Thursday, January 29, 2009

Do I Look Like I'm Under 21??

Well, I just had an interesting experience. I got carded trying to buy a bottle of Nyquil at Target.

All the more interesting for me because I don't believe I have ever in my life been required to produce an ID to prove I am the appropriate age for any purchase. I don't smoke -- never have. I never touched alcohol before the last 10 years or so, and even now I never purchase it -- I send Keith to the liquor store when necessary.

But for Nyquil??? I know it has alcohol in it, but seriously! Are there really kids out there getting intoxicated on Nyquil? Don't tell me -- I probably don't want to know.

Another interesting part of the process: it wasn't a matter of simply showing her my driver's license. She had to take it in hand and scan it. I hadn't noticed before -- my new Iowa driver's license has a scanning strip on the back. Not a bad idea, I suppose. Quick and easy way to find out if someone's old enough for a purchase. And probably makes it more difficult to make a fake ID. But now I'm curious what all kind of info one can get off of that.

In any case, it's pretty cool to say that I got carded at age 40. Yes, I know, I'm delusional. Humor me. :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Our New Weekly Schedule

So, as you may have read in Leslie's post, our evenings are starting to fill up with activities. Surprise, surprise, that the Kandt family would get involved in stuff . .

Monday nights, Keith has been going to play pick-up basketball at Sunnybrook Church. And I just started a dance class on Monday nights, too. Not exactly my dream class or anything -- it's only been me and one other lady both times I've gone. The choreography is not exciting. But it's a good workout, and that's what I need most right now, I suppose.

On Wednesdays, the girls are in activities at Sunnybrook. Eastin goes to "Home Plate", a program for 3-5 graders, from 5:30 to 8. They play in the gym a while, then they feed everyone dinner (a huge enterprise because it's a very big group). They have the kids divided into "families" with a "home parent" at each table who teaches a Bible lesson with the dinner (thus the name "Home Plate", I'm guessing?). Then they have a worship time with a full worship band and everything. The first week she went, Eastin was very quiet in the car going home and I was afraid something bad had happened while she was there. But she said, no, they sang songs in worship that we had sung at Hope and it made her homesick. Sniff.

Leslie goes to the middle school group -- they call it "JAM". It starts with a social time at 6 (they have pizza and chicken nuggets there to buy if you want), then they have a worship time and short . . . lesson? devotional? inspirational talk? whatever . . . from the middle school pastor. Then they divide up into small groups (they call them LUGS -- an acronym for something) for more focused Bible study. There are at least 100 kids at this. So far, she's enjoyed it. She's getting to know a couple girls in her LUGS group. But it's still intimidating to walk into this huge room of kids each week when she only knows a couple.

Then last night, Keith and I went to the first session of our small group we're now in at Sunnybrook. They had a big event last Saturday evening to put people together in groups. I was out of town but Keith bravely went alone. We're in a short-term trial group with 3 other couples. Last night we just had dinner and got to know each other. They seem nice enough. We'll have to see how it goes. This is my biggest concern about Sunnybrook so far. Keith and I just aren't really meeting people.

And Tuesday evening is also Eastin's basketball practice, with games on Saturday morning. We'll add choir for each girl on Thursday afternoons in March and April -- and soccer in the spring. And on Friday afternoons, we go to the P.E. activity the homeschool support group does. So, our time is filling up. The usual for us. It always cracks me up how people seem to think that homeschoolers are sitting around the house all day, isolated from humanity. Please. We'd all crack up.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Note from Leslie!

Hi, it's me, Leslie. My first post... I hope it's good. Well actually I can't think of much to write about. I can tell you all one thing for sure though, I MISS NJ. But I am making some friends here. Of course, it's hard to make friends when your sorta quiet and shy, which I am, which some of you may not believe. :-)
I'll mention some of my friends, Lexi and her older borther Trey next door. Lexi is ten between Eastin and my age, and Trey is a year older than me but turned 14. Then I also am friends with a homeschooled girl a year younger than me, named Bethany. I also have a few more friends like Audrey and Carly... but those are the ones I see and play with the most.
Well, Mom has started dance, and Eastin basketball. Aparently they are both really good, and this is Eastins first time playing Basketball ever!
There has been alot of snow here, but there is not as much as there was in december. We also just came back from Kansas yesterday, what a trip! My cousin Ashlyn had two birthday parties in one day! One for friends and one for family (Eastin and I were invited to both) Hannah my other cousins birthday was celebrated along with Ashlyn's in the second party. I have to say, even though the second party was mostly adults, it was the most fun, and tiring! There were probaly 7 kids there in all, included Eastin, my cousins and I. One of the others was a 2 yr old little girl, at first the party was just talking and stuff, but near the end the kids were trying to keep a balloon in the air and pretty soon we had popped all the balloons in the room! We were all so sweaty, then my cousin brought us another ballon and another and anther until we had, maybe... ten or so. We realized my aunt and uncle were blowing them up in the kitchen. :-)
We were all so red faced, then the younger girls started chasing a ten yr old (or around that age)boy and made them even more tired, then we played tag... I tell you we almost got ourselves sick! I think that'll be enough excercise for the month!
Ashlyn didn't make it the next morning she woke up with a fever. Poor birthday girl! Of course pretty much 90% of the food us kids had eaten that day was sugar! The first party was fun too! The girls (and one of the girls brother) made body glitter and colored Hannah Montana pictures.
The day after the party we went to a planetarium, (Mom, Eastin and me, the others were pooped) and it was really cool! We got to see things explode! ;-)
Well, what else have I been doing? Hmm. Well, every Wednesday night at the church we've been going to, they have homeplate for kids, and jam for middle schoolers. I've gone to Jam a couples times and like it. I have my own small group (Lug) there and have made a few friends. It's good I'm in a Lug because there are so many people there! I don't wanna say it but I have to admit it is significantly bigger than my old church. Which brings me back to the fact. I sure miss NJ!
Well, I've probably been writing WAY to much already so I'll try to write more later.

The Sleep Saga

You know the little old women at church . . the ones who, when you ask, "How are you?" go on to tell you all their aches and pains and trials in life? And you're stuck trying to look sympathetic and interested when you were just trying to be polite? Well, I'm going to do a sweet-little-Miss-Dora act for those of you who check this blog occasionally just as a polite how-are-you gesture. Just skim and move on, if you want.

Here's how I am: I'm tired.

Some of you need the background info on this. I've had sleep issues all my life, it seems. Even as a kid, I remember taking an hour or two to fall asleep and often waking up in the middle of the night. Finally, this past year, someone recommended a sleep specialist to me. So, I did the overnight test -- a fascinating experience in itself. I had to take an Ambien to get to sleep, but I slept all night . . or so I thought. The doctor told me later that I woke up 25-30 times an hour. I wasn't even aware of it. You're supposed to have 20-25% of your sleep time in stage 3 or 4 sleep; I had 8% in stage 3 and never made it to stage four. No wonder I'm always tired!

The culprit? Apparently my legs twitch -- not big twitches, but frequent twitches. And the doctor thought this was what was waking me up. So he prescribed a muscle relaxant to stop my twitching legs, and I seemed to be sleeping better right after the move.

Not anymore. Even with my new medication, I take maybe an hour to go to sleep and seem to wake up an hour or two before I need to. And I wake up frequently during the night. In fact, this past weekend in Kansas, I forgot to take the meds, but I had some Benadryl in my bag -- which is what I used to take to get to sleep. The Benadryl did nothing. I lay awake in bed most of the night. So, apparently, I've either built up a tolerance to all these medications to where they don't work on me anymore, or the sleep problem itself, whatever it is, has gotten worse. Grrrrrr.

So, I'm tired and cranky and irritable and emotional and not concentrating well. And now I'm looking back on all the depressive episodes I've had in my life. It's a chicken and egg question. Do I not sleep well because I'm depressed . . . or do I feel depressed because I'm sleep-deprived?

And my other concern: the girls seem to have similar problems. The older they get, the longer they take getting to sleep and the more they say they wake up during the night.

So, I've got to get this figured out. I need to find another sleep specialist here in Sioux City, because one simply can't function without sleep. In the meantime, you can pray for my poor family as they put up with the drowsy-eyed, spaced-out grouch wandering around their house.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Show of Class -- and Showing Up the Lack of It

As my "faithful readers" know, I have refrained from speaking on political matters except for a few brief general comments on Election Day. And in particular, I have refrained from getting "personal" about "political matters". But I've been watching the Inaugural proceedings this morning with my girls and can't resist a few comments.

- Once again, I am grateful to live in a country where a transfer of power can happen in such a peaceful and even amiable manner. We forget how blessed we are.

- The size of the crowd was amazing. And I don't begrudge them their enthusiasm. But when I heard a black woman yelling, "Thank you, Obama!! Thank you!!" I had to wonder, thank you for what? He hasn't done anything yet. Give him a chance to prove himself first.

- You gotta feel for poor Dick having to endure the whole thing in a wheelchair -- especially knowing that there are thousands of people in this country who hate his guts and are laughing in jubilee at the sight (which is much to their disgrace).

- Those Obama girls are adorable. I hope their parents are able to protect them from getting screwed up by this whole experience. It's got to be hell growing up in the White House.

- I think Rick Warren did very well under the pressure. He was in a most unenviable position. I'm sure there's nothing he could have said that would have appeased his enemies today, but he spoke his heart and he spoke with grace.

- I know how many of my friends hate Bush. I know how much of the country hates Bush. But good heavens--I would hope that at least some of them can have the objectivity to separate the decision-maker from the decisions and acknowledge that the man has class. By all accounts, even from his retractors and opponents, he treats every person he encounters and works with with genuine respect and goodwill--even those who would have his head on a platter. The farewell moment between the Bushes and the Obamas was downright moving to me. And LORD KNOWS, Mr. Bush's low-key private meeting with his supporters on his way out of town is a far cry from the obnoxious and totally inappropriate Clinton rally we saw in January 2001 on his way out of town. It's Obama's day, and W. gave it to him -- with grace and dignity. Good for him.

- As much as I am unsure of the direction President Obama wants to take the country, I have to acknowledge that he, too, seems to be a man of grace and class. In fact, the best thing about today was seeing all the major players on different sides of "the aisle" behaving so civilly, and even affectionately, toward each other. The spirit of it all was a great thing to see. Would that our new president can encourage that kind of class among his supporters (such as the thousands in the mall this morning who boo'ed their outgoing president when he entered -- again, much to their disgrace).

- And despite the fact that Obama was not my choice for this office, I couldn't help but be moved, and moved deeply, by the power of this historical moment. We have a black president. A black president! How far our nation has come! Most of my friends were probably NOT watching the Fox News coverage of the day, but Juan Williams, a liberal black commentator on the network, had a moment when he was speaking about Joe Lowry, the minister who delivered the benediction, and how amazing it was for this powerhouse of the civil rights movement to see this moment -- and Juan began to choke up. I did, too.

Of course, as Malia Obama reportedly told her daddy, "First African-American President. Hmm. Better be good!" Spoken as only his daughter could.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Just Another Tool in the Parenting Toolbox

I call it my Primal Scream. I use it in those moments at home when I realize that my stress and frustration have reached a level where I cannot react appropriately to the situation I'm in, but I don't have the freedom to give myself a time-out. Some of my Hope friends may have seen a demonstration of it in a skit I did last spring with Amanda Barwise, although that was a mild version, to say the least.

It's a gut-blowing, all-out scream at the top of my lungs: "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" -- feet pounding the ground, fists flailing in the air and my head shaking back and forth sufficient to break my neck. It lasts as long as my breath holds out and usually ends with a few exclamation points, as delineated above.

Its effect is trifold. One, it wears me out (and often damages my vocal chords temporarily, but that's neither here nor there). All the pent-up tension gets spent in one fell swoop and I have a few moments -- but only a few -- of serenity in body and brain.

Second, it cracks the girls up. This was a great relief the first time I used it, because I was half-way through the Scream before it occurred to me that this may scare the crap out of them and damage them for life -- Lord knows what I would have thought if my mother had hauled off and bellowed like a madman that way! But when I caught my breath and looked at them through the disheveled hair hanging in my eyes, their little faces were puckered up and red in a desperate effort not to laugh (likely for fear of what effect that would have on the obviously insane person in charge of them at that moment). Only after I sighed deeply and muttered, "Well, that felt good," did they let the laughter burst out.

And third -- which is the purpose of the whole dramatic episode -- the release of tension in all parties involved and the jovial mood thus imparted gives me about thirty choice seconds of calm reasoning time to come up with a quick solution to the immediate problem at hand. And thirty seconds is usually all I get -- once my frustration level has reached the point that a Primal Scream is needed, it is also usually moving on an upward curve at a fast rate and momentum will keep it moving that direction for a little while longer. I have to take advantage of the short-term release on the pressure valve and find some way to steer the direction of the immediate situation into safer waters, before the pressure starts to build again.

And it works. Almost always. But only because it is a method I use very rarely. Obviously, if I shrieked like a maniac every morning, the kids would get bored and the neighbors would be calling the police.

I did learn this morning, however, that it is a tool I need to remember to use on an empty bladder. By the time I reached my final exclamation point, nature called in such a loud and relentless voice that I spent my precious 30 seconds in the bathroom and was, unfortunately, back on the upswing by the time I returned to the schoolroom to my giggling girls.

Eh. It happens. That's why we have a toolbox full of tools, right? Time for Avoidance Technique # 8: "OK, girls -- that's a wrap 'til after lunch."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Still Praying, Not So Desperate

To answer Robin's comment on my last post, all went well. Leslie got put into a group of girls that she tentatively said were, "Nice.". She filled me in on all sorts of amusing things that happened during the evening. And she hasn't said anything yet about not going back. So far, so good.

I'm still praying, though. As a homeschooler, seeking out social contacts is more of a challenge. She has one friend here her age, a couple friends two years younger . . that's really it. And none of those has she really connected with. I know -- it just takes time.

Now, one of these days, I'll need to examine why yesterday evening brought out such a strong reaction in me. Hmmm.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Desperately Praying Parent

It's 6:45. I just got back from leaving Leslie at her first middle school youth group meeting at Sunnybrook Church. And I'm praying. Lord, am I praying.

Lord, please let her meet nice girls. Some really, really nice girls.

Leslie's shy and so anxious. She's been nervous about this for a week now. "I don't want to go. Do I have to go?" Yes, you have to go. This is how you meet people. Try it for a few weeks, and if you really hate it, then we'll all talk about it again.

Girls that will ask her for her phone number, Lord -- because she won't ask them. Girls that will call her to come over and hang out -- because she won't call them. Please, Lord.

I made the mistake of going too early. Eastin's group started at 5:30. I thought Leslie and I could just hang out at the church until the middle school "social time" started at 6 (the actual activities begin at 6:30). But that just gave her (and me) too much time to get worked up, to see all the kids coming in and congregating in groups, kids that looked older and more confident than she.

Please don't let her be sitting alone and sad right now, Lord. Please let her be talking and laughing with some new friends.

Middle school is SO awful. Everyone is so uncomfortable with themselves, they have nothing left to help someone else feel comfortable with themselves. They don't mean to be exclusive and clique-ish -- it's just self-preservation. Sometimes it's the best they can do. But it can really hurt.

When I left, the middle school youth pastor had paired Leslie up with a small group leader, who was being friendly and leading her someplace in the room -- a huge room, with lots of kids, lots of noise, lots of things going on. Leslie didn't fight me about going in. There were no tears in her eyes (a good sign), just pessimism. I'm afraid she'll convince herself she had a lousy time no matter what, just to be right about it all. She's at that age, you know.

Please, God . . give her courage . . give her things to talk about . .

One particularly emotional and hormonal evening of my pregnancy with Leslie, I remember lying in the bathtub full of hot water (trying to get relief from the bellyweight and sore muscles) and crying. Someday, somebody's going to hurt this little girl. Some snotty little twit is going to be mean to her, going to make her cry. And I can't stop it from happening. And I can't stop it from hurting afterwards either. At that moment, the thought was almost unbearable.

It's 7:01 now. I pick her (and Eastin) up at 8:00. If anyone happens to be reading this during that time (or any time), please pray with me. And maybe you should pray for me, too.

Nice girls, Lord. Please! Let her meet some really nice girls.

Teaching by the Tangents

Some of you know that Leslie is a very right-brained thinker . . and I am very not. And that sometimes causes issues with us in homeschool. I seem to notice it most in reading and history. We finish reading something, and I ask some broad question to get her reaction on the material, and she inevitably goes off on some tangent. Much to my left-brained frustration.

Now, I'm not an idiot, and I'm "well-trained" as a teacher, so I do know that I should run with these sudden swings in topic. With Leslie, that's where a lot of the learning happens. But I can't say it's easy for me. I have in my mind topic A, with subpoints 1, 2, and 3 that she needs to understand . . . and here she flies off to B, C, and D-7. "What about A?" I scream in my head. "A is important! And so is 1, and 2 . . " I forget that we often get back to A-1, 2 and 3 when I've planned a discussion of topic J.

But this morning I ran with the tangents. We were reading a couple of Wordsworth poems . . . and got to talking about poetry in general . . how God made us to respond to the sounds and rhythms of beautiful language similarly to how we respond to music . . . and then because I had the computer on my lap, I found a clip of the "I Have a Dream" speech (OK, sometimes the internet's a very cool thing). We listened to the last 5 minutes or so, the part that always makes me teary. I have a dream today . . Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain in Georgia . . . thank God almighty, we are free at last!

We talked about the sing-songy language of the black preacher . . . how that might have had its roots in their African heritage . . . how part of Obama's effectiveness as a speaker may be because he has a good balance of that musical delivery from his African heritage and the efficient rhetoric from his European heritage (more right-brain and left-brain stuff, perhaps?). We talked about black churches and how vocal the congregations are (Uh huh. I know dat's right. Preach it, brother -- tell it out!) . . . and about how even white congregations and denominations vary in that regard . . . and about charismatic churches . . and about speaking in tongues . . . and about her former art teacher who talked about seeing visions of angels . . and about how mom and dad feel about all that stuff . . .

And we never got back to Wordsworth. Poor William. He'll be back on the table another day. Maybe she'll send us back there during an astronomy lesson next week. "Is that like that poem we read last week -- about how the world is too much with us . . ?"

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Idol of Choice

I mentioned in an earlier post my discussion with Shelly about comfort becoming an idol. (Although I should give her credit for the concept -- she used the phrase and my eyes widened with a "Hmm! Yeah. Wow!") And that idea has haunted me all weekend.

Frankly, these days, I am living quite comfortably. This is due to the blessings of God and to the wisdom and efforts of a husband who does an amazing job supporting his family and managing his money. I'm in a beautiful, warm house, with all the necessities of life taken care of and most all of the conveniences of life available to me and with flexibility in my schedule and much more leisure time than I ever really acknowledge to myself. I am most certainly comfortable.

And I like that. And I feel guilty about it, too. Keith has told me several times over the last few years (somewhat facetiously, and with much affection) that I make a lousy rich chick. Some days, I look around me and feel like Schindler at the end of the movie, fretting over how much he hadn't done for the Jewish people: "This car could have bought 5 more . . this watch could have bought one more . . . "

God has blessed us richly, and have we used it well? Or have we just used it to make ourselves comfortable? Keith always reminds me that God wants us to enjoy the good things he gives us -- that an ascetic lifestyle isn't the pathway to salvation. The hermit living in poverty finds no more favor with God than the billionaire in his mansion, if they're both seeking first His kingdom and righteousness.

But as Shelly said earlier, comfort can become an idol. It's one thing to enjoy God's blessings with thankfulness and humility; it's another to become dependent on those blessings for your everyday sense of well-being. How do I know when I've crossed that line?

And, although I don't believe God calls us all to live as pleasure-rejecting monks in poverty and isolation, I do think there is spiritual value in living lives of simplicity and in occasionally denying yourself certain pleasures and comforts for the sake of spiritual growth. How do I get there? Without selling the house, I mean?

I don't have any answers for that yet. I'm hoping this will open a conversation--internally, within me, and externally, with all of you. Hit the comment button if you have something to contribute to my mental musings on the topic. I'm sure I'll write more about this again sometime . .

Sunday, January 11, 2009

That's Where the Party's At!

I heard this song on the radio while I was driving somewhere a while back . .

Hands up, holler back here
Let’s throw this party in gear. .

. . and I got confused. I thought this was the KLOVE station?

We brought the welcome mat.
Wherever we go, that’s where the party’s at!

This sounds more like something Hannah Montana would sing. Are we on Radio Disney . . ?

Then this past week, while making a purchase at the local Christian bookstore, I got a good deal on a Newsboys CD. I only know a couple Newsboys songs, but I like them, so I thought I’d give it a try. And the first track on the CD was the "party" song I’d heard and wondered about before. So, I stopped what I was doing, got out the lyrics from the CD case, started the song over again and tried to pay more attention.

Wherever we go, bluebirds sing
And the flowers bloom and the grass gets green . .
Where we go, little glow-worms glow, little road-runners run ahead,
Gonna tell their friends, little mice, little men, get ‘em all excited . . [Hmmmm.]

Wherever we go, the dumb get wise, and the crime rates drop and the markets rise,
It’s a curious thing . . [Yeah, that’s a curious claim. Where exactly is this going??]
Bullies make nice, crooks repent, and the ozone layer shows improvement . .
Wherever we’re led, all the Living Dead wanna leave their Zombie Mob.
It’s a touching scene when they all come clean.
God help us, we just love our job!

So, here’s the interesting thing: if I hadn’t just been reading Affluenza, I’m not sure I would have gotten this song. Not that I’m sure I get it now, but this is what I get out of it:

Wouldn’t it be cool if all true believers actually lived as if this were God’s world to be a custodian of, and changed their lifestyle accordingly – and the collective power of that many people living that way actually improved the ozone layer?

Wouldn’t it be amazing if all genuine Christ-followers saw their jobs as a form of ministry and their possessions as tools in God’s hands, and changed their purchasing habits and business practices accordingly – and the economy began to heal?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the dumb and the bullies and the crooks and the “Living Dead” all actually came to personally know a personal God through their interactions with real children of God, and (rather than being either shamed into playing a church game or shamed out of the church altogether) if their hearts and minds and lives changed accordingly -- and the Zombie Mob that is much of American society came alive?

Wouldn't it be incredible if the church was actually "God's Dream Community" (as Jeff likes to call it), with a reputation for being the hot spot in town, the place where everyone wants to be . . where there's joy and life, not solemnity and stuffiness . . where there's love and forgiveness, not shame and condemnation . . where people are growing and learning and loving and laughing and full of the one thing every human being is truly longing for most -- God?

Hands up, holler back now,
We don't claim any know-how
We givin' God all that
Wherever we go . .
That's where the party's at!

Wouldn't it be AWESOME if that were true?? If the very presence of the people of God made that kind of difference in the world? And isn't it a shame that it isn't?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Another Note from Eastin

Hi ! This is Eastin. I wanted to write this blog about BasketBall. I just started my first practice was at last Tuesday . The Coach (Mr. Moore) said that my shooting was pretty good. I practiced some in Kansas where most of my relatives are. (I think all of them) There is a basketball court there and we went there to practice just for me! So I started to get the hang of it and it's my first year! I made a friend there(Laura.). We both like basketball and both laugh at things we do that are funny! We also have the same favorite color. (pink!) I'm also probably going to be friends with the coaches daughter. (Erica) She's nice! We met up at TAEK WONDO. (I think that's how you call it) I had lot's of fun! I'm having a team picture day tomorrow! I'll tell you all about later! Eastin

The Tyranny of the To-Do List

Just got home from a visit with our new friends, the Freneaus (Eastin's spazzy friend from the pumpkin patch). Drove back home in yet more falling snow. Sigh. I'm betting there will be snow on the ground on our property until March 1st. We'll check back later and see if I'm right.

My friend Shelly asked me, when we sat down to visit, how my week has been. An innocuous question. I thought, "Well, I never got started again on piano lessons with the girls, like I intended. And I still haven't gotten the vehicle registrations changed over to Iowa yet. But I got the dog to the vet, and made some other necessary appointments for us. And I picked up from the library all the books I needed for this month's astronomy unit, and we got caught up in Spanish. But I never did get started on the book I told the girls I would read with them for independent reading. Nor did I finish that last chapter of Affluenza, or get started re-reading those couple books I read over the holidays and need to digest more . . . "

And then it hit me: why is my first inclination to judge my week by how productive I've been? By how much I've gotten done? Is that really the primary characteristic of a good week, or day, or month, for me? Well, apparently it is . . but should it be?

Why didn't I think first about my physical condition? "Well, I got a shaky start to my 'diet' -- haven't been very good about that. But I've been sleeping better, and I finally found an adult dance class I'm going to start next week . . "

Why didn't I consider my relationships? "Well, I haven't spent much significant time with Keith this week, so that's the pits. But Leslie and I had some good time together while Eastin was at church Wednesday night. And I'm starting to realize that Eastin's general behavior seems to be better when I give her more one-on-one time -- good to know. Plus we had the neighbors over to celebrate Keith's birthday, and that was a fun visit. And I got reconnected with a couple of good college friends on Facebook . . "

Why didn't I reflect on my intellectual and spiritual growth? "Well, my old college friend and I have had a lot of intellectually-stimulating discussions. I finally found out why Pluto isn't considered a planet anymore -- and the difference between a meteor and a meteorite. My morning devotional times have been consistent, even if not as rich as at other times. I really enjoyed the sermon last Sunday . . "

But, no. My FIRST thought is of what I did and didn't "get done". Shelly and I were talking today about how comfort can become an idol in our lives. So can the to-do list.

Now, how to apply this profound insight without letting our lives fall apart because nothing gets done. Because, of course, our lives will fall apart if I don't get things done. Right?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Let's Peek Into the Kandt Home Tonight . .

Eastin is upstairs getting dressed after her shower and singing at the top of her lungs. "We're SOOOAARin' . . FLYYYin' . . there's not a star in heaven that we can't REEEAAACH . . "

Leslie's in the shower now. We won't see her for a few hours, most likely.

Now it's "I love my MOOMMMMY . . and my DAAADDDY . . my sister and all my FAAMMILY . . ." With accompanying dancing -- bounces, arms flailing, a flash of lime green PJs.

Keith is in his recliner, his laptop on his lap. Probably playing "Civilization", Keith's and Eastin's favorite computer game. I've resisted the urge to even try it, because I'll get addicted immediately. I know myself well.

"I LOOVVE my MOOMMMMYY . . ." Keith reminds her that it's rude to be so loud when someone else is trying to watch TV.

I'm on the sofa, laptop on my own lap. Blogging. Duh.

The dog is in "his" chair, sleeping.

"The Office" is on TV, recorded from earlier. The fire is burning in the fake . . sorry . . gas fireplace. The girls' independent reading book, The Wind in the Willows, is lying open on the coffee table, making me proud. There's also a Spongebob chapter book lying next to it, making me cringe. Also the DVD cases from Schoolhouse Rock (love it) and The Magic School Bus: Space Adventures (we're studying astronomy right now).

The box the Wii came in is still sitting on the stairs, waiting to be thrown out. But because of my Robin-blog-stress, I don't know where to throw it out. Is it recyclable cardboard? Are those inserts plastic? And if I toss it, will Keith ask me later, "Where's the box the Wii came in? Why did you throw it out?"

I put the trash and recyclables at the curb earlier: one trashcan and a pile of boxes filled with paper/cardboard trash. I haven't been able to put them out for weeks because of the bad weather. Paper trash accumulates fast during the holidays.

Now Keith's upstairs putting Eastin to bed -- which entails reading a chapter of a book with her (they're reading Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, I believe -- she and I are reading The Horse and His Boy on my nights). My turn to put Leslie to bed tonight -- we're reading The Magician's Nephew (got a Narnia theme happening here).

I'm the only one downstairs right now (other than the dog). The Office is on pause . . and it's suddenly . . . very quiet. Wow. I'm not often completely alone like this. It almost feels spooky. Eep.

Ah. Keith's back. TV's on again. The dog's licking himself. Life is good. :)

Friday, January 2, 2009


I can't decide if I regret discovering my friend Robin's blog or not. :) No, I don't regret it. Really. But it has stirred up a lot of unwelcome guilt.

My latest such trip is from a book I got for Christmas: Affluenza. I asked for it at Robin's recommendation. It talks about how consumerism is killing our society. Sending us into bankruptcy. Deteriorating our families. Destroying our health. Dividing our communities. Frankly, it's darn depressing.

I'm only half-way through the book. But the first half is all the bad news. Thus, my depression. I assume when I get to the section on the cures for this epidemic, I'll come away a bit more hopeful. If not, I'll bawl Robin out for getting me down like this.

As I wait for the good news, however, I'm going to give myself a temporary boost by reminding myself of the small steps I've taken lately to become more "sustainable" (what a weird term). I'm not listing these for you all in an effort to be boastful, because Lord knows, I have little to boast of in this regard. But I want to encourage you all to join me in taking a few small steps toward a simpler, healthier lifestyle -- healthier for you and for the rest of our world.

1) I bought three reusable "green" bags (which are, interestingly enough, not green but a lovely shade of teal blue) to carry my weekly groceries. I love these bags. They hold a lot of food and are easier to carry than either the paper or plastic alternatives.

2) I'm now buying organic, hormone-free milk exclusively. This is mainly for health reasons, but apparently is good for the environment, too. Unfortunately, it's not good for my pocketbook. But I don't suppose I can argue anymore that I can't afford it . .

3) I'm being much more conscientious about my recycling. Some of this is because Sioux City's recycling program accepts more that Voorhees'. But I'm also using some of Robin's tips, like using the plastic liners inside of cereal boxes for the things I used the plastic grocery bags for.

4) I'm trying to buy less processed food and cook more from "scratch". That's a tough one. My kids are quite fond of the processed junk. OK, OK . . I am, too.

5) I'm trying to remember to unplug things that I'm not using that may be draining energy--like the cell phone charger.

6) And then there's the energy-efficient stuff already in place in our new house -- the washer, dryer, dishwasher . . and the solar-energy we use from the southern windows. I probably can't take credit really for those, but I will anyway.

Well, it's a start, right? I invite you all to check out Robin's blog for more information and ideas: And you might check out Affluenza, too. But I'd suggest starting 2/3 of the way through. Less depressing, I hope.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Home Again, Home Again . . Jiggity Jig

Happy 2009! We're back after about a week and a half in Kansas. I kind of thought I might write while we were traveling, but I didn't. Somehow, this seems to be an Iowa activity for me.

I'm having writer's issues here, the primary one being that I am uncertain of my primary purpose for this blog. I originally set this up thinking it would be a good way for all our friends (especially our NJ friends) to find out what's going on in our lives without my having to send out 50 carbon copy emails every week. But as time has passed, this has turned into more of a "public journal" for me--a place for me to write about whatever comes to my mind. And as such, it's been rather therapeutic. However, I'm well aware that some of my friends -- kind as they are -- really aren't interested in reading my brain farts. They just want to know how the family's managing in a new place.

What to do, what to do? Well, here's my conclusion: one of the advantages to the written word is that your readers can choose if they want to read or not with less chance of offending than they would have, say, in a phone conversation. That means, if you're not interested in what I'm writing, you're welcome to skim and just absorb the facts you are interested in. Deal? Good.

So, the holiday family update: we left a little after noon on Christmas Eve (when Keith could get away from work) and drove to Lindsborg. Christmas Day was spent in Lindsborg, as always, and we drove down to Wichita the next day for an afternoon get-together with my family. A good time was had by all, and far too many gifts received as well.

We spent the weekend in Lindsborg, a couple more days in Wichita, and New Year's Eve in Lindsborg again. Then a leisurely drive home to Sioux City today. Keith goes back to work tomorrow.

Now the therapeutic stuff: So, I'm watching the Times Square party last night at Keith's sister's house, waiting for the ball to drop. Oddly enough, I found myself feeling like 2009 actually began at that point -- at midnight Eastern Time, not Central. Hmph. Whatever.

I also realized that I had a rather peculiar feeling about what I was watching . . a small ache, a little longing . . almost a feeling of homesickness. Now, understand, even while we were only an hour away in Jersey, we rarely went to New York City--maybe 3 or 4 times during our 10 years on the East Coast. And we were never there for New Year's. Nor did I ever really WANT to be there -- huge crowds, lots of booze, freezing cold temperatures, wee morning hours . . none of these are really my cup of tea. I might have been willing to go once for the experience, but it was never a longing of mine.

That's why I didn't understand this feeling that for some reason, I belonged there, and wanted to be there. Weird.

Leslie seems to feel similarly. Every time, during our trip, when we would mention "going home", she would let us know that she wasn't going home until spring (our trip back to New Jersey). She was very stubborn about it -- to the point of annoying her sister. After one such comment in the car today, Eastin rolled her eyes and exclaimed, "Girl! You have got to let go of that!"

I expect it will be a long time before Leslie lets go of that. Especially with her sister bugging her to do so. I, on the other hand, am over it now. I'm home in my house in Sioux City . . though I'm looking forward to a nice visit to Jersey in the spring!