Sep 2, 2014

First World Problems

The first day back after a long weekend is always a little crazy, just because of the catch-up stuff that always ensues from things coming in over the weekend.  But on top of the "normal" craziness, I also had to deal with a dying router - the wifi is working fine but the wired ports are dying out.  I wasn't really sure, until I got up this morning, whether I would be able to work from home (as I have for nearly 4 years) or if I would have to actually prepare myself for the public and go in to work from the office (which I really dislike having to do).  Fortunately for my sanity, the router decided to behave and I was able to stay home in my PJs and get my work done.

As first-days-of-the-week go, I've had worse.  I've also had better.  At one point I told someone (either Lauren or Josh - I don't remember) that I thought Tuesday was making up for us having the day off on Monday by being extra obnoxious.  Overall tho, I finished the day with decent production numbers and even managed to make my bed, finish my laundry, and make dinner on my breaks and lunch. I was able to get off at 2:30, and without a drive home, have had about 90 minutes to decompress before the kids get home from school.  I have taken full advantage of this time - took a shower to decompress and clear my mind, cleaned out my bathroom cabinet and re-organized that stuff into the main closet (its amazing how many bottles of shampoo can get lost in the back of a cabinet!), and now I'm sitting here typing while dinner finishes up in the crock pot.

And it struck me that I've been kinda complain-y lately.  I don't handle technical frustration very well - I expect tech to work, and when it doesn't, I get grouchy.  But really ... we have our "basics" covered ... which are really a lot more than most of the rest of the world has.  A house - it's not huge but certainly not small, and it has a good yard and a nice basement that (usually) doesn't flood.  Plenty of food - we buy in bulk and eat cheap, but we never go hungry.  Three cars - some would call that a necessity with three teens!  We are able to go to Six Flags for fun and St. Louis to visit family; we have computers that allow us to play online games with friends from around the world; we have a microwave and a washer/dryer and a dishwasher and multiple other modern conveniences.  Re-organizing my closets to simplify and condense my stuff made me think ... how much of the world has enough "stuff" that they even "need" closets ... plural ... to store it in???

So ... I really am thankful, and I really just sometimes need to remember that I have more than most, and not complain so much when some of those things aren't working like I want them to.  I'm not saying I'm going to pare down to the absolute essentials and go live in a tent with a bicycle ... but there are people in the world who will never know more than that, and others who have as much as (or more than) I do but are forced to leave it behind or face death.  With that in mind, I've decided there is a lot in my life/house that I can live without - what do you have?

Aug 26, 2014

That was fast ...

Is it really almost the end of August?  Second week of school?  Where did the summer go?

I just realized that I haven't written anything since April - when I got my Pony.  I guess we were just that busy having fun!  So I will attempt to recap, if for no other reason than to have the written memories for myself (I often wonder who - if anyone? - reads my stuff!).  Nothing profound or earth-shaking tonight, folks.

May was the end of school - lots of last minute assignments and finals and (for Daniel) prepping to move to a different school. We had a year-end class trip to Six Flags, and a (only slightly) teary goodbye to LMS with Harlem Renaissance and the Moving Up Ceremony.  I think Ashleigh and Michael were just ready to be done :P  We also arranged a Gathering for our gaming buddies ... I was thrilled to see Dave & Dom, Dan & Rachel, and Josh for Memorial Day weekend.  We basically hung out in St. Louis all weekend - City Museum, Six Flags, Ren Faire ... personally I had a blast!

June ... June was a rough month.  That was the month I declared war on the arachnids in my immediate territory.  After counting over twenty "insurgent strike attempts", we called Orkin to clear the area and set up a perimeter defense.  A few suicide runs have come close since then, and one very large soldier - possibly even a 5-star general - made it within 12 inches of me.  But I have prevailed, and the overall number of attempts has dropped significantly.  A recent surge of activity may signal a need for a renewal of the perimeter guard tho.

At the end of June I went to YFN for my fourth time.  I didn't take any of my own kids - so I was able to focus a little more on "my" girls.  We figured out early on that there was something big in store - the train was late picking us up in Springfield, lost more time on the way to Dallas, and took so long to get our luggage sorted that we almost missed check-in at camp, then a couple of the girls had a fairly large dramatic blow-up one night.  After a chat with the leaders and each other, all was sorted and made well and many of the kids had breakthroughs the rest of the week.  We came back and proceeded to have an awesome summer at youth with interns and events and parties and outreaches!

The kids and I took a couple trips to Six Flags in July and August - we saw Third Day, but missed Mercy Me (Family Force 5 in a couple weeks!!!).  We learned how to do it cheap by packing lunches (the kids weren't thrilled about that but I insisted on not spending the ridiculous amounts on park food) and refilling bottles with *water* instead of junk soda ... better for you anyway!  One of the trips was the annual youth group trip, which started out a little sketchy because it rained on us the entire drive there.  But it cleared up just as we got there and stayed dry the rest of the day - and then *dumped* some serious rain on us on the way home again.

School has started now - Ashleigh's senior year, Daniel's freshman year.  There was a bit of an issue with Ash's schedule but it got worked out to everyone's satisfaction, allowing for all three of my kids to be in the same gym class next semester.  That may or may not be a good idea ... friends have said things like "that will be one heck of a dodgeball team".  As big of a school as SHS is, I must say it surprises me that a senior would have so many classes with a freshman and sophomore ... she shares at least half her day with one or both of her brothers!  Of course she is also driving to school this year, which allows a little more flex in my work schedule - I don't have to be off to go get them from school.  Final cool school thing ... free breakfast and lunch!  Some schools had it, and there was the income-based program, but now the entire school district has free meals for all kids, period.  No more lunch checks!!  It's a little ridiculous how excited I got over that letter.

This weekend we get to help celebrate Aaron and Ariel as they get married - I've only known Ariel since Christmas 2013 but man she is one really cool person and I love seeing the two of them interact and play off each other.  *Really* looking forward to seeing the growth in the youth group with having a married couple pastoring!!

So, I think that's it for catching up ... I hit the highlights anyway.  I'm watching and listening as some really neat looking clouds roll in, hoping we get a good storm but kinda not expecting to.  The cicadas are singing, the house is quieting down ... tomorrow is Wednesday and then it'll be almost Friday and then Friday will be here with a short day which always makes it feel like a long weekend on top of Labor Day making it an *actual* long weekend ... I may even go to bed early tonight.

Apr 26, 2014


So I just want to take a few minutes to brag on my husband ...

We've been married for nearly 17 years.  At some point in the past ... probly when things were okay but not great, finances were still pretty shaky and our relationship was recovering from a nasty valley ... I gave him a list of "dreams".  They ranged from the relatively minor - "I'd like to be able to go out to eat now and then without having to budget it in and save for it" - to the big one about building an earth home.  Honestly I don't remember all of the things I listed out ... it was one of those thinking out loud, daydreaming, what-if types of thoughts.

Josh took notes, and has made a point of checking off those "dreams" as he has worked hard to make each of them come true.

Well, today he really stepped it up and checked off one of the major ones.  All week I have been almost giddy with anticipation, but trying to keep it reasonable and not really allowing myself to hope that it would actually happen, and not wanting to say anything until it actually did - almost for fear of jinxing the deal.  But this morning, we took a little drive and I came back in this gorgeous beast of a black Mustang.

Of course none of this would have happened without God's blessing and favor ... without Him, Josh and I would have failed long ago and none of what "we" have accomplished would be possible.  I was listening to a radio broadcast the other day, and this daddy was talking about how he had to braid his daughter's hair one night.  He didn't have a clue how and really kinda botched it, but did the best he could.  Well, his wife later taught him how to braid hair, and he was struck by how the braid looks like two cords of hair weaving back and forth ... but it's really three.  Without that third section, the braid doesn't work.  Just like a braid, a marriage requires three strands all working together to hold strong - God, husband, wife.  If any of those strands disappear, the whole thing unravels.

Apr 25, 2014

Thoughts ...

Today is my eldest's birthday.  Ashleigh is now 17 ... still can't quite figure out how that went by so fast.  Seems to go faster every year too.  For her birthday dinner, Josh told her it was her choice - she could go anywhere in town, take any or all of the family ... whatever she wanted.  She chose to stay home and have him cook - said he's the best cook in the city :)  I kind of have to agree ... but it's nice to have time to just sit and chat while someone else waits on us, which is why I generally choose Bella Milano.  She treated us to a movie tonight in the "new" family room - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  I had seen the previews but just hadn't gotten around to the movie - she loved it and insisted on watching it.

Earlier today, I was looking at copies of the kids' birth certificates that I had to get for insurance verification stuff and noticed the times of their births.  Each one came a little earlier in the day - Ash was 3:15p, Michael was 10:47a, and Daniel was 7:55a.  As I looked at those times, all side by side, I was struck by a little correlation I had never realized before.  Ashleigh is most like me in her sleeping habits ... she likes to stay up late and sleep in, but she's *able* to get up and get moving when needed.  Michael moves a little slow in the mornings, usually has to be coaxed out of bed, but almost never is in bed past 8 in the morning.  Daniel ... he's the oddball child who is up no later than 6 am nearly every day, regardless of weekday/weekend or what's going on (or not!).  So at least in our family, it would appear that the earlier in the day you are born, the earlier of a riser you are in the morning.  I'm curious how other families are?

My lilac bush has decided to bloom in somewhat spectacular fashion ... there are little buds all over it!  I'm really looking forward to seeing the soft purple cascading down the sides.  Last year's one little bunch showed me she wasn't dead, but man I missed the color!  The rest of my flowers are sprouting and throwing a lot of green up into the red mulch, but only one (so far) of my tulips has a little bud.  It should blossom in a couple days, by the looks of it.  That's one of my favorite parts of spring ... watching the flowers peek out.

My other favorite part is the neighborhood waking up.  Right now, the kids are all outside playing basketball with Josh - he got the hoop fixed and, as dark as it is, they are out there with spotlights and extension cords, playing with several of the neighbor boys.  They are all hollering and calling shots and fouls and generally having a blast, and it's after 9.  Another month or so and they won't even need the spotlights and extension cords :)  I could listen to them play all night - I always wanted to have "that" house ... the one where the kids all congregate and know they can have fun and be safe.  I love being in a neighborhood that we can do that!!

Apr 5, 2014

Why I Can No Longer Recommend GoDaddy Hosting

Let me start this off by saying that this is utterly and entirely a rant against GoDaddy.  I fully understand that there are plenty of people who like them, have had no issues with them, and would recommend them to everyone.  I am not posting this to begin a debate, or to get any concessions from GoDaddy, but only and solely to rant about the total lack of customer service I have received from their Hosting services.

I have been a GoDaddy domain customer for many many years - pretty much as long as I have been doing websites.  Their domain name services have always been great - it's not something you can mess up easily, really.  A couple years ago, after experiencing a lot of downtime and other issues with the hosting provider I was using, I decided to move my sites to GoDaddy hosting - they had a pretty good list of features, their reviews looked good ... okay, off we went.

Almost two weeks ago, a friend and I started putting together an auction, hosted by REGAP, to help another friend with her vet bills (more info here and here if you want to help!!).  The auction launched on Sunday and ran for several days with no issues.  All of a sudden on Thursday ... nothing would load.

That's when the whole thing went south.  I have compiled screenshots of my support tickets with GoDaddy, my frustration posted on their Facebook page, and the support I received from my new hosting provider (all linked below).  Boiled down ... the software we use for the auction uses a particular coding convention in their links.  There's a little file on most servers that automatically blocks that coding convention, which means that the links stop working.  Most hosting providers have no problem removing that block if the web designer asks them to - GoDaddy apparently does.

My main problem with GoDaddy's "support" is that there simply wasn't any for several days.  There was no response on the ticket at all - not even a "We've gotten your ticket, we're looking into it, please be patient".  What really ticked me off tho, and what made me wait so long to finally respond to them and write this post, was the scripted, canned reply that I did finally get.  Plain and simple, GoDaddy took 5 days to copy and paste some text into a response and ask for a bunch of information I had already provided.  In the meantime, I had spent most of my weekend frantically backing up, downloading, and relocating my websites to a new host who, in turn took only three and a half hours to research and remove the block that was causing all the trouble (I didn't count the lag time between my own responses - only the time their support people took).

While I think I have every right to be angry, I also do understand that GoDaddy is a business and much of their support decisions are based on what's best for their company.  One little non-profit greyhound adoption group is small potatoes compared to, say, an online business that does national sales.  REGAP doesn't use the site for daily income but for social connections and a public face. In the end, what it boils down to for me is a bit of a hassle while I relocate my websites (REGAP being the largest and therefore will be the last), and a few drops added to the bucket of bad press for GoDaddy, which you can find on a simple Google search.  Now I wish I had listened to all of that.

Feb 18, 2014

When God tells you to wait ...

A few months ago, I received some news at work that I did *not* like.  I was very upset, angry, and frustrated.  I'll be honest ... I had to clock out and take about an hour to calm myself down - I was that upset!!  I felt that I simply would not be capable of working under this new sitution, so I immediately talked to the appropriate people to try to get some changes made.

Well, I was essentially told to stick it out for a bit and see what happened.  Of course I didn't like that idea - I wanted things my way!!  So I ranted and raved at home and to my friends and checked job postings to see what else there was that would get me out of this situation.  Then I heard a song on the radio.

Now, God frequently uses music to talk to me ... I will hear a phrase in a song that applies to something going on in my life. I have heard this particular song many many times ... and it's a good one, but it never "said" anything to me specifically.  This time, the part that caught my attention - what really smacked me in the face - was this:
I'm gonna make you stronger
Hold on just a little bit longer
Cuz I'll be there
When you feel like you're going under
I'm gonna be there for you
(Royal Tailor: Remain)
Boy did I ever feel like I was about to fall off a cliff... like I couldn't hold on.  But God told me to wait and that He was still there with me.  Okay ... fine.  I've dealt with worse, right?  And as a reminder, about a week later, after I had a little time to calm down and get a little bit of experience under the new system, I heard another one ...
I won't give you more, more than you can take
And I might let you bend, but I won't let you break
And no, I'll never let you go.
(Group 1 Crew: He Said)
Got it.  Wait, deal, be patient.  So I stopped trying to get things changed and just dealt with it ... but I kept an eye on job postings anyway.  A while later, I got an interview scheduled for another position.  It was a lateral move, but I figured that was acceptable and would at least give me additional experience in a related area, and that could always help down the road.  Just before the interview, things changed again to what I had actually been angling for before.  But I already had the interview set up, so I went ahead with that route to see where it would lead.  A short time later, I was offered the position and told that, while it would technically be a lateral move, it would still come with a pay increase and, best of all, confirmed that I would still be able to work from home.  I've been in my new role now for 5 weeks ... and it's a *much* better fit for my abilities and preferences.

All this to say ... even when things maybe look awful, if you think you just can't take it and you want it to change ... if God tells you to wait and see, do that!  I could have gone on and pushed for change, but it would have probably injured my relationship with the people in my previous job.  I don't know how He talks to you ... it might be through other people, books, movies, music, a sermon, a "random" thought ... but learn to listen and then *hear* what He says.  It may be to move, it may be to wait, or it may be a step along a longer path.  Either way - He'll direct you to the best He has for you.

Jan 2, 2014


I rarely make New Year's resolutions.  I think it's silly, pointless, and they rarely get kept.  Last week, Pastor Eric's message was "Go For It" and he told us to make "can't" a curse word and take it out of our vocabulary.  We were then treated to a portion of The Little Engine That Could, and he asked us to write down three goals that we believe God wants us to reach in 2014. Well, for a long time now, I have known that I need to be more intentional with my health - both physical and spiritual.  I'm not too sure what my third "goal" would be, but I figure it's better to start with something than to skip it all for lack of the third :)

So ... with God's help ... this year my first goal is to read through the entire Bible - get to know and understand it and really apply it.  That's kind of difficult to quantify ahead of time as far as how it will be measured, but I'm believing that the results will make themselves clear as I go.  I want it to be obvious that I have a relationship with Jesus.  Not an in your face, beating people over the head with rules religion ... but a relationship that makes others want the same.

My second goal is to get healthy physically ... to exercise regularly and to pay better attention to what I eat.  I'd like to lose 31 pounds and be able to fit into that swimsuit without feeling like my belly is going to fall out and smack someone.  I want to be able to make it more than 5 minutes into a cardio workout without feeling like I'm going to keel over.  I want to live longer than my parents did and be there for my grandkids (not that I'm in any rush for that!!!).

I think a big reason "resolutions" don't hold are because too often they are hidden or private.  If no one knows, it's easier to let them go.  So, whoever reads this ... now you know ... and hopefully you will be willing to hold me accountable.