Friday, August 22, 2014

Product Review: Whirlpool Clothes Dryer

Let me tell you about how incredible our dryer is. We have a Whirlpool Dryer from the Imperial Series.  It's a 1993 model and was handed down to us from Greg's grandparents 15 years ago.  In all these years, the heating element has stayed in tact, the barrel has always functioned as it should, we've never been required to replace a single thing on this dryer.

This dryer has longevity folks, it has endured move after move with us and has never quit just keeps going and going, like the Energizer bunny.  I find it absolutely incredible in our day of Made in China mass production and modern marketing, I have this endearing Almond colored dryer that has truly stood the test of time!  Can you say that about any of your current more modern appliances?  Doubt it, chief.

Just a few detailed shots of the operation panel for your reference.  As you can see below, multiple drying options along with drying times.  Love it.

In the next shot,  "Imperial Series", see that?  Says it all, right there.  Bam! It's Imperial baby!  That's the equivalent to Royalty, ya know.  Does it get better than that?  No.  No it does not.  Plus 7 cycles with 4 temperature options.  Believe it.

Finally, look at that cute little Start button, like an island in the middle of an ocean.  You know what that's called?  USER Friendly PEOPLE.  No need to pull out the owners manual because you can't figure out how to start this new fangled machine.  Boom, START. Simple.

If by any chance, you are in the market for a clothes dryer, it might be hard to find a late model such as this but trust me, it would be well worth it. Seriously.

Disclaimer: While this post was written in truth, it was also written very much by my twisted sense of have a laugh!  : )

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

At Home Summer School Project

 Isabel & Nathan

In May, as the school year was closing and Summer Break was on the horizon, I was racking my brain for a way to occupy Nathans time during my work day.  Summer Break is every working mother's conundrum, though I realize I have a major advantage working from home full time.
I could easily let Nathan watch hours of tv & play endless video games but I could not do that with a  clear conscious.  So in an effort to find a productive way to occupy Nathans time,  I started constructing a Summer School curriculum. Before school was out, Nathan had a holiday which gave us a chance at a trial run of this genius plan of mine. I have just two words for that day.  Epic Fail. I spent all my time managing Nathan instead of working and he finished his assignments within a couple of hours.  Not exactly how I envisioned it in my mind but that's what trial runs are for - to work out the kinks. 

Summer School Schedule

One Sunday, as I took care of one-year olds at church and served alongside a particular 12 year old girl, another plan formed.  I was always impressed with Isabel.  She was actually very helpful with the babies,  needed little direction and carried herself beyond her years. Other folks at church often made the same observation, we all thought she was a few years older than her age.  From my point of view, she was mature, smart and most importantly responsible.  Lightbulb moment; I needed HER to oversee the 'At Home Summer School Project'!  I asked if she would be interested in a job over the summer tutoring Nathan.  From her point of view, she could go to a babysitters with her brother or she could work and earn some money over the summer.  She took the job.  We ironed out details around schedule, weekly pay, benefits, etc. hahaha!

Typical Sunday night; curriculum planning

Modicum of the subjects covered

Isabel's schedule was Monday through Wednesday, 7:15am - 3:15pm. As a result of this week to week schedule, Isabel became like a big sister to Nathan and a natural addition to our family.  I cannot sing enough praises about Isabel and how much I enjoyed getting to know her better.  Her quick wit and sense of humor had me cracking up quite a bit but it was her kindness and patience with Nathan that really touched my heart and meant so much to me. She was such a perfect fit for this job.  However, I'll be the first to admit, Nathan gave her a run for her money on some days, quite literally.

Building a T-Rex model
Nathan grudgingly accepted that he would have school work over the summer but I promised he would have fun too.  That was the deal we made and I did my best to bring that balance.  Most days, Nathan went with the program without much weeping or gnashing of teeth.  However, there were some days Nathans attitude made the day more challenging and less enjoyable - par for the course and just being a kid, I think.

 Electronic Circuit Board Project

Music time

As soon as the list of school work was completed, the kids had free time to spend however they wished.   Games became a regular part of the routine.  Isabel learned how to play Hand & Foot.  Nathan became a better Chess player, thanks to Isabel's competitive chess skills.  We ALL learned how to play Mancala.  After lunch, the kids were able to go swimming, I think they enjoyed this part of the day the most.

 Pool Time

The advantage of Pinterest.  Isabel and I set up a shared Pinterest board and we were able to incorporate projects we both found interesting and pinned.  As with all Pinterest projects, some were wildly successful (pictured below) and some were Pintrocities (i.e. make your own bouncy ball).

 Pinterest Project: Puffy Paint

As summer came to a close, I wanted to know Isabel's thought about her summer job, so in answer to a few questions I asked, here are her words:
"Responsibility plays a big role in any job, big or small.  I had some responsibilities such as being a good role model and teacher.  I also had the responsibility of keeping Nathan entertained which, in my opinion, was pretty easy...some days.  My summer job tutoring was, in one word, fantastic and if I had the chance to do it again I definitely would."
Pinterest Project: Stacking cups

In closing, the 'At Home Summer School Project' was a great success for a few reasons; I had productive workdays, Nathans continued education kept him ready for back to school and most of all we adopted the sweetest big sister to our family. The truth is, it simply would not have worked without Isabel.  Period.  She saved us all, haha!

 Pinterest Project: Name painting on canvas

We are back to school this we come 2nd grade!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

First Grade Today

448 Math worksheets
288 Language worksheets
192 Spelling worksheets
142 Reading worksheets
34 Weekly Reports 
31 Handwriting sheets 
5 Poems

Other = Countless

This is just the classwork.
It does not include the homework.  
Imagine another pile for homework.

The spelling notebook looks like hieroglyphics.

This is what First Grade looks like in 2014.
Its hard work!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It was 1994 and if I could do it again - I wouldn't.

Photo circa early 90's

It was 1994 and I legally changed my name.  Its a shame A Series of Unfortunate Events was already written because this could easily be my book title and this particular subject would be part of the story.

What made me reflect back on this?

First, have you heard the analogy that 'men are like waffles, women are like spaghetti'?  Men's thoughts are very compartmentalized like waffles, there's a box for each subject.  Women's thoughts are more like spaghetti freely flowing from one thought to another yet all inter-connected.  It's the best way to explain what made me think of this event in the first place. So I'm serving up some Spaghetti, follow along, if you can:
  • In my morning study time, I scribbled the following note in my bible study :
"This is such a healing word for the child in us who wasn't loved.  It explains that Jesus loved us all along despite what happened to us.  It hurt His heart even more than ours because He knew the bigger picture and the long term effects of our abuse what happened to us." (Reference Matthew 18:1-10)
As I wrote this, I immediately crossed out the words "our abuse" because it inferred something that no longer 'fit' me - like an over sized coat.  I really don't see myself as defined by the abuse I experienced anymore.  It's just what happened in my life but its not who I am.  But that wasn't always my story...Parmesan with your Spaghetti?
  • My thoughts traveled to a time when my identity was the sum of all my bad experiences.  Experiences from the hands of others as well as those that were self inflicted. I didn't like my past and I didn't like my present. If a person could swim in self-loathing, then I was literally drowning in it. Then I did something so...bizarre.  I can't think of a better word.  I legally changed my name.  Legally changed from Myra Jane Davidson to Julia Dianne.  Julia was my new first name. Dianne was my new last name. No middle name.  More Spaghetti please. 
  • As I continued to reflect on the past, I wondered 'exactly what year was that?'  It seemed sooo long ago and I'm sooo old now, haha!  I shuffled through a file cabinet looking for a file with "Name Change" scrawled at the top.  Found it.  Held the official document and looked at the date; November 3, 1994. Realization struck......20 years ago...TWENTY YEARS!  A lifetime ago...
  • I had to share the moment with my BFF who would fully understand the impact of such a moment.  A snapshot  of our conversation:
    • How about a dash of Crazy with that Meat Sauce?  This part is even crazier.  I don't know where I got the...kahunas (can I say that?) but I handled this legal proceeding myself. I researched "legal name change" at the library, typed up the legal forms, filed the paperwork at the courthouse and represented myself on my court date. No attorney present, just me, standing in front of a judge in a court room full of people. Who did I think I was?! I honestly laugh at the absurdity of it all when I think about it!
    • If I could go back and do it again - I wouldn't.  I didn't know it at the time but changing my name only created more chaos, some of which is still felt today. It depends on who I'm spending time with and the name they call me by- I cringe at the 'teachable moment' coming up one day with my son. Spaghetti heartburn anyone? Ugh.
    • As my thoughts returned to the present, I was humbled at the thought that over time my identity did change but it had nothing to do with my name.  Instead, it had everything to do with discovering Jesus and letting his Truth heal all the hurts and regrets of my past.  Consequently, as his Truth was applied to who I am as a person,  I was transformed by a renewing in my mind and it set me free in a way I had been searching for all along.
    "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
    John 8:32

    Now was that some bowl of spaghetti or what?! : )

    (in order of appearance)
    Myra Jane JD Julia Dianne Davidson Hull

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

    Challenge (unintentionally) Accepted.

    While trolling Pinterest back in December, I vaguely recall some hype that blogger, Jon Acuff  created when he issued The Empty Shelf challenge.  Essentially, you empty a bookshelf in your home and fill it with every book you read from now until December 31st. It was a neat idea but I was to busy (uh, trolling Pinterest) to give it a second thought. 

    Then recently, it occurred to me that I've finished at least 7 books since reading about that challenge...humpf! So I cleared out some books and emptied a shelf. 

    Then I added the books I've already read this year.  I had to return two of the books to the library but I'll keep that in mind for future reads.  Now I'm looking forward to filling my empty shelf. What a fun little challenge and completely unintentional!  :)

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    I don't have many Heroes but Gary is one of them.

    You know when you get together with friends and you begin to walk down memory lane and reminisce the years history you've shared?  You remember the funniest moments, special occasions, the tough times.  Then someone recounts an important detail but they get it all wrong  and those who know the facts pounce on the one in error to correct them?

    This happened a couple of weeks ago as we were having dinner with friends who I lovingly refer to as the 'other Nortons'.  As the four of us talked, Dave casually mentioned that if it hadn't been for our close friendship with his sister & husband 12 years ago, we would never have connected with his entire family, the 'Nortons'.

    Greg was very quick to correct Dave, it was not our friendship with his sister & husband that created the connection, it was Dave's Dad! I was dumbfounded at Dave's remark, how did he not know this?  I recalled a post I'd written a few years ago for Gary's birthday and read it aloud so the facts were set straight.

    In conjunction, we are often asked 'How do you know the Nortons?'  To keep it brief we have a nutshell response but the truth is...its much more.  In answer to this question and in honor of Gary's birthday this year, I am borrowing from the post I wrote to commemorate Gary's birthday then and now. :)

    This is Gary.  He is my Pastor.
    He doesn't have a church building.
    He doesn't speak in front of a congregation.
    But he is my Pastor.

    We first moved to Arizona in 2002 and while it was exciting and adventurous, we never felt more alone or disconnected.  We had no friends, no family, not even a church to speak of.  After visiting numerous churches, we both felt comfortable at Superstition Springs Community Church (now Mission).  The church was still meeting in a school and at the time was about 500+ people.  We attended for a brief time, less than a month I think, before we met the Pastor. Gary.  In our brief meeting, he suggested we get together for lunch.  And we did. We ate at Fuddruckers and I could even tell you the booth we sat in.  I don't know if Gary remembers this lunch, but I do. 

    The Thanksgiving holiday was just a few weeks away and days before, we received a message on our answering machine from the Pastor. Gary.  He said he remembered we didn't have family in Arizona and wanted to invite us to Thanksgiving dinner at his home.  We couldn't attend because our family came to Arizona that year but the gesture meant so much to us.  I don't know if Gary remembers that invitation, but I do.

    As time passed, we continued to receive invitations to special holidays, then family events and eventually to just their regular Sunday night dinners.  I don't know if Gary knows the impact this had in our lives, but I do.

    Later, we up and moved to Texas.  And we found ourselves in trouble.  Our Pastor, Gary and his wife, Elaine flew in for a weekend.  And we were able to get our lives back on track.  I don't know if Gary realizes how life-changing that trip was for us, but I do.

    When we decided to move back to Arizona and we needed a place to live until we could purchase a home, it was our Pastor, Gary and Elaine who opened their home to us and had us LIVE with them for as long as we needed.  I don't know if Gary understands how significant that was, but I do.

    I've attended numerous churches, held member's status at many of them but there is only one person, I call my Pastor.  It is Gary. Because he is the only one, that has truly been a pastor - a shepherd - to me in all senses of the word.  He is a remarkable Pastor to this day. I don't have many heroes but Gary is one of them.

    Happy Birthday to my friend, my Pastor. Gary.  You are a hero to me and many, many others! :)

    Friday, March 14, 2014

    Breaking Free Cliff Notes - Part 1

    Living in Freedom is a hefty subject, but it's worth the time. I have found it is the most life changing, greatest impacting endeavors I have ever poured myself into.

    In my previous post, Stepping into the Arena, I mentioned that I first picked up the 'Breaking Free' workbook by Beth Moore in 1999.  I emphasize Workbook because the 'Breaking Free' book by Beth Moore wasn't published until 2007.  As with many things, when something is successful, reiterations of that successful work will soon be found.

    In 1999, I picked up the Breaking Free workbook and I read each word, answered every question, filled in every blank, checked all the boxes, drew the pictures, read every scripture, watched all the video sessions.  I studied that material.  It was like living water to a dry and parched soul. The truth is, I never stopped doing the study and as a result it changed me.  This is a picture of my workbooks.  I would write multiple times in each workbook, responses varying from season to season. I would fill the pages with my notes and I would need a new workbook for the next time.  I'm currently doing it again, the updated edition on the right, which is what prompted this Daring Greatly moment.

    The Breaking Free study course-corrected more than my life, it course-corrected my mind.  I was literally "transformed by the renewing of my mind."  What I learned then and continue to study today is quite literally "the truth that set me free."  Cliche? Yes.  But this is a true story.

    Perhaps this all sounds like religious mysticism.  To lofty, a little wacky, 'out there'.  I get it and that is probably why I am so grateful that I have had someone walking beside me and watching me as a "new creation" evolve over all these years. No one knows this is a true story better than my husband.  God. Bless. Him.  Seriously.

    In Part 2, I'm going to outline some fundamental facts, key truths, that I have learned and have been studying from Breaking Free during all these years.

    Living with genuine, authentic freedom - emotionally, mentally, spiritually- is unparallelled to anything I know or have experienced.  The catch is, you have to step into the arena. You have to fight a battle for it.  You have to work hard for it.

    I know from raw, personal experience - it's totally worth the work. 


    "If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going." John 8:14

    More about this true story: