Thursday, November 18, 2010

DeZpiZing the Little Things

I dipped into the minor prophets this week and somehow got stuck. This is not my preferred section of the Bible. On a good day, I can say them in order, but please don't ask me to summarize Haggai. (I know this is a terrible and utterly shocking admission, consistent with the vast majority of Christendom). Every time I jump in for a bit, I'm amazed by the depth of the love and anger of God and I think, I should come here more often. So here I am again.

And Zerubbabel is here, too. That is- in Zechariah 4. And zust in zase you zink I haz gone crazzy wiz za z's, I haven't. (OK, it's past 2 p.m.- pardon my lack of... of... of...whatever). Moving on. This is the most amazing and encouraging passage! God's sending a message saying that it is HIS PLAN that Zerubbabel not only start the temple, but finish it as well. Of course, it's not by human power or strength that this impossible task will be completed, it's "by My Spirit, saith the Lord!" And then this: don't despise the little things; God rejoices just to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel's hand (paraphrasing here)!

Let me personalize it for you as I did for myself: It is God's plan that ________. I have work to do on this plan. But by myself it is impossible. That is so the whole world will know that when plan X comes about, it was a God thing. And God is rejoicing just to see my babysteps.

I find it easy to despise the little things. The baby steps, the almost imperceptible progress, the plateaus. GOD IS REJOICING at my efforts to do His will. That is so encouraging to me. He rejoices when I pick up the apron, knowing that I'm working on His plan for me to love my family with healthy food. He rejoices when I scramble for a phonics game, knowing that it is His plan that Kathryn learn to read His Word. He rejoices when I iron those clothes for Sunday, knowing that it is His plan that we spend time with the Body of Christ. He rejoices at each effort to plant Godly values and character in our children. When I just have the "plumb line" in my hand, and the wall is yet to be, He is rejoicing. And here I just must say "Woohooooooooooo!" for my heavenly support system!

Zat's all. Zee end.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Winter Love and Hate

I love the flavors of winter: the nutmeg, pumpkin, cinnamon, peppermint. The sounds of winter: bells, the Hallelujah Chorus, the crooners' Christmas renditions. The ambience of winter: candles, greenery, fireplace, the bite of cold against my face. The holidays of winter: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's, my (30th-sh!) birthday. These almost make up for the cold. But there is just one winter event that will take my breath away every time. I attended the first one of the season just last week.

The twilight sky was charcoal smudges from another cloudy day. But just at the edge of the horizon was an explosion of color. Breathtaking oranges and pinks. Etched along it in black were a thousand sleeping trees. I'm not sure what it is about a winter sunset, but they are the Hallelujah chorus, the joy of the season all mixed up in one visual feast.

Ah... now to what happens after the sunset. Which is at 4:52 approximately. What in the world do I do with two busy little people until 9:00? I need a plan, people. Help me out. (My natural inclination is to pull up the chairs and let them help me bake, bake, bake. The only problem with this scenario is the food, food, food!) I'm all ears....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ode to Potty-Training in My House

Alex potty-trained himself this week. No big deal, just hops up there and does his thing. I don't know what clicked in his head (he's 3 1/2), but it did. He gives a big grin and an exaggerated thumbs-up and off he goes.

And now I understand the snotty potty-training parents/experts. If all I ever had was this experience, I would be definitely bragging to my friends about 'how EASY boys are' and 'how MINE never had any problems' and 'have you tried the floating Cheerios?', etc. ad nauseum. The only thing I can point to is that last Sunday morning, the church nursery ran out of size 5s, and he was HORRIBLY offended by the pink pullups. Maybe he thought that was the punishment for big boys who 'didn't get it.' Hence the move from blank stares to success. Who knows? But let me tell you, I had KATHRYN first. The following is a gritty mommy tale, with TMI. Read at your own risk... ;o)

Kathryn, the dear (spoken sarcastically), was petrified of potties, petrified of going 'poo', scared to death of everything. She was afraid of the kiddy chair, the unfolding adjustment thingie for the big potty, the hole in the potty, flushing, sitting... did I mention EVERYTHING?! She would hold everything, giving new meaning (and true meaning) to the word anal-retentive in my mind. Suppositories were a necessity once or twice a week, accompanied by screaming, shrieking, pain and agony. She once held one of those for 3 hours! I tried everything, read everything. We bought her favorite candies (skittles) and toys- she was sooo excited. But when she realized effort on the potty was involved, she never asked for or looked at them again. They sat forlornly on the counter for weeks; she never snuck any and even asked about them. Sigh... Note to all incredibly frustrated mommies: don't shoot yourself in the foot.

I'm probably going to get hate mail on this story. (Disclaimer: I NEVER say, "Come on, kids, I'm going to leave you." I think threatening children with abandonment to get obedience is akin to cruel and unusual punishment. Children should come because you say come. So the following incident was birthed on a rough day, and will be forgiven by all tired parents, no doubt.)

I had stepped into the bathroom and closed the door. I was doing what we all must do, when Kathryn yells through the door in a panicked tone(age 2 1/2), "Don't flush yourself, Mommy!" I have at this point heard that sincere warning approximately 15 gazillion times. Did I mention I'm tired? For some reason, I flushed the toilet, gave a fading shriek and fell silent. "Mommy?! Mommy?!" Revenge accomplishes nothing; that little trick set us back for MONTHS AND MONTHS. Thank goodness she doesn't remember this ;o)

All this reminiscing to say "Thank God for an easy one!" and if you're in the middle of potty-training purgatory, it's probably NOT because you've overlooked the guaranteed perfect method. Give yourself a break. They all figure this out before their first date. They're all different, and this, too, shall "pass"! Leaving the computer to burn all diaper coupons... wahoo!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

May I Just Go Back To Bed??

Every morning I spring from my bed, a big grin on my face and rush downstairs (who needs coffee?!) and begin my morning calisthenics ("exercise" sounds sooo crass). Of course, I don't sweat, I glisten. With a smile. Everyday. Right. If you believed any of that, I've got a bridge to sell. The truth is I've been exercising for years and years. I despised P.E. as a child. I was only ever good at one game in gym- dodgeball. And just at dodging. So I had ZERO ability to throw the ball back at my opponent. I just dodged around until the inevitable happened. Then in high school I got into aerobics. My mother was a heavyset teenager, so I had lots of maternal (shhh...pressure) to suck my stomach in, to be active. I know she just wanted me to avoid the pain she had endured for years. The other reason I started to workout was physiological. I have a tummy issue that thrives on being sedentary. So it's pretty much exercise or else! Which would you rather, a series of hospitalizations or a little sweat? Yeah- some choice...

All that to say, I'm almost 30 and I've been doing this for YEARS. Why is it I still hate it? Why is it the only thing that keeps me going is a fear of hospitals and a desire to burn off that extra cookie? At some point, doesn't self-discipline become pleasurable? Evidently not for me. It takes about 30 minutes of good, hard, old-fashioned work for the endorphins (those feel-good hormones) to kick in and then I'm smiling. Do you know how long 30 minutes is to a MOM?! Whine, whine, whine, whine....

I think a lot of life is like this. Kathryn asks me a lot if we can do something NEW- something we've never done before. She craves new experiences, and I try to coordinate interesting days for her. But that being said, life is rarely new experiences. No matter how beautiful the house may look at Minute 1; at Minute 1.3 there will no doubt be another thing to redo. Ever calculated how many loads of laundry you will do in your life? OK, don't! (I did!) Life is about living the ordinary, the repetitive, the mundane with excellence. When Kathryn asks me why I exercise, I say, "So I will be a strong, healthy mama." And that's why we do what we do- because we love each other. The joy in the day comes from the growth in our relationships and feeling His pleasure as we work for Him. Or work-out. Time to break that sweat. :o)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Sorrow of Soraya M.

I rarely cry over a movie. And I NEVER blog about them. But I watched a DVD so gripping that I wept in the shower and I simply MUST share.

The Stoning of Soraya M. is set in 1980's Sharia-law Iran and is based on a true story. Soraya, on trumped-up charges, is stoned to allow her husband to marry a fourteen year old child. The film is rated R for the stoning scene alone, which I could not watch in its entirety.

A deep pervading sorrow rushed through me as they buried this woman, hands bound, waist deep in sand. I really don't want to describe it as it's so depressing.

Let me just say, I was furious with those who claim Christianity is oppressive to women. Just a cursory read of scripture shows a Christ who elevated women to a status previously unheard of. We are presented as treasures, to be loved sacrificially, to be honored. To be respected by our children. Christianity is unique among the religions of the world in this regard.

Also, I was filled with gratitude that I and my daughter and my mother and my sister live in this amazing country. Full of flaws, yes. But based on Judeo-Christian values and law. Sharia law is something we must never allow in this great country of ours as they have in Europe. Years ago, my mother's mother lived with the tragic knowledge that her unsaved husband had a mistress. But she was never dragged out into the road and stoned, so he could be remarried.

As I cried over Soraya and fumed over what could be done to change the world (you know me ;o), God whispered into my heart, "Give them Jesus, give them Jesus." Jesus is the only solution for the great sorrows of the world. And as I pictured him taking my lashes and being nailed to my cross, I knew (once again) that his salvation was for the Sorayas of the world, too.

This post is simply a pathetic attempt to express the fullness of my heart. At the grace of God. At the tragedy of sin. At the praise of our Savior. At the gift we have to offer others.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Welcome, welcome- OCTOBER!!

I love this month! As a kid, it was more country-style Halloween-centric. We trick or treated at all the old people's houses and counted all the houses that got rolled overnight. (We never allowed to participate in the toilet paper-draping of trees- so deprived ;o)

My grown-up October has a bit different feel. Papery, drying hydrangeas, mums popping out everywhere, the smells of my favorite muffin (pumpkin chocolate chip) coming from the oven, settling into cozy sweaters, football with friends, a great bowl of white chicken chili. Yum! And books. And music. I've settled into a new love- Nathan found the amazing Lawson Rollins online and I'm enamored with the Pandora station I'm creating with Spanish classical guitar.

Today I'm steam-cleaning the carpets and cleaning the windows. The carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is chilling in the frig for football tonight, and... Alex needs a diaper change (He just climbed up in my chair). Real life calls me out of autumn reverie. Post diaper change, I need to check on the laundry and do some ironing. The normal, the routine, the good. Happy fall, ya'll

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What I've Been Up To

Oh, dear. This poor, poor blog. This month I pulled a bunch of hats out of the closet and began wearing them (again or for the first time). My time has been filled with trying to hone my time management skills. I pulled my sombrero out, dusted it off, and am teaching 4 hours of Spanish on Wednesday. I am a new homeschooling Mom on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. The chef's hat is my newest addition, as I do one Pampered Chef every week or so to pay some pubescent kids to sweat their way through my yard work. (Nathan's fall and spring allergies are debilitating. Have you ever tried to trim bushes with toddlers running around- 'nuf said). Since my creative juices only flow in the early morning hours, I've also been doing Lesson Plans in the time I normally blog.

So! Two goals to this blog: show you some pics of what we're up to, and to request that if you have a blog, you would send the address to I used to have a long list of blogs I could link to from mine, and I accidentally deleted them - agh!! Help!

Friday, August 27, 2010


My blog series has been hijacked by our first week of homeschool and the attempt to reorganize my world to fit our new needs. I have some friends who recently asked if I would share my basic organizational techniques. These are not the best you've ever seen- they are just what happens to work for me. With that in mind, I have a few things I depend on everyday to keep things running smoothly. I don't freak out if the schedule doesn't fit us perfectly everyday. Motherhood forces adaptability! This is long b/c I'm actually posting my real usable lists... More later...

Menu plan
This is a super simple idea I picked up from Paula Miller, my good friend and homeschooling mother of five. This is just the supper plan. I have a simpler one for the kids' breakfasts and our lunches...

Menu 1 (S)roast dinner, (M) leftovers, (T) grilled chicken, (W) spaghetti, (Th) homemade Chinese, (F) date night, (S) soup, sandwiches
Menu 2 (S) chicken casserole, (M) leftovers, (T) steaks, (W) hotdogs, (Th) seafood, (F) breakfast, (S) new recipe
Menu 3 (S) roast, (M)leftovers, (T) chicken piccata, (W) hamburgers, (Th) homemade Chinese, (F) date, (S) new recipe

*I just rotate through these. Most families have a selection of meals they eat over and over anyways, but I flex it if I want. Wednesdays I keep simple b/c I teach those days. This also allows me to know EXACTLY what I need to keep on hand.

I also have a pantry and frig checklist I printed out and keep taped to the inside of the pantry door. That way I can just glance over it and it helps me think, "Oh, yeah, we're out of that." This is what that looks like for me (the format is probably going to mess up here...)

Pantry Checklist
 Oatmeal (steel-cut & quick-cooking)
 Macaroni
 Chinese rice
 Spaghetti noodles
 Bread crumbs
 Cereal
 Chips
 Popcorn
 Ritz crackers
 Saltine crackers
 Graham crackers
 Peanut butter
 Jelly (strawberry, grape)
 Honey
 Salad dressings
 Mayo, ketchup, mustard
 Soy sauce
 Evaporated milk
 Sweetened condensed milk
 Pumpkin
 Green beans
 Spaghetti sauce
 Cream of chicken
 Cream of mushroom
 Canned tomatoes
 Chicken noodle, other soups
 Self-rising flour
 All-purpose flour
 Granulated sugar
 Brown sugar
 Confectioner’s sugar
 Cake mix
 Brownie mix
 Sugar substitute
 Napkins
 Paper towels
 Ziplocs
 Sandwich bags
 Aluminum foil
 Saran wrap
 Parchment paper
 Plastic utensils, cups, plates
 Kitchen trash bags
 Ice cream shell
 Spices/Herbs
 Kosher salt
 Peppercorns


Refrigerator Checklist

 milk
 orange juice
 lemon juice
 eggs
 margarine sticks
 tub butter
 applesauce
 syrup
 condiments
 cheese
 fruit
 salad greens
 garlic
 onion
 potatoes
 yogurt
 sour cream
 cottage cheese
 bacon
 deli meat
 baking soda


Freezer Checklist

 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
 whole chicken
 fish cuts
 shrimp
 ground chuck
 chuck roast
 steaks
 cube steaks
 ground turkey
 bread
 English muffins
 Chocolate chips
 Coconut
 Chicken broth
 Frozen peas, butterbeans, corn, etc.
 Popsicles (summer AND winter- for little busted lips)
 Ice cream
 Coffee
 Juice concentrate


Friday, August 13, 2010

"A-Splishin and A-Splashin"


Baths are a must on my need-to-keep-clean list. I like to know that company can drop in, and I don't have to rush around getting the 'powder room' acceptably sanitary.

*I suscribe to FlyLady's advice for the morning Swish and Swipe. This simply means each bath has a little basket with Lysol Cleaning Wipes and Toilet Cleaner. I give the toilet bowl a swish each morning and wipe down the outer surfaces and the sink/counter with a Lysol wipe.
*I check the trash can and take it with me to the kitchen if it needs to be emptied.
*On Fridays, when I wash sheets, I also do a load with the bath rugs.
*On Tuesdays, when I run through the house doing glass cleaner on the glass surfaces, I hit the bath mirrors, too.
*I've found a handy way to mop the bath is to put my mop water in the bath's empty trash can. Small, portable and the can gets clean, too. That happens once a week when I mop the other floors.
*Taking the 15 sec. to wipe down the showers helps me avoid my most-hated job (scrubbing showers!); I leave the shower door open and the fan on for a while. I have found that icky stuff doesn't grow where there's air movement.
*And my most useful mantra: LEAVE THE ROOM CLEANER THAN YOU FOUND IT! That means I straighten a towel, or DO SOMETHING each time I go in.

Saving $ in the bath:

We don't use all Suave and White Rain. Nathan gets mouth sores unless he uses Biotene. I love good quality shampoo for my much hair. And for some strange reason which I have yet to figure out, Nathan likes Pantene for his little hair. And who doesn't love a seasonally scented Bath and Body Works handsoap or feminine bubble bath? So I COUPON! I follow CVS and Publix on This means that I get things like toothbrushes, paste, pads, tampons, all sorts of cleaners, shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, etc. for cents on the dollar. I still end up paying almost top dollar for Biotene. But everything else is seriously reduced. There's nothing like getting a Venus Embrace razor with blades for 99 cents! If you've never heard of SouthernSavers, check it out! Pick just one or two stores and go to it!!! Kroger is great with her list if you have one.

Mind over Potty

Like most mommies, the bathroom is the one place we feel we can LOCK the door! Now, there are sometimes waggling fingers, toy soldiers pushed under for our inspection, etc. but for the most part, it's peace. We become friends with the potty. And heaven knows, after all the postpartum fun of hemorrhoids and sitz baths, we have history there. LOL I keep things I want to read, scripture I want to memorize in there, too.
And at night- glory! Once those kids have had their last "sippy milk" (Alex) or "sippy water" (Kathryn)- served in 2 oz. glasses to keep the bed from floating away in the night- candles and bubbles and a book can soothe the soul. I drag my laptop in there, put on Pandora and Michael Buble and just crash. Not every night, but as often as I can get it. My friend Mary Ellen adds popcorn to this routine. Feel free to add comestibles, but no offense (Mary Ellen)- the smell of popcorn reminds me of a ballpark, so a small piece of dark chocolate is more up my alley.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Kids' Bedrooms

Now we move to the rooms where I need the MOST tips- someone help me, please! I truly hate cleaning kids' bedrooms. Our system works like this: I tell Kathryn to put everything off her floor onto her bed (clean enough to run a vacuum), and then I will help her sort. Once we start 'sorting,' her attention span wanders around like a confused fly at a picnic, trying to avoid the swatters and flitting from one dish to the next. Then I feel my blood pressure rising. "You know you're not allowed to eat in your room! Why is there a decomposing grape under your bed?" OR "HOW did those get THERE?" Sigh... Obviously running a daycare would send me into a psychiatric ward in a hurry. I'm too much of a perfectionist.
So Nathan has stepped in. Every night but one is his night. That means he makes his grand entrance with an "instrument of love" draped casually around his neck- which by the way, he isn't wielding- he just thinks it makes them move more quickly ;o) He sounds like a happy football coach. "You can do it! Come on! Quick, quick- move those feet!" They seem to love this. One huge box is brought out and EVERYTHING goes in there. Thus, the room appears to be clean. I'm not complaining about his assistance, as it is greatly appreciated. BUT I KNOW WHAT'S IN THE BOX!!! Ugh. So once a week, the evil step-mother drops in for a sorting session. Why does this stress me out so badly?
So! I'll impress you later (if you're easily impressed) with tales of my organized bath and pantry. But this is part of my house where I need loads of advice. Any to give, mommies?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Room by Room

So, I thought I'd go "room by room" and give any tips or thoughts that come to mind for you gals just starting out or those (like me) always looking for new ideas. My laundry room is always my home office/sewing room. This lends itself toward disaster! It is probably my toughest challenge to keep clean. Some things I do to work on that:
1. We bought those round slider things (cheap, cheap at WalMart) and put on the bottom of the washer and dryer. If I need to pull them out to grab a sock or clean the floor (this is getting desperately needed, at the moment ;o), I can slide them out without help.
2. I don't feel too guilty about it being my 'drop zone.' I'd rather have one space to drop misc. items than all over the house. If you have a hot spot like this one, just spend 5 minutes a day decluttering. It's amazing how much you can sort in 5 minutes.
Some ways I practice frugality in my laundry room:
1. I make my own laundry soap. Here is the recipe. The ingredients are readily available at Publix. I make 5 gallons at a time, and the stuff lasts forever! OK, on actually making it. I only let it sit 8 hours before pouring it into the gallons. This is my least favorite part of the process. The stuff literally gels up and looks like (how is the feminine way of saying this?) OK, snot. Begging many pardons. Try not to think about it, and you'll have great laundry detergent (more effective than any I've found) for just a few cents. I use a kitchen funnel to put it into old water gallon jugs (60-something cents from Wal-Mart).
2. White vinegar works as a liquid softener. I use this when I can't find the wonderful Snuggle on sale.
3. Dryer sheets. Confession time. With as much money as I save elsewhere, I BUY THE BEST! I adore the smell of Snuggle. So with apologies to the money-saving purists out there, it is my little investment in happiness!
4. One thing I despise is soured laundry (especially kitchen and bath linens- ugh!) I put a dab of Chlorox 2 (color-safe bleach) into ALL my laundry. The Wal-Mart brand works, too. And no nasty smells.
5. I set aside one block of time a week for ironing. I pop in a DVD and get to work. I used to HATE ironing. But now it's the one time I can be still ;o) I love this relaxing time!

Life in my laundry room is very, very real. About once a week, I rewash a load instead of ironing it (heehee- I KNOW no one else does this). About once a month, I vow it will never become cluttered again. About 10 times a day, little people drop toys or books in there. But it is my workspace, and I think worth the effort to keep it running smoothly. Any tips for me? I'd love to hear them!

Monday, August 09, 2010

My lovely Spanish students

Being an Older Woman (than 10% of you ;o) Means It's Time for Class

God has blessed me with a few young-er ladies in my life who come to me for advice. It is a solemn responsibility, and one that I try to do with God's help. I also find that passing along what I've learned helps me REALLY learn it and put it into practice better. They say you don't really know something until you've taught it.

So! With that in mind, I thought I'd do a few blog posts on wifely/homemaking-ly topics. I'd love your input. Throw in some tips for ME please. I'll take all I can get. The following is excerpted from a letter I sent to a friend of mine:

Get up long enough before the kids to get dressed and ready for the day. It changes the atmosphere of the house when you’re welcoming them into your day instead of resenting them as unwelcome alarm clocks. You are the mood setter for your home.

Dress and fix the girls’ hair. Kathryn is just grouchy when she is a mess. I’ve found a different little girl when she feels neat. Don’t know why this is (I’m happy in pjs ;o), but it’s true.

Plan a menu each week. I don’t follow it 100% of the time, but at least I know my options.

Keep a pad of paper near the frig to write down things that you need from the store.
Put your housework on a schedule. Flylady or your own thing. Doesn’t matter. If you feel you don’t have enough time to get everything done, try writing down where your time is going. You’ll be surprised where those 5 and 10 and 15 minutes disappear.

Talk up Daddy to the girls. It’s contagious. Tell them how handsome he is. How strong he is, etc.

Philippians 4:8 Fill your mind with the positive things about your man. About your children. About your role. About God. Light a candle. Pick some flowers from the side of the road. Put on some happy music that makes you want to dance. Try just smiling at your children when they come into the room.

Set a bedtime, girl. Rested mommies make better mommies. Learn to go to bed alone, if you have to (I hate it, but Nathan just doesn’t need as much sleep as me). Our compromise is he gives me a hug when he comes to bed. It makes me :o)

You’re home. Get those babies out of the house and go to a local park or mall or whatever and walk. I know walking WITH them is either a crawl or a run. When I tried walking with Kathryn, it was ridiculous. We had to examine EVERY rock, bug, flower. You might find a double stroller on Craigslist and push them instead.

For praying. Do you have a copy of The Power of a Praying Wife? If you do, get it out and pray one of those prayers every day (Don’t announce you’re praying for him- they find that offensive). Don’t forget, you are under his spiritual authority. But he is directly under God’s. When you need something, feel free to talk to His boss. I can tell you with complete confidence that God can get the job done. Don’t feel he is meeting your emotional needs? Talk to God about it. I know this is sooooo much harder to do than say. But it works!

Speaking of which, how are you and God doing? Make sure you stay on good terms with the Father. Sometimes, when I want quiet time and the kids have been nutty, I skip their afternoon nap and put them to bed at 8:00. Then I go out (Nathan’s home, of course) and get a small drink somewhere and just sit, and think, and write out my prayers. My sister-in-law Marianne just goes to a nearby (well-lit) parking lot sometimes and spends time alone.

And here’s the toughie:
RESPECT: Here you don’t have a choice, dear. Scripture commands it. If you are not treating him with respect, you are being sinful. Suck it up, confess it and move on. Ask God to check you when you are about to step out of line. It is not about whether or not he deserves it. Men who are unconditionally respected tend to become worthy of respect over time. Just do it.

Practically speaking, respect means: controlling your tongue, controlling your body language, caring about what he cares about, treating him the way you want to be treated. And no, YOU CAN NOT SUCCEED AT THIS- YOU ARE A FAILURE. And so am I! This calls for walking by the Spirit. When you’re frustrated, pray “Your patience, Lord.” He has the power to work through you!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

You know you’re a mother of small children at Church Camp when…
You know more kids’ songs than hymns.
Prayer time is always preceded by clap your hands together, squeeze your eyes tight, and let’s talk to Jesus.
Walking through the cafeteria with three trays, two desserts, and pink lemonade is otherwise known as the walk of fear.
Your packing includes ten favorite toys, 2 favorite blankets and generous supply of bandaids and Neosporin.
Your idea of teamwork is finding other moms to watch your kids while your shower.
You frequent the local ATM because cash is a non-negotiable for the boys and girls’ offering contest, and the Snack Shop approaches the level of need after 8 p.m.
Each night you find the bottoms of your kids’ feet are completely black.
Your idea of participating in worship is keeping your children from disturbing others’ worship.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Guilt-Ridden Pseudo-Book Review

This post is a bit different for me. I'd like to review and recommend a book to you, dear readers, for your consideration. I recently read Reflecting Beauty by Mrs. Valorie Quesenberry. OK, so I read it, liked it, loaned it out, finally got it back, lost it in my laundry room ;o), was asked to review it, searched diligently for it, found it and promptly loaned it out again. Mrs. V.Q. had kindly asked me to review it on my blog if I got a chance (MONTHS ago, I must admit), and I had agreed.

I believe a book review should be written with the treasured tome close at hand, well-worn with Post-its sticking out all over marking noteworthy passages. Hence the guilt. So here's what I think you should know about Reflecting Beauty:

1. Its message is crucial to Christian women. So many of us were raised to think of the pursuit/desire for beauty as semi-evil. It was all or nothing. Raise your daughter in beauty pageants from the age of 18 months, spend your budget on makeup, get a nose job or eschew all thoughts of beauty completely. As if frumpy-ness is related to godliness. V.Q. says that the desire for beauty is God-given, powerful, and should be recognized as such.

2. The book is balanced, Biblical, easy-to-read, thoughtful and broken into wonderful little segments to lead a young ladies' class through the topic. It would also be great for an individual exploration into a study of God's word and one's own beliefs.

3. The biggest reason for this pseudo-review is perhaps its best review: I CAN'T STOP LOANING IT OUT!!! I handed it to one girl, who teared up immediately and said, "This subject is painful for me. Every guy's who has told me I'm beautiful was lying." (As in, that wasn't enough to hold them in the relationship...) We desperately need to get God's view on our worth from His perspective in this biggie area. Thanks, Valorie, for such a great resource. I guess I need an extra no-loaner copy for my own bookshelf! :o)

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar!

The feminist movement of yesteryear had one thing right- women are powerful. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. The neck that turns the head. The face that launched a thousand ships. As a strong-willed individual (aka the "STEAMROLLER"), I used my personality to get what I needed/wanted. When 'wife submitted to husband' joined my biblical job description, I felt squished. How could I roll over, not have the final word, not have CONTROL?! After all, that means if he goes down, I'm attached to him. Double agh and panic!

Thankfully, I had already surrendered my ornery self to the will of God. Otherwise, I don't believe I would have ever discovered what TRUE POWER I have as a woman in Christ. Like most of God's expectations, it goes cross-grain to 'normal' logic, modern philosophy. It must be lived to be understood.

Detour. I've been reading about a super-powerful woman in the Bible. Queen of Israel, Jezebel. King Omri of Israel must have been having a reallllly bad day when he decided to wed his poor Prince Ahab to the Princess of the Sidonians! The Bible makes it clear that at least half the stuff Ahab did on the dark side was provoked by her. To make matters worse, she became a mother. To Athaliah. Now this was the divided kingdom. Ahab was in charge of Israel. Jehoshaphat was over in Judah. HE must also have been having a super-awful day when he decided it would make sense to marry his poor son to Athaliah. Even after Athaliah's son was on the throne, the queen mother was still making things happen. Later she decided to execute the whole royal family (think mother eating its young). Her grandson Joash was whisked away by his aunt, and lived to become a good king. Ole Jezzie would have been proud! Her daughter was a carbon copy! And even managed to weasle her way into the Davidic line. Ick.

So much for the evil queen of a godly nation, how about a godly queen of an evil nation? Esther, turning to God for strength, using subtle ways, saved many thousands of lives. I have a feeling that this was the beginning of the story, not the end. Her cousin Mordecai ended up in a place of power, and they were a redeeming element in the palace of King Xerxes.

These are just two of many examples (Eve, Sarah, Ruth, Mary, Lydia, etc. etc. etc.) I'm gradually recognizing the power of my position in the family. First of all, as a mood-setter. A missing smile, an exuberant hug, a chooser of music, scent, decor, order. A homemaker is making much more than a 'home'- she makes a little world for her family to move in and through. If I babble on in a negative frame, I can slide the whole equilibrium of the family off into a pit of irritability. I am aware that I can break my family's spirit with my own. I can squish their joy, be the catalyst for destruction. Or I can do the opposite. I can lift them up, create a safe, beautiful place to grow, be an emotional haven for them.

I feel free to voice my thoughts and opinions. I am also free of the responsibility of the final word. When gentle rebuke is needed, I find 'gentle' is the operative word. My goal is to always keep in mind the constructive nature of a godly woman's words (and I fall far short on occasions- I'm a work in progress). My lack of "control" bothers me less and less. My hands may not be on the steering wheel, but I find going to the Father (my man's boss, you know) with my concerns can kill the engine, if need be. Yep, ladies. That's where women's secret strength is located.

I was a strong-willed child. I didn't want to do wrong (it killed me deep inside) but I wanted to WIN. My more passive-natured mother wept over me, spanked me; I drove her nuts. But she would wrap her arms around my stiff neck and through her tears, she would thank God for my strong will and ask God to make me strong for HIM! There's nothing to fear in God's order of things. He made me the way I am. Doing it HIS WAY is the strongest thing I've ever done.

Resources I love: Mary Kassian's Feminist Mistake, Anything by Elizabeth George, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Gail MacDonald, Debbie Pearl's Created to be His Helpmeet, Love and Respect by Eggeridge, Power of a Praying Wife by Omartian.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happiness is...
a ride on Daddy's leg, homemade turkey sausage with sage from one's own little herb patch, flowers in a thrift-store milk glass on blue gingham, finding the complete Beatrix Potter collection in same store, reading Miss Tiggy-Winkle- ah... Loving it (as Alex's favorite restaurant "Miss Donald's" says)!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Turning Heads

It must be the promises of the summer ads that has this phrase revolving in my mind of late. I've decided to do a little series on it: First, in the most literal sense, what does it mean to turn heads? Second, what does it mean to be the "neck that turns the head"? and Third, how do these topics combine to turn the head of culture?

Turning His Head

What does it mean to turn the head of your man? Let's define 'turning the head' as remaining interesting and attractive enough to garner the interest of the man who vowed his future to you. This is definitely something at which we ladies want to succeed.

Deep down, this means enriching our own minds to be stimulating companions. It is said that you will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read. If you have small kids like me, this means the books on the toilet tank, because you KNOW that's the best quiet spot in the house (disregarding the waggling fingers under the door and yells of "Mommy, what are you doing in there?") And even if you only read 3 pages a day, that's 1000 pages a year of great literature. It should go without saying that our spiritual growth is crucial! I think the Bible counts as the greatest literature!
Externally, it means being as physically attractive to our man as we can be. A healthy weight is only a small piece of this equation. Most every man has a favorite hairstyle, a favorite dress, a favorite shoe style. Sigh. If you're like me, you may find that his favorites and yours are not even in the same catalog ;o) Just a tidbit of trivia: I have heard that men are always most attracted to the styles that were in when they first began maturing sexually. This means our husbands are SO stuck in their teens ;o) Nathan loves, loves, loves the styles of the early nineties (can we hear a big hurrah for Bible college huge poofs?) Sigh again. So we compromise.

And in a general way, we turn their heads when we put a genuine interest into what they like. It seems that this especially is true of their recreational interests. Before we had kids, I joined Nathan (reluctantly- I'm ashamed to say) in playing online WWII games with a Christian guild. I turned off all the blood, set up a machine gun, and strafed away (running around corners, etc. made me nauseous so I was a dead duck if anyone snuck up behind me ;o) Nathan STILL talks about how much he loved that time with me beating up on the Nazis. Things have definitely changed with kids, but maybe I listen to classical music in the day (to discuss a piece with my classical-loving man), fix the food he loves after a hard day, burn the candle he loves instead of the one I want, etc.

*Important: What happens if in turning my man's head, I accidentally turn SOMEONE ELSE's head? OK, ladies. Honesty here. We ALL know what a woman looks like when she's on the hunt. The way she carries herself, the openness on her face, the 'feel' of her. And we've all been single at some point, requiring a certain level of approachability to draw the opposite sex. Fine. But, I believe there is a "feel" to a committed, married woman. There is a grace, a cordial nature that still can shut down an interested party.******And just in case you're wondering, this happens very rarely for me, and normally they're old, toothless, wizened gentlemen who reached maturity in the 40's and 50's. And of course, my poof reminds them of their bobby-socked sweetheart and Ingrid Bergman ;o)

Go turn his head, lady.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy, Happy Mother's Day to our Moms and Grandmoms!

I have a new appreciation these days for these women in my lives. And for the ones that have been, and now are waiting in Heaven.

Momma- you have been late night chats, unconditional love, sweetness to the core. You have been vulnerability, dependence on God, dedication to others, a garden-lover, White Shoulders perfume.

Mom Brown- you have been a deep well of wisdom, class through and through. You have been a love for the Word, great thoughts, sewing tips, and pansies.

Grammy (Frederick Morgan)- you have been a love for Jesus, a sense of all things beautiful and praiseworthy. You have been kindness, Entemann's crumb donuts, never-forgotten birthdays.

Mamaw (Moman)- you were a shoulder to cry on, a servant to your family, a deeply patient person. You were peanut butter and honey sandwiches, a ceramics kiln-baker, and daylilies.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Peach Milkshakes and Bobcats

Today it was 90 degrees. Tonight I went to Chick-Fil-A. I ordered a small peach milkshake. I drank a memory.

The building in the above picture is the old Nixon Chapel Community Center, the site of all community watch meetings when I was a kid. The floors were old creaky wood, there was a stuffed bobcat in a glass case, and there were always churns of homemade icecream. Once a month we would gather, and in the summer there was peach icecream. In fact, Chick Fil A's milkshake tastes just like a cup full of out-in-the-sticks, real chunks of peaches, creaky wood floor icecream. Sometimes the county sheriff would come and bring his K-9 companion for drug-sniffing demonstrations. Sometimes they discussed who was mowing the cemetery or which roads had the worst potholes needing filled. Many times, local politicians dropped by to stump. In every case, there was icecream.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Illegal Immigration As I See It

In my last post, I spoke to the specific issue of the English-only driver's test. I would like to back away from that tree and look at the whole forest. First some background on my perspective.

With the exception of one great-great grandmother? who was Cherokee, I am the descendant of immigrants to this great land, whom I assume were legal. My ethnic heritage is best described as Caucasian "mutt." I have had close and personal knowledge of and relationships with Hispanics since I was 10 years old. First with a lovely Puerto Rican family (who as you probably know, are born U.S. citizens, as P.R. is a territory of the United States). Then with the largely illegal immigrant working population of Northeast Alabama while I worked as a translator in Human Resources for a poultry plant from 1998-1999 and from 2000-2001. I have worked with immigrant children of all nationalities as an ESL tutor while at the University of Alabama. I have taught English to housewives in their homes, eaten beef head with insanely HOT hot sauce, and in general, been in the Hispanic world a lot. I have never had the privilege of living in a foreign country, so my opinion of immigration must be said to be from an external position. However, maybe my experiences as blogged here will be interesting to some. (I have so many thoughts on this subject that this may be a bit random- sorry) I'd love to hear any thoughts you may have as well.

Illegal Immigration from a Moral Perspective:
-I.I. for the purpose of working involves stealing another's identity (or paying someone else to do that for you), lying continuously about your own, and breaking the laws of a sovereign nation. For this reason, I stand on the fact that illegal entry into a country is not only unlawful, but also morally wrong.
-Most of the Hispanic illegals are Catholic. The priest is able to absolve them of sin, so my guess is they feel OK with just confessing this sin and moving on.
-Even in the evangelical Hispanic congregations, I have heard the position that "Christ can understand what it's like to be an illegal immigrant in a desperate position, because He and His parents emigrated from Israel to Egypt to flee Herod." Considering that Egypt was included in the Roman Empire at the time of His birth, this is an sad argument made out of ignorance.

Illegal Immigration from an Economic Perspective
-"We need them." We have allowed our agrarian segments of the society to become dependent on illegally obtained labor. If all the illegals were magically "poof-ed" out of the U.S. right now, we would have some serious issues.
-"They're using us."If the situation were reversed, and poor Texans were looking across the border at a much more prosperous scenario in Mexico, I can guarantee you there would be illegal emigration involved. The idea that the majority of Americans in our post-Christian society would not do something illegal to make money is highly doubtful.
-"If they want to live here, they should learn English." This presupposes they want to live here. Many do come here for that purpose, but many, many just need the money, and plan to be here temporarily.
-"They don't pay taxes." That's false. They pay sales tax like everyone else. Do they file taxes annually? No. That is wrong and unfair to the citizenry of the U.S. When I was working in HR, we would get calls like this: "John Doe Gomez is an American citizen in a nursing home in Los Angeles. He was informed by the government this month that his social security number is drawing income in four different states. He is being asked to pay income tax on these salaries. Does someone with this SSN work for you?" This is really sad for those who are victimized.
-"They fill the jobs that Americans don't want." I found this to be pretty accurate. There were openings where I worked all the time. We would hire 90% Hispanic and 10% other. Many of the non-Hispanics we hired were playing the unemployment system. They would hire in, work 2-3 hours, and quit, claiming they were "unable to physically perform the job." Then I would have to process all their paperwork, which they took to the unemployment office to prove they "were actively seeking employment." This guaranteed them another series of checks from our tax dollars. Just for the record, the only time I ever saw Hispanics play the system was if they married an U.S. citizen who showed them how.

Illegal Immigration from a Social Perspective
-"They are a bunch of criminals." Do they have a higher crime rate? I would guess so. Simply because immigration for the purpose of work pulls the lowest echelon of another society into our own. Poverty tends to foster criminal behavior. Are the guys standing behind you in line at Wal-Mart discussing how to murder you in the parking lot? They're probably just talking about how much they're paying for that lettuce. Only once have I ever heard inappropriate conversation behind me. I turned around and kindly asked them in Spanish where they attended church. That was the end of that.
-"It just makes me mad!" It is perfectly normal to be ticked off when someone is stealing from you. Anger can be righteous. But we have to be super-careful to keep it in the righteous category. As Christians, we must remember all people are made in the image of God, and are worth His love. And ours. I found compassion for them by listening to their stories. I translated for one 11 year old boy who sat in children's church. His mother's brains were blown out in front of him over a land dispute in Guanajuato, and he was sent to live with family. Is it wrong to break the law? Absolutely! Without a doubt! Should we be loving and kind to even those who do wrong. Absolutely! Without a doubt!

Illegal Immigration from a Political Perspective
-I believe the INS system is B-R-O-K-E-N. I have personally worked with them, mediating stuff for legal immigrants. The layers of bureaucracy are terrible, and many decide being illegal is better than all the hassle. And I mean YEARS of hassle.
-I do not believe in amnesty. I think law-breakers should pay for law-breaking. Let's assume for a moment that you could actually apprehend and prove each illegal to be illegal. (A big, big assumption given the brilliance of the black market) I believe any illegal wishing to become legal should be AT LEAST required to go through the system, along with paying all backtaxes with interest applied for years worked without legal status. Their voting privileges should be just as restricted as each state mandates for its felons.
-I believe children born to illegals should be illegal. The country is full of illegals with legal children. That has big implications, including receipt of gov't funds, along with deportation issues.

And if you just read all THAT, go out and buy yourself an enchilada. Wow- that was my blog rant of the decade.
Makes Me Think

This is the new hot political ad in the state of Alabama. Everybody's talking about it on the morning shows, around the dinner table. Wondering if it is racist. What does it mean? And last night some black young men yelled at Nathan to get our family out of "their" park. So!!! I have some new thoughts about racism and loads of ideas about the immigration issue. My perspective on the I.I. is quite unique because of my previous work experience. Let's start with the driver's license test issue. And for the purpose of this blog, I'm going to assume the immigrant is legal.

In general, a driver's license is required for put in an application for a legal job in Alabama. Where I worked (in the HR department of a poultry plant), we required a driver's license and a Social Security card. Let's talk a little linguistics here. When I went to work at the chicken plant, I had a specified vocabulary I had to learn. Spanish class never included deboning terms. Nor did I have the innate ability to translate for a medical exam. Each instance of translation has required me to learn a new sets of special terms. I had trouble the other day looking for saffron (I couldn't remember the word for spice- it had been so long since I used it). Of course if I was native or truly immersed in the culture, this would be much easier.

All immigrants agree on one thing: the easiest way to learn a foreign language is to get out and live and work in it. Those who don't have a job (i.e. the mommas at home) don't learn English. The children have it the easiest. They're required to go to school, and voila. If you can't get a driver's license, you can't get out and work a job in most places. These are not rich people with loads of free time for hiring tutors for English lessons. They are here to survive financially. Even if they do speak English conversationally, a driver's test is full of specific language that requires special tutoring.

I thought a driver's test was supposed to test if you were able to drive. Not speak English, especially specific vocabulary (like "pull to the shoulder"). It reminds me of black Americans having to pass a literacy test to vote. It's just a sneaky way of making it hard for an undesirable population to participate in our society. I'm not saying that Mr. Tim James is a racist. What I am saying is that those kind of ads pull in the votes of those who ARE (and there are many here). And in case you didn't know, many blacks are antagonistic toward Hispanics and would vote for this as well.

By making legal options harder for legal immigrants, you encourage illegal means. If the goal is curbing illegal immigration, there are better options. More to follow...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Points, points, points
Isn't it just great when we're out with friends, and one says, "Oh, I can't have THAT. It has SOOOO many POINTS!" Simultaneously, we hate the person talking (who has just ruined our piece of cheesecake) and we wonder, "What are points anyways?" I do TRY not to be annoying. If you're dieting, do try not to be annoying. If you're headed to a baby shower where the CAKE awaits, cut back a little the week before to accommodate that piece. Otherwise, someone WILL notice, and instead of focusing on baby and mom, the conversation dissolves into diet stuff, making the mom-to-be feel like a cow. (Just my humble opinion, people) Like I said, let's not be jerks.

Weight Watchers points are the backbone of their weight-loss/maintenance plans. You can google it online and find out how many points you should be getting to lose weight if you're curious. I get 20 a day, plus 35 extra to play around with during the week. Points are calculated by looking at calorie content, fat gms, and fiber. Here's the problem. I have been told: Well, diet coke has 0 points, and orange juice has 2. Don't drink orange juice!!! Well, that's just ridiculous. Diet coke is nutritionally zip, zilch, nada (and did I mention, I LOVE IT?! Especially with Sonic's vanilla add-in and extra ice????!!!!) Back on track. It's always better to use your points in the most nutritious way possible.

Example: (not exact- since I'm not actually looking up the points for this)

Let's say we want to spend no more than 5 points on breakfast.

Option A: One bowl of Froot-Loops with 1% milk

Option B: One bowl of blueberries (1 point), one Tbsp. of delish creamer in my coffee (1 point), one Thomas Multi-grain Better Start Light (said as quickly as possible)english muffin (1 point), toasted, with all-natural peanut butter (1) and local honey (1), Fiber one yogurt (0)

Now! As you might have guessed by the specifics, Option B is one of my favorite breakfasts- yum! Both options give you 5 points. My guess is Option A will dissolve mid-esophagus, leaving me ravenously hungry by say, 8:06. Option B is much more filling, not to mention nutritious.

Can I lose weight on WW and be a junk food lover? Oh, yes. But you're going to be very hungry and not very healthy if that's all you eat. I save my 35 extra points for that night we have Papa John's (drool) or the a.m. we grab a Krispy Kreme on the way back from the pediatrician. Our the baby shower. I enjoy real food. Leading me to the next point.

Real food (in my oh-so-humble-opinion): does not come from a microwaved freezer package. Blessings on all who survive on such airplane food. Ew. Blech. With all due respect, I do not purchase Smart Ones. Nor do I pay someone to separate my chips into 100 calorie bags, or shred my carrots. (Please, please- it's ok if you do- I'm just very, very, very cheap).

Cheap. Very cheap. Leading me to the $ involved in WW. WW costs about $30 a month. That's right (a month!!!) I find this exorbitant. However, what hits your pocketbook, hits your heart (at least mine). It's easier to follow the plan and lose weight when you're paying that kind of money for the privilege. Once you hit goal weight, you can go free for life (aka true happiness).

The average person on WW loses 2-5 lbs per week the first few weeks. After that, 1-2 lbs a week is normal. That can give you some idea of how long it would take you to lose weight on WW.

WW is a great program, but not everyone likes it. My suggestion is if you're thinking about joining, follow these tips:

1. Try writing down everything (every bite, lick, taste - as they say in WW) you eat. Not just what, but how much. Leave off the points, or calories. Just record.
2. Try saving the 30 bucks from avoiding take-out or other convenience foods. Hit for great recipes instead.

If you join, work the plan. If you work it religiously, the lbs. DO come off! Good luck, gals!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How Does God Lead You?

This post is simply to recommend to you a new audio series. Nathan is putting on his website, his latest series at our church, Fairview Wesleyan. If you're in the Tuscaloosa area, you're more than welcome to join us each Sunday night, as he moves through some topics requested by the congregation. However, everyone out there can enjoy the lessons, as they're available in the audio section of his webpage. The only thing you'll really miss is snacks at the end. Lemonade is not yet available in MP3 format.

This series on understanding how God leads us is so interesting. It's given me a completely new way of looking at the subject, and I can say, I'm already much encouraged. I hope you give it a listen.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cartoon used with permission by Randy Glasbergen
Losing It (With Weight Watchers)

Note to all readers: This blogpost is specifically about losing weight with Weight Watchers- in case the title didn't fill you in ;o) Please refrain from the common sneers of "Ha! You're skinny!" Or "I wish I had YOUR problem." Believe me, I've heard it all before. All such comments will be deleted, as this is a post designed to pass along information, not fish for personal compliments.

That being said, I can now take my "mean" hat off and talk to you, dear reader. I've been going to Weight Watchers since November of last year. In fact, I started the week before Thanksgiving (stupid, I know). Why did I go? Well, to be honest, I gained a good chunk of weight with Alex (46 lbs. to be exact) and found myself plateaued about 15 lbs above where I wanted to be. I did the whole nursing thing, and ate like mad. It was fabulous, since nursing burns up to 500 calories a day! Woohoo! And then I weaned him. The female body loves extra fat. The little cells cling to us, yelling "Noooooo!" as we try to peel them away. I promise you, Nathan will say, "I need to lose 5 lbs. No supper this week, please. I'll just take a yogurt." And in a week, voila! Ugh! It takes me approximately 20.4 days to lose 1/2 lb. (or at least it feels that way). Chant with me now: "It's just not fair! It's just not fair!" Ah- cathartic!!!

I am 3 lbs. above my ultimate goal thanks to WW. I wanted to pass along the pros and cons of the system and some tips I've picked up along the way, along with my own personal journey.

1. (Let's get the worst one out of the way first) I believe that because our husbands are wired by God to be visual, we ladies should make an effort to be visually appealing. Like it or not, that includes weight. I've heard people say, "It shouldn't matter." Sorry, gals. Maybe not. Plus it can hinder our testimony if we are out of control.

2. I am admittedly an emotional eater. And I am afraid of others' opinions (and proud, too). So I'll sneak around chomping on sweets when I feel bad, and then hop on the treadmill so no one will ever be able to tell. Habits are super-hard to break. Addictions are even harder.

3. I believe eating food is a pleasure. It is never an inconvenience, or a burden to me. I know a few people who resent having to stop and eat, as it hinders their productivity, but they are few and far between ;o)

4. When I see an overweight person, I no longer pat myself on the back for a job well done. Just because my struggles may not be visible to others, does NOT mean that I don't have any. I am weak in so many areas. God, help me to be sensitive to each other's struggles. Turning to food to solve my problems, and being too proud to admit it to others aren't exactly great personal characteristics. Yep, I need to write this blog.

5. It does no good to me to compare myself to others with a better or worse metabolism. I have fat in my family genes. That's just all there is to it. My mother was heavy as a teenager, and she fights it all the time. When I was a teenager, I used to see the other girls pigging out and then waltzing off in their teeny-tiny shorts, and think "Ugh! How can that be?" Turns out I have a redundant colon. That means my long intestine got growth-happy during development, and I have a 1/3 more than everyone else. That FORCES me to exercise and eat a high-fiber diet. Well, it doesn't FORCE me, but I'd rather not be in the hospital.

6. I love feeling healthy. I hate feeling sickly. Eating nutritiously and exercising are the most effective way to feel great. (Bummer- since I hated phys. ed. and anything that involved sweat. I was the only kid in the public school gym class who wore a skirt, and I got ragged about that a good bit, too. I also had a strong fear of humiliation. Not a natural athlete, I usually chose to walk track or something.) When the kids ask me why I exercise, I tell them it makes me a stronger mommy to take care of them.

So, now you know my background. Go get honest with someone about how you view food and weight issues in your life. Surprise, surprise! You'll find out that people of all sizes struggle with this stuff.

Next post: the specifics of WW, points, etc. and my opinion (of course ;o)
p.s. check out to see the above cartoon's artist's hilarious works!!!! Thanks to Mr. Glasbergen for permission to use above cartoon.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kathryn is FIVE!

Yesterday we belatedly celebrated our firstborn's 5th birthday (April 2nd). She had requested a Narnia birthday with a Cair Paravel cake. I found a few cute touches (a beaver, a teapot). The lovely unicorn's hoof was covering a PG-13 Lewis cover- the unicorn had blood dripping off its horn. Gross. Anyways, she was quite blown away by all the fun. Because the kids were so little, our main together activity was sidewalk chalk art. But it was a blast. Enjoy the pics. BTW, if you frequent my lovely sister-in-law's cake decorating site, realize if we lived closer, she would have made the cake, for sure!!! Oh, well. None of the kids complained about the unprofessional look, and it still tasted good.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Posing and Paella
Alex has started the inevitable hilarious attempts to smile for the camera. Let's just say some are naturals and others are NOT! I think we're looking at one of the Have-nots here ;o)

And for those lucky few who will be in my Spanish I Class tomorrow, here's what's on the menu:

OK, I tasted it. It is fabuloso, if I do say so myself. The recipe is here. I traded the seasonings in for Goya brand Sazon con Azafran (available at Mexican groceries). Gotta have that SAFFRON! I did keep the fresh garlic, though.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Lost in Thought

No, I've not quit blogging. I'm just in one of those pensive phases, from which usually comes a flurry of blogs. Ever feel just like "receiving" data, instead of putting it out there? Just reading others' thoughts, rather than producing your own? Specifically, that means I've been hanging out with my "book friends." Hopefully, you also have some authors that you feel connected to. The kind that would seem normal sitting in your kitchen, sharing your morning cup of coffee, mostly because they've been present so many times in your thoughts. The kind that lift you up, edify your spirit, bring focus to your day's walk.

I've been walking up the Strela Pass with Gail MacDonald in her book Keep Climbing. I've been lighting candles, listening to Mozart, walking in botanical gardens, taking communion. That's where I feel like being just now- quiet. Of course, reality adds to my days Sonic Happy Hour, grocery shopping, cleaning up poopy accidents, finding a possum on my back porch eating the cat food, sweating my way through my workout- real life.

We're lying if we tell ourselves there is no pain or inconvenience in losing weight, getting fit, having a clean home, potty training or grocery shopping. At a certain point, we just have to do it. Truth be told, the discipline of quietness before the Lord is often inconvenient and painful (especially since sleeping in is OUT- for me, that is). Just do it. And ah! What a fabulous place for the mind to rest. As MacDonald says, it's a safe place for our doubts to surface. A place to enjoy.

Here are a few of my book friends: Edith Schaeffer, Gail MacDonald, Jan Karon, Elizabeth George, Teresa de Avila, C.S. Lewis, just to name a few. Reintroduce yourself to an old friend, grab a cup of coffee (with lots and lots of yummy flavored creamer), and unplug. Facebook will wait.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

In the Mood for Food

OK, here we go again: another recipe blitz. The first one I've tried personally. Kathryn and I loved it, Alex was ambivalent, Nathan looked at me in horror and rushed for the nearest trash can. Truly. It has a somewhat peanut buttery, caramel-ly flavor that he despises in desserts. Oh, well. More for ME- heehee (picture my most evil-y grin!). Don't be put off by the butterscotch pudding. I don't even like butterscotch, but the combo is really pleasant. A cup of marshmallows will be going into my next batch- yum!

Caramel Fruit Salad
1 small box fat-free, sugar-free instant butterscotch pudding mix (dry mix! do not prepare)
1 small can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 apples, chopped
1/2 c. dry roasted peanuts (optional)
1 small container fat-free cool whip

Mix well, chill, serve.

And I found another version. Similar, but far more calories, no doubt.

6 (2 1/4 ounce) Snickers candy bars, chill and chop
6 apples, cored and chopped into bite sized pieces (Granny Smith and/or Red Delicious)
1 (12 ounce) container Cool Whip
1 (5 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding or butterscotch pudding mix (dry mix – do not prepare!)
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping or caramel apple dip (optional)
1/2 cup chopped peanuts, can also sprinkled on top (optional)
Mix cool whip and dry pudding mix together. Chop apples and chilled Snickers. Mix together.
Heat caramel sauce a bit in the microwave- just enough to drizzle, not enough to heat up salad.
Drizzle caramel sauce over salad and sprinkle peanuts on top. Chill for at least an hour.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Grace By Which I Stand

I stumbled upon this old Steve Green song today. OK, so the music sounds like something out of a red light district in the 1980's (and before you ask, no- I have no personal experience with such- the music is just weird) ;o) Anyways, I found the reminder of our complete dependence on the grace of God just what I needed for the day. We are saved by grace in Christ alone through faith in Christ alone. And we 'stayed saved' the same way. Not by works, lest anyone should boast. (That means to us CHMers, not even lining up with the discipline will keep us saved)- and lest you think that odd, how many people have you heard say, "I stay saved by obedience." Nope... we stay in a right relationship with Christ by grace through faith. It's the old balance of faith vs. works and the "faith that saves is the faith that obeys" and all that good stuff. It's His Grace by which I stand! Thank you, Father!

Lord, the feelings are not the same
I guess I'm older
I guess I've changed
And how I wish it had been explained
That as you're growing
You Must remember
That nothin' lasts except the grace of God
By which I stand in Jesus
I know that I would surely fall away
Except for the grace by which I'm saved

Lord, I remember that special way
I vowed to serve you
When it was brand new
But like Peter I can't even watch and pray
One hour with you
And I bet I could deny you too

Well nothin' lasts except the grace of God
By which I stand in Jesus
I know that I would surely fall away
Except for Grace by which I'm saved

Well nothin' lasts except the grace of God
By which I stand in Jesus
I'm sure that my whole life would waste away
Except for grace by which I'm saved

Written by Keith Green
Copyright 1980 Birdwing Music

Monday, February 15, 2010

Therapeutic Fun

I found this template online for creating your own unique poem. It's a mix between MadLibs and true sentimentality. You can see mine below. If you do one, please let us all have a peek.

Poem Template

I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.

I am from the _______ (home description... adjective, adjective, sensory detail).

I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail).

I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).

I am from the _______ (description of family tendency)
and _______ (another one).

From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).

I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.

I'm from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).

From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail), and the _______ (another detail about another family member).

I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).

Charity's I AM FROM...

I am from a butterbean patch, from Grapico and melting asphalt roads.

I am from the cabin hidden behind the kudzu walls sprinkled with wisteria.

I am from the mossy glade in the woods, the sneezy air of the fescue season.

I am from cinnamon rolls on Christmas and straight A’s, from Fredericks and Momans, Smiths and Abercrombies.

I am from the love of grits and chocolate, just not together.

From the watermelon seed my mother swallowed and the rainy days made by dead snakes hanging on fences.

I am from song books and their covers’ crayon rubbings and from altar calls in humid campmeetings.

I'm from Sand Mountain, goldwater salad and tomato biscuits.

From the trenches of the Battle of the Bulge, the army kitchen in the Philippines, the pulpit and pastoral studies.

I am from dirt roads, dark narrow hallways lined with people’s faces, the South.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Disappointment and True Love

I'd been secretly planning a Valentine's getaway for a couple of months. I'd always wanted to surprise Nathan with a sneak-away-from-work, childless weekend in some jaw-dropping romantic setting. I found the perfect spot, even made reservations at the perfect restaurants, found the perfect attractions, dropped by my favorite gift shop to get the perfectly scented candles, assembled some perfect outfits (at my local thrift store ;o), and bought some perfectly romantic jammies (NOT from the thrift store - everyone draws the line somewhere- right?)

So last week, Nathan gets sick. He stays home from work, and I feed him Vitamin C and Zicam with hopes of having him well by the weekend. But the weekend brought a snowstorm and even the kids began the sniffles. But we decide to press on. After a few hours of driving through snow, we arrive at my selected destination, meanwhile missing our reservation at the fancy restaurant due to inclement weather. Oh, well. Walking up to the door, we chuckle to see the owners are members of the Optimist Club of America (this should be interesting, we think).

The room was upstairs, the ceilings were low, the room felt claustrophobic. I suppose charm might be an apt description if you were shooting for your great-grandmother's mountain cabin bedroom. We found it utterly depressing. The only thing missing was the mothballs. The bathroom was a veritable closet, closed with a outhouse-style door stapled over with burlap on the inside to prevent overexposure. We ran out of hot water, the shower head was rigged up with a twisted clothes hanger. Thoughts of that bubble bath surrounded by floating rose petals vanished when I saw the icky interior of what had been billed as a claw-footed tub (which was clawless, I noted) By the way, the next morning another guest on her first Bed and Breakfast excursion dragged me into her much nicer downstairs room to show off their modern bath and SUNKEN JACUZZI. So it was just our room, I guess. Our "headboard" was a set of old wavy-glassed windows that were definitely not energy efficient. We found Old Man Winter curled up on the pillows. So, we stuffed pillows against the glass and turned on the little heater (the one that could not be on when you turned on the bathroom vent, unless you wanted to find a breaker box somewhere).

Time to find a fine dining experience to redeem the evening. We found a close one online with decent local reviews. When we walked into the building, the lights were out in what may have been a nicer dining area. We were escorted to a back ex-office, with three other small wooden tables, an inflatable beer can and a poster of a scantily clad woman. We were handed a fine wines list and a menu with entrees in the $20s and $30s. They didn't take a drink order at all, so we inched out the door when we were abandoned. Cracker Barrel to the rescue.

The next night we DID find a cute coffeehouse in town, and settled down on their sofas in relief. Unfortunately within 10 minutes, there were two toddlers racing around the room. The parents even joked to us about our childless romantic evening being ruined by their kids (how considerate of them ;o)

OK, so I curled up in bed and cried last night. I cried in the car on the way home, and in the shower when we got home (their water was too soft to remove the shampoo from my hair, and I looked like a grease-head). I felt so childish, petty, irritated that all my plans had fallen through. And I still feel super-frustrated. God did pop in for a chat while I washed away my sorrows with the shower. He reminded me so gently (in His own special way) that marriage is about two imperfect people living by His power in an imperfect world. That our love transcends rose petals on the floor and candlelight. And perfect suites. And a sunken jacuzzi in the room BELOW US! ;o) Here's hoping your MARRIAGE has a wonderful year, even if your romantic expectations, too, were a bit high this weekend.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Slavery in the Bible

Wow! What an interesting study this has been! I've been all over the Bible in this one, and I'm about to do a very non-scholarly thing. I'm going to give you a smattering of all of it with no references. I can hear the boos- stop it! I've looked it all up, but between caring for children and such, have misplaced my various scribblings and jottings. If you have time to fill in the #s, go for it. Of course, this is not going to be comprehensive, but here we go.

So. Why talk about slavery in the Bible? Well, it's February- Black History month- the time when Christian radio (my intellectual stimulation when Nathan's not available ;o) is flooded with chatter about slavery, modern and ancient. And I keep hearing about the evils of slavery. How we're all 'endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.' Which by the way, is a direct reference to the Stoics, not the Scripture. What is your answer to this question: is slavery morally wrong? is it evil to own another human being?

What is slavery, anyhow? Is it not a complete lack of say-so over one's own destiny and responsibilities? (By the way, aren't the masses of the world born into societies where they live under varying degrees of this?)

So I'm a bit confused. What about Job, whom the Bible calls PERFECT; he had manservants and maidservants. And Abraham? And Rachel and Leah had handmaids. According to my father-in-law, there's not a different word for the 'slave' that Joseph was and the 'servants' of these men. Pharaoh gave Abraham servants. Hagar ran away; God told her to return and submit herself to Sarah's authority. The law is full of regulations for slaves and masters. The Gibeonites became servants to the Israelites after they tricked God's people into not annihilating them. Philemon was a slave-owner (think Onesimus) and the church at Colossians had more than one in the congregation. Where are the "Slavery is a moral evil. Release all your slaves!" statements?

Non-Christians love to point to the lack of condemnation of slavery in Scripture as a strike against the morality of God. What did God really think about slavery as a social system? According to scripture, slavery was instituted as a penal system. Think slavery instead of debtor's prisons. And as they interacted with and were attacked by other cultures, think slavery instead of annihilation. There doesn't seem to be any scriptural evidence of owning another person being wrong.

There WERE laws against kidnapping other people. It could even be punishable by death. That is what makes the black slavery of early America immoral. They were stolen people groups. They did not attack us, nor were they indebted to us. Also, the American slave movement was based on the superiority of the white race to those of color (which goes completely counter to the Genesis account of one set of parents for all races).

God told masters in Colossians to be fair and just to their slaves, keeping in mind that they, too, had a Master in heaven. And when the Israelites broke their pledge of safety with the Gibeonites, they suffered a plague because of it. God obviously cared about the conditions of slaves.

Conclusion: It seems to me that, biblically, slavery as a social status is not inherently immoral. It was an alternative to prisons and death sentences. How one acquired a slave and how one treated a slave seems to be the areas of judgment. God blessed Joseph in his slavery (even though he was taken immorally), and Joseph submitted until asked to commit sin. Thoughts?