Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tired of being the freak

Why is it okay for national companies to refuse to recognize Christmas but it is so hard for a Christian to not participate in Halloween? Look, you wanna call your tree a holiday tree, go ahead. Fine. The stupid tree isn't a Christian symbol anyway. You want to take Christmas off, and refuse to acknowledge what it is that gave you that day off....whatever. It annoys me, but I'm not shoving it down your throat. So why, in the name of tolerance, is it abusive for me to take my kids to the library on Halloween, an activity they enjoy, with a quick stop at the grocery store for them to each pick a bag of candy they like most (to silence the skeptics that say it is all about the candy). Why must we participate?

I'm sick of feeling like the freak, even in the church, for choosing to skip this "holiday." Once, in college, I had the audacity to show up at work in work clothing. My co-workers and the people I stabbed in the finger (I worked at a plasma bank) all stared at me like I was a freak. Someone said, "Oh, Jamie doesn't believe in Halloween..."

"Oh yes, I do." I replied. "That is why I don't participate."

Now I didn't say anything else and wouldn't have said that if they hadn't been taunting me. I'm not trying to get others to join me. I just know too much and I can't participate. Yes, I participated as a child--until I was pursued down a dark road by a car full of men. I remember the fun and the candy. And yes, it was one of my favorite holidays. I get that. I don't need every Christian telling me that it is just a kids holiday and that I'm over-reacting. You wanna participate, fine. Do it. But leave me out of it. And for heaven's sake quit trying to make my kids want to participate. They like the library, their choice of candy, the dress-up they get to choose on November 1, their Popin's birthday, and McDonalds Playplace. Got it? Good.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I admit it, they got me!

Last week, in the masses of V1agra sp*m I get everyday, I got this one:

Why be BIG, when you can be normal? (and then a link)

I added sender to blocked sender list, of course, but laughed the whole way and have chuckled about it ever since. Hubs guessed that they were selling wieghtloss something. I've since then thought they might have been trying reverse, tongue in cheek humor. Whatever it was/is, it was a nice change of pace.

Oh, and my internet has been really screwey, so please forgive my sporadic posting lately.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


It wasn't ten minutes after I made the last post that I wrote something like this one. But Blogger has been freezing up on me and I forgot that it never posted. Which is funny again, in its own way. Though the post also didn't save, so I'm going from scratch again and may lose it--again.

So, I've been questioning God and provision and tithing and giving and wondering and wondering and wondering.

See, we did taxes recently. (Don't ask, business owners and we didn't owe.) And when we add up our giving it works out well over the 10% range. So, considering things are ALWAYS tight I began to ask friends how they figure their "tithe." Does the tithe (in this reference I'm just calling 10% tithe and I know that true giving and tithing etc according to OT is closer to 30% and I don't want to get into that debate, so let's don't okay?) have to go to your church or do Christian organizations count? Etc, etc. I've tossed this one around now for a couple weeks. It has really kind of shut me down.

So on Monday my husband had to work from home because we only had one working vehicle and I had to take the kids to school and pick them up and everything is too far away to even consider walking. Got that? Meanwhile, Hubs feels like he practically has a free day (hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!) and takes "off" early to go get glasses which he has needed for a decade. Hi parents got tired of looking at his old glasses and bought him a gift certificate for his birthday--SIX MONTHS AGO. Anyway, I had a coupon to the place and was trying to get myself a pair of glasses out of the deal also (didn't happen). But he did spend less than the certificate because of the coupon and they gave him cash back. (Provision number 1--we needed cash.)

Meanwhile, Hubs called a friend of ours who specializes in fixing broken and hopeless vehicles in the housecall method (read: didn't have to have it towed). He not only fixed out van for a fraction of the cost of the shop, he told us about a certain recall that will fix our cruise control for free. Not a necessity, but nice nonetheless. (provision number 2 and 3: Still up since we used the cash plus free fix of cruise).

And yesterday morning my dentist got Princess in to fill a cavity that she's been complaining about--and didn't charge us. Now he did the original filling that didn't stay, but I still expected to pay something. (Provision number 4).

So, I don't know how long we get to ride this gravy train,but I'm going to keep paying attention. How many of these things happen to me everyday that I've missed? Or have they stepped up because I'm questioning giving and provision? I know that God specifically says to test him on this and that we will receive "pressed down, shaken together and running over." So help me, I needed this lesson this month.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I had something to say...

I really did.

But for the life of me, I can't remember what it was.


Friday, October 20, 2006

You Know It Is Time....

For parental involvement in the bedroom cleanings when:

1) You are out of sippy cups even after you've unloaded the dishwasher...and you usually have so many you can just barely fit them all in the cabinet.

2) The only shoe you can find on a frosty morning is one lone pink sandal.

3) Your search for the favorite stuffed animal finds it lost IN THE BEDROOM.

4) Didn't we have more socks than this?

You know, it isn't that I can't send them to their bedrooms with the directive to "clean them." And I can often come up and find them picked up to young-un standards. But there is just something about taking over, dumping out all the bins and re-sorting the things back into their appropriate places that makes life so much easier. Sure, every night I can look under the bed if we need a sippy cup (for the inevitable nightly drink-of-water), but I won't find them. I have to sort the Polly pockets apart from the magnet dolls and stuffed animals. Then I have sippy cups and shoes in profusion.

And why do we store these things in the dress up box?

I started another great book last night. Caveat: You'll have to like the right kind of humor to enjoy it, I'm sure. I just happen to have it. The abhorent book had it's last chance yesterday and blew it. I had to give it up. But check this one out:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Wishing on Dandelions--Oh, My!

Okay, in all truth, I didn't finish last night. I had to make myself go to bed as the pages blurred before my eyes. But I did finish this morning.

It is just achingly good.

I'm not sure whether it would be so stinkin' good if you haven't read the first (Watching the Tree Limbs) but I suspect that it would be. It isn't necessary in order to follow the story, I know that much.

Here's the thing. Watching the Tree Limbs is painful, and I simply must type the spoiler because so many people read the first five chapters and just quit because they can't stand the abuse anymore. He. Doesn't. Get. Her. Again. Yes, he keeps trying. He even gets close. Yes. But he doesn't get her again after that first hideous mess. Time and again I've had to tell people that to get them to finish the book.

Here's me: How can you leave her in his clutches? You know it has to end. Read and find out how it happens!

So I think there are people out there who won't read the second book because they are afraid it is more of the same. But it isn't. It is sweet. Sure, she is dealing with issues, and there are creeps that come in and out. But Mary isn't demented. She doesn't just torture her poor characters more than could possibly be resolved. So give it a try, huh?

I know some things about myself I didn't know before. I love Southern Lit. And this is, whether it is labeled so or not. (Funny, considering Mary lives in France.) And apparently I love to read angst. That is if I trust the author to resolve the situation. And I don't love predictable characters and situations. Just because you know how it will end (because you trust the author) doens't mean you know how it is going to end, you know? There is a difference.

So, having taken my delicious break, I encourage you to get your hands on this book. I, meanwhile, must (MUST!) choke down 11 more pages of that other atrocity so I can condemn it to the depths of my trash can.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wishing on Dandelions, again

So I've been pounding my head on shattered glass inside a tornado trying to read an (so far) atrociously bad book for review on Armchair. I promised myself I would read 100 pages before I told them "no way, no how." I've been reading for more than a week and I'm at page 89.

So last night I put it down and treated myself to a little dessert of fiction. I finally started Wishing on Dandelions by Mary DeMuth. (Okay, restarted since I did go in and make sure that General wasn't getting poor little Mara again.)

Oh. My. Gosh.

I couldn't put it down. Seriously. I said one chapter. Then I added one. And another. Shoot. I'm more pages into it than that attrociously bad book. It is so good. Near and dear to my heart. I'll give my rave review soon...probably tomorrow if last night poses any history on how long I'll have to read once I pick it up.

Or you could just go buy the book. VBG

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Just in case anyone is interested

Every year I buy an Entertainment book. If you aren't familiar with those, it is several hundred pages of coupons for dry cleaning, restaurants (buy one get one free type), mini-golf, movies, groceries, etc. The book here costs about $25. It has always paid off for me many times over.

Anyway, this year, Entertainment book is doing a promotion so that if people buy the books "through you," you get a Target gift card. Apparently it takes 10 people to get the $250 card (somewhat deceptive because they act like it is five which makes me think at 5 you get a smaller card. Who knows?). Anyway, I always buy the book anyway, so that detail didn't matter much to me. If I get it, great. If not, whatever.

These books are regional, but they have them all over the US. And if you want to help me out, use this link:


And then sign up and get your own link. You may very well have 200 friends and can get a ton, huh?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Children are Like Vultures....

...they smell you when you are going down, they circle and wait for the prime moment, then they peck at you until you give up entirely.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Why is it that you are never quite so aware of just how messy/filthy/disgusting your house is until your mother-in-law comes for a visit?

Friday I felt relatively satisfied with the appearance of the house. Sure there were a few toys strewn around. Sure I had a pile of paper on my "ledge" that needed to be dealt with. Sure, my basement floor needs a good sweeping/mopping/buffing/re-tiling. But, all in all, I didn't look at my home and see "squalor."

Entre in-laws. I see dust, not only on the top of my television, but stuck to the SIDES of the TV cabinet. Since when does dust stick to vertical surfaces? And why, when you eat out every meal, does the kitchen look like a small tornado ran through it when the weekend is over? Why, I ask. WHY?

So this afternoon after they drove away I tried to watch my Chiefs get SMASHED by the Steelers (the only team that I even half-heartedly support AS LONG as they aren't playing the Chiefs) and just breathe a sigh of relief that I didn't have to clean anything for the rest of the day.

But no.

All I could see was the dust. And the piles of CDs I never listen to. And the videos I never watch. And the laundry that I typically do on Monday kept calling my name.

Hello? A little date for domesticity to kick in, doncha think? Now that there is no one around to observe that I actually DO know how to load a dishwasher, wield a dust rag, sort unused stuff, vacuum popcorn out of the carpet.

So much for resting on the Sabbath. One, kids don't allow naps. Two, who can rest when the dust mocks them with the friendly words, "Your mother-in-law doesn't have dust growing on the inside vertical walls of HER TV cabinet!"

And neither do I, now.

UPDATE: I should note that she didn't make one ugly comment. It is all my obsession.

Friday, October 13, 2006

How To Interpret This?

"Facing a mirror you see merely your own countenance; facing your child you finally understand how everyone else has seen you." -- Daniel Raeburn

Thursday, October 12, 2006


You know, visibility is a funny thing. When you are in Wal-Mart and your child is having a fit, there are those who see you and those who don't. Those who don't generally just don't want to humiliate you further. They are what we call PC. Those who see you fall into one of two camps. Camp one are the sympathetic mothers who are generally just grateful that they aren't suffering the same dilemma. They come with a close lipped smile. Camp two are the self-righteous, generally judgmental group. I have an opinion about this group, but at risk of offending, I'll keep my stereotypes to myself. After all, I don't want to be accused of being in that camp in reverse, now do I?

So last weekend I was in the South. Again, don't want to stereotype, but just to be clear, in case you don't know, my family is multi-racial. In the South this can sometimes make for interesting interactions. Actually, I've had fewer and fewer of these interactions in the last six years. Those that I have had were not particularly ugly. I consider this a good thing. Mostly I pretend that I am invisible. Being as how I am invisible where I live, it is pretty easy for me.

(Actually, I'm sure I'm not invisible, but it is so rare that I get a pointed look or a comment, that I'm forget that I'm highly visible. I'll have to tell you about one of my very visible days here soon.)

So I walked in to my family reunion and my kids scattered to play with the cousins. I and Princess were standing at the porch fixing something (jacket zipper, I think) and an Aunt that I haven't seen since my family profile changed came up to me, hugged, talked, asked about my family, etc.. I don't remember saying anything offensive. (That doesn't mean I didn't. I do fail in this area.)

I believe we talked one other time during the day. I believe we had some sort of discussion that went something like,

Her: You only have the two, right?
Me: No, I have three. My eldest is running around here somewhere.

And then we all took family pictures so everyone could really figure out who all the kids belonged to.

So, day ends. Aunt circles through the nieces, hugging, saying her farewells. She gives pointed advice to my sister. I dreaded being next, because I expected similar advice. (I do have a growing number of children, after all.) Aunt darts out the space between my sister and I and goes around behind me to hug and farewell with some of the other Aunts. Aunt swings back into the circle of nieces and hugs the rest of them. Aunt darts out the hole between me and other niece and hops on her Harley and pulls out.


I actually pondered for a very few moments if I said anything to offend her. Couldn't think of a thing and shrugged. Put it out of my mind. Figured it was an oversight. Considering said Aunt and I never had a close relationship, it didn't really matter.

And then I awakened the next morning. Fretting. What did I do? She hugged people I'd never met before. Surely it wasn't that she just didn't feel comfortable hugging me because we weren't necessarily close. And it hit me. I stained the family. Heaven forbid we include melanin.

I became invisible. I no longer exist. (Between you and me, I barely registered on her radar long before any of this took place.)

Personally, I think our family is much more interesting for its composition. And I can't think of a better reason to be invisible. Much, much better than having the same child have a fit in Wal-Mart.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I Have a New Addiction

After months of asking various people (who have tried unsuccessfully to teach me) how to find out what Google searches send people to my blog, Tess gave me sufficient instruction. What do people Google to find my blog?

German Vowel Toppers

Boy aren't they barking up the wrong tree.

Puke. Faith. Book Reviews. The Writing Life. Whining For Sport. Tired. Crickets. Exhausted. Sleep-Deprived. Rants About Nothing. These I understand. German Vowel Toppers. One time I write about the umlaut and there I will forever be inshrined. I am falling off my chair laughing.

But I also know why people like to know these things. Makes me want to go check again.

Need a Laugh?

I got this from Tess. Still have tears in my eyes from laughing so hard.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

On the Damascus Road

Okay, I promised the puke story so here it is:

And it isn't really much of a story it just seems like it should be. You know, when you feed your children fast food and junk all weekend and stir in a very long car trip, you should expect a little puke. So we fed Frodo Sun chips and gummy bears beginning at 9:30 Sunday morning. Shocker he spewed around 3. I think it was the Frosty that put him over the top...but Hubs and I wanted one and didn't think we should deny the poor children trapped in the car seats.

Anyway, not half an hour into the winding back roads of Arkansas is when we hear it. He even warned us and we missed the signs. My bad.

The story begins here: After "we" finished with the clean-up, Hubs pointed out that we were on Damascus road. Doesn't it seem like there should be a story there? Some heartwarming faith lesson for a magazine? So the rest of the evening I watched signs and listened to conversations trying to find the faith story that I could title "On the Damascus Road."

Here is what I came up with:

I cleaned up puke on the Damascus Road. We considered visiting Devil's Den but alas it was too late. Same sad story with Pig Trail Harley Davidson. And I would have been so proud to wear the shirt. As we skidded past Suits Us Street I dissolved into a fit of giggles. Suits Me.

Bummer, I don't think that Guideposts will be buying.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Sneaky Pillow Caper

So last night, Hubs and I rolled into town just short of midnight after a full day on the roads between Hither and Yon. We were especially fond of the vomitous smell emanating from the back seat (more on that another day), but still happy to attain home.

After unloading the car and stumbling upstairs to bed, I yanked the pillow cases off our pillows that had spent many an hour crammed under feet, spilled upon, used as a desk, and in hotel rooms (anyone who has even heard of the 20/20 special knows why that is a factor). Much to my horror, one of the pillows in MY silk cases was NOT my Eddie Bauer Home Goosedown Pillow (I take my sleep very seriously). It was a cotton, perhaps poly, imitation of downy softness (and had I lay my head upon it, yes, I would have instantly known. It had been in the trunk all day).

"Oh. My. Gosh. Someone had the audacity to steal my pillow! How low is that?"

"Huh?" Asks Hubs, who is brushing his teeth.

It had to be intentional. I couldn't fathom how housekeeping could "accidentally" strip my pillowcase off my pillow and put it onto another pillow. I lost precious sleep fuming about it. When I awakened bright and early this morning I was almost immediately angry again. But, as Hubs pointed out, my sister was still staying at said hotel and could at least verify that my pillow wasn't still on the bed in our room.

It turns out that Best Western was mad at me. They thought that I'd switched out the pillows. Mine was thrown into the pile of junk pillows and replaced with a "Best Western" pillow. Apparently people do swap in their crummy pillows for these great Best Western pillows all the time and I was supposed to be grateful that they didn't charge me for stealing their pillow. I am.

But I didn't do it!

I say that if housekeeping was on top of it enough to notice the second morning that my pillow was an imposter, why did they strip off my pillowcase and switch the pillows in the first place, the first morning?

Anyway, all's well that ends well. My sister smoothed their ruffled feathers and they gave me my pillow back (highly important because Eddie Bauer Home isn't anymore...rendering my pillow priceless). I'm supposed to bring their pillow back next time I venture south.

Yeah, I'll do that. Actually, I'm so glad that I get my pillow back (and that housekeeping didn't take it!) I may even mail it.

Trust me, my pillow is worth it.

Precious Memories

Distance Traveled: 1742 miles
Tanks of gas used: 5
States visited: 4
Hours in car: 28
Kids in backseat: 3
Total days away from home: 3
Times cleaning up vomit in the sticks of Arkansas:1
Loads of laundry already this morning:2
Books read: 0
Helping grandparents celebrate their 69th wedding anniversary: Priceless

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wishing on Dandelions and Mary DeMuth

Okay, I had a really cute photo of Mary. I had a lovely photo of her book cover also. Of course, I had the link to amazon. But Blogger is wrecking havoc with my posts and explorer can't read them. I'm trying the photo free option. My apologies. If you want to see the cute photo or the cover, go google (this is so crummy I can't even put a link in!) Mary DeMuth. Follow the number one hit to her relevantprose site And we all know how amazon works, right? Go there to buy the book. I'm not even sure the photos or links have anything to do with the stupid errors. So.... Trying blogger again.

When I attended the ACFW conference, I had the privilege to attend Mary DeMuth's continuing ed class. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I got a spiritual renewal (regardless of the whining I've done over the last couple weeks). Mary is one sweet woman with good stuff to say. I even got a photo with her in all her finery that I hope to develop and post someday (that is if we both look lovely).

I was super-excited to come home to her latest book Wishing On Dandelions. And even more relieved to know that that creep General wasn't the one who grabbed her from behind in the teaser chapter at the end of Watching the Tree Limbs. Let's take a collective cleansing breath. I'll tell you my further thoughts on her latest book very soon, but today we get to look into the writer mind of Mary.

This book deals with difficult subject matter: childhood sexual abuse and its residual affects. How did this book emerge?

My passion is to write about redemption through the avenue of story. I started the first book,
Watching the Tree Limbs, in a flurry. In my mind I saw the streets of Burl and a girl who didn’t know where she came from. Because my personal story involves different instances of sexual abuse, I wanted to write a story that showed the reader how God could intersect an abuse-victim’s life and make a difference.

So, are you Maranatha?

In some ways yes, some no. Like Maranatha, I felt like God had transformed my life in such a radical way (like her name change from Mara—bitter—to Maranatha—Come Lord Jesus). Like Maranatha, I endured sexual abuse, but I was much younger when it happened. Like Maranatha, I wondered if I had been marked, that every sexual predator could “tell” I was a ready victim. I wrestled through relationships in my teens with Maranatha’s twin feelings of revulsion and attraction. But, she is not me in many other ways. She is more independent. She has no parents. She lives in an entirely different culture. She is less ambitious. She has the privilege of many wiser people to mentor her through life.

What made you decide to write a love story?

The book didn’t start out in my mind as a love story, but it evolved into it as I continued writing. Characters have that uncanny way of taking your prose and running in all sorts of directions with it. Charlie just kept being faithful. In a sense, I fell in love with him!

What made you choose East Texas as the setting for both novels?

The South fascinates me. I grew up in the Northwest. When my last child was born, my husband was transferred to East Texas to start a department in a hospital. Because I was a stay-at-home mom and home schooling, I didn’t have much else to do there except to observe small town southern culture. Because I didn’t grow up in that culture, my senses were heightened and I eventually began to really appreciate the differences.

Childhood sexual abuse is not talked about very often, and seldom covered in novels. What made you decide to write about it?

For that very reason. The more victims are quiet, the less healing they will receive. The more we talk about it, bringing heinous acts to the light, the better able we are to know we are not alone. I wrote this book so other abuse victims would feel validated and heard. And to offer hope.

Why do you end your books with hope?

Because hope is essential to Jesus’ Gospel. Even when things are bleak, there is always hope—if not in this life, then in the next. I’m not interested, however, in presenting hope in a superfluous way. I don’t want to tie up every story thread neatly. The truth is, life is tragic and difficult and bewildering, but God intersects that life and brings hope.

Have you always wanted to write?

Yes. Since my second grade teacher told my mother that she thought I was a creative writer, I’ve wanted to write. I kept a diary since the sixth grade. Though I was an English major, I didn’t start writing seriously until my first daughter was born. I wrote for ten years in obscurity before my writing career took a turn for the better.

Who are your literary heroes?

I love Harper Lee. I only wish she’d written more. Leif Enger, who wrote Peace Like a River, greatly inspired me to write visually and artistically. I love Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees, how you could almost taste her characters. I’m fascinated and intimidated by J.R.R. Tolkein—how he managed to create an entire world with several languages is way beyond my literary prowess.

What do you want your reader to take away from Wishing on Dandelions?

That redemption of a broken life takes time. We’re all on a journey of healing. Sometimes it’s slow going, but if we can endure through the dark times, God will bring us to new places of growth. I want the images and characters to stay with a reader for a long time.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I'm a Bum

I know it. I prostrated myself on my bed last night at 7:30. Thankfully we are back into the fall so that it was actually dark outside, but still. I'm just so tired. I know there are hormones involved. I know I'm not eating enough protein. And I think my mental stress is making my whole self shut down.

And does is count that for three weeks running either Hubs or myself has been out of town? Beginning Thursday, we'll be well on our way to four. Followed by a fifth.

Have I made enough excuses yet for failing to blog as regularly as I used to?

But let me tell you this: the last post I did about crickets shut blogger down for me (so I had to delete it), but I have another one. Considering I hate to smoosh crunchy bugs, I've gotten pretty good at it. But I'm not so good about picking up the carcass.

Crickets are cannibals. I keep walking in on another cricket eating the last cricket I smooshed. Ick. That's something you don't learn in general biology.