Monday, March 31, 2008
"Never think of yourself as 'just a wife and mom.' You're a molder of leaders, a gatekeeper of peace, a channel through which God's Word can be passed on to the next generation. Quite an overwhelming charge, isn't it?"
Um, when you put it that way....
And this one: "As long as there are little ones enjoying life in our home, I'll never win a Susie Homemaker Award. I really need to remember that my main priorities are loving the Lord and being a wife and mom. Someday the kids will be grown, and the house can them be spotless. But it will also be very quiet. I need to appreciate the clutter. It must mean that real life is going on in our house."
It's also full of tips and scripture references to apply to many aspects of this crazy life we signed up for. Lord, help us all.
Oh, and speaking of busy moms...go wish Liz congrats!!!! I've been obsessively stalking her blog all weekend and finally, FINALLY, that baby boy is out (days early!).
Friday, March 28, 2008
Anyway, what I wanted to say that was so all fired important that I messed up my formatting is this:
Tricia mentioned, just off hand, "coming home with a bag of clearance items" and I was so BUSTED.
But they were only $1 a piece, Hon!
However, she is right. Communication, respect, honor, and not spending when you shouldn't, even when they are only $1 a piece. (Some people are addicted to Pepsi, some people clearance racks. Me? Both.)
And she mentioned hoping to adopt. Just offhand. Tricia, if you stop in, I want DETAILS.
Okay, that is what was all fired important.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Generation NeXt Marriage addresses our specific mindsets and background and applies it to our marriages. Why do we relate to our spouses the way we do? What does growing up in the era of divorce do to our outlook and actions?
I took quite a bit away from this book. It was especially helpful in this week in which my husband was gone (physically and mentally) while he took on wrapping up the equivalent of a second (short term) full-time job. I highly recommend reading a good marriage book while being challenged in your marital life.
While the whole book was excellent, I especially liked the chapters addressing respect and honor (Committed for Life) and putting your spouse at a primary position (Finding Balance) (which I think also applies back to respect and honor). That, and gratitude and respect for what he does for me (see above second job mention) that at least my mind went to in Money Matters.
See, when I point out the ugly carpet, I'm not saying, "Hey, you, make more money so we can have new carpet!" I think I'm commiserating (because I know he hates the carpet too), but that is what he hears. So, I'm taking the message and going to TRY to quit talking about the carpet until he brings it up. Because I'm really grateful that we have a roof (thanks in no part to me). I really am.
So, if you are a Gen Xer and looking to improve your marriage, I encourage you to pick up Tricia's book. And you might also like to pop over to her Gen X blog. Aside from Generation specific stuff, you can find a contest (possibly win a dinner for you and your spouse by telling how you met).
Thankfully, I only bought a small stash of the best jelly beans EVER to tide me over until next Easter. At 3500 calories per bag, maybe I won't eat a bag a day like I did the last couple weeks if I have to stretch 2 bags for 10 months.
I'm sure my blood sugar will thank me.
So will bathing suit Jamie come June.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The next day, the desire increased.
The next day...you get the idea.
My complexion resembles a teenager's.
On Monday I was obsessing about a baby boy due next month that is up for adoption.
For the last 48 hours I've felt like I could conquer the world.
I must be ovulating.
Yeah, like we didn't see that coming. It's just that I haven't done that for, oh, 21 months. You kinda forget the feeling.
So in two weeks when I'm crabby, we'll know the culprit.
Unless, of course, I'm Prego, in which case I'll be barfing over the word "zucchini."
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I dare you to say the same kind of person who climbs up on top of her table in socked feet with a barefoot baby beneath her to undo the aforementioned screws and realizing a half a second too late that she didn't really need to undo the first three screws and is now showering her baby with a shattering glass globe.
Thank God the globe missed his head and he didn't require stitches.
Jamie here: Don't let the description fool ya, this book is for everyone. At least every parent. I decided to review this book because I thought it might be something my mom would need to read, but my take-away from it was extraordinary.
Phil Callaway rocketed back and forth talking about aging parents and aging children. Sure, I don't have teens, but I will have teens and I remember being a teen and those two things alone made his vignettes both hilarious and a preparatory tool. Personally I even wondered if someone going through the exact thing he writes about might be hammered with regrets while I can take his advice and apply it to my young brood. And my aging parents. For while my parents aren't elderly (they might be to some people, but since some of my grandparents are still living, they are elderly and my parents are just aging), they will be, and again, I have some heads-up time. And I can be praying for my parents as they go through it.
People, this is simply one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. And I don't say things like that unless I mean it. I tore through it. I bust a gut laughing and moments later I bawled. Only to crack up again. Hubs thought it was fiction the way I read it.
I can not think of one single person who shouldn't read this book. Not one. Single people can read it as prep for marriage. Parents can read it to remind themselves that it is all temporary. Aging people can read it on so many levels, comfort, humor, escape.... So this isn't just for boomers. My copy is dog-eared and I intend to pass it around until the pages fall out. And then read it again.
And I'll leave you with this thought, that I alluded to a few days ago: "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." Actually, that is a quote of C.S. Lewis via Phil Callaway so I'll leave you with a true Phil Callaway:
"You see, I think we stay young by keeping our eyes in the right places. By not wasting time placing discouraging phone calls. Or listening to gossip. By inviting friends over to dinner even if the carpet is stained and the sofa faded. By eating ice cream nine times a week. [YEAH!]
"I think we stay young by centering our thoughts on things that are pure, lovely, and of good report. By putting our arms out car windows more often. By burning expensive candles before they melt in storage. By getting so excited about the love of Jesus that our teeth can barely keep up with our mouth."
Words to live by. Pick up this book. You won't regret it.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Or is it just blogger? I will have to assume it is me. Anyway, I began a draft of New Book Tuesday last Friday. I can't seem to edit that draft whatsoever and when it bothered to post, it posted on Friday even though I didn't publish it until tonight.
So, I beg you to indulge me and read this post, because this is a book you won't want to miss.
Since my reading and writing, I have referenced that book in nearly every conversation I've had--discounting those I've had with people under the age of 8 (and even some of those).
Update: Aha! Thanks for the tutorial, Liz!
Thank you for your patience.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Went from there to coffee with birthday girl Mommy4Life. Fantastic time.
Went from there to lunch with Hubs. Fantastic time.
Came home to let Charming nap. Fantastic time.
I refuse to spend my whole life "doing" while ignoring the special people in my life. That's my new creed.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I hate coming to the end of a day and having nothing to show for it. Yes, there was laundry done and paper sorted, a book finished, a baby played with. I spent an afternoon with an old college friend that I haven't seen but a handful of times since we graduated. It was wonderful. But at the end of the day, when I'm looking around my home and it is messier after a week of work than it was when I started those feelings of failure rise up and call me lazy.
For a woman who wants to be blessed, lazy is no high achievement.
Oooo! I cleaned out my van while my baby slept in it. Which means it wasn't vacuumed, but it contains significantly less trash.
Still, what is it in us that is always striving for better? The book I read today says that when we are always striving for better it is evidence of God. Because, even on our perfect days, we wish we'd done more. (He said it much more eloquently.)
So, spring break is nearly over, but heck, there is still tomorrow.
Saw three older gentlemen walking into the store wearing their military ball caps, obviously together yet not visiting, shuffling along without smiles on their faces. I was compelled to say, "You three look like you are up to something!" You should have seen their faces light up. They immediately began to answer, "Not me, but he sure is!" and "Well, I know he likes to look at pretty girls!" and "That old guy is never up to anything good!" They made me smile and laugh. And then they went on to talk to the next guy walking behind me. I encourage you to talk to someone in the parking lot today. We live in too isolated of a world.
Actually mailed the letter to Eldest's birthmother. I held it for three days because she's given no indication that she wants to hear from me, but I couldn't let go of the idea that she just might want to know what an awesome kid he has become these last 2 years.
Sorted and sorted and sorted through the kids' clothes in the basement. It seems so wasteful to get rid of stuff when I have so many boys, but I find that when it is time for the next one to grow into it, I really only want a few things and the rest I want to buy new (to me). I have two big trash bags full of donations. I should have six, but you have to start somewhere.
Turned in another book review. Two years ago, when I started reviewing for Armchair Interviews I thought Andrea was crazy when she'd limit my consumption of books because I would burn out on writing the reviews. I thought, what's half an hour of my life for a free supplier of my addiction? Now I'm starting to understand. Part of it is that when you read so much for "obligation" (even when you wanted to read the book in the first place), the reading loses some of its joy. And once you've written 125 reviews (or more), they all start to sound the same. I've been a little more careful about the books I ask for anymore. If I'm reading purely for fun, I just buy it. Children's books being the exception. Some addictions don't let go as easily as others.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Closer Than Your Skin goes to Dolls123.
Death of a Six Foot Teddy Bear goes to Mommy4Life.
Every Good and perfect Gift goes to Hannah (should she want it--the other winner already had it so I did a second drawing from the commenters on the other books).
And yes, Liz won Rattled. And I'm really going to the post office tomorrow! Truly! Because she needs something to do for the next 18 days while she waits for her bambino to make an appearance.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I plead the fifth?
Nah, aside from the wholly mundane stuff that is far from interesting, I took my honey out to lunch. Sometimes that's all you need to do. As long as you are turning in your book reviews on time. Which I did two of, also. See? Not a total waste.
I think I even finagled another lunch invitation out of him for later in the week.
This time we get to read about Gaby, best friend of Bri (last book's heroine) who is a little gun shy after her boyfriend went after her (married) best friend, her employee ripped her off and her apartment burned down. She will be gullible no more, or so she says. But complications keep piling up and Gaby's motto isn't enough to help her out. What's a girl to do (besides eat truffles)?
I have to tell you, again, that I couldn't put this book down. Which says a lot. I needed to get out of town on Friday and I kept finding myself sitting at the kitchen table, reading. (Don't you know that if you sit at the kitchen table it is almost like doing dishes? It only counts as slacking off I you sit in a comfy chair.)
If it is possible, I liked this book even better than Chocolate Beach which goes to show that sequels aren't necessarily always less than. 'Course it really isn't a sequel anyway, just another book set in the same town with some of the same characters but a focus on a different one.
So, I highly recommend this one for your spring break read. Especially if you like books that look good enough to eat. It might make you want to pick up a truffle or two, but really who doesn't want to do that anyway?
Way to go Julie!
Monday, March 17, 2008
Before 8:30 I scrubbed the ring of grunge off the kids bathtub.
I began sorting clothes to give away. Several different piles to several different destinations.
I planted seeds to start impatiens, snapdragons and coneflowers.
Returned some stuff to the store.
Oops, found a ridiculous sale.
One load of laundry through the washer and dryer.
Sorted the weekend's mail.
Grasping now, better go do something that sounds more productive. Like painting. Or frying chicken. Something.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Can I just tell you all how silly glad I am that I'm not in that first week post-partum when I'm bleeding like a maniac and have that ridiculously high fever and coughing and peeing my pants and engorged and up all night nursing the baby....
This is how far I've come. I'm up nursing a baby who sleeps less than he did at birth.
At least he knows how to nurse now. I just pop it in and go back to sleep.
Yeah, it is definitely better.
And worth it, Liz (I know you kept reading, you maniac--and I seem to be the only person with the whole fever coughing (and thusly peeing) problem--don't worry about it).
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
This third book in Kim Vogel Sawyer's Sommerfeld Trilogy returns us to Sommerfeld, Kansas, a fictional community just outside of my old stomping grounds. (And why'dya have to make the bad guy from Hillsboro, Kim? (she'll say he's not really all that bad...just tall.))
This time we get to follow Trina, a bubbly, happy girl who has a special touch with animals. Trina would like to study to be a vet, but the dictates of her Old Order Mennonite fellowship say she shouldn't even finish high school, much less go to college. It looks like if Trina decides to follow her heart--and God given gifting--she might lose everything else important to her.
For a look into the non-Amish Mennonite lifestyle and beliefs, I highly recommend this series. They are not dependent, but you will get to revisit the main characters of Beginnings and Bygones. Even I found myself learning more about this lesser known branch of Mennonite. (Of course this is a fictional fellowship, so reading this book won't necessarily make you an expert on the Old Order.)
Side note: may you never have to hear Hubs and I explain the Mennonites (some people are nodding vigorously right now) "First you have the Amish: they don't drive and they wear white caps, then you have the Holdeman that wear black caps and drive, but don't allow chrome or radios on their cars, and there's the Old Order that wear white caps, but aren't Amish and sometimes drive and sometimes don't and then you have the Mennonite Brethren--that's what we were--which is more like a Southern Baptist and then you have the General conference Mennonite that is often more like the Methodist...." And though we both think we know what we are talking about, we probably have very little clue outside our very specific experiences, but we feel like experts when talking to people who hear Mennonite and apparently think Martian.
Anyhoo, yeah, I like Kim's books. Because of the setting and her very gentle way of writing and her way of writing in the romantic element that leaves much to the imagination, but is more realistic to marital love than a lot of writers.
Well done, Kim. What's next?
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Most of the crap (and I don't use that term lightly) I save drives me absolutely nuts and I've been trying to get rid of it, but when my humidifier tank was broken (by a child trying to help) just after I bought the thing, I saved the tank. I couldn't explain why. I just didn't know if the (ridiculously priced) replacement tank would have all the parts. Or if they would really send it. And maybe the old tank could be patched with rubber cement or something.
Well, I got the (ridiculously priced) replacement tank yesterday. And it came WITHOUT the cap. AS IF someone would order the tank and expect them to not send the piece that closes it. And I was filled with a sick feeling that I would have to call them back and get the cap also and at this point I should just go buy a new humidifier because they are probably about to clearance the things out.
I went to the garage, just KNOWING I would not find the cracked tank that I had tried to talk myself into tossing 100 times. And there it was. Cap in place.
So once, just once, saving junk worked in my favor.
Now, I'm off to declutter.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Charming, my boy, not since Eldest has anyone so enraptured me with every tiny mile stone. You truly are God's gift, albeit a rather, um, opinionated and willful one. The year has gone too fast. Try to stay little a bit longer, huh?
And here's a shout-out to my parents who are celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary today!
You have taught me the true meaning of commitment. No matter what we go through, I remind myself that if Mom and Dad could do it, surely I can. I love you!
Friday, March 07, 2008
Working on my attitude.
Yey! It's snowing! No drought this year!
Thursday, March 06, 2008
I fevered all night. Mastitis again. Seriously.
Managed to drug myself well enough this morning to almost function most of the day.
This afternoon, I noticed that Charming's hands weren't merely cold, but painful on my back when he nursed and the chills soon followed.
'Course our babysitter, the one we only get twice a year, was scheduled to arrive at 6. So at 5:34, when Hubs came home from work and found me shivering under a blanket in the living room, he dosed me again so we could go out.
Them's some desperate parents to go out when one is fevering and highly sensitive in the breast area.
So, babysitter arrives at 5:56 at which time I stumble upstairs to change and comb my hair, shivering like a maniac. Desperately wishing I could go to Houston's in bleach streaked yoga pants because to remove them from my body is nigh on torture.
The ibuprofen kicked in near 6:20 and I enjoyed my dinner.
Now I think I shall go to bed, because I'm exhausted as I didn't sleep well last night, and I never quite know when my drugs will wear off and I'll have to shiver again.
How I have done this twice in the last month when I'd never done it before, I don't know. Must be that Charming is a biter. If I could figure out how to do it, the child would be weaned. His clock is ticking, that's for sure.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
I have a hard time getting to the games once a week.
And THEN she made each girl a photo scrapbook of their season. (grumble, grumble)
So last night Hubs was chatting away with her while I wrangled the boys. They shared a laugh.
On the way home, Hubs related the conversation to me. It went something like this:
Hubs: Those were great photo albums you put together for the girls.
Her: Oh, it was really fun! I was sitting at home the other day and told my husband I didn't know what to do with all my time now that they are done and he said "How about the dishes?"
I like her a whole lot better now. I shouldn't, but I do.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
And since the celebration is for a Christian basketball program, they gave the salvation message and all that goes with that.
Tonight was Princess' turn. Same celebration, different night.
I sent her upstairs to put on her uniform and wash her face. When I came up to change myself, she, very seriously, pulled me aside. "Mom," she said, "I'm worried that I'm not right with God."
"You?" I asked (trying not to laugh) "You, the girl who reads her Bible everyday and prays all the time and talks about God everyday? You're worried about being right with God?" (mom breathes out through her nose in that almost laugh snort and smirks, teasing) (granted I'm generally worried about being right with God, but that is my adult-ness that thinks I might still need to earn grace, or certainly should work hard to not lose it because the longer I live, the farther I know I've fallen...)
She burst into tears. She really was serious.
Remember I was there when she asked Jesus into her heart the first time (at 2). And the second (at 3). And she talks about having Jesus in her heart and about being a Christian. And she wants to know if various people are Christian. And up until tonight, she was certain of her salvation.
Tonight she knew that guy was going to talk about needing Jesus and something in her told her she should dive in again.
I'm not knocking it. She was really too young to remember. Even if she "remembers," it's probably pretty fuzzy. Frankly, I suppose she inherited that from her mom. I remember thinking I "asked Jesus into my heart" when I was three-ish. And doing it again a little later at a backyard bible club and feeling silly because I knew I'd already done it, but wasn't quite sure...what if I dreamed it? And again when I was about 5th grade. And by the time I got to High School, I learned enough to call it a "re-dedication." Actually, Hubs was with me that night and he did the same.
Anyway, Princess and I prayed again and I told her how proud I was of her for listening to her spirit and obeying.
I hope she feels more secure in her faith than I did as a squirt. I hit a point sometime in my childhood where I prayed it every night Just In Case.
Sometimes I wonder if those of us that grew up in the church have some things harder. We hear salvation messages all the time. We don't want to grow immune to the message. We know the lingo and pretty frequently we hear testimonies of people who say "I would have said I was a Christian and was saved, but one day I realized I wasn't and I got that way!" They are well meaning messages and I'm sure there are lots of lost people sitting in the pews, but there are lots of us saved people who fret "what if that is me????? what if I'm not saved and I don't even know it????"
I asked my pastor that one time. He said that the people who are like that don't worry about such things.
What I know is that the Bible says we are supposed to go and sin no more etc, and I fall down EVERY STINKING DAY. Sometimes I wonder about myself.
I guess that is why they call it faith.
Monday, March 03, 2008
I think I’ve always been very fortunate that as a writer, I knew for a certainty that writing was what God wanted me to do. There wasn’t any doubt. I’d already laid down my writing for Him once, and He’d given me clear permission to take it up again. He had even sent other things to encourage and prompt me in my writing.
What wasn’t so clear was my “other job,” biology work.
I enjoyed biology. I still find it fascinating. But it’s no longer my passion in terms of career. It’s kind of strange, because for a long time, all my career plans and hopes had been in the biotech field.
Now, they’re all in Barnes and Noble. LOL
Anyway, I was unhappy in my biotech job. I wasn’t in the field of biology that I enjoyed the most, but I had kept the job because my husband had been unemployed for over a year. He finally got a new position, but he’d only been there for a few months.
It had gotten to the point where I dreaded going to work each day. The drive into work was like driving to be dipped in boiling oil and whipped with chains.
The projects I was doing weren’t what I wanted to do—not in the particular branch of biology I liked the most—plus part of me wanted to be writing and not doing biology work at all.
I had managed to juggle both writing and working full-time for most of the years I was writing seriously, but it was getting harder because I was unsatisfied with the biology work.
Then, a friend of mine, Marilyn Hilton, offered a bold suggestion.
I knew God wanted me to write. So Marilyn suggested I ask God if I could quit my biology job and write full time for six months. The time limit was mostly to ease my husband’s worry, but it would also give me time to indulge my creative side for a while and be refreshed to start a new biology position—hopefully in the field I really enjoyed—when that six months was over.
If I got a contract, and the advance money was sufficient for our household expenses (read: mortgage), then I could continue writing full time until finances dictated I go back to work.
Now, I’m also fortunate in that I live in an area—Silicon Valley—where it’s very easy for me to get a new biology position. There are tons of biotechs here and my work experience makes me qualified for a variety of positions. Because of this, Marilyn’s suggestion wasn’t totally crazy.
I talked to my husband, who was open to it. I fasted. I prayed with Marilyn. And I quit my job.
Four days later, I found out I had finaled in the ACFW Noble Theme writing contest.
It was like a sign from God, a little bit of encouragement that writing—and forsaking my very well-paying biology position—was in His will for me.
I went on to win first place in my category in the Noble Theme that year. And the next year, I got a contract—just as the six months were up.
Now, I’m not saying every writer should quit her job to write full time. We had to calculate how we’d handle the sudden slicing of our income (because with both of us working, our household income was quite good).
I also had to have my husband’s 100% support. God was the one who molded my husband’s attitude about my writing, not my writing talent (because the only manuscript of mine that he’s read has been Sushi for One, and that’s only because I forced him to).
I guess my suggestion is—prayer and a willing heart. Being willing to do whatever God asks of us, whether writing full time or working full time and writing.
And my prayer for each of you is to know and be fulfilled in God’s will for you and your writing.
Camy Tang is the loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick lit. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away five boxes of books and 25 copies of her latest release, ONLY UNI.
It's New Book Tuesday again!
Last weekend I got the chance to read and enjoy Camy Tang's latest "Loud Asian Chick-Lit" book, Only Uni. What fun that was!
I don't know about all you non-biologists, things may fly over your head, but I had a blast spending my weekend reading about a chick in a biology lab. And somehow, not sure how, Camy made that an exciting read. Musta been the romantic element. Now, I know that biology labs can be exciting, but I think most people wouldn't think so.
Trish is tired of her wild ways, and she's pretty sure that God is also. She develops three simple rules: 1. No looking (at guys). 2. Tell people about Christ. 3. Rely on God. So of course she has attractive guys coming out her ears. And lots of extraneous problems.
I loved how real this story is. Trish is a struggling Christian who is rather disgusted with herself and her behavior. She uses her rules to try to "earn" God's favor and grace. How many of us do that?
Camy uses an interesting third person perspective that reads almost like first. It took me a couple chapters to get used to it, but before long the flow was natural. (Shoot, I probably tried to read the first two chapters while my kids were awake. Maybe I shouldn't even mention it.)
Overall, I thought this was a great story. I liked reading this Ameri-Asian (my term) book. Though I have had experience with many Asian people, most of them were adopted by Caucasian parents and so were quite like me in their food choices, etc.. I feel like I know the culture a bit better.
One of these days, I'll have to harass Camy to feed me some of these foods she talked about. And, Camy, where are my hand rolled truffles?