Monday, April 21, 2008

Book Recommendation

This is absolutely the best book I've read in years. Just read it. Trust me.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

One-Word Meme

What's a meme, anyway? Hang on while I go look that up on Wikipedia...

Well that didn't help. But according to a meme is a "unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another."

So in other words, it's just an opportunity for us to talk about ourselves.

Lately my attention span has been that of a flea, so I'm choosing a one-word meme this time. Short and to-the-point sounds good to me.

You’re feeling: conflicted
To your left: father-in-law
On your mind: haikus and NBA playoffs
Last meal included: shrimp
You sometimes find it hard to: stop thinking
The weather: gorgeous!
Something you have a collection of: rubber stamps
A smell that cheers you up: frying bacon
A smell that can ruin your mood: bell peppers
How long since you last shaved: a week (before you think I'm gross, I've gotten laser hair removal on my legs and underarms. It was worth every last penny.)
The current state of your hair: Loreal Natural Match 5W
The largest item on your desk/workspace (not computer): Nikon camera
Your skill with chopsticks: decent
Which section you head for first in a bookstore: Christian fiction
Something you’re craving: another Spurs playoff championship
Your general thoughts on the presidential race: Liar liar pants on fire.
How many times have you been hospitalized this year: none
Favorite place to go for a quiet moment: hot shower
You’ve always secretly thought you’d be a good: comedian
Something that freaks you out a little: back hair
Something you’ve eaten too much of lately: dark chocolate M&Ms
You have never: eaten an oyster
You never want to: eat an oyster

I tag Stephanie, Megan, and Amy Soup (who hasn't written a bloody thing in months!). Go to it, girls.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Now I Know How Huckabee Felt

Clearly I'm not cut out for politics. Last night I was ahead in the haiku contest, but right now I'm losing by 200+ votes. Darcie's campaign team has got a seriously good grassroots effort going on.

I'm trying not to let this bug me. It's a silly haiku contest, for crying out loud! But I like my poem and I liked briefly dreaming what I'd do with the money. An extravagant pair of Bedhead pajamas and another Compassion sponsorship were the frontrunning thoughts, by the way.

So if you haven't voted and you like my poem, head on over there and click by my name. But I'm not going to pull an Obama and start repeatedly calling everyone I know because that's just annoying. (But if you want to get the word out for me, I'd appreciate it.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I'm a Finalist!

Shannon over at Rocks in My Dryer is hosting a little haiku contest. The challenge was to write a haiku about motherhood. It could have been sweet, sincere, or, in my case, sarcastic. As I've always said, sarcasm is my spiritual gift.

Vote for me! The winner gets a $1000 debit card!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

[Insert Cuss Word Here]

Remember last August when a bottle of balsamic vinegar broke on my pantry floor?

It. Happened. Again.

Really, I don't have the words to express how incredibly frustrated/angry/annoyed/etc I was when the bottle broke this morning. But one choice cuss word emitted from my mouth in front of my 8-year-old daughter. That's some fine parenting there.

I contained the spillage and spent the next hour cleaning the pantry, all the time wondering if God was punishing me for not going to church this morning. I don't think He plays that way, but I wondered.

All I know is balsamic vinegar is my kryptonite.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Where's My Brain?

I used to be a smart person. Really. I was valedictorian of my junior high. My mom will vouch that I was recruited by MIT for college. The words "some assembly required" do not intimidate me in the least, even when they're written in Chinese.

Yet somehow I've turned into a complete idiot. Apparently my brain has either somehow shrunk in size or removed from my head entirely.

Case in point: Yesterday I went grocery shopping at both Costco and HEB. When I got home I quickly unloaded all the Costco groceries because there were frozen items and I didn't want the tempura shrimp to thaw. See? I'm smart like that.

But today I was making dinner for my friend Amy when I realized I couldn't find the linguine. And then it dawned on me -- I'd left the HEB groceries in the back of the van. I quickly tried to remember what I'd bought as I walked out to the garage. Carrots? They'd be safe. Dried pasta? No problem. But when I looked into the trunk of my minivan I discovered a bag containing two containers of Contadina Light Alfredo Sauce, which I also needed for the recipe I was making. At $3.79 apiece, I'd just wasted nearly 8 bucks.

(Kevin, you can stop shaking your head now. I can feel your contempt from the other room. Seriously -- stop it.)

So now I have to waste more time and gas to drive to HEB and buy more Alfredo sauce. Oh, and don't think I wondered whether the Alfredo sauce would still be viable. What was the temperature last night? Isn't cheese pasteurized? Refrigeration is overrated, right? But in the end I decided not to risk poisoning my friend. I'm sure Amy is breathing a sigh of relief this very second.

There are many, many more examples of my brainlessness, but I'm more interesting in the WHY of it all. And I've come to the conclusion that it's all my kids' fault. I firmly believe that my IQ dropped 10 points with the birth of each child. If I'd had any more kids, I would have become the Forrest Gump of San Antonio. Only dumber.

This is the real reason we're not having any more children. My OB/GYN warned me about my boggy uterus, but I think in my idiocy I must have misunderstood her. Yes, now that I think about it (which is difficult when you're brain has been replaced with oatmeal), she must have warned me about my boggy brain. I think the official Latin term is Cranium Gonemissingum. Or something like that.

So if anyone discovers a cure for this horrible medical condition, can you let me know? I'll be wandering the aisles of HEB trying to remember what I was supposed to buy.

Update: I drove to school with the plan to give Amy her meal during carpool. As I pulled into the carpool lane, I realized that I'd left the meal at home in my refrigerator. You can stop laughing anytime.

Update #2: Amy just called me and asked, "Was there supposed to be pasta?" Yup, I forgot to put the linguine in the bag of goodies.

I so want this day to end.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Real Beauty

Today I came across this video, which is just brilliant.  The irony is that today I have a RAGING pimple on my left cheek, the size of which I haven't seen since college.  I was feeling very self-conscious about my cheek, but the flaws on this model's skin actually made me feel better.  We're all flawed; some of us are better at applying makeup.

What most fascinated me was the elongating of the model's neck.  Is an Audrey Hepburn neck considered more attractive than a standard neck?  I have a longer neck than average... I guess I should be grateful?

It seems to me that all this beautifying is downright lying.  It's no wonder I have self-esteem issues when every magazine photo I see has been airbrushed and Photoshopped to death.  I can't compete with a computer program.

Nor can I compete with the women who have opted to spend thousands on plastic surgery.  This false pursuit of perfection is one of the reason I moved away from Los Angeles, but the perfection mentality has infiltrated and taken over San Antonio, too.  I see it every day at the gym, the kids' schools, even grocery shopping at HEB... ridiculously skinny women with silicone bowling balls on their chests whose hair is meticulously coifed and whose outfit cost more than my mortgage.  And then there's me, who right now is wearing non-designer workout clothes and an ill-fitting baseball cap because I haven't had time to shower yet.  (Hey, even I know better than to go out in public with a serious case of bedhead.  But throwing on a hat takes 10 seconds, while the coifed women postponed their errands until they'd showered, moussed, styled and sprayed.  And I don't have time for that.)  

So here I am, with all my perceived flaws.  I have cellulite, thick ankles, an unusually large posterior, a size 34-A chest, a huge zit on my cheek, and a spattering of gray roots.  And you know what?  I'm going to keep telling myself I'm beautiful because I'm REAL.  

Thursday, April 03, 2008

More 4-Year-Old Logic

Me:  "Do you want pancakes for breakfast?"
David:  "I think I would like regular pancakes because the blueberry ones make me have a bruise."

This is the same child who says spinach gives him the hiccups, by the way.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

15 Years Ago...

Fifteen years ago today I was at work at the college newspaper laying down an ad for AMC Theatres. I commented to a friend that I hadn't seen a movie in ages, and Kevin overheard and said, "We should go to a movie sometime." I laughed it off and kind of ignored the comment.

Kevin called me later that afternoon and asked me on a date for that night. And the rest is history...

Bathrooms in Hell?

On the drive home from church today David was peppering me with questions... Why did Jesus have to die? What's does it feel like to go to heaven? I believe in Jesus, so why can't I be in heaven now? It was one of those wonderful parenting moments when I thought to myself, Yes! He's getting it! 


David: Are there naked people in hell?
Mommy: I don't know, love.
David: But if the people in hell need to go to the bathroom, there aren't any bathrooms.
Mommy: [stifles giggling]
David: What? It's not funny! There aren't any bathrooms in hell!

I just adore the 4-year-old perspective on theology.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Ideas for April Fool's Day

Tomorrow is April Fool's Day, which is one of my favorite non-Christian holidays. I come from a long line of practical jokers so April Fool's was a year-round event at my house growing up. I'm not talking about short-sheeting the bed or putting Vaseline on the toilet seat, although we did those once.

Here are a few of the better stunts we pulled at the Simpson house...

The Christmas Tree Pile-up. You know that week after New Year's when everybody puts their dead, dried-out, Charlie-Brown looking Christmas trees on the curb? One year my mom got the idea that we needed to help out the city employees and go around collecting the trees. Why? Because she wanted to pile up as many trees as possible in the front courtyard of our neighbor's house. (This was a very good friend of the family, mind you, and not a vindictive revenge against an unkind neighbor.) Sometime around midnight we drove around the block gathering trees and depositing them into Leonora's courtyard. Eventually they were so piled up that you couldn't even see the front door. I don't know if Leonora or her skillethead* of a husband opened the front door first, but I do wish I could have seen their reaction when they saw their very own Dead Christmas Tree Lot.

(* Skillethead: noun A person who has absolutely no sense of humor to the point where you just want to whack them over the head with a skillet.)

The Midnight Stampers. My sister Jamie was having a slumber party sometime during the early 80s. I remember a gaggle of girls sitting in the Jacuzzi singing along to Billy Joel's Glass Houses album (back when they were actually albums), so it was probably the summer of 1980. It was loud, giggly, raucous, and I was rather grateful when everybody finally fell asleep on the living room floor. One, it was quiet, and two, my mom had another great practical joke to pull. My mom, sister Brooke, and I took a few of her rubber stamps and a black ink pad and stamped on the girls' faces. It was a little dicey pressing a stamp onto a sleeping girl without her waking up, and it was even more difficult navigating our way among the sleeping bags and other junk without tripping and falling. But we managed the task and went to bed.
Several hours later we woke up to the sound of squealing as the girls had discovered their inked-up faces. Some of them thought it was hilarious, but most of the 12-year-old girls were not pleased. They grew even more frustrated when neither soap nor cleanser nor Sea Breeze removed the black ink. I think my mom had to apologize to the other moms that day.

The Granny Panties Flagpole. My mom, Skeez* and I used to take evening walks around the neighborhood. One of the neighbors had a metal flagpole in the front yard. There was never, ever a flag on the pole and the chain made a rather annoying clanging sound when the wind blew. I don't remember why we decided to do this, but one night we took a pair of the biggest, ugliest satin panties and strung them up the flagpole. They waved gloriously in the wind for a day or two until the neighbor noticed them and took them down. We waited another week and then strung up another pair. This went on for a while before the novelty wore off. It was one of our more juvenile stunts but nobody ever said we were mature.

(*Skeez: Short for Skeezix, who was a character in an old cartoon strip, maybe Gasoline Alley? Skeez was the nickname of a good friend of my mom's who taught me how to drive in his Mercedes Benz. Talk about stress - even at 15 I knew the value of a Benz and the likelihood of a student driver crashing it.)

The Circular Drive Detour. OK, this one may have been illegal. Certain someones (and I'm not naming names) went around town gathering those blinking construction signs -- you know, those wooden sawhorses that have reflector tape and a flashing orange light on top? We Said people also gathered a dozen orange cones and one detour sign. Then the culprits creating a road blockade and detour which took vehicles through a neighbor's circular driveway. I'm pleading the Fifth.

The antics continued in college, of course, and this is probably my favorite practical joke during the college years:

The Dorm Room Gravity Flip. I'd experienced a rather unpleasant break-up, so a girlfriend and I decided to take everything in my boyfriend's room and flip it upside down. We finagled a key from one of the roommates and spent an hour turning his bed, dresser, chair, stereo, wall posters, and everything else we could upside down. We also replaced all his cassette tapes with country music and Prince's Purple Rain. He eventually got his tapes back, but for several days he would pull out a rap case and find a Garth Brooks tape inside. Interestingly enough, the girl who helped me with that stunt ended up dating my ex-boyfriend for the next three years. Hmmm.

But the best practical joker in the family is actually my brother-in-law, Kelly. He's taken joking to a whole new level with these escapades...

The Crime Scene. Kevin and I once inherited a roll of yellow "Crime Scene - Do Not Cross" police tape. It was an awesome white elephant gift and we gave it to my brother-in-law because we knew he'd put it to good use. He held onto it for a while until some neighbors went out of town. Before they got back, he wrapped their entire house with the yellow tape. They got back from a relaxing vacation and were horrified when they turned onto their street and saw that their house had been burglarized. They didn't know what to do, so they knocked on Kelly's door and asked what had happened while they were gone. Kelly strung them along for a while with an elaborate story before he let them in on the joke.

The "What Is That Smell?" Stunt. All parents have had one of these -- the super-stinky, gag-inducing, ultra-nasty poopy diaper. Now imagine putting that diaper under the front seat of a friend's car on a 90-degree day. The friend could not figure out where the horrible smell was coming from. He vacuumed, sprayed air freshener, and even had the car detailed. Eventually (as in days later) his son was sitting in the back seat of the car when he spotted the poopy diaper under the seat. I'm sure payback was unpleasant.

Lastly, and I don't remember which sister pulled this stunt...

Santa Claus Loves Everybody. My sisters live in a highly populated Jewish part of town. (Was that kosher?) One year they collected as many tacky plastic Christmas decorations as possible -- Santas, manger scenes, anything at all to do with Christmas. One of their Jewish neighbors was the lucky recipient of a yard-full of incredibly tacky Christmas decorations. Thankfully both Jews and Gentiles have a sense of humor.

So here's my April Fool's Challenge: I want to hear about your antics! Leave me a comment telling me about the best practical joke you've ever pulled. We all need a good laugh.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Birthday Reflections

Today's my (cough) 37th birthday. Not a huge milestone, except that as of this month I have officially lived in Texas longer than I lived in Los Angeles. (Not including the 12 months I spent living in a tent in Colorado, but let's not confuse things.) When I moved to Texas I knew I'd never return to LA, but I also didn't know that I'd stay here forever, too. Life is full of seemingly minor decisions that become longterm, isn't it? Nonetheless, I could see the hand of God guiding me to San Antonio, and I haven't heard Him telling me to go elsewhere so here I am. For the last 18 and a half years. In Texas. God's sense of humor still fascinates me.

Ironically, this week in Bible study we discussed Joshua 13-19 where God divides Canaan among the tribes of Judah. I was reminded, once again, that the Lord has given me a wonderful portion. Not just materially, although He has certainly blessed me with a hard-working husband whose talents allow me to stay at home and (in theory) focus on the kids and the house. In reality my house is a wreck, but we have clean laundry and I'm always available to take care of the kids' needs. But the Lord's portion also includes a fabulous, loving church family. I've been at Wayside for 18 years and Kevin and I have been part of Homebuilders for 8+ years, and I am continually amazed at how much God has blessed me in terms of rich friendships. The Lord's portion also includes numerous ministry opportunities. Those are ever-changing, but tonight I got to talk to several new HB friends (one of whom is also a Los Angeles transplant), and I am seeing the wonderful truth behind Deuteronomy 32:9, "For the Lord's portion is his people."

In all it's been a good birthday. I got phone calls from my sisters, a handmade card from Kelly in Ohio (another HB friend whose friendship blessed me for a season), homemade drawings from the kids, and an invite to a Spurs game next week -- woot! Kevin even snuck a dozen roses into my car while I was working out at the gym, a surprise that put a big old smile on my face. All that and a plate of Outback's coconut shrimp for dinner made for a very good day.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Circle Game (with full apologies to Joni Mitchell)

Yesterday a child came down to ponder
Does she have a fever? Is her throat red?
Mama held her hand upon her forehead
And declared that child go back to bed.

And the sickness, it goes round and round
And the aches and fevers go up and down
We're captives on a carousel of pain
We can't get well and I wish these germs
would go back from where they came
As we go round and round and round in the circle game.

First Kendra, then me, now Caelyn.
Happy Spring Break, everybody.

Friday, March 14, 2008

More Weekend Time Wasters

More proof that I'm qualified to be a secretary.
88 words


And apparently I have a good voice for TV...

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
The Inland North
North Central
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

I watch way too much television...
Your Final Score Was 73%

Good Job! You definitely know your TV theme songs. It might be possible that you are watching too much television.

Guess the Theme Song
Take More Quizzes

But at least I'm smarter than a 5th grader...
You paid attention during 86% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lasik, Round Two

Last May I took the plunge and had Lasik done on both eyes. A detailed description of that procedure can be found here. (And by the way, that post gets the most Google hits out of all of mine. I guess Lasik is more interesting that the funny things my kids say.)

I've been back to the doctor multiple times during the last year, and my left eye has consistently been worse than my right. Now let's be clear, I used to see 20/400 out of my left eye, and post-Lasik it varied between 20/40 and 20/100. So both measurements were better than before. But, I paid $2400 for that eye to be fixed, and so when my doctor offered to do an "enhancement" for free, I thought I should take advantage of it.

Yesterday I went back to the Laser center and had it tweaked. I got briefed, prepped (God bless Valium!), and walked into the laser room. There I lay down on the reclining chair and felt the inflatable pillow lock my head into place. An assistant applied the duct tape to my eyelids to keep them open, and then that uncomfortable speculum got inserted to keep me from blinking. After a few more numbing drops, I was good to go.

First the doctor needed to relift the original corneal flap instead of cutting a new one. That was a little disturbing, since she was using what appeared to be a dental tool to gently lift the flap. It took a short while, but I could tell when she'd succeeded because my vision suddenly got very hazy, like I was looking through Vaseline. Then they had me stare at the blinking red light and zap, zap, zap, my eye got lasered. And the smell of burning flesh was apparent this time, too. The doctor then took a spatula and spent several minutes smoothing down the flap. I'm so thankful my doctor is a perfectionist, because there is a greater chance of having corneal scar tissue form when the flap is relifted. But she smoothed and tucked and finally declared it "perfect," which is always a good word to hear when someone's poking at your eyeball.

I went home and tried to take a long nap, but I woke up several times. My eye stung and itched, so tears were streaming out of it while I slept. Last night it felt a little itchy, but I'm not experiencing the dryness that I had last year. I'm doing the regimen of drops every four hours (last year it was every hour for the first day), and so far so good.

Update: I went for a vision test this afternoon and could read the 20/20 line perfectly and could guess my way through the 20/15 line. I'm impressed.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Weekend Time Wasters

And this is how I spent the last hour...

I didn't like this first quiz since most of the Stampin' Up! colors weren't acceptable.

The next one was harder because I couldn't spell most of the countries.

And now I'm proud to say that I'm NOT a geek, although certain friends may beg to differ.
22% Geek

Finally, I took Dr. Phil's quiz. I got a 37, which means, "Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful & practical. They see you as clever, gifted, or talented, but modest. Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who's extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expect the same loyalty in return. Those who really get to know you realize it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you a long time to get over it if that trust is ever broken."

And that would be my Saturday. That and a dozen loads of laundry.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Election Day

Disclaimer: I am an idiot when it comes to politics. I took two Poli Sci courses in college. I nearly failed one class (seriously, I got a D) and I had to drop the other class because it started at 8 a.m. and I just couldn't drag my lazy bum out of bed that early. That said...

I voted for Obama. Last week. (I love early voting and always take advantage of it. I can combine a trip to the library with a trip to the polls.) I voted for Obama but I was really voting against Hilary. The thought of another Clinton administration terrifies me more than the ebola virus, so I placed my little vote for Obama in the hopes that she won't be on the ticket and, in the end, McCain and Obama will duke it out come November.

So I voted for Obama, but it's six days later and I want my vote back. Why? Because the man won't stinking leave me alone. In the last six days I have received three dozen phone calls from Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and various members of the Obama campaign. They called to remind me to vote. They called to ask who I was voting for. They called to tell me, again, that election day is very important and my vote matters and wouldn't I like to attend tonight's caucus?

OK, but I've already voted. Your call is wasting your time and my time and some campaign dollars. And, quite frankly, you're getting on my nerves.

I have politely hung up on Barack and Michelle's pre-recorded messages, semi-politely told the polling places that I've already voted, and not-so politely told today's callers that I'm sick of them calling.

I'm not even registered as a Democrat. How did they get my number and why are they bugging me so much?

Interestingly enough, I've only received one phone call from Hilary. I guess she knows she'd be wasting her time...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Font Geek

OK, this is going to have a limited audience, but I just love it.

(Dedicated to PSoup, Marcus, and everyone who's taken a class from Sammye Johnson.)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Things That Made Me Happy Today...

Sleeping until 8:04 a.m.
Watching Kendra and David sort the laundry. (yes! delegating works!)
Laughing with Amy during kickboxing class.
Wolfing down lunch knowing I just burned that many calories during kickboxing class.
Collecting pecans with Caelyn.
Shelling pecans with Caelyn.
Having David rub his head against my arm while purring like a cat.

Yup, it's the little things.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I need to start with a funny story because the rest of this post is going to be verbal catharticism (is that a word?)...

The family was discussing the Spurs trade at dinner. For some idiotic reason the Spurs have traded Brent Barry and Francisco Elson to the Supersonics for some really old guy and a 2009 Draft Pick. I won't go into detail with my frustrations over this event, but suffice it to say that I think the Spurs have made a huge mistake. We already have the oldest team in the league, and while I believe in experience, I am doubtful that bringing in a defender who is my age is a brilliant move. Then again, what do I know? Maybe Kurt Thomas's height will be the answer to keeping the opponents' scores down.

At any rate, toward the end of dinner David gave his summary: "Mommy, your boyfriend is on the Supersonics because he's supersonic fast." Kevin and I couldn't stop laughing at his 4-year-old assessment of basketball and relationships in general. Not only do I have a new boyfriend, but he's 6-foot-7 and makes hilarious HEB commercials. Lucky me.

And now for something completely different:

David and I were checking out at Old Navy today when we witnessed a horrible accident. The woman in front of us in line had a toddler son and an adorable baby girl in an infant carrier. The baby was all smiles and I was having fun making faces at her. The mom finished up, opened the front door to leave, and then started screaming hysterically as she watched her two-year-old dart into the parking lot right into the path of an oncoming car. I watched with horror as the boy struck the front side of the moving car, which kept moving, ricocheting the boy onto the asphalt. He was trying to get up when his mom reached him and scooped him up. I ran outside and moved her baby carrier back into the store and told the employees to call 911. The ambulance arrived a few minutes later, although the boy wasn't bleeding and appeared to be more terrified than hurt. I think the mom needed checking out more than her son -- she was hysterically crying and shaking. Who wouldn't be? I started crying, too, and David looked at me quizzically since he didn't quite know what was going on. After the family went inside the ambulance to get examined, David and I had a long talk about why Mommy is always telling him not to run in parking lots and to always hold Mommy's hand. And you better believe that I'll be even more vigilant about it now.

I wish I'd thought to ask the mom's name, but God knew who I was talking about as I prayed for her while waiting for the ambulance to come. Still, I would have liked to be able to call her tomorrow and follow up.

Two years ago I took all three kids with me to California... on a plane... by myself. We were wandering through the airport when we saw another mom who had her toddler on one of those kiddie leashes. I overheard a couple (who obviously didn't have any children) talk about how horrible it was to put your kid on a leash. I didn't speak up but I wanted to tell that couple that some kids, especially two-year-olds, really do need leashes. It's not about bad parenting, it's about the safety of the child. And I know the mom today was wishing she'd had her son on a leash or in a stroller. But accidents happen, and I'm just so grateful that today's wasn't any worse.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Uganda David

We just got our packet from Compassion, and this is a picture of David, a 6-year-old boy in Uganda. Isn't his smile just adorable? I was only on the Compassion website about 10 minutes before I spotted David and knew that he was going to be our newest family member. Of course, my son's name is David so our Compassion child will be called Uganda David, I suppose. He's the youngest of 7 children and his parents work odd-jobs to try and eke out a living. It's amazing that both his parents are alive in such an AIDS afflicted area where many children are either orphans or living with just one parent or extended family. I'm praying for you, Uganda David, and can't wait to meet you in this life or in heaven. Your smile brings me great joy.

I've never been to Uganda, but I've had a heart for the Ugandan people for several years ever since the Mwangaza Children's Choir came to San Antonio and spent several joyful weeks at our church. The Ugandan children were so loving, respectful, gracious, mild -- on many occasions I wished American children were more like them. The irony is that American children "have it all" and the Ugandan children live in extreme poverty. Yet the Ugandan children have more pure joy than my own kids. Funny how abundance depletes joy rather than adds to it.

I paid for a whole year's of sponsorship out of my savings from last year's income. I wrote a few articles and did some random editing jobs last year, and all that money was just sitting in my bank account doing nothing. I've saved up money before to buy a piano and later to pay for my Lasik, but there really isn't anything I want to save my money for right now. I took some of it and chose a Compassion child and you know what? I've still got a lot more money just sitting there. Doing nothing. And right now I'm thinking I could sponsor a couple more Ugandan children without even feeling sacrificial. Because really, do I need another pair of shoes when I could pay for a month's worth of food and care for a little child? Yeah, that's what I think, too.

I've included a link that will take you right to the Compassion sponsorship site, where you can look at all those adorable faces and choose to extend your family, too. I promise you'll never miss that pair of shoes or Starbucks latte or whatever else we easily blow $40 a month on. If you want to read some more perspectives on Uganda, I highly recommend reading Shannon's blog and BooMama's blog. You might to grab a tissue before reading BooMama's.

Monday, February 04, 2008

I Can't Top a Bagoogle.

While tucking in David at bedtime tonight:

D: I love you one hundred.
Me: Well, I love you one hundred five.
D: I love you one hundred ninety.
Me: I love you one million b'jillion.
D: I love you one hundred bagoogle.
Me: That's a lot of love.

Quirky Meme

My buddy Megan (who plays a mean game of Scrabulous) tagged me several weeks ago and I'm just now getting around to responding.

Six random non-important quirks about me:

1. I'm a horrible procrastinator. (See intro paragraph above.)
2. I have a fear of birds. They are flappy and unpredictable and, in my mind, quite dirty.
3. Unless you count intramural bowling in college, I have never once played on an organized sports team.
4. As a result of my self-protective tendencies, I have never broken a bone. (Until I met Kevin, that is, who accidentally broke one of my toes on our honeymoon and then later broke my nose while opening a car door for me. He still denies both bones were actually broken, but I heard definite snapping and felt definite lingering pain.)
5. I currently own 72 pairs of shoes. (Ten pairs of boots of various colors/heights, 7 pairs of athletic shoes, and 55 pairs of flats, pumps, flip flops, wedges, etc.) I'm rather embarrassed by that fact. I do NOT own a pair of Crocs and never will. I wear a size 11, so I get pretty excited when I find a pair of cute shoes in my size on sale. It's a sickness, I tell you.
6. I don't like the words panties, ointment, bougainvillea, booty, or fluffernutter. Especially when they're all used in the same sentence.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

We Have A Winner!

My Bloggy Giveaway has closed and the random number generator picked 136, which was Cassia. Congrats!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42

T-minus 6 hours until I get my Lost fix! Yes, I'm that addicted and geeky. I need my Hurley fix. I need to know if Charlie is miraculously rescued. I need to see Locke and Ben have a smackdown over the weird Jacob voice. Seriously, it's been too long!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bloggy Giveaways

The fine folks at Bloggy Giveaways are hosting yet another Bloggy Giveaway Carnival! I'm giving away a brand-new hardcover copy of my favorite children's book, The Penderwicks. This story is wholesome and wonderful and a great read-aloud at bedtime. I can't wait for the sequel to be released in April!

To enter the giveaway, you need to leave a comment telling me YOUR favorite children's book. We're always on the hunt for good books to read around here, so I appreciate your recommendations!

The winner will be picked and posted on Saturday, February 2. That's Groundhog Day, so watch the Bill Murray movie again for fun.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

On Fear

Fear is not an issue I've struggled with much. There have been times when I've worried, times when my imagination has gotten the better of me, but not that many occasions when I've truly been afraid. When I have felt fearful, my trick has been to pray through Philippians 4:8: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." I took each item in order. If the fear wasn't based in truth, then I didn't need to think about it.

Until this week. On Thursday one of my friends experienced a home invasion. Men with ski masks broke down her back door just minutes after her husband left for work. She grabbed the phone and hid in the closet where one of the men came later and, by God's total grace, did not see her in the corner. Also by God's grace was the fact that her son was over at her mom's house for the day. In six minutes the men stole $15,000 worth of material goods but, more importantly, stole my friend's peace of mind. Mine, too, since I had nightmares last night about our house being invaded. In my dream I was completely unable to fight back.

Her husband has since bought a pistol and today is taking KE to the range to learn how to shoot it. They are also looking for a new house and hope to be moved within the month. (Their current house backs up to a strip mall on a major highway, and it's most likely that the thieves jumped the back fence rather than coming in through the front.)

I asked Kevin to turn on our alarm system again and this afternoon he tested it out for me. I also promised him that I will be more vigilant about keeping the front door locked and the garage door closed when I'm home. Still, those precautions can't keep a person from breaking down my back door, and the panic button in my bedroom might not scare him away.

So, for one of the few times in my life, I find myself living in fear. Real fear. And I need a new verse to pray. So, my friends, who's got a Word from God for me?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Laundry Challenge

I don't know WHY I want to do this, but this week I'm going to keep an officially tally of how many loads of laundry I do. I'm just curious, I guess.

By the way, I take back every nice thing I ever said about my Whirlpool Cabrio washer and dryer. The washing machine is no longer my favorite appliance, because it is seriously tangling my clothes. Every time I wash a load of jeans, it take me more than five minutes to untangle the legs and shake out the jeans for the dryer. It has done the same things with sweater sleeves. I've also noticed that the machine is balling up my clothes and getting unbalanced frequently.

I called Sears last week and they are letting me exchange the Cabrio for front-loading LG machines. I'm praying fervently that front-loaders will solve my laundry problems.

Now if they could just invent a machine that folds and puts away the clothes -- now that would be truly amazing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oh Mercy!

I so wish I had a video of this event, but I'll do my best to describe my hubby's mishap. Last weekend Kevin committed to taking down the thousands and thousands of white Christmas lights on our house. (Remind me to take a photo next year and post it, 'cuz Kevin's light display is most impressive. Blinding, but impressive.)

He had already put most of the lights into the attic above the garage, which is not the attic that caused my injury last month. But being the considerate father that he is, he folded up the lower half of the ladder so the kids wouldn't run into it while they were retrieving their outdoor toys.

And that would be his downfall. Kevin (again, being a great dad) leaned over to plug in the battery of David's Jeep. And in a swift, fluid motion, he stood up and turned around and went SMACK! into the dropdown ladder. A millisecond later Kevin was sprawled on the garage floor with a quarter-sized chunk of skin missing from his forehead. He was bleeding. He was hurt. He deserved some mercy.

What was my response? Hysterical giggling. Non-stop, uncontrollable laughter. The next morning we went to church with Kevin wearing a Band-Aid like a philactery on his forehead. And every time Kevin had to explain his boo-boo to our friends, it was accompanied by the sound of my laughter.

Anyone want to guess what score I got for mercy on the spiritual gift survey? I'll give you a hint: It was a single digit. Out of 50 possible points.

The irony is that today I am so sore I can't even walk because I pushed myself at the gym yesterday. I hurt! I want mercy! But Kevin's showing me about as much mercy as I showed him, and I deserve it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fashion Advice (from a four-year-old)

David's latest proclamation: "I'm going to wear Crocs and socks because they rhyme. I'm only going to wear rhyming things."

Now that is a great way to build an outfit. Forget Garanimals -- just match things according to a rhyming sequence! A shirt and a skirt. A belt and a felt (hat). A blouse with some trous-ers? OK, maybe this idea needs some work.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Lost Library Books - Updated!

My kids are massive readers, which is fabulous. My oldest typically reads one book a day, and the other two go in spurts but also have a love of books. And of course there's me, who would rather read a good book than eat (but doing both at the same time is best).

So here's the problem: Our house has been overrun with library books. We have a system, in theory. We have a cube-shaped green basket that holds all our library books. I just counted and we've got 39 in there. The problem is that there should be 40. We're missing a book and it's due today.

I want my kids to be comfortable reading, so they're allowed to take a book to a different room and read. The problem is getting them to put the books back into the basket when they are finished. I've already had to pay for a lost book recently, and I don't want to have to pay for another.

So what's your opinion of this topic? If we don't find the book, should the kids have to pay for the lost book or should I just show grace and pay for it myself? It's a responsibility issue, but I don't want to discourage them from reading. Ideas?

**UPDATE** The library found the book on their shelves and credited our account. Lesson learned: Ask the library for a shelf search before killing yourself looking in every nook and cranny in the house. At least I didn't get angry at the kids -- I would have had to ask big-time forgiveness!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Monday, January 07, 2008

Today's Post is Brought to You By the Letter A

A is for Apple. Right after lunch I hauled my 40+ pound computer, three kids, and a bag full of stuff to keep said-kids occupied to the Apple store in La Cantera. I had an appointment at 1:20 and got there around 1:10. I checked in, left my huge desktop on their counter, and got the kids settled onto a pod of computers where they happily played on the games.

I spent the next half hour browsing the store. A is for Astonished. Technology has really passed me by, but I don't understand why all this stuff is important. Bluetooth? Don't need it. Lightning fast computer that connects to your iPod, iPhone, and iRefrigerator? Not necessary. Just let me have a basic machine where I can write, get on the internet, and play games. You know, the important stuff. But spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on fancy equipment just because it's cool is not my thing. One of their ad campaigns said that with an 80 gigabyte iPod, you could drive from LA to NYC 25 times and never hear the same song twice. That's not really a selling point for me. By the time I listen to that many hours of music, I'll be in the grave. With earbuds, apparently.

I finally got called to the Genius Bar at the exact same moment that I noticed my four-year-old doing the bathroom dance. All moms know this dance. I tried to speak quickly to the Genius to expedite the process, but he wanted to take his own sweet time diagnosing the problem, which is basically that the computer has no power.

The tech finally agreed that the computer didn't turn on. (He is a genius, after all.) But right when he asked for my information, I looked over at my son and realized that he was reaching the crescendo portion of his dance. I needed to act fast, so I asked the Genius if there was a bathroom available for my son. He directed me to a public bathroom five stores away, and I took off running with David in tow.

(By the way, La Cantera has the cleanest public bathrooms of any mall I've ever seen. I guess the bajillionaires who have enough money to shop Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and all the other hoity-toity stores in that mall really deserve clean bathrooms. Wouldn't it be terrible if their Manolo Blahnik's got soiled?)

We returned to the Apple store where I realized that the tech guy didn't exactly hold my place at the Genius Bar. A woman with an iPhone crisis had jumped onto my stool and was waving her arms wildly trying to explain the severity of the problem. I waited patiently, which worked for once. The Genius excused himself and returned to me, where we continued trying to log in my information.

Fast forward 10 minutes: The Genius looks at me apologetically and says, "I'm really sorry, but we can't service this model. You see, it was bought in 2000 and it's considered vintage."

A is for Annoyed. I'm sorry, did he just call a 7-year-old computer vintage? I mean, the guy was probably in middle school when I bought it -- I guess that constitutes vintage, right? I could actually feel a new gray hair popping through my scalp.

So one hour after entering the Apple store, I hauled my retro Mac, my three kids and all their junk back to the car, drove to the local Mac repair shop and dropped off the hard drive. Took less than two minutes to fill out the paperwork. This place I like. If they can fix the power problem, I'll bake them cookies. Vintage people like to be nice like that.

UPDATE: MacTLC called yesterday and said I need a new power supply. To the tune of $200.67 plus tax plus labor. Which is less than one-tenth the cost of a new Mac, so I said yes please. But no cookies.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Technical Difficulties

The shredder is still alive, but my beloved Mac is apparently dead. I shut it down around 1 o'clock this morning, and now there is absolutely no power. None. I've tried different cords, different outlets, but the machine is as dead as an armadillo on 281 North.

I talked to the friendly outsourced Apple guy, who confirmed that no, he couldn't help me. And the next available appointment at the Genius Bar at the Apple store is on Monday afternoon, so I'm at least 48 hours with only a semi-reliable laptop.

It's amazing how absolutely addicted I am to the computer. I physically get the shakes every time I walk into the study and can't check my e-mail. I'm also repeatedly pressing the power button with the faint hope that it will magically turn on, even though I know it won't. Crud.

My main prayer is that the Apple folks can somehow salvage the info on the hard drive. And then I need wisdom on whether to buy another Apple despite the painful pricetag, or to get a less-expensive Dell and deal with the technical issues that are involved with PCs. Double crud.

In the meantime, I'm going to deal with my unwanted computer detox the best way I can. Lots of chocolate.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I Broke the Shredder

I'm on a house-cleaning, office-organizing, closet-purging binge. So far I've finished the closet under the stairs and right now I'm tackling the study. I've discovered Kevin's secret stash of his life history in paper. Everything from discussions regarding his starting salary at Andersen in 1994 to detailed notes about how much chandeliers cost in 1996. Truly riveting papers, these are. For trivia's sake, my salary was $33,491 when I quit teaching in 1999. I think my improved mental status far outweighed the loss of that semi-paltry income.

I've been shredding like a mad woman because I also found stacks and stacks of OLD bank statements (as in, we haven't had an account at these banks since we were newlyweds). I probably didn't have to shred all that, but there were numbers and addresses and, well, better safe than sorry.

At least that's what I thought until the shredder broke. It was straining from overuse but seemed fine. But now it won't accept any papers. It's little green light is staring at me, mocking me. I think I'll turn it off and see if it resets after it cools down, but it's looking like one of my first purchases of the new year is going to be a heavy-duty shredder. This little one never stood a chance.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Day Resolutions

Please note that these resolutions are just for today, not the whole year. Wouldn't want to fail right off the bat, would you?

1) Spend entire day in Troll Pajamas. (aren't they hilarious?) Check.
2) Spend most of the day on the couch doing the final proof on Kristine's book. Check.
3) Watch the Biggest Loser. Check.
4) Don't waste time or water by showering. Check.
5) Take out the trash wearing my Troll pajamas. Check.

See? I'm already off to a great start in 2008.

I really might take some time to reflect and make a few goals for 2008, but for today I'm starting small.