Married to the Empire

Friday, February 19, 2010

Youth Work and Cat Obligations

Life has been busy around here. We have a little thing called Disciple Now this weekend with our youth group. While I will be with the students most of the weekend, I'm in more of a support role. I'm feeding dinner to the college team tonight who is coming in to lead our students. I'm also feeding lunch on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday to everyone. It's a lot of work, to be honest. Planning for all of this has kept me insanely busy.

I'm not staying overnight with the kiddos, though, because of these guys:

Well, more specifically because of Calvin. He needs medicine, and someone has to give it to him. We do have friends who can administer meds, but the one who does it most easily is hosting our high school girls in her home this weekend. But that's okay. I truly prefer to sleep in my own bed and wash in my own shower. And as much as our cats like their "aunts" and "uncles," they prefer me or Steven.

Calvin saw the vet yesterday for a kidney and bladder checkup. Unfortunately, he peed on the bed last week. He's got a small bladder infection again. The good news is that the vet said that on a scale of 1-10, it's a 1. We're just doubling the dosage of his daily antibiotic to try to knock this out.

The greater news is that his kidney levels are slightly improved, and he's gained weight! I'm most excited about the weight gain, as he's just skin-and-bones these days. Our lights started flickering last week during the snowstorm, and I worried that our electricity would go out. Calvin needs his heated pillow at night, and we didn't trust him not to pee in the bed if the cats needed to snuggle with us for warmth. Thankfully, we didn't lose power. And he's not as skinny as he was. God is good!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras

As is my tradition, I made a King Cake last night to celebrate Mardi Gras. (I spent a good portion of my growing-up years in a suburb of New Orleans.) I have to make my own because Texans make awful King Cakes. (Seriously, if you live in Texas, don't buy one here. They're dreadful.) Yes, I'm aware that my sugars are the right colors, but the wrong shades. I have a hard time buying special food coloring for use on only one day of the year.

My recipe makes two cakes, and I usually send one to work with Steven. However, I wasn't in the mood to bake them both, so I formed one (roll out dough, slather it with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar, then roll up and form into a ring):

With the other half of the dough, I did everything except form it into a ring. I left it in tube form, cut it in half, then wrapped the halves in Saran wrap.

Those went into the freezer. I figure I'll just pull them out at a later date, slice them up like cinnamon buns, and bake them as such. Future breakfast.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Another Snow Day

More photos from snowy North Texas.

Snowman built by the little boys across the street:

Cat tracks from where Steven put Doogie in the snow. Not surprisingly, Doogie didn't like it and tried to run to the supposed safety of his beloved bushes:

And finally, the snow cones Steven made for us with real snow. Nothing says love like having your husband tell you, "I made you a treat; I got in the back yard." Um, yeah. (Actually, the cherry snow cones were delicious!)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Texas Snow

It's snowing today. School is cancelled, but the hubby still had to go to work. The cats are hunkered down on their woolly pillow with the heating pad turned on. I pulled on my cute rubber boots and ventured outside for a few photos.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

On the Subject of Prayer

I've been doing some study on prayer lately, as I've been struggling a bit with a spiritual issue. My struggle is nothing faith-shaking, but it is perplexing to me. Through my studies, I'm making a concerted effort to be more prayerful throughout the day. I can't say that every time I've cleaned the house since my first prayerful cleaning has been done without the iPod, but most have.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my prayers while cleaning involved our finances. I wasn't terribly specific; I just asked God to help us use our money wisely and make good decisions. Just after praying that, the phone rang. It was the school district's substitute caller with a job offer. For middle school science. I stood there confused about what to do, as the sub caller kept repeating the job offer to me. You see, I don't do science. Or math. I was an English teacher; it's what I know and do well. The one time I subbed for 6th grade math, the students didn't understand their assignment and neither did I. It was horribly stressful, and I'd vowed at that point never again to take a job in a subject I'm uncomfortable with.

Could this call have been mere coincidence? Perhaps. I'm not one of those Christians who believes there's no such thing as coincidence. If I show up on a Sunday morning ready to sing with the praise team, and all the other singers are wearing the same colors I am, that's coincidence. I don't think God was playing clothing coordinator that morning. The color of our outfits doesn't matter.

But to have a job offer come in just as I've prayed over our finances? I figured I shouldn't take a chance on it being a fluke. The two other times I prayed seriously over our finances, we had pretty dramatic results. The first resulted in the cat going to the vet's and the radiator going out in the car--all within 24 hours of praying. I groused about that one, but Steven pointed out that we had the money to pay for it, so what's the problem? The second involved whether or not we could make the financial commitment to support a Christian family in a persecuted country through Voice of the Martyrs. Within a few of days of asking for clear direction on that, seeing as the economy had just tanked and people had been laid off at my husband's company, Steven received a raise. A significant raise. We took on a family in Vietnam.

So, I decided to say yes to the sub job. At least it meant money coming in and not flying out, right? I can't tell you how many times I considered cancelling that job, but I didn't. I subbed in 7th grade science yesterday, and it was chaotic and noisy and involved lab stations, a bird, and a rabbit that escaped during lunch. I couldn't answer all of their questions, but it was okay. Just being in the old, familiar teacher mode was enough, and we all got through it just fine.

Sometimes I think God is all about stretching our boundaries of comfort and just seeing if we're willing to be obedient.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Why We've Dumped Cable--Again

When I first quit teaching to become a SAHW nearly 11 years ago, we dropped our cable subscription as a way to cut costs. We went 8 years without it, and for the most part, we didn't miss it. We decided 2.5 years ago to resubscribe. The price was decent, as we bundled it all in with our phone and internet. But as of today, we're cable-free again.

Here's the reason: We didn't watch it enough to warrant paying for it. Invariably, we'd sit down to watch something, flipping through the guide with 250 channels or so. And there would be nothing worth watching. Hundreds of channels with nothing on. We don't really have the time or desire to be tied to any TV shows. We're honestly not watching anything right now, as we gave up on Heroes this season. Doctor Who, which is a favorite of mine, was only on sporadically.

TV just isn't important enough to us to keep paying for cable service.

However, we're not without TV entertainment. I gave Steven an X-Box for Christmas (and paid very little!), which was the only thing he asked for. We can get Netflix through the X-Box, which is what we're doing. We have to pay an annual subscription for X-Box Live, which Steven told me was about $50. Add in the cheapest Netflix subscription at $8.99/month, and for approximately $14 each month, we have immediately accessible TV and movie entertainment. It's on our time. No waiting for the program to start when it's scheduled or having to remember to set the DVR.

Additionally, Steven installed an HD antenna in the attic this weekend, so we have local channels clearly broadcast into our home. We paid approximately $75 for the antenna. I've done the math. Even with buying an antenna and paying for Netflix and X-box Live, we're paying half of what we were for cable. Next year that number will drop even more, as the antenna was a one-time purchase.

But truthfully, this isn't actually about the money; it's about value. We re-evaluated our television usage and realized that we were paying for a whole bunch of nothing. No sense in throwing money away.

An added benefit is that it's a little less for me in terms of media overload. I'd taken to often watching reruns of That 70s Show at night, instead of reading, which I've missed. I can't do everything, and frankly, I don't want TV to be what keeps me from books. I'm even putting away the iPod at night so that I'm not tempted by that. As the saying goes, less is more. Indeed.