Saturday, December 31, 2005

I was wrong! Customer service is NOT dead!!!!

Well I have just had my confidence in good business practice restored by Target.

A little over a week before Christmas I placed an order on since the items I was ordering were hard to find and I wanted them here by Christmas. As it turned out, they emailed me a day or two later saying that my items were out of stock and would not be here for weeks. So, I decided to wait, since I couldn't find the items anywhere else.

Tonite my son found one of the items by accident at a store he was in, at a third of the price, so I decided to cancel my order with Target. (there were only 2 things in the order, and I knew I could find the other thing without any trouble)

When I got to the web site it would not let me cancel my order so I decided to call a live person to see what could be done about that.

I got a very nice man who spoke clear English (!!) and I told him what the problem was, and he told me that my items were already on their way. Then he said the magic words:

"I see that you tried to order this for a Christmas gift and we did not get it to you on time. What I am going to do is refund your money in full, and have you keep these items when they arrive, with our compliments."


A $75 order, for free!

They didn't have to do that. But it totally rocks that they did! Wow!

Therefore, Target is the recipient of the 2005

DollyMama Customer Service is NOT Dead Award.

Now everybody go buy something at Target and tell them I sent ya. :)

Friday, December 30, 2005

Who needs Mother Goose when we have Dolly Mama to give us nursery rhymes?!

An unfortunately apropos rhyme I quipped earlier today:

I see London
I see France
I see pin worms
under your pants.

(try not to be jealous of my life, ok?!)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

2005 End-of-Year Meme

The same one from last year, but hopefully with some new answers.

1. What did you do in 2005 that you'd never done before?
Read several books with almost a thousand pages in each one, and started my own business.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My resolutions included losing 25 lbs. and improving on my home. I lost some of the weight but not all 25 lbs, and did some nice little improvements on the house. Losing some more weight is definitely on the list for 2006. I like resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes! Our friends from our small group just had their first child on Dec. 23.

4. Did anyone close to you die? My grandfather died the night before Easter.

5. What countries did you visit? Just the USA. I don't get out much, as I've told ya.

6. What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005? Enough money to obliterate some debts.

7. What dates from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Seeing my father for the first time in 13 years.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Starting my own business.

9. What was your biggest failure? making a few poor business decisions (but it's ok)

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Yes. I spent 2 months of 2005 either sick or in bed with a hurt back.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Our Suburban.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Squiggy Magoo who potty trained effortlessly.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and disgusted? other than my children?? hmmm....

14. Where did most of your money go? Bills! Same as always.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? starting my business

16. What song will always remind you of 2005? possibly The Pitty Party Dance (which was from our kid's church month when we studied joy)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? possibly sadder
b) thinner or fatter? slightly thinner
c) richer or poorer? maybe the same or poorer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? being happier and healthier

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Being sick

20. How will you be spending New Year's Eve? either with friends from small group or asleep at home, depending on how the health pendulum swings here

21. Did you fall in love in 2005? Nope.

22. How many one-night stands? Zero.

23. What was your favorite TV program? I discovered The Amazing Race and really like it.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? I don't put energy into hate. (I go for apathy instead ;) )

25. What was the best book you read? Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, and all the rest of the books in the series.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Chris Tomlin

27. What did you want and get? A new vehicle for our family

28. What did you want and not get? Time to develop my business more

29. What was your favorite film of this year? Without a doubt, Crash was my favorite.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 34 this year and I can't remember what we did.

31.What one thing would have made your year measurably more satisfying? more time and money to achieve more goals

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005? Better than ever. (which isn't saying much, but still...)

33. What kept you sane? Who said I'm sane?

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? None! How about the ones I most disliked? Tom Cruise is at the top of my YUKK list this year. Katie Holmes is at the top of my "I'm concerned that this young lady has been brainwashed" list.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? There isn't much that stirs me politically.

36. Who did you miss? Well, I always miss my mom, brother, and sister since I don't get to see them very much. Usually once a year or less. I also miss my friend Laura who lives on the other side of the earth. And, as you may remember from recent posts, I've missed my best friends from high school and college.

37. Who was the best new person you met? Probably all of the people in our two small groups from this year.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005. There's value even in low times.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. many to choose from. "I can't get no satisfaction" or "It's my party so I'll cry if I want to" are coming to mind today....but today I have PMS so I don't know if those count.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

So I've been writing a magazine article....

A few months ago a query I submitted to a magazine for an article was accepted, and so of course I didn't get around to writing the article, and now here I am just days away from the deadline. Other than the threats of the IRS audit and possible holiday house guests, getting this article done has been one of my very big stress factors lately. I've been dreading it by day and by night, feeling nervous, as if I've never written anything before, and wondering when I was going to have some clear time to get this writing done. As my husband pointed out, I seem to have no trouble writing for my blog during the day with children underfoot, so why couldn't I get my article done too? Well, quite simply, when I write for this blog I write what's on my mind, not for an assignment. Furthermore, I don't have to turn in my work to an editor, and thousands upon thousands of people aren't going to be reading what I write here.

So I was holding out for some magical time when my husband would run interferance for several hours and I could think in peace, and of course that is a joke because he is working all the time, and when he is home he rather likes my attention.

A couple nights ago I remembered a very good thing that I read awhile back. The concept is that if you are dreading something, to go ahead and get it done first thing. It's usually not as bad as you think it'll be, and at least once it's done you don't have your energy getting sucked out of you by worry and dread. Oh how I wish I had remembered this a couple weeks ago!

So, that night I sat down with a copy of the magazine I am writing for and read through a lot of it to remind myself of the "feel" of this publication. Then I jotted down a couple ideas about how I wanted my article to come across. And I went to bed.

Yesterday I woke up full of inspiration. I ran back and forth between keyboard and children for the entire day, making meals and then getting as much writing done as I could. It was fabulous to have ideas and a direction for the writing to flow. Unfortunately, all the interruptions made me feel very edgy because I felt concerned that I was going to forget all my great ideas while having to wipe a child's butt or make sandwiches. Once my husband got home he joined in with "helping" by allowing the children to run up and down the hallway outside where I was working, and coming in every so often to ask me, "So are you done yet?"


I realized that it would be very hard for me to be a writer from home. All the cards are stacked against me here. I love it when I have really good ideas, and being able to hold on to them long enough to get them out. But having people get in my way when I have that urge is so aggravating. I have no idea how other women manage to write at home. Maybe they have considerate family members who understand that they cannot come into her writing space during working hours. Oh how that idea appeals to me!

Oh well.

The good news is that my article is just about done. I've got a few more days to look it over and tweak it before turning it in. Then, hopefully, I'll become a published author, which will be really fun! I feel so much lighter just having this out of the way.

customer service is dead

The other day I was doing some research about a trip that we might like to take. I had gone to the web site and looked around, but didn't see any info on accomodations for families as large as mine. I decided to click on their Live Help Chat service to get my questions answered. Here's what I got instead (cut and paste right from the chat session):

Me: Hi. What accomodations do you have for a family of 8?


Me: Well, right now I am just collecting information. I don't have a date set. Maybe in Feb, though.



Me: Well I would like to know what accomodations you have more than the price. So far what I see on the web site is for up to 5 people.

Me: 2 adults, 6 children


Me(wondering what on earth is wrong with this person): ok so are you not willing to tell me what kind of spaces you have for families of this size?


Me (why does this person make it so difficult?!): Well...enough for 8 people, I guess. It could be 3 bedrooms or more depending on how many beds and the sizes of them I suppose.

Me (seeing that HELN isn't going to help me): Is there someplace on your web site where I can see examples of what's available? so far I don't see info for units this size.


Me: I have told you I don't need the prices. I want to know about the units. The sizes. how many beds. Where are they located in relation to the ocean. That type of thing.


Me (I go an find that the property map only tells names of buildings. On the room description page I search around until I finally find what I'm looking for): OK. I see now that you could have directed me to the" larger suites" to get the information I need.

Me (and now I'm annoyed that this person wouldn't just tell me the information or even what to look for on the web site): How can I contact your manager?


Right-o, HELN. You weren't the least bit of help to me so far. Why would I think you'd help me on the phone?

Since HELN wasn't willing to give me the number of her manager, I went to the "contact us" section of their site and sent a message (plus the copy of the chat session) to let them know about my disappointing experience with dear HELN. I got a reply and supposedly HELN's manager will be getting the full story. Sorry, HELN, but I don't think customer service is your calling.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Just Two Little Things

First, a new addition to the blog roll: Post Secret. People send in postcards telling a secret, and this guy posts them. Very interesting stuff. (some material not suitable for children)

Second, here's a funny article about one woman's experience as a human guinea pig. Her assignment: Be a Nude Model!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Follow-up

So, for those of you that went to church yesterday, I would like to know if your pastor mentioned the controversy about having/not having church that day, and then pointed out why your church was better because they did. :)

Second, I wanted to follow up on my recent comments about Christmas. They were long and rambling, and the point seemed to get lost in there, probably largely due to the fact that I didn't know what my conclusion was except that I was getting some good thinking opportunities.

What I've come up to at this point is that I do think it's worth taking some special time to remember Jesus' birth, but because of what our society has turned Christmas into, I think Dec. 25 is possibly one of the worst times to do so. Most people are just too preoccupied with the other holiday trappings to really give Jesus anything significant of themselves, their time, or their attention.

I'm not sure what the end result of this questioning will be. We'll still continue to "do" Christmas because it's a good family holiday, and it's virtually inescapable in our society and I am not willing to make myself and my family such oddballs that we won't participate in Christmas stuff at all. However, it may be that I will appoint some other time of year that my family will give Jesus' birth some more special attention, that is far removed from present-buying, house decorating, and society-wide hysteria.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Behold the litter!  Posted by Picasa

We got a rebounder this year--big bouncy fun for the whole family! Posted by Picasa

Izzy Man and jake the Great Posted by Picasa

Do you think he got enough sprinkles on this poor cookie? (it was about a quarter-inch thick) Posted by Picasa

even the biggest kid will still decorate cookies--yay! Posted by Picasa

Aftermath of cookie hell. Posted by Picasa

We let the kids open one gift each "to help them sleep"---New pj's for the littler ones, and a new Nintendo DS game for the big one. Posted by Picasa

Cool new sideburns! Posted by Picasa

Doodles and Squiggy: Camping out in their big sister's room because they're just too excited to sleep on their own. Posted by Picasa

Everything is set up and ready for morning! Posted by Picasa

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Some family photos here to show you what we did yesterday.

First, I nearly won the "Meanest Christmas Mother" contest when I screamed at all of the kids 8 or younger to leave the kitchen when we were trying to bake the cookies. Somehow I had the mistaken notion that one mother could guide 5 young children in the finer arts of rolling dough, using cookie cutters, and getting the cut outs to the cookie sheet successfully. It only took about 5 minutes for me to decide that was a suicide mission, and I sent them packing to watch a movie while I did the baking myself. Later they rejoined the effort with yukky decorating. (Next year I'm going to bake the cookies at night after they're asleep, and save some for myself that won't be totally crapped up with every kind of frosting and sprinkle available.)

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Christmas Funny

A woman goes to the post office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards. She says to the clerk, "May I have 50 Christmas stamps?"

The clerk says, "What denominations?"

The woman says, "God help us, has it come to this? Give me 6 Catholic, 12 Baptist, 10 Lutheran, and 22 Presbyterian."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Not to be missed....

Metro Dad's daughter visits Santa, with fantastic photographic evidence.

The Day God Smiled on Dolly Mama

I just wanted to share some good news. Today I called the IRS woman. I have been dreading it for many days, and have been so stressed about it that it's really had me upset. But, lo and alas, it was no big deal!

She asked if I had any questions, and so I went down the list of requested documents with her, and she ended up telling me not to bother with more than half of the items! The very worst and scariest version, which I had been dreading the most, was tossed away with a few words from my IRS angel.

So now all I have to do is get things like proof of residence, birth certificates, and so forth, all of which I know where they are so it is no big deal at all. What's better is that she ended up agreeing that I could just fax the stuff to her rather than having to come in for a meeting! AND, I have 3 weeks to get it done.

Aaaaah! Relief!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

HOW many more days of Christmas vacation????

You all are going to have to remind me how to manage having all of my kids at home for 2 weeks while it is too cold outside to play.....

Today we did our "make an edible Christmas village" activity. Basically, we use a lot of graham crackers, frosting, and candy to create a revolting little shanty town type thing, and the kids think it's great and after spending time crafting these third world country type dwellings, they eat off of them for days. Big fun.

So, by the time we were done, my table was covered with thousands of graham cracker crumbs, blops of frosting, pieces of candy and shredded coconut. The floor looked about the same. My 2 year old thought that his job was to simply eat as many gummi bears as humanly possible. ugh. Dis-gus-ting. But...hey! We're making memories! We're being festive! I'm being a fun mom and letting them eat junk all day long!

During the rest of the day the little boys repeatedly made forts out of couch cushions, my daughter and her friend laid out on towels in her room pretending that they were on a beach, and then the little boys decided that looked really fun so next thing I knew every towel from the linen closet had been strewn around the house.

We got a movie from netflix (Millions) that I expected to be good, but it really, really wasn't. So that didn't even provide any respite from the chaos of the day.

The little guys don't take afternoon naps any more, although they do get tired and cranky, so that can really make for a darn. long. day. I seriously considered upping our Netflix subscription to 4 or 5 at a time, but then decided I was being really lame. Surely I can survive with 6 kids plus their friends inside the house for 2 weeks.....right??

Sunday, December 18, 2005

No Church on Christmas

So you may have heard the flap about how some churches are choosing to not hold services on December 25 this year. What do you think about that?

Interestingly, for my whole life I have known of churches not having Sunday night or Wednesday night services because of holidays, and I don't recall anybody having a problem with that. But take away a Sunday morning service and ----woo hoo!---watch out! That's so baaaad.......

I go to a small baby church (a little over a year old, and under 100 people usually) and at the start of the church it was decided that we only meet 51 Sundays per year. The idea is that the last Sunday of the year is a day off. It's a day off for all the people that work every week. They can take time to travel to see family or whatever and not feel bad that they are not "on duty." It's simply a way to say thank you. (Similarly, we also take the summers off from certain things that we offer, in order to not burn out our workers, and to give them a school-year length of time to commit to a job, rather than feeling that there is no good ending point if they need to make a change.)

Also, our church has a focus on the parents being the main unit for spiritual growth and responsibility in each family, and the church acts as a support for that. So, to not offer a Sunday service doesn't mean we're left without anything spiritual for that week. It means that each family is still responsible for their own thing, but the support team is having one week off.

So, anyhow, in the case of this year, our week off falls on Christmas. Our church didn't make a decision based on trendiness or social pressure. It's just a coincidence.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about this whole uproar:

One the one hand:

If Christmas is really all about focusing on Jesus and not about gifts and all of that, then it seems like a very incompatible position to say that we are not going to have church because we do not want to interrupt anybody's nice morning at home sitting around the tree opening their presents.

On the other hand:

Maybe we need to be sensitive to the fact that people who work at the church would like to be able to have a day off on a holiday like Christmas.
(If I was a church worker and had church on Christmas day, I'd do Christmas at my house a day early. Simple!)

If our church offered a Sunday service on Christmas this year, I think that we probably would attend. Not because I'd feel guilty if I didn't go. And not because I like to think of December 25th as Jesus' actual birthday (which I do not). But because we love our church and we get so much from what we learn and do there every week. We'd go because our kids are learning how to give back and help by taking down chairs and stage stuff after the service. We go because we would enjoy seeing our friends there and taking little gifts and cards to let people know how much we appreciate their part in our church and our life. Instead, we did all that today and told everybody we'd see them in the new year. Good 'nuff!

On the other hand, maybe we don't really believe what we say we believe about Christmas, but don't have the guts to admit it.

Last year I wrote about my feelings about Christmas, and my opinion hasn't changed. Here's a reprint from 2004:

I'm feeling a little bit bah-humbug-y myself. I was thinking so gleefully of how I was not running the pre-Christmas rat race since I had to have all of my stuff done by the 16th, just happy as a clam to Have It All Over With. More than one person shared my sentiment. And then it occurred to me that I don't even think of Christmas as a religious holiday. I mean, I acknowledge it as such. I'm a Christian and so I believe in Jesus' birth and so on. But, Christmas is just so far removed from that for me. It's a family holiday, and I think that I was brought up to think of it that way. In my husband's family they always went to Christmas Eve service at church. Mine always went to my Grandparent's house to have dinner and exchange gifts with our extended family. My childhood Christmas Eves are some of my best memories and I have no inclination to go to a church service instead. It just seems wrong to me. Seems like it doesn't fit with my internal sense of what the holiday is for.

As a child and teenager it seemed to me that although everybody at church said the stuff about Jesus is the Reason for the Season, that it was kind of a lame cover up for what it really was: Stuff Fest 1985!! or whenever. In other words, to my way of thinking, there is almost no connection between Christ's birth and what we Americans do for Christmas. Yes, Christ was born, I am glad, but it was not in December, and us getting all frazzled for a month and spending tons of money buying each other things and stuffing ourselves full of unhealthy treats has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Some people would feel bad about this, but I'm not sure that I do. To me it seems that Christmas is a runaway train and nothing I am going to do is going to stop it. So, fine. I can choose to embrace it as a family holiday in which we make strides to spend time with those we love, and give them gifts as tokens of our esteem.

As for Jesus' birth, those of us who believe in Him can choose to be thankful and aware of what His coming to earth means to us all year long.

It seems that some people feel guilty if we don't keep "enough" Christ in our Christmas, yet I can't recall anything in the Bible that would compell us to celebrate His birth in a specific way. Maybe this is just because we celebrate so many less important things, that we feel kind of guilty and think that we need to have a big Yay Jesus blowout once a year. Don't send me all the links to the origins of Christmas. I've heard it all before. I don't see any reason to be down on Christmas per se, I am just trying to come to grips with my feeling that it is family-oriented rather than Jesus-oriented in my life.

What do you folks think? Does Christmas have a deep spiritual significance to you? If yes, what makes it so? Anybody feeling something like I do, thinking that it almost makes more sense to separate the holiday and the Christ? I'd love to get some feedback.

I have found myself thinking about last year's post several times this December, plus thinking about how big an issue even saying "Merry Christmas" verses "Happy Holidays" has gotten. This is stuff I just can't muster up any fire for.

To me, Happy Holidays acknowledges that there is more than one holiday going on right around now. For me, the ones I celebrate are Christmas and New Year. I find nothing offensive about someone saying "Happy Holidays!" Some people seem to just love getting their knickers in a twist about it though. I suppose that they don't want anybody to consider Channukah or Kwanza or whatever. Well, you know what? I don't feel threatened by any of those things. If somebody I meet is celebrating their birthday I say "Happy Birthday!" to them. And if they are celebrating Channukah or Kwanza, hey--I hope they have a nice time of it. Why not wish they a happy holiday? Be happy! Happiness all around! And if they wish me happiness as I celebrate my holidays, I appreciate that! Thanks, neighbor!

It seems to me that all of these end-of-the-year holidays are primarily about family and friends, so why do we feel like we have to pretend it's something else? Frankly, it's hard for me to imagine that God or Jesus appreciates any of the stuff we do at this time of year. How on earth can a tree in our living room, lights on our houses, and spending money on STUFF and eating what we have no need for possibly be helpful to God? Puh-leeze! It's a party for YOU and your family and friends, and that's the truth of it. Know what?--that's ok! You're allowed to have a party! You're allowed to decorate! You can eat, drink, and be merry, and shower the people you love with love (thank you, James Taylor). You can (and should!) even be thankful to God for blessing you with the people in your life, and for the provision that allows you to guy gifts and extra special food! You can do it all without guilt, and not do some big Jesusfication about it. Heck--we do this kind of thing for New Year's Eve, Superbowl Sunday, Halloween, birthdays, and the 4th of July, all without guilt or felt need to pretend it's all for Jesus.

It seems to me that the Christmas season is evolving into one step farther away from the religious holiday it supposedly should be. Now it's a political thing as well. It's amazing how much people can stink things up, isn't it?

I've been working on this post for a pretty long time, and don't feel like I'm doing a great job of expressing myself very well. I feel rusty on the thoughtful blogging, probably because I've done so little of it these days. If you enjoy doing up your christmas-as-Jesus'-birth, and truly feel that's what it's all about, I think that's just fine. I know that a lot of people find a lot of spiritual meaning in the Christmas season. Any season that you can grow spiritually is a good one, I guess. I'm just offering some food for thought.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Today as the children were swarming around in all their Christmas break chaos, I bellowed out to them as I got their lunches ready,

"If you want to be fed, get to the table!"

I guess this isn't a very common method of calling the family for a meal, because Izzy Man came into the kitchen, looked at me confusedly, and said, "Is fed good, or....?"

Maybe he thought it was sort of like when someone says, "Who wants a spanking?" :)

So how are you all doing with getting ready for Christmas?

Personally, I'm kind of into crunch-time here. The only stuff I've done was buy a few things for my children with the gift money my grandmother sent. I haven't even finished spending that, and haven't bought a single thing for anybody else on my list. Not done. Not close to being done. Not good.

My husband's parents and sister's family were expected to come for a visit on the 26th and 27th, but that's now been cancelled. His sister was hospitalized for over a week until just the other day, and they aren't up for the trip. We considered traveling to them instead, but with the way the weather has been in their area his parents recommended against it and actually told my husband that they would worry so much and it would be very stressful for them for us to come see them at this time of year.

So, the upside is that I am no longer stressing about cleaning our house to the detail, or about packing up 6 kids and a sleighful of holiday cheer for a 14-hour long car trip. Instead I can stay home and relax, except for a few small details like:

-needing to get gifts bought and mailed within the next 5 days
-have 6 children underfoot for the next 2.5 weeks
-and, the granddaddy of all pain-in-the-rearisms: We're being audited by the IRS! (and a Merry Christmas to you, too, Uncle Sam!)

Goodie goodie goodie.

All I know is that this situation will be the one that brings me around to getting everything filed instead of in many ancient piles that say "to file."

I went to the chiropractor the other day and now my upper back pain is mainly gone, my headache is gone, and the ankle and wrist are somewhat better although not entirely normal. My lower back decided to start hurting almost as soon as I finished up with the chiro. My body must just love pain.

Today the kids got a surprise day off from school, which I didn't discover until we waited by the door for 15 minutes with no bus in sight. The roads looked fine but I guess that somewhere out there they weren't. Sometimes it's very inconvenient to not have a TV blaring in the background. I dearly wished to stay in bed this morning, so it was quite disappoiting to get all of us up and ready and fed and then have it all be for nothing. I got back in bed, but it's not the same.

Remember my bet that our new mouse wouldn't last 2 weeks here? Well, he defied my expectations and survived until just the other day when he was accidentally crushed during a frenzied family-wide attempt to recapture him after he had escaped from his habitat. Poor thing.

Yesterday I had a redeeming experience thanks to freecycle. You see, back a week or two ago when I was in the throes of being sick, our microwave died. (great timing) We've been limping along without one, and I wasn't sure if we could afford to buy a new one amidst all of the other monetary needs of the season. I decided to post on my local freecycle that I was in need of a microwave, and lo and behold someone offered me one. I went to get it yesterday and was greeted by a lovely woman who called me "a beautiful young lady" and gave me a very nice, barely used microwave that she had recently replaced. She even hugged me after she helped me load into into the back of the Burb! How sweet. And what a blessing! (because it's a real drag to not have a microwave!!)

I know you probably think that a free microwave just can't be topped, but alas yes it can! I am also getting a free toilet and sink today! I know that's weird but here's the thing: We have a bathroom in our downstairs that I just hate. Everything about it is ugly and falling apart and not working well and in general very depressing and unpleasant. The toilet doesn't flush unless you hold down the handle and say a magic word, and it's all so yukk that I never feel like I can get it clean. So, someone in our homeschool group is remodeling their bathroom and giving away their unneeded items. She said it was all in good condition and all of that, so hopefully it's true. Won't my husband just love to add in "bathroom remodeling on the cheap" to his list of duties next week? Hey--maybe the kids and I can figure it out and do it all ourselves. hahaha (If we do, I'll be sure to take pictures)

Free microwave! Free sink! Free toilet! It's a Kentucky Christmas, folks. fa la la la la, la la la la!

Well, dozens of items await my attention today, so I better get at it. Talk to you later!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Long Time No See

So I've been quiet here lately. It's been part illness and part life funk that has kept me away. Although in some ways my blog can serve as a diary, when there's an audience there is some pressure to not bore one's readers.

I figured out that I've spent at least 2 full months of 2005 being sick. That makes me feel weak and like I'm falling apart. Couple that with my recent more-than-a-week-long illness, the fact that my ankle is still not right, and more feelings of being run-down.....well, it's not a pretty picture.

Everything feels like I'm falling behind, and like I can't catch up. There is an overriding feeling of failure in my mind. Part of what I dislike about homeschooling is how it never ceases to make me feel like I haven't done well enough yet. I find myself looking forward to the next school year, and wondering if I will feel like less of a failure without home education nagging at me.

The one bright spot recently was part of my sermon at church on Sunday. My pastor talked about several examples of people in the Bible (Moses, Abraham, David) that were called by God to do big things, but then went through very long periods of time when they were in the desert, or in danger, or suffering in some way, while they were being prepared for what God had for them to do.

I can strongly identify with the idea of being in a "desert phase" in my life, and although I have had a small glimmer of realization that God is at work even in the midst of that, it was very encouraging to hear it from someone else. I think that there can be a lot of pressure from within (or without) oneself to find a way to "snap out of it" when you're in a funk. It may be ok to have a little funk once in awhile, but not to be in one for an extended period of time. If it was so easy to snap out of, I would have exited a long time ago.

I do have a sense that a lot of me is "under construction" or something, and so I am trying to be humble and wait and do what I can while I feel confused and often useless. Knowing that being in the desert doesn't make me worthless to God is a good thing to hold on to.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Year of Magical Thinking (a book review)

Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.
The question of self-pity.

I had never heard of Joan Didion until I read an interview with her from the New York Times, concerning her new book, The Year of Magical Thinking. It's a book she wrote about the first year after her husband died.

Didion and John Gregory Dunne were married for 39 years, and during that time were basically inseperable. The were both writers who worked from home, each always available to the other for editing and feedback of their current work.

One evening at the end of 2003 Didion and her husband were chatting as she prepared dinner. One minute he was talking, the next minute he was gone.

Her style here is a raw method of sharing her grief, her confusion, her ways of thinking about this sudden, extreme void in her life, and it is very powerful.

She recalls their life and their love with fondness and simplicity, while still bringing across how BIG it all was. Her loss made me ache.

I know I can't top the other reviews I've read, so I'll direct you to those. The Year of Magical Thinking is worth a read, even if, like me, you have yet to face a huge loss in your own life. This book is one that made me think I was glad I have read it and know about it, because I have a feeling that someday I'll need it again.

Here is an essay taken from the book.
Here is an excellent review.
And here is a brand new article about the broadway version of the book, expected in 2007.

Cinderella Man: A Movie Review

Cinderella Man (starring Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger) has just been released on DVD this week, and the hubby and I got to watch it last night.

It's a biopic (meaning, a biographical film with an epic length) about James J. Ballock, who was a boxer that was a source inspiration to American society during the depression.

It's a nice story, and as I watched the movie I realized that although I wanted to like it very much, and even felt that I should like it very much, the movie fell a little "flat" for our tastes. It's slow, it's lacking a compelling musical score, and even the meat of the story doesn't really come across as all that exciting. Due to the fact that the movie is so long, it's not surprising that there is so little character development for Zellweger's character, but it left me feeling like it was a waste of her talent to be in that role. Any lesser actress could have done it (and possibly been less annoying with a New Jersey accent).

Ron Howard's films are usually worth seeing, and I think with Cinderella Man he's got a story worth telling. Sadly, it seemed to miss the mark this time.

Book Review: Dead

I found out about Dead by Jim Crace thanks to the author of the Kite Runner mentioning it as one of his current favorites.

Dead is a very unusual book. First, the focus of the story is a married couple that has been murdered on a beach. It sounds pretty gruesome, and I guess in some ways it is, but Crace manages to weave his tale in such an interesting and matter-of-fact way, that the details aren't as shocking as they might be in the hands of a different author.

The story is told in pieces that go in an odd order. We get some history from back before the married couple got together, we learn about various times in their marriage, we learn about their daughter, we learn about the events that brought them to the beach that day. But we don't get any of it in chronological order. Crace skillfully feeds us the details in an order that serves his purpose, and does it all without confusing the reader too much with all the shifting timetables.

The other interesting vehicle in this book is that we get the story from the perspective of several different characters: the husband, the wife, the murdered, and daughter. A lot of books do this, but I found the style in which it was done in Dead to be different from what I've seen before.

I've never before read a book told with this style, time-play, and wide change of perspective. It was very interesting and a good brain-stretch. Interestingly, as soon as I finished this book, I read You Remind Me Of Me (which I picked up from the library on a whim) and it also bounces around in it's time frames and perspectives in a somewhat similar way, although perhaps less skillfully.

It's a short book, and an interesting one, if you can get past the entire point of the whole story: Dead.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Mr. and Mrs. Smith--a movie review

It's not a funny movie. It's not a clever movie. It's not an exciting movie. It's not a sexy movie. It's a boring, stupid, who-cares kind of movie. Two thumbs waaaaay down from DollyMama and the Firecrapper!

For those of you who prefer a more long-winded review, I won't let you down.

The other night my husband came home with Mr. and Mrs. Smith, thinking that a movie would be a nice thing for me while I was sick. I hadn't heard a thing about this movie, other than that it's the vehicle by which Brad and Angelina got together. After watching the movie, I think it's safe to say that their relationship is the only noteworthy thing about it.

The movie doesn't have a terrible premise, and with two talented actors like Pitt and Jolie one would think it would be pretty good. Sadly, somewhere along the editing, story writing, or producing of this movie, somebody screwed up really bad.

I don't have the energy to go into the whole story line, but the places where I felt the movie most failed was

1. It fails to make the viewer see value in the relationship, so we never care what happens to it. When John and Jane are eventually trying to kill each other, there was no impulse to care which one lived or died, or if they learned the truth about each other. Once they decide to work together, there's a similar lack lack of interest in whether or not that works.

2. The shoot-out scenes in their house are not interesting, not clever, and were totally over-the-top ridiculous.

My husband and I have sat through some loser movies over the years. Some of the most-hated, and most-joked-about movies we've survived include Kavik the Wolf Dog, Lost in Translation, The Life Aquatic, I Dreamed of Africa, and Howard's End. Typically we will sit through even a total snooze of a movie, hoping against all hope that somehow the ending will tie it all together and make the time spent watching worthwhile. This time, we didn't even stick in for the end. We just. didn't. care.

Monday, December 05, 2005

She's a Sick-O, Folks!

You know.....just for kicks I decided to see how many times I have mentioned being sick on my blog this year. After a quick skim-through I have determined that I have been sick a minimum of 6 times this year, including 2 illnesses that lasted over 2 weeks, and a few that lasted more than 1 week.

This does not include all the times that children were sick, or that I was suffering from sleep deprivation. It does include back blow-outs.

What. The. Heck? I do not think it is normal for adults to be notably sick 6 times a year. Do you?

Furthermore, I think there should be a rule that if you are sick enough to need antibiotics for something, you should be immune from any other illnesses or health issues. For instance, you should not start out with strep throat, and a week later have the worst cold in history, plus a seriously painful ankle! You know....just for instance.

(insert whining, complaining, sniffling, coughing, and much pitiful facial expression.....)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Still. Sick.

In fact, sicker than before.

That is all.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Odds and Ends

My mom got us a web cam for Christmas, so now all my MSN messenger contacts can see me and my kin while we chat. Pretty fun!

This past week was the one where my husband started his second job, so he's been gone every single day, and he's continuing to be gone today and tomorrow (which were his "days off") for some training. Then we start again with another week and weekend just like the one we just finished. And on and on it goes, I guess.

So, it's a good thing he's getting all this work, but it's pretty weird to have him gone all the time, plus I have had to give up my Pampered Princess Privileges such a never having to take children with me to the store or to appointments. Instead, I had to bring kids along to my doctor appt, to a hair appt., and on all the errands I did yesterday. It's doable now (as compared to 2 years ago) but definitely not my first choice. I'll adjust, though.

This morning I had to wake up early to take my daughter to a Girl Scout Christmas party, so my chance for extra sleep was thwarted. Even before I got up I still felt so crappy that I was having a little conversation with myself about whether or not I was going to attend tonite's church Christmas party, and how I was ever going to carve out the space to get well. Eventually I decided to cancel the babysitter and not go to the party. There is no husband help in sight, so I have to cut back and get whatever rest I can (which is going to be precious little seeing as how I'm home with all six kids all weekend long). I strongly suspect that we won't be going to church tomorrow either.

My sore throat is mostly better, but I've now got a cough, some slight sniffles, and the continued body aches. So, maybe I have a cold in addition to the strep. Either way, I'm gunnin' for a nap, and once I go pick up my Girl Scout in a few minutes, I'm going to assign the children to a long day of watching movies and leaving me alone, and try to sleep or at least lay down and read a book. I just picked up Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking" yesterday and am looking forward to reading it.

Well, ding-dong, my Axim calls, time to go pick up my second-born. Somebody pass me a tissue, ok?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Todays outing:

2 retarded mistakes at the drive-in teller at the bank (first I didn't know how many children I had with me, then I didn't write down my acct. number)

1st mini candy cane of the season

$310 groceries

$75 gas

5 minute visit with the hubby at the fire station

3 DVDs borrowed from the library, including a new one: Robots! (kids are very excited)

$20 McD's lunch for 4 (ugh)

And the cherry on the top of it all was that after I walked all through Walmart, trying not to limp....... on our way out, the automatic doors were super slow. I had to stop and wait for the door to open, and my 13 year old was coming along behind me with our second cart (It takes 2 carts to get 2 weeks of groceries for us), and he rammed right. into. the back. of. my. foot. The other foot. The good one. You know: The foot formerly known as the one that had not been causing me any pain.

It hurts now though! That's for darn sure.

It hurt so much I actually almost cried right there in the stupid Walmart foyer. but, alas, I really didn't want to hold up the flow of cart traffic with everyone watching me cry, so I pulled myself together and pressed on.

(is she a trooper or WHAT, folks? Give that woman a cigar!)

In lieu of any charming, sweet, warm fuzzies from me today, I would like to direct you to this wonderful post at one of my favorite blogs, Sweet Juniper. I found out today that Dutch will soon be embarking on a new career as a stay-at-home-dad. How cool is that?!

The Post in Which I Start to Seem Like a Pitiful Wimp, Which I am Not

So, almost 2 days after starting on the antibiotics and still not feeling much better.... after my experience with the recent kidney infection, I am starting to wonder if I am now harboring some anti-antibiotic forcefield, wherein my body does not want to just accept the first medicine given, and obediently start back toward wellness. You may think I am a simple woman, but in fact, this anti-antibiotic factor makes me very complicated and mysterious indeed. An antibiotic rebel, perhaps. Why not?

In addition to my still-sore throat, I have been having an ankle problem. A few days ago it started hurting a lot just from me walking around the house or going up and down the stairs. It seems to come and go, but even when it doesn't hurt, it feels fragile. I can't think of any time when I twisted my ankle recently or any reason why it should hurt....but it does. In fact, last night as I was in bed trying to fall asleep, by ankle hurt without putting and weight on it at all. So....what's up with that?! Now I am wondering what I am supposed to do with a sometimes-hurting-sometimes-merely-feeling-fragile ankle. Go get x-rays? Just be careful of it and don't go rollerskating? I am considering a trip to the chiropractor, because I am noticing that actually all of my back and leg on that side of my body feel out-of-whack. So, maybe that's the answer.

So, you can imagine me, feeling like crap, with my hurting ankle, trudging and limping through the grocery store with 3 or 4 kids later on this morning to buy 2 carts full of groceries, including those blasted "exchange gifts" for all the kids in school. From there we may go crazy and take a trip to see the chiro, go to the library, and fill up our gas tank with gas that is only $1.92!! Woo hoo. What am I sitting here for? I've got a day to go take on! Bye.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Confessing Our Sins

Today I came across and article addressing a subject I have pondered on and off for awhile. It's on the subject of confessing our sins, or more correctly, why Catholics don't go to confession so much any more. I'm not Catholic (or catholic) so have never had the expectation put upon me to confess anything to anybody but God. However, I've often thought about the verses that mention confessing our sins to another person, and wondered why we don't do that, and what we might be missing if we don't.

Accountabilty groups seem to be one way that the Evangelical types manage to confess. Typically a group of guys or girls (doesn't seem to ever be a mixed group) will get together weekly and confess their sins and sometimes hand out consequences to one another. The idea is to have somebody who's not afraid to ask you how you're doing with managing your worst behaviors and tendencies.

I do wonder if, when forced to admit to another human being, our wrongdoings, we might be motivated to do better. Although we may believe that God sees and knows all, it seems that when we confess only to God, it is easy to keep our sins hidden, and to not feel real motivation to change. I wonder if, when forced to vocalize the sins we have committed, we are stripped of our pride and ashamed of our misdeeds, and perhaps we walk more humbly and more carefully.

Just some thoughts....what do you think? Is confession good for the soul? Do you attend any sort of formal confession through your church? Do you have someone that you tell your sins to? Do you feel that by only telling God your sins and asking for forgiveness that it is adequately motivational for you to go forth and sin no more?

Monday, November 21, 2005

What's on the menu?

Tonite, just for kicks, I decided to pull my kid's legs a little bit by telling them that I had been doing a lot of thinking about Thanksgiving, and I decided that we should go with an alternative to turkey. This year, we would get a Tofurkey!

You should have seen their faces as I described all the meatless wonderment that could be ours if only we'd serve Tofurkey on Thursday. It was hilarious.

My 13 year old had a seriously stern look on his face as he said, "What is it with all those wacko vegetarians??"

When gratitude goes too far....

Our church focuses on one virtue each month, and this month the virtue is gratitude. Today I had this little exchange with my 7 year old:

Jake: Hey Mom.

Me: Yeah?

Jake: I know a way I want to show gratitude.

Me: Really? What?

Jake: I'd like to throw a party to thank my mouse for being my pet.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Continuing On As a Kept Woman

Today while shedding a few tears over Pitiful Payday, and wondering how it was all going to turn out with my having to be gone from home for 10-11 hours per day, three times a week, to end up with a hundred bucks when all was said and done, the hubby called to say, "I got a job."

A job. For his days off. Working for a fellow firefighter that has a side business installing insulation.


And he'll make more money than I could have.

And he won't mind coming home tired as long as the one he comes home to isn't.

As I have been thinking throughout the week about getting a job, I have realized how spoiled I have been to get to stay home. While I am feeling sorry for myself because
I wouldn't get to take naps,
my back and feet might hurt from having an upright job all day,
knowing I would have to work harder at home for the little time I'd be here,
and that after all the time and effort it wouldn't amount to very much money........
I realized that for just about every other woman in America, that is the reality of their life, with no end in sight.

While I was at the mall for my interview on Wed. I was approached by some guy selling dead sea salt beauty products, and he was showing me their stuff and asking me those salesperson-y kinds of questions. When he found out that I stay at home with my kids he said the politically correct thing: "Oh! Motherhood! That's the hardest job there is."

and it got me thinking.....

Is it?

On the one hand, yes. The blood, sweat, and tears that go along with wearing your heart outside of your body for the rest of your life is difficult, painful, challenging, and rewarding like nothing else.

But, really, is my day-to-day life very hard? Do I work harder than other people that do not stay home with their kids all day?

No. Way.

I set my own hours (well, the school bus does, too, but...), I decide what the acceptable standards are for everything, I can take naps just about any day that I want to, I can read books, I can blog or talk on the phone to a friend or play games with my kids, I can teach my kids at home if I want to, or I can attend their school functions during the day because I've got the time. I can dress up or dress down, wear makeup or not, eat when I want to, or start up an exercise plan (not that I would!).

So, I'm a kept woman, and a kept woman I shall stay, for at least a few more weeks or months. I will try to work at least a third as hard as I would have while running around the clothing store straightening stuff and serving strangers, and will try to appreciate my down time more. I will get gussied up in what I would have worn to work, and wear makeup and do my hair perfectly, just for my husband who will be the only adult person seeing me most days.

Being a kept woman is a pretty good deal; don't you agree?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Nearly a week with nothing to say.....

What's worse? Coming here day after day with nothing new to read, or coming here day after day with mundane posts of no consequence?

Sorry--I've got nothing interesting, thought-provoking, or interesting to say. I'll bore you instead.

I'm off to find out the results of my 3rd child's learning disabilities testing today.

I am supposed to get a job interview later this week. After the hubby looking and not finding anything to work with his schedule, I am throwing my hat into the working world ring to see if I can bring in some bucks. The job interview is just for a little job at a clothing store that I like. I would enjoy getting out, dressing nicer, and getting a discount on the clothes I already like to buy. So, maybe that will work out. I could get a schedule that would only have me working on the days that my husband is home, so the kids would all be cared for, and I would still have some days at home.

My husband went hunting and brought home 3 deer. Sadly, he forgot that you can't freeze, thaw, and refreeze meat. He put the cut up meat into a freezer, thinking we could thaw it and grind it here at home, and then put it back into the freezer.! I only use the venison if it's ground up, so I guess we will have to shift to plan B, whatever that might be.

My kids are now the proud owners of one mouse and one hamster. It totally grossed me out to buy the mouse, with thoughts of Hanta Virus spinning through my brain, but I made it through, and 12 hours later Squeakers is still doing fine. Lay your money down on how long you think these rodents will last. I will predict 2 weeks for the mouse and a month for the hamster.

Laundry rodeo today includes two peed on beds plus one regular load.


Feather Crowns by Bobbie Ann Mason. This is my next reading group book, so I am trudging through it out of obligation. I'm about half way into it and so far have been thoroughly bored out of my gourd. This is just like all the crap movies I watch til the bitter end, thinking that at some point it surely must get better....but they never do.

Took my 13 year old to a meeting about the People to People Australian trip that he was nominated for.... $6000 needed..... He would have to raise all of it on his own. Anybody know how a 13 year old could raise that much money? It looks like an amazing opportunity.

That's about the size of it. Must move forth and be productive. Too much laziness of late...and obviously laziness does not make me interesting!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Now Taking Your Nominations

(if there are any, that is...)

OK, thanks to Allison over at Geronimo, I am soon going to attempt to set up my very own "Greatest Hits" section of blog posts, for those who come a-visiting here during one of my especially dull streaks. They can be reassured of my occasional brilliance, and hopefully decide to come back around again sometime.

So, now's the time for you all to weigh in with some nominations for best posts I've written. (and if there are no comments soon, and we all hear the crickets chirping in the wilderness of worthless blogging, I am going to be so embarrassed that I will take down this post and cry myself to sleep...)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Greatest Hit--Number One

I meant to repost this little gem on it's one year anniversary, but I missed it, so you get it today instead. I think this is probably my most clever writing inspiration ever. Enjoy!

The Potty News Network.
All Potty, All The Time.

(PNN press) Yesterday war was declared on two unsuspecting terrorists, Izzy Bin Peein and Doodles Bin Poopin. The terrorists had been going about their business unencumbered for 4.5 and 3 years, respectively. Their crime: The Only Two Children in Preschool Still in Diapers. President Mami Bin Changin, learned of their crime and decided to take matters into her own hands. "This means war!" she declared to the crowd that had assembled to hear her speech over the weekend.

Mami Bin Changin took the first strike in the cold brightness of Monday morning, when she told Bin Peein and Bin Poopin that they had to do time on the potty before they would be allowed to go on the bus to school. While they sat she told them of their crime, and let them know that war had been declared and would not end until they changed their messy ways.

Bin Poopin fought back with a double retaliatory strike, soiling two pair of underwear in less than 20 minutes. Bin Peein took the opposite approach by keeping his underwear dry, agreeing to do time on the pot, but saving his soiling for the diaper that he was changed into before preschool.

Later on Monday Mami Bin Changin began to stockpile weapons:
Potty Posters
Potty Stickers
Potty Prizes
and other Potty Paraphernalia

Mami Bin Changin's Military Advisor Daddi Bin Feddup suggested new underwear, but only if it could be purchased in the color brown. Mami Bin Changin decided against taking this advice and instead purchased fresh Spongebob and Scooby underwear. Her strategy? "I'm going to do all I can to break down the walls of terrorism! If it takes candy or prizes or cartoon undergarments, I'll follow this thing through!"

Attenders of her speech were amazed at the steadfast resolution that Mami Bin Changin displayed. "I've never seen her so determined!" "All those prizes and stickers....Bin Peein and Bin Poopin don't stand a chance." "She's a strong leader. When she puts her mind to something, there's no stopping her. It won't take long for Bin Peein and Bin Poopin to change their ways."

Mami Bin Changin declared that the war would be relentless until won, even if it takes months or years. "It will cost the taxpayers money, time, resources, and energy, but we will press on. The victory that we will win shall ensure peace and prosperity in our society. We cannot back down!"

PNN correspondents will be on the scene 24 hours a day until the conflict is resolved. PNN: The leader in potty news.

Use Buzzfuse* to easily rate, review, and share this item

Thursday, November 03, 2005


My husband did a handwriting analysis this morning and his was even more accurate than mine! There is a book called Change Your Handwriting, Change Your Life. I think it is interesting that if we changed something as simple as the way we write, we might be able to alter some of our tendencies....

What tendencies of yours would you change if you could?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Handwriting Analysis

I found out about this online handwriting analysis site, and decided to try it out. Some of the options if offered me did not apply to my handwriting (I love to be an enigma, you know!) therefore I sometimes had to pick the closest, although not totally accurate answer. So I did not expect the results to be extremely accurate. It's not entirely accurate, but a lot of it is true. Here's what my handwriting said about me (my comments in italics):

DM has a healthy imagination and displays a fair amount of trust. She lets new people into her circle of friends. (usually people that originally seem normal, but later turn out to be kooks) She uses her imagination to understand new ideas, things, and people. (true)

DM is sarcastic. This is a defense mechanism designed to protect her ego when she feels hurt. (ouch!) She pokes people harder than she gets poked. These sarcastic remarks can be very funny. They can also be harsh, bitter, and caustic at the same time. ( although I have the *ability* to be sarcastic, I do not normally act on it. my recent run-in with the woman who sent me the nastygram email, and my very kind response would be a good example of how I normally react)

DM is a practical person whose goals are planned, practical, and down to earth. (planned, yes. practical and down to earth...not always! I'm almost always up for a crazy scheme.) This is typical of people with normal healthy self-esteem. (just a minute ago I had such a fragile ego that I was caustically sarcastic!) She needs to visualize the end of a project before she starts. (yes) She finds joy in anticipation and planning. (love it!) Notice that I said she plans everything she is going to do, that doesn't necessarily mean things go as planned. (so true) DM basically feels good about herself. (true, on normal days) She has a positive self-esteem which contributes to her success. She feels she has the ability to achieve anything she sets her mind to. (yes, at my basic self. However, I now tend to see the rest of my life as mainly preventing me from reaching any additional goals I might wish to have) However, she sets her goals using practicality-- not too "out of reach". She has enough self-confidence to leave a bad situation (yes), yet, she will not take great risks, as they relate to her goals. A good esteem is one key to a happy life. Although there is room for improvement in the confidence category, her self-perception is better than average. (interesting. I am not sure that I want to be right about my perception of self lately!)

In reference to DM's (faltering) mental abilities, she has a very investigating and creating mind. (ah...yes! I am brilliant!) She investigates projects rapidly because she is curious about many things. (nodding) She gets involved in many projects that seem good at the beginning, but she soon must slow down and look at all the angles. (hahahahahahahaahahaha....*painfully* true, my friends! PAINFULLY true...) She probably gets too many things going at once. (ya think????? everyone who reads this and knows me is convinced of this test's accuracy now) When DM slows down, then she becomes more creative than before. Since it takes time to be creative, she must slow down to do it. (this is interesting and I am going to try it out, because I would like to be more creative) She then decides what projects she has time to finish. Thus she finishes at a slower pace than when she started the project. (oh yeah....slow is the only way) She has the best of two kinds of minds. (awesome!) One is the quick investigating mind. The other is the creative mind. Her mind thinks quick and rapidly in the investigative mode. She can learn quicker, investigate more, and think faster. (not to be uppity, but I think this is probably very true) DM can then switch into her low gear. When she is in the slower mode, she can be creative, remember longer and stack facts in a logical manner. She is more logical this way and can climb mental mountains with a much better grip.

DM is secretive. She has secrets which she does not wish to share with others. She intentionally conceals things about herself. She has a private side that she intends to keep that way, especially concerning certain events in her past. (Well, I can't tell you if this is true or not....because it's a secret!)

DM uses judgment to make decisions. She is ruled by her head, not her heart. (Well, I've got a lot of heart too, but I try not to let it get me to make dumb choices.) She is a cool, collected person who is usually unexpressive emotionally. (I don't think this is true at all. I am very expressive.) Some may see her as unemotional. She does have emotions but has no need to express them. She is withdrawn into herself and enjoys being alone. (I was originally very extroverted. Now that I have a large family, I find that although I still enjoy being around people, I also enjoy quiet time to be alone. I think I am sometimes withdrawn into myself mainly because I don't feel like I could or would want to adequately express what's going on with me to someone else.) The circumstances when DM does express emotions include: extreme anger, extreme passion, and tremendous stress. If someone gets her mad enough to tell her off, she will not be sorry about it later. (that is true. I have never yet regretted what I have said to anyone that I have ever "told off")

She puts a mark in her mind when someone angers her. She keeps track of these marks and when she hits that last mark she will let them know they have gone too far. (Well, I do this now as a new thing, only because I have discovered that if you face someone's bad behavior head-on, they don't often have the guts to keep doing it. I used to always try to be nice, but then I found that rude people continued to be rude. Why stop if I'll still be nice and pretend like you're not acting like a jerk?)

She is ruled somewhat by self-interest. (not) All her conclusions are made without outside emotional influence. (not at all true. I probably worry far more than I should about outside emotional issues) She is very level-headed and will remain calm in an emergency situation. (I'm great in emergencies) In a situation where other people might get hysterical, she has poise. DM will work more efficiently if given space and time to be alone. (if only that were possible! I've settled for being under-efficient for 13 years--why stop now?) She would rather not be surrounded by people constantly. (so she had 6 kids!)

In a relationship, she will show her love by the things she does rather than by the things she says. Saying "I love you" is not a needed routine because she feels her mate should already know. (shoulder shrug...I don't know that I agree with this.) The only exception to this is if she has logically concluded that it is best for her mate to hear her express her love verbally. (verbally isn't the main way my husband is hoping I express my love!) DM is not subject to emotional appeals. (yes I am) If someone is selling a product to her, they will need to present only the facts. They should present them from a standpoint of her sound judgment. She will not be taken in by an emotional story about someone else. She will meet emergencies without getting hysterical and she will always ask "Is this best for me?" (just ask Sooz--I'm always getting stuck on giving sacrificially even when I KNOW that it is not best for me)

People that write their letters in an average height and average size are moderate in their ability to interact socially. According to the data input, DM doesn't write too large or too small, indicating a balanced ability to be social and interact with others. (snort! At least there's *something* balanced about me!)

MeMe Du Jour

I know, I know...a lot of these stink. But, sometimes a girl's gotta have a meme or two up her sleeve in order to keep something fresh at the top of the blog!!!

1. What is your occupation? Wife, mom, (very) small business owner

2. What color is your underwear right now? blue

3. What are you listening to right now? the white noise of a fan

4. What was the last thing you ate? my breakfast smoothie (made of juice, bananas, frozen blueberries, and frozen strawberries. put in blender and whiz til smooth. I have this every morning)

5. Do you wish on stars? nope

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? barn red

7. How is the weather right now? foggy and cool

8. Last person you spoke to on the phone? my son who called about getting a ride home from a friend's house

9. How old are you today? 34 years, 6.5 months

10. Favorite drink? water

11. Favorite sport to watch? none

12. Have you ever dyed your hair? I used henna on it once, and am nearing the point of taking the plunge and coloring it soon.....

13. Do you wear contacts or glasses? yes!

14. Pets? none, thankfully

15. Favorite month? April (my bday, 2 of my kids bdays, my mom's bday, and spring!)

16. Favorite food? depends on my mood

17. What was the last movie you watched? Well, I've discovered the TV show Lost, season one on DVD. Does that count? (I love this show!)

18. Favorite Day of Year? not sure

19. What do you do to vent anger? well, if I'm angry about something I can share, I blog or call my mom or sister or Sooz. If it's about something I can't talk about, I mutter about it to myself as I go about my daily routine. (I know I should say I pray about it, which I do, but not as much as the other options.)

20. What was your favorite toy as a child? My brother would tell you it was a deck of cards, because I basically sat in my room playing solitaire (before computers) from 7th grade til I left home. It's an exaggeration, but not by far. Before 7th grade, I loved my tape recorder. I would blast my Evie tapes and sing along, even using the microphone attachment and serenading the entire neighborhood. ("Broken up people with broken up lives/broken up homes, broken husbands and wives/all the world around us is falling apart/broken up people with broken up hearts...") Those poor people were probably very happy when we moved away....

21. Fall or Spring? Both. Fall wins by a bit because it's not as rainy. And it has pumpkins!

22. Hugs or kisses? depends on who it's coming from

23. Cherry or Blueberry? blueberry. unless it's artificial flavors, in which case I say neither!

24. Living arrangements? 20+ year old house with enough space for our family, and am awesome back yard with a hill that is just right for Big Wheel races, and fruit trees and grape vines.

25. When was the last time you cried? Monday

26. What is on the floor of your closet? a basket of shoes, boxes of papers waiting to be filed (that's scheduled for the 12th of Never...), a basket of keepsake items that I don't have any better place to put them, and a bunch of other junk. (Flylady would not be pleased)

27. Who is the friend you have had the longest? well, my mom! Sibs next. other than family, I guess I would have to say Marla and Brenda. I met them both when I was in 5th grade. We went to the same school, Marla went to college with me and we were roomies, and they were both in my wedding. Miss 'em both too. (Thanks a lot! Now I'm gonna feel sad again!)

28. What did you do last night? Watched 2 episodes of Lost on DVD.

29. Favorite smell? food scents like apples and cinnamon

30. What or who inspires you? People who live authentically

31. What are you afraid of? Being a crappy mother; running out of steam before my work is done

32. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? None. I'm scared of beef. (mad cow)

33. Favorite car? I love my Burb!

34. Favorite dog breed? any that I don't have to deal with

35. Number of keys on your key ring? only 3--I hate having a big, jangly bunch of keys like a jailer or something

36. How many states have you lived in? two--New York and Kentucky

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Better Day

I had a better day today. The first item on the agenda was my eye appointment, where I learned that my eye sight isn't changed enough to be causing my headaches (guess I can now switch to blaming it on stress or hormones....or both! Yeah, that'll work...), but I also got contacts!

Back in the days BC (Before Children) I only wore glasses for driving and watching movies. Once I had my first child, my eyesight got worse, and I started having to wear glasses all the time. I had contacts as a teen, and tried them at least once during The Baby Years, but it's said that pregnancy can make wearing contacts uncomfortable, and so I guess maybe that's why I decided not to stick with it.

Well, nowadays I'm working my way toward looking better, and decided the glasses have to go. I was able to pop the contacts in without a bit of trouble, and am doing fine.

It was so weird, driving around afterwards, getting a glipse of myself in the mirror. I haven't hardly seen my face sans glasses for 13 years! Obviously I took them off at night and such, but I haven't been able to go out without glasses at all. It's like rediscovering my face all over again.

After the eye exam I went on to buy some clothes. I was down to the following pants in my wardrobe:

1 pair perfectly fine black pants
1 pair jeans that look ok but I can barely breathe in
1 pair jeans that I love but have 2 non-trendy holes in the butt
1 pair fat butt pants that are only worthy of being worn to bed or around the house if I am ill

(translation: only one pair of suitable pants to wear in public)

And I had approximately 2 shirts decent to wear for fall/winter.

Time to go shopping!

We had some "extra" money come in, so I struck while the iron was hot and all that good stuff.

I didn't end up finding as many items as I hoped to, but what I got I do like. A new pair of jeans (no holes, and I can breathe AND sit comfortably!), a sweater that made my husband say RAWR (as I knew he would), a couple of those half-way sweater thingies called shrugs, and camis to go underneath, and another outfit with one of those see-throughish shirts and a cami underneath. The shirts are kind of a departure for me, but I'm going to trust that a leap into being fashionable won't hurt me very much. I always struggle with what kind of tops to get. It seems like for the past few years all I can see in tops fashion are shirts that are either the gaudiest durn shirt specimens seen since the 70s passed by, ones with arms that make me feel like a bat, empire waists that make me look pregnant (and I've already been-there-done-that enough for now, you know), or boring business-y button up shirts. Or plain old tshirts of course. I've found that a print works nicely for me, since with 6 kids I seem to inevitably get slimed with snot or peanut butter or whatever. Those prints can camouflage what a plain tshirt cannot. So, I didn't really want any plain Ts.

The shrugs and camis didn't make me look fat or like a bat, didn't feel to warm, and seemed reasonably flattering. So, I took the big leap and got two. I'm reforming my boring, fashion-free ways of the past, and doing pretty well with it. Last Christmas my sister was shocked to see me in boot cut jeans. She gawked at me and said, "Woa! Those jeans are actually in style" or something to that extent. Sis, you would be proud if you could see what I brought home today. And, I even know that I need some different shoes to wear with some of it! I looked, but didn't find the right thing at the right price yet. Will keep at it, though.

I would also like to report that I was upset yesterday because a woman in a group I am in went nutso about something she didn't understand that I did. She sent me a huffy email making some thinly veiled accusations, and so I had the pleasure of taking time from my already overwhelming day to construct a very kind, carefully-worded response, in which I was totally calm, rational, ignored her baiting comments, and hoped that it might help diffuse her upset. Later that day I found out that she had been calling many group members to complain about this problem and say rude things about me. All without contacting me in the first place. I was so aggravated because it was a very petty and irrational thing to begin with. I was seriously considering just not being in the group any more. But you know what? She sent me an apology last night, saying that she realized she had been wrong, had jumped to conclusions, and so forth. I wrote her back another nice note, and she responded again that she appreciated my graciousness and felt bad about her actions.

It was something of a relief to have her apology. I can only hope (and not hold my breath) that she might take the time to go back to all the people she blabbed to, to let them know she realizes she was wrong. I was very glad that I had not allowed my emotions to dictate what I wrote in my emails to her. By taking the high road, it allowed her to have to wallow in her bad behavior all by herself. It reminded me of the verse about a gentle answer turning away wrath. Sure seemed to work well.

I'm still considering leaving the group, though. It was one more example of unimportant things ending up taking too much time and energy out of my life. Some days I feel like I just can't take on anything extra. Other days I feel like I can do it all, plus more! I'm going to give it awhile, and also see at the next meeting how it seems the leadership of the group is going to function, and if it seems hopeful that the group isn't going to turn into a cat fight every other day (like it already has in the month that the group has existed!!).

Tomorrow is book group. We will be discussing MY FAVORITE: (say it with me now) OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon. I have actually been reading it through for the second time so as to be prepared to lead the discussion. Honestly, I just can't quit loving these books! Gabaldon is an amazing story teller.

Well, time to whip them all soundly and put them to bed! (Ok, chill. I'm not really going to whip anybody.)

Happy trails to you!

Monday, October 31, 2005

God is a God of balance.....maybe, sorta, kinda....not like we normally think of it, anyhow

In the comments from the Elusive Balance post I was reminded of something. The belief that God is a God of balance was mentioned. Another very common way that I hear this is the old "God is a God of order" which I believe is a catch-phrase pseudo belief that we now have thanks to the Ezzos and their parenting philosophy masquerading as God's best plan for parents. Not to belittle the beliefs of the commenter, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts about this.

Just a couple weeks ago my small group was discussing some info from a book called Get a Grip, which is all about getting your crazy, out-of-balance life under control. One of the questions was something like, "If God is a God of order, how should we then live our life?" I found myself having to dissent from the proper answer in order to say, "Who says that God is a God of order?"

IS God a God of order? And if God is orderly, is He more orderly than any of His other attributes? Just because God created the world in an orderly way, does this mean that He is orderly, or that He is logical? And, just because we notice an order, is that more important than, say, His amazing creativity and artistic excellence? The universe may have been created in 7 days and in a logical order, but let's not forget the wild imagination that went crazy with passion for beauty, form, function, and humor!

To focus on the idea that God is a God of order is an insult to God. God is SO MUCH BIGGER than order. How dare we try to put God's personality into a box for our own convenience or to try to convince others that our ways are backed up by God's own style. What a bunch of pathetic baloney. (And it's even more pathetic when people all the world over buy into this garbage so easily. Why is it that so few people know how to think critically about things?) God's attributes should not be neatly isolated and boxed up to service our own need for perfect answers.

God is such a passionate being that He describes His love for His children as that of a shepherd with 100 sheep in His care. When He realizes that 1 is missing, He risks the well-being of the remaining 99, all to go on a daring hunt to find His one missing sheep. A shepherd of this time would not only be risking the 99 sheep He already had with Him, but would be risking His own health and safety as He traveled over rocky or dangerous terrain, where wild animals could attack Him. Does this sound like an orderly guy to you? To me, it sounds like someone that is so passionate in His love for the one missing charge that He would risk everything to bring it back to safety.

To me, to say that God is a God of order says that God's behavior is safe, sterile, predictable, and unemotional. This is not the God I know.

God ordered His people to war against pagan tribes and to kill every man, woman, child, and beast and not even to take a single bit of pillage, because He didn't want any of His people taking any sort of benefit or practice from a culture that was against Him. This is the heart of a God that seems passionate, emotional, calculated, and jealous. This God gets dirty and is fierce.

Jesus was the guy who went to the Temple and when He saw business people set up to take unfair advantage of those coming to worship and sacrifice, took out a whip, overturned their tables, and ran them out in a wild, frenzied display of righteous anger. Doesn't sound like He was especially orderly to me. Sounds more like passionate, impulsive, indignant, and judgemental to me.

Jesus' death by crucifixion is an example of the most radical, passionate expression of love and sacrifice that the world will ever know. Jesus was willing to suffer immensely because He didn't want to have to live through eternity without YOU. Balanced? Nope. Extreme? Yes.

Within The Big Picture, I believe God does ultimately come to a balance. But it's a balance that comes from many extremes on either side of the scale. Almost seems like more extremes than not.....

It's time to think about balance differently.

Images of a Hometown

I was blessed to grow up in a particularly gorgeous town. In fact, I have never been to a place more consistenly gorgeous both naturally and in the man-made realm, than Skaneateles, New York. Skaneateles is the smallest lake of the NY Fingerlakes. The town that grew up around it is breathtaking. Stately mansions, a picturesque downtown area, and rolling green lawns are some of the things I most miss. I have not lived in Skaneateles for over 14 years now, but I still miss the beauty of it, sometimes so much that it aches. None of my family lives there any more, so we never go back. In the past 14 years I have only gotten to drive past my town on my way to my husband's parent's home. I think that maybe once we did get out and walk around a little bit. It's not enough. Although you will only get a small idea of how beautiful it is, here are some photos of my hometown.

Here is The Krebs restaurant, which is quite famous in the region for serving it's traditional 7-course meal for the past 150 years or something. I slaved away here as a waitress for 2 years. The restaurant might be more aptly named "The Crabs" thanks to the horrible, mean spirited people that owned and operated the place during my tenure. It was amazing to see how charming they could be to their patrons, and how utterly wretched they would be to the workers.

Doug's Fish Fry is a local favorite as well. People will literally line up down the street and around the corner to stand in line under the "Good Food" awning for a fish sandwich from this local eatery. I've never been a fish sandwich fan, but they did have good ice cream. I used to take the little girl that I babysat for a walk and we'd get an ice cream cone from Doug's for a fun treat. I babysat for that girl and her brother for probably 5 years, and now they are both graduated from college, and one is married. Their parents still send me a Christmas card each year with a family picture in it that never fails to amaze me at how old I must be to have babysat them.

Sunset on the lake

This gorgeous church is right downtown and on the lakefront. Looking at it always made me wish I was Episcopal just so I could go to church there. Anytime there was a wedding and you happened to drive by as the bride was exiting the church, it was incredibly picturesque. The first picture up at the top of the gazebo is just a short walk from this church, and is a popular place for wedding photos.

The Sherwood Inn and Restaurant is directly across from the lakefront downtown.

Downtown shops along the lake. (This is a downtown that people actually do still shop in and stroll down the sidewalks. Thankfully, there are no malls or fast food restaurants in Skaneateles!)

Long shot of the lake.

Many homes (read: mansions) on the lake receive their mail via mail boat. You can take a mail boat cruise and see how the rich get their bills.

Some artwork featuring the parks and gardens by the lakefront.

Thanks for taking a walk through my hometown with me! Maybe I'll be a little less wistful today now that I have these.

( Sadly, it seems they are stuck in this teeny size, so you surely are not getting as good a view as you could be. Oh well. I've already spent all this time on it, and I can't figure out how to change it. Bummer.)