Saturday, October 31, 2009

When Death Came Knocking

Pretty sure I haven't mentioned this, but a couple of weeks ago, our upstairs neighbor got really upset with the weekend staff. We have a locked cover over our thermostat and he wanted the key to it(not because he wanted to change the temperature, but just because he had the "right to have the key") and staff wouldn't let him have it. So he gets really upset and we go over to try and calm him down, but since we are backing up our staff, he doesn't want us around. We come back to our side of the house and turn on our monitor so we can watch and make sure things don't get out of hand. We soon noticed that he has this huge stick (turns out to be a wooden closet rod) and is swinging it around. So, we head on back over. He hits the countertops several times and threatens to hit the weekend guy and to knock the cover off the thermostat. He doesn't (he waits until the next day when he is mad at us about something unrelated and knocked it off with his hand, but alas, that's another story).

Anyway, the next day we are trying to reason with him and he apologizes and we convince him to hand over the rod (since he clearly isn't using it to hang his clothes). He swears it is a part of his Halloween costume and doesn't want to give it up. After several questions about what kind of costume requires a closet rod, he makes up some story about dressing up as death and needing it. But he finally hands it over, with the stipulation that he gets it back Halloween night. We don't really agree to this, but he left thinking that was the deal.

So nothing is said any more about Halloween. He was gone all day to a local video game parlor (is it still called that?) and we don't think he will even be home. However, I stepped next door for a brief moment tonight and saw "death" standing there in his black hood and cape. I quickly exited back to my side. It wasn't too long before he began knocking. We knew he wanted the rod, so we decided that if we just pretended not to be home, he would get the clue and go away.

Boy were we ever wrong. He knocked, and knocked, and knocked. Then he walked around to our front door, and knocked and knocked, and rang the doorbell, and knocked some more. Lest you think I exaggerate, we began to time this. Around one hour later, the knocking stopped. I thought, "whew, he realized we are not here." Again I was wrong. He had borrowed another neighbor's phone to try to call us. When we didn't answer, the knocking began again. Then we hear him yelling, "Yoo hoo, yoo hoo, anyone home?" over and over again. This literally went on for an hour and a half. Crazy huh? But we just went on with our evening as usual.

Just a minute ago, I was checking my Facebook status updates and noticed a friend commenting that they hadn't had a single trick or treater tonight. I was telling Lowell that maybe trick or treating is dying down, because we hadn't had a single one either. And then the realization slapped us in the face, that maybe, just maybe, we didn't have any little ghosts or goblins because there was a six foot man dressed as death banging on our door and yelling "Yoo Hoo" at the top of his lungs.

Think THAT might deter a parent from letting their little ones come up our walk??? We have lots of candy if anybody needs some...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Our Secret's Out

We were to have an inspection today, so we've spent the last couple of days cleaning house. As you may remember from previous posts, the gentleman who lives upstairs next door is not the cleanest, neatest person we've ever met. We usually just let him be since he has the upstairs to himself. Occasionally Lowell will go clean the hall area and bathroom, since technically, he isn't paying rent for those areas. We rarely, if ever, enter his room. Whatever you are imagining, I promise it's worse. It's truly that bad.

So on Tuesday of this week, we told him that he needed to get it semi-clean for the inspection. And by this we simply meant no dirty dishes and no trash in the room. We explained that if it wasn't clean by the time he went to work on Wednesday, that we would go in his room and take care of those two tasks.

After filling the dishwasher with dirty dishes (GROSS, huh?) and two bags of trash, we were done. When he came home, he noticed it had been cleaned but he thanked us and surprisingly didn't get upset that we had been in his room.

However, he comes downstairs tonight and claims some items are missing from his room. We asked what and he replies, "Some CDs and DVDs." He says he is certain that he had them last week and noticed tonight that they are gone. He states he is not blaming us, BUT, we were the last ones in his room. So we ask for specifics on what he thinks is missing. He says, "some personal DVDs" (I was scared to ask for more there) and "some of my Eminem CDs."

Oh yeah, of course, those. Guess we can't hide it any longer. Lowell and I are closet Eminem fans and now the secret is out.

One would think he'd have figured out that we really weren't the culprits when we initially misunderstood and thought he was accusing us of taking his M&Ms!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This is just a Bunch of Bull

I grew up in Little Rock and never was a big animal aficionado. We had dogs, but that was all, and even then I never really liked them. I mean, they were okay, but they barked, and sometimes they bit! (Technically ours never bit me, but others did, so I've never really trusted any dog.)

Lowell is the same. Just not an animal person. Perfect right? But this is where God's sense of humor comes into play. Of course, Joshua LOVES, LOVES, LOVES animals. Always has. When he was a toddler, he would go right up to any animal and snuggle up. When the Little Rock Zoo opened the petting zoo (which I think has since closed), he was the first person in the gate. Very literally. We have a picture of him from a Little Rock newspaper being the first zoo patron in the petting zoo.

We tried to have a dog. It was not a success and even Joshua recognized that. So we're all good and animal free. And then we moved to Kansas.

Joshua has found a new love. We thought volunteer work would be good for him so once a week, he is going out to a farm and mucking stalls. He thinks it's as fun as Disney World. And he is good at it. I've watched him a couple of times and it kind of freaks me out, but he is just as calm and laid back as ever. Not that horses in general freak me out, but he is just hanging in the stall with them, changing out their water and cleaning and they are chewing on his hair - which does look a lot like hay, so it's no fault of their own that they make this mistake. But, yeah, chewing on his hair. And he is totally okay with a big 'ole horse biting his hair, and clothes too (we have a certain jacket that he has to wear now in order to be sure ALL of his clothes don't have horse bitten holes in them).

Last week, the lady who runs the farm said, "we need to get you up on a horse sometime soon." He was SOOO excited and planning when we could get out there for him to learn to ride. That was exactly one week ago. In one week, we've gone from so excited to learn how to ride a horse to wanting to be a bull rider. Yep, you read that ride. Riding BULLS. (I must interject here, mainly for his Mimi, that he has heard nothing but emphatic "NO"s on this one, so no need to worry just yet!) He has talked to the farm hand, who rides bulls, and he is learning all about how to hang on, how to maintain just the right posture, and how you should lean your body when the bull leans forward, "'cause if he turns just right, that horn'll get 'ya!" (And yes, as a mom, I do want to throw up when he says those things.)

So today when he was at the farm, the farm hand gave him tickets to the rodeo. He and Lowell spent all evening in Kansas City at said rodeo, watching horse riding and sheep riding (by little 4-year-olds)and of course, the big daddy of the rodeo, the bull riding. And he just walked in the door, more hyped up than ever about getting on a bull. "'Cause it's not just hanging on, you have to learn how to calm the bull too, so you can stay on longer." What a crazy oxymoron, "calm bull". I'm not falling for that, no way.

Definitely thinking we need to learn to ride a horse first. Or maybe even a sheep.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

This was Joshua this morning:And here he is this afternoon. Sorry for the poor picture quality, but can you tell what's missing?!?!?! We are SOOOO excited. He is eating a handful of caramels, taffy, and chewing gum as we speak. And the teeth are BEAUTIFUL!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Today was one heckofa day! We started out bright and early for a 7 AM swim-a-thon. This is where Joshua gets sponsors who will sponsor him so much per lap. And then he swims and collects the money for his swim team. Because our life is so insane and we can't seem to get things together, plus because we really don't know anybody around here to ask for money for fundraising, he went and swam with no pledges. That's right. None. So, yes, this is our shameless plea to the grandparents who I know are reading the blog. He swam 200 laps. Feel free to send a check made out to the Lawrence Aquahawks for whatever amount you feel is appropriate. (And really isn't this a more fair way to do it? Better than making you commit BEFORE he swims and you don't know what you are committing to right??)

As soon as we got home from that the phone was ringing. Joshua volunteers once a week out at a farm that our company started that provides horseback riding lessons to the people with disabilities. (They call it a farm, but it's this HUGE indoor arena, and it's really cool.) Joshua does a great job with the farm chores and loves the horses. They're really big and kind of freak me out, but he thinks it's great and the lady who runs the place loves the kid. So anyway, the lady is calling asking if Joshua will come be in the Maple Leaf Festival Parade, with the horses and the farm volunteers. She REALLY wants him to come, so he gets ready and he and Lowell head out to Baldwin City, home of about 3,000 people and the Maple Leaf Festival.

Lowell drops Joshua off at the parade gathering and goes to find a place to park. He calls me no fewer than five times telling me that there is no place in town to park and that at every parking lot he sees, people are charging $5 to park. Of course he only has $3 cash. Maybe he thought I could wire him the extra $2. I guess today is a huge economy booster for the residents of Baldwin City because of all the tourists coming to town for the big festival. (Note the sarcasm here.) He has to park about a mile out of town and then can't remember where the car is when it's all said and done. And of course, he calls me. Like I know where it is???

Anyway, immediately after that was over and the car was found, we had to go to a company picnic out at the farm. And this is a company picnic like no other. I mean, every office party has its share of diversity. But just imagine this: this picnic was for every employee, their families, and all of the persons served. So there was no shortage of head-banging, screaming, hand clapping, back patting, and jumping around like Tigger. And then there were also the people with disabilities. :) To say it was crazy might be putting it lightly.

Then we raced home to get Joshua a shower and get his bag packed for a sleepover. His friends were supposed to be picking him up at the same time we got home. And we were having one of those "front-porch days" at the house. You know the kind where someone knocks on the door and you meet them on the front porch rather than inviting them inside because you are afraid for someone to actually find out that you fold your laundry in the living room and don't put it up right away, etc. So that meant we were rushing full steam ahead to get it all done so Joshua could be waiting in the driveway when they got here. And he was.

So tonight it's relatively quiet in the house. I should have used this time to be productive and then get in bed at a reasonable time, but instead have enjoyed an evening of laziness. And it's been really nice!

For all my Reader Friends

I found a website the other day where you can become a Book Review Blogger for Thomas Nelson Publishers. (This is a Christian Publishing Company and they have tons of good books.) The way it works is like this: you sign up to be a book reviewer and choose your book. (There are usually about 10 different books from which to choose, of different genres. If you don't see something you like, wait a few days, it changes.) About 4-5 days later, you get the book in the mail. FREE!!! All you have to do is read it, write a 200 word or so review and publish your review on your blog and on a consumer website such as, or Once you publish your reviews, you get to choose a new book. FREE!!! So as not to clog up my family/group home blogs with book reviews, I started a new blog to post my reviews. I've done two so far. It's legit and you get FREE books.

Now, that being said, I know that I have some friends out there who are thinking "Oh my goodness Heather, the LAST thing you need is more books!!!" But fear not, I took a couple boxes of books to Half-Price books last week and sold them. (I know I need to get rid of more, but Heidi, I just can't!! But we are TRYING, so give us a break, okay??)

Anyway, if anybody is interested, the website is Give it a shot.

Friday, October 16, 2009

They See us Rollin'

So today our day staff called in. (Her kids were out of school today and she didn't know it. She said she may need to get a school calendar. Ya' think??) Anyway, that meant Lowell and I had to juggle the day on our own. And normally Friday we are off early, so when 2:30 rolled around, I was done. Done. Done. But yet, I had to take our employed one to Dillons Grocery Store for his job.

Dillons is just a few miles away. You can get there very easily by going straight for a couple of miles and then turning left. That's it. But once again, he knows a "shortcut." (Reminds me of the shortcut he gave Lowell our first month here that got him pulled over for going the wrong way down a one-way.) I am tired and don't feel like arguing and we are early so I think, what the heck, let's do it your way.

Apparently he likes to ride through the KU campus. I think in hell someone may have the job of just driving around a college campus. There are people EVERYWHERE!!! People crossing the street, people riding bikes, people driving, people throwing frisbees, people waiting in front on Allen Fieldhouse for something (and I am nowhere near "with it" enough to have any idea what they are waiting for), and people of course just hanging with their backpacks slung over their shoulders. This is SO NOT A SHORTCUT!!

But he thinks it's cool. And apparently he thinks it makes him cool. And yes, we are driving through campus in a beat up 15-passenger van. He is wearing his Dillons apron and sporting the mohawk that he gave himself earlier in the week (a whole other story there!) and jamming to the radio. Quite frankly, I'm embarrassed, wishing I could just duck down. But you know, I was driving, so that's not really a viable option. God forbid we have an accident and actually have to pull that hoopty van over and get out (mohawks and all) and talk to somebody. So, eyes are on the road.

So that's the picture of what you might see from the outside. But it gets better if you are actually in the van with us. Because the conversation goes something like this:

Him: I really like to drive down this road because there are some huge houses on the hill here. Aren't they humongous? This is where all the rich people in town live.

Me: Yeah, maybe some rich people live there. But I think the Greek letters on the roofs kind of imply it just might be a fraternity house. Maybe??

Him: Uh huh, I knew that. I also like to look at the cars.

Me: (bitterly) And there is plenty of traffic around here for you to see.

Him: Say, did you know that there are a lot of people who get Subarus confused with Corvettes?

I guess at this point I was speechless. Really? Really??? Subarus and Corvettes??? Thank goodness we made it to our destination. Lesson learned. Next time he wants to cruise the KU campus in the van, he can do it with somebody else.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Catching up...

Yes, I realize it has been forever since I have blogged. I've thought about it a lot and then thought, "it's too hard to get caught up" and therefore procrastinated more digging the hole ever deeper for myself. So here's a quick recap of the last month or so:

Labor Day Family Camp at Ozark Conference Center - This is one of our favorite events of the year. We started going several years ago and we all immediately fell in love with the place and the people and the activities. Good family fun. (And we got through the whole weekend without Joshua breaking anything!) My mom came up for the afternoon on Saturday and brought us a whole trunk full of stuff we don't need, so we had to reconfigurate all of our packing to return home. But isn't that what moms are for? And I did so enjoy getting to see her. We got to see lots of friends from our church in Benton and as an added bonus for me this year, we shared a cabin with my college roommate, Lori and her family. What a blessing to be able to reconnect in person, not via Facebook or a blog. (Here is a link to her's by the way. You can go there and learn all about how to be one of those moms who can do everything (make curtains, use cloth diapers, make your own wipe solutions and laundry detergent, all while homeschooling and caring for the babies - yes she's that mom - and although I do enjoying poking fun at her expense on occasion, it's probably just to make me feel better because I am so not that mom.)

Anyway, all in all, Family Camp was once again a wonderful time to regroup as a family and refocus on what's really important.

The Kansas DMV - I have grown, in the last week, to hate the Department of Motor Vehicles in Kansas. While I recognize that my lack of organization has contributed to the problem, I am still highly irritated that I am driving around with expired tags and nobody here wants to help me. I am thankful I still have friends in Arkansas who work for the state who are assisting me with getting all my ducks in a row. Even still, it is not easy herding said ducks to the three (YES THREE) different offices I have to go to, take a number, wait an ungodly amount of time, write a check or pay cash (because they don't take debit or credit!) and then move along to the next office to do the same. Once this process is said and done, there may be a whole blog day devoted to this lunacy.

Girlfriends Weekend - Oh, how I look back on this weekend with fond memories and strong desire to do it again. Once a year, my two bestest friends and I schedule a weekend to meet and just hang out. It really doesn't matter where we are, because we don't do anything but eat and talk and sleep. We have done Memphis in the past, as one friend lives in Benton and the other in Nashville, but with me moving to Kansas, this was no longer a viable option, so St. Louis won out for the best halfway point. Plus there are a lot of tourist attractions there. Of course we didn't make it to any of them, but the idea was good. (We were able to see the Arch from the hotel window, so I think that counts as doing something touristy.) We did see the Sneak Peak of the movie "Whip It" and they liked it okay. Me, not so much, but whatever. We also shopped and ate cheesecake and laughed until we cried and talked and shared our hearts and our burdens and we left with our souls refreshed and renewed knowing we have friends who will be there for whatever life hands us and who will pray us through it.

As I was driving home, I could only praise God for blessing me with these girls who I will truly be friends with forever.

A big birthday - One of our guys had a birthday last week. He has talked about it for weeks (wanting a radio and a new watch and money). When you ask him when his birthday is, he responds "past" which I guess is a pretty good answer. I mean, there is only one day a year (the actual birthday) when "past" is incorrect. Ask him how old he is, or is going to be, and the answer is "seven." (He actually turned 49). We were trying to teach him 49, and he kept saying "seven" and then somebody pointed out that we all stop aging at some point (she claimed to be 29, some stop at 39, etc.) and said he just chose to stop aging a little younger than most of us do. So we decided to let him be seven. And the truth be told, if he acts his age, seven might even be stretching it a little.

He got a job - Our job hunter got a job a couple of weeks ago. It's really just a "try-out" per his employment specialist. He's working as a "courtesy clerk" at a local grocery store. It's really an interesting title since there isn't much "courteous" about him, but I think we've determined that what he is really doing is just bagging groceries. Hope he doesn't get fired soon but if he does I'm sure it will make for a good story.

My Favorite Quotes - "My mom used to have a BMW Buick so I know all about that kind of car."

"Yeah, I want to go fishing with you sometime. Except I don't like to be in a boat or close to the water, and I don't want to have to put bait on the hook or hold the pole. And I don't really like touching or smelling the fish that people have caught."

And my absolute favorite quote this month comes from Joshua. He and I went to eat at the Cheesecake Factory, because he had never been and he LOVES cheesecake. He had the Red Velvet one, which was huge and wonderful of course. I so enjoyed watching his facial expression as he savored every bite. But the quote came when the waitress came around and asked him if he enjoyed it. He looked up at her and said, "I feel like I have made a deal with the devil. Sometimes to get something good, you have to sacrifice. To eat this cheesecake, you have to be willing to feel like you are going to throw up when it's over and you have to be willing to never eat another Wal-Mart cheesecake again. If you are okay with those two things, then this is SOOO worth it." Oh how I love that kid!