About Me

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I like to think of myself as the 'crazy mom of four'. I'm 31 years old and I love my life, my kids, my husband and my God. "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Eliot

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pictures from Chicago

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I feel the need to address this. I am a simple woman (don't ask Kris-he will tell you differently!) I have my friends and family, but I am not a 'popular' person, nor am I well-read as far as my blog goes. In fact, I THOUGHT that only 3-5 people even read my meaningless ramblings to begin with. But apparently there are those out there who are ready to jump up and defend Amtrak at a moment's notice. I thought that perhaps I would type Amtrak about 25 times in this blog, in the hopes that the 'person' who left me the anonymous comment is once again searching simply to find out what people are saying about Amtrak and perhaps read this blog as well. For those of you who didn't catch the comment on my last blog it was as follows:

"Jamie - You need to get out more. Every company that sells reserved travel has some sort of fee associated with changing reservations. And you moved from an off-peak res to a peak res, so I'm sure the fee reflects the higher cost of a Friday return. If this is the worst thing a company has ever done to you, then count yourself lucky."

And if you know me, you know that I could not let this pass until I confront it. First of all, I realize that in leaving my blog open to comments from anyone (so that those I care about can leave their thoughts without having to sign in to anything), I am leaving myself open for judgement or criticism. And that is fine. HOWEVER, if you choose to leave a comment that is anything like the one above, have the courage to leave your name!

First of all Mr./Mrs. Anonymous, I would LOVE to get out more. I would LOVE to have the money to travel as often and in whichever way I wanted (and though it apparently offends you greatly it would NOT be via Amtrak now!). So, while you were probably trying to insult me with your hateful little suggestion, I would gladly take your advice if I were able to.

Second, though you may disagree, I am NO idiot. I am not so naive or stupid or blind to the world around me to expect that companies can just let people cancel reservations whenever they want or change their reservations, as I attempted to do. Of course there has to be some sort of fee for changing your reservation. You don't even understand the reason I wrote the blog. It was not simply because I was upset about the $64 (though it is horrible business practice to charge THREE TIMES the original price to change a reservation). If I was truly only upset about the fee, I would not have given them my credit card at Amtrak last night; I would have found another place to stay for the night and kept my reservation as it was, even though I was dying to get back to the rest of my family. So my anonymous 'friend', don't randomly leave comments when you don't even know the whole story.

My blog is not written to trash companies that irritate me, like Sprint, Charter and Amtrak (though this does happen from time to time). In all of my rantings against Sprint and Charter, no one has ever left me an anonymous comment trying to tear me down for voicing my feelings about what was a very frustrating experience I had to endure in the company of my seven-year-old daughter. And I am far from being an emotionally stable mother of four children under the age of seven, so forgive me for letting my emotions (oh and the horrible circumstances of my first Amtrak experience which went WAY beyond the extra money I had to pay) ruin my first impression of a company that I had hoped could provide an easier and cheaper form of travel for my family.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My 'do not use' list

If you know me, or have followed my blogs, you possibly know that I HATE Sprint and I HATE Charter. They have been a thorn in my side for many years, though for reasons I cannot really avoid, I continue to pay them money every month to continue my hatred for them. I have a new corporation to add to that list and it is Amtrak.

I very briefly described my first train trip with Amtrak in my last blog. The trip to Chicago itself was absolutely awful. And I was pretty sure then that I would NEVER take the train again, though traveling by train does have certain benefits over driving myself or flying. However, as complaining about that journey is not the purpose of this blog, I will move on to the actual reason for writing tonight.

When this trip was first planned, I thought that we would be coming back Friday night/Saturday morning (12:30am). The other day when I looked at my train confirmation, it said I was coming back Saturday night/Sunday morning. I thought this was odd, but figured I had read the initial email about the trip wrong. And today at lunch it was really bothering me, so I decided to ask the other ladies about it. Well...sure enough...THEY were all taking the train back tomorrow night, while my reservation was for Saturday night. So I immediately called Kris and asked him to call Amtrak for me and see if he could get Katherine and I on the same train back to St. Louis.

He called me back and said he got us switched over but that he was frustrated with Amtrak and they wanted me to pay another $64 to change my reservation. This did not make either one of us happy. One of the moms even called Amtrak herself to see if she could get them to lower their price but they would not budge. It is extremely frustrating because the mistake was not Amtrak's, and the mistake was not mine, as I am not the one who ordered my ticket. I do not fault, nor am I upset with, the mother who ordered the tickets. She was doing me a favor to get everything ordered and make all the arrangments, so I was grateful I didn't have to do any of it myself.

But here's the most frustrating part. When I ordered my tickets, I paid $76 for roundtrip tickets for Katherine and myself. And now, I am going to have to pay another $64 for ONE WAY back to St. Louis!!! It's almost as if I am buying another set of roundtrip tickets for no reason, and at a highly inflated price! Absolutely annoying, frustrating and ridiculous!!! Amtrak will be getting an email from me, documenting my horrible first experience with them and also the frustration of switching my ticket to a day earlier. But what was I supposed to do? Everyone is checking out of the hotel tomorrow morning. I don't have another hotel booked. I can't afford to pay for another night in a hotel in downtown Chicago. I don't want to fight the crowd and anxiety I will feel at the train station by myself with Kat. The station here is intimidating and overcrowded. I don't want to do that alone. The whole Amtrak experience has been one of frustration and now outright anger.

And that is why Amtrak is right up there (or down there) with Sprint and Charter. I HATE AMTRAK!

Much to my relief...

...it has been a slow, fairly quiet morning so far today. We haven't left the hotel room yet. Katherine slept until 8am, and so did I, which was nice. I haven't really moved much, which is also nice! Lazy, but nice.

We have an appointment over at The American Girl store at 3pm. From what I understand it is a LONG appointment. We are actually going to an event there, a Mommy and Me event. So there will be shopping at the store (oh boy!), and then a theatre production and then a dinner. And if this headache I have doesn't go away, it will be much less pleasant than I would like it to be.

I think that tomorrow we will venture over to Navy Pier. No other concrete plans besides that. I would like to just go with Katherine somewhere, just the two of us, but I don't think she will be too keen on leaving her friends. We'll see...

I need to find some Diet Dr. Pepper.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A long, long day

I am not even going to go into all the details that made up today. Let me just say it has seemed very, very long. What was supposed to be a 5 hour train ride ended up lasting for over 8! We had to stop and let other trains use the tracks and I kid you not, at one point we had to wait for almost an hour because there was construction on the track ahead and we had to let them finish or move or whatever they ended up doing. The train station in Chicago about drove me over the edge. There were SO many people and the kids were crazy from being on the train all day. I was just a nervous wreck! But we made it to our hotel, got settled then decided we would try to have dinner somewhere. I think it is mainly my fault because I thought that we should just go to the first American-type restaurant closest to us, which just happened to be PJ something or other. It took us almost 2 hours to get our food. I am not even exaggerating, as I am sometimes prone to do! The food itself was a little pricy for Applebees-type food but at least it tasted alright once it finally arrived. At the end there the waiter had the nerve to ask us if we wanted to look at a dessert menu. And of course for parties of SIX or more, they apply 18% gratuity, and this waiter didn't deserve 1%, let alone 18%!

Anyway, that basically wraps up my day. I hope that tomorrow will be better. I HATE shopping and I HATE standing, so the thought of walking around The American Girl store for over 2 hours makes me a little anxious already. But after the 'shopping' part, we will watch something in their little theatre and then have dinner there. I am actually going to see if I can switch my train ticket and come back on the earlier train on Saturday. Our train as it is now is supposed to arrive in St. Louis at 12:30am Sunday morning. Well, if today was any indication of how the trains run, I would not like to get home at 4am, then get up and get everyone ready for church and then go to church, which I don't really want to skip since Kris is preaching this week.

I'm tired, and so I am done for tonight.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I seriously dislike Teletubbies. I always have. My children are watching it right now, much to my dismay. However, as I did not get on here to write about Teletubbies I will move on.

My children are VERY whiny today. It's incredibly annoying. We found out a few hours ago my parents were going to be here this evening. The plan was for them to come in originally but my aunt and uncle (in two separate states) ended up getting deathly ill but are both recovering now, so they told me this afternoon they were heading out. It is a real blessing because we needed someone to watch our kids until next Wednesday while we work while Cindy is on vacation. So it will be extremely helpful to have them here, especially while I am in Chicago with Katherine. The downside is that my house WAS clean all last week preparing for their visit. Then they didn't end up coming out and so we TRIED to keep the house clean, but were not as highly motivated. So we rushed around to get the house picked up this afternoon/evening. I still have some work to do in the kitchen and dining room, and I still need to pack Katherine and myself for Chicago. But now it is time for dinner and rather than continue to mess up the house, we are going out to eat.

Before I go, however, I feel like I have to mention this. I am not a fan of animals. Ever since I had kids, I decided we most definitely were NOT going to have a pet. I don't need anything or anyone else further to take care of than what I already have. I hate cats (sorry cat lovers) and dogs are 'ok'. But I have no desire to own one. Last year for Kaleb's birthday we did break down and we bought a Russian Tortoise, Fred, who is still alive, much to our surprise and sometimes dismay. (Anyone want a Russian tortoise? If you can give him a better home, we'd be more than willing to part with him.) Anyway...Kris and I were flipping through channels and we caught the very tail end of something that just made us laugh. Here is what we heard. "This may have been an accident but an animal still died so it is a crime." Now I have no clue what happened but in the true style of Stephen Colbert, I can only say that based on that, anytime an animal gets hurt, regardless of how it happens, it is a crime.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A horrible tragedy?

Let me preface this with saying that I can have no way to even imagine what it would be like to have a child born with a deformity or with some disease or illness. So I cannot possibly pretend that I know how I would react in certain situations. And perhaps I view children differently or perhaps my viewpoint would change if faced with a child born with...a difficulty...

And let me also say that I wouldn't normally 'blog' while I was at work, but I can't focus on work without getting this out first. One of the adjusters I work with approached me just a few minutes ago with a 'sad' look on her face. She said "I suppose you heard us talking?" I told her I had not, or more accurately that I heard them talking but did not hear what they were talking about. And she went on to tell me that one of the adjuster's here had a grandson born yesterday with Down's Syndrome. I do not fault the adjuster who grandson was born with Down's Syndrome, nor anyone who thinks this is an awful tragedy. I just find it difficult to understand I suppose the extent of the grief which seems to surround this. I realize there will be many trials to accompany this child and that life will not be easy for the child or the family. I realize that there are risks and concerns that I cannot even begin to comprehend. HOWEVER, a child was born! A family will get to enjoy a new life and share in the blessing that ALL children are. And perhaps I am alone in this, but I just LOVE children with Down's Syndrome. Anyone who has ever interacted with a child with Down's Syndrome (or children with disabilities or other challenges) can't help but smile can they? My brother-in-law is either severely autistic or mentally retarded...I am not sure which title the doctors have officially decided upon. And he is perhaps the happiest, sweetest guy I know. And I can't imagine what our lives would be like without Uncle Brandon. And I can't imagine him any differently. I don't wish that he was 'normal'. Perhaps my mother-in-law as Brandon was growing would have liked for life with him to be easier. Could she have done without the physical complications and sicknesses he had growing up? Sure. But is she more understanding and more patient and a stronger woman because of raising him? You bet!

Please don't think I am saying the same old cliches. "God knows what he is doing" or "What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger." I have no doubt that it is difficult for this family to take in and comprehend what it will mean to raise a child with Down's Syndrome. I do not envy them the hardships they will most definitely encounter. I guess I just find it interesting how it seems that no one here is rejoicing over the fact that this child was born! The child is still a blessing, and in some ways will probaby bless this family more than anyone can even know. There are families who cannot have their own children, or who have lost children, who can tell you that they would rather simply HAVE a child, disability or not, than go without the blessing of children.

We lost a baby about 4 years ago. I don't talk about it much, and to be honest never really dealt with the fact that I miscarried. We hadn't been expecting another child. We had three at the time and were content with those three. I was at the lowest point in my life that I have ever been and it was one more thing I pushed down and avoided facing and feeling. And as I am just recently processing the entire thing and grieving for a child I never knew, I would rather have been able to meet that child and touch that child and kiss that child rather than not know what it would have felt like to hold that child in my arms. So I suppose it saddens me and I long to have had a child born even with Down's Syndrome as opposed to not having had that child at all.

Things you can learn from a book

When I first began this blog, it was not my intention for it to become a spiritual journey of sorts. I did not intend to share with everyone my struggles in my relationship with God, but I suppose if it takes that shape, I am ok with that. That being said, as my subject indicates, there really is a lot that you can learn from a book, or rather, from the RIGHT book(s).

As I mentioned previously I am listening to "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" while I drive. There is a scene where this boy, Eustis, turns into a dragon. And eventually Aslan the Great Lion comes along and leads him to a pool. The idea is that if Eustis will enter this pool, he can cease being a dragon and become a boy again. So he approaches the pool and Aslan tells him that he has to remove his 'clothes' (skin) first. Once he understands, Eustis begins to scratch at his skin and all of his scales fall off. He approaches the pool again, only to realize that he is still a dragon. He repeats this process of removing his scales two more times to the same effect. Finally, Aslan says "You will have to let me do it." Eustis agrees and what he finds is that Aslan can remove his 'skin' except that it is painful. However, the end result is that Aslan removes it much deeper and thicker than Eustis had been able to the three times he tried on his own. It is only once his skin is removed that he can enter the pool. What he finds when he enters the pool is at first very painful but then almost immediately it is soothing and refreshing, and once he steps out of the pool he is a boy again. And he is no longer the cranky, mean little boy he had been before he became a dragon. He is a much nicer boy, who though he continues to lapse back to his old self, is trying to be good and is the better for his experience as a dragon.

Anyone who has ever had any kind of relationship with God can clearly see the connection here. For us, Aslan is God. WE are the dragon. We can finally decide we don't want to be a dragon (sin) anymore. So we try and try to remove our scales on our own. And everytime we fail. Finally, God tells us that HE will have to do it. So if we surrender ourselves to him and let him, he can remove the evil that encases us. But it will be a painful process as he strips away what we have become. But it is only God who can strip us deep enough to truly cleanse us and make us new again.

I am finding that though I am resistant to change, and am resistant to surrendering to God, his Spirit is still breaking through and I find that I am hearing him once again. And while I am in this place, I can only hope that I will continue to hear God speaking and feel him moving and that someday soon I will lay down and let him strip away the scales from this dragon I have become.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A good song

Kris and I were talking (very briefly) about my blog post from a couple of days ago and how neither one of us are where we would like to be in our relationships with God. The conversation abrupty ended, so that of course Kris could discipline the child who was choking the other one. I decided I would turn some music on and sometimes I find 'coincidences' interesting. They haven't happened much recently, and I really believe that it is more that I have been unable to see them. However, this afternoon, God spoke and I heard. I don't know how I will respond. He's asking an awful lot, but in comparison with what He gave, the life of His Son, I suppose He really isn't asking that much at all. Here are the lyrics to the first song that came on-thanks Bleach (and God)!

All To You

I can’t wait to get out of here
I can’t fake through this pain I feel
It’s been too long, that I’ve been gone
Now I’m coming back, I’m coming back
So long, it’s gone
This burden that I carry

I’ll give it all to You, to You

I wade out and the waves are bigger
I can’t sort through all this junk so I surrender
I’ve gone on, way too long
Now I’ve had enough, I’ll give it up to you
This storm is great, but You are so much greater


I can’t wait to see you standing there so bright and special
And all the waves that crashed around my head
Fall silent at the whisper of your voice


The Golden Compass

I have started reading "The Golden Compass". It is...interesting. It is the first book in a trilogy called "His Dark Materials"-I didn't realize this until I bought the book for Kris at Christmas time. Kris LOVED "The Golden Compass" and is already reading quickly through the second book. I am in chapter 5 and not sure yet what I think. I'm not really interested in the Atheist issues this book supposedly presents. Knowing me, I wouldn't 'see' them anyway. In a strictly literary aspect, the author is very good. I like the style of writing and the story is interesting, but I am not drawn in yet to where I can't put the book down. I can put the book down, but I still desire to pick it back up again, so I will continue reading it.

As far as audio books go, I am currently listening to "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" by C.S. Lewis. while I drive to and from work. It is the fourth book (chronologically in Narnia anyway) in The Chronicles of Narnia and it is by far my favorite in the series at this point. As a kid, I never read beyond "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" so these are new books to me. I suppose there is a very sharp contrast between the book I am reading and the book I am listening to, huh?!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


It's not quite 9pm yet and my house is quiet, except for the Veggie Tales video playing in the background. We have two extra people here for the night. Cindy and Dean have gone on vacation for 10 days so Kris' brother, Brandon, is staying with us. He will go to his adult daycare during the weekdays but then be here the rest of the time until they return. He's pretty easy to manage. He doesn't talk and he enjoys watching movies and playing video games and that is pretty much how he spends his time.

I was able to work it out so my friend Faith would watch my kids tomorrow night so that Kris and I can go out. I am watching her four-year-old Abbie tonight. I decided to just keep her all night so that when Kris gets home from playing basketball neither one of us will have to get out and take her home. She's out cold on the couch, which surprised me. Almost as soon as I put the video in for her to watch she fell asleep. It only seemed fair that we keep her all night since Faith only has one kid and will have to watch all four of mine tomorrow night.

I HATE LAUNDRY! I am going back to the same old complaint...laundry. It torments me. It's always there. It's unending. The absolute last thing I want to do on the weekend is my laundry, oh and the laundry of 5 other people! Perhaps it sounds horrible but I cannot WAIT until my kids are old enough to do the laundry. Of course...they would also have to be at an age where I trust them with it...so I guess I still have another 20 years or so...

I am sad that the weekend is so quickly drawing to a close. Only one more full day. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I never really noticed the weekends, except that Kris was home. The days all blurred together. I was home during the week, and I was home on the weekend. Now, I am gone more than I am home, and so I just LOVE being home. And to know that tomorrow is my last day to chill out at home is hard to accept. But only two days of work next week...

How the years have changed me

Four years ago I started blogging. I spent some time last night and this morning reading back over things I wrote 4 years ago. And I realized something through what I read. I have changed. And I don't think it is a good thing. And lately all I can think is how apathetic I have been and how that word has the word pathetic in it, which really describes the person I have become. Spiritually speaking, my efforts to grow my relationship with God have been pathetic, if existent. Every now and then I have some clarity and make the right choices. But mostly, I don't care. And that is so sad and so frightening. What is wrong with me? I can look back and see a couple of significant things that happened in my life four years ago, and I wonder if perhaps it was those experiences that changed me, and if rather than letting them draw me closer to God I just detached myself and have been living life in the shadows of a relationship with God that I USED to experience. And I find myself bolstering up and thinking "OK. Enough is enough. I'm ready to quit fooling around and I'm ready to give control back to God." And then I find that I don't have the courage or desire to do it. I hang on to my life and keep everything to myself. And I never talk about how I am struggling spiritually for fear that someone might want to help me get back on track. Or out of fear that my life as I know it will completely be uprooted, which ultimately probably wouldn't be a bad thing. But it is scary. It's terrifying actually. And this is where I am presently.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I played Scrabble, the REAL Scrabble tonight, with a REAL board and REAL little wooden pieces with letters, with REAL people next to me, at a REAL table. And as if that weren't fun enough, I WON too!

I decided that I would start blogging through this site again, so that my family can easily access (and comment on) my blog without having to have a Myspace or Facebook account. I tried to log in to my old blogger account but couldn't remember my email address or password that I had used that long ago. So here I am, starting anew.

I am tired. I am always tired lately. Work is extremely busy right now-our largest client is in their busy season, therefore we are in our busy season! I will get a bit of a vacation next week though. Katherine and I are gearing up for a mother/daughter trip to Chicago. Some girls Katherine went to school with last year invited us and I gave up my PC conference (which is going on RIGHT NOW) to take her. We will be going to a "Mommy and Me" event at The American Girl store. I bought Katherine the Kit Kittredge Collector's book that has all of Kit's books in it and she has already read the first two books. I just gave it to her last Saturday! Let me just say that the movie Kit Kittredge that is out in theatres right now was GREAT! I am anxious about getting to know the three mothers going on the trip that I have barely spoken to and am hoping that it does not take me long to warm up to them and 'fit in'. So I am only working Monday and Tuesday of next week. I hope that my work doesn't fall TOO far behind while I am gone. This is how I think. I am already worried about how my absence will affect my work. So sad...

I REALLY want to see the movie "Mamma Mia". I am trying to work something out with my friend Faith this weekend where we watch her daughter and in return she watches my FOUR kids. It isn't really a fair 'trade' but it does get both of us some time without the kids. Since Kris has spent half of the summer working evenings I feel like we very rarely have any quality time alone together. I can't wait until the summer is over, the kids are back in school, and we are back to a semi-normal schedule.