Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just Call Me Cat Woman

So, Monday morning I noticed that my garage smelled like animal excrement. As I do not have an animal, I was a bit upset. Better said, I was threatening to quit feeding the cat that moved in under my porch.

Not that I've seen that cat anywhere near my garage. S/he's far to skittish and afraid of us to attempt such nonsense as the garage.

I later found the pile. I think it was dog doo. It was certainly larger doo than the cat has been laying down in my lily bed, next to her door, under my porch. But now that I'm thinking about it, there has been this large cat prowling about. The doo could have potentially fit that cat. But don't cat's go in dirt?


So we start feeding this cat, right? The little black one that lives under the porch. That my neighbor tells me I will have to register if I continue to feed. And, as I missed pet amnisty day and am still feeding, am probably breaking some rediculous law that I don't know anything about except that I am breaking it. Gee, thanks for that Ben. Now I'm willfully breaking the law by honoring my mother-in-law by feeding the cat that lives under my porch.

Life is too short for this kind of guilt. There are starving children in Africa, you know? And we are all worked up about whether cats are registered. Maybe we deserve to have our economy crash.


Did I mention that I have PMS?

But my point is this: suddenly my house is cat haven. All these cats have been coming around. First the black kitty. A week ago this large grey striped cat prances into the backyard. The kids go bezerk, first terrified and then wanting to feed it. And they do until I put the lid on that behavior. It looked plenty well fed and I only have guilt for the cats that are MIL sanctioned.

But it keeps coming around.

I KNEW that little kitty couldn't be eating that much food.

And then yesterday, I saw this big white cat, HUGE, with big grey spots, nosing around my porch, trying to swipe the goods out of my hungry little kitty's babrie bowl.

And then TODAY, the striped cat was back, rubbing all over all of us, looking for a handout. Meanwhile, the starving black kitty can't get to the barbie bowl because it seems to be afraid to walk past me to get to it. And then I figure out it isn't ME, but the big grey cat. So I MOVE the barbie bowl to the kitty.

That still won't let me touch it.

I hate cats.

But s/he did sneak up on me later and wrap her/himself around my legs, once, before darting away.

I like to think of it as gratitude.

To which I must say, "'bout stinking time! Who buys your food, anyway?"

But all those other critters that are coming around are going to have to take a long walk away from my house.

I am no cat woman.

Maybe this is why all the neighbors have those yappy dogs. How DO the cats survive?

Oh, right. My yard.

I wonder if someone will loan me a dog for a week?

The Irony

I find it bizarrely poetic that I would be scheduled for the following post on my own "Black Tuesday." I've stopped in my tracks (read: very loud exclamations directed towards my irresponsible children) several times this morning. I haven't chuckled, yet, but it's a start.

Definition: Black Tuesday: The very worst day of your cycle in which you explode all over those you love and sometimes the guy at Sam's as well. (as paraphrased by Chaos but explained in The SOS for PMS.)

The S.O.S. for PMS by Mary M. Byers

One thing I didn't miss while pregnant and nursing Charming was PMS. I did miss the feel good hormones that complement PMS in the intervening weeks, but the dark week of darkness, I can do without. I think Hubs could, as well, if his attitude this week is any measure. My family is all holding onto their hats and tip-toeing around me. And it's working. Because knowing is half the battle.

A third of the battle is eating right, which I haven't accomplished, because even though I had no chips in the house a couple nights ago, Hubs jumped right up and ran to the store when I looked at him and said, "I NEED MSG." (Really it was the salt and crunch of a chip that I needed, which he knew, but MSG sounds so much better since Over the Hedge...even when it will probably garner the comments about how bad it is for you. Three words: Lay's chips, plain. No MSG.) Maybe next month? This month I'm just charting.

"What are you talking about, Chaos?" You might be asking the screen right about now. The new book I'm reading The S.O.S for PMS. There's even a chapter for you boy(s) out there that think we're intolerable. (Here's a secret for you: we think we're intolerable, too. Maybe you should send us away to the pedicurist and cook your own dinner one night a month, eh? We'd all feel better.)

Here's a bit about the Book:

The SOS for PMS:
Practical Help and Relief for Moms

In her latest book, Mary explores an often frustrating topic, the symptoms of PMS, and offers practical advice and encouragement for mothers. Readers will find comfort in the stories shared by other moms, realizing that they are not alone in their struggles with PMS.

With this book, you will find suggestions designed to inspire healthier lifestyles, relationships, and daily choices for all women.

Gather any group of moms together and the topic of frustrating PMS symptoms rises up in conversation along with the guilt and concern about its effects on family members.

Now Mary Byers, author of The Mother Load, offers mothers encouragement, help, and camaraderie as she shares:

~women's stories-the good, bad, and the hopeful

~overlooked symptoms and how to manage them

~foods and activities to avoid or indulge in

God's first aid for stress, depression, and anxiety a call for help-how husbands can come to the aid of their wives

This gathering of useful advice and shared experiences will comfort readers who have ever felt alone in their PMS plight and will inspire healthier lifestyles, relationships, and daily choices for all women.

To read an excerpt go here:

A Word from the Author

"It’s my hope that this book will bring help, hope and healing to moms who suffer from PMS. It’s been a source of despair in my own life but things are looking up now that I’ve developed my own coping plan. Those I interviewed for this book shared intimately about their own battles and I believe their stories, along with that of Callie’s (the main character in the book) will convince other women that it is possible to change their current response to PMS and encourage them to start today.”

Win a copy of the book in two ways:

Mary is giving away 4 copies of SOS for PMS. All you have to do is leave a comment on the blog tour post!

Or leave a comment here. I only have one copy, though. Good luck! It's a good one!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Miracle of Adoption

Yesterday in church, I had someone I've never met, but had phone conversations with, come up and ask, "Are you Jamie?"

After exchanging pleasantries I asked him, "How did you know it was me?"

"I guessed," he replied with a smirk.

"You're a good guesser," I told him and continued with the conversation.

Four hours later it occurred to me that he spied me due to my family composition.

He knew we adopted. He had apparently been told what our family looked like racially. He made an educated guess.

I am still apparently colorblind and clueless.


Blog Fodder. Boy do I have some. But I need to figure a way to couch it so as to not offend a bunch of people. So for now I will leave you with this post, which will probably offend a bunch of people, but if you drop the single swear word, you'll probably find it hilarious and might like the lesson also. Hat tip to Jenny for the link.

Friday, September 26, 2008


I'm craving MSG like a PMSing mother on a rampage.


(Tasty dust, where are you?!)

A Song for Fall.

Tis the season to hate my neighbors, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

They burn their leaves and smoke me out, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

They wait until the wind blows my way, fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la

They don't even get a permit, Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!

If it was only once a year, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

I could probably tolerate it, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

But twice a week is quite obnoxious, fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la

I would like to call the cops, Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!

Seriously now, if they were actually getting a permit and burning for a couple hours once, even twice a year, I'd be nice about it. But they seem to wait until the wind is blowing away from their house, directly at mine to burn and do it so often, rarely on burn permit day (Tuesdays) and we have to close our house up, and even then cough and choke for three days, at which time they start burning again.

And I will admit that after several years of doing this, the guy talked to me for the first time since we've moved in and said, "I wait until the smoke will go straight up and I burn hot and fast. Let me know if it ever bothers you and I'll put it right out."

While I appreciate the sentiment, IT ALWAYS BOTHERS ME. And he DOESN'T WAIT UNTIL THE SMOKE GOES UP they wait until it goes away from their house. And hot and fast doesn't indicate the EIGHT HOURS OF BURNING that takes place several times every fall.

I don't have an answer. But it does seem like they could rake one big day a year and burn once. We rake one big day a year and fill the landfill. I'd burn, but Hubs won't. I like the leave the leaves and let them rot method, but that doesn't go over well here.

Self-Awareness is Key

I set a goal for myself this week to only go to the grocery store if I was willing to walk there. My thinking was such:

A) I would get exercise.
B) I would only buy as much as I or my stroller could carry.
C) I easily live walking distance to just about anything I could possibly need.


A) I could stop compulsively gut pinching wishing I could get rid of the saggy baggy elephant that resides in my torso. (I only do this in the car or on the couch...both times when I know I should be doing something more productive.)
B) I wouldn't compulsively overspend by overstocking on marginally good deals.
C) I would quit spending so much at the pump.

So how's that working out for you, Chaos?

Well, let me say it this way: If you spend 33 calories walking to Sheridan's and eat 4217 calories of custard, are you better off?

Oh, and I'm meal planning much better to use up the stuff in my pantry.

Did you know that when cement guys pour a new driveway, they stand over the finished product until it is set? I think I want that job. The one that works for 20 minutes and drinks something out of a plastic cup under a tree for the next 3 hours.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Encore Effect

In case you need motivation to get off your butt and do something, I give you exhibit A.

You know how sometimes you read something (Let's say Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey) and you think, "I already know all this..." but you are inspired to get busy and do it anyway...for the first time?

So, not financially speaking, or financially speaking, whatever floats your boat, The Encore Effect is the Financial Peace of life management.

Here's a bit about the book:

Everyone wants to make a difference in the world, but most have no idea how to maximize their impact. In The Encore Effect, best-selling author and leadership expert Mark Sanborn provides the answer. He leads readers in six practices that will move them beyond excellence to distinction and from mundane to memorable. These principles guide readers to draw on their passion and devote themselves to preparation, practice, presentation, polishing, and finally, avoiding pitfalls. When readers follow these principles they will find that people are attracted to them. More importantly, they’ll find that they now have an influence over others that can impact lives for eternity.

By following the six principles of The Encore Effect, readers can:

  • Deliver a remarkable performance in everything they do
  • Elevate the performance of the people they lead and influence
  • Extend and deepen the impact they have on others—even for eternity.

This special edition, distributed through the CBA, will include unique content such as scripture verses, biblical illustrations, and discussion questions.

For the Philosophers Among You

If pee is composed mostly of ammonia and water, and people use ammonia and water to clean, does having a child pee all over your house make it cleaner?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Attitude Begins So Early

I expected it when she turned 13. I did. I still have distinct memories of my mother telling EVERYONE SHE KNEW, "Ignore her, she's 13."

It really hacked me off.

However, in hindsight, I believe her words were correct. I can think of no better way of dealing with a 13 year old girl. And I tell my friends of teenagers, who apologize for their daughter's horrid attitude, speech, and behavior towards their superiors, "Don't worry. I'm ignoring her, she's 13." NOT when she's in hearing distance.


She has no excuse.

When did it become acceptable to point out all of your mother's faults? When did it become appropriate to point out every time your father is incorrect? When, I ask you, did she wake up and decide we were the stupidest creatures on the planet?

And what does this say for 13?!

So, Tuesday, kids are lollygagging around the house. Not ready for school. No shoes on their feet. No brushed teeth. No combed hair. No lunchboxes in backpacks that were still by the door when they threw them the night before. It is ten after eight and we find them in the backyard playing with the toad.

Reminder upon reminder (Including, "Do you want to be late?") finally chases them dressed, shod, cleaned, and toting bags to the backseat of their daddy's car when he stops to give Charming a goodbye kiss. And we hear from the back seat, "Now you're the one making us late, Daddy!"

I could still hear him lecturing as they left the driveway.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In Summary


It is her best yet.

Christmas Blast Out Blog Tour


(Leafwood Publishers, October 2008)

A wonderful new gift book, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, is available in October for Christmas giving. Today, I’ve invited the six coauthors to share their unique story of how they came together to publish this exciting book full of stories, recipes, tips for simplifying the holidays and so much more (click on bookcover to see the trailer!).

First, let me introduce Cathy Messecar, Leslie Wilson, Brenda Nixon, Trish Berg, Terra Hangen and Karen Robbins. Thank you for being here today, ladies.

Karen: Thank you for the invitation.

You are from three different areas of the country—Texas, California, and Ohio. How did you all meet?

Terra: We all six joined The Writers View, an online group for professional Christian writers. Trish and Brenda met in person in 2004 for lunch, I understand, and on 9/18/04, after reading a post Brenda sent to TWV, I sent an email to Brenda, asking if she would like to join with me and walk alongside each other, as a Barnabas group. Brenda said yes that same day, and suggested Trish too. Very quickly Cathy, Leslie and Karen joined in and our stalwart band of six was formed. Living in California, I was so happy to find 5 Barnabas writers in other states so we could bring together a wealth of different viewpoints and expertise

Brenda: Actually, We haven’t met. We’re all great colleagues and friends via the internet. Four years ago Terra and I formed a dyad to support each other as Christians who write in the secular markets. Along came Trish, Cathy, Karen, and Leslie (not necessarily in that order) and we formed a close knit bond of support, creative energy, and professional accountability.

Karen: I met Trish through an online forum called The Writers View and she invited me to join the group.

Trish: Although we belong to the same Yahoo writing group, we met one by one online. Eventually, the six of us decided that since we all write as Christians for a secular market through magazine articles and newspaper columns, we could support and encourage one another.

Leslie: Though we met virtually through The Writers View, I have been blessed to give and get hugs from Trish (at a MOPS conference), Cathy (in the area on business) and Karen (in town for a writers' conference). I can’t wait to meet Terra and Brenda face-to-face, though I feel as though I already know them!

How did you come up with the idea to do a book together?

Brenda: The book is Cathy’s brainchild. She mentioned the concept of telling stories of events that happened for the first time at Christmas and sharing holiday historical tidbits and recipes and each said, “If you need any help, let me know.” That offer morphed into each of us equally contributing and co-authoring A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.

Trish: Yep, Cathy came up with the idea and the title, and asked us if we wanted to join her on this project. Of course, we said Yes!

Terra: Cathy mentioned the idea for a Christmas book to the group, and someone (I think it was Leslie) suggested that maybe our group could all write the book together. Cathy agreed to lead the way on the project. The earliest email I have on this is from 9/7/05, which shows that this has been a three year collaboration from idea to publication.

Karen: (Chuckling) Terra is a librarian and keeps our historical records by saving our e-mails.

Leslie: Actually, Terra, I wrote that comment (in a group e-mail) kind of tongue-in-cheek. Cathy, the ultra-sweet person she is, took my joking at face value and here we are. However, I believe God prompted the passion and ideas we all bring to the project and that He will do mighty things as a result of our collaboration!

Why did you decide on a Christmas theme?

Brenda: It was Cathy’s concept to write a book centering on Christmas.

Cathy: For several years, I’d been thinking about Christmas as a threshold to introduce Jesus to folks who aren’t familiar with him, and I love a simpler Christmas with the emphasis on family, friends and doing for others. I knew of some families who had experienced “firsts” at Christmas—reunions, losses, special surprises—and I wanted to collect those stories.

Terra: Cathy’s idea immediately resonated with me because Christmas books are “a way past watchful dragons,” as C. S. Lewis wrote. Many people won’t buy a book about being a Christian, but will buy a holiday and family fun book, thus the “past watchful dragons.” People who want to grow in their faith, and people who have no faith but celebrate Christmas will buy our book and hopefully be led to put the focus back on Christ for the holiday, and for their lives.

Leslie: Though Cathy birthed the idea, the rest of us quickly hopped on board. Not only is Christmas special to me—especially now that I have a family of my own—but also that particular holiday cries out to be simplified, to return to the meaningful aspects of celebration, and to lose some of the hype and commercialism.

Tell me a little about what is in A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts? What is your favorite part?

Cathy: I like that you can read one chapter in about 15 minutes and, with all the different suggestions, it feels like Christmas Eve. Makes you want to set up the nativity! Many of the suggestions for family activities can be adapted for any family get-together.

Karen: There are heartwarming stories about things that happened for the first time at Christmas. For instance, one of my stories is about the first Christmas with our adopted children. And the book is pretty. When I first saw the colorful pages and drawings, I fell in love with the illustrator’s work.

Brenda: I don’t have a favorite part – I love it all!

Terra: I like the way the parts are woven into a seamless whole, like a patchwork quilt, that is stronger and more beautiful than the parts.

Trish: It’s like everything you ever wanted to know about Christmas, all the best tips and recipes, and neat stories all wrapped up in this perfect little package.

Leslie: I love reading the special stories, hints, recipes—whatever—and imagining the precious family time that precipitated each moment. Plus, the book is gorgeous, beautifully printed, truly something to be proud of. And we are.

I’ve heard that the book is really a nice gift book; can you tell me a little about the format?

Cathy: Yes, it’s a hardbound book, full color interior. The layout makes it easy to read. It has a definite scrapbooky look on the interior. Different logos identify sections, such as an oilcloth-look Christmas stocking appears beside the “Stocking Stuffer Tradition” (help for connecting family members), and the “Cookie Canister” recipes are on a recipe card, and the back ground of “A Gift For You” is a gift box with bow. It’s a classy gift that they can be placed on a coffee table or in a guest bedroom during the holiday season.

Brenda: I like to describe it as a Starbuck’s sorta gift book. It’s high quality, crisp, and practical.

With six different personalities and areas of ministry, how did you manage to put this all together and still remain friends?

Karen: We pray a lot for each other and it helps that none of us have an over-inflated ego.

Cathy: There were no squabbles. Surely, we had differing opinions, but we knew that any of us could suggest an idea for this book and that each idea would get fair reviews from others. We actually voted on some aspects—everyone in favor say, “Aye.” If you’ve ever watched women at a Dutch treat luncheon when they divide up a meal ticket, it can be intense as they split the ticket down to the penny. As the project came together, I was in awe of my gracious coauthors, unselfish women who respect each other.
For some decisions, we did a round robin—things like book title and chapter titles and what categories to put into the book. Then, as compiler, I’d send out a list of needs to The Word Quilters, that’s what we call ourselves. For instance in a section we call “Peppermints for Little Ones” (hints for children’s activities), I’d put out a call, and the WQs sent in their hints, and then I put them into appropriate chapters.

Brenda: (Smiling) Are we still friends? Seriously, we each have our own platform, ministry, and family life, and those interests kept this project in perspective – it was important but not the only thing on our plates. No one was so enmeshed in this project that she campaigned for her own way. We never had a bitter disagreement or insistence to be “right.”

Terra: We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders.We offer support and ideas for our separate writing projects and for personal prayer requests. I love these ladies, and I have only met one of them in person. So far, Karen is the only one who has met each of us, and one day we hope to meet in person, in a circle of friendship and love.

Trish: I think we are all very flexible and forgiving. We do have a variety of personalities here, but God has worked amazing things through our little group.

Leslie: Though I have seven non-fiction projects in various stages of completion, I could not be more thankful that this is the one to reach publication first. I am truly blessed to have worked with these women, learned from them, watched as they’ve poured heart and soul into crafting a product that will impact lives for the Lord.

Where can my readers get a copy of SOCF?

Cathy: The coauthors will all have a supply, plus our publisher, Leafwood Publishers, will have plenty of copies and discounts for buying five or more. Or they can be ordered at most online stores or by your local bookstore.

Karen: And anyone who leaves a comment here can be entered in a drawing for a free book and a gift basket worth $200! For a list of its contents, check our blog, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. And while you're there, leave another comment and increase your chances of winning!

Tell me more about your blog.

Karen: We started our blog in July and it is accumulating a wealth of information about Christmas. Each of us posts one day a week following the theme for that week. Watch for new recipes, tips, ways to simplify, stories, etc., similar to what is in our book.

Leslie: Ooh, ooh, let me answer this one. I’m probably the newest to blogging among the group, but I LOVE it. I’ve enjoyed posting and receiving comments back from readers. What an amazing adventure having an online voice can be! This blog will focus on a different theme each week—anything from tips to avoid overeating during the holidays to how to give a guest room special touches—and expand on the material in the book. I think readers will get to know the authors’ individual personalities and connect on a more personal level. Plus, they get that many more ideas, information, inspiration (!) at no additional cost.

WQs: As an added bonus for inviting us to your blog, we’d like to pass along this Christmas tidbit to you and your readers:

Enjoy a blessed Christmas this year! And thanks for inviting us to share our book, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, with you.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Stop! Hold Everything!

Today I got Siri Mitchell's A Constant Heart in the mail. A moment of silence, please. And then burst into cheers. Few books or authors do that for me anymore.

Between that and the Heroes season premier, you may not hear from me for a while.

Who am I kidding? Twenty-four hours. I give myself 24 hours to finish both. Unless, of course, I NEED to comment on something. At which case you cannot hold it against Siri OR Heroes. Heck, it's probably them I'll be commenting upon.

The Makings of a Great Monday

1. Make sure your husband has Toastmaster's so he is up and creaking around the bedroom at the butt-crack of dawn...and gone by the time he can be of any use to you.

2. Make sure your kids have a field trip that they know about so they wake up super excited and unable to focus on small, insignificant details such as eating breakfast and getting dressed.

3. Whatever you do, don't pack lunches (in a throwaway bag with a throwaway drink) the night before.

4. Make sure that your know-it-all "helpful" kids drag their sunscreen and bug spray OUT of the van so you have to run all over tarnation trying to get it in the same place to spray them when you SHOULD be heading off to school.

5. Make sure you mention to the kids that you are only providing two quarters to each kid to feed the goats and that if they want to feed more than $0.50 worth of animals they should bring their own money.

6. So they go scrambling all over the house trying to find their money and there is great wailing and gnashing of teeth that they don't have $5.00 worth of quarters to stuff down the gullet of some overfed duck.

7. Don't triple check that the kids brought their back packs in which you lovingly placed each person's lunch.

8. Forget to remind them to brush their teeth and hair and wash their faces.

9. Screech at them when you get to school, "Where is your backpack?!? Did you brush your teeth? Why not? I guess you have no lunch then!"

10. Make kids burst into tears.

11. Break the sound barrier while you hightail it home to get aforementioned lunch.

12. (Stop and thank God that that police officer you saw coming around the bend came 30 seconds after you.) (Okay, I wasn't speeding....much.)

13. Grab backpack from living room without checking contents because you specifically lovingly placed lunch into back pack, didn't you?

14. Get back to school with empty backpack.

15. Mooch off the church to make dry peanut butter sandwich. Hand dollar to teacher and plead insanity, begging them to buy overpriced drink for poor underfed kid.

16. Hope that the other two kids don't think they were gypped because they got a "good" meal but no drink from the snack bar.

17. Come home to discover that the trash guys who typically come at 4:30 in the afternoon, decided to come at 8:45 this morning...before you've put out half the trash.

18. Have husband call with "not-so-great news."

19. Pull your bully of a toddler off his friend more than one time as he goes in for the kill because she thought she might like to play with some toy he hasn't touched in a week.

Other than THAT, I'd say it's been a relatively uneventful, peaceful and happy morning. ;)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Don't You Just Hate It

when you have a good blog post idea come to mind, and you tell yourself you'll write it just as soon as you get the baby down for the night, but the baby doesn't go down for another hour and a half and when it's time to post, you've got nuthin'?

Yeah, me too.

Friday, September 19, 2008

How To Lose A Pound While Still Eating Like Crap



And, yes, I'm putting it to good use. I'm sending it here. Because I kinda have a thing about breast cancer fighters/survivors. The lady in black behind me wasn't my stylist. She was just so durned excited that I was donating my hair she couldn't stay away. They kept asking me, "Are you okay? Are you alright? Are you sure? Lat chance to bail..." Pretty funny, really. I can't remember the last time I was so sure about a hair cut. Something about waking up all night when I'd roll over and wrench my neck because I'd rolled over on my hair, did it for me. That, and even though I'm a granola, hippy, hello-I-graduated-in-the-90s gal, I don't want to be precieved as a granola, hippy kinda gal (most of the time). I've been in the burbs too long.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

And One More Thing

How can I scrub THAT long on a shower and it look THAT much better and still look THAT bad?

Speaking of Neighbors that Don't Understand Grace or Christians that Sometimes Lose Their Tempers and Say Friggin

So I'm out walking the baby when my neighbor hails me and the offspring with, "Can he have a Popsicle?"

I'm not sure if they buy Popsicles for the kids or if the kids have just figured out that if they smile nice they sometimes get them...but as the greedy little tykes weren't with me, I have to assume the former.

So he hustles to get the squirt a 'sicle and delivers it, "Complements of Obama."

To which I couldn't resist the faithful, "You're really gonna vote for that guy?"

And the ensuing political conversation takes place wherein he spouts his party line and I spout mine. Something like this: That Sarah Palin has no experience. What if McCain has a heart attack. Do you really want her as president. What and she has less experience than Obama? Biden. Biden? The Veep doesn't do anything unless the pres. dies. Are you hoping Obama dies?

Yeah, I know, you're either on one side or the other...half of that made sense to all of you. But here's where the conversation got interesting:

Well, she's one of those, whaddaya call 'em...evangelicals.

Uh, yeah....your point is?

You know...those....hmmm. Evangelicals. (gestures) Crazy. (remember he's telling me this...me...who asked him when he's gonna cave to the dark side become one of US (cackle) evangelicals. He avoided me for months.)

(Wide eyes, pretending I have no idea what he's talking about (I think the word he was looking for was "pentacostals" but I'm not about to help him out here.)) Huh.

Yeah. (knowing look) She's not much like you.


Well. Tell the kids the popsicles are on Obama.

Um yeah, I'll do that.

(walking off, whips around, snaps fingers) You won't vote for Obama because he's black.

That's it. You got me there, Tuck. (I certainly hope he was kidding. No, no. I want MY son to be the first black president. It is unacceptable for anyone else to be.)

So, I'm wondering what exactly he thinks I am. I am obviously far too normal to be (whadda we call it?) Charasmatic, aren't I? Snort.

He says it like it's a bad thing.


It isn't just me!

Oh, my. Laughed until I cried.

(Gentle readers, or neighbors that don't think Christians should say "Friggin," may not want to click through.)

The Road of Lost Innocence

Do you sometimes have subjects that come up again and again in all sorts of conversations and reading and surveys and on TV and on blogs and at playgroup and...you get the idea. The latest one for me is human trafficking. Something I'd never given a second thought to is suddenly everywhere. Last year there were arrests just a couple miles from me and several women rescued (I hope!) out of slavery. IN MY OWN CITY! And we don't exactly live in an area that you'd expect to see that. I hope. Ahem.

So I got this book in the mail on Friday that I wanted to share with you. So that I can join the echo that will hopefully get loud enough that something can be done for the victims of this nasty endeavor. Here 'tis.

Born in Cambodia and orphaned at an early age, Somaly Mam, a Buddhist sex trade survivor, grew up never knowing her real name or birthday.

As a teenager, Somaly Mam was sold into prostitution and spent years in the brothels of Cambodia where she witnessed and experienced the full-blown horrors of the human sex trade – rape, torture, and nearly unfathomable abuse. After her eventual escape, she could not forget the young girls (some as young as 5) left behind in the brothels, and so she returned to serve them. Her new book, "The Road of Lost Innocence," is her newest means of advocacy. It tells her personal story, ultimately inviting people of conscious, such as our Christian community, to become involved (or to continue involvement) in this war against an epic evil, a modern battle for "the least of these." Truly, not only is this book worth reading, it's worth sharing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sweet September by Tricia Goyer

Sheesh, it's prolific writers month here at the land of Chaos. (I only say sheesh because I WISH I could write and much and as well as these wonderful ladies!)

Tricia Goyer, author of WWII and Spansish Civil War novels as well as Gen X lifestyle books tries her hand at contemporary fiction and does marvelously. Sweet September is part of the Home to Heather Creek series put out by Guideposts. Each individual book is written by different authors so I can't vouch for the series as a whole (though I'm sure they are all wonderful books). I CAN tell you that you can read this book without reading the others (because I did it and survived...even enjoyed myself in the process). I love the contemporary farm aspect of this book and the small town feel. It takes me back to high school. Which, though frought with anxiety, were peaceful times overall. And, if you know Tricia, you know she'll fit some history into even her contemporary books. Gotta love that.

I also hear that Tricia is currently working on book 7 of the series, so there is that to look forward to. And maybe inspire you to invest in the whole series.

Here's a bit about the book and series:

Harvest time at Heather Creek Farm is an ssexciting time, but the kids don't seem to be getting into the spirit. One day while he's wandering through the fields, Christopher stumbles across an old piece of metal buried in the ground. He doesn't know what it is, but he hides it in the shed.

That night, the garden by the house is uprooted. Who could have done such a thing? Charlotte is determined to find out, but is distracted when she gets news that Sam is failing school. The sullen teen is indifferent and won't study. He starts spending a lot of time with Pete. Though she loves her son dearly, Pete never finished high school, and Charlotte is afraid he'll encourage Sam to do the same. How can she help him get back on track?

A gripping story that examines the Stevenson family's history as well as its shaky future, Sweet September will bring you deeper into the loving community of Bedford and the deep ties of love that bind this broken family together. As they forge new connections, you'll be entertained, inspired, and reminded that God's grace can make all things new.
About Guideposts' Home To Heather Creek series!
Charlotte Stevenson's world is turned upside down when her daughter, Denise, dies in a tragic car accident. She ran away at eighteen and Charlotte has never forgiven herself. Now, Denise's children, abandoned by their father, are coming from California to live on Heather Creek Farm in Bedford, Nebraska.


Because I'm an idiot and can't post these type of things to my blog, I MUST send you here. Besides, she's artistic and you'll like it over there.

What a Gift!

Today, while teaching 5th and 6th grade science, in the middle of a sentence, I chipped two teeth.

I wasn't yelling.

I wasn't grinding my teeth in irritation. (I may have been rolling my eyes, but that's for another post.)

I wasn't eating Gobstoppers.

I was just talking. And by some freak of nature, two of my teeth caught on each other. There was a very loud crack and then chunks of enamel floating around in my mouth.

And then I got to hear about all the broken teeth my students have endured in their short lives.

Hubs says, "It sucks to get old."

Thanks, Hon.

If this is what it means to be 33, I'll think I'll sit this one out.

Happy birthday to me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ah, Now I Remember

The following photo is very distressing. For the faint of heart (namely my mother-in-law), I advise you to quickly navigate away from this page.

It's like a car accident. You can't look away, can you?

The following is the reason that I rarely go for the self-pampering. WHILE I'm participating, I enjoy myself and think, "Well, golly, I should get out more." And then I come home to this:

And the reality is much uglier than the photo.

The problem with taking a night off, it that you still have to face it in the morning.

My toes are pretty, though.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Just in Case You Need a Giggle

Thanks to Jenni for sending me to this mindless diversion.

I don't know what I expected, but it just got goofier and goofier and totally cracked me up.

He loves me. He really loves me!

Maybe because I'm voluptuous...


My Virgin Toes

My toes have been deflowered. Or decalused. Whatever.

I have now officially had a pedicure.

Now if I could only get my hair cut, I would be a new woman.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Week in Pictures

My week.

His week.

My week.

His week.

My week.
His week.

Any questions?

Birthmothers and Birthdays

She labored all day eight years ago, so that I could be a mother.
She handed over the very best birthday gift I've ever received, and she didn't even know me.
She gave him life, even when she didn't have to.
She stepped back and let me step in.
She doesn't demand.
She doesn't ask.
She doesn't expect.
She gave.
She is my hero.
And she is heavy on my heart today.
What does she think?
Does she cry?
Does she remember?
Does it sneak up on her?
Does she dread this day for weeks?
Does she wonder?
Does she regret?
Because of her, I have him.
Most days he's just mine.
One of the crowd.
But today he's ours.
She's peaking over my shoulder.
Reminding me of the blessing I have.
The blessing she delivered to me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Almost On Topic

Eldest steadfastly refuses to eat toast with "spread" on it. He likes his butter.

I thought that he was just a creature of habit. Melting butter for his toast because that's what we did for the first seven years of his life. So I snuck (which sounds so much better than sneaked) spread on his toast when he wasn't looking. He took one bite and refused to eat the toast because it was "gross."

And my MIL thought I was the only one who could believe it wasn't butter.

So, even though he only wants to eat pizza and Mac&cheese, I have cultured those picky taste buds.

There is hope for my gourmet cooking, yet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

That's It, I'm Buying Lean Cusine.

When Hubs and I first married, I fancied myself a good cook. And I suppose in comparison to my friends living in the dorms and the Chi Omega house, I was. I mean, if I decided to cook a "real" meal I could follow a recipe as well as anyone. And that I chose to eat cereal most meals had little to do with my cooking prowess. Shoot, I was an engineering student widow. The only time I saw the man was when I took food to the engineering lab and then I had to bring enough for everyone there. Which meant Five Soup Casserole was the norm and was also considered fine dining by those pasty skinned creatures that blinked at the sky once or twice a week when they ventured forth for those nasty general ed credits.

No wonder my cooking ego was inflated.

Any-hoo, Hubs survived and I burnt out on cereal and cold cuts. When I started grad school and he got a job, well, I still fancied myself a cook. But mostly I existed on Slim Fast shakes and Cup-a-Soup. The Slim Fast because it was actually cheaper than Carnation Instant Breakfast and kept me fuller longer. The Cup-a-soup because coffee mugs were relatively easy to wash in the lab sink with all the mouse blood monoclonal antibody paraphernalia.

I still cooked on the weekend when I didn't have a Rasmole project staring me in to suicidal tendencies. (I did NOT just admit that on a public blog. Actually I would call it less suicidal and more nervous breakdown tendencies. YOU try to figure Rasmole out on deadline.)

And when I dropped out of grad school and moved to this godforsaken wasteland of suburbia where people's ideas of "cooking" include the deli at Hen House and adding saute'd chicken tenderloin to Lipton Noodles and Sauce, let's just say I KNEW myself to be a gourmet chef.

Never mind that on lunch break I subsisted on Marie Calendar's Chicken Pot Pies. Which, I might mention, microwave beautifully. Because, let's face it, I could still whip out a tasty Verenikke or Chicken Cordon Bleu when the occasion called for it.

And then I had kids.

Hubs worked from home and I cooked THREE MEALS A DAY for several years. And my taste buds developed the ability to discern between "meals" and MEALS. And "meals" just didn't stack up.

I love cooking with wines. And sauces. And special vinegars. And spices. And fresh herbs. And free range eggs. And BUTTER. Oh, my stars. I love food. Good food.

My children have absolutely NO appreciation for what I can do with a chicken.

And my husband started going to the office.

And now even the kids are gone at lunch.

Who spends that much time cooking succulent food with no one around to appreciate it?

And I find myself subsisting on the Chex Mix Turtle bars. And Lo, though they are "made with whole grains" and are a little slice of store bought heaven...aren't food. And I find that I have been basically fasting until there is someone here to appreciate my cooking. And as Hubs has been galavanting around New York City for a week, I've basically eaten a handful of BBQ chips, a few candy corn, a glass of milk here and there, a Pepsi, a stick cheese, um, the random apple slice as I prepare school lunches, I'm catching on that good food, it ain't happening around these parts much.

I think it's time to stock up on Lean Cusine.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Get Cozy, Josey!

It's that time again, about bi-monthly, when I tell you that another Susan May Warren book has hit the shelves. Let's see...the last one was a suspense about the sex trade set in Taiwan. Before that it was hottie Rafe in a romance set in the back woods of nowhere (Montana?) so it must be time for....JOSEY! Who is moving, not only to Russia, but again to the backwoods of nowhere...SIBERIA! (I'm seeing a theme here, Susie.) Can Josey survive the cold, the suspicion and the constant separation from her husband? As always, I love me some Susan May Warren. Here's a bit about the book:

How do you get cozy when your new "home" is a frozen tundra? Josey's dreams of small-town Minnesota bliss melt away when her hubby's relocated to a Siberian village. No indoor plumbing...or junk food! But this feisty former missionary knows how to multitask: juggling toddler twins, empowering local housewives, spreading God's word - no worries, Josey. It's finding time alone with the man of her dreams that will take some real work!

You can read the first chapter here.

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! The “Get Cozy” Contest!

Head over to Susan’s blog tour post and leave a comment on that post for your chance to win a Get Cozy gift basket! The basket will be loaded with Godiva chocolate, Starbucks coffee, Harry and David Moose Crunch, gourmet hot cocoa, and a fab pair of snuvvy PJs!

In your comment tell Susan your favorite winter time activity or winter memory!

Thanks for stopping by, gang. I've had one heck of an evening and I'm going to go collapse in my bed now. Maybe shed a few tears, maybe pick up a light read. That is, after I smash that huge-mondo wolf spider crawling up my wall. Eek! ( I can NOT even IMAGINE a life in Siberia. Do spiders live well there?)

Saturday's With Stella by Allison Pittman

Oh, my goodness, this is a great book! Hubs and I don't consider ourselves to be dog people. Of course we also don't consider ourselves to be cat people, fish people, reptile people, or anything needy besides our children people, so that isn't saying much. I honestly wanted to read this book because it seemed awfully close to my book idea (export dog, import children) and I wondered how she would do it and whether me taking the other angle would be a re-do.

Man, she pulled it off well. My dear Hubs glanced over the cover and the cover copy and deemed the book "cheesy" and was quite surprised when I told him how very excellent the book was. (I'm rather glad he didn't tell me what he thought until I'd already read most of the book. He can poison my opinion, I'm ashamed to say.) But this book REALLY works. Despite the cover and copy (if that looks cheesy to you. If not, say, if you are a dog person, or even just a pet person which I think is what Hubs is missing, ignore this part.).

I LOVED it. I LOVED how perfectly she expressed dog personalities. I know dogs just like each of those in the story. And I LOVED how dog-like we people should be in relation to our Master. And maybe this book just hit me at the right time of my life, but it hit me square between the eyes. And I highly recommend it.Even if you aren't a dog person.

And here's the cover copy for your enjoyment. Weigh in: do you think it is cheesy? I think he's being a bit harsh.

Sometimes your best four-legged friend is also your best teacher

When you bring a new dog into your home, a wash of great joy can become a trial of perseverance as your furry pal chews, digs, yaps, and yes, piddles her way through every room in the house. Allison Pittman learned this all too well when she adopted a “tiny, shiny puppy of indefinable breed(s).” Stella wasted no time in turning her home upside-down as only a pup can.

As could be expected, six weeks of obedience school covered the much needed basics–sit, stay, come, and down. What Allison didn’t expect was the spiritual benefit she would receive as each Saturday lesson revealed a fascinating metaphor. In this heart-warming, thoughtful, and often hilarious tribute to her beloved Stella, Allison Pittman shares how she came to understand what it means to follow the ultimate Master, including how to:

Sit!–at the feet of Jesus and listen for His voice
Drop It!–and let go of personal agendas
Come!–when it’s time to run in the right direction
Stay!–in God’s presence

In Saturdays with Stella, a slightly neurotic yet curiously adorable canine will not only capture your heart–she’ll show you how captivating you are to God.

Monday, September 08, 2008

What Was I Doing At 1 AM?

Why, thank you for asking. I was listening to the water company JACKHAMMER my neighbor's driveway. Yes, I did say AM.

Insanely, my children slept through the jackhammering. I know not how.

Forty-five minutes later, as the jackhammering was winding down and I began to hope for the sleep that I still shamelessly desired, THEN my Charming decided it was time to wake. Big kids kept sleeping.

I brought Charming to my bed and did as I do when I'm desperate for sleep. I positioned myself on my side and prepared to be the human pacifier. But Charming is not content to nurse. No. He also has to snuggle. And he's not content to nurse on whatever side I choose to give him. No. It must be my right side (As a side note, I pumped into bottles the other day and discovered my right side is about half cream and my left is skim. How bizarre is that?). And he wants to have his cold little feet shoved into the space between my legs (not my crotch, you dirty thinkers) but there isn't as much space as you can well imagine and I don't feel good about cutting off the blood flow to his feet so I have to position my legs Just So as well. Along with holding a pillow over my head to drown out the incessant BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! of whatever monstrous vehicle is now loading the chunks of cement into the empty dump truck and the WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! of the driveway hitting the dump truck.

I failed to mention that Charming has sucked a BLISTER on aforementioned right mammary gland.

I gritted my teeth and hoped he would soon return to slumber. Which takes much longer considering he isn't sleeping through the noise any better than his mother and I won't let him have a pillow over his head.

Charming finally drops off to sleep and I try to wiggle into a more comfortable position. He notices that there is one square inch of his body that isn't against mine and wakes. I try unsuccessfully to give his the other side as a pacifier. That is unacceptable.

It is now 3 AM.

I lift charming onto my chest where he is not nursing, just sleeping. The noise is now a dull rumble and I again have hope. I doze off.

And then the ringing begins. I tell you a PHONE IS RINGING. Loudly. Except it isn't MY phone. It isn't MY cell. It isn't a PHONE at all. It is...

I have no idea. I wouldn't know because there is a baby sleeping on my chest and I dare not move to look. It seems like every time some truck, or lift, or digger, or loader goes into reverse this phone rings. AND IT GOES INTO REVERSE ALMOST AS REGULARLY AS A PHONE RINGS.

And as soon as it stops, I try to maneuver out of Charming's snuggles. I love them, but my back aches and I sleep best in any position besides my back. I maintained contact on 98% of the contact points, but I dared slip him onto his side beside me.

And I would have pulled it off, too, except THE BLAMIN' PHONE STARTED RINGING AGAIN!

Now I have a phone ringing truck in reverse, a screaming baby, a blistered boob (excuse me, mammary gland) and little to no sleep. I begin thinking about guns. Big guns. And whether waving them would get me in jail. And whether it would be quieter there so I could get some sleep.

And then it all stops. Blissfully stops. Just like that.


I kid you not.

Now the big kids that slept through the jackhammering and the dump truck dumping, and the BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!ing and the phone ringing, did NOT sleep through the thunderstrom.

It is now 4:30.

I can sleep through thunderstroms. I did. And dreamed of the water company guys doing all sorts of things to my house including but not limited to painting and subsequesntly scraping my windows with a razor at which time I did go onto my porch and ask them WHAT IN GOD'S NAME DID THEY THINK THEY WERE DOING TO MY HOUSE AT 4:30 IN THE FREAKING MORNING? (My neighbor, Tuck, would ask me about now if Christians should say freaking. And I would have to shamefully admit that I shouldn't say Freaking nor In God's Name, but it is my dream and I'm being honest here.)

I'll have you know that the water company moved six houses down and started the process all over again. But I can do dull roar. Besides, it is now 5 AM and practically morning. And I have a sleeping baby back on my chest. And can't move to go tell my bloggies all my misery anyway. And I haven't slept, not really, for many long hours. So I go to sleep.

At 7 AM a second thunderstrom begins in earnest and Eldest, bless his pea-pickin' heart, decides that now is the time to get up and practice playing drums on his stand in drum set (read: six books set up in a semi drum set formation and a couple hangers for sticks). And as angry as I am with him for waking me from the only sleep I feel I got for the night, I know we have to move! move! move! to get out the door.

For it is Monday.

Coffee, where are you?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Things I Will Never Understand

Children that leave their cleats and water bottle home when they go to practice, even though besides their bodies, that is their only thing to take.

Husbands that pack for long trips ten minutes before they leave which happens to correspond to getting the children out the door for school.

Children that forget to eat breakfast even when they've been told to "go eat breakfast" seven times.

Babies that eat food out of the trash can that they turned their noses up at when it was on the dinner table.

The party line of an unidentified national party which shall go unnamed.

The transparency of journalists when covering either party line.

Why I talk about politics when I promised myself I wouldn't get into it.

Why spell check suddenly doesn't recognize contractions as legitimate words.


How dishes magically wash themselves for everyone in my family except me.

How you can be having a conversation with your toddler about where poop goes and he will pee all over you.

Why toddlers have to fight over the same dumb piece of plastic if one of them picks it up. Even if the other big brute of a bully who shall also remain nameless, but we'll call him The Frog that Hasn't Yet Been Kissed, hasn't played with the piece of plastic since the last time his friend was over.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Where Things Stand

I still am not sleeping well. It isn't that I don't sleep. It is that when I wake I am wide awake. And I wake a lot.

I still feel like I could burst into tears at any moment.

I still don't really know why.

When you make a song, a popular song, your heart's cry, and you sing it all day, God answers that cry. And it hurts. Even if it is for your good.

I'd itemize the financial damage that we've endured this last 6 weeks, but that is pathetic. Suffice it to say, we are bumping at the edge of $10K. Over and above the normal budget expenditures.

Thank God, and I mean that literally, that Hubs has this "second job." And even if it does seem like we are spinning our wheels, we are staying afloat. Albeit barely.

I offered to go to work as a barrista or something. Hubs nixed it.

As Hubs keeps saying, "At least it's just financial."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Beach Dreams by Trish Perry

I thought of something nice I could say that has absolutely nothing to do with my personal life which...nope, not going there.


Read any good books lately?

I have.

I loved Trish Perry's Beach Dreams. Finally we get to read the story of Tiff and Jeremy. Though I don't think it is being sold as a sequel to The Guy I'm Not Dating and Too Good to Be True, you get a little flavor of those anyway. Actually, I think it is being sold as part of the Beach House Series (?) of which I've only read this one. So obviously don't need to read the first two of THAT series either.

Anyway, couldn't put it down. Plan to freely pass it around. You should check it out, too.

Not that I encourage anyone to go to the beach today. At least the Atlantic or Gulf coast.


In the Words of Thumper

"If you can't say anything niiiiiiiice.....

(deep sigh)

don't say nuthin' at alllllllll."