Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Just Call Me a Trained Monkey

Hubs called this morning and asked if I wanted to make some money.


'Course, I thought he meant he found a writing gig for me. I didn't know he was going to spring data entry on me. And when I say data entry, I'm being liberal.

Copy, change screens, paste, arrow, copy, change screens, paste, change screens, copy, paste, arrow.

Wash rinse repeat.

For the dollar figure he offered me, I thought I'd do it all day.

My eyes were crossing after 30 minutes. I made it an hour and ten minutes.

The funny thing?

Hubs tried to explain what I was doing. "First you run the query and then you are uploading to the database, then you draw the new query from the post to the zoogle and ankhfpih ucmhkhndkf xz, hbvgdhlclm dxchnz,d.

And I said, "Yeah, whatever. Give me the steps."

I'm a trained monkey. I don't want to know what I'm doing. I'm over that. I dropped out of grad school 10 years ago.

Dolla Fity Cheesecake

Yes, I did. I did eat cheesecake for lunch.


Course, the thought of eating it now makes me want to puke.

Charming got his own piece, too.

Hey, at a buck fifty, I wanted the leftovers.

I'll have you know, he ate almost as much of his slice and Hubs and I did of ours.

Happy 30th birthday Cheesecake Factory. I hope you stick around many more years!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Healing Choice

In the wake of betrayed intimacy, you may feel nauseated, angry, humiliated, desperate. Why am I not enough for him? Can our marriage be saved—and do I even want to try? Will this unbearable ache ever go away?

Amid the devastation that follows a spouse’s sexual disloyalty, you need to know that you are not alone. God walks alongside you, offering comfort and a promise to transform the pain of the present into hope for the future. In addition, there is a community of women who know firsthand the agony caused by a husband’s sexual compromises and who offer the compassion, strength, and biblical wisdom you need to make healthy decisions for yourself and your family.

The Healing Choice reveals the hope-filled stories of two such women, authors Brenda Stoeker and Susan Allen, who draw on their own experiences and those of many others to offer step-by-step advice for rediscovering intimacy with God and finding the support you need to move toward genuine spiritual and emotional restoration.

Their down-to-earth insights light the path toward help and healing for every woman who longs to move beyond the pain of broken trust and experience God’s promise of hope.

I have several of these to give away. Leave a comment, or if you are in the throes and don't want to comment publicly, email me (chaos-jamie(at)gmail(dot)com) and I'll get the book and a guide book sent out to as many people as I have books for.


Something occurred to me yesterday.

When did I stop feeding myself?

I used to feed myself. I have distinct memories of doing so. Before I married, I ate. It might not have been much: a bowl of instant oatmeal, a sandwich, cereal, hot pockets, something.

Then I got married, and I still fed myself. I would cook more elaborate meals for the two of us, but since Hubs was an engineering student, he was at the lab more than he was at home. I think I ate a lot of cereal then, also. Sometimes I'd make a casserole and feed the entire lab. College students think that anything that doesn't come in a box is fabulous.

We graduated. I began to cook more. At least two meals a day. Granted, Hubs came home for lunch so I was cooking for two. We ate pretty healthy because by then I was trying to get pregnant and I was ever mindful of a potential baby's nutritional needs.

And then I got/had kids. Now, unless someone is here to feed, I don't bother.

There are only about three things I like to eat these days that don't require cooking. If we are out of string cheese, granola bars and grown-up yogurt (Go-Gurt grosses me out), I go without.

It doesn't help that I've felt queasy for so long that I forget what it feels like to want to eat.

(Yes, voyeurs, I have taken a test and there is only one pink line.)

I still think it odd that if my kids are gone, I don't think I need to cook and if Hubs is gone, I don't think I need to cook. I used to cook just for Hubs and considered it a privilege. Now I don't want to deal with the leftovers. He won't eat them and I don't want them. They aren't a cheese stick, you know. Kids ooo-yuck everything anyway, might as well open a box of mac-n-cheese.

I know, that is a terrible attitude.

BTW, I cooked Chicken Cordon Bleu (with white wine cream sauce) last night. It was fabulous. Today, the thought of eating it makes me gag.

Anyway, am I the only one that does this? Skip meals because it is too much of a bother? Or more likely because we burned out on sandwiches and cereal in college?

I think it is very strange. Especially for a person that loves food.

The Engine Light?

Low on coolant. Cheaply remedied.

The AC?

Fixed and "paid for." (Thank you, Jesus for a rare cool day in the end of July while we waited.)

The roof?

Still holding. Hopefully will continue until we've built up a reserve.

The termites?

Well, we got someone to bid $1000 lower than the first guy with a similar treatment and the same warranty. And I figure they can hold for a couple weeks, also.

My attitude?

Better, though just.

Monday, July 28, 2008

And if That Weren't Enough

The check engine light went on in Hub's car last night.

And my milk is sour this morning.

And on Saturday I had 10 pounds of chicken rot on me.

Now I know I see angels and demons in more things than they are probably responsible for, but doesn't this seem almost transparent to even the skeptics? I told Hubs I'm about to give up. he asked from what and how would that change anything. I don't know what it is I'm supposed to give up. My attitude? Losing it. My money? Gone. My laughter? It is maniacal about now.

Yes, I am a little surly this morning. Thankyouverymuch.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Strike Three!

Our AC blew last night. Or rather, some coil that makes the AC work.

When he said it was the coil instead of the main AC, I got excited thinking, oh, a couple hundred bucks.

I feel almost sorry for my reaction when he told me it would be $1230.

I even used the word "freaking." (My neighbor once asked me if Christians used the word freaking trying to catch me in sin. I told him that all the Christians I knew were still sinners, so probably. Now we know it for a fact.)

I was nice to the guy. Sort of. In the exasperated, I-can't-believe-this-you-wouldn't-believe-what-we've-had-to-shell-out-this-week kind of way.

I told Hubs I feel like Job. I don't want to curse God and die, but I may want to curse Dave Ramsey.

See what good an emergency fund does ya? You have EMERGENCIES!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Shut Up!

I didn't expect THIS score! During the first page of questions, I thought I'd be at about 2%. I even fessed up to not "grooming my hair" and "wearing stockinged feet" at home.


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


How I hate it.

Even when it comes long after I'd forgotten about the submission.


What's a girl to do when she's down?

Yesterday was a nightmare of bad mood to the nth degree. I received an email that should have done nothing but bring a smile to my face and yet it angered me.

Angered me, people.

I was scolding my children, storming around my house, being generally irritated and I asked myself, what is this all about?

And the answer came to me immediately. Envy. Bitter envy. And it doesn't even make sense. I don't want this person's life. I don't want what this person has. I even want them to have it. It is great stuff. A great person. I person I treasure.

So, of course, I confessed to Hubs. Who, of course, took it as a personal insult. On top of the insurance adjustment check that is also apparently a personal insult. As are the termites. All of which I am apparently still supposed to handle on my own. Even though he is also personally insulted that our emergency fund will be spent so I should figure out how to spend well over three grand out of my daily budget.

So I think my personal despondency is because I've taken on Hub's personal despondency. Because surely if I had bought fewer mocha frapuccinos or fewer half gallons of Blue Bell ice cream, we'd have twenty-eight billion dollars in the account and he wouldn't have to figure out how to pay the roofer, the bug guy and the taxes all out of the same piddly emergency fund. (Which is large enough, mind you, to pay all those people, but leaves it at zero again. Apparently thus negating all his hard work and making him wonder why he bothers.)

The thing is, I feel the same way. Why work so stinking hard to get out of debt and stay out of debt if getting out of debt means all heck breaks loose?

I know it is backward thinking to suppose that we didn't have termites when we were in hock up to our eyeballs so we should go back into debt so that nothing else breaks. I know we should be thankful that God withheld the hail and the bugs and the boils until we had the resources to cover them, but dang if it doesn't feel suspicious.

Meanwhile I'm still reading The Cost of Discipleship which talks of laying it all down and holding everything loosely and, and, and...and I should be encouraged and all I want to do right now is go get a pedicure and a haircut at a real salon and forget that money isn't cheap.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Crickets and Hail and Termites, Oh MY!

Home ownership is overrated.

As if the lack of grass in the back yard and the crummy carpet we were going to replace FIVE YEARS AGO weren't enough to add on top of the mudding and taping and painting and yellow counter tops and general leaky toilets weren't enough, we have crickets. Camelback Crickets.

Google them. They aren't a pretty picture. And according to lovers of camelback crickets, you pretty much can't get rid of them without A) buying all kinds of killers and doing the DIY thing (which, by the way, hasn't worked so far) or B) hiring a bug guy.

I finally gave in last week and signed a contract to have the bug guy come out. Not once, but for a whole year. Because I'm flat sick of the spiders and silverfish, and gnats, and flies and centipedes and ants also. The crickets just put me over the edge. That and the roach I saw the other day. I don't do roaches.

As if I need one more piece of evidence condemning my housekeeping ability, or lack thereof. (My MIL was here when it happened and was very gracious about it...even if I do think she was lying through her teeth. (waving to NY,NY))

And we had this hail storm that I mentioned in passing. It included golf ball size hail. And the ambulance chasers also known as roofers are still swarming. Most of them drop their info and go, but one guy knocked on my door and offered a "free inspection." Lo and behold, he thinks we need a new roof. We smiled and nodded and called our friend the roofer...who concurred. We need a new roof.

Our deductible "due to hail" is $1890. So we're getting a new roof, but not a cheap one, let me tell ya.

And don't even get me started on the marital bliss that comes with dealing with insurance companies when the confrontational one wants the non-confrontational one to make all the calls and tell them how it's gonna be.

I'm so sure.

And what does the bug guy find? Termites.

I told him, "Wrong answer."

He didn't waver.

So I've been calling termite guys to come out and estimate. It isn't pretty. However, on the "bright side," the last guy said he saw no live termites.

Not sure what to do with that information. Do we treat? Do we not treat?

Needless to say, our "emergency fund" has been depleted to nearly zero.

I'm feeling a kinship with Pharaoh this month. I'd ask when the plague of frogs was coming, but since I currently have two near frogs and two toads in captivity, that one's not too far off.

If boils show up, I'm outta here. I'll let his people go.

Whatever that represents.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fresh Air

I certainly need it, as most of you know. I hunger for it. And kids need it even more.

If any of you live in the New England states and are passionate about children, you might want to rush over here and see if this looks like something that would interest you. I know zero about them except what is on their web site, but I'm answering the call to get the word out.

I know that if I need to get out of the city clear over here in the middle of the plains, these kids certainly do.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wow, 800 posts and counting...

So, you know how it is when every spiritual venue of your life converges on a single topic?

I think maybe, potentially, possibly, could be, God is trying to tell me something.

It all started innocently enough. I expressed some frustrations to a friend that I hadn't seen in forever and due to that very emotional outburst she suggested we do a book study together. This was in March.

Not that we actually got around to doing the study...until two weeks ago. Deitrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship, which is, let me just say, not easy reading. And very challenging on several levels. And just when I think he's pushed something too far (to the works side of faith), he rights it.

Sorry, can't quite boil it down and do it any justice for blog fodder, but essentially he challenges the "current church" (written in the late 30s in Germany, I believe) for handing out "cheap grace" at the expense of true discipleship, truly following Jesus. And he keeps talking about "obedience" and I kept saying to my friends (a second one joined us, or rather, I joined them), "Yeah, but obedience to what???" Because the examples he uses are the rich young ruler (give away everything) among others. Big, extravagant, costly obedience.

And I don't think God asked me to give away everything.

So my question was, how do we know what He's asking. I mean, I know that the more we practice in obedience the more obvious it will be. And, face it, if I just was obedient in the way I spoke to my children everyday, I'd come a long way.

Fast forward. I decide to read Galatians this week. What does he talk about? Well, not in so many words, but cheap grace, works, faith, the balance, following Jesus. It isn't the outward acts, but it isn't only the confession either.

I'm butchering this.

I just got up this morning with the expectation that church WOULD be about this topic. Meaning the sermon.

What I didn't account for was the music, and basically anyone else that was given the microphone, too.

I think I just sat in church with a silly grin plastered on my face.

I got it, God. I got it. Hearing you loud and clear.

Now, the hard part.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

As if I Haven't Griped Enough About the 'Mart.

I nearly came on here this morning with flaming fingers at the ready. I went so far as to log in and begin typing. But I had to pause and remember that my readership is potentially gentle. Or potentially expects me to be gentle.

Or I wanted to be able to show my face at church tomorrow.

So I signed off.

I've had eleven hours to recover my wits and senses. And though my wit won't be quite so ascerbic, I find I cannot, I repeat, CAN NOT not write a post about the trauma I endured at the hands of Sam Walton this morning.

Serves me right for going against my own unofficial boycott in quest of a cheap fish tank.

Which, it might be fruitful to point out at this moment, was OUT OF STOCK.

You might remember that once I discovered that IF I skipped the self check lanes, and IF I went on Tuesday mornings at 8:37, and IF I only brought one child, two at the max, along, Wal-Mart was nearly tolerable.

My first mistake was going at 10AM on a Saturday. My second was taking Charming.

Both, mind you, not my choices. I rudely point my finger at Hubs who was told at 7:15 this morning that I intended to take Eldest on a "special date" assoonas he got home from the airport.

He got home at 8:35. (Yes, I can make it to Wal-Mart in two minutes.)

Hubs "needed" to clean out his car. I thought he meant trash. When he got out the shop vac I tacked on another 10 minutes.

I didn't know the man planned to detail the thing.

But that is for another post and I need to remember that I've forgiven him. (Wal-Mart at 10AM on a Saturday didn't help his odds of survival.) And that he totally forgot we had people coming over in TWO HOURS.

Back to "Save Money. Live Better."

So, my question is: If you go into Wal-Mart specifically to get something that only they carry (to your knowledge) i.e. the $10 fishtank (for the toads, plural, that we need to find a home for) and the Wall-E short set for $5 (for which Frodo is aching) and you've promised Eldest that he can, indeed, pick out a new back pack TODAY, THIS MORNING, and they've moved everything in the store to a new location since your last visit, and they are in the middle of renovations (sorry for the inconvenience, but when we get it finished it will be so much nicer {shah}) even though the store is less than nine years old because you remember being so excited when they were building it so that you wouldn't have to drive across town to get to your (then) favorite store, and they don't have the things on your list, they have no back packs that Eldest likes and you've re-hurt your back wrestling Charming into and out of the cart seat, and you still have to go next door to Target to get what you need (not the things that only Wal-Mart carries, mind you), and it is hot and muggy and you want to bang your head against a wall, or a floor if that's all that is available in the gigontimous building...

Does that count as "living better?"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

And One More

From Princess after discovering a void in the silverware drawer where there used to be kid forks and crazy straws:

Princess: "Mom, where did all the stuff go?"

Me: "I put it away."

Dad: "Forever."

Princess: "So it's in the trash?"

Me: "Um, yeah."

Princess: Why?

Me: Because there is too much stuff in this house cluttering up my brain and since you guys won't get rid of anything, I have to do it.

Princess: Your brain needs Space Bags.

Too Much TV?

Yesterday, on one of my many trips back or forth across town to pick up one child or another from one camp or another (and we wonder why it is harder to have them in camp than at home...) Eldest pipes up from the back seat:

"Mom, could we get some Batman Go-Gurt? We need an especially large package!"

"Why an especially large package? We always get an especially large package." (We shop at Sam's.)

"So we can win a trip to New-Ork to see uncle-(won't be my friend on facebook). And ride in the batmobile."

"And win lots of money!" Frodo chimes in.

Ah, a specially marked package. Got it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Love as a Way of Life by Gary Ghapman

I don't know how many of you have read The Five Love Languages but it is one of those books that belong in every library. My sister handed it to me while I was engaged and told me I couldn't get married until I'd read it. Both Hubs and I did and we refer to it often. "My touch tank is low," or better, as a mom, "I need giving touches, people have been taking them all day!" It was even our standard wedding gift for years.

Now Gary Chapman has a new book out that expands on the principles of loving. As he said in his new book, Love as a Way of Life, "I had made the assumption that if people know how to express love effectively, they would be eager to do it. I now realize that assumption was wrong. Love languages are important ways to communicate love, but without a basis for the love languages, our words and actions are empty." I think he's right.

Below you will find an interview with Gary Chapman about this topic. And after you've read it, leave a comment. I have an extra copy of Love as a Way of Life to give away. I especially encourage a certain subset of people (you know who you are) to comment. Because if, say, I were to lead a study this coming year, this is the book I'd plan to use.

1. Describe some of the everyday situations that can be changed if a person has a foundation of love.

When love becomes the focus of ones life it will change every encounter we have with people. In the family, the husband is thinking, “what can I do before I leave for work that would be helpful for my wife?” Such thinking may lead him to take the trash out, put his breakfast plates in the dishwasher or feed the baby while his wife takes a shower.

In the workplace, employees are asking, “on my break, what might I do that would help someone else?” They will also make time to listen to a co-worker who seems to be having a hard time with a personal issue.

At the bank, post office, or cafeteria, the lover will look people in the eye and smile, perhaps opening the door to a conversation. They will express interest in what is going on in the lives of those they encounter.

The focus is not on “it’s all about me.” But, rather on “It is all about others.”

2. What is the take-away message of Love as a Way of Life?

Love as a Way of Life is designed to help the person who sincerely wants to make a positive impact in the world. I believe that is ‘most of us.’ Our biggest problem is that we don’t know how and we keep getting tripped up by our own selfish ambitions. The purpose of the book is to help us break free from the prison of selfishness and come to experience the satisfaction of truly loving others as a way of life. It is little acts of love that build up to a lifestyle of service.

3. Why do you need a foundation of love before you start figuring out our love languages?

The five love languages give information on the most effective way to express love in a meaningful way to a particular person. But, if you are not a loving person – don’t have the heart or will to focus on others – the information is of little value. Most of us must make a conscious change of focus from self to others if we are going to genuinely, and consistently enrich the lives of others. Love as a Way of Life is designed to help people make that change.

4. When did you realize the need for this book?

I first recognized the need for Love as a Way of Life when in a counseling session a husband said to me, “I’ll tell you right now, if it is going to take my washing dishes, and doing the laundry for my wife to feel loved, you can forget that.” I had just explained to him the concept of the five love languages and that his wife’s primary love language was ‘acts of service’ and that these acts would deeply communicate his love to her. I realized that he lacked the will to meet his wife’s need for love. He was locked into his own perception of what his role was to be and it did not include washing dishes and doing laundry. I knew at that moment that there was something more foundational than simply knowing a person’s love language.

5. What are the seven characteristics of lasting love?

I view love not as a single entity, but as a cluster of traits, which if developed will enhance all of life. These traits are:

Kindness: discovering the joy of helping others

Patience: accepting the imperfections of others

Forgiveness: finding freedom from the grip of anger

Courtesy: treating others as friends

Humility: stepping down so someone else can step up

Generosity: giving your time, money, and abilities to others

Honesty: caring enough to tell the truth

6. Why do you think it’s so hard for people to embrace these characteristics?

All of us have some of these characteristics to some degree. Most people see love as being better than hate. But most of us are comfortable to live somewhere between love and hate in a lifestyle that is fundamentally focused on self. We feel good when we are making money, accumulating things, gaining status, but in time these things do not ultimately satisfy what I call the ‘true self’. The true self longs to make the world a better place to live. To do something to help those less fortunate than we.

However, we all suffer from the malady of being ego-centric. I call this the ‘false self’. It is that part of man that pulls him to focus on self-preservation and a self-centered lifestyle. This is not all bad. Indeed we must meet our own physical and emotional needs in order to continue life. It is when we never get beyond this self focus, that life becomes a ‘dog eat dog’ world where everyone is out for self even at the expense of others. Such a life never brings long-term satisfaction. However it is often later in life that people discover the emptiness of selfish living. I’m hoping that Love as a Way of Life will help people discover the satisfaction of developing the ‘true self’ earlier in life.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Joining the Cult

I was persuaded by the very best babysitter, EVER, and recently married young friend to join facebook because, as she put it, if I didn't join the cult, she wouldn't be very much in contact.

Well, when you put it that way.

So I joined. Not that I know what I'm doing. I searched for her. I asked if we could be friends (does this sound 5th grade to anyone else?). I searched for my brother in law, I asked if we could be friends. She accepted, he did not.

Don't know what to do with that, exactly.

I promptly forgot that I joined facebook. I come back today to four friend requests.

What the hey? How did they know I joined? I wondered. I searched for people all over the planet and found only my babysitter and my brother and I'm far too smart to think these people have lain in wait, searching out my name every ten minutes hoping against hope that I'd join.

Because, let's face it, my life is not that interesting.

And then I figured it out. Sort of. Facebook is like the matchmaker of Fiddler on the Roof. They make matches. I only had to find Mandagrace and they did the rest for me.

I know why the cult is so popular. They make you popular. Hey! You know someone who is popular! Do you know any of their friends? Maybe they'll be friends with you TOO! And no one is going to turn you down if you ask to be their friend. Because they couldn't look you in the eye in church next Sunday. What would people think?

Except, it seems, brothers-in-law who are too cool to be your friend. Even if you are a loser and don't have any other friends. And you make a really cute plea to save you from certain nerd hood. No. We can't help our uncool sister-in-law even if she did stand up for you when you were ten and annoying because she remembered how it was to be ten and annoying to HER big sisters and their boyfriends and that sometimes ten year olds want to be part of the action and interesting and important. We won't mention these long harbored debts, no we won't.

Or maybe he just hasn't been on the net. Possible, but not probable.

Or I searched another guy with the same name, graduating the same year from the same college living in the same city.

That's it. It's the geeky hick sister in law of the very suave New Yorker. Humph. Can't be bothered, too busy wearing black to pay any heed to this pastel friend seeker.

By the way, there are seven of me. One male. And that's just on Facebook. I know that if you google my name some bizarro 50 year old dude living in Florida also shares my name. I don't think he's the male on facebook.

However, our new children's pastor, whom I haven't met, asked me to be her friend. I accepted.

I also noticed that on political affiliation that Facebook doesn't offer "conservative" so I chose "republican" but noticed that many my "friends" got conservative in there somehow.

As if blogger wasn't enough of an addiction. Now I have even more to obsess about.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Timely Demise

My kids came home from a week at their grandparents' home with some new pets.

One caterpillar.

One chrysalis that was apparently a caterpillar earlier in the week.

Two bullfrog tadpoles.

Two crayfish AKA lobsters.

One baby snapping turtle.

As I thought these critters might be more enjoyable if we can actually see them, I went out and bought two fish bowls. My thinking here is that crayfish are bottom feeders and might help keep the water clean for the reptile and amphibians (notorious for putrefying water in about six hours).

First I put the crayfish in with the tadpoles (who sprouted arms today). While the kids watched their new pets, I looked online to see what we needed to feed these critters. The internet tells me that crayfish can co-exist with fish, but will try to eat them. About that time I noticed the crayfish were chasing after the tadpoles. As I thought the tadpoles might be more important to the kids, I immediately scooped the crayfish into the turtle habitat.

Then I look up what turtles eat. Mostly vegetarian, etc.. We bought some turtle pellets which he promptly ignored. We went out for a walk. We come back. Eldest said the crayfish is dead. We said no, he's not. He said he's missing his back legs. We said, no he's not, he's a crayfish, he's hiding his back half under the rock. He said, oh. He wants to go get a stick to poke him and make sure. We said, don't torture the stupid crayfish. He goes for a stick, anyway.

Enter Princess who starts the conversation over. By this time I've re-entered the area and look at the crayfish. Who is literally missing his back half. And, oh, so, very DEAD.

And a very satisfied snapping turtle that I didn't know had it in him.

Seriously people. This turtle is about the size of a child's fist. A very small child. The crayfish are not huge, but not tiny. I don't even want to know. But I've noticed the dead half a crayfish is now a dead quarter of a crayfish. I don't know where the other one is. I thought I saw him under the rock. I haven't seen him lately. I'm going to presume death. If not now, imminently.

This is not your mama's biology class.

Now, of course, I'll have to buy another fishbowl for the next load of crayfish we catch. Which I've already promised we'll do since I screwed up and killed two of their pets in one fell swoop. Besides, we need turtle food.

I didn't just type that.

Still can't figure out what to feed the caterpillar because I can't figure out what kind of caterpillar it is and it doesn't want any of the green stuff we've put in its bowl.

Anyone know of a really good field guide for identifying butterflies and caterpillars?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Why Is It

That when Hubs is out for the evening, my children are all restless, having nightmares, kicking walls, having fits, waking each other and in general making me want to shoot darts out of my eyes when he walks through the door?

Assuming he EVER returns.

And, Oh. My. GOSH. someone just shot off a gun in the neighborhood for the second time of the night. I kid you not.

And city people think country people are bumpkins.

I'd rather my gun toting neighbors had had hunter safety, thankyouverymuch.

Wiser Than Serpents by Susan May Warren

Yes, AGAIN! Can you believe how many books this very talented woman can put out in a year? And what amazes me even more is that they are all so different. Three series going, one kinda western romance, one Russian chick/mom-lit and one romantic suspense! (The writer in me is blown away.) And I can never put any of them down.

About Wiser Than Serpents: When her sister vanishes into a human slave ring, FSB agent Yanna Andrevka is determined to rescue her. Unfortunately, she's in over her head, with no way out, especially after destroying the undercover operation of Delta Force Operative David Curtiss, who is deep undercover in the Twin Serpents crime syndicate. David has his hands full trying to save Yana, and his operation -- one that could rescue hundreds of women from the Serpent, or cost he and Yana their lives. The thrilling next chapter of the Mission: Russia series!

A note from Susan:

Did you know that there are 27 million people around the globe held as slaves today – more thank 80% of them women and children, and up to 50% minors. In fact, there are MORE slaves today than were in the time of William Wilberforce. That leaves me horrified, and it was those stats that compelled me to write a story with a human trafficking plotline.

Wiser than Serpents is a continuation of the Mission:Russia series, a thriller about Yanna, whose sister is snatched through a Russian dating service, and disappears. Yanna enlists the help of Delta Force Captain, David Curtiss to find and rescue her. Readers who’ve read, In Sheep’s Clothing and Sands of Time will recognize Yanna as the tech expert, and David as the solid Christian of the group. (Read the 5-Rose Review here!)

The book is written from the point of views of the rescuers, not the victims, and offers hope and empowerment, instead of feelings of helplessness. It raises awareness without lowering the standards of Christian fiction.

However, the world is real, and the need to get involved is great. I so greatly admire people who take their beliefs and put action to them –hence why a portion of the proceeds of Wiser than Serpents is going to help the International Justice Mission, (, an organization dedicated to rescuing victims and fighting the scourge of slavery.

Susan is donating 15% of Wiser Than Serpents' royalties to the International Justice Mission (! Let’s help spread the word about the IJM and their vital work!

About Susan: Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota.

Contest Info! Susan will be giving away 3 SIGNED sets of the Mission: Russia (In Sheep’s Clothing, Sands of Time, and Wiser Than Serpents) series. To enter the contest…click on over to Susan’s blog tour post here and tell us which ministries/charities you support and why! Susan will randomly select three winners!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Icy Hot


I can almost walk without hobbling.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Hitch in My Giddyup

Man, oh man, have I hurt myself.

I knew my back was sore. I knew I needed to baby it. But it was my back or Charming and I chose to save my baby from eminent death due to drowning.

I still believe I chose correctly, but I'm not sure who is going to care for his needs.

I can almost not walk. I certainly can't walk and hold anything. That includes books, bottles of Pepsi and Charming. I can't sit and hold him. All I can do is lay there with him cuddled up next to me.

Babies have radar. He knows something is up. So he nurses. As long as he has his nurse, all is right with the world. Unfortunately most nursing positions hurt. Certainly getting out of them does.

I wish I could show you a photo of how absolutely wretched I look. If there was blood, I'd say it looks like I was run over by a bus. What I do know is that those little old ladies, bent over in a ninety degree angle, shuffling down nursing home corridors in their SAS shoes could beat me in a footrace and have a better gait than I do currently.

I've taken to crawling to get around.

Don't ask how I used the bathroom. Let's just say I'm limiting fluids.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


My mom and I had a lengthy discussion on Friday about lilies, what makes a pretty lily, whether we should buy exotic lilies, which ones we've bought all while we looked at her lilies.

This morning, one of my more exotic lilies opened and I wanted to send her a photo, but being the techno savvy person that I'm NOT, I can't make my photos small enough to email several at a time, so you all get to see my lilies this morning.

This first one is, I think, a Stargazer. It isn't even fully opened yet. It is an Asiatic lily (I believe) and therefore a bunch of flowers atop a skinny beanpole of a stem. The stem falls over by the last flowers and they lie in the dirt. I don't know the solution. It frustrates me. I think Asiatic lilies, though lovely, are a pain in the butt. I won't buy them anymore. (Unless they are fifty cents for a pack of four like this one was...I may not have self control if that ever happens again.)

This second one is my favorite. It is an Oriental lily (I believe). The foliage is more leafy like a daylily, but the leaves are fuller and the overall foliage is much thinner. The flowers bloom one at a time. I greatly prefer the Oriental lilies of the exotic lily choices.

The bottom lily is another of my Oriental lilies. I have several of this one and of course they double every year. I am especially fond of the Pepsi bottle hiding down in the foliage.

And, that's about all I know about my lilies this morning. My daylilies aren't blooming yet. They re also lovely and give you the most bang for the buck. Especially when you mooch the plants off your mom and stick them in the ground off season, just to see what happens.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Calico Canyon by Mary Connealy

Today I'm going to share with you a book that is unlike those I normally read and recommend, but is a super fun read anyway.

Calico Canyon features Grace Calhoun, an instructor of reading, writing, and arithmetic, who, in an attempt to escape the clutches of a relentless pursuer, runs smack dab into even more trouble with the 6R's - widower Daniel Reeves, along with his five rowdy sons. When a marriage is forced upon this hapless pair - two people who couldn't dislike each other more - an avalanche isn't the only potential danger lurking amid the shadows of Calico Canyon. Will they make it out alive? Or end up killing each other in the process?

Friends, this isn't your typical prairie romance, though, frankly (and I hate to mention this, but it is blatantly true) I love Janette Oke books and all that "prairie romance" implies. But Calico Canyon isn't that, as I've just said. There are humor and suspense and rapid fire word flinging. Overall it is a light, easy, and fun read with a bit of edge of your seat thrown in for good measure. You've got to love yourself a bit of thrown together in a forced marriage together with male hormones that love the women that drive them crazy and villain with a grudge, don'tcha?

That Explains a Few Things

Tonight, as I was digging clam shells out of Charming's mouth I discovered two molars. This on top of the bottom tooth he grew in on Saturday.

Suddenly the fussiness, low grade fever and overall lack of sleep, routine, and charm all add up.

(If you must know, the clam shells are from his brother's collection which he discovered while I was otherwise occupied. They were relatively clean and non-clammy.)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Deaf Muskrats

Or, otherwise titled, Getting in Touch With My Inner White Trash.

And before anyone decides I'm a jerk, let me point out that I lived in a trailer, a rusty, nasty, trailer with mice inhabiting my oven while I cut my husband's hair (with his shirt off) in my front "yard" right up until we bought our first house. I know from which I speak. No, people aren't "trash" but you know what I mean when I say it, don't you?

I could also say getting in touch with my inner country girl, I guess.


Hubs pointed out, as we drove "home" July 3rd that summer, especially the summer days surrounding Independence day, brings out the weirdos. People who live in a dump of a home, but stand out front shooting off the biggest fireworks money can buy. Hello? You just spent a month's rent on that one, mister. With your shirt off, and your beer belly hanging out. Oh, and is that your wife mowing the lawn in, wait, is that a bikkini or a bra and panties?

And then we proceeded to the fireworks stand.

Ever thrown Black Cats down a muskrat tunnel? It is this massive underground series of tunnels that lead to the water, some are underwater, some are dry-ish. They make a sound like FWOOMP! when you drop lit Black Cats into them. If you drop them into the swampy ones, it makes a geyser. A mud geyser that might splat all over you.

But I deny knowing that information.

You know those little tanks you can shoot off that will roll and shoot flames out? You can set several off at once and have a demo derby of sorts. Of course, they might light each other on fire.

But I deny knowing that information also.

No matter how plush and nice and green the grass looks, it still may harbor chiggers.

Just typing the word chiggers makes me feel a little less citified.

I deny knowing how bad chiggers in the bra and panty line might or might not itch for days on end. Or knowing that they seem to itch worst at 3AM.

Because I'm a city girl. And we don't talk about chiggers.

Oh, heavens. What am I saying? I had the distinct privilege of sitting out in a hot open field while my children rode combine (and tractor and wheat truck) during the last day of wheat harvest.

I haven't felt that peaceful since I was in high school and could go off into fields by myself and watch the stars. I just stood there with the wind blowing through my hair. And if I closed my eyes all I could hear (as long as the combine was on the other side of the field) was crickets and prairie grass blowing. I told Hubs that next time I'm all wrought up and anxious he just needs to haul me out to a field and dump me for an hour.

I could BREATHE, people! I'd forgotten what it felt like to breathe!

And later that night we put the kids to bed (home with the grandparents) and went out into the middle of a field and watched people set off fireworks all around us. And looked at the massive quantities of stars in between.

It was way better than those elaborate fireworks shows we get into traffic jams to see around here.

Call me white trash. I'm a country girl at heart.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I'm all for peace, but...

This morning I bought a couple patriotic tanks because, well, I wanted them. I buy a new one every now and then and I guess this was now. But I'm re-evaluating my purchase this afternoon.

Anyone else see the oxymoron here? 1776 was anything but peaceful.

Besides that, this side of heaven or Jesus coming back, peace ain't happening whether we forfeit this war on terror or not and I don't want people (particularly my military friends) thinking that I am not in full support of my country.

God Bless America.

I'm taking the shirt back.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tell Me About It

Tonight I watched The Baby Borrowers, unable to look away. Fascinating.

There was this argument between one of the couples which went something like this:

You haven't done anything all day.

I've worked all day.

I don't care if you've worked all day. I'm tired of taking care of this kid.

Preach it sister.

I watched it while wrangling the Charming infant all my own after wrangling him all day and wrangling him while making dinner and wrangling him while eating dinner wrangling him during the hail storm wrangling him while dragging my computer downstairs when we saw the wall cloud (that wasn't rotating even if there was an updraft).

Could someone else take a turn, please? My back hurts.

This is what comes of teaching a baby that boobs solve all problems. Even when they don't want it, they want it close.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

My Soul to Keep

Well, here we are in July. Who knew that summer could be half over and we've only just started? It must be the fact that it just hasn't been H-O-T like I remember summers being. Maybe that's because I played outside as a kid and I hide in the AC now.

No. Can't be that, I spent the better portion of the morning outside. And most of the afternoon also.

Dang, I love shade. That's the best part about this side of the state. Trees.

And I am Finally! Done! reading for ACFWs Book of the Year contest! Dear me, I was looking at my stack of books that had to be read last month and I thought it might not happen. I W-A-Y over committed myself between BOTY and Armchair. It's never a good thing when reading becomes a to-do rather than an escape-from.

So, as this is "New Book Tuesday" I shall tell you the first book I grabbed as soon as my obligations depleted: My Soul to Keep by Melanie Wells. Back cover copy reads like this:

As nasty as I knew Peter Terry to be, I never expected him to start kidnapping kids. Much less a sweet, funny little boy with nothing to protect him but a few knock-kneed women, two rabbits, and a staple gun...

Talk about your bizarre books. One minute you're laughing (it's written in first person, almost chick-lit voice) and the next you're, like Frodo says, "scared out of the creeps." No kidding, this 32 year old woman sat on the loveseat with her feet tucked up under her and made her dear ole Hubs get up, go lock all the doors and close the blinds because...well, because Melanie Wells writes this supernatural thriller stuff well enough that a rattlesnake might just get me if I got of the couch and maybe, just maybe someone was stalking me. {{shudder}}

And then she gives you this:

I should add here that it is an essential truth in the universe that all women obsessively compare themselves to one another. Why we engage in such futility is one of life's great mysteries. But as any married man knows, this should be accepted as fact without argument.

It's inevitable. It's a reflex. Just make peace with it now.

Was she at the pool with me this afternoon? And here I was thinking I was the only one with this obsession. But right there in black and white, I know that a fictional woman is just like me.

Confession is good for the soul.

Anyway, it was an excellent book. However, I believe that although this is a stand alone book, it is kinda related to another couple (which I haven't read) and you might want to go in order (even though it says nothing anywhere on the cover about being a series).

I Hesitate to Mention This

Someone (I'm not naming names) may (or may not) have to decided that it is (or is not) okay to sleep (dirty word, I know) through the night (define: night? and while we are at it: through).

As The Lizness has mentioned, you don't post those kinds of things on your blog if you wish for them to last, but as that someone may or may not be 16 months old in a few days I'd say it is about stinking time for him to "sleep like a baby" and may (or may not) quit doing said sleeping if he gets word of mom's blog.

Yes, he slept through at eight weeks or so. If by "through" you mean 11-6. And he quit sleeping "through" when he began starting his nights at 7 and mom took pity on his hunger pains. And yes, we did the long weekend cry through wherein he slept through for a week or so before he got a cold and mom took pity on him. And later, at about a year, we did the 10 night cry thorough and got one, maybe two sleep throughs before he decided sleeping was for the birds and mom needed sleep whenever she could take it and if she had to get it with a baby crammed in her armpit, so be it. And just when I decided that this was ridiculous and he couldn't possibly need to nurse every two hours as a 15 months old and when he bit the bejeebers out of me because he grinds his teeth like his papa and wasn't really nursing but pacifying as he slept and on the 15th wake due to bite mom said, never mind, we'll let him cry it.

One long cry.


One night.

And he's sleeping through.

Or not.

But three nights is a pretty decent run, wouldn't you say?

Hey, to a woman who hasn't slept much in something like two years, it is a blamin' miracle.