot bath, trying to get rid of the chill, my face was still cold. But eventually that hot water sure did knock the cold out of me.

The repairmen showed up later. Apparently the pipes froze in the frigid weather last weekend. That explains the cold section of church and the below-freezing temps in the pastor's study. These points were on the same pipe-line, beyond the location of the frozen pipes. Funny, the church had been told that this radiator had long ago been disconnected from the furnace system and supposedly had no water running through the pipes. Hmmm, erroneous information, it seems. Well, the repairmen will be coming back with bypass valves so as to get heat back to the study again. While they're here, they're going to install a valve so that church's water can be turned off without shutting us down at home. That would be the silver lining of the dark cloud!

Still recuperating from the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad yesterday, I bailed on dinner today as well as the weekly errands that were supposed to have been accomplished yesterday. Instead, we went to Pizza Hut for Maggie's Book-It treat and ate at the buffet. Other people were smart enough not to head out into the blizzard, so we fools had the restaurant to ourselves. Then we stopped at Aldi and picked up a few groceries to manage to finagle our way through to my next trip to the big city. My husband even bought me Valentine roses. And you know what was best? He asked me first if I'd be offended by his purchasing flowers. At Aldi prices, I was okay with it! So there are flowers brightening my table. Things are looking up.

Spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get a little cleaning and schoolwork accomplished in spite of messing my neck up again. Rachel says my headache sounds like a migraine. It's bad, but I thought a migraine would have to be worse than this. Luckily, the Deacon called and set me to the task of hunting through Dr Korby's file cabinets for something the sem requested. That gives me an excuse to make a doctor's appt: the wonderful man who straightens my back is 4 blocks from church. So tomorrow afternoon the doctor can make the owies go away again. And then I can play with Dr Korby's file cabinets and revel in reading and skimming his writings until I find the necessary paperwork. Again, things are looking up.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Trying to Be Good

When I wrote something last month about the Sacraments and the preaching being the thing that "makes us good," there were some objections. I was told that I do indeed need to try to be good.

It has crossed my mind that if we have to trrry to be good, that in itself seems to be evidence that we're not good. After all, when generosity or patience or kindness come easily and naturally, without our necessarily even being aware of it, that is goodness worked by the Holy Spirit as He sanctifies us. But if I don't want to be generous, am not being patient, and struggle to be kind, and if I have to try to make myself behave properly, the very need to try reveals my sinfulness.

Does this mean I should let bad behavior reign? No. Does my neighbor benefit from a particular deed when I try to be good and serve him, even though I'm having to make myself do it instead of doing it willingly and effortlessly? Of course he benefits. But I cannot believe that I am doing a "good work" before God if I have to muster up the gumption to try to do it. Trying means our eyes are on ourselves. In Matthew 25, the righteous ask their Lord, "When did we do these things?" They were unaware of their good works because, like the apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration, "they saw Jesus only."

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Note from the Doctor

My 12-yr-old doesn't usually watch Blues Clues anymore. And she's pretty much over Teletubbies. We were still watching Mr Rogers last year. She still likes to play dolls with her friends. She's still not quite up for multiplication, but is doing much better with addition and subtraction. She's old enough to understand that it's important to be quiet in the early morning so as not to wake up sleeping parents and siblings. However, she's still too young to realize that persistently whispering things to you and patting you gently does not constitute "being quiet" so as not to disturb the sleeper.

We got a mass-mailing from the doctor's office the other day. This is the little kid we are encouraged to take in to the doctor to obtain a vaccination which will hopefully prevent the virus (spread through promiscuous sexual activity) that could cause lesions which could cause pre-cancerous cells would could lead to cervical cancer. If that doesn't sound iffy enough even for promiscuous young women, my head is still reeling over the possibility that I would want that for a child who's still satisfied with dollies and Mr Rogers' puppets.

We dress 7-yr-olds like they're 23-yr-old street-walkers. And then they tell us to bring our 9- and 10-yr-olds in for vaccines to prevent VD. Maybe there's a better solution.