Friday, August 31, 2007

Writer's Block

My writing pimp called me this afternoon and kicked back a reading passage that I submitted last night. Basically, he told me to start over. The only problem is that I can't figure out how to resolve the plot. A little help, people? I'll name a character after you.

Here's what I have to include: It's a story about some kids on a class field trip who get lost in the woods. I have to figure out a "clever" way for them to find their way back. I can't use a compass, the position of the sun, or any reference to north/south/east/west. (Apparently the kids taking this comprehension test are geographically challenged.) So how can the lost kids get unlost? I'm taking any and all suggestions.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Menu Plan Monday, 8/27

Yippee! It's the first day of school and I get to go to the grocery store with only ONE child instead of three! Tagalong David is always content to sit in the cart while I wander the aisles (as long as he has a snack), which means I might get out of the store with everything on my list. Glory, wouldn't that be a miracle?

All of my recipes this week are from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.

Monday: Shrimp Divan leftovers. This was a Super Suppers dish, and it flopped bigtime. My kids love shrimp but hated this one.
Tuesday: Beef Stroganoff over egg noodles, green beans, salad with strawberries and sugared pecans.
Wednesday: Probably leftovers of stroganoff. If not, we may hit one of the Kids Eat Free deals at a local burger joint.
Thursday: Tamale Pie with a Guacamole Salad.
Friday: Crispy Baked Halibut, sauteed zucchini with petite diced tomatoes, rice pilaf
Saturday: Restaurant night, I hope.
Sunday: Labor Day weekend, so we'll probably grill burgers.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I Switched from F to T

Click to view my Personality Profile page

I haven't taken the Myers-Briggs test in quite a while. In college I was an ISFJ, but today I'm apparently an ISTJ, which means I think more than I feel. Yeah, that sounds accurate. I'd also like to happily note that my extrovert/introvert numbers are equalizing, so I'm not such a loner anymore. I've always been borderline on the judging/perceiving scale, so that hasn't changed.

Not that any of this really defines who I am. I just like taking tests.

But here's the description of ISTJs. I bolded what I personally relate to.

"ISTJs are often called inspectors. They have a keen sense of right and wrong, especially in their area of interest and/or responsibility. They are noted for devotion to duty. Punctuality is a watchword of the ISTJ. The secretary, clerk, or business(wo)man by whom others set their clocks is likely to be an ISTJ."
- ISTJ Profile (TypeLogic)

"ISTJs are very loyal, faithful, and dependable. They place great importance on honesty and integrity. They are "good citizens" who can be depended on to do the right thing for their families and communities. While they generally take things very seriously, they also usually have an offbeat sense of humor and can be a lot of fun - especially at family or work-related gatherings."
- Portrait of an ISTJ (The Personality Page)

"...characterized by decisiveness in practical affairs, are the guardians of institutions, and if only one adjective could be selected, "super dependable" would best describe them."
- The Portrait of the Inspector Guardian (Keirsey) "...private, does not appreciate strangeness, not adventurous, not spontaneous, follows the rules..."
- Jung Type Descriptions (ISTJ) (

"At work, ISTJs get things done on a timely basis. They honor deadlines, and they believe in thoroughness. A half-finished joy is not a job well done. They established procedures and schedules, and are uncomfortable with those who do not do the same. ISTJs put duty before pleasure. As long as they can fulfil their responsibilities, they feel useful and thereby satisfied. Their work does not have to be fun, but it has to count toward something productive. ISTJs believe that vacations are something that one takes only when work has been accomplished; thus, at times they do not take vacations even when they could and should."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


OK, I've got seven articles to write, 3,240 workbook pages to tear out and file for #2's teacher, and eight days to plan and pack for a scrapbooking retreat. Oh, and I found out today that I'm the Room Mom for #2, which explains how I got suckered into the slave labor job above. Normally when I'm stressed I cut my hair, but I actually got a decent haircut last month so I'm going to control myself. Instead, I'll just run a little something about myself.

5 Things I Was Doing 10 Years Ago:

1. We had just moved into our house, so we were trying to unpack boxes.
2. I also remember spending many a Saturday furniture shopping.
3. We also had NO WINDOW COVERINGS, so I vaguely remember trying to be modest enough so as not to offend the new neighbors.
4. School had already started, so I was sweating like a pig in my classroom that had constantly malfunctioning AC.
3. I recall inviting the school's administration to spend a day in my classroom and enjoy the sweltering heat and humidity for just a few hours. They never accepted the invitation, the wimps.

5 Things on My To-Do List Tomorrow

1. Finish tearing and filing the remaining 3,240 workbook pages.
2. Deliver the 6,480 pages, neatly sorted and labeled, to school.
3. Take the kids to a birthday party at Pump It Up, one of those inflatable wonderlands. Hey, it's free dinner.
4. Finish writing my article about The Forbidden City in Beijing.
5. Attempt to finish cleaning up the disaster in the dining room.

5 Snacks I Enjoy

1. Hot Tamales. I could eat those all day!
2. Peaches, nectarines, mangoes, or any other mellow summer fruit.
3. Just about any kind of cookie or chocolate candy, as long as it doesn't contain any form of peanut butter.
4. Goat cheese with diced tomatoes, basil, garlic, a little olive oil, and pita chips. More a meal than a snack, but it's dang good.
5. Starbucks Iced Mochas (the low sugar kind), Diet Dr Pepper, or Coke Zero. Those aren't exactly snacks, but I'm fully addicted.

5 Songs I Know the Lyrics To

1. Every Rich Mullins song ever recorded.
2. Every Chris Tomlin song ever recorded.
3. Every Howard Jones song ever recorded.
4. An embarrassing number of B-52s songs, especially "Love Shack" and "Rock Lobster."
5. Honestly, I know the lyrics to the majority of mainstream 80s songs. My brain just works that way.

5 Things I Would Do If I Were a Millionaire

1. Buy a house with a bigger laundry room and a craft room.
2. Buy a minivan with automatic doors, a DVD player, and a retractable limousine partition to drown out the kids.
3. Take Kevin to Italy.
4. Save a bunch.
5. Give as God leads without feeling like I need to stick to our "giving budget."

5 Bad Habits

1. I sleep too late.
2. I watch too much TV. (But if you want a laugh, watch "Flipping Out" on Bravo. The guy actually took his cat for acupuncture. The show's both hilarious and disturbing since I'm related to people just like this guy.)
3. I tend to ignore my family in favor of reading.
4. I'm addicted to caffeine and computer games.
5. I'm a chronic procrastinator.

5 Things I'd Never Wear Again

1. Suntan colored nylons.
2. Maternity clothes, thanks to the fabulous Dr. Case.
3. The color purple. I had to wear it almost every day in high school. It's a horrible color on me and accentuates the lovely undereye circles I can't seem to cover up.
4. An unpadded bra. It's so unfair what three years of nursing does to a girl.
5. Tapered jeans. Praise God from whom all bootcuts flow.

5 Things I Should Be Doing Right Now

1. Writing.
2. Cleaning the house.
3. Paying attention to my hubby.
4. Getting ready for bed so I won't be up until midnight, again.
5. Reading something worthwhile instead of the incredibly propaganda-ish book I'm stuck in right now.

Friday, August 17, 2007

In Case You Were Wondering...

Just in case you need to know what the absolute worst thing is to have spilled all over your pantry floor, I know the answer: a Costco-sized bottle of good balsamic vinegar.

Let me say, I am a connoisseur of pantry spillage. Once Kendra dumped a five-pound bag of flour on her head. It made for funny photos and super-easy clean up with a Hepa-filtered vacuum. A couple years ago, I accidentally broke (of course; who would do this on purpose?) a pint-sized bottle of olive oil on the pantry floor. Messy, for sure, but fairly easily contained with loads of paper towels and a bucket of soapy water.

Today's episode, however, came on the heels of my Mover of Stuff diatribe below. I was trying to move the waffle iron from the appliance cabinet to the a spot in the pantry next to the waffle mix. I was sliding the bottles of condiments over a little when, in super slow-mo, I saw the liter of balsamic vinegar fall off the shelf and crash onto the already-chipped tile below. The almost-black liquid started oozing faster than the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. Within 20 seconds, the entire 3-by-6 foot pantry floor was covered in a pool of acrid-smelling viscosity. I had dozens of boxes, bins, and food-stuffs on the floor, all of which were now soaked with vinegar. To my credit, all I said was, "Oh, no." I am particularly proud of my verbal restraint.

The vinegar had splattered onto my feet, flip-flops (which were thankfully a dark-brown color already), and lower legs. As I walked across the kitchen to get the paper towels, I left brown footprints all over the floor. The scenario kept getting worse as I starting mopping up the sticky goo and cut my fingers on the shards of glass. Now we've got vinegar and blood forever staining the grout.

(Now that I think of it, there was already some residual olive oil in the grout from before. Now the grout houses a little oil-and-vinegar salad dressing.)

I spent the next two hours mopping, Floor-Mating, sponging, rinsing, and wiping down everything in a 10-foot radius from the initial impact. The grout is indeed a much darker color, but we're in the process of picking out new tile for the kitchen anyway. God's timing was good here. Also, the balsamic-stained grout nicely offsets the crayon-stained grout on the other side of the kitchen. When Kendra was 2, she took a red crayon and a blue crayon and literally scrubbed them into the kitchen grout. I can say with authority that it is impossible to remove crayon from grout, even if it has been sealed. We have a rather patriotic looking section of grout.

On a disgusting side note, I once came down with the flu an hour or so after eating spinach salad with balsamic dressing. As I was getting sick, that distinctive taste and smell of balsamic made that particular bout of flu so much worse. It was years before I could handle the smell of balsamic vinegar. After tonight's episode, I'm thinking I may never buy another bottle of the stuff again.

Mover of Stuff

I think instead of putting "Homemaker" or "Self-Employed" on next year's tax return, I'm going to list my job title as "Mover of Stuff."

Think about it. On any given day, that's what I spend the majority of my time doing. I go to the grocery store, where I move the merchandise from the shelves to the cart, from the cart to the checkout stand, from the stand to a bag. Then the bags go back into the cart, where they are moved again to the back of my car. Once I get home, I move the bags inside to the counter, I move the stuff inside the bags into the pantry or fridge, and then I haul everything out again when I need to cook. And that's just food prep.

It's the same with laundry, dishwashing, and general housecleaning. And I know that's the purpose of of having so much scrapbooking stuff. It's just so I can move it around and organize it and never actually have a chance to use it, right?

Someone, please tell me there's more to life than being a Mover of Stuff, because I'm getting rather depressed by the repetition and pointlessness of it all!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Rational Person

A rational person would not attempt to unbunk the girls' beds by herself. A rational person would have waited for her much-stronger and usually-willing husband to have come home, when she would have sweetly asked him to please help her unbunk the beds and completely rearrange the room. Never mind the fact that we just bunked the beds and rearranged the room a mere two months ago. A rational person would not obsess about how the the girls' room does not live up to HGTV standards. A rational person would stop watching HGTV so much. A rational person I am not.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

School's about to resume, summer's almost over, and it's time for me to actually start cooking again. I've been horribly lazy about not serving real meals lately, so I'm joining in on the Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. Hopefully I'll be motivated to plan out meals rather than throw together something random at the last minute.

Monday: COTF (Clean Out the Fridge). I could just call these leftovers, but this is such a hodgepodge of food that I'm calling it what it really is. Just call me Templeton.
Tuesday: Ziti with Meatballs (courtesy of Costco -- I'm just not ready to cook yet), salad, sourdough bread.
Wednesday: Tortellini with Grandma's Homemade Pesto, steamed carrots
Thursday: Not sure yet. Probably whatever the HEB Meal Deal is for the week.
Friday: Papa John's Pizza, served picnic style on the floor while watching High School Musical 2 with the kids.
Saturday: Chicken and Dumplings with Leeks and Tarragon, salad
Sunday: Souper Salad! The kids are 99 cents, and I have a BOGO coupon for Kevin and me. We'll feed the whole family for about $12, including drinks and tip.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

2007 Reading List

I haven't done a great job keeping up with my reading list. I know I've read some books that haven't made the list, but here's what I remember reading this year. The list is in chronological order, so scroll down to see my most recent reads.

The Novelist by Angela Hunt.
All She Ever Wanted by Lynn Austin. I liked it and will probably read another Austin book this year.
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary. The humor is targeted more toward adult comprehension, and this one sure made me chuckle.
Strider by Beverly Cleary. The sequel to Dear Mr. Henshaw. I didn't love it as much, but Cleary is still one of my favorite children's authors.
Strawberry Girl by Lois Lensky. This was on the Sonlight recommended reading list. I don't think my kids are going to love this book.
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. A modern classic. I forked over the cash to have a hardcover copy, and it's worth every penny.
The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements. Like all of Clements' books, this one is irreverently funny.
Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes. I really thought I would like this one better, but it dragged for me. I'm not going to read this to my kids anytime soon.
Shopgirl by Steve Martin. NOT recommended. Highly offensive at times.
Ramona and her Mother by Beverly Cleary. A classic.
Proof by Bill Bright. A truly great novel. It was suspenseful, interesting, and encouraged me to pray more.
The List by Robert Ludlow. Whitlow is accurately described as a cross between Frank Peretti and John Grisham. A good novel, but I enjoyed the Grisham-like parts much more than the supernatural parts.
Forever by Karen Kingsbury. Completely forgettable, but I needed a light read.
Fire by Bill Bright. An excellent entry into the series. I love good historical fiction.
Fury by Bill Bright. My least favorite in the series, mostly because villainous characters seem to outnumber the righteous.
Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke. I saw the movie first, but I enjoyed the book also.
Love's Abiding Joy by Janette Oke. Undecided.
Love's Enduring Promise by Janette Oke. I never thought I'd say this, but the movie is better than the book.
Love's Long Journey by Janette Oke. The series is getting a little old for me. I'll need to take a break before I continue on.
Sunrise by Karen Kingsbury. Predictable and cheesy.
Honeymoon by James Patterson. Highly NOT recommended, unless you actually like novels about psychopath female killers. This was my second and last Patterson novel.
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes. This is the same author of the fabulous One Hundred Dresses, which I read as a child. I absolutely adored this novel. It ranks right up there with The Penderwicks as one of my favorite children's novels.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling. I had to re-read this one just before the Deathly Hallows came out. I didn't remember many of the major plot points. Could Harry have been more brooding in this one?
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling. Again, a re-read just before the #7 release. My least favorite book in terms of action and interest, but some of those dry dialogue scenes are important to get the whole history of Harry.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. Truly wasn't what I expected, but I was really happy with Harry's last hurrah. The book reads like a movie script in many areas.
Life Support by Robert Whitlow. Highly suspenseful with a great cliffhanger.
Life Everlasting by Robert Whitlow. The sequel to Life Support. It gets a little rushed toward the end as if Whitlow was running out of steam, but it's a worthy and necessary sequel.
Jimmy by Robert Whitlow. Do not attempt reading this one without a box of tissues nearby. My favorite Whitlow novel so far, despite some spotty editing mistakes.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bear Bear's gone Bye Bye

We're in Houston for the weekend, and the unthinkable has happened. Bear Bear got left at home and David is without his best friend for three long nights.

All my kids have had one of the Lovies. They have the head and arms like a stuffed animal and the body is a blanket. All my kids have needed to sleep with Lovie. Kendra's was a pink lamb and it got so dilapidated that we had to buy her a replacement at age 2. She never accepted the new one and her mangled old lambie is still in use. She doesn't need it to fall asleep anymore, but her lambie still holds a place of honor at the foot of her bed. When Caelyn came along, we wised up and bought her two bunnies from the start. Of course, being a child, she knows the difference between "good bunny" and "the other bunny." Good Bunny doesn't have a shred of satin left on her. Once I asked Caelyn what she would do when Bunny completely fell apart, and Caelyn sweetly answered, "Just keep on loving her."

David has not one, not two, but three Bear Bears. Like Caelyn, he had designated one of them "the other Bear Bear." That one is sitting on a lonely shelf in his closet. But the other two Bear Bears are equally worn and equally dirty and equally loved. We keep them in rotation so I can sneak one into the washing machine when it gets too filthy. Having two is also helpful for those rare but horrible nights when David's gotten sick and befouled his beloved friend. David loves his Bear Bear so much that we just had pictures taken at Target with David holding his stuffed buddy.

Yesterday Bear Bear was all packed and ready to go. David took him out of the suitcase and put him in the car "in case he wanted to take a nap" on the drive. Then David brought Bear Bear back inside because "he needed snuggle time." I looped the blanket part of Bear through the handle on David's suitcase and told David to leave him alone, but apparently he disobeyed. Kevin came home, we frantically packed up the car, and hit the road for a three-hour-drive that took four hours this time.

Bedtime came and we realized Bear Bear was MIA. We searched the car and the suitcases, but our fears were confirmed. David remembered leaving Bear Bear in the shopping cart in the kitchen.

David went to bed without a fight, but he was far from sleepy. Part of the problem is that David only sucks his thumb when he's holding Bear Bear. That's a plus in my book, because when it comes time for him to stop thumb-sucking, we'll only have to take away his Bear Bear. But the little guy is only three and I'm not worried about that yet.

At 9:45 I heard rustling from David's room. I opened the door and found him sitting in the dark on the floor going through his little red suitcase. He was rummaging through everything as if Bear Bear would magically reappear. When he saw me, David started crying about how he "just wants Bear Bear when it gets late." David does not cry often and it just broke my heart to see him sobbing over his best friend. I put him back into bed, prayed over him, and told him what a big boy he was. He sniffled and eventually feel asleep around 10:30, we think. He was up at 3 a.m. and up again at 6, this time for good.

Today we've been to Home Depot (love their crafts on the first Saturday -- the kids each made a wooden art caddy), the park, the pool, and we're about to head out to a restaurant. I'm hoping and praying that tonight he'll be so exhausted that he'll drift off more easily. If not, we'll catch up on sleep starting Monday night when David is gloriously reunited with Bear Bear. In the meantime, pray for him!