Thursday, April 22, 2010

Just in case

I'm having a panic attack that someone who links over here from Temple Transformation will read the following post and wonder how such a snitchy person could be worth linking to from such a great post. I'd love to say something holy right now to throw you off but I've got nuthin' but an Amen to my sister.

Dream a big dream! 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Snap Judgements

Tonight while waiting for Eldest at his soccer practice, Charming and I played at the nearby park.

I discovered I'm very judgy.

I know that I live in a rather prosperous location. Not Silicon Valley prosperous, or NYC upper west side (is that the right place?) prosperous, not Naperville prosperous, but this ain't small town, get by on minimum wage because you can, either. (Which is what I'm rather accustomed to.) I also know that I moved here with preconceived notions regarding the locale. (I met quite a lot of them at college and I wasn't quite sure what to make of a people who identified themselves with the county they came from rather than the town. UNTIL I MOVED HERE.) I also know that the first year I lived here, I had a coworker ask me if I felt safe living in the city I live in because it, gasp, is on the county line.

I kid you not.

I drove her home once, by the way, and she lived in a ratty apartment in the "in" town of the county and I decidedly did NOT feel safe in that parking lot. I went home to my county-line-challenged burb so I could breathe.

I'll tell you where I feel safe. Home. Looking out at an empty field. My other home. The one where my parents live. But I do still feel like my county-line-challenged home is relatively safe. When it's light out. And most of the time when it isn't. As long as my husband is home.

Rabbit trail.

So, I confess I have thoughts about county people. Thoughts like, "Seriously. Do you not see that you have the exact same haircut and highlights and sunglasses?" And, "Have I died and been sent to..." Oh crap. It was gonna be catchy, too. That book they made into a movie. The really creepy gross one where all the women were perfect. Whatever. You get my point.

But I've apparently also become a snob. Because there are other people that I see and think they must be trucking a kid into soccer practice from somewhere else. (They are generally very friendly. The friendliness gives them away.)

Which, frankly, is probably what those clones are thinking about me. OH YEAH, I am! From my county-line-challenged city!

 Whew, glad we cleared that up.

So, I was sitting at the park, watching Charming play. I had some dialogue with some people. (Found out they were from small towns outside of the county, which explains why they spoke to me.) They left. There I was, alone with a guy who looked like he could have been a member of a gang and his polite, sweet, clean, daughter who he controlled very well. The man would not make eye contact with me. He never smiled. I couldn't engage him in conversation. So I quit trying.

And then this load of people showed up and my ugly side showed up with them. For even though I didn't really want to talk to the gang banger, he was being a pretty decent father and his presence didn't bother the soccer team was yelling distance away and he didn't glance my way once in an hour and 15 minutes. But that crowd of people brought with them cattiness that there's no accounting for.

They seemed like they could be nice people. And as more and more of them showed up my thought got uglier and uglier (and I wondered why they didn't take their rude children and just leave the park to me and the guy from the gang). And since I caught myself and my thoughts, I tried to analyze WHY I was having them.

I didn't come up with an answer. Except this: I know on first glance whether I will like someone or not. Good, bad, or otherwise. I know within five minutes if I want to be friends with a person. Sometimes time proves me wrong. Many times, time proves me correct. I'm right more than I'm wrong.

So, after I decided I didn't like anyone at the park and that Hubs would have to take soccer practice duty from here on out, I forced myself to look around and find someone I did like. It took 10 seconds. We were engaged in dialog in less than 5 minutes. And not because I chased them down to prove to myself I wasn't a judgy ( )itch. Because they had open, friendly faces and made eye contact and smiled. At their kids. I don't know. The other people probably did, too.

I have GOT to get over myself. And put on God eyes. And remember these people have souls (contrary to the drone way in which many of them behave--STOP IT!). So, in an effort to control myself, I'm confessing ye mine sins one to another. Go forth and sin no more.

So let it be written. So let it be done.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What Your Son Isn't Telling You

I am a mother of boys. Three boys to be exact. I have sisters. I am clueless (though, after nine years, improving). So when Bethany House asked me to review What Your Son Isn't Telling You; Unlocking the Secret World of Teen Boys, I thought I'd better.

Oh. My. Word.

Before, I was clueless. Now I'm terrified.

I had long ago decided that as long as you feed them and feed them well, they will love you. It seemed to work for my MIL. But I guess life isn't all about your boys loving you and having full tummies, is it?

In this book, the authors tackle some hard issues. Issues you aren't used to reading about in Christian literature. Because those are the issues that teen boys face. It isn't all about proving themselves (and full tummies). Or I guess a lot of it is about proving themselves, but the areas in which they feel are necessary to conquer in order to be manly...ouch.

In this book you will find chapters specifically addressing issues that teen boys face and then specific solutions to help your son navigate through these areas. Chapters are about Anger, Homosexuality, Internet (and those pictures they can find on there), Lust, etc., etc.. I was particularly fond of the chapters entitled "The Furious Five: What Guys Need" (FYI, they are Identity, Friends, Boundaries, Help dealing with his sexual feelings, and Confidence.), and "What He Needs From Mom." For, while my boys are still in the preteen stages (down to toddler), (almost all of) these things are good to incorporate into our relationship now.

Did you know you shouldn't tease your boys? I'm still not sure about this. My boys sure like to tease. But I do see the purpose behind not teasing him about his looks and such. And never mean spirited. (Duh.) No sarcasm? Oh, no, I'm in trouble. Which leads to the major point of the book: Seek the Lord on your son's behalf, for and with him. For with God, all things are possible. Even navigating the teen years with your son.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I Did It!

"I run because I can. I run to challenge myself. I run to compete. I run because I choose to. I run with others. I run to relax my mind. I run because it is my whole life. I run because it keeps me healthy. I run to feel free. I run to know myself better. I run to escape. I run to see the world. I run to be a better person. I run to feel alive. I run to relieve stress. I run to get closer to nature. I run to motivate myself. I run for my heart. I run for my family. I run to feel free. But most importantly I RUN FOR MERCY."

 I ran a 5K today! (OK, gut honesty, I ran 3 miles and walked 0.1 miles because I just couldn't make myself run up that blamin' hill just before mile 2, but STILL!)

I have no photographic evidence because Hubs had to take Eldest to a soccer game and I didn't want to carry a camera (no extra weight on the longest run of my LIFE), but I should have photographic evidence soon because I ran into friends there who did bring a cameraman along. Unfortunately, I was running so FAST at the end, my photo blurred out. :-) (That is true. It doesn't seem like a true thing for me to say, but it is. That, and the camera didn't have an action setting. Or they took it before I stopped. Something.)

When I came up to the "homestretch" (they actually label it "homestretch" on a sign), I started crying. And running faster. I actually had a kick at the end of a three mile run. Which, incidentally, probably means I didn't have to walk up the second half of that hill after all, but we aren't going there today. Because we are focusing on success. And just when I'd get control of my tears, I'd start crying again. And I crossed the finish line and, wow, I understood runner's high. It's like WHOOSH--I DID IT! And then, dang, your whole body hurts. And then all day you think to yourself "I ran three miles today!" And then you try to walk up the steps and your legs won't cooperate.

Being real.

Theoretically I'm supposed to be able to run three 5Ks a week three weeks from now. Or so this website says. And so far I've been able to do what they've asked of me. I dunno.

Anyhoo....thanks to all of you who donated to Oceans of Mercy on behalf of my run. Or however the proper wordage is for that. Those of you who donated know what I mean. After spending a morning with these people, I really do think they money is going to a great cause and is handled by people who love and serve our mighty God. (Who gives me great strength when I pray to be able to continue running.)

It was an awesome experience. Hopefully in 2011, I'll be able to cough out the 10K.

Here's an interesting tidbit or seven:

I ran 3.1 miles in 32 minutes and 31.4 seconds. I came in at 401st place out of more than 800 (better than 50%!). 79th in my age category (30-39) out of 206.

The dude who won the 10K? Did it in 38 minutes. As the 5K started 15 minutes behind the 10K, he finished before I did. That's just to keep me super humble. That and the fact that this was no marathon. Even though my mom seems bent on telling people it was. (She didn't know that a marathon was a specific race of 26.2 miles. I think she thought it was just terminology for a long race.) So if she tells you I ran a marathon, as much as I would like to be able to confirm that rumor, it isn't true. She means well and isn't trying to deceive you. Maybe before I'm 40. It's on my list. But first, let's take out the 10K, eh?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

After a previously unheard of several book break from my favorite genre, we are back to the goods. The place where the Magic happens. B-17 Bombers and Red Cross Volunteers. Mail call and Misunderstandings. Sigh. It's World War II without having to live it.

This time I veered to a new author, Sarah Sundin and her novel A Distant Melody. Oh, Glory, it started good and got better. Here's a bit:

Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval--even marry a man she doesn't love. 
Lt. Walter Novak--fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women--takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas. Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and their love of music draws them together, prompting them to begin a correspondence that will change their lives. 
As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart? 
A Distant Melody is the first book in the WINGS OF GLORY series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II.

So, even when you know how the book is supposed to end, Walt and Allie do all sorts of stupid things to ruin the happy ending and, of course, it looks hopeless. This book was meaty, and without a simple plot line.  (That was supposed to be complimentary, but it reads negative. re-read it complimentary.) Heck there were probably four books in one. Not a gazillion converging characters like Tricia Goyer writes (beautifully), but two characters with a gazillion converging issues. It is also beautiful. 

I simply cannot wait for book two of the Wings of Glory Series (which I am relatively certain is a "stand alone series" meaning not dependant), Memory Between Us.   Whoot! Bring on September!

Sarah Sundin is an on-call hospital pharmacist and holds a BS in chemistry from UCLA and a doctorate in pharmacy from UC San Francisco. Her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England during WWII. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. This is her first novel.
For more info please visit her website at!

 This is a blog toured book, meaning the book was provided for me in exchange for my review. This fact does not taint my opinion, as you may have surmised from a couple posts ago. However, if you would like some more opinions regarding A Distant Melody, I recommend you visit some other tour stops

But not, of course, before you enter the CONTEST! Just click on the, what's it called?, box contest icon thing with a bomber on it. Easy-peasy.
**Edited**The following button doesn't work and I don't want to figure out why. The button in my sidebar DOES work. Use that one, easy-peasy, rather than this one, not-so-easy-peasy.

Enter the Netflix and Nostalgia contest from author Sarah Sundin!
The Winner of our ‘NETFLIX® & Nostalgia’ giveaway will receive a vintage prize package, including:
*A 6 month NETFLIX® subscription
*$25 Starbucks® gift card
*A box of See’s Famous Old Time Chocolates®
*A jar of homemade strawberry jam
*A Big Band music CD
*A Mini B-17 Model airplane
*Vintage stationery and pen
*British specialty tea
*WWII style playing cards

In the continuing saga that is Princess and reproduction III

Princess and I were on the front porch, enjoying the lovely sunshine when three robins put up quite a racket chasing each other around the maple.

My thoughts: Looks like the robins are mating. Glad Princess doesn't know what's going on.

Princess: Look, Mom! I think the robins are mating! How exciting! (In regard, I HOPE, to the fact that nests with baby robins soon follow.)

Methinks she knows more than she's letting on.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Homeschooling for the Rest of Us

The annual homeschooling conference for our area is this coming weekend and the burning question of the week will be DO I OR DON'T I? Go. Try. Consider. Hide. Thursday night I'll be a bear. Friday morning, worse. First session, cranky and critical. Third session, considering. Final session, DONE. Overstimulated. And by Monday? I'll have my kids enrolled at their current school.

Confession: I feel like a failure for not homeschooling. It doesn't matter that 99.9% of the world would think I was crazy if I did. Lots of things don't matter. I could make lists, and you could all comment and try to alleviate my feelings (or compound them, however well intentioned your "you could totally do it"), but let's spare ourselves, why don't we?

I read a book last Christmas that liberated me from these feelings of failure, but they do occasionally spring up. Like when...

Confession II: I hate (that's a strong word for a strong feeling) homeschool jargon. There are about three phrases that make me want to yank out my hair every time I hear them. I won't post them here because I have truly wonderful homeschooling friends who say these things frequently and I know they really and truly mean them and I don't want them to feel like they have to not say those things that come so freely off their tongue. I need to get over myself and my hangups. I know this. The reason I hate them? They make me feel like a failure. Even when they are not directed at me.


(have you forgiven me yet?)

Take the rest of what I say with a grain of salt and more than a little grace. I have people on both sides of the fence that read this blog and I am not out to make enemies or stir up a debate. I will probably even turn the comments off so don't prepare your rebuttal or your praise.

I read Homeschooling for the Rest of Us. I've been considering bringing a child or two home next year for varied reasons. I am also preparing to bring Princess home in two short years even if I DO send everyone to school next year because I am not about to send her off to the inhumane torture referred to around here as Middle School. It was awful in 1988 and it can only be worse now. End of discussion. I hoped for some encouragement telling me I Can Totally Do This.

She started off by telling me that she wasn't going to tell me how to school my kids. Great. Check.

Chapter two she told me about the pressure on homeschool families. Tell me about about pressure on schooling families?? How about the pressure in Christian circles no matter WHICH choice you make anymore? Why must we all debate it? Why must we blow out other people's candles so that ours can shine brighter?? And while we're at it, why don't we throw out a few statistics to make our choice sound like the best one? I live it. Reading it was torture. Because more than a couple of my touchy phrases were written. I have thin enough hair as it is.

I had to put the book down and take a few days off. And then, so help me, the next many pages felt like she was telling me how to homeschool. Oh, not how to schedule every moment of my days, not which curriculum was best. Just in the If You Don't Get A Handle On This, You Are Doomed To Stress. (That's what us non-homeschooling mother's call the You Can Totally Do It speech that turns into As Long As You Make Them Love To Learn, Obey, and Keep Family First which some of us hear as YOU WILL FAIL.) What she really said was read to your kids, spend time together and, OK, train them to obey. Which sounds all well and good and fuzzy kittens, but, (deep breath) is TOTALLY OVERWHELMING.

But, I have to admit, that after a bit, a few more pages of statistics and catchphrases that left me bald in a couple places, I finished the book thinking:


You didn't expect that, did you?

So, in a roundabout way I'm telling you this: If you are already homeschooling and you want to be encouraged, there is a better than 90% chance you will love this book. I imagine she will give you a sense of freedom. And I'll bet she won't say things that make you want to yank your hair. And heck, she gives you permission to have a messy house.

If you are on the fence about homeschooling and you sometimes hate homeschoolers because they say the exact WRONG thing when they think they are being encouraging....hmmmmm, you might like this book and you might not make it past chapter four.

However, if you are on the fence and you are really hoping that someone will push you on to the side of homeschooling and you can muscle past your own bad self and prejudices (as well as the homeschooler prejudices put forth), this book may also be the encouragement you are looking for.

Wow. That was about the most gut honest review I've written, ever. And I probably just eliminated about half my friend base (I really REALLY DO LOVE YOU. even when you say things I don't like. And yes I DO KNOW that I say things you don't like, too. Thank you for your forgiveness.)


Sometimes books show up in my mailbox and I don't know from whence they came. Sometimes I recognize the title and know where they came from, but am unsure why they came. Sometimes when this happens I go ahead and read the book because I'm just flighty enough that I could have agreed to review said book and just forgot that such a thing occurred. Wouldn't want to go against my word, ya know.

I tell you all this because the following book is not my standard read. You'll notice the lack of a historical context. Maybe a lacking of WWII themes. Or rhyming meter. You'll notice the presence of suspense. Which I don't read. And at which point in the book (page, oh, two) when I knew without a doubt that there was no way that I, in sound mind, agreed to read this book. Anymore I only read suspense when a good friend wrote it. Say, Andrea Sisco. Period. End of story. And even THEN, sometimes I don't read it. (I did, Andi, breathe.) Unless it is historical suspense, at which point in time, I do occasionally imbibe. If, say, Sara Mills wrote it. Who, wait, I would consider to be somewhat of an acquaintance if not a "friend" friend. track.


I can't leave a character to be stalked and maybe murdered on her late night walks through Charleston, so I did finish and even enjoyed Beguiled and on the off chance that I really did agree to review this book, I figured I might have a reader or two that likes to lose sleep at night, or doesn't dream, or flat doesn't care. Or, gasp, likes suspense.

So, back cover copy says:

In the shadows of Charleston, someone is watching her...

Rylee Montoe, a dogwlker in Charleston's wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a theif is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her.

Reporter Logan Woods is following the break-ins with the hope of publishing his coverage as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything.

As danger draws ever closer, Logan must choose: Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens everything.

As danger draws even closer, Logan must choose: Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens everything?


If you like romantic suspense, this is probably the book for you. There are healthy doses of both romance and suspense between the covers. It opens by giving women home alone the creeps as well as the desire to scream at the otherwise bright heroine, "DON'T GO UP THE STAIRS!" (How many horror flicks do you have to watch to know that isn't a good decision? Call the cops for cryin' out loud!) Strangely enough, though, after the first couple of chapters of creeps, I was able to read through the rest of the book without the feeling someone was watching me through my bedroom window shades. It felt rather like if the bad guy was intent upon hurting her (rather than her reputation) he would have done it already. Without her person being harmed, I could handle the obliteration of her life. Especially if it lead the the Happily Ever After that inevitably finishes up Romantic Suspense. There are characters that you love to hate and those that you don't understand the purpose of, but overall, and as far as romantic suspense goes, it was a pretty good read. Not nightmare inducing, thank goodness, but not a yawner either. Just my Big Honkin' Chicken Club style. (I think the head nod goes to Deborah Raney for that club title.)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Old Hat New Hat

I'm in the midst of the overhaul that is The Great Clothing Swap that happens around here when seasons change. And while going through Princess' things this afternoon the old Berenstain Bears book Old Hat New Hat is ringing through my brain with the following alterations:

Too short
Too strappy
Too holey
Too crappy

Ah, the joys of raising a daughter.

Monday, April 05, 2010

In the continuing saga that is Princess and reproduction II

On Saturday night we went out to a Japanese steakhouse for Hubs' birthday. As you probably know, Japanese steakhouse chefs are paid to be entertaining.

Have I mentioned the fact that Hubs and I prefer not to eat fungus? This is an ongoing source of conversation among our family who think fungus is delicious. Fungus was on the grill and as such beget the conversation....again. The chef listened to the conversation and threw in his two bits (loudly):


I forgot to mention that there were SIX children around the table.

Princess, who misses NOTHING, turns to me and asks (loudly) "what's sexii?" To which I respond, "That will have to be something I tell you about later." To which she responded, "Is it disgusting?" To which I responded, "To someone your age? YES."

Did that put an end to it? NO. Now she's going around telling people that "I think I know what sensi is. It's gross."

Thank goodness she's forgotten the correct pronunciation. 

Random Worship Thoughts

I was at my high school church yesterday morning which do I say it?......decidedly of a different worship style than my current church. For one they have a hundred voice choir and as such, listen to a choir more than we do.

(They do sound lovely, but when you aren't used to listening to a choir it feels less like "church" and more like "concert." However, I know that there are people who worship by listening and far be it for me to rob them of that. They were even kind enough to put the words on the overhead so that I could know what they were singing, and/or sing along. This parenthesis is getting long enough that it needs its own paragraph. There. As I was saying, the people in the church seem to know the difference between when you are supposed to sing with the choir and when you aren't even when the words are overhead. I don't know the difference. I'm sure I would if I were there every week. I THINK there was only one song I wasn't supposed to sing with.) But they did sing many of my favorite classics.


However, they (the Mennonites) did sing a chorus that is, or was, frequently sung at our (not Mennonite) church. The singing at our (not Mennonite) church is frequently accompanied by jumping in this particular song.

I tried to contain myself.

I leaned over and whispered to Hubs, "There is a decided lack of jumping going on."

He responded, "There is a decided lack of singing going on."

He was correct. I'm not sure anyone knew the song.

Here's an aside: In the opening songs (hymns) I grew nostalgic and wished that my church would sing a few more of these. After Hubs pointed out that few people at this (Mennonite) church knew (or sang, at least) the chorus, I was grateful for my exposure to the choruses. I could sing along (loudly) with everything. It was quite nice.

Back to jumping: So the whole row behind me were elderly. The kind of elderly that sit even when you are supposed to stand. The kind of elderly that probably didn't like the jumping song in the first place. I tried to contain myself. NO JUMPING. But I'm a dancer. I had a hard time standing still.

So as another aside and what is actually my point: At my current (not Mennonite) church, I feel so stoic as I'm surrounded my people jumping and dancing and waving their hands in the air. So stoic as to feel often like a loser because I can't seem to lose myself in worship (very often, at least). This Sunday at my old (Mennonite) church I think, contrary to my attempts at the opposite, I embarrassed my father in law with my inability to hold still.

Correction: I embarrassed myself with my inability to stand still and as such am certain that my FIL was equally embarrassed as he stood next to me in front of the elderly people that wouldn't even stand, much less sing.

One of these days, I'm going to get control of my schizophrenic worship personality and fit in somewhere.