Meltdown – Making the Move Happen

Somewhere through the process of relocating “the move” got messed up and the housing situation shifted from questionable to crisis. Who knew moving into a house could become such a difficult task?

When purchasing a 5 bedroom house became more difficult by the square foot, I started looking at options. After a couple of trips to a local realtor, I took a tour of the 495th house and wondered when I’d find a house big enough, with enough personality to suite me and the kids, with enough space for any additional activities we wanted to host, and with enough energy to absorb the lives of a family bent on living every moment. Would I ever find such a house?

I’d designed several over the years, but none seemed to fit now. In fact, several of the homes I had designed actually seemed to fall far short of the requirements on my list, and nothing else worked either.

My son jokingly suggested that we buy a high-rise motel and turn the penthouse into our house. Ahem… Sure… When planes no longer fly over Denver – the twin towers isn’t my idea of a way to fall… er… fly. But, honestly, it sounds like a great idea.

When we find the perfect house, the reality is it won’t be the walls or the floor or even the roof that make it perfect. But, it will be what’s inside, who lives there, the things we do and the people we invite in the door that make our home perfect.

We have the wonderful blessing of having a lot of things going on in our home. Besides the fact that I work from home, we home school, the kids have many friends and we have a lot of family and friends who visit, we really like to LIVE in our home. That means we need a lot of space and plenty of storage for those things we aren’t using every day but do use frequently.

That’s why it’s so hard to find a good home.


Recovering Youth – The Exuberance of the Young

“Hello, my name is Jan Verhoeff and I’m recovering from youth.” My attendance at the Senior Center had been recognized and I was forced to join the twelve step program for the prevention of exuberance. No where in all my youth had I prepared for this experience. I had no clue from the many times I’d visited the Senior Center with my friends and family that there were so many rules about the Senior Center. Nor had I cared.

I mean… I read the signs that said no skateboarding. Those signs made sense and were understood. After all, someone might break a bone, but did you see the look on that lady’s face when I laughed at the knock knock jokes on the back of their daily program? Is humor not allowable in her either?

Later, I was caught playing with a toy on the counter and given a resounding slap to the fingers by a matronly woman of 55 as she walked past. I won’t forget her hand print in the near future. But the ultimate shame came when I was passing out the fliers for a speaking engagement I was supposed to do in the dining hall after lunch and an elderly woman gave me a “true looking over” when my fingers inadvertently touched her husband’s fingers. If I ever do that again, I’ll probably sprout horns and die the wretched death  of a frog on the highway. SPLAT!!

Mr. and Mrs. Young Exuberant NewlywedsThese  daring young adults dare to laugh and have a good time on a nearby lawn, enjoying the pleasant summer afternoon, long before the onset of winter, where snow days outnumber sunny afternoons and the grasses grow weathered and brown.

Dare we entertain exuberant youth in our communities, as the aging among us slip off toward the winters of life, when our youthful exuberance risks notification of a local senior authority? We must risk it all for the fun of a little good times in the sun, youth or the aging, take a risk. Have some fun!

Rain drops on roses…

These are a few of my favorite things

Brown paper packages tied up with string – come to mind when I hear rain drops falling on the roof of my home. Nothing says autumn like the sweet aroma of autumn rain wafting through the windows as a cinnamon candle warms our morning. The maudlin combination of cloudy gray days, rain and baking aromas have long been standard in southeastern Colorado, since the days of pioneers gathering harvests. But with fewer and fewer of us taking time out to bake piles and stacks of yummy goodies in the face of high calorie counts and fat added to our backsides, the aroma of candles is a necessary evil.

I found one several years ago from Prairie Candles that smells just like Gramma’s apple pie baking in the oven. I’ve since added the sweet aroma of sugar cookies, pumpkin pie and any berry you may have found in the forest, my favorite being the mulberry. The point being more than decorator savvy or the gentle glow of candle light, I want the warmth of spicy goodness coming from my oven to encourage my senses. The aroma of spicy yummies was always enough to convince me to hurry through chores for dinner, now I know that delicate aroma isn’t dinner, but it reminds me of “getting things done” in time.

So, while you’re out dancing in the rain today, come up with a list of your favorite things to share over a piece of yummy apple pie aroma candle.

A Still Small Voice says “I love you, so much”

There’s the sweet aroma of apples and cinnamon in the air and we’re dancing around the opportunity to grow a family on the autumn memories that traditionally bring us all closer to the heart of home. As summer passes away and we begin to look at the future, there’s an option of saving grace on the crisp cool winds. Family…

When a still small voice whispers back, “I love you, so much.” Life becomes more worthy, your efforts more gratifying and the joy you feel suddenly takes on a new meaning. My granddaughter was two years old in June and her voice often peels out with laughter and the screams of joy only a two year old can express. But there’s more… When she drops her screams of joy to a whisper and says, “I want to go to Grandma’s house.” You know without a doubt that she’s content to just be a loving child, filled to the brim with the existence she’s living.

She understands the value of love.

No matter how many toys and gifts she receives, no matter how much she’s given, she’s got a firm grasp on the reality of love and she knows where to go when she needs to feel that love. Her Mommy’s arms are always open, ready and waiting. She understands that home means Mommy’s love. And she knows that Gramma’s house means Mommy (and her) feel safe.

As autumn threatens to overtake the greens of summer and life becomes peaceful and serene on the home fronts once again, the joy of family takes center screen. We know our loved ones need us every day, every hour, but in the winter when the cold winds blow, there’s a comforting source of existence that brings us more – the power to live each day in the comfort of loving arms, committed to making each day better than the day before, simply because we’re able to love more.

Lizzie, I love you so much! (Thanks for the reminder.)

Brute Force – Taxation Beyond Rights

Are you ready for a government that can tax you beyond your earning power?

Sometimes we look at the taxes we pay IRS and think there should be a regulation, but have you considered the other ways you’re taxed?

Road Tax –

Comes not only when you purchase gas at the gas station, or your license plates. But what about those tickets you receive for not wearing a seatbelt, for having a license plate light burn out, or for not using your blinker to signal a turn? Are all of those revenues used for the roads? Or do those revenues end up somewhere else?

How often do you pay ADDITIONAL TAXES?

Transportation Tax –

It’s that road tax again, from a different source. Have you seen the price of groceries? Not much of that gets back to the farmer. He’s in the same boat you’re in, still scrubbing to get by on the minimal amount of income he’s making, because the extra goes to transportation and hauling of your groceries. Consider the average trucking company pays out at least a 2% fine each year in road costs, at the port, over the ticket counter, or to the courts. Those fines increase the cost of your groceries.

Community Power –

In a small mid-west town where water, wind, and oil are plentiful in local fields, you’d think the cost of power would decrease. Not so fast, it seems local powers-that-be changed the source. Coal fired power plants where the wind never stops? How can that be a productive choice of fuel? Increased costs of transportation via rail have increased the cost of power in the mid-west. Can you imagine the luxury of having your own power plant?

Government Requirements are costing you money.

New laws are digging in your pocket and adding more and more taxation to already unbelievably HIGH levels of taxation. Have you noticed? Or is this just another one of those iconic slaughterings of the current administration that taxes your brain too much to understand the actual cost of what you’re giving up? Are you going to stop it? Are you just going to sit there and watch it happen?

News Today – Life in an Uproar

I just opened my eyes. The dark and stormy night had me bewitched into thinking I was sleeping. I realized when I opened my eyes that I’d merely been working horizontal. My body feels like I was lumber-jacking. I may have sounded like it last night too. I don’t know where the truck is that hit me last night, but somebody ought to stop that guy from driving.

It isn’t that I had a bad night, it’s this head cold that showed up about the time I arrived home from the Constitution Meeting last night. Speaking of Constitution, I’m thrilled at the response to the Constitution Meetings that are rising up in our community. I was shocked that there are so few women involved in the meeting. Nita and I decided if they try to take away our right to vote, we’ll stop bringing cookies. That should solve the problem of women’s rights!

I’m listening to the radio this morning, Eric Stone chatters up the War in Iraq, while Ty Harmon chips in with comments on Afghanistan. And the talk turns to a plane crash in Amsterdam.

Foreclosures are down in Colorado, already this year. Glaciers in Antarctica are melting faster than previously thought… Could the Arkansas River rise?

The question of the day.

“Will Jaws be a few feet closer to shore?” Eric Stone is highly concerned about the effect of the rising ocean waters on Southeastern Colorado.

And the pillow won. I gave up my blanket and my nice cozy bed, and I’m in here working while the pillow sleeps to prepare for tonight’s wrestling match.

Obama has promised a land of milk and honey, I don’t think I’m following him through Egypt.

The poles are melting and they expect Denver to be beach front property within two years, perhaps I’ll keep that house instead of selling. It’ll be worth more in two years. The world is a snowball on a down hill run, we’re gathering flakes and speeding up.

Jan Verhoeff

(Currently reporting the news as it happened on “Anything Goes” in Lamar, Colorado.)

Pat Palmer invites all to the Pitstop for a Thursday Taco.

40 Something Single Mom

It’s a daring proposition, being a single mom pushing 50. You’d be surprised what a challenge it can be to raise children in these days, with balance, moral values and ethics.  I’ve found the most significant key to raising children is having a sense of humor.

The Coffee Clatter
The Coffee Clatter

Faith in God is probably the upper most thing I rely on, but God has a way of sending warnings in humorous forms. Like a few days ago when my son decided to let me know that he’d exchanged addresses with a kid from Korea who wants to be an exchange student. I’m not brave enough to take on another teenager while the boys are BOTH learning how to drive.  Besides, who knows if I’ll be in one town the whole year. I like freedom.

I was proud of my response, I asked how old the kid from Korea is, and where will he stay (we have a two bedroom home). The solution was baffling, “He’ll be staying in my room and I’ll be in Korea staying with his family.”

It took me twenty minutes to calm down his brother who isn’t interested in sharing his room with anyone who doesn’t speak the same language he does, really well. Life moved on after that decision was made.

Then there’s the moment when my son came home covered in smoke. I didn’t have to ask what happened. With his teeth shining from behind the black smoke coated face, he announced, “We set the hay field on fire.”

I listened as he told the tail of how he and his boss set a field on fire while burning a ditch and all the details of their putting it out with the fire department helping out. He wondered if the fire department always brings pop to the victims of a fire. I said, “You mean pop to the arsonists? I doubt it. They probably prefer they not call them in.”

Or more recently, when the boys spent days suffering with chicken pox and hours of their confinement connecting the dots with my highlighter marker. I nearly had a coronary when I saw what they were doing. “Stop, you might get an infection!”

“Mom, we already have one. We’re just having fun.”

Okay, so I’m probably over reacting (although I really did make them stop connecting the dots). Reality says, raising boys through the teen years should be done before you turn fifty. At least, it’s a good idea.

Jan Verhoeff - Daisy Marketing Concepts
Jan Verhoeff - Daisy Marketing Concepts

But, seriously, being a single mom at 40 something isn’t so bad… I’d do it all again. The worst part is, as they move out… You miss ’em!

Dating and the Single Mom

Not so very long ago, the idea of a mother of teenagers going out on a date was unheard of in the context of real life and good girls. You just simply didn’t do it, and if you did, nobody was supposed to know. Not that Aunt Martha and Grandma Suzzette weren’t discussing your immoral behavior at every family dinner between Easter and Christmas, but… you certainly didn’t tell anyone and you NEVER, EVER would have brought him home to meet the family until you were wearing a little gold band.

Continue reading Dating and the Single Mom

Ice Cream Socials – Friends & Neighbors

Hometowns offer events you’ll never find in a big city. Not that big cities can’t have them, they just don’t. But that’s the fun of living in a small town.

Tonight was the end of summer, Ice Cream Social and Free Swim, put on by the Lamar Chamber of Commerce. KVAY hosted a hamburger and hotdog grill to help a local boy with high medical bills, and the Chamber served up some incredibly delicious ice cream. But the best part was running into friends.

Kevin Estes, a friend from high school was there with his daughter Becky, enjoying time with family and friends. Kirk Carpenter stopped by with his wife and daughter. Andy Curry stopped by to visit with his wife.  New City Administrator Ron Stock and wife Tatiana took a moment to visit with City Counselman, Roger Stagner and wife Leslie. Cindy and Rick Akers held down a picnic table for a while, enjoying the laughter and chatter, while visiting with Mrs. Monroe and daughter Polly.

The Class of 77 from Lamar High School is thinking seriously about setting up a monthly “Meet for chats” date. Several classmates are available in our hometown and it just makes sense to set an evening once a month or so, and do the dinner thing… The question is where?

I sat with a neighbor I’ve known since before I can remember and visited about the short period of time she lived in Washington state. We talked about her summer. She spent time with her kids in the mountains. We discussed family, friends, events, and life. She’s the mother of the little boy I got caught kissing behind the blackboard in Kindergarten, and still a very good friend.

Political wanna-bees had a time visiting, drumming up votes and scaring up new support. Their efforts in a small town event were successful, because they asked the right questions, used the right tone, and smiled a lot. It’s a good town.

I recommend the Ice Cream Socials. They’re fun and full of friends and neighbors.