Thursday, September 30, 2010

Who Am I?

Having an entire family of Boys who have used my account must confuse the very algorithms out the Amazon recommendation page.

Today I received their cheery e-mail. Based on what I've purchased before, it said helpfully, I might be interested in the following products:

Probably suggested for me because Husband bought this coach's biography.

Awww, Boy #3. He's taking conducting this semester, and I appreciate Amazon reminding me of him.

I'm flattered that the book company thought I'm interested in programming; I get my implied geekiness from Boy#2.

A case for the GPS system we got Boy#1 for Christmas a few years ago. Great idea!

And the screaming cat slingshot? That's for me.

I guess the algorithms know me after all.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Bedtime Story

Pepper. Our Own Dog.
I woke up at 2 a.m. because a dog was barking somewhere far away, and I was annoyed.

But then I realized I could hear the dog because the windows were open, which meant that for the first time in four months it's not 100 degrees at midnight, oh frabjous day!, and I was happy.

But then I realized that, wait a minute, I think that's Pepper, Our Own Dog, and I was annoyed.

But then I realized that Husband heard the same thing and had gone to Take Care of the Problem, and I was happy.

But then I realized the reason Pepper was barking had left its calling card wafting through the windows, and I was annoyed.

But then Husband returned and closed the windows.

And I was happy and went back to sleep.

The End.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

God Knows

Every other Tuesday, Ashley and I meet at the ungodly hour of 7:15 a.m. to talk about God.

She's a student where I work, and I've been "mentoring" her for three years now. The irony quote marks are intentional; I often look behind me to see if anyone is laughing at the idea that I am wise enough to be a mentor, especially on matters spiritual.

As I explained once to Ashley, though, I don't have answers. I have experience, and I have faith, and we're going to have to trust God for the answers.

Actually, these meetings would be a lot easier if I did have answers. She's 22, finishing her college degree, and the career she had anticipated when she started school is not working out. We talk about this endlessly--what will she be doing for the rest of her life? In a decade? In a year?

I know her searching first-hand. With the exception of my first job out of college, every life change I've made has felt outlandish at the time. The Peace Corps? Accepting Husband's proposal after we'd only dated for three months? Really?

We're working through a book on trusting God. The wise author points out that it's often easier to obey God than to trust Him. If we know God is leading us in a certain direction we close our eyes and step that way--we join the Peace Corps, or start picking out wedding music.It's harder to believe God knows the fourteenth step down the road from this choice that is so ridiculous but so right.

What you don't know about your future, I tell her, God knows. That's all I can tell her with certainty.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Man of My Dreams

If I were not married to Husband (or to Tom Hanks, long recognized as The Only Man For Whom I Would Leave Husband), I would be stalking Jeff Rubin.

Who is Jeff Rubin, you might ask? He's this guy.

The folks at my office refer to me (lovingly, I'm sure) as the Grammar Nazi. And if my fascination with grammar drives them to make politically incorrect comparisons of me to Hitler, my obsession with punctuation is downright Blackshirt-ish. Misplaced apostrophes literally (yes, I mean that) make my pulse race.

One of my co-workers is the sweetest guy in the world. He has met exactly one person he didn't like (he's kept track) and would give you the tongues out of his shoes if you asked for them. But he is befuddled by apostrophes. He disclosed this disability in his initial job interview and I laughed it off.

"Oh, apostrophes are easy!" I trilled. "In a month you'll be wondering why you ever struggled with them."

The first few news releases he sent my way for edit looked as if they had been randomly sprinkled using an apostrophe shaker. About half of the plurals were indicated with the evil mark. I smiled and inserted the maverick curlicues back into the possessives and contractions where they belonged.

"Remember that plurals never use apostrophes, no matter what you see on all those wood 'Smith's' and 'Anderson's' signs on RVs," I told him gently.

That was seven years ago.

Now, as I edit his copy, I no longer make little caret marks and discreet arrows to indicate the misplaced apostrophes. My red pen slashes and I whimper and the word WHYYYY???? has been known to be used if I'm having a bad day.

It's a small thing, I always realize after my blood pressure returns to normal, and certainly doesn't overbalance his diligence and skills in other areas.

But I dream then, for just a moment, of a world in which "it's" is never possessive and names like Jones and Stevens are not allowed to exist.

Jeff Rubin, give me a call.

Friday, September 24, 2010

For All the Saints

When we bought the house where we've raised the Boys it needed to be updated. Its bones were good, but the sprawling first floor was covered in '70s green shag carpet, and the previous owner had inexplicably painted every inch of woodwork black. Decades of dust had settled in the ripples of the stucco walls, the ones we compared to meringue or stalactites depending on our mood.

Instead of updating immediately, though, we had babies. Boy#1 had his first birthday as we were moving into the house, and within four more years our family was complete. In those chaotic years of gestation and toilet-training, we had neither the money nor the energy to commit to remodeling.

Sixteen years passed in a blur. We tore up the carpeting, hoping the hardwood underneath would be lovely. It wasn't. But always, as we waited for the right moment to remodel, we knew one thing: When we were ready to tear down that wall, we'd call Joe.

We had met Joe at church, where he always sat at the end of an aisle with Wanda. He winked at our Boys and teased them, by then more a litter of undisciplined puppies than children, and that was the first thing I liked about him. The better we got to know him, though, the more we appreciated his character.

Joe was not the guy the popular kids in town would have remodel their houses. He wasn't the trendy choice in contractor, not a guy who would smile and nod and wear polo shirts with his logo embroidered on a crest. Instead, Joe was a throwback to the days when carpenters carried their business around in an old pick-up truck. His word was his bond; he embodied character.

I'd spent years of kids' naptimes watching HGTV and as we walked through the house with Joe the first time I was full of ideas.

"I'd really like to put an oversized tub in this bathroom--can we do that? And a huge oak tree blew down on my parents' farm and my dad says he'll have it milled into boards--can we use them? And I want a window seat here, where we can have drawers to store games--would that work?"

Joe walked silently behind us, arms folded, toothpick sticking out of the corner of his mouth, and kept track of my dreams.

Soon he installed his air compressor in the basement and his table saw in the living room and went to work. For the better part of a year he was practically part of our family--he would arrive and strap on his carpenter's apron just as we were leaving for the day. We got home from work to see our dream house materializing through the sawdust and paint fumes.

Joe was perfectly fine at the meatball carpentry needed to reconstruct the rooms that had been gutted of their lath and plaster. But when it came to finishing, he was an artist. He suggested lining the closet in our bedroom with cedar, and the smell of the mountains greeted me when I opened the door. He used Dad's wide oak boards to wrap entryways and now they remind me of the creek where I grew up every time I walk through them.

Beyond his artistry with wood, though, Joe was an honest, decent, admirable man who built those qualities into the houses he renovated. He loved having his daughter as his right-hand man, and I loved watching them sitting on a step and talking quietly as they drank their afternoon Mountain Dew . I loved that my family's home was being transformed by a man who loved his family so very much.

Our house was one of the final major projects Joe completed. A few months after he moved his tools off the porch for the final time, failing kidneys robbed him of  the strength and stamina he needed to do his work. Two weeks ago he suffered a major stroke.

Today I'll play the piano at Joe's funeral, new arrangements of old hymns. I know he's working at the side of the Master, whistling as they build mansions in heaven.

I can't wait to see what he's done with them.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Oooh! Cool!

Apparently the publication I edit is sent to someone in the witness protection program. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What's On My Phone

I'm not often mistaken for a teenaged girl. I know! It shocks me, too. But I'm obviously a mom, because all the pictures on my phone have something to do with my family.

I have this picture of Boy#1.
He's the Secretary of Defense!
And here's an example of how thoughtful my Boys are:
Mother's Day Flowers!

I saw this sign in a church bathroom and had to send it to my sons.

But I've never appreciated my phone more than during the past week, as I've worried about Boy#4. He's been kind enough to send take pictures every day so that I can see how he's doing after The Faceplant That Broke The Curb.

I think he's healing nicely, don't you?

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Think I've Done This Before

Husband normally prefers I leave the lawn work to him. Years ago he told me there's no reason for me to push a mower when there are five able-bodied males in the house.

He's been busy this week, though, so I decided to surprise him by mowing the lawn.

As it turns out, my diplomatic Husband may have had an ulterior motive in trying to keep me away from the mower. There's an unmowed triangle that I missed right in the middle of the lawn, and there's this especially lovely strip of turf where I managed to mow right down to the dirt.

It reminds me of when the Boys were preschoolers and I decided to save money by cutting their hair at home. At least the lawn won't insist on wearing a hat until it grows back out.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Did You Hear This One?

There are, perhaps, only two people in the world who share my finely-tuned sense of humor. One is Boy#1. (I knew we were humor soul-mates the day Boy#3 looked at us sharing the nuance of a joke, rolled his eyes, and said "You two are idiots.")

The other is my brother Fred, the youngest of my four siblings. He once was talking to a date about his siblings, and explained his roots. "We all think we're pretty smart and pretty funny," he told her. "Yes," she replied, "and you all need to get over that."

Frankly, I don't understand why he didn't marry her right there. That response alone should have made him propose. I tell the story, though, because it explains why I so enjoyed the bluegrass festival this year.

Yesterday Fred joined the throngs of hippie wannabes who double the size of our little town every September and listen to three days of fabulous music. It was hot, it was crowded, and it was tremendous fun because Fred was there.

Being with Fred is like being with my inner child's best friend, but instead of completing my sentences, Fred finishes my jokes.

One band front man announced sadly, "This is our last performance as a band," and I turned to Fred expectantly. He didn't disappoint. "Officials are waiting in this auditorium to escort our bass player to his new command in the naval forces of the Third Reich," he read my mind. And we giggled uncontrollably. (It was a "Sound of Music" reference--you didn't get it?)

He shared my appreciation for the varied clothing choices of festival-goers, including the guy in the knee-length plaid pleated skirt (no, it wasn't a kilt; it was a skirt) and the other guy with the tambourine around his neck: "I could probably wear a tie-dyed chicken suit around here and the only thing people would ask was whether it was hot," he observed.

One singer started her set by announcing "This is a song I wrote about my favorite animal, the goat." "You know," Fred observed, "that's a sentence you don't hear nearly often enough."

We marveled at one young band that both of us predict will go far. "It's like finding out that in their early years the Beatles did a lot of hoe-down," he pointed out.

Today my face is approximately the same color I used to spray-paint last week (Brick Red, in case you forgot) but I'm smiling. Yesterday, I got to spend all day with my smart, funny brother.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Week: A Photo Tour

The story of my week can pretty much be summed up in a photo tour that begins at the end of my sidewalk. Please stay with the tour, and save your questions until we have finished.

This is my lawn. The MomQueenBee family lives at the corner of Drainage Street and Halfway Down the Hill. That means that when the torrential rains came on Wednesday night, debris from other people's lawns washed over our lawn, clear up to the bottom step of the porch. It is not pretty.

This is on our front porch. We have no clue who put it there. None. We suspect that the Gas Bottle Fairy has discovered our house and is now leaving us little pick-me-ups.

This is Wednesday's newspaper, completely unread after the hubbub of Tuesday night. If you were to continue on our extended photo tour, you would find Thursday's paper similarly unread in the dining room. It's not been a good week for reading newspapers. Or, obviously, for cleaning off the kitchen island.

This is the bag I packed when Husband called at 10 p.m. after the storm, letting me know that the roof had blown off our church and that I needed to bring him some tools. I packed two cordless drills, without working batteries, and a flashlight. I am nothing if not useful. That bag was all we needed to repair this:

Or not.
 While this is a wrenching sight to those of us who have loved our little church, it's also a witness to God's grace (especially toward the 100 or so kids at Wednesday night activities who took shelter in the basement and emerged without a scratch) and to His timing in ripping the roof off a sanctuary we have planned to remodel. I believe He's ready for us to proceed. And that brings us back to my kitchen, where you will find this:

When the roof ripped off the sanctuary I was not worried about the electronics, or the carpet, or the hymnals. My first thought was for our Yamaha piano, which I love with the love of 10,000 angels and which, if I had to choose between it and my children, I might have to take a second before I made the right choice. In a lifetime of playing pianos I looooove this one the most. And when the piano restorer removed the tarps and shook off the fallen shingles and got down to the instrument she found only a couple of swelled keys, and no other damage. You won't find me complaining about the soaked piano cover drying in my kitchen.

And finally, we come to the end of the tour with this.

Even before Wednesday night's storm hit, the woman in whose basement our study group waited out the sirens had been having a crummy day. She sent out the word: Bring chocolate. 

She is a wise, wise woman. 

Any questions?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Boy#3 suffered his concussion during a New Year's Eve party. He and another similarly hard-headed teen smacked noggins during a rowdy game, and Three got the worst of it. During the ensuing eight hours, he was as confused as any New Year's reveler could be. He repeatedly asked what had happened, what day it was, where he was.

"What day is it?"

"It's New Year's Eve, Three."

"You mean I missed Christmas?"

"No, we had Christmas."

"What did I get?"

"You got a tuxedo."

A long pause. Then, "Did I want a tuxedo?"

I tell this story to remind myself that last night's accident will become part of the family lore, and that we will share amusing stories about it some day. Now that we know that Boy#4 is sleeping, as prescribed by the ER nurse, we look back from the abyss of What Might Have Been and can see the skeletons of the stories that will survive. 

We'll talk about the accident itself, how Four rounded a corner on his bicycle and collided with a parked bike, flying over the handlebars and face-first onto a curb. We'll laugh about his painkiller-laced first call home, when we asked him when he would be able to return to classes.

"That's still up in the air," he said. "Come to think of it, I was up in the air today!"

Someone will bring up Boy#2's concussion, the first in the family, when he was 10 or so and was tackled into a landscaping beam during a game of yard football. "Hey, remember how he asked for a Kleenex and then started to eat it?" And we'll laugh again.

This morning I'm up while it's still dark and wondering what the earliest hour is that I can call and see how the night went. I'm thinking back over the messages from friends and knowing that all those moms were out there praying for my kid. Underlying all of this is a constant stream of thankfulness to a God who loves children, and took care of mine.

The lore is still unaged and unformed, not yet ripened. It will get there, though, and we'll look back on the pictures of the broken nose and stitched-up lip and laugh.

Just not quite yet.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This Is the Call You Dread

We are just finishing supper when my phone begins singing Boy#4's school fight song.

"It's Four!" I say to Husband.

When I answer, though, a woman's voice is on the other end.

"This is Whitney, from the hospital, and Four wanted you to know that he's been in a bicycle accident. He isn't badly hurt, but he has cuts and scrapes to his face and arms, and we're checking him for a concussion."

For some reason, it's important to me that Whitney think I'm a calm mother. I murmur something meant to sound as if I'm in control. I know I won't remember the details of this conversation so I repeat Whitney's sentences as she's leading a responsive reading.

"Think he's pain...Hillcrest emergency room..."

"He says he has brothers down here, and we've called them, and they're on their way," she concludes.

At that moment the house phone rings. It's Boy#1, on his way to the hospital and needing directions. Within a few minutes later he has arrived and is reporting by text.

"Just got into the ER and most of the emergency equipment looks unused, so that's a good sign. Fortunately, tonight's assigned reading for torts was our first case dealing with medical malpractice so I'm all set to be a terror if necessary."

A few minutes later another text. 

"They've taken him for a CAT scan. If he meows, he has to stay overnight."

I laugh, and respond with a joke about bringing in the dog for the Lab tests. 

I've e-mailed my prayer group friends, and already responses are coming in.

"I'm praying for Four (and for mom)."

And now I cry, waiting. I know how blessed we are that in 84 cumulative years of child rearing, this is the first one to need an ambulance ride to the hospital. I know that, and I know Four's getting good care, and that God's in control.

But still I cry because a mother should be there when her child is in pain, and I'm not.


Updated: A concussion, a broken nose, and stitches in the lip. He'll spend the night in his brothers' apartment, and I am so very, very glad that they are there for him. As you all are for Husband and me. Thank you for the messages and prayers and knowledge that you're in our village helping raise these kids.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How to Prove You Love Them

If anyone needed proof that I love my boys, I would point to this:

I did a craft project for them. Voluntarily.

I am not a crafty woman. In fact, when the boys were in grade school they had a secret academic advantage in that I could "help" them with their homework projects in such a way that a teacher would never suspect that a grown-up woman had put together that mess of globby paste and saw-toothed cut edges. My shameful secret was that I was doing my very best.

Boys#1 and #2 had been in their apartment for several weeks when I asked if they liked it. It's great, Two told me, but really sterile. Undecorated. Did I have any suggestions?

Oh, my gosh! They need help decorating! My mind fast-forwarded through the decades I have spent watching "Design on a Dime." Yeah, I said nonchalantly, I cold probably come up with something.

Now, after spending the past two weeks on the project, it is finally in place in their apartment. In case you ever want to duplicate my work (HGTV? Are you out there?), here are the steps involved:
    1. Make sure your children have decent cameras when they spend their semesters abroad, and that they choose interesting places to study. Hong Kong and London come to mind.

    2. Every time they Skype you, whine about how you sure wish you could see what they were doing, until they sign off with the overseas equivalent of "I think I hear the doorbell ringing." Eventually, just to make you back off, they will upload their albums to Snapfish.

    3. Years later, scroll through their old Snapfish albums. Do not envy their Eiffel Tower climbing and panda viewing, or call them to say "Man, I'd sure like to go to Europe or Asia some day. Or ANYWHERE besides central Texas."

    4. Make Snapfish posters out of their some of their best shots. Pat yourself on the back because even though you can't shoot a grip-and-grin without cutting off either the grip or the grin, their photographic genius obviously comes from you.

    5. Buy some cheap poster frames. Flip over the stock photo that comes with the frame and spray-paint the blank side brick red. Scrub your toes.

    6. Cut out a poster-board template so that you will exactly center the photos in the red "matte" you have so economically made.

    7. Spray craft glue on the photos, and your thumb, and realize that Elmer's is not kidding when it says it will stick to anything, and make anything stick to everything else whether that was your intention or not.

    8. Realize that in spite of the template you have "centered" the photos crooked and that synapses in Husband's brain will now explode every time he tries to look at them.

    9. Hang the posters above the $5 couch and realize that this display, cheap as it was, cost 15 times as much as the couch.

    10. Say to your children, "Hey, doesn't that look great?" They will respond, "Yeah, looks fine, Mom." Congratulate yourself, that you have not raised children who are overly emotional. It is obvious that internally they are speechless with admiration for your artistry.

     11. When you blog about the project, do not use the picture you took of the wall display that showed Boy#2 flaked out on the couch and not looking so pretty, but showed the wall display much more beautifully than this picture does.

    Then let them take you out to lunch. That's how you prove you love them.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Money Well Spent

    Among the things you don't want to see next to the highway halfway into the 8-hour trip to see Boys#1,2, and 4:

    Dead armadillos.

    Nebraska fans.


    For some reason, when we were dating I had a run of bad luck with flat tires. Husband-to-Be changed four of them during the six months we were engaged, as I stood by wringing my hands and admiring his masculinity. Immediately after the wedding ceremony he decided he had had enough of that and we joined AAA. (That's the one for flat-tire-prone people, not the one for alcoholics.)

    Since then we have paid $300 per year for the privilege of carrying this gold card, so over the course of 27 years that means we've spent approximately $8,100 on auto club membership.

    As we sat waiting for the tow truck yesterday we counted the number of times we've used their service. Once when I had a full-leg cast after knee surgery and a flat tire at work. Once when Boy#3 was in the car with someone and the alternator went out. Once when Boy#2 was stranded with a group of friends and a non-starting car after a ballgame. Once when a friend locked her keys in the car.

    So, since he is an accountant, during the hour we waited for roadside assistance we were able to calculate that each incident has cost approximately $1,600. And as the pickup shook every time a semi whizzed past, which was approximately eight times a second, we agreed:

    Worth it.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    False Alarm

    Husband is among the most gifted gifters in the history of giving.

    One year for Christmas he gave me a heated towel warmer. Really! Is that inspired or what? He knew how much I hate being chilled, and that I'm willing to have body parts removed just so I can experience those heavenly heated blankets in the surgery recovery room, so he found a gizmo that would keep my towel toasty warm until I got out of the shower.

    He's come up with concert tickets to performances he knew I would love (even if he didn't, so much), and with kitchen whatchamacallits that measure a pinch of spice because he knows I am a pushover for kitchen whatchamacallits.

    Perhaps his most inspired purchase, though, was a couple of years when I found this book in my Christmas stocking:

    101 Diseases You Don't Want to Get. With photographs!

    I admit to just a tad of hypochondria. Unlike most people, who self-diagnose their minor symptoms as innocuous until otherwise proven, my mind immediately goes to the worst case scenario and works backwards. Am I coughing? Probably tuberculosis. That headache: Must be a tumor. A rash? Oh, my gosh, that's on page 42 of my book, and it's DENGUE FEVER!

    Last night Husband had just gotten home from work and we were decompressing our days when I happened to glance down at my feet.

    Oh. My. Gosh.

    My toes were bright red, as if they'd been scalded. I hadn't been in the sun, I hadn't dipped them in boiling water, what in the world? My mind raced but I didn't say anything so as to not  panic Husband, who was recounting his service call to the manufacturers of his tax software. (I know! How could I be distracted?)

    I mentally paged through my book, pausing at the entries for elephantiasis and cellulitis.

    I could practically feel the swelling moving up my leg so I slipped off the old shower flops I had put on before working on a craft project. The project had involved spraying several poster boards with brick red spray paint, and I didn't want the overspray to....

    Oh. Okay. Never mind.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    And Get Off My Lawn

    During our shopping expedition I strayed from the herd to pick up some remedy for too much sun and too much fight song. I was making the hard choices (tablet or capsules?) when three giggling girls came down the aisle.

    They were 12 or 13 years old, the kind of gorgeous I had only dreamed of being at that age. Long swinging hair, tanned legs poking out of short-shorts, bangles up to their elbows, cell phones in hand. I smiled to myself as they giggled their way down the aspirin aisle, remembering the days when my friends and I patrolled the dime store with similar exuberance.

    But then, in a voice loud enough to be heard clearly from one end of the aisle to the other, one said something so crudely vulgar that my head whipped around in shock. I gave her a quick look--the kind that would freeze my boys in their tracks.

    During my own tween years, this kind of reaction from an adult would have mortified any of my peers. We would have apologized, perhaps in tears, and waited for the adult to call our parents. 

    She wasn't my child, though, and my horrified look accomplished nothing. The three burst into raucous laughter at my reaction and pushed their way past me. I stared after them, shocked.

    Someone has neglected to teach them so many things--that skin-deep beauty fades, that character reveals itself in unexpected places, that the ability to shock is highly overrated. I'm sorry their role models are Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.

    I'm sure they thought they were terribly grown-up and unspeakably cool.

    They were neither. But I felt momentarily old, and terribly sad for all three of them.

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Second in a Series of Grocery Carts

    We started an unintentional tradition the first time we dropped Boy#1 off at school and then ran to Wal-Mart for the last few items he needed. Six weeks later, when we went to Parents' Day, the final stop was at Wal-Mart, for the last few items he needed. And what's the old saying? It only takes twice to be tradition? (Or maybe I just invented that old saying, but it applies here.)

    Now every visit to a college Boy puts a little more padding in the pockets of Sam Walton's heirs. A few observations about these bonding times:
    • There is only one constant in the shopping lists: The cart will always, every single time, contain deodorant and body wash. If we had to postpone the visit, I wonder, what would happen to their personal hygiene?
    • There is something comforting about walking the aisles of Big Box Store, and knowing that the brands, the store arrangement, and even the smells will be the same whether we're in Kansas, in Missouri, or in Texas. We've only run into this guy in one of them, but other than that, close your eyes and you could be anywhere. Even home.
    • This is the perfect opportunity, just before we wave good-bye again, for the Boys to bring out the puppy-dog eyes. In the past few trips the cart has carried steak (as if that were part of their regular diet), a puppy-shaped sunglasses case, and other items that at home would make me roll my eyes and say "Put it back." Last night Boy#3 scored a PowerCat shower curtain. What was I supposed to say? He had marched at the football game and looked really tired.
    Part of growing up is being self-sufficient and I suppose in a few years this tradition will disappear. For now, though, we'll happily follow them around the aisles as they fill the cart.

    Maybe I'll just throw in a package of Twizzlers.

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    Another Reason I Love Him

    We're going on a road trip this weekend, and as often is the case, are planning via e-mail. Should we take the pick-up, or the Suburban that has served us so faithfully but is getting a wee bit long in the tooth?

    Me: If we take the Suburban, I think it needs to go in to see Neal (our mechanic). As I was pulling in to a parking space this morning the Check Gauges light flickered. I was going to call you but then I saw a squirrel and forgot.

    His reply: The visual image of your e-mail is kind of interesting--Oh, my gosh, my "check gauges" light just flickered! My car might be having a problem! Will I make it to work? Where will I be able to pull over and will anyone see me and...hey, is that a squirrel? Wow, I haven't seen a squirrel around here since...yesterday, or was it the day before? Ah, what a pretty squirrel. What was I thinking about?

    Oh, yes, he knows me.

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Credit Where Credit Is Due

    "Mom, thank you for going to K-State."

    Boy#3 is the easiest to "read" over the phone; I know after a single word if he is delighted or distraught. This call was one of delight.

    "I just got an e-mail that since you graduated from here they're giving me a $1,000 scholarship!"

    This has been a tough year for Three's finances, for a boy who was born with his father's conscientious awareness of income and expenditures. State budgets are tight, and the trickle-down of that squeeze is higher tuition for public colleges. After agonizing deliberation Three decided on an apartment option that made sense for his academic and spiritual life but will stretch his housing allotment. There have been unexpected expenses that nibble away at his savings ($67 for organ shoes? Really?).

    "Oh, honey, I'm so happy for you! God is good, isn't He?"

    And where most days Three would have answered "All the time," in our habitual call-and-response, he didn't.

    "You know, I'm can't believe how He provides. Every time I'm terribly worried about money, He comes through. Whether it's $10 I need for something, or big things like this scholarship, the money is there when I have to have it. God is amazing."

    Isn't He?