Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I know I am a little behind the times, but in the last week or two I have immersed myself in the world of Pinterest and more recently, Houzz.  Alternatively, these sites can be called Unrealistic Expectations Addiction or Crack for Homemakers.  They should both link to Perfectionists Anonymous, or If I Would Just Stop Looking at All These Pictures I Might Actually Get Some of My Projects Done Anonymous.

I am so glad that I found both of these websites, because I was a little concerned that I was not wasting quite enough time on the Internet.  Pinterest was created by an evil genius who evidently spent a lot of time like me tearing pictures out of magazines and organizing them by topic.  I still have 3-ring binders - big fat ones - with magazine articles in sheet protectors.  In the early years of our marriage, I would spend hours tearing out and organizing inspiring magazine articles. Our house would be beautiful! I would make all of my children's clothing and smile humbly as all of my jealous mom-peers heaped compliments upon my head. It was like playing make-believe.  Then I had kids and actually had to play make-believe, and the tearing out of inspiring articles slowed considerably.

How many of those ideas have I acted upon?  Off the top of my head, I'd say maybe 5%.  But oh, how I love to be inspired.

Houzz is what every home magazine in print should be - just straight up pictures.  I don't want to hear about how you and the architect had to tweak the design, nor do I care that it took two months for your decorator to track down the absolutely perfect paint color to match your $125/yard custom curtains.  Just show me the stinkin' pictures.

So I would write more tonight, but I'm too busy violating Exodus 20:17 (go look it up...and then pin it to my "Habitual Sins" board).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fall Days

Emma loves to take pictures, so she took the camera out back one fall day and captured some great images.

 Here you see our backyard from the perspective of a beetle.

 Will practices kicking the football. 

Action shots! Jack takes a plunge off the retaining wall.

 Here's Will!

 In the last picture, Will was pretty obvious. This time you have to hunt for him.

 Jack has his own fun in the leaf pile.

For Jack's birthday party, I made cupcakes. I thought it would be easier than a big cake, but I still managed to make it pretty labor-intensive.  However, they turned out pretty cute and Jack loved them.

OK, I found a recipe on Pinterest for koolaid-flavored popcorn.  It looked so fun! But it tasted exactly like Cap'n Crunch, which is not bad, but it took a long time to make and left a huge mess to clean up in the kitchen. Can't say I would recommend Kool-Aid popcorn. Next time I'll just set out a bowlful of dry cereal and save my energy for better uses.

 The highlight of Jack's birthday party was the touch football game. Justin quarterbacked both sides.  Here he is calling a play in the huddle.

 OK, does everybody know the play?  Here we go!


 Jack catches it in the corner of the endzone.

Congratulations follow from Adam, his teammate. What a great birthday party!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Some Practical Ways to Sit at Jesus' Feet

OK, I've admitted it, I am Martha.  So how do I become Mary? 

Ahh, good question, grasshopper.

There can be a perception that spending time at Jesus' feet is this blissful, quiet, yoga-like experience where we close our eyes and inhale through our nose and picture ourselves in a meadow with Jesus running toward us.

Sometimes it can be like that, I guess.

As I've mentioned earlier, for me it's usually more like a battle to stay focused.  And when our kids were little, it sounded more like this:

"Mama is trying to read her Bible!! Now you get back in there and watch Dora and if I hear your little brother crying again because you hit him, you'll be the one who is crying when I get done with you!!"

Or something highly spiritual along those lines.

So here are some thoughts on sitting at Jesus' feet:

1. We have to realize that physically sitting at someone's feet is an act of submission.  When Mary sat at Jesus' feet, she was saying in essence that nothing was more important than him, and that she was his student, his follower.  She was eager to learn from him.
We all have full lives, and we all make choices every day of how we are going to spend our time. One of my favorite time-management books is 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam. In it, the author shows how our priorities (or lack of them) drive our time-related decisions each day.

What does the way I spend my day say about who Jesus is in my life?

* A side note to parents of young children:  you are going through a tough season in your life right now, and often it feels like you are on a spiritual desert island.  But don't let that be a cop out.  Sitting at Jesus' feet will look different for you right now.  Sometimes all you can do is cry out for Jesus to help you!  I would encourage you to find ways to memorize Scripture; you will be amazed at the Holy Spirit's ability to pop that piece of truth into your brain just when you need it. 

One great way to do that is listen to verses set to music.  God wired us to remember words in songs better than spoken words.  Heck, I can still do the rap to "It Takes Two" and you should hear my husband break it down on "Ice, Ice Baby."  Now, let's use some of that memory storage for something worth while! 

Two resources that I know of are Fighter Verses and the Seeds Family Worship CDs.  Somebody bootlegged the Seeds of Courage CD for us when our kids were younger (Sorry! If it makes you feel better, the cd skipped. Alot.)  Anyway, I will never forget our entire family singing, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding..."  except one of the kids thought they were singing, "And the pizza guy..."

Also, (and this is something that has been wandering around in my brain for weeks now), what if you got another mom or your mom or sister to be a memory verse buddy? You could both say the verses to each other once a week, maybe just on the phone (but no cheating! it kinda defeats the purpose.)  I've been thinking of asking my sister or a friend to do this with me, because I have the self-discipline of jello.  And the belly to prove it!  But that's another post.

OK, I know there's only one point here, but I have to go pick up the kids, so I will save the rest for another day. 

Don't forget!  The pizza guy is always watching over you, transcending all understanding. What a comfort.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fruit Cocktail Casserole

Tonight we are eating Tater Tot Casserole.  We rarely eat casseroles; we are more of a meat, starch, and veggie family.  My children like easily identifiable food on their plate, and anything coming out of a 9x13 dish will be spread apart on their plate and analyzed.  They interrogate me:
What is this little brown thing?  
Is this a mushroom?
Is this white thing an onion?

This goes on until they are satisfied that any suspicious food particles have been named and the nasty bits pushed to the side.  I told them that one night I am going to fix Mystery Casserole and force them to slog through it on their own, eating food that has not been named.  Horrors!

Anyway, to my knowledge, I have never fixed Tater Tot Casserole before, but it was cheap, easy and Christy at Southern Plate recommended it, so we tried it out.

Even though the skepticism about said casserole ran pretty high amongst my family members, I can now confidently pronounce Tater Tot Casserole a success. Delicious! and filling.

However,  all of this talk about casseroles reminded me of a time when our kids were all still babies and we had a young couple over.  They were engaged, and Justin was doing their pre-marital counseling.  They came up to our house once a week, he met with them, and then they stayed for supper. 

Well, one evening as I was fixing supper, I realized that I did not have any pineapple for my pineapple casserole.  If you've never had pineapple casserole, you are missing out.  It is canned pineapple tidbits, sugar, flour, and cheddar cheese covered with crushed ritz crackers that have been drizzled with melted butter.  It should be dessert, but in our house, it's a side dish.

Anyway, I panicked.  No pineapple!  Is there any substitute for pineapple when it is the headliner in a dish called pineapple casserole?  I guess the kiddos had fried my brain that particular day, because I decided to go ahead and make the dish using fruit cocktail.  Fruit cocktail, people!!

When we all sat down to dinner, you couldn't really tell, because the fruit cocktail was hidden under its blanket of cracker crumbs.  But once Justin started to spoon some onto his plate, the gig was up.  He looked at me curiously and asked, "What is this?"  And I said, "It's fruit cocktail casserole.  I didn't have any pineapple." 

It was so gross, y'all! One bite was enough.  The sweet little couple ate all of theirs, but Justin stopped eating after he said, "I think I just ate a hot grape."  Clearly, I had pushed the boundaries in old school Southern cuisine, and not in a good way.

So my advice to you tonight is:

1. Try Tater Tot Casserole.
2. Definitely try Pineapple Casserole.
3. Do not attempt Fruit Cocktail Casserole.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Don't you care?

Yesterday Justin preached about Jesus with Martha and Mary.  You know the story, when Martha is super busy getting lunch ready for Jesus and his crew, and Mary (her sister) isn't helping Martha at all.  She is just sitting at Jesus' feet, listening.  Martha is frustrated because her sister isn't doing her fair share of the work, so she asks Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help her.  Martha asks Jesus, "Don't you care that my sister has left me to serve alone?"

Don't you care, Jesus?

In January, our church plant will be two years old.  The church family is expanding, but slowly.  At the three year mark, we want to be a self-supporting church, able to meet our operating expenses without the assistance of other churches.

I'm not sure if we're going to make the mark.

Don't you care, Jesus?

Martha saw all that she had to do: good work serving others, but she couldn't see Jesus.  He wasn't anything but another item on her to-do list.  Feed Jesus and his friends: check.

I so relate to Martha.
  • Read the Bible: check.
  • Make supper: check.
  • Do the Laundry: check.
  • Pray before drifting off to sleep: check.
Jesus loved Martha.  He looked at her and said, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." Mary chose to sit and listen to Jesus.  Martha chose to run herself ragged, trying to be the perfect hostess.

I struggle mightily with anxiety and being troubled about many things.  It's kind of my modus operandi.  And this whole church plant adventure has been the perfect storm for anxiety.  It has exposed
  • my selfishness (I don't want to talk to new people!)
  • my pride (I don't want to help lead music - I don't sing well enough!)
  • my apathy (I should be praying for people in our church family...but I think I'll check facebook instead.)
But most of all, I can see with greater clarity than ever my lack of trust in God.

God my Father, who gives "good gifts to those who ask him," who knows every hair on my head, who loves me so much that he sent Jesus to save me, who will not leave me or forsake me, this is the God of whom I continually ask, "God, don't you care?"

When I sit down to read my Bible and pray, I either a) start to doze off or b) fight an internal battle with the anxious portion of my mind that is saying, "Are you kidding me? You are going to sit down and just read? Have you seen your bathroom floor lately? There are million of people all around the world right now leading productive lives and you are just going to sit there?  Well, not if I can help it!"  And the internal nagging increases in intensity.

This struggle is not by accident, I believe.  That voice is suspiciously absent when I sit down to watch a TV show or read a book of fiction.  We super-Christians don't like to admit it, but it is hard to read your Bible.  It is even harder to pray.  It is hard, and it seems pointless, and so we move on.  But as Jesus told Martha, listening to him and sitting at his feet is the most important, the most necessary thing I can do each day.  God knows what I need.  He knows what's going to happen with the church plant, and he's got that under control too. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fun Finds

Hey Friends,

I've found some blogs that are right up my alley and I just wanted to share them with you. Some of these are new to me and some are tried and true, but they may be new to you.

For all of you coupon cutters and thrifty mamas, here are the two old reliable favorites:
  • Money Saving Mom and Southern Savers.  Money Saving Mom has a lot of fun extras besides just couponing, but I like using Southern Savers for my grocery and drug store couponing.  They are both worth adding to your blog reader, because they do not always overlap on their info.

For your home decorating fix, there are a ton of talented women out there blogging away with crafty ideas.  I am still a little torn up over all of the home decor blogs: part of me is inspired, and part of me is envious because they are so talented.  Inspiration wins, though, and I'm constantly bookmarking ideas for my future projects.

Here are my three new favorites:

  • Ana White - I want to grow up and be Ana White!  She lives in Alaska and builds her own furniture.  Now that's what I'm talking about.  Plus she has a brag blog where other like-minded DIYers can share their favorite completed projects.  And she puts all of the plans on her site for her projects.  A whole lotta fun if you love some power tools, I tell you what.

  • kojo designs - two sisters with a fun sense of style.  Pictures on their site are beautiful, and they share a lot of ideas from other bloggers.  I imagine this is what Ana White would do if they took away her power tools and moved her to somewhere with less snow.

  • Maybe the cream of the crop:  Knock Off Decor...now, I don't know about you, but whenever my mom and I go shopping and I admire some cute little homey trinket, she will take it from me, peer closely at all of its working parts, and declare: Susan, you could make that yourself.  Well, Mom, now that I found this blog, you are so, so right.  I can make it all by myself. I am currently in love with the knock off pottery barn mirror. I can already see one adorning a lonely wall in our basement that is crying out for light to be reflected upon it. Very exciting. 

I'm sure everybody has their favorite cooking blogs too, but here are two that I am really enjoying:
  • David Lebovitz - David is an American chocolatier and pastry chef living in Paris.  I am a closet Francophile so I can get my food and France fix all on one site.  My sister gave me two of his books, The Sweet Life in Paris and a homemade ice cream recipe book called Perfect Scoop, and I am now officially a fan.
  • Another food blog my sister put me on to is Smitten Kitchen.  Deb, the author, has a great sense of humor, great food pics, and great recipes.  Definitely worth putting on the reader.
  • And oh yeah, one more: Of course, I love The Pioneer Woman. Who doesn't? I started looking at her blog for her amazing photography and fun commentary, but I find myself going to her for food inspiration lately as well.  Plus I love her step by step pictures of compiling a dish.  I think Ree can make any food look appealing.  Of the three food blogs listed here, Pioneer Woman would probably have the most food that my whole family would eat.
If you want to be inspired, look at kisses from Katie. This is the blog of a young American woman who has moved to Uganda and adopted African girls as her own daughters. Beautiful.

And last but not least, I have just started checking out a blog website called Blogging with Amy.  If you want to start a blog to supplement your family income, this would be a great place to start.  She's written an ebook about time management which I would read but I don't have time because I'm looking at all of these blogs!

 Now, when you are overwhelmend with all of the inspirational ideas in the aforementioned websites, how do you keep up with all of them?  Well, I've started using SpringPad.  Springpad is basically just a place to keep all of your bookmarks, recipes, ideas and whatever else you want.  I like the spring it button I put on my web browser toolbar.  Plus I like that I can use Springpad  on my desktop and the iPad and still access all my favorite bookmarks from either place.  I'm sure there are lots of similar sites, but I've found Springpad to be pretty darn user-friendly.  If you know of a better bookmarking tool, let me know!

So there you go, friends!  What are your favorite blogs?  Not that I need to read any more of them, but I always like to know! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Journaling - Is that a word?

I had another post all lined up for today, but it dwelt heavily on my sin issues, and after yesterday, I figured I should keep it light. Otherwise I might wake up tomorrow to my Mom standing over me staging an intervention because I felt bad about myself. But don't worry, Mom, I'm ok.

What I love about blogging is having to wrestle with all of these habits/issues/dilemmas in a healthy way. I have lots of thoughts flitting through my head as I go about my day, but when I have to write them down, I have to slow down and be a bit more thorough, following my sin-warped logic to its conclusion. When I realize that what I am typing doesn't make any sense or doesn't line up with what I know to be true, it forces me to mentally go back and search for where I left the path, so to speak.  The same holds true regarding conversations about life, spirituality and matters of the heart; sometimes it takes saying the words out loud to realize they might not be true.  Discussing these things, even if doing so brings out some doubts or uncertainties, is helpful. So is reading your Bible and praying through whatever you're wrestling with.

I envision myself reading this blog as a stranger, and I think about all of the questions or arguments that might come up. I don't always get it right, but at least I'm more mindful of who I am, who Jesus is, and how we relate to each other. It is good stuff, even if it's a little messy. I guess that's why journaling is so helpful; I am just journaling in cyberspace for all who care to join me.  I figure if I'm thinking about it, someone else probably is too, so why not process life together?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I believe; help my unbelief

Today a friend emailed pictures to Justin from our first Sunday morning worship for Grace Church (it was two weeks ago; I should have blogged about it, but I was too busy having a little breakdown. I'll save that for another post.).  He forwarded them on to me, and as I looked at them, all I could think was, "Man, I have really gotten fat."  And it's true.  Since 2008 I have gained thirty pounds, and in 2008, I was trying to lose fifteen pounds, so that is saying something.

Weight loss is always a hot topic for Americans, and certainly for women.  Get any group of females together and eventually, the conversation will find its way to eating, exercising, and different dieting techniques.  This is true even in Christian circles: in fact, a recent study showed that Christians in America may actually be fatter than their non-Christian friends.  Maybe it's just too many potluck fellowships on Sundays after church.  Some folks chalk it up to Christianity being prevalent in the fried-chicken, mashed-potatoes-and-gravy, banana-pudding-eating South.  Who knows.

Body issues and general self-consciousness can rule people's lives.  We live in a culture that esteems slim and trim figures almost as much as we love our soft serve.  Not quite, though; therein lies the problem.

 Anyway, I spend alot of time thinking about my weight.  I think about it when I drink a slim-fast shake, and I think about it when I eat an ice cream sandwich.  I think about it when I exercise, and I think about it when I veg on the couch and watch TV.  I think about it too much. I think.

So what is an appropriate perspective on body image?  Should it matter to me what astronomical figure glares back at me from the bathroom scale each morning?  Well, of course the answer is yes and no.

I can't say I've figured out what I should be thinking about my body, but I believe I've laid some groundwork.

So my answer to the question above is no because:
  •  My self-worth does not come from what pant size I currently wear (don't ask), because my identity is in Christ, not in my own self-discipline.  My hypothetical works of eating healthy meals and logging 20 miles on the treadmill each week can never ultimately satisfy my need to feel good about myself, because there is nothing in me to feel good about. That's why I need Jesus.
  • I was an itty bitty thing when we got married 16 years ago, yet I looked at honeymoon pictures and bemoaned my wide hips.  I don't know that I ever was completely happy with how I looked, and I know now that I can't expect all of my life problems to resolve themselves once I reach my "goal weight." My happiness cannot find its ultimate fulfillment in my appearance.  It won't work.

And my answer is yes because:

  • I overeat.  My god has been my stomach(Phil. 3:18-19) and I have believed myself incapable of resisting the temptation to eat more than is healthy, contrary to what the Bible says.
  • One of the fruits of the spirit is self-control.  As I walk in step with the Holy Spirit, relying on Him to sustain and help me, I have the power within me to control my habits and desires.
  • I Corinthians 6:19-20 says "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."  My body is a gift from God; I want to honor Him by how I eat and how I move and how I spend my time in it.

I have never been able to sustain a weight-loss effort more than a few weeks.  I am pitifully weak when it comes to food. I almost don't believe that I can get in shape now; I feel as if I will be saddled with this extra weight for the rest of my life.  I give up easily.  And honestly, I don't bring it before God that often because I am ashamed that it is such a big problem in my life.  I should know better than that, being a pastor's wife and all, but there it is.

As for how much of body image anxiety should make up my thought life, I would say zero percent.  But it is there, nagging me all the time, distracting me from more profitable thoughts.  So my answer to this is the same answer to pretty much any idol that needs de-throning: prayer and meditation on key passages of Scripture.  I have to remind myself often that God is for me, and that he has set me free from the guilt and power of sin.  My focus will largely be on portions of the Bible that affirm these truths.  And on staying out of the ice cream sandwiches.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Death-wish Frog

This may feel like a re-run, because the frog has leapt onto the pages of this blog before, but I tell you what...

He outdid himself today.

The backstory:
Said froggy currently resides in a second-hand goldfish bowl in our kitchen. For more of his murky history, you can read this.

Jack and I were emptying the dishwasher while I chatted on the phone with my sister.

Earlier that day, I had cleaned the frog's bowl and given him fresh new water to swim around in. The water was dangerously close to the top of the bowl, and the frog had even gone so far as to try to grab my shirtsleeve when I reached across the water's surface. For more sensible moms that would have been a signal to empty some of the water, but not me. I just said, "Stop it, you freak!" and moved on, figuring I had showered the frog with enough attention for one day.

So...talking on the phone, emptying dishwasher...I told my sister jokingly that one day that frog will jump right out of its bowl. As the words came out of my mouth, the prophesy came true: right before my eyes, that slimy little critter came up out of the water, scootching across the counter top towards me. He slid right off the counter, plinkoed around in the top rack of the dishwasher amongst the clean cups and dropped to the bottom rack, ultimately landing in the very belly of the dishwasher. I sprang into crazy-mom-ninja action, shrieking into my poor sister's ear and hopping around the kitchen. Jack vanished; who knew that kid could move so quickly?

The commotion brought the rest of the family running; I pointed at Will (the frog owner, ostensibly) and Justin and commanded them to retrieve the frog. Justin helpfully offered to shut the dishwasher and put it on the "pots and pans" cycle. Then he got a stadium cup to try to scoop the frog up, but the space was too tight.

There was only one way to get that frog out, and it was with your bare hands.

Justin, Will and I all simultaneously declared that we weren't going to touch the frog.

Well, someone has to touch the frog.

So Justin removes the bottom rack of the dishwasher and I get down on my hands and knees and go in after that blankety-blank frog. I have it in my hands once and it wriggles free, but I grab it a second time and Justin offers the stadium cup as a frog depository. He pours the frog back into the bowl and then scoops out enough water to render the bowl an effective prison once more. Will, who has the phone now, gives my sister the play-by-play.

After the excitement, I ask Will if he really still wants that stupid frog. He shrugs; the only way he would care about the frog at this point in his life is if the frog put on a Braves jersey and started batting .317. And could scores us tickets behind home plate at Turner Field. Justin and I look at each other and contemplate assisting the frog in taking a long walk off a short pier, but what stops us is knowing that Jack (our resident St. Francis of Assissi)would be devastated if we offed the frog.

Plus if we throw the frog in the creek, it would probably grow to be eight feet long and hunt us down and eat us (except Jack, of course).

Best to keep him in the bowl.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Many Faces of My Beloved

Justin turned 40 in March.  It was pretty anti-climactic, all things considered.  I had given him a surprise party last year that involved some pretty elaborate evasive techniques, and I wasn't up to the drama again. 

Italian Cream Cake with 40 candles.  Can you say "waxy frosting"?

I wanted to give him something amazing or take him on a fabulous trip, but nothing really came to mind.  Plus since we're a one-income family (and he's the one income), it would be like, "Hey, I got you this cool new elecronic gadget for your birthday!  I just put it on the credit card; I hope that's ok.  Love you! Happy birthday and good luck making this work in the family budget!"  So I got him a hammock, a day late, and made him shrimp, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, since his favorite seafood restaurant was closed on his birthday.  No, it's not Long John Silver's. 

What more could you want?  Oh and an italian cream cake, his favorite.

While I was preparing the birthday meal extravaganza, Emma was playing with the camera.  I'm so glad, because here is what she captured for all of posterity (and modernity) to enjoy:

  I love my husband.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


This morning, the power went out at 1 a.m. I know because the silence woke me up. It was silent inside the house, but very noisy outside the house. More on this later. My husband and I like to sleep in a wind tunnel-like atmosphere with a small portable fan on his side of the bed and then the overhead fan doing 90 mph just as an extra precaution. Not for the air flow so much as for the noise. When it's completely quiet, I can hear ringing in my ears. I'm not sure why that is, but I would never go to the doctor for it anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

The power went out because there was a thunderstorm raging outside. It was quite toasty in the house with no electrically-powered a/c to cool things down, and there was no sleeping with great crashes of thunder and flashes of lightning without all of our fannage to muffle the noise. Sleep eludes one in a hot and uncomfortably noisy atmosphere, I have found.

Justin and I both were awake, waiting for a child or three to show up needing comfort. Instead we got the dog (already not my favorite member of the household - see yesterday's post). She went to Justin's side of the bed first, and I heard him take her jangly collar off. Then she came around to my side and I could feel her chin on the covers as she stared at me intently. I pretended not to notice, but the motion of her wagging tail was coming through her body into her jaw resting on the bed and making the mattress sway slightly. Hard to ignore.

I got the extra blanket off the foot of the bed and spread it out on the floor for her. She promptly circled and got into the doggy equivalent of the comfy position, all curled up with her nose on her hind legs.

Jack, who is normally our go-to worrier, never even showed up. We all compared notes in the morning while getting ready for school and all the kids woke up when the power went out, but managed to go back to sleep by themselves. Jack had been up with us until close to 11:00 p.m., stressed out because at the lunch table earlier that day, the girls in his class said that ghosts were real and if you didn't believe in them, they would come and find you and haunt you until they did. Powerful incentive in Jack's mind. Justin asked him if he was going to believe a bunch of second grade girls or his parents, and I think he was a little bit on the fence, but ultimately he came around to the parental viewpoint. Still, we had to watch Charles Barkley on the David Letterman Show to distract him from ghostly thoughts. Sir Charles did the trick, and Jack trooped back upstairs to bed. Not even a thunderstorm could bother him.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Maybe Tomorrow

It is a beautiful day here in Sparkle City, South Carolina. The wind is blowing, and the birds sound like the soundtrack to The Masters Golf Tournament.

I read somewhere that when networks are showing golf and the birds aren't singing up to par (get it? Up to par?), they will pipe in additional bird chirps and tweets. Bird watchers all over America were up in arms one time because the birdsong that accompanied the golf broadcast came from a bird who didn't live in that region of the country. Evil TV networks. I totally side with the birdwatchers on this one.

Anyway, it's been about three or four weeks since last I blogged, and I was finally feeling inspired, so I came outside for a little time alone with my thoughts and the iPad. I had just formulated something brilliant which I would record for future generations when my daughter came out with the dog and said she (the dog) just threw up all over the rug.

So instead of blogging, I will now go inside the house and do what I And many other moms do best: Gripe while cleaning up someone else's mess.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Don't ruin my joy

Lately I've been very sensitive when it comes to my TV shows. I love reality TV. My favorites are:

I cry at least every other episode when watching The Biggest Loser. I want them to believe in themselves! And then I want to tell them that even being at your goal weight does not solve all of life's problems. But they'll figure it out eventually.

Anyway, I was watching The Biggest Loser (or maybe it was American Idol; as much as I love them, these reality shows all run together for me.  All of them generally have the same theme:  I was wallowing in mundane life, I got picked for this show, now suddenly my life has meaning and purpose.) last night when my husband came in to be with us. I say "us" because the kids were all in there with me. I could watch an infomercial on documentaries about the prehistoric era and they would all plop down and watch with me. They're just so happy to have the TV on. Sometimes I wonder if we're too strict about limiting TV time and then I watch their little eyes glaze over whenever it's turned on and notice how they can't complete sentences or follow basic instructions because they are so fixated on the screen in front of them...and then I decide we're o.k. on that one.

So the husband sits down, even though he does not love what we're watching. And I get anxious because he often makes fun of my shows. And then he of course says something trifling, but obnoxious...the exact words escape me now; I turn to him and tell him (in all seriousness) that he is robbing me of my joy in my TV show. I tell him it's no fun to watch with him criticizing.

 And now I don't remember his response to my protestations; all I remember is that later on in the show, one of the contestants starts getting whiny and Will starts mimicking her voice. And I say, "Well, she is being a whiner, isn't she?".  Justin immediately responds with, "Why are you criticizing her? You are robbing me of my joy in watching this show!  I am trying to enjoy this show!"

I had to laugh, because it was kind of silly.  You know you've crossed some kind of line into ludicrousness when you're getting offended on behalf of your favorite TV shows.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shin Splints

I have blogged before about how much I enjoy running. I really do, especially when I'm in shape and can just zone out and not continually think, "I'm going to die, I'm going to die, I should have bought one of those road ID bracelets so they could call Justin when they found my body."

The last time that I could zone out while exercising was probably this time last year.

Anyway, hope springs eternal in my flabby body as the weather warms up and the smelly sneakers beckon, and I was ready to get back into it. I started with my run/walk intervals, started eating better, started even losing a bit of the flab, and then a nagging pain in my shins began. And with every outing, it increased.

Fast forward to me at Walmart last night buying ice packs for both legs and then wailing in my long-suffering husband's arms because the shin splints were taking over my life. And I ate multiple cookies because I was so frustrated.

Do you know what the universally-acknowledged treatment for shin splints is? You ice them. And you stop running. In some cases (mine being one of them), you can't even power walk. You just have to quit until they stop hurting. You can bike or swim.

I can't fit into my bathing suit. THAT's why I was running. And I would bike, but my back tire has been off the bike for some time now. I thought I could change out the tube, but it turns out I don't know how. And I don't want to spend the money to get someone else to do it. Plus I don't even like biking. Cars all anxious to get around you, figuring out which gear to be in...bike shorts...yeah. No, thanks.

You get shin splints from
Not stretching properly,
trying to run too much, too soon,
Worn out shoes,
Running on hard pavement...
Check, check, check, and check.

So tomorrow we're going to Fleet Feet to buy some proper shoes. I will do a recumbent bike at the Y, then the elliptical when I'm getting better. I have agreed to stretch properly. And when my legs stop hurting, I will very, very gradually increase my mileage. I will run at Milliken or on the Cottonwood Trail. Or even on the treadmill, which I hate because it's inside but I love because I can watch mindless TV and run at the same time. I will not try to run six days a week. I will cross-train.

Shin splint vows. Now I just have to throw away those cookies.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Family Devotions

Last night as we were trying to have a little family Bible reading time, the kids kept being silly and making jokes.  They were warned that there was a time for laughing and a time for listening, and right now, they should be listening.  Everyone sobered up and got serious. 

Our lesson was on Genesis 3, where Adam and Eve have to leave the Garden of Eden because they had sinned.  God clothed them with animal skins to cover their nakedness (of which they were now mindful and ashamed) and sent them out of the garden, never to return.  Justin asked the children, "How is Jesus' death on the cross like the death of the animals whose skins covered Adam and Eve?"  (We are currently using Long Story Short as our family devotion guide).

Emma and Will both piped up with appropriate responses that Jesus covers our sins like the animal skins covered Adam and Eve's shame in nakedness, they both were sacrifices, etc.  Jack was silent.

Justin looked at Jack and said, "What do you think about all that, Jack?"

Jack thought for a minute and replied, "I wouldn't like it.  I wouldn't like to be naked or to be covered in animal skins."

I laughed so hard I cried. 

So much for serious family devotions.

Monday, February 21, 2011

We alll want a Family

Jack and I were watching a show today about estate sales, and at the end of the show, the guy who was selling his parents' belongings commented on how hard it was to watch things he had grown up with being sold and carried out the door by strangers.  He said, "I still miss my mom.  I still miss my dad."

We all want to be part of a family.  We want to belong to somebody, not slaves, but as sons and daughters.  When life is difficult, we want to turn to someone for help, we want someone who can make it "all better." 

I've been told that when your parents have passed away, something shifts.  Life just isn't the same.  I'm 38 years old, and I still look to my parents for advice.  Joys are not quite complete until you can share them with someone you love, and there are few people who love you quite like your parents.  My mom might add that as a parent, you never lose the desire to "fix things" for a child who is hurting, even when they are adults.  Your kids are always your kids; your parents are always your parents.

Have you ever wondered why you have this longing to belong?  Even though you may be estranged or distanced from your earthly parents, if you are a Christian, you are never separated from your Father in heaven.  When you become a Christian, you are adopted by God into his family (Romans 8:14-17).  You can tell your Father all about your joys and disappointments, and you can ask him for help (Romans 8:26-27).  He is always there, he is never too busy, and he loves all of his children completely. 

We need a family.  We can substitute facebook friends or civic groups or book clubs, but they can never be all that we need them to be.   Even our own parents can fail us or mess us up, but God never will.  He is always our perfect father.

"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are."
- I John 3:1

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday is Pizza Night

It's a rainy super cold day here in Sparkle City.  A good day to stay inside.  I already ran outside (woo-hoo for me!).  It's really more of a wun or a ralk...runalk, perhaps?  I am a big fan of running/walking intervals.  Around interval 6 the dog started shooting meaningful glances back my way through the misty drizzle, but I told her to man up (dog up?) and finish it.

Let's do this thing, Boudreaux!  She was not inspired, but when you are attached to a person by a nylon lead, you do what they say.  For the most part.  Begrudgingly.

Anyway, Emma and I are going to a friend's house for a girls' movie night, but I am still making the sacred pizza dough for our never-forsaken pizza night.  Because 3/5s of our family will still be at home.  Justin cannot eat tomato sauce, so he gets his own special pizza.  The boys like pepperoni, and Emma is a plain-jane cheese kinda gal.

It takes a lot for me to get excited about making pizza dough, so here's my special secret ritual:

First, one must have a recipe.  How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman is my go-to for pizza dough.  I've tried others, but this one is the most consistent for me.  Which is saying a lot, because I lose count when measuring out cups of flour.  Was that five? or six?  Yikes!  It's always an adventure.  But he just says, if it's sticky, add a little more flour.  If it's dry, add more water.  This I can do.

Fleischmann's RapidRise Yeast - two packets because I double the recipe.   I can count to two usually, so I do better on yeast than flour.

Dough blade for the food processor.  I keep all of my food processor accessories in Jack's old lunchbox.  

Pizza dough in a flash!  Love a food processor.  But I just got mine for Christmas, so before I would always use the dough hook of my stand mixer.  Results were still good.

There it is, my little bundle of doughy happiness.  Now it has to rise in a warm place for an hour or two.  Good luck in this house I tell it, because my eskimo-blooded husband has made sure there is no warmth to be had.  In fact, our heating bill was less than it was last year when there were two people in their eighties living here.  He is very proud of that, but I say it just goes to show you what I endure every day in the arctic tundra that is our home.  Though now that I think about it, I'm the only one complaining.  Will wears shorts every day.  Maybe I should be quiet.

The warmest place in our house is a bed, but I would have much to explain if Justin came home to a bowlful of pizza dough snuggled up under the covers.  I have decided against it.

I'm trying to warm my hands over this candle.  I also wash the dishes a lot in the winter, because I can get the water super hot and then linger over every bowl and spoon until the circulation returns to my extremities.  OK maybe I'm exaggerating.

Music while cooking is one of life's little joys.  Plus the wooden spoons are handy microphones in case I need to belt out some Aretha Franklin while stirring.

Happy Friday everybody!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

4:23 a.m.

A bright light wakes me up in the middle of the night.  It is the hall light outside our bedroom door.  My watch says 4:23.  My husband sleeps.

I get out of bed to investigate, and almost all of the lights in the house are on.  Did I miss something here?  I stick my head in Will and Jack's room, and there is Jack, rummaging through the dirty clothes hamper.  Will, in the top bunk, snoozes on, oblivious.

"What are you doing, Jack?" 

"I'm looking for some pants; I can't find any clean ones in my drawer."

I realize that he is getting ready for school.  I say, "Do you know what time it is?"

He looks at his watch and then looks up at me.  "I thought you just came in here to tell us it was time to get up!  You said it was 6:45!"

I shake my head.  "No buddy, it must have been a dream; it's too early to be up.  Let's get your pajamas back on."

He complies.  I go turn all the lights off and come back to check on him.  The faint glow of a flashlight shines through the blanket he has pulled over his head.  I pull back the blanket, and he wails, "I will never be able to get back to sleep now!"  I understand; I feel the same way.  I tell him to turn the flashlight off.

I climb into his little bunk bed with him and put my arm around him until he is almost asleep.  Then I whisper, "Good night, Jack," and go to bed.  I don't mind waking up for this.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's hard to be Christian right before Bible Study

1:15 p.m. today...eat lunch...think about looking over Bible Study notes but opt instead to watch an episode of "Dear Genevieve" that I DVR'd.  Fabulous kitchen makeover.  But now it's 1:40, and I still have so much to do!

Time elapses...2:15...time to get kids - three different alarms go off (one in the bathroom) to remind me.  I am terrified of forgetting to get the kids.  Probably because my parents made it a habit to "forget me" when they went places.  One time my mom forgot to pick me up from soccer practice when I was in elementary school and the coach took me home with him and his whole family ate supper while I watched.  I'm not making this up.  Thus my current phobia.

Bring kids home...try to settle in with the book, but there are things to be signed, daily events to be discussed.  Hard to focus.

4:30  Realized I've been looking at the wrong chapter.  Panic begins to set in.

5:00 What's for supper?  I try to escape reality by calling my sister and asking her when she's going to have her baby (due date was three days ago).  Then I call my friend to ask her a question and we end up chatting until yikes!  It's 5:23 and I have to pick Emma up from play practice at 5:30.  Abrupt end to conversation.

5:45 Back home.  People will be at the house in an hour and fifteen minutes.  I begin to bark orders about cleaning up and yank frozen french fries, last night's roast beef, potatoes and broccoli out of the fridge.

6:12 Will asks, "Are you going to take Jack to practice?"  Jack's basketball practice starts at 6:15.  Yelling for Jack commences.

6:17 Justin takes Jack.  I bake french fries.  Try to finish printing the outline for tonight's study.  Do some dishes.

6:30 Justin is back.  Justin, Will and Emma eat supper while I walk around the house, yelling orders to Emma about the state of her bedroom.  Justin gets up from the table and says, "This is what you look like" and starts marching back and forth in front of the door to the dining room.  Every time he passes the opening, he says, "Clean up!  Clean up downstairs!  Stop talking to each other!  Listen to me!"  I would like to be mad at him, but he's right and it's funny, so we all just laugh.  I go back to the dishes.

6:40 Realize the upstairs bathroom is nasty.  Cross my fingers that no one uses it.

6:45 Coffee on, lights on, fire going...what am I forgetting? Oh, I pray.

7:00 Bible Study begins.   

Monday, January 24, 2011

Profanity! Reader Discretion Advised

For Christmas, Justin asked for a CD by a band called Mumford and Sons. Now, it pains me to admit this, but I have long privately held the opinion that Justin has zero musical taste. Whenever we're on long car trips and I'm driving and he's deejaying, I internally roll my eyes. A sampling of his favorites: Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings,and Hank Williams Jr. with some Run DMC and U2 thrown in for good measure. If we had never wed, I can assure you that none of these artists would take up space on my iPod. One of his favorite songs by Merle Haggard includes the following lyrics:

Eatin' rainbow stew in a silver spoon,
Underneath that sky of blue.
We'll all be drinkin' that free bubble-up,
Eatin' some rainbow stew.

Eatin' rainbow stew in a silver spoon,
Underneath that sky of blue.

What does it mean? I don't know, but I have to restrain myself from jumping out of the car window at 70 mph every time I hear it.

So when Justin had a new band he wanted me to listen to, I didn't expect too much. But I LOVE Mumford and Sons. Their songs make me want to ride a galloping horse through the Irish countryside and then put on a wooly sweater and go to the pub and clink mugs with the grizzled old fisherman sitting next to me. Exhilarating! Love them.

Anyway, one of our favorite songs is called "Little Lion Man", and it is fabulous except for a very bad four-letter word that rhymes with duck figures prominently into the chorus. When we were listening to the song in the van with the kids, Justin would just turn the volume down on the radio when that word was about to be sung. We never explained to the kids why Daddy kept turning the music down, and Emma later said she just assumed he was trying to turn it up and couldn't figure out how to do it. Really? Are we parents so feeble-minded that she would just chalk up a whole song's worth of the volume going up and down to Daddy's ineptitude? Apparently.

Will liked the CD so much, he asked if he could put it on his iPod. Justin told him yes but that he couldn't put that particular song on it because it had a bad word. A few days later we were all back in the van; the song came on again, and this time I was the one censoring it. The song says, "I really f***** it up this time," so I just sang, "I really messed it up this time." Jack looked puzzled and said, "Mess isn't a bad word." And I said, "Well, they're not really saying mess. That's just what they mean."

The song still plagues us. The day finally came when I was listening to the album in the kitchen with my hands busy and the uncensored chorus of Little Lion Man came bursting through the speakers. Sweet Willy was in the kitchen with me and I looked at him and said, "Look. That word is inappropriate and I don't foresee a need for you to ever say it, but I cannot keep running to turn the music down every time they say a bad word, and I like that song too much to take it off the playlist.". He nodded and went back outside to play basketball.

Later Justin came home and I told him about what happened. While I hope they choose to use less offensive words, frankly, if the worst thing our kids ever do is drop the f-bomb, I will consider us a parenting success.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why I Usually Hold the Camera

Here's me, screaming, going down our sledding hill last week.

Still Screaming. This is why I'm screaming: the man formerly known as my husband is standing at the base of the hill with a snow shovel.  In wait.

He gleefully shovels snow onto his beloved bride.

Ah, yes. Still screaming, but colder now.

Will it ever end?

Yes, thank goodness.

Here's our friend David, who obviously was not paying attention just then.

One has a premonition of the cold terror that awaits him.

He tries to maneuver the sled away, but there is no escape.

Snow on your head, sucker!

He loses control of the vehicle.

And uses his head to bring himself to a stop.

And, finally, here's one more reason why we try to limit the husband's interaction with the snow shovel.