Put Your Thinking Caps On

We've all heard -- way too often -- I SO love words!!! I do, I really love words. See? I've said the same thing and already used, like, 40-'leven words! In spite of, or because of, my love of words, I absolutely cannot caption something cleverly. Mainly b/c it requires brevity, and I am not equipped for brevity. The editor of Abilene Families asked me to write a VERY brief -- like 5 or 6 sentences -- write-up about something. It took me 10 sentences and used 200 words. I failed miserably at the "VERY brief" portion of my assignment!

So, those of you that can be brief and clever and funny, go help the fellas caption some funny photos.

Val frequently has funny pics to caption on his blog. Give this picture a caption.

Troy has posted a freak of nature that needs a caption. Riley and I came up with one, but, typical of 9-year-old humor, it's fairly potty-related. I'm sure you can do better.

I wish when all of my thousands of words strung together, they spoke as eloquently as this post. Seriously, you need to read it.



It's like Netflix, only for purses. I just don't have that need. Soon I'm going to write a post about all the ways I'm not quite female -- like I loathe shopping most of the time.

More later -- I'm currently writing my official letter of surrender to the fruit fly population. In my surrender I'm pleading that since we are, in fact, paying the mortgage, if we could just continue to reside here that would be enough since they obviously are the smarter (and by FAR more prolific) species in this house.


Okay, we've all been 'Snoped'. I got this video today with the attached message:

This incredible machine was built as a collaborative effort between the Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory and the Sharon Wick School of Engineering at the University of Iowa . Amazingly, 97% of the machines Components came from John Deere Industries and Irrigation Equipment of Bancroft, Iowa , yes farm equipment!

It took the team a combined 13,029 hours of set-up, alignment,
calibration, and tuning before filming this video but as you can see it was WELL worth the effort. It is now on display in the Matthew Gerhard Alumni Hall at the University and is already slated to be donated to the Smithsonian.

It is an AMAZING video, but feeling responsible for any info I pass along in this world wide web (why do I feel responsible when most of the people that send me stuff via email feel no such responsibility?) I checked it out at It is, in fact, too good to be true. HOWEVER -- it was someone's genius, just not in the form we originally thought... enjoy anyway!



I have felt the need to touch base here, but I have absolutely nothing to say. Of course, I could report on the fruit fly battle at my house, but that's a)embarrassing -- especially considering the fruit flies seem to be winning, b)disgusting, and c)simply way too much information about my boring life. It could ALSO be d)educational, since my battle has led me to this information, but I will presume none of us desire such information/ education.

As I've mentioned, I don't exactly have a boring life currently (she says as she glances out the window to see her son running into the street -- that could be all levels of exciting) but it's nothing you want me to report on, and it prevents me from having any thought in my head other than, "Am I going to get there within 7 minutes of being 'on time'?" Which, by the way, if you missed THAT whole blog post, you missed quite the dialog on my blog! I LOVE that Stephanie loves us with a "7-minute buffer" -- because she and I are... which are we? Polychromes? Yes, we are polychromes because we see the world and its schedules and time constraints as all colorful and fluid, and those monochromes with their black and white, well, we love them, too. I also figured out why Denise has to get there in time to get "her pew" and I never have any trouble getting mine in my 7-minute window: I ALWAYS get there in my 7-minute window, so I always get the same spot (hence, my pew, which now we know I've had to move and it CHAFES at me to sit on a different side) because everyone else has their pew that they got their 10 minutes early to claim. I'm okay with leftover seating.

So I've learned if you hang around long enough, a blog just begs itself to be written. Riley has a friend over. He's a sweet kid and he and Riley seem to get along very well. I don't know the family very well, but have always enjoyed having him over. So the two boys are playing some electronic game with the TV (I honestly don't even know what we have) and the other kids' comment about his player: "Oh, yeah, I know this one! This guy sucks!" He says with much enthusiasm. My eyebrows went up -- I know that phrase is becoming more and more commonplace, but we do NOT say it at our house (do we, Troy?:-) Riley said, "Don't SAY that!" I was proud of Riley for speaking up for all of our tender ears --HA! -- but did/ said nothing. Other kid says, "No, I mean his powers suck." Riley can't stand it: "Stop saying THAT!!" I suspect that the kid is confused about what exactly the problem is, and I wonder if that's just a common phrase at his house like "No, way!" is at ours. The game continues and finally as the kids are LOUDLY exclaiming over the game, friend yells out, "I'll get him!! See, I can suck him up!!" Evidently, the powers of his character are "sucking stuff up", so evidently, he really does suck. I guess we just don't call it that at our house.


Calendar YUK!

Hello, my name is Sarah, and I am overscheduled. My family is not helping my condition.

I have about 7 minutes before I have to leave to go to Open House for my school, so I sat and gathered up some stray schedules and newsletters and set about entering them into my calendar. Generally, I find this activity fairly peaceful -- I need to see what's coming and plan meals and transportation accordingly. Today, it was not peaceful. Because I realized that, as of today, November 3 is the next Saturday that our family only has one activity on the calendar (peaking on Oct. 6 with 4 -- and that's with me skipping something I would like to do) and November 17 -- as of today -- is the next Saturday with nothing on the calendar.

I miss summer.


Middle School YUK!

It has begun. Today, the 15th whole day of 6th grade, middle school has become middle school for my daughter. Bless, bless, bless her. The basic problem is: the child does not have a mean bone in her body. Bossy? Absolutely. Dingy? Testify. But mean? Completely beyond her realm of thinking.

So we have had many conversations that conclude with a snotty, weepy declaration of, "But I thought she was my friend." The sad part is that it isn't the same girl. You see, if you know Ashley's name, she's your friend. If you pass her in the hall, she's your friend. If you have the same notebook/ t-shirt/ tennis shoes/ math teacher as her, she's your friend. And she will treat you the way a friend treats people. But that is evidenlty rare among 6th grade girls.

One thing I have always commended Ashley for is choosing her friends wisely. And the friends that she is closest to are still being kind. Oh, but not all friends are being friendly. And it is a shock and blow to her little sense of fairness and rightness in the world and today, the worst happened -- about a half-dozen different people (MEAN GIRLS!!) commented negatively about the same part of her appearance. So we are having an all-out appearance crisis in our home, which I'm barely ready to talk myself out of, much less an 11-year-old. I have never in my life wanted to feed a child food for comfort -- until today because I had absolutely NO IDEA what to do with her.

So I just cried with her.



Sorry to leave a picture of a deceased fireman front and center for so many days. Brian Bilcher, himself, would probably want us all to focus on happier thoughts than the awful act that ended his life. So, as a continuation of my memorial of him, I'l tell you one of those thinks I've been thinking.
Balance. Am I the only one that struggles with it? You hear it discussed a lot around working moms --finding balance. And that's part of my struggle, but I think I'm mostly talking about the tightrope that separates reasonable and sane from over-the-top and nutty. And it is a constant tight-rope.
Where is the balance between discipline and obsession? Where is the line between confessional and recklessly airing your dirty laundry? Where is the balance between walking in faith and walking in denial? Where is the balance between driven and workaholic (good example, but I doubt I can be accused of either)? Where is the balance between relaxing and lazy?
I don't have answers to these. Those are the questions I'm still asking. I know that God is in the balance. We had a FABULOUS sermon today about how Jesus prioritized -- I interpreted, so I didn't have much time to meditate on that, but I'm sure Jesus found balance. So I shall seek Jesus. And balance.



September 11, 2001, is forever etched in my brain. Try as I might, though, I can't remember one thing about September 10, 2001. It was a Monday, with no signifigance to me.

Tina Bilcher will probably never forget either date. September 10, 2001, Brian, her husband of barely over a year, called home to tell her he was going to work overtime at his job as a firefighter at Squad 1. He told her he loved her and that he would see her soon. It was the last time Tina heard his voice. Together they had a son named Grant, born August 29, 2001. His name is Grant because God granted Tina and Brian the boy they wanted. He was not yet 2 weeks old when his daddy died evacuating people from the World Trade Center. Reports on his age vary from 36-38, but suffice it to say that Brian was quite young with a beautiful life in his family and a job he loved.

Brian was nicknamed "Tugboat" because of his size. He was an intimidating offensive lineman for the Bravest's football team, loved to play practical jokes and loved to do some wild things for an adrenaline rush -- he even talked Tina into jumping off of a lighthouse with him. She says she did it for love. While all of these things paint a picture of a rough guy with a devil-may-care attitude, Brian was best known for his other side.

Tina likes to refer to him as Captain America: if you were in any trouble, Brian would be there. Friend Larry Mann can even testify to Brian's Captain America side: not a strong swimmer, he was pulled out by the riptide. Captain America, or Brian, came out to get him.

One co-worker referred to Brian as the glue that held them all together. John Alborn said, "He would push people to be the best they could be." Tina affirmed that. "My husband always expects for us to believe in ourselves ... and always believe in being the best," she said. "I will not let him down."

Brian was laid to rest on June 5, 2002 -- the day after his 2nd wedding anniversary.

For a list of other bloggers participating in honoring the 2,996 of 9/11, go here.

*Originally published 9-11-06


Is This A Blog Moment?

When the kids crack me up about something, they will roll their eyes and ask, "Is this a blog moment?" Secretly, they love the fame of the internet. The lights, the acclaim -- from the 4 people who read this!

But tonight I am having to chase kids to bed by myself and I'm very bad at that. So, 30 minutes past bedtime while Ashley is picking up her dirty socks out of the middle of the floor using her toes, and Riley is in his pajamas but seeing how his bicycle helmet fits backwards while reciting our "Transforming Community" memory verse as the Crocodile Hunter (obviously, there's a story behind saying scripture as Steve Irwin -- a different blog moment).

Children, this is either a blog moment or a Prozac moment. Let's go for a blog moment, shall we? And, remember, I don't make idle threats...!


Good Things Out There

First, I have evidently failed as a friend. Because when I mentioned that I got my PRAY-shus shoes like so:
at, friend said, "Tell me about" (*audible gasp*) "you don't know" Okay, as I type this, I realize that said friend is able to buy shoes at Target which, sadly, we have already established that I cannot. However, Zappos is great for what I used them for earlier this summer. I was headed to Poppa Max's party and had bought myself a new skirt and, obviously, needed some new shoes, as well. I searched high and low in our (ahem) shopping metropolis of a city. I found the pair above, but not in my size, of course. This is the weekend before the shin-dig. So, Monday morning, I go to and find my shoes, but I still wasn't positive what size I would need. So I order two. Because, drumroll please, has FREE SHIPPING BOTH WAYS. And, and, AND -- free OVERNIGHT shipping. So, Tuesday afternoon I am trying on my darlin' little (okay, ginormous) shoes and had the perfect pair. It's a good thing.

P.S. No, they are not cheap. They are AWESOME service and selection, but they are not cheap. Reasonable, but not cheap.

If you've ever poked around on Rob and Jana's blog, you know they are doing much that is right in the way of parenting. But if you need further proof, check this out. Wish Luke would come pray over me! And, on a personal note, Rob, I would have put you 2nd only to Troy as "Least Likely to Return to School" as someone that I don't remember as particularly serious about your studies in the first place. It's amazing what time can do for all of us, isn't it -- AND, that said, I'm sure you'll do great!

I found this from Good -- What's for Dinner blog! I always need good ideas and this looks like a pretty good place to start!

Donna nailed it. This is my all-time favorite back-to-school commercial. Even as a teacher, I still feel this way, "They're going back!!!":


The Ghetto of my Soul

To relax on the weekends, I probably spend as much time watching television those two days as I do the entire other 5 put together. As much as two hours, maybe (not a big TV watcher). So today I saw for the first time an ad for a Billy Graham crusade (I assume it is to be aired soon? I missed that detail). The ad showed a few brief clips of testimonials from several different people about their lives. One very handsome, well-dressed black gentleman said, "I got out of the ghetto of my environment, but I was still living in the ghetto of my soul."

I have loved the imagery that phrase gives, mainly because the last few days have given me opportunity to think about so many people -- including myself -- who seem to be still living in "the ghetto of their soul." Why am I still struggling with the same demons from 20 years ago? Because I haven't left the ghetto of my soul. I recently had opportunity to visit with a young woman who has all of the tools in front of her to leave the ghetto of her environment, but with hateful words of yesteryear ringing in her ears, she's stuck in the ghetto of her soul. I watch as people make the same commitment to do better -- they see a better way, want a better way, but they are stuck in the ghetto of their soul.

Remember in Acts 16 when Paul and Silas are in prison? There's a tremendous earthquake and when the jailer realizes what happened (and the door is standing open) he takes out his sword to kill himself - to save the authorities the trouble, since he had allowed a prisoner to escape. But Paul stopped him saying, "We are all here!" I feel like that is so many of us -- not that we're here in our prisons to testify to the jailer, but just because we're comfortable. It's what we know. The furniture is comfortable and the thought process is well worn into our brain. The chains are off, the door is standing open, yet here we are, wandering around in the ghetto of our soul.

The sad thing is that, other than breaking a lifetime of thought processes, it really is just that easy. We can leave today, yesterday, whenever. With Jesus as Lord of your life, you are free to get out of the ghetto of your soul. "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36 And, from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech, reminding us of an old negro spiritual: "Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I'm free at last!"

So today (okay, I'll start tomorrow since I'm putting myself to bed after this) I will leave the ghetto of my soul. I will probably find myself back there when Satan tries to convince me that's where I belong, but I will walk victoriously out of the ghetto, proclaiming the victory that the Son has sacrificed to give me. The ultimate price was paid for my escape from the ghetto. Why am I still here? So, I'm SO outta here, this ghetto-of-my-soul. I've got victory to proclaim.


Take Two

So, I had rallied my end-of-teaching-day strength and energy and I had some semblance of coherent thought and possibly even wittiness in a blog post and my explorer freaked out and shut down and why isn't the 'auto save' deal working on fancy-schmancy blogger anymore anyway?

While exploring my lost post, I did discover that I have 584 posts. That is ridiculous. I can't believe you people are still here.

I leave you with this: Riley is coming home with a new Texas fun fact every day now from music class. Evidently he is learning more than just "Texas, Our Texas" (you are SERIOUSLY missing out on a slice of Americana if you bypass that link). Today it was: 'Texas' has been in more movie titles than all 49 other states combined. Funny? The only one I can think of involves Dolly Parton and a brothel. What about you? Movies with Texas in the title?


Hello? Is Anybody In There?

Where have I been? I have no idea. And, I have virtually nothing to say, so why am I even back? I'm chock full-o-questions -- no answers.

Remember the movie "The Money Pit"? It's no wonder that movie called to me long before I owned a home, since I've spent most of my adult life re-living some version of it. However, my favorite line from it comes when Shelly Long's character is rushing into orchestra rehearsal. The lady in the chair next to her, with a very proper British accent, is apalled:

"Where have you been? You were almost late!!"

To which Shelley Long repeats a phrase I have used to my husband on more than one occasion: "In this country we have an expression for almost late. We call it "on time."

Troy lives by the philosophy, "If you're early, you're on time; if you're on time, you're late." I live by the philosophy, "I'm here, aren't I?" It has taken some years to reach a happy medium about such. Thankfully, however, our children seem to have inherited their father's sense of punctuality. They're doing a great job of getting themselves to school on time so far.

Not only do Kendra and I share a classroom and all those kids, but our oldest children both started middle school this year. Kendra was asking me how it was going for Ashley and commented that the most interesting story she has heard from middle school has been the kid who got in a fight and then ran away from the teachers and climbed a tree. I figured surely Ashley had missed this excitement at middle school since I hadn't heard anything about it. So, I asked Ashley about "climb-a-tree" boy and she said, "Yeah, I saw it. I told you about it, but you were being 'supermom'."

"What does THAT mean?"

"You were doing 12 different things and weren't really listening."

Obviously, the label of 'supermom' combined with "you weren't listening to me" is my proudest moment as a mother. Really.

I'm hoping to post pictures of what happens when you force an intelligent child to step away from all electronic devices with screens and they find an extra stash of pencils and mix in some army men with their pencil-town-landscape. You, too, should force your child to turn off all electronic devices with screens and see what they come up with. You'll be amazed.


No Title Saturday

Remember Thing Two, of the confused holiday syndrome? This week he also told me on the WAY to lunch: "My bweath smells like nachos!"

Hmmmm. Anticipatory Halitosis. I think he needs to see someone about that.

Close to my favorite back-to-school commercial, but not quite:

My favorite is for the same store, though. Stay tuned!

Does anyone have any grand plans for Labor Day? Any End-of-Summer hoorahs planned out there? I'm thinking about vacuuming. My husband did a ton of my laundry today, so I guess that's out. Big doin's, I tell ya.
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