Monday, December 18, 2006

Do you believe?

With Christmas right around the corner, I should be feeling more of the Christmas spirit… I should be awaiting the day, barely able to breathe because of my excitement about Christ’s birth. I should….but I’m not.

Instead, I am angry. Replacing the joy that I should be feeling about the birth of Christ, is exasperation over what people perceive to be Christmas. You know what I’m talking about…the bright lights, the Santa on every street corner jingling his bell and saying “ho, ho, ho”, and the general mishmash of lawn scenes—the nativity with the three wise men, blow-up snow globes, shepherds tending their reindeer, and Santa-the angel of the Lord bringing good tidings of great joy….

Yes, I know I’m the Grinch, intent on stealing the Christmas spirit from others, especially small children…but…I wonder…would people love Christmas just as much if Santa weren’t a part of it…if the presents to unwrap were moved to a different day, and Christ was the only reason for celebration on the 25th? Somehow I don’t think our society would pause for celebration…

As the 25th draws close, I urge you to think about the real reason for celebration…the miracle that happened so long ago. Christmas shouldn’t be about whether you can still “hear the bells” or what is under the tree; rather it should be about your belief in Jesus Christ.

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”-Mark 9:24

I believe in a sovereign God who created the universe and therefore has a right to call the shots. I believe he is a God of love and kept promises. I believe that he chose to suffer my personal punishment so that I can be united with God. I believe that God’s purpose for me, day by day, and moment by moment, is to direct me to be more like Jesus. I believe that loving one another as Jesus loved us will help us to overcome the evil that surrounds us. I believe in forgiveness. I believe that we can make a difference in the world, by loving well and living in hope. I believe.

‘All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”’—Matthew 1:22-23

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Comedy of Errors

Yup, anything bad that could have happened to Denise and I over the past several days, did. It will be a relief to have a weekend, and hopefully mend some of the things that need repair...

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in Derby at a "Trainer of Trainers" IEP conference. Since it is quite a drive to get there, Denise and I needed to leave pretty early. I showed up at Denise's house, according to plan, ready to drive my trusty Malibu to Derby, only to find out that my trusty Malibu wasn't as trusty as I thought. I had a completely flat tire, and there was no chance to change it and still be able to get to Derby in time. So....Denise volunteered to take her "gem" of a gas guzzling SUV instead. Although the day got off to a rocky start, it did smooth out and become a bit more "normal", at least while we were at the conference.

For Tuesday evening I had invited Kym, Troy and Breona over for supper and a viewing of the taped "Grey's Anatomy" segments that they hadn't seen yet. I was a bit rushed when I got home to get dinner started, myself changed into warmer clothes, and then to meet Troy at Denise's house, as he was going to help me get my tire changed to the donut. While we were changing the tire, Denise's husband Jason came home. He wandered over and decided that he needed to help as well. He plugged the tire, but made sure that I knew that he didn't think much of the shape of the tires, or the fact that I had managed to pick up a nail in my tire while driving in town. In light of the shape of the tires, come Sat. I'll be forking over about $400.00 for new ones...

Supper went well, although not up to the standards I prefer...Oh well... Denise called part of the way through the evening to tell me that her grandfather had passed away that day. She wasn't certain when the funeral was going to be, but it could be as early as the next day, Wed.

Wednesday morning comes, Jayden's eyes are matted shut, and puffy red. Denise suspects pink eye, but also realizes that she has to be at the conference with me. She frantically tries to find a sitter since J. can't go to daycare with pink eye. Great Grandma takes her, but the last time she took care of one of the girls with pink eye, she also got infected... I again show up to pick Denise up in the morning. We get partway out of town, but the car is shaking badly, and there is an awful rubber smoky smell, so I turn around, and we take the gas guzzler again.

On the way out of town, take two, we nearly got backed over by a semi at the grain coop, who backed into the road as we were coming down it. If it hadn't been for the "gem" and it's offroading abilities, we would have been smooshed.

We arrive at the conference, and things proceed as normal until lunch time. Denise and I leave for lunch, only to find out that Denise had forgotten to turn off her lights in the morning, and the battery is now dead. Denise had jumper cables in the back, and we both know how to use them, we just had to track down someone to help us. The first person we approached, a lady from Marion County, was smoking a cigarette outside of her car. We asked whether she would help us, only to be turned down. She said that her husband told her that if anyone asked to have a jump off of her vehicle to tell them no, since she was going to need a new battery soon. Okay!?! We said "fine", and tried to find someone else. There was a man coming out of the building we had just been in (I later found out that he is a director at Derby), and so I approached him and asked whether he would help. I told him that we had jumper cables, and that we knew how to attach them, but we just need a vehicle to jump off of. His response? "Um......................................ok." He was not willing to help, and we could tell. What are these people's problems? It is the Christmas season, when you are supposed to be full of good cheer and a willingness to help those in need! We're not asking for $50.00, or a ride somewhere, just you-pulling your car up-turning the ignition on. Wow!

We got the car jumped, and set off to get lunch. I gave Denise a quick tour of Derby. We hit Dollar Tree and bought some good things for school Christmas exchanges. When we got back Denise was getting out of the car and caught her purse handle on the door lock. When we tried to close the door it wouldn't, with a 2 inch gap. We kept trying to fix it, but all I could think of was Denise sitting in the driver's seat on the way home, with her foot on the pedals, and her hands gripping the door shut, while I tried to steer from the passenger seat. It took us about 10 minutes of fiddling with the lock, and shoving it from this angle and that angle before it finally shut! Crisis averted again!

The rest of the conference went well (oh yeah, did I mention that I might have told the presenter that I already knew the information? whoops!) Thankfully she agreed with me, and thought it was funny that I told her. Oh well...the stress can get to me sometimes...

We headed home ready for some rest and relaxation. Denise's next few days don't seem to be any better than the last two though. She had a personal day planned for today, but she'll have Jayden in tow since J. has pink eye and can't go back to daycare for the rest of the week, she has her grandfather's viewing to go to. Funeral on Friday, and oh yeah, her brother gets married on Sat. She will be at her emotional end by Sunday, and will actually need a sick day to recover, I'd think.

I'm looking forward to Sat. I'll get my tire problem fixed, and then hopefully some of this will slow down a bit.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Puffed Dutch

Well, it's another Sat. and I haven't yet written about all that occurred last weekend! In honor of Patrick's birthday the Buller clan gathered in Park City to celebrate. We had a wonderful meal: baked potato bar, with eclair dessert and apple cake. We played a rousing game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey...and passed baby Adam around. After the aunts and uncles left, the cousins had a "gathering". The boys watched the games until early morning, and Carmen and I went shopping! As I already had all of my Christmas shopping completed, we made a good start on Carmen's!

This week I've registered for my A/P massage course, only to be called the next day and told that the class I had registered in is full, and that I'm bumped. The lady did say that there will be a "pay drop" day, and those that haven't paid for the course will be dropped, which would give me a chance to be in the class since I've paid in full already. Anyway, I hope that a few people drop, and that will give me a chance to get in. Otherwise, it will be yet another semester that will have been wasted. I'm not sure Carolann will agree to tutor me if I'm not enrolled in the A and P course. We'll see what all happens.

Thursday I spent at an inservice called is a set of 12 modules (1 taught per day) that teaches the background behind why we teach what we do when we are teaching a child to read, what parts of the brain are being used, and when a child is developmentally ready for each area. This was the second in the series and we focused on phonemic awareness. It is alot of good and interesting information. With the kids that I'm working with, this should help me determine which areas exactly they are having problems with, and then I'll know what to focus on with them.

Friday, Denise and her girls came over for supper...I made some pork chops for Denise and myself, and the girls had chicken with buttered potatoes, creamy butternut squash, salad, green beans and some of Julie's cookies for dessert. Denise's husband's birthday is today, and so she's been hiding the gift at my house, a brand new grill--it is enormous with huge grill space, and on both sides are platforms with burners to keep things warm, or to have the baked beans going while you are grilling. Denise spent her time putting a big bow on the grill while I finished up supper. After supper the girls danced to Christmas music, and Jayden did some yoga, while intermittently chasing "Jay-Jay" (Manje, the cat). The two oldest girls spent the night, so we spent time doing a ballet video that I had given them for Christmas last year, we also watched "Prince Caspian" together (courtesy of Heidi and Tim), and then read "Hey, Little Ant" before heading to bed. This morning I made Dutch Puff for breakfast and we had hot "cho-co" with marshmallows. Yummy... The girls are pretty picky eaters, so we spent a lot of time discussing how Dutch Puff is really just a baked pancake that puffs up really big. They really liked it, especially with bananas and syrup on it. This morning we watched "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" before Denise picked them up to go downtown to see Santa.

Today, I think I'm going to try to get some of the household chores done, that I usually successfully avoid...I have the time to do them though, so they should probably get done. I'm not sure of what my plans are for this evening...I might drop in on the party that Denise is throwing for her husband, or maybe just spend a quiet evening at home reading... Who knows...

I'll include a recipe for Dutch Puff in case you want to try it yourself!

Dutch Puff

What you need:

1 cup flour

1 cup milk

4 eggs

1/3 cup margarine

What you do:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place margarine in large shallow pan and put it in the oven until it is hot and bubbly. Put flour, milk, and eggs in a blender and mix well, or you may beat it with a mixer. Remove margarine pan from the oven VERY carefully! Pour batter into pan of hot melted margarine. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until pancake is high and puffed. Serve immediately!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I'm on my way!

Yup, yesterday I went down to Butler County Community College and got signed up for my A and P Massage course. I also talked to the person who will be my instructor for the rest of the classes...non Butler courses. I'll be taking classes each Monday and Thursday evening this next semester...but at least I'm getting started! Yippee! We're making progress!

Monday, November 27, 2006

As per Heidi's request....

My dear sister Heidi left a comment this morning saying that she is waiting for my next blog, and that something exciting has to have happened in my life. tell you the truth, not much is happening in my life.

This last weekend was spent with my parents in Hesston. Thursday the rest of the Buller gang joined us and we had turkey with all of the fixings. In the afternoon, Becca and her new boyfriend Micah, joined Patrick and me for a walk to the Arboretum and back. Mom left right after dinner for the NE surprise visit.

Friday Dad went to work, and I spent my day working on staining the window trim. I also took a nap. What can I say, I lead an exciting life!

Saturday, Dad was home and he calked the house while I finished up sealing the woodwork. I also tried to tidy up the house a little bit so that Mom wouldn't be so upset when she came home! Saturday night the Buller clan convened at the Donley's house to celebrate Patrick's birthday, and just to have another excuse to be together. The cousins spent the night, the boys watching the games, and the girls starting Carmen's Christmas shopping.

Sunday I headed back to Hesston and straight to bed. I spent the entire rest of the day in bed, not able to move because I was so sick. I finally was able to get up at 4:00 and start gathering up my stuff to go home to Marion. I went back to bed again after putting some laundry in, and trying to pick up a little bit.

Mondays I usually have yoga class in the evening, but due to the Thanksgiving holiday, I believe that we are taking a break until next week. Instead, I think that I'll head out to Julie and Quinn's to see the Christmas decorations and to sit in their hot tub. I also need to get my house vaccuumed and some grocery shopping done so that Pickerings and Mom and Dad can come for supper tomorrow night. We plan on spending the evening going over possible travel routes, and expectations for the trip. Any evening spent with Pickerings is enjoyable!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's Heidi's 25th Birthday, We Wish You Many More

Today is my little sister's 25th birthday. It is hard for me to not be able to spend time with her and celebrate on this day. I know that it is even harder on her though, so I'll try not to whine. It can be hard living away from your family and friends, but it is even harder on the special family days that are celebrated.

Heidi, you are my little sister. Your friendship is precious to me. I have so many good memories of us together...
Do you remember: pouring all of my toys over you as you sat defenseless in the beanbag?
...walking to the school bus in Lehigh?
...watching the sunflowers grow in petri dishes?
...playing in the playhouse on the farm, fighting off the invaders and cooking dinner at the same time?
...playing with Grandma B's kittens before dad took them?
...playing horse on roller skates with a jump rope tied around your waist?
...Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your goooolden haair! Weren't you a dashing prince?
...playing softball with mom and dad?
...Tuesday night piano lessons and fish night?
...playing tennis on warm summer evenings?
...slumber parties in the gray playhouse?
...locking me out of the house when you were mad at me? :)
...playing kick the can with the neighbor kids, and waiting for the front porch light to flash 3 times?
...troll pictures?
...Ciao Bella...Bill...Ashcroft...Bela...Bell...Belly? what were the other names?
...going to the "The Magic Flute?"
...choir tours?
...Prieb burgers?
...symposium? day?
...wining and dining at Carmen/B-ryans, my house, your house?
...pulling Mange's tail (oops, I meant Manje)?

Heidi, Happy Birthday! You are very special to me, and I miss you terribly! I love you!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Looking forward to the end of the week

Yup, it's only Tuesday, and I'm already looking forward to the end of this week and the beginning of next. I might even say that I'm looking forward to Monday, which will really tell you how my week is going!

I should say that I had an excellent weekend, spending time with my cousin Carmen, her new son Adam, and our friend Whitney. Whitney makes a mean blueberry martini, and we had lots of fun searching the internet for possible gift items! :)

This week at school we have Children's Book week. Each day the kids are able to dress in a different way, much like a high school's spirit week. Yesterday was sweats day, today is hat day, tomorrow is PJ day, Thursday Crazy Color day, and Friday is fish day (school shirts). I'm just excited that I can be wearing comfortable clothes for most of the week!

Last night was my one "off" evening before the week really gets started. I relaxed by going to yoga and trying to get some of my house cleaned up. This week is Symphony concert week, so I'm going to be burning a lot of gas between Marion and Wichita this week. Tonight, Thursday, and Friday are rehearsals with the orchestra and conductor. Sat. and Sun. are concerts. This last week is what we wait for all season, but it is a lot of work right at the end! It makes such a difference with having the concert conductor! Much more enjoyable!

Wednesday I won't be driving to Wichita, but my voice won't have much of a chance to recover. I have Vespers practice in the evening to prepare for the Presbytarian church's December Vespers practice. Since I've missed several rehearsals already, I feel that I need to be there. My Sunday night my voice is going to be trashed!

To add to my stress this week, I'm having some problems with one of the individuals who works for me. I'm going to have to talk with her today about what is going on, and set some goals and a timeline for improvement. I hate this part of my job! I don't like being the "mean" boss. :(

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Great news!

I have two items that have brought excitement to my life you can see after reading the next two items, I don't really lead an exciting life if these bring me so much joy! :) many of you know, I've been waiting to get my raise until all 5 districts in Marion County had settled within their district. The last one that we have been waiting for, finally settled this week, so it will be exciting (at least for me) to see whether our wait has been worth it.

The second item is that I think I have figured out a way to get my massage therapy classes started! Starting in January, it will involve driving at least one night per week to Andover, and many more hours being tutored here in Marion, but I think it will actually happen now! This turn of events helps me to plan at least a little bit more of my life for the next year or two. Yippee! I'll have about 500 hours of "practice" time that will need to be completed, so I'll be looking for willing volunteers! Let me know if you are interested!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Busy, busy

So as the title of this post said, I've been busy, busy. I've been wanting to post over several things, but my evenings have been pretty full lately, and I haven't had a chance to sit down and actually do it.

This last weekend, Mom, Dad and I headed to the farm in NE. I had a comp. day on Friday since we had parent/teacher conferences every evening the week before. It was good to see the people on the farm, and enjoy the warm weather they were having. Grandpa just turned 80, so we had a mini celebration while we were there. Heidi and Tim had sent along a photo gift for him, which he loved. Heidi, Tim and I also gave him a book. I'll have to add a clip from the Swedish folk tales book, since Grandpa enjoyed reading it to us and laughing at it. Dad, Mom and I enjoyed being able to walk around the section and down to the river, and seeing the fall colors and the occasional green snake! :) It was a very good weekend, and I hated to see it end.

Monday was a full day of school, and then yoga in the evening.

Tuesday was Halloween and a nightmare day at school. Teachers seriously think about quitting their jobs on party days. What with the sugar rush, and rooms full of parents who think that their child is "so cute" during the un-controlled parent-planned parties, its enough to make you have a headache! To top that off, it's Halloween and so everyone goes out for even more candy and wild fun! Afterschool, I headed downtown for the city-sponsored "trick or treating" with Denise's kids. It was good to see the business owners, and fun to see all of the costumes. I spent the evening at home, handing out candy to about 25 kids. It was a pretty quiet night, except for my pumpkin getting stolen! There were many pumpkins stolen that night, and they were smashed all along Main Street. The kids also TP'd all of the park downtown. I'm just glad that all I had was a pumpkin to steal, and that there aren't any trees on my property!

Wednesday was a pretty good day. The day after Halloween is always a pretty bad day, with kids coming down from their sugar high and the excitement of the night before. My kids did pretty well getting back into the routine of things, so it made my life easier. Last night I headed to Goessel/Newton for a much needed haircut, and to do some early Christmas shopping.

Tonight I head to Wichita for Symphony Chorus rehearsal, and I also hope to go out with Becca for supper.

Tomorrow we have a technology inservice all day. All of the area schools (Hillsboro, Centre, etc...) will be coming to Marion for an entire day of lectures. I'm sure I'll be quite tired of sitting by the end of it. In the evening, I'll head to a fellow teacher's house and spend the weekend. Her husband is out of town, and she wanted some company. I think there will be a "girl's night" party tomorrow night, for the teachers in our building. We'll see what all happens!

Jayden learning how to make scary faces.

Grandpa reading from the Swedish Folk Tales book.

Downward facing Zoe--one of my favorite yoga poses. :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Conference time

It's conference week...parent teacher conferences were yesterday. It was the day that never ended--staff meeting in the morning, flu shot day, conferences starting at 2:30 and not getting home until after 8. Thankfully, the conferences went pretty well, but I was ready to get home at 8 and have some "me" time.

Today, I'm at another conference, this time at Essdack in Hutch. The SPED director has nominated me to be the "go to" trainer for technology in the county. So, today I'm at one of what will become many trainings on assistive technology. So far it has been a pretty productive day, and I hope it continues to be. It has been a long week though, and I'm eager to have my day off on Friday. I'll head straight from Symphony practice tomorrow nigh and go to Hesston for the night. Then Friday morning we'll head to NE and to the farm for a relaxing long weekend.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Another fall weekend

The weather here in Kansas can't decide whether to be freezing cold, or nice and warm. Yesterday (Sat.), Dad and I froze our butts off at the Tabor homecoming game. We won, but since I don't really understand FB it doesn't mean anything to me. Someone will have to explain it to me sometime, until then though, FB games are purely social events. Since the weather was bad though, I didn't see as many college friends as I had expected. Mom went and hit all the hot Hillsboro shopping spots...Alco and Dollar General...and then spent the afternoon holed up in the car. After the game, they took me out to supper in McPherson--good Mexican food, something I don't get a chance to eat much in the small town of Marion.

This morning was church--sang in the choir and had a solo. Then taught toddler Sunday School, since the regular teacher, Debbie, was on a trip this weekend. Tonight was the church hayrack ride, and Denise's girls wanted to go. Denise had made other plans for today with her mom, so the girls stayed with me after church and until abou 7:30. We ate lunch together and watched a few movies. I introduced them to "The Point"--trying to brainwash them early! ;) They loved it. At 4:30 we were at the church, trying to claim the "best" seats on the hayrack--the back ones, so that you can go backwards everywhere. Whatever makes them happy.... We drove through town, and out into the country before coming back to Case's house for a hotdog roast. The girls had a great time collecting small shells and things, playing in the deer feed, and getting dirty. Pretty sure Denise will be unhappy with me...the girls were filthy by the time she picked them up. Oh well...that's what being a kid is about.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Weekend in the Woods

This last weekend was church retreat weekend. For me, it was a much needed chance to relax and enjoy the company of the people who make up the congregation here in Marion at the same time. The weather was beautiful--warm sun, light breezes that musically shook the fall leaves, the smells of fall (dirt, grass, and leaves just beginning their descent into decay...), and today the beginning drops of cool rain. There were plenty of chances to hike, play games, sing, or to just sit and enjoy God's awesome creation. What a perfect weekend!
This morning we spent cleaning up the camp to get ready to leave. We also had a Sunday service at the Outdoor Sanctuary. Jeremiah spoke about Psalm 104 and told a story about how close to nature we are in a place like camp or even Marion...but how difficult it is in the larger places to find God's creation. Jeremiah made the point that while we can find beauty in those things and places that are man-made, places that are God-made surpass the beauty that humans can create. Over this weekend I have had many flashbacks to my own youth camping experiences. Watching Tim, Griff, Will and also little Sadie, and the joy they had here this weekend reminded me of the importance these God-made places have had in my life and many others. Jeremiah asked us for memories about Westminster Woods and how it has changed our lives. Although I really couldn't contribute any memories or stories about W.W., I had several stories I could have told about Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp. There was one specifically that came to mind. It happened during one of the Senior High camps I attended. All week we had studied the communication between ourselves and the Lord. We had talked about the different forms of prayer, and how art, music, etc... can also be forms of prayer. The final service was held in the chapel on Friday night. It was a very cool and absolutely calm evening with no wind at all. We had built a roaring fire in the fireplace and after an extra long singing/gathering time, we focused and spent the evening in prayer. At one point we were all holding hands, and people would share a prayer when they felt led...all at once, a huge wind came up, and down the chimney. It felt like the wind circled the room. It sent sparks flying all over the chapel and the fire almost went out. Right before this happened, a person had asked that the Lord be with us that night as we finished our time together, and guide us as we went home the next day. We all looked at each other and knew that God was showing us that he was there with us then, and he would be with us as we went home and away from the group. When I meet with my camp friends and start telling stories, this is one of the stories that we can all remember, and it frequently comes up in our conversations.
This weekend at Westminster Woods definitely reminded me that camp is an important part of my life and one that has shaped who I am. I didn't realize how much I have really missed the yearly pilgrimages made to Rocky, and how much that place has influenced me. Watching the kids and their exuberance this weekend made me think about how much church camps change people, and how many people have been touched by them. These kids are just starting out on their paths, but already camp has touched them.

The Woods in Pictures

The Group

Happy 33rd Anniversary, Paula and Mike!

Bill and Seth build a fortress to keep the frogs in!

Pastor Jeremiah

Seth getting ready to go boating.

Grif enjoying the warm afternoon.

Debbie at the Deer pond.

Dani and Sadie

Reflection in Deer Pond.

Luke, the fisherman

Bill and Tim sharing stories on a hike.

Debbie enjoying the warm afternoon by relaxing and reading.

Bill trying out the rope swing.