Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Beautiful Piece of Porcelein

Granted, you might think me a bit odd for taking a picture of my toilet and posting it on the Internet, but bear with me. You see, for the last, oh, who knows how long, we've had toilet troubles. Nothing serious. More...annoying.
The toilet rocked as it wasn't stabilized from underneath the house. There's nothing like sitting down to do some business and wondering if you'd be able to stay on.
We had to flush two or three times to make sure everything made it down. And sometimes it didn't. Eww.
And then there were the times the handle and chain would somehow get stuck and would need a little convincing to release enough to keep the toilet from flushing on it's own. There's nothing like hearing one's chirpy little girl run into the bathroom saying, "I'll jiggle the handle!"
Even worse were the time the chain would get stuck under the plug and water would just keep rushing. Ugh. The amount of water wasted over the last year has to be, well, bad.
An early Christmas present arrived on our front porch about a week or two ago. It was from my daddy. He bought us a brand new, water efficient toilet! That would be the masterpiece pictured above. Yesterday after work my hubby went into our crawlspace and spent about two hours putting together something to stabilize the toilet. Oh yeah. We sawed wood and drilled holes and put in screws and nails. It was awesome.
We were planning on having my daddy come to help put the toilet in later this week, but when we already had the old toilet out my hubby said, "Why put the old one back in?" So we opened up the boxes and pulled out all the pieces. As I read through the instructions I started to really wish we'd waited for my dad. They were bordering on Greek to me. However, my brain finally began to make sense of what was printed and in another ten minutes or so we had our new toilet in.
Guess what? Everything flushes in just one go! It doesn't rock when you sit down and get up! And there's no need to jiggle the handle! Ah, the sheer bliss of knowing one can use the bathroom with no worries.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Easy Christmas Gift

It's one of those things you really want to do this time of year, but can easily become overwhelming: Christmas gifts for teachers, friends, and neighbors. Set aside thoughts of baking for hours on end for I have a simple solution.

For the last several years I've been giving this out to the kids' teachers, along with a tree ornament. Get a hold of a chocolate bar (ie, Hershey's, Symphony, etc) and attach the following:

(Sung to the tune of Jingle Bells)
Dashing from the mall
With groceries yet to buy.
Children, work, and house cleaning,
Life is so crazy! Why?
Bells on our cell phones ring,
The machine will take the call,
We have no time to breathe this year,
It drives us up the wall!
How are you? How's your life?
We really want to know.
We'd love to chat and hear the news,
But please don't talk to slow.
How are you? How's your life?
When is it gonna snow?
We hope you have - is that the time?
We really have to go.
A day or two ago,
We thought we'd make a treat.
A present to give out this year -
A Christmas gift to eat.
Intentions were top notch,
But our schedules would not budge,
Hence here's this year's edition of
Our homemade Christmas fudge!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lessons in Honesty and Integrity

I consider myself to be a fairly honest person. I'm a firm believer in practicing what I preach, and in doing right by those around me. So when I tell you I stole from Walmart this last week I hope you'll give me a chance to thoroughly explain before calling the cops on me.

We celebrate several birthdays during the month of December, one of which happens to be my oldest, Miss M. The night before I went grocery shopping she was telling me how she couldn't find any of her earrings, that she'd lost them all. Grrr. However, it was nearing birthday time so I played nice and thought immediately of a display of jewelry cases set out at the front of the store.

Sure enough, I found exactly the one I was thinking of, then decided to go a step further and get her a few pair of new earrings. I found some spectacular looking ones, but as I went to put them in the cart a dilemma appeared. If I put the earrings at the top of the cart my youngest could get at them. If I put them in the big part of the cart there was a danger of the earrings becoming smashed or lost. I also worried about putting them inside the box; if I did so, would I remember them once I got to the cashier line?

Seeing as how I was so concerned, I came to the conclusion I wouldn't forget and tucked the earrings inside the jewelry box. Can you see where I'm going here? I got the groceries home, took one look at the jewelry box, and gasped. I'd stolen both pair!

I was horrified. Beyond horrified. I felt sick from head to toe thinking I'd just done something that is not just wrong, but a commandment of God. Thou shalt not steal. Not even accidentally. It's just a no-no.

Back to Walmart I went. The cute greeters at the entrance know my face, and one particular man always tells me to stay out of trouble. When I approached him I said, "You know how you're always telling me to stay out of trouble? Well, I'm in trouble." I told him everything, even how dumb I was in my thinking. The darling man was torn between laughter and trying to look serious. Of course I still wanted to buy the earrings and made sure he watched while I stood in line (my line of shame!) and paid for them. As I walked out of the store a giant burden was left behind.

A few days before this exciting event the young women (girls 12-18) of our church had put together a program about their Personal Progress values. Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue. I thought about how the young women who'd spoken on these topics had described how their lives had changed by following them. I thought about all the years I had spent as a youth doing my own challenges and projects involved with each value.

This awkward and uncomfortable experience and my decision on how to handle it involved many of the values the young women of our church are taught. Divine Nature: knowing I am a daughter of God, and have a responsibility to represent Him here on earth. Individual Worth: based on my decision, how would I value myself if I'd made a wrong choice? Choice and Accountability: I'm always telling people we always have a choice in each circumstance that comes before us. Even if it's just in our attitude, there's always a choice. And whatever choice we make, we'd better be certain the consequences will be something we can live with. Because we WILL have to live with it. Integrity: practicing what we preach. Being honest and trustworthy. Virtue: one wrong choice can mar even the most beautiful of souls.

I told my daughter about what had happened, not holding back. It was important to me for her to see Mom's not perfect, she makes mistakes, but she also does her best to right the wrongs she may commit. For topmost in my mind through all of this was the example I was setting for my children and for the girls I teach. If they can't trust that those who teach them these values abide by those teachings, they will not follow. And if there's anything I want to see for these younger generations, it's the ability to make good choices, to repent when they've done something wrong, and to live with as little guilt and burdens as possible.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Scrooge'n It

I've been an absolute SCROOGE when it comes to getting into the Christmas Spirit this year. Of course, when Christmas decorations are out by the middle of October and FM 100.3 is playing Christmas music 24 hours a day the moment Halloween is over, I have to ask, "Can you blame me?"

I'm normally on the rooftop the day after Thanksgiving putting up all the outside lights. I've even been known to visit a few stores on the dreaded Black Friday. Not this year, though. This year I stayed in the house the whole day long making a dozen earrings to sell at a boutique the next day (only sold one pair, sadly, which may have added to my Scroogy-ness).

For several years we haven't put up a Christmas Tree. Not because I wasn't in the spirit of the holiday, but because we've little ones in the house and I really didn't want to spend all my time replacing tempting ornaments. Nor did I relish the thought of only decorating the top half of a tree. I am happy to report this year my husband made us get one. Yep, you read that right, he made us!

I will readily admit I'm happy he did. Though our decorations are a bit sparse, once we light it up come nighttime, the glow makes us feel extra happy. I'm finding my attitude is simply reluctant, rather than out right bah humbug-ish. Once we get me going, I'm happy to get the job done. The biggest problem is getting me going.

To help me along, however, I have downloaded some of my absolute most favorite Christmas CD's onto my iPod and have even listened to them. Whoa, I know. Don't worry. I have no intention of going overboard.

One funny before I let you go. Whilst sitting around the dinner table last night the children began discussing what they were going to ask Santa to get them. Things got silly (as things will do at our house), but not as silly as the moment our youngest was asked. She said, and I quote with all honesty, "A piece of plastic poo!"