Monday, June 18, 2007

Calling on Mr. Maytag Repairman

Have you seen the latest commercial? The one with the weary woman returning from work to find the Maytag repair man fiddling with the entertainment center? Of course, he's dabbling in electronics because the Maytag appliances just never break and therefore never need his attention. Well, Mr. Maytag Repairman, if you are so bored, why aren't you showing up at my house first thing tomorrow morning instead of sometime between 8 and 12 on Wednesday??

Our dryer chose today to stop working. Today was laundry day and the first laundry day after VBS week, which is so busy that no laundry gets done. Needless to say, by today the closets were bare, the piles of dirty clothes high. I put my first clean load in the dryer, set the dryer, put a new load in the washer, and then spent a couple of hours in the pool with the kids. I came in to find the dryer was done. I opened the door. The clothes were still cold and wet! Now I have been known to set the dryer but forget to turn it on (I know, surprising, isn't it?), so I thought maybe that was the problem. But after another 30 minutes: Houston, we have a problem. Actually, I said, "Mark, we have a problem." He's such a great problem-solver!

Apparently, Mr. Maytag Repairman was taking a nap because Mark was on hold with them for at least 20 minutes. After scheduling the visit (which, incidentally, isn't actually with Mr. Maytag Repairman but some other company that has neither a "may" nor a "tag" in their name), Mark found out we have to pay for the visit. Are you kidding me? The dryer is only 2 years old. If you were spending advertising dollars bragging about how your product is so good, wouldn't you want to uphold your reputation? Tell you what, Mr. Maytag Repairman, I'll tell everyone you just came to fix the stereo if you'll cover the charge!

A Perfect Morning

A somewhat dreary day, the kids all slept in, which gave me adequate time to get the Cinnamon Cake baked (we call it Cinnamon Cake rather than Coffee Cake because, really, who wouldn't prefer a cake made of cinnamon over a cake made of coffee??). The kids hadn't forgotten the promised breakfast outside and, still rubbing "eye boogers" out of their eyes, they were excited.

We enjoyed a delicious breakfast and then followed it up with a little Bible study. I have considered various Bible curricula for them but just haven't found the right one. Then it occurred to me that all three of the kids bring home the perfect Bible curriculum for their age from Sunday School each week. It's just a small piece of paper that summarizes the lesson they learned for the particular week. Then it includes daily Bible readings and questions to consider, questions that are great conversation starters for deeper talks. I really want to strive to have open communication with the kids. I grew up at a missionary boarding school, which presented a very legalistic environment. There were few, if any, adults I really TALKED to...ever. We respected adults out of fear rather than real respect because generally speaking we felt the adults were "out to get us." We felt they were always on the prowl seeking to fill their quota of rule breakers. I don't want that with my kids at all, yet it's a difficult cycle to break.

And, while I could write pages on legalism and the lessons I've learned just recently about God's grace, I digress as usual...

After our Bible study we picked up a newspaper. I thought I'd try a little experiment this morning just to test their attention spans. I want the kids to grow up aware of the rest of the world out there, and so I thought I would begin reading a bit of news--censored and screened, of course. We chose a front page story about Ruth Graham's death. And they all three paid attention and wanted to see pictures! Alex's interest was especially held. She wants to be "one of those shoebox people" when she grows up (Operation Christmas Child, that is, not Payless!), so she was excited to hear more about Franklin Graham's family, even under the sad circumstances.

Enjoying a cool morning and provocative conversations with the kids was a perfect way to begin a day. Will it become a daily happening? Well, they don't ordinarily all wake up at the same time like they did today, but it is certainly something we'll repeat when we can!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Perfect Day

What a great day it was! A day to honor an amazing husband, the father of 4 wonderful kids! A perfect family day. We attended the early service at church and enjoyed the Pastor's fun extras for the men in the congregation (including a basketball shoot-out for coveted spots in the "Man Zone" seats up front). After church we enjoyed some Chinese cuisine (Mark's favorite) and then returned home.

The pool is all finished now, and we have our little outdoor paradise all set up. The landscapers finished yesterday, so our backyard is entirely sodded now. The weather was perfect for the pool this afternoon, and we simply enjoyed hanging out together. The three older ones, I think, will be swimming on their own in a week or two. Alex and Michael actually were swimming underwater in the shallow end this afternoon; they just didn't know it. Alex came up for air after swimming across one section, and I said, "Alex, you do know you just swam, right?" Her face lit up, and she said, "I did??! Let me try again." Then of course Michael had to compete and he too swam. So now it's just a matter of confidence before the two of them will be gliding around the deep end free of floaties.

My parents were also over, so we were able to honor my dad on his day. A Father's Day cake provided a delicious mid-afternoon snack. And then it was dinner outside again. Seems as though we'll be living outside a lot now...I've promised the kids breakfast out there tomorrow morning, and they all kept repeating, "I can't wait until tomorrow morning so we can have breakfast outside!" (It doesn't take much, does it??) Hopefully, tomorrow will be another perfect day!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

And the medal of valor goes to...


Last night was VBS Parents' Night, a night where all of the VBSers performed for the parents. I recall a similar night in 2006, only it was AWANA Awards Night. Jacob had just finished his first year of Cubbies, and he was to walk up on to and across the stage to receive his ribbon for participation. You know Jacob can be, at times, a bit shy and unsure of himself. So...guess who was the only parent who got to walk across stage holding the hand of a very nervous Cubbie? I commented to a friend after the ceremony that I was having visions of holding my taller-than-me son's hand as he receives his high school diploma and college degree. Everyone says, "Oh, don't worry, it's just a phase." Can you really call something that's lasted for FIVE years a phase?

Anyway, about last night...the kids have been working hard in Music class all week to learn the words and motions to the VBS songs. At Parents' Night, they were to stand in their assigned place throughout the auditorium and perform these songs. I had no doubt that Alex and Michael would perform with flair and drama (which they did), but I have to admit that, despite his reassurances that he would indeed perform, I was quite sure that at the last minute Jacob would say his tummy hurt and want to stay in the audience with us. But no! Although he hung around in the audience a little longer than the other two after the call to take places, he obediently went up to find his the front, no less!

As the music started, Jacob performed the songs well...although whenever he'd see us trying to sneak a peek, he would get a little embarrassed and stop until we looked away! I think Mark was able to catch a little of it on video on the sly, though. Mark also got footage of the other two...and they did add their own flair and drama to the performance. We even have Audrey on tape getting into the music. She has a little groove thing going on and can get down as well as any of them. When she's dancing, she also moves her mouth animatedly as though she is singing. It's hilarious.

Back to Jacob...what a brave boy he was last night. We were so proud of him. After helping him through some tears a few mornings when I left him at VBS this past week, I know this "phase" isn't quite over, but we're making baby steps toward progress!

Friday, June 15, 2007

60% Chance of Rain

I knew it. I just knew it. For days, for weeks, for months, there has been nary a drop of rain. They're calling it a drought. There have been watering bans, fire bans, firework bans. Produce prices are going up because of the drought.

But, as soon as the pool is complete...the skies open up and let loose. The pool was finished a couple of days ago and since then, we have had daily thunderstorms. One day we even had hail--nothing like filling the already-too-cold-for-wimpy-Katy pool with little ice cubes!

I do have to admit that it has been a blessing to have nice weather for the building of the pool (and yes I realize the selfishness of that statement since there really truly has been a drought that has negatively affected so many), and honestly it has cleared up and turned out to be a nice day. I just enjoy the irony of seeing the rain fall the moment the pool is complete. But, really, I've had enough entertainment from life's little ironies; I really want to enjoy my pool now!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Puddle Jumping

We had a great time this afternoon breaking in the pool. We ran the hose all night long and during church, so we had a fairly large puddle when we returned home. The kids had such a good time playing and splashing around in the shallow water that I commented to Mark that they'll probably feel a little let down once it's completely filled and consequently deeper. We probably won't play in our puddle anymore until we get the water truck in to finish the job: because it's not deep enough, the filter isn't on, so the water is a little cloudy, and I'm not sure the plaster remnants are the best thing for the kids to be accidentally digesting. Hopefully, the filling will be complete by Tuesday.

We have a busy week ahead of us, so there's not a whole lot of time for swimming anyway. This is VBS week, and we head to "Game Day Central" tomorrow. I quite possibly will be MIA for the next few days. Despite the fact that VBS only lasts for 4 1/2 hours, that 4 1/2 hours straight with Kindergarteners is exhausting. In addition, I feel mightily unprepared this year. I enjoy VBS and very willingly took on the lead Bible Study Teacher role for the second year in a row. I'm just not as organized this year as usual, so for example, the room decorating this evening took forever and I ended up calling in the reinforcements (ie: Mark and the little ones) to help. Alex was my big helper the entire time. We enjoyed a little girl time and stopped for a little treat on the way to church (don't tell the boys!), and she was such a huge help to me.

In addition to VBS, I'm going to try to sneak in a Girls' Night Out or two this week. Mark generally tries to be here for the week of VBS to help me get out the door with the tribe at 8:15 in the morning as well as be home in the event that we have a sick child; this way my teaching isn't interrupted. So...with him home, it's also a perfect week to reconnect with some friends. Mark will be busy at home as well as the landscaper is scheduled to put in our sod and irrigation system among other things.

Looks like we started a new week with a splash, and now we're ready to dive in. I just hope we can stay afloat!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Motley Crew

How many men does it take to plaster a 16x28 ft. pool? Apparently about the same number as it took to frame this 2-story 3300 sq. ft. home! The crew of about 10 descended on our house this morning at 7:30. I could feign irritability at their early arrival, but since the princess had already been awake for an hour, it's all good. They were supposed to come yesterday, but the particular plaster material we ordered didn't come in on time, so I was actually pleasantly surprised to see them on a Saturday.

These are not the normal pool guys we've been dealing with up to this point. Our pool guy subs out two parts of the whole job, and plaster is one of them. This was a rather motley crew: about half of them were clean-cut Hispanics sporting bling around their necks. The other half looked like they dropped in from Woodstock: long hair in ponytails, long beards, bandanas. The boys had a few comments: "Daddy, that man is naked," commented one boy. He wasn't really naked, just shirtless, although he would have been a little easier on the eyes had he pulled his pants up a tad...and put on a shirt. Case in point: Boy #2 added, "And he has a baby in his belly." I'm guessing that if the man really does have a baby in his belly, the baby's name will be Budweiser.

We went out for awhile and came back to find the regular pool guys here completing the final acid wash. This is the last step before we get to the hard part: filling the pool. Yes, I said that filling the pool with water is the hard part. We're on a well, so we can't just run the hose for hours or we might: A) Break the well pump or B) Run the well dry. So...we're running the hose a couple of hours at a time, giving it a break, and then resuming Operation Fill the Pool. We are also having a water truck come in on Tuesday to give us a little help. Of course the water truck not only costs extra, but the guy is also worried about cracking our driveway. We've already had concrete trucks up here, though, so what damage can a water truck do? Anyway, we've promised the kids that they'll be able to splash in the overgrown puddle we will have accumulated by tomorrow after church.

Soon...very soon we can have some relief from this horrible Georgia humidity! Even our Motley Crew commented on the heat this morning, and they're used to working in it!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Pomp and Circumstance 2007

In this year's graduating class from the Pierce Homeschool for the Gifted...

Jacob Pierce has just completed Pre-K and will be moving on to Kindergarten. He wins the award for Best Effort for putting his all into any work he is given. He always wants to take part in any work we're doing, and he wanted to learn to read. He's done great at it!

Most Improved goes to Michael Pierce who is graduating from Kindergarten and moving on to First Grade. He has greatly improved in all areas--especially Reading and Math.

Alexandra Pierce earned an award for Best All-Around Achievement for all of the work she has put into her academics. She takes the material I give her and runs an extra mile, wanting to learn more. She graduates from First Grade to Second Grade.

Audrey of course won the award for Best Baby--what else?

We had our Pierce Graduation Ceremony this evening to culminate our last day of school for the 2006-2007 school year. The affair began this afternoon when the kids decorated cupcakes for the party. I know: usually the guests of honor don't make their own refreshments, but I think the little pastry chefs let this one pass. After finishing their creations, we headed to Chili's for a nice dinner. Then it was back home for the ceremony. They each received a diploma and an award. Of course, they weren't quite as excited about the papers they held in their hands as they were about the sticky mess on their hands from the cupcakes, but they enjoyed both.


For a small affair at home, there wasn't a whole lot of pomp. But under the circumstances, I think this event was a highlight of the day for the kids.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Right Between the Crutches

You know that kid you always hear about in 1st or 2nd grade, the one who kicks and hits because he likes you? I never really had personal experience with a hitter or kicker...until we had Jacob. Hitting, kicking, punching--these are all ways Jacob shows affection. (Yes, we're trying to teach him alternative ways.) Today I heard Jacob "being affectionate" right before Audrey started to cry. I asked what happened, and Alex said, "Oh, Jacob just kicked Audrey between the crutches." "Alex," I said, "where exactly are Audrey's crutches?" "You know, the place between her legs."

No, we haven't gotten to anatomy yet in Science. Not that "crotch" is a particularly scientific term.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

HGTV at Our House

As you know, we've had a little construction going on in our backyard for the past few weeks. What you might not know is that several weeks ago, Mark and I were seriously considering selling our house. Because we built the house ourselves, there is a lot of equity in it already after just two years. We thought it might be a good idea to sell and use that equity to pay down a new house. We had a couple of agents in to look at the house and we even went out to see what is "out there." We weren't all that impressed with what is out there, so we changed our mind and decided to fix up our humble abode here on Cox Dr.. So, as we have worked hard over the last few weeks to make our house our own little paradise, we have essentially gone from "Designed to Sell" to "Designed to Stay."

I mentioned in a past post that I'm not a process person, and I stand by what I said. I want the dirt to be gone. I want the various boxes of supplies and tools to be gone. I want to be able to close my gate again. I want to be on my own schedule instead of someone else's. And I want to be able to freely use my bathroom again without fearing that a worker will be peering in at me from the backyard. While I like hard workers, the other morning I heard them outside my bedroom window before I had even gotten out of bed and dressed yet. Granted, I had chosen to sleep in on that particular morning, but it will be nice to wake up to the sounds of birds rather than Spanish and the rattling of tools.

The kids, of course, don't mind it all; it's something different and out of routine, not to mention the fact that they know they'll eventually have a pool out of all of this (the hope I hang on to as well). This past week has probably been the most interesting for them. Monday the pool guys came and put in the concrete around the pool. It's always exciting to watch the concrete shoot in from the hose and then watch the men smooth it all out. Yesterday they came back with a saw to cut grooves into the hardened cement.

The day turned out to be a noisy one because the "concrete sawers" tag-teamed the landscapers who came to cut down 7 trees. Now this was entertainment for the whole family! We all enjoyed sitting at the window watching these trees being taken out, quite quickly I might add. The kids really got a kick out of the whole event when the guy had to shimmy up the tallest tree with his belt harness and spikey shoes in order to gradually cut it down.

Our yard looks enormous to us this morning with all of those trees out. It's brighter too with the new sunshiny spots as well as the reflection of the sun on the new concrete. The pool is just about finished, and clearly you can see that we have a little ways to go still with the landscaping, but we're just about "Designed to Stay!" Once we're finished, HGTV, eat your heart out!

A Before and After:

Sunday, June 3, 2007

A Stitch in Time

On April 28, a litter of five kittens was born. A couple of days later, we went to visit them and to pick out the little gray bundle of fur who would likely become Mr. Stitch Pierce. Since then, it has been a daily exchange: "Is it time yet to bring Stitch home?" "It's not quite time yet." "When will it be time?" Finally, it is time!

Stitch came home yesterday. Shy and scared in his new surroundings and minus his family, Stitch spent the day curled up in a box on a blanket that smelled like Mom. Last night, though, he and I got a bit more acquainted as he cuddled down beside me to watch a movie. Then (much to my dismay), the three kids were up before 7:00 this morning. They informed me that Stitch was "squeaking", and this is what awakened them. Apparently, they are all three very fluent in "Stitch Squeak" because the translation came back to me that he wanted out of the laundry room where I had locked him for the night in hopes that he would learn to use his kitty potty (which he did).

Yesterday, Mark addressed Alex's concerns about Stitch cowering in the box by telling her that soon Stitch would be out and about and acting like he owns the place. Well, Alex need no longer worry that Stitch is not comfortable in his new home; heretofore, he shall be under the impression that he rules the roost (he may have to vie for his position with the Princess, however).

The kids are great with him...very gentle and love watching him and playing with him. Last night, Alex read a book to him and then drew some pictures for him. Jacob informed us that "he really doesn't like books much because he fell asleep while Alex was reading." Audrey gets so excited when she sees her "ditty" that her little feet start running in place as she squeals in delight. I'm sure Stitch looks forward to tonight, however, when he will not constantly have 4 little faces peering at him and 8 fast little feet bounding after him no matter where he goes.

We're all excited that the time finally came for Stitch to join our family. He has certainly made a fun addition!

Friday, June 1, 2007

My Little Helper

Whenever Mark's mom is here, I can count on her to not only take note of any laundry that needs folding, but also to fold it all! She says she LIKES doing laundry. Well, Dana, I think you have some competition! I was making dinner this evening when I suddenly noticed the silence. That silence is usually not good. I peeked into the family room where I had earlier piled the unfolded laundry. And there she was...very gingerly pulling a shirt from the bottom of the pile, then turning to the baskets. After some consideration, she carefully lowered the shirt into the basket and turned to pull another article of clothing from the mountain of laundry.


"What do you want to do fun today?" I often ask the kids this, and it usually means my creative juices have stopped flowing and I'm relying on their creative juices. Michael suggested Chuck E. Cheese--not really what I had in mind, especially since we were just there, and definitely not educational (this is a school day after all). Jacob thought it would be really fun to "go to a hotel." If I took him literally, we could actually have pulled that one off--there are plenty of hotels we could "go" to. Stay in one, though? For the day? Again, not really very educational, plus they'd tire of the close quarters very quickly (I know from too many first-hand experiences!). Alex had the best suggestion and an activity I've been promising for a long time: letterboxing.

Letterboxing is sort of a treasure hunt. You get clues and directions online to letterboxes in your area. After following the clues, you uncover a container of some sort with a guestbook and a special stamp. After stamping the guestbook, you use the stamp in the box to stamp your book, recording the visit both for the letterboxer (the one who created the box and hid it) and the letterboxee - us!

After running a few errands, we headed to one of the letterbox destinations: Suwanee Greenway, a paved walking/jogging/running trail. We picked up lunch and I had it in mind to stop along the trail for a picnic so we headed in. It wasn't long before we found the bench near which the box was hidden. After unpiling some rocks, we found the container hidden under a log. We did our stamping and re-hid the box. Of course, the kids were hungry at this point as was I. However, the kids were having a bit more fun than I; I was a little uneasy on this trail by ourselves as it was quite isolated and, besides the occasional jogger, we were quite alone. The fact that the one woman I saw by herself was jogging with two big dogs was enough to start my narrator! So, instead of enjoying a nice picnic on the bench under a lovely shade tree, we quickly headed back to the beginning of the trail where we soaked up some sun while we ate! Needless to say, it was a quick lunch.

And so we had another exciting adventure today, though not half as fun as yesterday. As noted before, it is a school day today for us, but luckily my worksheet-loving little girl doesn't mind a bit completing her work in the car while we head out on our various excursions. We've got another week until our school year officially ends, and I'm ready for a break. Hopefully, a vacation will replenish the dangerously low levels of creativity I have felt capable of putting into their lessons as of late. If all else fails, there are a lot more letterboxes out there to be discovered!

(For more information on Letterboxing, visit

Occasional Remembrances

It's been 11 years since I last walked the halls of Meadowcreek High School, and it was only for 2 1/2 years that I left my footprints there. And so it absolutely astounds me when I run into one of my students! A couple of months ago, the kids and I made a trip to the post office. The lady who helped me looked very familiar, and her name tag said "Tamika." The thought occurred to me while I was at the post office, but the kids were going crazy and I just left. After I left, I mulled it over some more and was just positive it had to be Tamika Warren. But in Flowery Branch? No way. Today we were back at the PO, and Tamika helped me out again. This time I confirmed her last name.

Now Tamika wasn't one of my very fondest memories of teaching. Although I don't remember her specifically causing a problem, she was in the class that...well, suffice it to say that I am just pleased as anything that she's being supported by the government at the USPS rather than behind bars! While I'm sure a number of my former students are sporting black and white stripes, there are two I know of for sure: Melvin and Marvin Mitchell. And their situation breaks my heart.

I think of the twins Melvin and Marvin quite often ever since that newscast about five years ago. I don't often watch the local news, but I turned it on just in time to hear their names and see their mugshots flashed up on the screen. The two of them decided to rob an Ingles. That's not the worst part, though. As they were fleeing police, they were in an accident which killed the man they ran into. I often think of attempting to track them down just to send a note of encouragement or something. They were good kids. I taught their brother Michael as well, and he was a great kid too and really looked after his little brothers.

There have been several others I've run into in the last few years. I know it's cliche to say it's a small world, and I think I'd be missing the point entirely if I just wrote my "chance" meetings off to a cliche. I think every once in awhile God allows my path to cross those who are headed in the right direction as an encouragement to me that maybe I did touch a life way back then, if only briefly. And He sends me occasional reminders of those who made some bad choices so I can remember them and pray for them.