Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Different Kind of Giving...

Give the gift of life this Christmas

Hands of Hope, a charity of Women Helping Women A World Away, is

announcing that their Holiday Gift Cards are available for purchase. These cards provide food,

income and water for impoverished women and children in Zambia, Uganda, and

Southern Sudan. They can be purchased on the Hands of Hope website for $15.00, $30.00 and $50.00. Purchasing these cards will provide

goats, chickens or wells to help change lives. What could be a more meaningful gift for holiday

giving for family, friends, and customer appreciation?

Hands of Hope helps mobilize communities to respond to the needs of women and children

around the world. With an ever-expanding support base in the Chicago area, Hands of Hope

works to raise community awareness regarding poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa and its relevance

globally. We are confident in the integrity of the channels we have established so that

contributions provide the highest possible impact for the most critical needs.

A Chicken Card will purchase a gift of twelve chicks and be given to an impoverished family in

Africa. As the flock multiplies, a struggling family will be given the hope to survive. Your gift will

help those in need for generations to come.

A Goat Card represents an actual goat being purchased for a needy family. Beyond providing

much needed milk, a few goats can quickly become a herd, providing sustenance and additional

income that can make the difference between whether a child goes to school or not.

A Well Card will go toward funding a well in the Western Province of Zambia. Statistics show that

nearly half of all people in developing countries suffer from health related problems caused by

unsafe water. In addition, African women and children spend several hours every day collecting water.

Don't Answer That!

When your baby uses the same word for "nurse" as he does for "pop" or, more specifically, "Pepsi," what does that say about the contents of your breast milk?

Incidentally, his word for "cat" and "dog" is also the same: Nonny.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Crap Bathrooms

I have a new thing to be thankful for:

Crap Bathrooms.

Two days ago I was commiserating with a friend on facebook about crap bathrooms. Ugly. Outdated. Embarassing. Gross. These are the words we used. Poor us. We don't have beautiful bathrooms to which we can escape (on, oh, so many levels).

I have a word for her and myself.

Crap bathrooms with crap lighting are the bomb.

You know what you get when you have lovely bathrooms with lovely lighting and big, lovely mirrirs?

Cellulite magnifiers.

A girl can't climb into or out of the shower without determining in her heart to fast the Thanksgiving meal and any meal that should forthwith follow for however long it should take to remove the saggy, baggy elephant that has taken over her stomach or the hail damage that affects her thighs and butt.

My bathroom may have mildew that won't die. It may have cabinetry from the 70s or no cabinetry at all (save the wire over-the-toilet-shelve), but the mirrors are all either too little, too high, or simply absent.

Father God in Heaven, my psyche thanks you for choosing for me a home that keeps it in the dark about what is really going on south of the noggin.

Wal-Mart re-Visited

So there I was in MacPhearson, Kansas, at Wal-Mart, at 2:45 in the afternoon, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

The place was vacant. Like my Wal-Mart at seven AM on a Tuesday in July.


Maybe it isn't Wal-Mart I hate so much as it is the Wal-Mart in my city.

I'm still in awe. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The day I avoid all retail at all costs. (Unless, for example, I'm on an emergency Pepsi and Creme Brulee CoffeeMate run. A girl has her caffeinated needs, crowds be-durned.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Special Note to Kohl's

Hey! If you are going to advertise a fabulous red dress accompanied by a catchy tune (not Christmas, I noticed), you should, in fact, SELL a fabulous red dress in your store.

Sure, you could be selling the CAR (the other item in that section of the commercial) with CHAPS on the windshield, but I don't really think so. I think you are selling the fabulous red dress.

It takes a LOT for me to give myself permission to buy a fabulous red dress. Especially by CHAPS, seeing as how they aren't known for being economical. So when I give myself permission to buy a fabulous red dress that you supposedly sell, it is highly disconcerting to find that you don't sell it. It isn't in the Chaps section. It isn't in Apt, 9. It isn't Simply Vera Wang (shocker, I know). It isn't Sonoma. It ISN'T in the store. It isn't on the web. It DOES NOT EXIST.

You know where I found that fabulous red dress?

JC Penney.

Guess who's getting my fabulous red dress money this year? (I certainly hope it is still there in my size now that I've said that.)

Come on, Kohl's! I love you, but you gotta carry what you offer or I get disillusioned and spend elsewhere because I have already convinced myself that I MUST HAVE THAT FABULOUS RED DRESS!

You have exactly one day to produce evidence that you carry said dress, or I'm heading to the mall. The other mall.


Edited to add: I am willing to consent that ON THE WEB there is a red dress that could be considered fabulous. However, said dress is cap sleeved. While cap sleeves are lovely in their own right, I live where it is cold at Christmas. The dress on the Ad has at least 3/4 length sleeves. There is also a red dress with longer sleeves, but I don't consider it fabulous on the web. It looks more clingy and not at all flowy like the ad. I will be watching tv tonight and will watch closely. I still think my first reaction is accurate but I MAY be wrong. (They still should carry dresses in the stores!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

How the Apple Falls

Tonight Hubs and I took Princess out for a special evening (read: all about her) while her brothers went for a sleepover (pray for Mr. and Mrs. Nurse Boy).

After dinner at the Rainforest Cafe we trolled the mall for a bit. She wanted to go over to Libby Lu for "wish sprinkles."

Libby Lu is having an "everything must go!" "Blowout sale!" (Apparently they will be closing, though nothing actually said "store closing.")

Princess and I walked around for a bit while the sprinkle lady pierced a baby's ears. We checked prices, looked, checked prices, looked, checked prices when princess finally pipes up and says:

"For a Blowout Sale, they sure do cost a lot."

Dry. Totally dry. Just like her mama. Cracked. Me. Up.

We went over to Disney store.

Then rode the double decker carousel.

Then got a soft pretzel.

Then came home and watched "Cars."


While she ate two ice cream cones.

She is so much fun when she isn't competing for attention. She ate calamari because her daddy and I wanted to. She ate Brave New World Pizza (it don't taste much like pizza, folks) because her daddy and I wanted to. She was amazed by the gigantic soft pretzel. She's a trier, that one. And she knows a pitiful deal when she sees one.

That apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.
You know it's time to wean the baby when he hikes your shirt up to your neck when you are defenseless to prevent it in the optometrist's office.

I told the assistant that when she told all her friends about me, to please not use my name.

There I am, staring into the machine (which is what made him freak out, I'm sure), waiting for the puff of air to blast me in the eye and he's climbed onto my lap, hiked my sweater to my neck and is yanking at my bra. I finally gave up, yanked the sweater over the top of the whole package and let him nurse away. He clung on like a leech.

It was humiliating.

My problem is that I have no clue how to wean a baby that doesn't want to wean. All my others weaned by their own choosing...well before this. At this age, my ears can't take the protest.

Oh, help.

Here's hoping that Thanksgiving will produce the necessary distraction.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Speed Dating

Yesterday I got paid big moolah for speed dating.

No, not people, products. I had five minutes to decide whether or not I liked a product and why.

What keeps coming to mind is the term "fair" in regard to price. I'm sure the price is fair. But whether or not I'd buy it when the price is fair is disconcerting for me. It is a cool product? Yes. Would the kids love the product? Yes. Would I lay money down for it? Yes. Would I lay down as much money for it as you would consider fair? Ah, there's the rub.

The truth is, I'm a cheapskate. What I consider a fair price is a durn lot lower than the average Joe. Think garage sale. And even then sometimes I think people are a little insane. "But it's cashmere" isn't an excuse. Do you want it, or don't you? This is a garage sale. That is a used sweater. If you want $100 take it to a consignment store. Garage salers, though we sometimes carry that kind of cash, usually intend to spend their $100 on more than one item. Unless we are looking for a sofa. And sometimes even then.

I buy my clothes off the 75% off rack. The last party supplies I bought were from a garage sale for a quarter a theme. The last washable markers I bought were a quarter a pack in the after school started clearance section. (I bought five dollars worth.) That's what I consider a fair price. Actually, I suppose that's what I consider an exceptional price. But I don't often buy at a fair price.



So, in hindsight, I'm thinking I might have answered some questions dishonestly.

Regretting that a little.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You Say Potato, I Say Po-ta-toe

Back in the day, approximately (exactly, to be exact) nine years ago, those of us in the biz sold brown diamonds to those people too cheap to buy the white ones.

Women came in the day after Christmas to exchange the diamond earrings that their boyfriend bought for some without "all those spots." (, that will take a few more hundreds.....)

Couples came in, took one look at a yellow diamond, and declared it unworthy.

Fast forward. 2004. People are paying more for yellow diamonds. The celebs are buying them for great amounts of money.

Fast forward again. 2008. They are selling brown diamonds. Marketing them. I'd like to have sat in that board room:

How do we get rid of these brown diamonds? Hey, I know! Call it chocolate! No woman can refuse chocolate! And we can charge MORE! Or how about champagne! Chocolate and Champagne! Genius!

Are we living in the twilight zone, or what?

Is it just me?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rhapsody in Red by Donn Taylor

"That Wednesday, two weeks before Thanksgiving, was a bad day to find a corpse on campus."

Preston Barclay is a self-made recluse (and he likes it that way). Teaching college history allows him time to grieve the loss of his pianist wife and find relief from the musical hallucinations that have been playing in his head since her death. But when he and a headstrong colleague, Mara Thorn, discover the body of another instructor on campus, Press's monotonous solitude is destroyed.

When the preliminary evidence singles out Press and Mara, they must take some chances (including trusting each other) to build their own defense--by bending the rules just a little bit.

They choose to form an unlikely alliance to stay ahead of the police, the college's wary and incompetent administration, and whoever is trying to get away with murder. Otherwise, they both might end up unemployed, behind bars, or worse... (from back cover copy)

OK, HILARIOUS book. It shouldn't be. It is a murder mystery/suspense/boogyman-around-every-corner-can't-figure-out-who-dunnit...but this book cracked me up. Press has a sense of humor like you wouldn't believe.

I love that he constantly has an ongoing musical score that clashes with his mood. (Except for the bassoon, snort.) Maybe it is because I often seem to have the same problem.

I'm not so much into reading people breaking the law to save the law because I just KNOW that they will get caught and pay even if it is fiction and they won't because the book is about them and you just don't end books where the end stinks because the wrong guy got it and publish two. Not in the real world (unless you are named Piccout and have an uncanny ability to make the unhappy ending work).

Any-hoo, if you like the cozy mystery/light suspense type books, and like to laugh to boot, I suggest you grab this one up. Maybe a little Christmas shopping for yourself?

And, hey, if you are in to this type of thing, you can read an interview of Donn Taylor here. They do regular reviews of Christian Suspense and often give away books so you might even want to sign up for their newsletter.

Lookin' Back Texas by Leanna Ellis

When Suzanne Mullins gets a frantic call to come back home to Texas because her mother has gone off the deep end, she knows it will mean more than having to confront the crumbling foundations of her parents' marriage. Life with her husband and son is also cracking under the strain of its own unspoken history, and the past is waiting for them in Luckenbach. Will Suzanne go along with her mother's outrageous scheme in order to keep her family in one piece--even if it does mean watching her father give the eulogy at his own funeral? (from back cover copy)

This was one of those books that makes you wonder how the hey they will pull THIS one out. I was not, however, cringing the whole time wondering why they don't just TALK instead of digging these huge holes, which is a very good thing. All in all I think it was a very well rounded plot line with far more involved than just a whacko mom. I really enjoyed the many layers of this book and the absolute necessity of Suzanne's trip "home."

But can I tell you what I liked most about this book? It felt like going home for me. A little mini-vacation without spending money on gas. I knew those crazy people. I've lived the small town, everyone's up in your business, someone is always a witness, life. (Sometimes I still long for it.) I think Leanna Ellis wrote small town true to life--at least the small town that I know and love.

Methinks I shall check out more of her titles. I'm thinking Elvis Takes a Back Seat.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What I Really Want to Do

Is take a long hot bath in a jacuzzi tub.

What I'm gonna do is take a long hot shower in a moldy shower stall.

You can't have everything.

But I'm going to attempt to be grateful for what I've got.

My legs ache like a 33 year old mother that spent the afternoon playing powder puff football on AstroTurf against girls half her age.

Here's hoping I can walk tomorrow.

Friday, November 14, 2008


How can I go from positively bubbling over with optimism one day to completely wasted in despondency the next?

I honestly don't know. The calendar doesn't suggest any imminent excuse. But I woke Wednesday morning in a state of panic and haven't quite been able to rid myself of it since. Hubs asks why and I can't come up with anything.

Check that. I can come up with any number of things that in and of themselves I can point to and say, "yeah, that's it." Except those 17 issues were there Tuesday also and not causing me to kick my legs in frustration (I've noticed that I have symptoms of restless leg syndrome....but only when I'm totally freaking out about something).

Mercy, mercy, mercy.

Sometimes I just want to pack my bags and start all over. Not from my immediate family, I'd take them with me, but from this life that I've made for myself. I confessed as much to Hubs who agreed with me. He's going through something similar.

Life is hard. And instead of muscling through it, I seem to prefer to whine. On top of that, I know that I should be grateful, but all I can see are the issues. And I should be loving, but I'd rather lick my own wounds than tend to some one else's.

To quote, I think, Rex: Great, now I have guilt.

Sometimes I wonder why I've been hardwired this way and whether I can overcome it. Surely, SURELY, the world isn't conspiring to make me miserable, lonely, guilty, and a crappy housekeeper and mom.

I'm just so overwhelmed with it all, ya know? And instead of staying thoughtful and organized I'm half a step ahead, if that, and more often than not, late and behind.

O, Happy Day.

So, now I'm going to go try to do something in this rare moment of peace. Peace as in quiet. Not peace as in peaceful inner life. But who knows? Charming has radar for "mom accomplishing something."

Let's see....spiritual application...

Meaningless, meaningless. Everything is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes)

That was full of hope, not?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What to do When Your Wireless Goes Kaput and Your Computer Isn't Plug-In Capable...

Um, yeah.

One might not quite realize how addicted one is to one's internet unless this tragedy befall them.

Hopefully I will be up and running again soon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I was driving home tonight after a decompression time with a couple friends going through a similar trial and I was thinking about blogging topics and all I could think to say is this:

I feel found.

I'm found.

I don't know how to describe it. And even typing it makes me rethink it. It doesn't make sense. Not exactly.

Maybe I'm coming into myself. Or I know that even though I get disgusted with my self, I am comfortable with myself. Which is a joke because I'm so not. And I'm still a bit discouraged and I have bad days. Today being one of them. But I can't help but feel as if I'm struggling FOR something.

I'm found.

I was so lukewarm for so long that I forgot what hot felt like. There were times when I prayed to just be cold so as to feel SOMETHING. And it was a long, dark time.

And now I feel found.

Tomorrow I may be lukewarm and lost again, but tonight I'm going to consider myself that one sheep out of a hundred.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Those Little Shiny Sunrays

Over the course of one extraordinarily sucky month half of my home group that almost never really was left the church.

A girl could start to take something like that personally.

I'm not going to go into that tonight. Not so much anyway. But I was in a funk so dang low I'm not sure a cockroach could have scraped me off the floor with chewing gum and one of those pampered chef scrapers.

I just wanted to report that today I walked into church not hoping for much and was just overwhelmed with love for the people around me.

Just diagonal to the right was LT where she always is. Faithful and shining. And in front of her is the couple I almost never talk to and their teenagers and mother. Just like always. To my direct right is the couple with their adult daughters who always have a smile and encouraging word for me. Behind me is the drummer's wife and her son. And behind her is the usher ready to hold the door when I get tired of wrestling Charming through the announcements.

These people are constants. They aren't necessarily those that I've chosen to spend much time with outside the church's walls for one reason or another. I don't really know why. Not in the same life stage probably. But they are always there. In their places. We know when there is someone there that isn't usually. And we know when someone is gone.

I love these people. This is home. THEY are there.

I've been acting as if the whole church emptied when my friends left. A gaping void. A black hole. I wondered who was planning to fall into it next. Would I be the last one standing? If I stepped into the hole myself, would I stop the bleed?

It sucked.

But today I saw a glimmer of hope. And I spent a bit more time greeting those faithful ones that sit around me. These people are my family.

It turns out the pew isn't quite as empty as I imagined it to be.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Me Myself & I AM

Here's a fun book for gifting. It's kinda like a time capsule with a cover. A slice of "me, now" to be read by me, later. I'm having fun with it.

A new experience of God comes one question at a time in this fun and provocative journal. Made up entirely of insightful, profound, and occasionally ridiculous questions, Me, Myself, and I AM invites you to open to any page, open yourself to God, and be the author of your own story.

Questions range from spiritually intriguing—

You overhear God talking about you. What do hear him saying?

to thought-provoking—

You are on a long car trip with a close friend who is not a Christian and the conversation turns to faith. What is your biggest fear about what your friend will ask or say?

to challenging—

Do you believe that all of Jesus’ followers have a responsibility to tell others about him?

to just plain fun—

If your life before you became a Christian were a movie, its title would be:

Animal House

As Good as It Gets

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It’s a Wonderful Life

Me, Myself, and I AM will entertain, inspire, and get you thinking about your spiritual life from brand new angles. Whether you use Me, Myself, and I AM as a reflective tool, a way to start conversations with friends and family, or as a spiritual time capsule to look back on years later, their own words will create a powerful journey of self-discovery.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Some Thoughts on the Election

My gut reaction is that America deserves everything that's coming to her. My children, however, do not, which makes me sick. On the flip side, maybe I will be pleasantly surprised and the new tax codes, etc. won't impact me.

Maybe I'll find that I like socialism.

I'm not holding out much hope.

Though I consider myself a "have not" as far as the "middle class" goes, I'm not delusional enough to believe that my taxes really won't go up just because I don't make $250K...because HELLO it's gotta come from somewhere and the people that do have the money are smart enough to hide it before January.

Having said that (and that was more than I intended to say--I apologize to all three Obama supporters that read this blog for talking politics yet again), I offer you this little ditty:

(bomp, bomp, bomp) God is bigger than the president
He's bigger than Obama and the anchors on TV
Oh, God is bigger than the president
And he's watching out for you and me!

Are you frightened?
No not really
Are you worried?
no, not a bit
I know what ever's gonna happen
that God can handle it
(I'm sorry that I scared you when you saw me on TV)
Oh, that's ok, cause now I know, that God is takin; care of meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

(bomp, bomp, bomp) God is bigger than the president
He's bigger than Obama and the anchors on TV
Oh, God is bigger than the president
And he's watching out for you and me!

He's watchin, watchin, watchiiiiiinnnnnnnnn
out for you and meeeeeeeeeee

(Complements Junior, additions mine.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Ruby Slippers

So.....I awoke yesterday morn and told my dear Hubs that what I really needed was a great pair of red shoes.

So buy some, he said.

Problem there dear is that you can't get a great pair of red shoes. Not like I want. And not for less than $50. (Yeah, I know, some of you out there wouldn't consider a pair of shoes under $100, but I'm a cheapo, clearance rack shopping lover of shoes and I don't often pay for them what you are "supposed" to pay for great shoes. More than $10 and they better be darned fantastic AND have a name on there that you would read about in a Kristin Billerbeck novel.) I suppose I'll just have to wear the other dress to church instead. (Poor me. And I got loads of complements on it, too.)

Ah, but while coat shopping for Princess, we detoured to the shoes. And there they were. My ruby slippers. Hummina-hummina. Come to mama, baby girls.

And I'd show you a picture, except I'm too darned lazy to first find the camera, then take the picture, then upload the picture. So you'll have to take my word for it.

Entre New Book Tuesday: Ruby Slippers: How the Soul of a Woman Brings Her Home by Jonalyn Grace Fincher. (Nice segue, eh? And yet TOTALLY and ABSOLUTELY TRUE!)

Oh, man. I started this book and thought, "My, my it's my long lost twin. Her heart is (or was) just as dark as mine is!" (She uses the word "eyes" but I think we mean the same thing.) The whole judgy woman admitting that we are always comparing ourselves to every other woman in the room. (Did I just type that?) Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally. And after we've sized the other woman up, turn the criticism upon ourselves.

This is why I hate to pool. If I'm not envying someone else's abs, I'm envying their parenting skills.

ANY-way I found myself thinking I needed to buy this book for every woman I know. If there are two of us willing to admit to these problems and a publisher willing to print the problems right out there in black and white, it can't just be ME.

As an aside: There were a couple sections in the middle where she almost lost me with the gender equality stuff, but by the end I could see where she was going. Should you pick up the book, hear her out. You might not agree with every word, but the premise is sound. I'm not even sure I don't agree with her, but I've been shoving my self and my thoughts into a certain box (or corset) for so long it might take a while for my thoughts to settle enough to say whether I am fully in her boat.

HOWEVER, there are also gorgeous chapters about finding and feeding our feminine soul, whether or not that soul is quiet and gentle--(once you get past the psycho-babble of why our feminine soul needs finding and feeding...and I use the term psycho-babble in its most loving sense. It's like Bringing Up Boys. I know I need to let my boys be boys...quit telling me why and tell me how! Many, many people need to know why before they can understand how. I know I have a problem. FIX ME!)--and as most of you know, quiet and gentle are words that decidedly do NOT fit me.

And oh, does she end it well.

So I'm back to believing that I need to give a copy to every woman I know. Maybe you don't have dark eyes. And maybe you do. Maybe you love soft dresses and high heels and maybe you are more comfortable on the sofa in sweats watching football. And maybe you like to do both. And maybe you are a powerful working woman and maybe you are a wimpy mom that can't stand up to her raving 20 month old when he decides he NEEDS YOUR SHIRT ALL THE WAY OFF SO THAT HE CAN STAND AND WATCH TV WHILE NURSING (not that I know anyone with that particular problem). But I'll muster a guess that something in this book will call out to you and cause you to crave redeemed femininity like you've never understood it before.

By the way, Jonalyn, I so love and envy your hair as only a chick with fine, limp, do-nothing hair can. I'm so sure you wanted to hear that.

Seriously, go check out her blog and hair. She hated it growing up. It plays a big role in her book. And the very first thing I thought when I saw her photo was, "wow, that is some great hair" long before I read the book. And now I feel petty mentioning it. But, darn it, it is fabulous and someone needs to say it.