Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I kept waiting for Bobby Flay.

Before Mama and Daddy drove the long drive across the great state of Texas to get here, Hubs asked me what we would do during their visit.

Crickets chirping.

"Well," I said, "we'll go out for good Mexican food one night, maybe a movie, out for steaks another night, and that's about it."

Did I mention they were here for a week?

Now, my people do not really have to be entertained. We are a lot like the Culhanes from Hee Haw. Just sit us on the couch together and we're good.

This means one of two things. We are boring or we are entertaining on our own. I'll let you figure that one out.

Friday afternoon we went to the movies and saw The Tale of Despereaux. I never took French in high school; I took two years of Spanish. So, I have no idea what Despereaux means in French. My guess is that it translates, "falsely advertised movie full of creepy rats and only one cute mouse but the book is still great, so skip the eight bucks and buy the paperback for the kids."

After the movie we went out for Mexican food. So, in about three hours, we had used up over half of our planned entertainment.

On Saturday, Mama wanted to ride over to a little town nearby (littler than the one we are in) and "see what's there."

I tried to tell her there was pretty much nothing to see except for the downtown square. My friend N went for a girls' day out one day and the entire group visited about six stores and had lunch in roughly two hours.

Still, Mama wanted to go. The great steak place is in this little town, so we headed over for an afternoon of sightseeing, planning to end the outing with a steak dinner.

We stopped at one store in the downtown square. That took up about twenty minutes. We then piled back in the car, looked around and decided to head to Wal-mart.

The Wal-mart visit took up about an hour.

It was 3:00 PM.

So, Hubs decided to take us to the Peanut factory so we could visit their gift shop. (We were low on entertainment options and peanut products.)

I'm not making this stuff up.

Mama and I were doubtful that the peanut factory gift shop would be open for the holidays. When we drove up, there were no cars in the parking lot. Still, Hubs was sure they were open. Hubs was right.

Sitting inside the small gift shop was an older lady just waiting for us to buy a twenty pound bag of roasted peanuts. She was lovely. We walked around the small shop, and as I browsed the many flavors of peanut butter, I overheard my Daddy strike up a conversation.

My Daddy does not meet a stranger. He talks to everyone. And, like most Southerners, the conversation always begins with where people are from. (You have no idea how important that is.)

After Daddy told the nice lady they were here visiting his daughter and son-in-law, he then continued to tell her that they were from Southwest Georgia, The Peanut Capital Of The World.

He threw down the goober gauntlet.

Fortunately, there was no malice in Daddy's declaration or else there could have been a throw down right there in the peanut factory gift shop. Plus, the nice lady behind the counter really doesn't care about peanut capital titles. Her only concern is that her ride comes at 5:00.

We all bought something. I purchased some cinnamon peanut butter and Mama purchased some roasted peanuts. We passed on the raw peanuts because they were old and my people use raw peanuts for boiling, not roasting. We know that only fresh, green peanuts are good for boiling.

I guess you'd have to be from the Peanut Capital of The World to understand.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Not a creature was stirring, except for the cat.

Christmas Eve at our house is much like that of many other families. We hang the stockings with care (or in this house, drape them on the hearth because the mantle is not adaptable to cute stocking holders), we read the Christmas story, and leave food out for Santa.

Most years we've left cookies. One year we made him a sandwich because we thought he may be sick of all the sugar and need something to tide him over. You know, something to cut the sweet.

And we always leave something for the reindeer.

We've sprinkled reindeer food on the lawn and left carrots or apples on a plate next to Santa's cookies and ham sandwich.

This year, our daughter chose cookies for Santa and one apple for the all the reindeer. Looking back, the reindeer may have felt a bit slighted this time.

We placed a cup out on the coffee table and left it up to Santa to get his own beverage. He's been by our house a few years. By now, he should just make himself at home.

Now that Maggie is painfully addicted to Elegant Medleys, she harasses any person who gets up in the night. No matter what time of night it is. Once you are up, Maggie thinks you are supposed to feed her.

Our daughter thought about Santa arriving in the night, waking Maggie from her princess slumber, and then running away in frustration from Maggie's constant pawing and purring and begging.

So she left him a note.

Which I shall try to paraphrase here:


Dear Santa,

Here is a can of Elegant Medleys. Give it to Maggie so she will hush.


Santa must have taken her advice because we woke up the next morning and found an empty can of Medleys on the kitchen counter. Remnants of tenders morsels remained in the cat dish. .

Even Santa Claus knows to keep this cat happy. I'll bet he keeps a lint brush in the sleigh.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Catching up

Well, let's see. It has been, um, quite a few days since I wrote a real post.

Christmas. It came. It went. It conquered.

My parents arrived just before Christmas and will be headed back home in a day or so. Bless their hearts; they drove. From Georgia. To New Mexico. That's a long way between Cracker Barrels.

We've had a good time catching up and eating, eating, eating. It's what Southerners do when they get together. We eat when we get married. We eat when we have babies. We eat when we die. Well, we don't. The people left behind do.

Where two Southerners gather together there will be food in the midst of them.

Or something like that.

I'll be back soon for a few funny stories. Goodness knows I've got enough material.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Track Santa

Take a minute tonight to track Santa with the kids.

NORAD is on his trail.

Be sure to watch some of the video sightings!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Journey

I was sitting here thinking about how stressful I can get this time of year.

Last minute shopping, wrapping, planning meals, cleaning the house, and all the regular household duties that we do year round.

Then I thought about what Mary was doing and thinking and feeling over two thousand years ago. My stress is nothing compared to what she endured. She traveled for miles across rough terrain, anxious and uncertain, knowing that the time was very near for her baby to be born.

It makes my few minutes waiting in line at Walmart so unimportant.

But, in a way, she and I do have something in common. We anticipate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. Full of hope, she waited for him to be born and full of hope, I look forward to celebrating that glorious birth.

So, if I'm not around in the next few days, you'll know why. I won't be on a donkey, crossing mountains under a night sky, but I am decidedly enjoying the journey to Bethlehem.

Merry Christmas, friends.

Monday, December 22, 2008

And yada yada yada, he won.

Some of our dearest friends were over for dinner on Saturday. We've known each other a long time. We met before the Internet was invented.

I know.

Ancient.

To you youngin's out there who think the Internet has always been around, let me tell you about the 80's. We thought computers could think. Hello, War Games.

Hubs and I are trying to shake a cold. We sound and look awful which makes for lovely dinner hosts. All I can say is that our friends must really love us or they are too gracious to offend. (Plus, they know we are obsessive with hand washing.) They suffered through my cooking and our hacks and wheezing.

Not on the food. That would be rude.

Seriously, my sweet friend N, the wife, called early in the day to ask if we were still up for company. She didn't want us to suffer through the evening for their sake. I assured her that we sounded worse than we felt and that I had doped up Hubs on Day-quil.

We had dinner and exchanged gifts. And guess what they gave us?

The Seinfeld Scene-It Game!! Game on.

We sat down at the coffee table to play. My playing piece was the Cigar Store Indian. Hubs was the puffy shirt because, truth be told, he really does want to be the pirate.

Hubs won. I blame it on the Day-quil. It must have the opposite affect on me. It turns my brain to mush. When I cannot remember a Seinfeld line, I am either suffering from medication side effects or a high fever.

I learned later that when our friends drove home, the husband D turned to his wife and said, "You know we're never going to beat them at that game."

To D I say, "Have you tried the Day-quil?"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Gospel Message in a Burger King Hat

Between being a child, having a child and teaching children in church over the years, I've been witness to various pageants, plays and musicals.

The thing about kids is that, no matter what happens, the crowd will love them. Once you become a grown-up, people expect you to be, you know, talented and coordinated to be successful and entertaining.

Which must be what happened to The Jackson Five. All except for Michael, who really never grew up anyway.

Vacation Bible School productions are always a huge hit. By the end of the week, the kids are so high from craft glue and Capri-Suns that anything they do on stage is bound to be entertaining. And really, what's better than to corral one hundred sweaty kids on an elevated stage while they flail their arms and legs and sing?

Solid. Gold.

But my favorite kid productions are always the ones at Christmas. There is a certain sense of innocence and wonder and there is a least one kid picking his nose. Bless his mama's heart. That's a sweet video for the family collection.

In addition, there are always kids with costumes that are too big, kids whose Mamas didn't read the flyer that went home about wearing a certain color shirt, angel wings that fall off and halos made of cheap Christmas garland. At least there's still a good use for it.

There is also one little girl on the stage who is determined that baby Jesus is either under or over dressed. She becomes the pageant's Nurse On Call, which is a good thing because I'd hate for the Lord and Savior to get pneumonia.

Then there are the wise men. One Wise Man is wearing a Burger King crown, turned around so we can't see the logo. We all know that the Wise Men would never go to Burger King because the toys there are lame.

One kid waves to his parents during the entire program. He doesn't sing. Instead, he uses his energy to punch the shepherds in the arm or step on Mary's bare toes. (By the way, Mary is always wearing cute sandals like Crocs or pink flip flops under her over sized sheet costume. She may be innocent, but she knows fashion.)

People think the waving brat, I mean, kid is sweet. The crowd usually giggles and it makes for a great America's Funniest Videos moment.

But, all teachers know that the Perpetual Waving Kid is usually the one who took the clothes off baby Jesus in the first place and destroyed the original Wise Men crowns, which is why the music teacher had to run out at the last minute to beg for the cheap, paper Burger King ones.

At the end of every Christmas musical is an encore of a super cute, message-filled number when all the kids sing their little hearts out around the baby Jesus. Thanks to the Pre-K Nurse On Call, He is in costume and appropriately ready to be the center of attention.

And thanks to the real baby Jesus, that super cute, message-filled number declares the Gospel message of Christmas. To all of us.

Even the Perpetual Waving Kid.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Celebrating a Birthday in the Midst of Christmas

I went home from school with a friend that Friday. It was always a treat to go to a friend's house for a slumber party. This was special. She was my best friend and this was my birthday...


Read more over at The Internet Cafe.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A few of my favorite things: Christmas Crazy Edition

I have two posts I've been working on but can't seem to get them together. So, until my brain kicks into gear or I have a V-8 moment, I am going to fall back on the old, familiar, uninspiring list format.

Yawn.

Plus, I have like less than two days to finish a week's worth of errands. I have almost all my shopping done. Most of our family and friends are out of town so I planned well in advance for them, figuring in the UPS transit time. My parents are going to be here for Christmas, so I left their gifts for later. Which is NOW.

Not to mention the dear people who actually live with me.

You could say I have some catching up to do.

And I'd really like to be finished so I can relax and focus on what or Who really matters.

Now that you've heard about my issues, here is a list of a few of my favorite things.

1. Whale Wars- This is my new addiction. I don't really agree with the tactics of the group, but I can understand their passion. Plus, I am so far away from the ocean or any other body of water, that I love watching anything remotely ocean-y. I told Hubs the other night that I get thirsty watching the show. Analyze that one, Mr. Freud.


2. Online shopping- This has been a life saver for me this year. We really do not have many shopping choices here in Smalltown and I am quite certain that most of my family do not need the Ped Egg from Walgreens.

Plus, it gives me a chance to congratulate the UPS man for his fine work.

Today, it was a toasty 18 degrees and he showed up on our doorstep in his brown attire with a hood. If it had not been for the nice view of his brown truck, I would not have opened the door. I normally don't open the door for hooded men.

3. Free shipping. A plus with online shopping if you shop around for the best deals.

4. Angel Tree- There are so many wonderful opportunites to help needy families this time of year.

Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree is close to my heart. I've volunteered with them in the past and seen the miracles that can happen in torn families. Their angel tree is not based on need. They are designed to foster family relationships. If you are interested, there is still time to help this Christmas.

5. Mexican Hot Chocolate. Specifically, Nestle's Abuelita. Chocolate and cinnamon. Yum.

6. Warm kitty cats on cold days.

7. White House Christmas Tree ornaments. I just received this year's in the mail. Love it.

8. Warm kitty cats under Christmas trees. Just make sure you hang the White House ornaments way up high.

8. The Christmas episode of Little House on the Prairie when Laura gives away Bunny so Ma can have a new stove. Makes me cry every time.

9. A Christmas Story. Another chance to watch Ralphie shoot his eye out. Those icicles have been known to kill people.

Signing off and heading to Walgreens. ;>)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Twelve Days

Twelves days to check off my list.

Twelve days to mail the Christmas cards.

Did I forget someone?

Twelve days to fill the stockings.

Twelve days to return those angel tree gifts.

Who did I leave out?

Twelve days to plan the Christmas menu.

Twelve days to decide. Turkey, roast or ham?

What have I left out?

Twelve days to get it all done, make it all perfect, without losing my sanity.

Twelve days until Christmas.

Who have I left out?

With the hectic time of this season, when you're making your list and checking it twice, rest in the Peace of The One we celebrate.

Turn your eyes upon the manger and its message of grace.

Twelve Days...



Melanie- Please try my email address again. I have corrected it. (It should be dotcom instead of dotnet; I apologize.) I was going to email you, but your address wasn't available in your profile.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Life Lesson # 357

When you are in a hurry and have to pick up your child from school, never get in line behind two twenty-something young men at Wal-mart.

They do not understand the logistics of Wal-mart shopping.

Because I like to do my civic duty and all, I thought I'd share these logistical rules which are etched in a plaque somewhere in Bentonville, Arkansas.

First. Unload your cart in a timely manner. There are moms behind you in line who are in a hurry and should have gotten in line 10 minutes ago.

Second. Once you've unloaded all of the Hot Pockets and Ramen noodles, move out of the way and please put down a divider so that the mom behind you can unload her cart which is totally void of Hot Pockets and Ramen noodles but may include Lean Cuisines and a prescription of Xanax she just filled at the pharmacy. (Lucky you. She popped one about 30 minutes ago.)

Third. Please- for the love of Sam Walton and all things decent and holy- do not hash out who is paying for what using several credit cards, gift cards and whatever else you can find.

Fourth. Once you've paid, please get your stuff, put it in the cart, and let the cashier serve the next customer, which is in fact me, the mom who should have gotten in line 10 minutes ago.

This is a friendly lesson from a mother on a mission. Oh, and one day you will lose your taste for Ramen noodles.

Trust me.

Poor Time Management

The fact that you are reading this means that I have written it, which means that I have completely wasted at least 5 minutes when I should be doing things like grocery shopping, vacuuming, cooking, and the like.

We are having some people over tomorrow evening, so I have lots to do.

But nothing, no nothing stops me from blogging. Except for no Internet access, which, really doesn't stop me because I just go to the public library.

And we know that means I must be desperate.

So, anyhoo.

I'll be around over the weekend, checking in on my favorite bloggers. I just may not have time to post. Or write anything coherent or meaningful.

BTW, my father-in-law survived his Santa experience. As far as I know, none of the children or parents ran away screaming, which is a true measure of Santa success. Don't you think?

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How To Be A Good Santa (tongue in rosey cheek)

A little elf called me last night to tell me that my father-in-law is going to play Santa tonight at their church. Santa phoned him and asked for reinforcements because he is busy at the North Pole dealing with the Elf Union issues while trying to produce millions of Wii's.

Maybe Santa could use a bailout.

This is the first time my father-in-law has helped out Santa and donned the red suit, so I thought it may be nice to share some tips on how to be a good Santa.

Not that I've ever been a good Santa. I've never even been a bad Santa.

But I've been a kid. Once. Long, long ago.

So, here ya go.

1. Prepare to be a cool liar. Kids will ask you all kinds of things like, "Do you really live at The North Pole?" and "Is it cold there?"

Resist the urge to tell the kid to watch The Weather Channel and pay attention in geography class.

Two-year olds don't watch TWC.

2. Tell the kids how absolutely wonderful and lovely and helpful Mrs. Claus is and that you wouldn't be the man you are today without her.

This will get you a blank stare from the kids but Mrs. Claus will love you.

3. Pop a breath mint.

For some reason, all the Santas I talked to suffered from halitosis.

4. Tell the kids to leave out Reese's peanut butter cups and Starbucks coffee on Christmas Eve.

I hear that's Santa's favorite.

5. If a kid asks you if they've been good, look over at their mother.

If she looks put together and stands there smiling, holding a camera, tell them ,"Yes, keep up the good work!"

If she looks disheveled, is popping a Xanax or is in fact hiding, tell the kid "You're lucky I'm only allowed to give out coal. At least, that's what the law allows."

6. Keep some Purell on hand. And maybe a can of Lysol. Zycam for extra insurance.

7. If the mom talks on her cell phone while her child is experiencing one of the most precious and memorable parenting moments, repeat the following to the child:

"You can have the tricked out 4 wheeler but only if your parents are good and your mom gets off the cell phone while she is shopping, driving, and supposedly experiencing one of the most precious and memorable parenting moments, hello, lady with the bluetooth!"

You may want to yell a little.

8. As a rule, unless it is directed at the parents, yelling is frowned upon.

9. When you're bored, just for fun, tell the kids that you are a victim of Global Warming and your home is melting as you speak.

That'll make for a really happy time.

And a great Christmas card picture.

WFMW: Easy ways to make guests feel at home.

With Christmas around the corner, many of us will have people visiting this season. Here are a few things I've done over the years and a few things I've experienced as a guest that make an overnight stay more comfortable.

1. Double case the pillows. I purchase inexpensive white pillow cases, then use another pillow case over that. You will be surprised at the difference. Plush, fluffy and soft pillows with little effort!

2. Place a basket or other container in the guestroom with magazines, toothbrushes (the ones from the dentist work great), sample toothpaste, shampoo, anything that a person may forget to pack. Include some miniature candy bars or mints. Really, it's the thought that counts here. It is fun to sort through the basket and your guest will feel so special.

3. Turn down the bed. This may sound silly, but it is nice to find the comforter pulled back, the pillow fluffed and everything ready after a long day of chatting and visiting. (The key is to do this without them knowing it, so they will find it as a surprise when they retire for the night.)

4. Tell your guests where they can find fresh towels, but also leave some folded towels for them in their room. Again, it's the thought that counts.

5. If your guest is an early riser and you are not, set the coffee pot on the timer and put out some pretty mugs nearby. Hearty mugs are great and make them feel at home.

6. The Welcome Book. My mother-in-law gave us one when we purchased our first home. The book is designed for guests to simply sign or leave a note. You can find them in gift stores like Hallmark or online. You can also use a pretty journal. This makes an excellent house warming or wedding gift.


Remember, hospitality does not have to cost a lot of money. Anything you can do to make your guests feel comfortable and welcome will mean a lot.

Any ideas you would like to share? Leave them in the comments.

Be sure to visit Shannon for more tips this week!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

But you can't take The South out of the girl.


This is what we found this morning after rubbing our eyes and slowly creeping out from under the warm covers.


Snow? Eh.


I opened the blinds so our daughter could see what was left from the powdery frozen sprinkles while she sat and ate her breakfast.

If I were a really good mother, I would have gotten up early and made hot pancakes and bacon for my sweet child. Alas, she ate her cold Kix cereal while gazing at the snowfall which did not meet any school closure standards.

Hubs leaves for work before we leave for school. I told him the ice scraper was in the SUV so he could scrape the ice from the windshield on his car. When I got out to my Honda, my windshield was clean. I love that man.

Here is a tip.

Once your spouse has cleaned the windshield for you, leave well enough alone. Don't try to melt away the rest of the icy glaze with your wiper fluid because your windshield wipers may in fact be frozen and the wiper fluid will freeze onto your windshield, leaving you blinded. Then, you will have to pull over, get out of your toasty warm car and scrape the windshield again after your kind husband cleaned it for you.

Hypothetically, of course.

I've mentioned before that I've experienced snow in North Carolina. The stark, cold difference here is the mighty wind.

I'm thinking Christopher Guest has been here.

Seriously, y'all, the wind will cut you like a cold, dull butter knife without the biscuits.

I really hope it snows a little more today, enough to make a difference. This little bit of snowfall is a lot like false labor- nothing good comes from it but there's just enough of it to ruin your day.

On that note, I have to add this picture. These are dairy cows who are normally grazing when I pass them on the way to school.




I call this the dairy cow version of a Sit In.


A Cow Whisperer would tell you that the one over to the left, yeah that one is saying,"Who's the idiot taking our picture?"

I apologize for any typing errors in this post. My knuckles are still thawing.

Monday, December 08, 2008

You can take a girl out of the South.

According to the weather forecast, we are going to have "snow showers" here in Smalltown, NM tomorrow.

Just to show my ignorance, I had to ask Hubs exactly what a snow shower is. Is it a flurry? Rain mixed with snow? Real snow?

They say transparency improves a person's writing. This may be true but, it doesn't improve your image.

Ahem.

This morning I asked him if there is anything special I need to buy or do to prepare for the snow shower. He assured me that it wouldn't be very different from the time we lived in North Carolina.

Hello. I was either pregnant or taking care of an infant then. My brain cells were slush.

Today I will go to Wal-mart and stock up on something. I just feel that I must. Maybe I'll buy up some toilet paper, water, and some pop-top soup. And cat food. Let's not forget the real necessities.

Hopefully, tomorrow you will find some great snow shower photos here on the blog. I can finally enjoy snow that sticks. (That's a real weather term, BTW.)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Cats and crabs and such.


Before I move on to the rest of my birthday, I want to show you Maggie sleeping under the tree. You could say she isn't showing her best side.

Not that she cares.


Hubs got home from work this evening, we all got dolled up, and headed to Red Lobster. Red Lobster is not usually my first choice for seafood. Once you've lived close to fresh Gulf Of Mexico seafood, The Big Red Crustacean is not your culinary choice.

But then you move to cattle country and The Big Red Crustacean becomes your only choice.

We decided a few weeks ago that Red Lobster was going to be my birthday celebration when the three of us were eating crab legs at the local Chinese buffet.

Blech.

Our daughter was tickled over the snow crab legs 'neath the red lanterns and tacky chandelier, but Hubs and I are were not inspired. However, the taste of sub par crab legs made us crave some above par crab legs. Since we can't really get above par, we went for par.

Thus, The Big Red Crustacean.

When we ordered tonight, our daughter said she wanted catfish. This child eats catfish like my Daddy and my grandmother. My grandmother weighed about 100 pounds, but she could eat catfish like a man. (Daintily of course.)

Hubs and I know how much catfish our sweet, delicate offspring can eat, so when we go out, she is allowed to order the adult portion. This is the only time we stray from the kid's menu. The mention of this always puzzles the waitress.

So, our daughter ordered the adult catfish. The waitress suggested that we go with the lunch portion because the dinner portion included two large fillets.

"No, she can have the dinner portion."

Then the waitress secretly rolled her eyes. (I'm a mom. I can see these things.)

Hubs ordered 1 1/2 pounds of snow crab legs. I ordered 1/ 1/2 pounds of King Crab legs.

You do the math.

May I also add that all three dinner orders included salad, bread and a potato.

Yes, we are pigs.

Really, if you eat crab legs, you know that there is not much meat in 1 1/2 pounds. At least, that's the lie we told ourselves.

But when you've been deprived of crustaceans dipped in butter for going on 5 months, your mind plays tricks on you.

Hubs and I shared our crab with our daughter. She ate most of her catfish, all but a few bites.

When our waitress brought the check and removed our crab shells and wet naps, I laughed and said,"Really. We didn't get enough crab."

To which she replied, "I've never seen such carnage in my life."

Can you believe that she didn't even ask if we wanted dessert?!


At least I don't look like a monkey...

Today, I turn old.

Maybe that was last year.

Seriously, I turn 38 today and I feel pretty much the same. I've spent the day decorating the house for Christmas while listening to Rush (Limbaugh, not the band.) Nothing puts you in the Yuletide spirit like a good right wing monologue.

We are going out to eat tonight. Red Lobster- the closest thing to seafood I can get here in the Land of Disenchantment.

I promise to post later. I have a few pictures of Maggie under the tree, neither of which are fuzzy and pleasant, so I guess you could say they capture her personality quite well.

So far, it's been a nice birthday. More to share, I'm sure.

To be continued...

(I totally left you hanging with the upcoming pictures of my delinquent cat. Who cares about the rest of my day.)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

What I Really Want For Christmas

Everyone says I'm hard to shop for. At least, that's what my husband tells me. I tell Hubs that my close friends (and his mother) usually score right on target, so maybe, just maybe they know me well. Or they are women and great shoppers.

Really, it's a mystery.

So I decided to just make a list of what I really want for Christmas this year and every year and maybe it will make it easier on Hubs.

Ahem.

1. World Peace. Let me get that completely out of the way, so I can move on. Otherwise, I would look completely insensitive.

2. I would like for laundry to stay clean at least an hour after I fold it and put it away.

3. Someone to wash, fold and put away the laundry.

4. A permanent dust buster that cleans and repels dust forever. Forever.

5. A nap.

6. Removal of the tired eyes, saggy chin and gray hair look. Apparently, it is not in style.

7. I'd like for the greeter at Wal-mart to have a chair. She's 90. Let the woman sit down.

8. A Seinfeld marathon followed by 24 hours of A Christmas Story with Sonic commercials during the breaks.

9. Bill O'Reilly and Dennis Miller on the next Presidential ticket. (Hey, at least it makes it interesting.)

10. Diet Coke to come straight out of the tap.

11. STARBUCKS in my town. Not that I've mentioned it before or anything.

12. Donald Trump to get a haircut.

13. People to stop calling Christmas "holiday." It drives me insane.

Which leads me back to the next Presidential ticket and my last Christmas request...

14. A "We Say Merry Christmas" bumper sticker.

What say you about your Christmas wish list?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Rest, Ye Merry Big Fat Cat

My Christmas tree is snoring.

We put up the tree on Sunday. Maggie waited patiently as we brought out the dusty, old box, constructed the fake tannenbaum, then decorated it. She stood, OKAY lounged watch. Finally, our daughter wrapped the tree skirt around the bottom and Voila!

Maggie's fort.

She loves hiding under the Christmas tree. When she was a kitten, we would find her sleeping on top of the packages. She was so cute and tiny and cute and, did I mention tiny? then.

Then.

Back in the day, her cute and tiny furriness fit on top of a shirt box. Her teeny paws propped on a jewelry box. Now she's lucky if she can hoist herself up on a robe box.

Maggie, girlfriend. I feel your pain.

So now she is snoozing 'neath the tree, snoring her old lady cat heart out, dreaming of Elegant Medleys and porches void of strays. There's no box or bag or any other kind of package to be seen because I haven't wrapped a single thing. The tree skirt is her world.

I just wish she'd wear a Breathe Right strip.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Cost of Christmas

This morning I opened my Inbox to find at least a dozen emails taunting me to click and save more money this Cyber Monday, the Monday following Black Friday.

Black Friday was branded such because it is reportedly the biggest day of the year for retailers, often the first day they are in "the black," making profits beyond what you or I could imagine. But I think, after this deplorable tragedy, Black Friday has taken on a new meaning.

It isn't often that I blog about news articles or scandals, but the death of a Wal-mart employee at the hands and feet of a mob cries out for commentary and serious thought.

If you are not familiar with the story by now, here is a summary.

A Wal-mart employee was killed while opening the store on Black Friday. He was literally trampled to death. Employees who ran to his rescue were also injured, along with customers, including an expectant mother.

When the store closed for several hours because of the tragic death, some of the customers complained.

I know what you're saying.

This is awful, sad, inhumane.

How could people be so greedy for a sale?

I would never do that.

Don't be so sure. The influence of a crowd can be powerful. This psychological phenomenon must not excuse any responsibility; it should be discussed.

Where does the responsibility fall?

On the excited mob which had been waiting for hours for the store to open?

On the retailer who markets the sale with limited quantities and doorbuster deals?

On the retail industry which continues to open their stores earlier and earlier each year, ratcheting the tension, and spurring adrenaline?

I am sure a panel of lawyers will sort it all out.

While sitting and watching the news story, reading the headline and wondering who is to blame, the person who comes to my mind is very clear.

Me.

I am the consumer.

I am the mom who wants her kid to have a good Christmas.

I am the wife who wants to save money, who tries hard to spend frugally.

I am the person who feels a rush when I find a good bargain- at 4:00 AM or 2:00 in the afternoon.

Me.

No, I wasn't part of the mob. I was at home in my bed. But, I am not very different from the people who broke down a metal door to reach a big screen TV, killing someone on their way.

What makes a person transition from bargain hunter to savage shopper? I don't know.

Is it wrong to wake up early all in the spirit of shopping fun to hope for that last Elmo? No.

We all need to save money, watch our budgets, check our checkbooks. It is the responsible thing to do. Yet, are we really shopping the crazy sales for the savings or for the rush?

I may not be able to stop an angry mob but I can be sure that I am not a part of it. In reality or in theory. I can delete the emails advertising savings on things I don't even want. Or need. I can carefully evaluate my motives for shopping a sale, and check it twice.

This Christmas Eve, after all the stores have closed and all the deals are off, we'll tuck our children into bed. We'll sit down with our spouses in the quiet and look at the decorated tree.
We'll take a moment to savor the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Odds are that next year none of us will remember what we gave or received the year before, let alone the great deals we got on the presents under the tree.

This Christmas, and the Christmas after that, we will remember the gifts that matter.

Our family. Our friends. The ones we love.

These are the gifts we value most.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bolt: Creative Genius Strikes

We just returned from seeing Bolt, the latest Disney movie about a Hollywood dog who doesn't know he isn't a real super hero. Of course, as animated movies go, this little dog ends up being the real hero after all.

If this sounds like a glaring endorsement, it is. I am refreshed and relieved to finally take my kid to a Disney movie that genuinely upholds the Disney name. Walt would be proud. I can remember the caliber of movies Disney used to produce and this movie is reminiscent of those quality family films.

No potty humor. No innuendos. No inside adult jokes I have to avoid explaining.

No one was dressed in drag. No one was drunk.

Just good, clean fun. Really.

A bonus- the movie is in 3-D! How's that for animated adventure?

To parents with younger children, be prepared for some action-packed adventure. It helps to tell your child in advance that the bad guys are pretend, Bolt is a TV actor, and the green-eyed man isn't real. I heard a few very small kids crying. The action itself could be a little scary for a small child who cannot determine real from pretend (even in a cartoon.)

As a rule, if your child can sit through the sharks in Finding Nemo, then he will be fine in Bolt.

My favorite part of the whole movie is the pigeons. All of them.

And if Disney just happens across this blog, don't bother sending me a check. Just please continue to produce real clean, family, comedic fun.

We parents still recognize and appreciate writing talent. Especially when it comes packaged in a super cute, super hero.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Nothing like customer service

Most Black Fridays I have a small plan of attack on the sales. I have never stood in line waiting for a store to open. Although, I have been known to stand in line at the register while the stores are closing.

I am not a morning person. I'm more of a midnight person.

The only time I've been at the stores at the opening hours was when I was forced to work retail in my twenties. Even then, when the stores opened at the late, later hour of 7:00 AM, I thought it was pure torture.

I worked in the children's department of a major department store. Every grandmother and mother in town shopped the day after Thanksgiving, looking for Christmas dresses, warm flannel pj's and socks (the grandmothers bought those.) One year I remember standing at the register for at least a solid hour ringing customer after customer.

It was insane.

And that was when Black Friday was normal. I can't imagine what it's like now for cashiers to be at work at 3:30 AM, waiting for all those grandmothers to buy socks.

Oh, the humanity.

So, since I no longer work retail, I have made a promise with my eyelids to sleep in for as long as I want the day after Thanksgiving. Or until the cat or my child need something.

I head out to the stores in the afternoon; I like to wait until all the crazies are gone home to nap or headed to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. .

Plus, I live in SmallTown now. We don't have much to choose from. No Target. No Old Navy. No Toys R Us. Really, there's no reason to get up in the morning. Today or any other day.

Daughter and I went to the mini-mall this afternoon where I planned to hit Bath and Body Works for their wonderful hand sanitizers (in Christmas Scents!) and foam soaps. We filled our mesh bag with luxurious cleanliness.

(This is where I must insert that this was only our second stop of the afternoon.)

Just as I punched in my pin number to complete the transaction, a cashier looked at me and said,"Oh. You looked tired. Have you been doing this all day?"

"No, I'm just sick," I explained.

If I had, you know, not been tired and, you know, completely insulted, I may have told her that I appreciate her concern for the puffy, dark circles under my eyes but she must be a rooky, one of those "work until the January inventory temps" because it is usually any company's policy not to insult the customer. Right up there with "the customer is always right."

Then again, I was tired, as she said. Sick and tired. And very thankful that I didn't get up at 5:00 AM to shop this morning. No telling what I would have looked like at that hour. Some new cashier may have called 911.

But hey, the publicity of the tired, half-dead lady just might have encouraged this town to build a Starbucks.

And that would have been worth more than any buy one, get one free sale.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Pies

Every Thanksgiving, my family has two requests.

Pumpkin Pie and Sweet Potato Casserole (with extra, extra marshmallows.)

Each time I get out the canned pumpkin and begin making pies, the scent of nutmeg and cloves reminds me of a very special Thanksgiving.

I was involved in Women's Ministry at our church. Our daughter was about 4 years old. Bless her heart. She usually went with me to meetings and Bible studies when her daddy was at work. Sometimes I made a point to take her with me so she could see firsthand what it was like to help people.

One year, the ladies in our church decided to bake Thanksgiving pies for a men's home in our area. The men were in need of rehab for various issues and the home helped them battle their problems while learning about the love of God. Our church's Men's Ministry was involved with other activities as well.

It was the day before Thanksgiving. I had gathered all the delicious homemade pies from the talented hands of the ladies in our church. The pies were loaded in my trunk and ready to go.

My daughter went with me. All we had to do was drive up and the manager of the home would meet us. Several polite gentlemen would join him to unload the car.

On our way there, my daughter wanted to know where we were going.

Without going into too much detail, I carefully explained,"Well. We are going to a special home for some men who don't have a home right now. They are learning that Jesus loves them. We are taking them some pies for Thanksgiving."

She didn't say much at the time. We arrived at the home, greeted by the manager. He and the other gentlemen graciously unloaded my car's trunk. We wished them a "Happy Thanksgiving" and headed back to our own home.

Hours later, my husband arrived home from work. It was almost supper time. Barbies had been played with, toys were strewn about, and many other moments had passed since we delivered pies.

Just as he did every other day, my husband asked our daughter, "What did you do today?"

She said with a smile, "Me and Mommy took pies to some men who didn't have any pies."

After a sincere chuckle, I explained our day to my daughter's daddy, and why she described the event the way she did.

Many Thanksgivings later, her announcement still sticks with me. It reminds me of the simplicity of giving, the pureness of generosity. Her childlike perspective teaches me to remember the people out there who are in need. Whether they are men who don't have any pies or a neighbor who doesn't have any family.

I can give something. A pie, a hug, a call to a friend. Something.

I'm thankful that God has blessed me so that I am able to give. I'm thankful that He has helped me see the world through a child's eyes.

And I pray that God will always keep my eyes and my heart open, looking for the people who don't have any pies.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cue the choir

Can you hear them singing?

I woke up this morning feeling much better.

Thanks to Hubs for filling the blessed humidifier for me last night. It is amazing what moisture can do for breathing.

Or it could be the clementines.

Either way, I'm feeling better.

I love that man.

Mama would say,"He's a good egg."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sick Woman and HungryMan

I woke up this morning feeling under the weather.

I have no idea what that is supposed to mean, "under the weather." Aren't we always under it? Are we ever over it or next to it or behind it?

When I crawled out of bed, I could tell something was coming on. The muscles were achy. The bones were creaky. The head was stuffy.

Uh. Oh.

We were all getting ready for church and I warned Hubs that I may be getting sick and he may end up cooking Thanksgiving dinner. It is days away, so let's hope I get sick and get over it or don't get too sick at all.

While in church, the preacher announced the "meet and greet" and I leaned down to get the hand sanitizer from my purse. I quickly and (I thought) discreetly cleaned my hands to protect anyone around me. The people behind me must have seen me, because they hesitated when they shook my hand.

Maybe they thought I didn't use enough.

While we were singing, I glanced down at the pew in front of us. That is when I had a Pez Moment.

We were all standing and singing, so I could see the Bibles, purses and books in the seat. Resting in the seat of an elderly woman ahead of us was a Sunday School book. The picture on the cover made me giggle.

The photo showed an elderly man kicking up a pile of raked leaves with his smiling wife in the background, holding a rake. I am sure it was meant to convey a feeling of "life's still fun and thrilling and now you get a discount at your age," but the man's expression struck me as funny.

I could blame it on a high fever, but that would be lying. And I usually refrain from lying in church. Laughing to myself and using hand sanitizer between handshakes is completely allowed.

I did look around to make sure no one was offended. My goal has never been to be a Spirit Quencher.

This afternoon, I sat down at the laptop to check email and blog this little post. That is when Hubs started force feeding me clementines for a Vitamin C boost. (I don't eat fruit.)

I told him that I could be dying. If I am, could he please go out of town and get me some Starbucks for my last meal.

He told me my last meal would be Thanksgiving dinner and I'd have to cook it.

Sigh.

I knew I shouldn't have laughed in church.

To be perfectly honest, Hubs could and would cook Thanksgiving dinner but, bless his heart, he'd need some help with my Granny's dressing recipe.

It may be frozen dinners for us.

Or, we could always eat Pez.

Friday, November 21, 2008

If you read nothing else today, read this.

Shannon has a post today about a sweet husband who is trying to do something incredible for his wife this Christmas. He needs our help.

And, guess what? His gift isn't in a little blue box. It is much more valuable and precious than that.

Be sure to read Shannon's post for more instructions.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dear Uncle Sam,

Hello. I usually only communicate with you every election cycle or during tax season, but I thought it was high time we talked.

Lately, it seems some of your other family members are getting all of your attention, so I thought I'd ask for my share. I've never been one to ask for much of anything, but it looks like my time or your money is about to run out.

Honestly, I never knew that you were the rich uncle. As I remember it, you've always asked me for money. You were the odd, stuffy uncle at the family gatherings. The one who liked to get into every body's business. And, let's face it. That top hat and striped pants? Didn't help.

But, it appears that you are loaded, so I have a few things to ask.

I want a bailout. You never fully compensated me for that failed lemonade stand I had as a child.

Yeah, I know the lemonade wasn't any good, the price was inflated, and the customer service had room for improvement. But, with the inflation in the 70's, the cost of paper cups and all, surely you could help me out.

While you're writing checks, make one out to my kid. She is a good student, tries really hard, has big dreams, and all of those other things we Americans use to embrace. Now that none of that seems to matter anymore, just write her a check now. I'll save it for her. I'm afraid what this country may offer her when she turns 18.

Besides, it's hard as a parent to keep telling her to work hard, stay in school, stay off drugs and become independent when the kid down the street will grow up and have just as much or more and work very little.

But, hey. What do I know? I'm just the ignorant, gullible niece who, by the way, is about to put you in a home.

You may think you're in control, but I'm still your Legal Guardian.

Thanks to my Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Uncles Madison, Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton and a few others.

Who, I might add, used their signatures for more important documents than checks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Works for Me: Keeping Gravy Hot

I just learned about this tip this week while watching Alton Brown on Food Network. That Alton is a genius.

You know how you always have to make the gravy for Thanksgiving (or any other meal with gravy!) near the end of your cooking time so that the gravy will stay hot? Then, you have to simmer it on low to keep it warm without scorching it and rush to get the food on the table?

Well, no more.

Alton suggested making the gravy whenever it is convenient during your food prep time, make sure it is hot, then pour the gravy into a Thermos until you are ready to serve it in Grandma's gravy boat. The gravy will stay hot enough for a good while and you will be free to cook something else.

Or, hey! Take a break and watch the parade!

For more tips, see Shannon.

You say Po-TAH-to.

When I first met my husband in a college sociology class, I instantly knew he was funny. We share the same sense of humor- dry and sarcastic. Most people find these two traits insanely irritating so it is a good thing we found each other.

I remember one particular day when the professor said something funny (he was dry and sarcastic, too) and the two of us were the only ones in class who laughed out loud. We weren't trying to get points in the grade book; we actually thought this sociology professor was funny. (Analyze that.)

I didn't know it at the time, but that momentary burst of laughter was a test. Later on, Hubs told me that when he heard me laugh too, he knew I was a keeper.

Besides the knack for humor, Hubs has a remarkable ability to speak in a British accent. I think he watched too much Spinal Tap as a teen. No kidding, if I didn't know his roots were in New Jersey, I would promise on my case of Diet Coke that Hubs hails The Queen.

We sit at the dinner table when, in a Tourette's type of outburst, he begins quoting movies in the accent of Great Britain. I have memorized movies that I have never seen. Dinner is a learning experience at our house.

So, Hubs, I just wanted to say that even though you may drive me crazy with your pronunciation of garage, I love you for it. And you are much better looking than Hugh Grant.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Packing Lunches

Most mornings I drag myself out of bed, slow and grumpy, after hitting the snooze button at least two times.

I shuffle to the coffee pot, grab a Diet Coke from the frig., and swig it down for my temporary caffeine hit until my Starbucks House Blend is ready. In the meantime, I wake up our daughter, make her breakfast and stare at her lunch box...

Join me over at the Internet Cafe today!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fitness advice from a barista.

Since we've moved to Smalltown, New Mexico there have been a few things I've missed.

Starbucks.

Target.

Starbucks.

I do have access to a faux Starbucks- one of those sandwich, fried chicken basket, hot dog, breakfast before 11:00 AM type of places where they serve Starbucks but somewhere between the making and the serving, it loses its Starbucks taste.

Hubs tells me to write Starbucks a letter and tell them that there are people serving their coffee below the Starbucks standard.

I gasped and told him, "NO! Then they will take it away!"

Bad Starbucks is still better than no Starbucks.

However, most mornings I go to a little local coffee shop for my coffee because the faux Starbucks is across town.

Across town is um, 9 miles.

But, I digress.

There is a sweet lady at the local coffee house. She is My New Miriam. She remembers my name every time I drive up and she remembers my coffee. Every time I drive up.

Cafe' Breve.

If you are not acquainted with the Cafe Breve, let me introduce you.

Espresso. Steamed Half and Half.

Meet your arteries.

I am a coffee purist. I like strong coffee with lots of cream. No sugar. No sweetness. Unless it is a mocha ( a real one) from Starbucks. My cream of preference is half and half.

When I learned that I could get half and half steamed. Oh. My. Word.

This morning I wanted a larger coffee and just couldn't bring myself to order a breve. I opted for the latte when a new girl took my order.

As I sat with the SUV idling, My New Miriam peeked her head around with a confused look on her face.

"You're not getting your breve?" she asked, with furrowed brow.

"No. I wanted a large coffee and just couldn't do that to my arteries."

"Oh, but half and half is protein. The breve is much better for you. Just don't mix the sugar in. I drink breve."

You have to understand that My New Miriam looks really fit. Her arms look like she's been lifting 100 pound bags of coffee beans all day, between sips of cafe breve. She has good nutrition or good DNA.

Considering that my DNA is more twisted that the normal double helix, I don't think I'll take the chance on her advice.

If I did, I may have to rename my liquid doughnut, "Cardiologist's Vacation Home."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Works for Me: Fabric Crayons

We just discovered a fun crafty item- Crayola Fabric Crayons.

They may have been around for a while; maybe they are new. Either way, we just found them and they are fabulous.

Your child (or you!) can color on a piece of paper, then iron the image on a t-shirt or other fabric. The image turns out in reverse. Or you can color directly onto the fabric, then follow instructions for setting the image with an iron. The colors brighten with the iron.

We practiced on old t-shirts then graduated to other shirts.

Imagine all the fun Christmas gifts you can make this year!

Please Note- According to instructions, you cannot put the finished product in the dryer.

For more great tips, visit Shannon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Red, White and You

Have you hugged a veteran today?

If you don't know one to hug, take a minute to pray for them, thank God for their courage. They are honored once, maybe twice a year for their sacrifice. The rest of the year, we tend to forget them while we enjoy the freedoms they've so unselfishly provided.

And while you're at it, take a moment to watch a flag wave. Watch as it freely unfolds in the air we breath. Those colors represent so much of our great nation's history.

Give pause. Give thanks.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

I want to believe.

My parents have been in Tennessee this week. Which is why I have been a little nostalgic about apple cider and boiled peanuts.

Mama called the other night from Pigeon Forge to give me the run-down on their trip. After telling me where they had been, what they had bought and how gorgeous the leaves are (they entered a golden tunnel of trees!) she shared with me their latest sighting.

My parents aren't into the UFO Phenomena, so when they say sighting, they mean deer and bears.

When I was little, I remember us winding around the mountain and slowing down behind a long line of cars. People were pulling over to park on the side of the road while trying to keep from falling off the side of the mountain.

It's a skill.

There's something you should know about cars suddenly pulling over on the side of a cliff. It only means one thing. A Sighting.

Daddy strategically parked without careening into the valley, and the three of us got out. We looked up and there they were.

Three baby bears up a tree.

We stayed a reasonable distance from the tree and a very close distance to the car because where there are baby bears, there is always a mama bear. And she is not ready to picnic.

I can still see the black, furry babies in a tree, high from the ground and thinking that it was so cool. It also meant that the cartoon bear on my souvenir Smokey Mountains t-shirt really meant something.

I was deep for a seven year-old.

So Mama said they had a sighting on this trip and she totally understated their experience because they saw fifteen deer. Fifteen. Deer. And Daddy added that one was a buck which is totally important.

Mama went on to tell me about the day they were winding around the mountain and the traffic slowed. They turned to each other and knew what may be ahead. Sure enough, a bear was running up the mountain.

Pretty soon the show was over and traffic returned to normal.

Minutes later, they stopped at a little store where Daddy shared their sighting with the cashier.

He added with a chuckle,"I think the bear was leaving the picnic area." And the clerk totally did not get it.

That's Okay, Daddy.

I did.

And it made it on my blog.

Now, where's my new t-shirt?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thursday Thirteen: Cold Weather

This morning it was c-c-c-cold.

As my husband says, "It's a degree."

I am ready for the change in temperatures, even though the cold ushers in the wind here in Smalltown, New Mexico.

(And I am literally, not just figuratively dodging tumbleweeds.)


Cold weather brings up many childhood memories for me.

1. The smell of the heater when you first turn it on for the winter. Burning dust.

2. Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner.

3. Fall leaves. I miss them. I used to love helping Daddy rake leaves in the fall (my helping was playing in them and riding in the wheelbarrow.)

Then I'd jump in the pile.

Crunch. Swish. Plop.

4. Trips to North Georgia for good apple cider.

5. The taste of hot boiled peanuts. I love to suck the juice from the shell before plopping the peanut in my mouth.

Yum.

6. Hot chocolate after school.

7. Watching the weather and praying, hoping, wishing it would snow. FYI- It doesn't snow in South Georgia. And if it does, you just pray, hope and wish that it will stick.

8. Climbing under the covers at night in a flannel gown and kicking the blanket to watch the static electricity in the dark. Sometimes dry heat is fun.

9. Visiting my grandparents. My granny would turn on the electric blanket minutes before bedtime. I'd climb into a toasty warm bed, blanketed with handmade quilts.

10. Buying candy cigarettes. (Wow! Can you believe they made those?!) We would pretend to smoke and blow signals with our hot breath in the cold air.

It's a wonder we turned out as good as we did.

11. Roasting marshmallows and hot dogs on old wire coat hangers over a fire. I love burned marshmallows!

12. Drawing on fogged glass inside the house.

13. Bright sunshine on a cold day. Even when it feels cold and dreary outside, God lets the sunshine stream down brightly to warm our hearts.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Giving Hope

I'm feeling a little numb, a little down. My heart is filled with mixed emotions of historical triumphs and cultural failures.

Then, I clicked on this post at Big Mama's and I was given a fresh perspective.

I was able to wrap a coat around my daughter's shoulders this cool morning. I poured cereal for her with fresh milk. She chose which pair of shoes to wear. On my way home from driving her to school, I stopped for a coffee.

Yeah, America. We've got it good.

But my hope, my confidence is not in wealth or things of this earth. Those things can be taken from me in an instant.

My hope is in Jesus. Today I am reminded once again that there are people who still do not know Him. That do not know Hope.

"I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light
so that you can understand the confident hope
he has given to those he called—
his holy people
who are his rich and glorious inheritance."
Ephesians 1: 18

Please pray for all the Compassion Bloggers this week. Pray for new sponsors to come forward, to help give hope where there is none.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

All Rise

To stand for all that is sacred
for life, for marriage,
for freedom and democracy.

To walk in Truth
without apology or fear
with gracious dignity and quiet resolve.

To make known our choice
for all we hold dear
our values, our history, our God.

All Rise.

Rise up in peace and in courage
pledging to stay true
for those who have died and are still dying.

For those with ink stained hands
for those without fathers and mothers
for those who are still enslaved to tyranny.

For those who have forgotten
Two towers, four planes
The Pentagon, that Pennsylvania field.

All Rise.

Stand tall,
stand wise.

All Rise.

Monday, November 03, 2008

While Visions Of Swing States Dance In My Head

If you check in here tomorrow and I haven't posted anything new or anything of substance, it may be because I have taken two Tylenol and pulled the covers up over my head.

While peeping out to watch all the election news.

This election is making me a new shade of crazy. I've been worried, depressed, angry, disappointed, and outright distraught over the future of this country I love so dearly.

And now, today is the day before the biggie, the first Tuesday in November (the day we are technically supposed to be voting.)

I am stressed beyond stressed. I could totally take those Tylenol now.

Then it hit me. Today feels like Christmas Eve.

Not that I am awaiting the Messiah.

Seriously, this anxiety I am feeling is akin to the emotions that overwhelm me the day before Christmas. I am so busy wondering what I didn't do, what I did, what I could have done to make the next day better. To make it right for my family. To make it turn out the way I want it to.

The day before Christmas I am usually scurrying around wrapping presents, completing my last minute shopping, and fretting over the feeling that tomorrow won't turn out the way I'd planned. By the time our family sits down together on Christmas Eve, I am exhausted.

It is when I sit in the quiet that I can rest. When I look at my sweet family, wrap my arms around them, with my Bible in my lap, that I snap out of my plan and my worry and fall into His Word, His Love, His Grace.

His Peace. The peace that passes all understanding, all exit polls, election results, all republicans, democrats, independents, undecided, and all the talking heads on CNN.

This peace? It's what makes Christmas truly Christmas.

No matter who wins this election, I know I've voted and I've prayed.

And I'll keep on praying. And resting. In His Peace.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Covering them in prayer.

Hey, y'all.

Some of our favorite bloggers are headed to the Dominican Republic tomorrow to blog for Compassion.

God did an awesome work when Compassion bloggers visited Uganda earlier this year. I can't wait to hear what He is about to do in the Dominican Republic! (And just to show I have the election on the brain, I have typed Republican twice already in this post and had to fix it.)

No matter what you have on the brain- election, economy, or what's for dinner- please take a moment each day to pray for the Compassion bloggers and for the many children they will meet.

Pray for the children who still need sponsors. God loves them so much and He would love for us to tell them!

Friday, October 31, 2008

My sweet little elector

Conversation and insight at my house-

"Mommy, when is the election?"

"Next Tuesday."

"Then, how can someone be ahead if we haven't voted yet?"

Exactly.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday Thirteen: All I Needed to Know I Learned At A Writer's Conference

1. When you have loved to write since you were a little kid, chances are that itch will never go away.

Ever.

So, go ahead and scratch.

2. That feeling that you are weird?

Yep, you are. But, guess what! There are a whole bunch of people out there just as weird as you.

Maybe even weider. (Like in an Ernest Hemingway kind of way!)

3. Allowing the word "weider" to stay in your post will make you twitch. The grammar snob in you shall never die.

4. Meeting people who like to doodle or play with fun verbs validates you in some way.

The fun verbs part proves that you are a nerd.

5. Don't feel bad about math. Those other people you met, you know the ones who think like you? They aren't good at math either.

They could rename Writer's Conferences "Math Phobics Anonymous"

And we already know that Anonymous has written a lot of good stuff.

6. The people you meet are so talented and, even though they are a weird like you, they are weird in a cool way. Which means there is a small chance that you may be cool, too.

Or also.

7. Meeting Carol and Amy was awesome.

And if it were not for Carol's careful nudging, OKAY, I'LL GO ALREADY! you would not have gone at all.

8. And learned that you are weird.

9. And maybe a little cool.

10. And grateful that there are Christian Writer's Conferences out there.

11. For the people who are weird and maybe a little cool.

12. All for Jesus.

13. And that there is no way you would ever sign up for the Calculus Conference.

No mathematical way.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yes, we have brains.

I've been catching up on all of my favorite blogs and I found the best post I've read in a very long time.

Take a minute and read this post by Veronica.

Her perspective and insight are dead-on.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Altitude Adjustment

I am nearing the end of my little trip and just can't stay away from the blog.

The auto post is your friend, but it is the Nicorette Gum of a blog addiction.

I'm here in Santa Fe at the Glorieta Christian Writer's Conference. I am so excited about this trip, all of the things I've learned, the great people I've met, and the fact that there is nothing better than being with Christians who love the Lord for nearly a week.

I've met a few people that I had only known over the Internet. Now I know there is more to them than just their profile photo. (BTW, they are awesome!)

I'll share more of that later.

When I first arrived, I noticed that I was huffing and puffing a lot and it had nothing to do with Nicorette gum. It had everything to do with the fact that I am at 7,000 feet.

Talk about a spiritual high.

All of this thin air reminds me of the last time I was high in the hills.

Only I wasn't the least bit encouraged.

Although, I did make a friend.

I'm headed home today to love on my sweet family. I can take a break from the blog but no kind of gum (even Hubba Bubba) substitutes for my husband and daughter.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Real decorators don't use spray paint. Really cheap ones do.

Originally published July 7, 2007

Y'all know how it is when you move into a new place. After you go through all of the boxes and put things away, then you are able to start the fun stuff. Decorating.

We've had our patio furniture for about five years. All this time, it has been either on a screened porch or outside, exposed to the elements.

The set was a deep, forest green and still in pretty good shape. I threw out the old cushions because, frankly my dear, I hate mildew and after so many bleach applications, the lovely magnolia pattern just became a faded flowery mess.

There were a few rust spots and some craft paint spills. Other than that, the set was completely salvageable. All it needed was a fresh coat of paint and some bright, new cushions.

I bought some sunshine yellow cushions while they were on sale, so all I needed to finish the revamp was to spray paint the furniture.

I originally thought I would spray it all black, but when I went to the home improvement store I saw it.

Charleston Green.

Oh. My. I was just giddy.

You mean this huge place filled with trucks that go "beep" and piles of plywood has a little bit of Charleston history tucked neatly on a shelf and packaged in an aerosol can? Someone give me a tissue. I think a tear actually trickled down my cheek.

Charleston Green in a can. Spray Paint Heaven.

You shall never see it on any interstate overpass. This color must be reserved for patio chairs, front doors and porch railings.

"I Love Bobby Ray" in Charleston Green on the Willacoochee, Georgia water tower? {Gasp!}

I fell in love with Charleston,SC while on our honeymoon. We rode our bikes down Meeting Street, along the Battery, and past lovely homes with sideways porches. I learned of the culture and history, including the story behind Charleston Green.

The story just reminds me of how people in the South used what they had to still try and make things beautiful. I love that.

So I was in the yard today spraying my patio furniture, just tickled to death that it was going to be Charleston Green, knowing that everyone is going to think it is black, and thinking to myself, "I don't care. The chairs and I will know the truth. Sniff, sniff."

While spraying the gorgeous hue of greenish black from an aerosol can, I also realized something else. Although we may be known for our culture and history, we Southerners are not known for our protection of the environment.

I realize Al Gore is from Tennessee, but, well, he's Al Gore.

As Mama would say, "He's just different."

The closest thing to recycling my grandparents ever did was turn in their glass Coca Cola bottle at the local grocery. (To get another "Co-Cola.") My grandmother would have looked at you funny if you had told her not to use her Aqua Net hair spray or even suggested that she recycle newspapers to save the trees.

My grandfather worked in the Lumber Industry. They don't save trees. Trees are planted to be cut down or leaned upon in a nice tree stand during deer season.

I have never seen a Bubba cut up his six-pack rings or drive a load of recyclables to the recycling center.

Um, what recycling center?

The only load Bubba hauls is to the city dump or to the place everyone has designated as the city dump- that spot at the end of the clay road past the Old Johnson Place.

I'm not sayin' it's a good thing. I'm just sayin.'

My generation is really starting to change things, but for the most part, The South's contribution to the organic approach is cotton. (We grow it.)

Well, what do you expect from a People who had to mix their own paint? Other people were painting their front doors in Colonial Blues and Reds. We were mixing black with a touch of yellow just to get by.

The horror of it all.

*Uncle Peter... my smelling salts!

:>)The smelling salts quote is from Aunt PittyPat in Gone With The Wind.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Cat is Cujo

Originally published June 7, 2007


Some people have cute and cuddly kittens who mew and purr. Some people have sweet, old cats who sleep on sun drenched sofas.

We have Maggie.

I picked her up from the kennel this afternoon and I felt a little like the parent who gets a call from school in the middle of the day.

A call that goes something like this-"M'am? This is Mrs. Peabody, the school principal. You need to come pick up Maggie right now. She has terrorized the entire school."

Maggie hates the kennel now. When she was a kitten, she loved it. The staff actually looked forward to her staying. Small children would drop by after school just to pet Maggie. Seriously, she was the belle of the ball.

Now, when we get out of the car with the carrier, the kennel staff peers out the office window and gasps in sheer terror. One time I walked in with Maggie, and I promise you, I think I saw one of them pop a nerve pill.

It was no shock to me when my husband came home the other day and said he had to get Maggie out of the carrier and put her in her cat cage. She hissed and arched her old lady back in her kitty cat protest.

So I knew when I went to pick her up today that the news would not be good.The lady at the front desk showed me Maggie's chart.

These were the entries-

"Hissed."

"Not happy."

"Caution."

"VERY MAD."

"Ask owner to take her out and put her in her carrier."

Not what a mother wants to hear when she walks in the Principal's office.

I apologized profusely. The sweet staff member reassured me that there were many cats just like Maggie. In fact, she owns one of them.

She said,"The last time my cat was here, the last entry in her record was 'Spawn of Satan."

This is supposed to make me feel better?

I went back and got Maggie out of her cage. As soon as she heard my voice, she meowed her pitiful "meow" and climbed right into her own little carrier. The kennel technician was in awe.

Some people are frightened by the sight of a white doctor's coat or a nurse's uniform. My cat is terrified of colorful scrub tops decorated with happy kittens and puppies.

Sweet. Mercy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bloggy Break

I'll be on a blog break for a few days and I've auto-posted a few old posts.

Like re-runs on a writer's strike.

Only I'm not on strike.

Well, you get the picture.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm faux excited!

The last time I took a trip by myself for no good reason, other than to just have fun was...

I can't remember.

But this week I am getting away for a few days to do something just for me and it feels strangely energizing.

I'm like the Phoenix rising from Arizona. (Points to the person who knows that quote!)

The thing about traveling and being away from home for more than a day or so is that I have to have clothes. Real clothes. Not bleach spotted, torn yoga pants and Hanes t-shirts.

So yesterday I went shopping. We do not have a lot of stores here in Smalltown, New Mexico so I was taking a chance that I'd actually find something. We don't even have Target which is usually my fashion-saving grace.

Since becoming a mom, no matter the size, I have decided that I hate shopping for clothes. Really. I do not enjoy trying them on. I do still love buying shoes and purses.

Because no matter how much Ben and Jerry's you eat, your shoe size pretty much stays the same.

And purses? A great purse can make bleach spotted, torn yoga pants look good.

Well, maybe not. But it can be a lovely distraction.

I've been searching for a giraffe print purse for a while now. I never fell for the cheetah or the leopard prints, but the giraffe has reeled me in. Maybe it's because giraffes don't eat people.

Anyway.

The only cute giraffe print bag I found yesterday was a whopping $300. All I can figure is that it must have been made of real giraffe. Or a cow that thought it was going to be sacrificed for a woman's style and left in a nice leather bovine look only to be tricked into looking like a giraffe.

It was so pricey, it had been chained down. I couldn't even try it on and wish it were marked down to 90% off.

Seriously, when the purse is chained to the shelf, it's a good sign that you can't afford it.

My goal is to have some money to put in the giraffe purse. If I bought the purse, I'd have nothing to go in it. I'd have to give up all my cash, my CVS card, pawn my cell phone and sell my driver's license to someone on the corner.

And pay the medical bill for the massive head injury which left me incapacitated.

But the purse. It was fabulous. It could totally hide the holes in my yoga pants.

During my fashion safari, I discovered a few cute basic outfits, some great classic wide leg trousers, a few trendy tops (on sale!),but my best find was a pair of faux crocodile shoes.

Hey, Stacy London, "Shut UP!"


I think they go well with the yoga pants. Don't you?

They were only $30! And comfortable, too.

Here is what Maggie thinks about them. Honestly, the more I look at them, the more they look like real crocodiles. Something about the shape of the toe and the buckle. But, I love 'em, mate!



Just so you know, I didn't buy the purse. I haven't found $300 under the couch cushions and I haven't hit my head recently either.

The purse remains in chains on the store shelf. Someone from the ASPCA will have to free it or maybe those guys at AIG will buy it for their next trip to the Spa.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Keep Singing

I'm posting over at the Cafe today.

Put on some of your favorite music, grab your cup of coffee, and join me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Then we plowed the field and churned the butter.

My daughter and I were making soap yesterday. We melted the glycerin, added coloring and fragrance, poured it into the plastic mold and waited.

In about an hour, we had some lovely shell soaps.

As we sat at the kitchen table admiring our work, I decided to share a little perspective.

"You know, years ago, you had to make all of your soap," I said," not just for a craft. It was made of something called Lye and it smelled awful. People made their soap for baths and for washing clothes."

"Really?"

"Yes, and you had to haul water from somewhere to wash the clothes."

"Was this when you were a kid?"

sigh

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Works For Me: A few of my favorite products

After yesterday's post, I thought I'd share a few more of my favorite products.

And really, I should be posting something called, "How To Keep A Cat From Stealing Your Breath" because Maggie is sitting next to me staring me down. It is borderline creepy.

Of course, I realize that she is not evil. Just high maintenance.

Anyway.

Here are a few of my favs.

Viva Paper Towels- I like Bounty, but Viva is so soft. And strong. And sometimes cheaper.

Eucerin Calming Cream- The goodness of Eucerin with an added soothing ingredient for extra dry, irritated skin. It is helping a lot with my dry skin in New Mexico. LOVE IT.

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda/ Peroxide Toothpaste- Leaves your mouth fresh and is easy on the gums. I use the one without tartar control.

Brummel and Brown Strawberry Spread- Tastes better than cream cheese. Oh, yes it does. And it's yogurt! I found mine at Wal-mart.

Swiffer dusters with lavender scent- Ahhh, clean.



Visit Shannon this week for more great tips!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

At least we're good tippers.

If I could remember every conversation Hubs and I have had with waitresses and waiters over the years, I would have enough material to fill this blog for a month.

Aren't you glad my memory isn't what it used to be?

Seriously, over the years we have had some pretty, um, weird discussions with the folks who bring us food. It usually starts off with an odd comment from Hubs, then I try to explain that he is in fact weird and the back and forth banter ensues.

Kind of like Good Customer, Bad Customer.

Most of the time, the waitress goes along with us. In fact, she usually adds to the drama and makes us laugh. Other times, I am sure she went straight back to the kitchen and asked the chef to add a lil somethin' special to our dish.


Enough with the intro. Here's what happened yesterday at Chili's. (How's that for a segue?)

Our family hates germs. Specifically germs from people's hands. And more specifically germs from people's hands after the Force Yourself To Talk To Your Neighbor meet and greet at church. When we go out to eat after the service, my family sits down and waits for me to reach in my purse for the Bath And Body hand foam.

The Bath and Body hand foam is precious to me. It is the Starbucks of hand sanitizer. They once threatened to discontinue it and I nearly bought out the store. I left a few on the shelf for the next customer. I couldn't deal with the guilt of the next germ freak mom walking in and finding an empty shelf.

So, back to our neurosis.


Hubs has a system when we go out. He excuses himself, washes his hands, then returns for the coveted Bath and Body Hand Foam. (My current supply is cucumber melon.)

My daughter and I always tease him about his Howard Hughes potential (OKAY, she doesn't know who that is) and yesterday was no different.


As we waited for our waitress, I said, "You know, I am really your enabler. If I didn't provide the hand sanitizer, you would not be able to do this every time. Really, I am part of the problem."


"Yes, you are," Hubs said in sarcasm, " we are codependent."

"I know. I depend on your dependence," I said," it's sad, really."

You are probably wondering what our daughter is thinking at this point. I'll tell you. She thinks this is completely normal for her parents.


The waitress walked up, pen and pad in hand, and asked for our drink order.

"We're codependent," Hubs told her.

"Okaaaay," she said cautiously.

"He depends on me and I depend on that," I began to explain.

The waitress looked at me and said,"I see you have a ring on your finger. Does that have something to do with it?"

"No, it's much deeper than that," I answered.

"And darker," Hubs offered.


"I like that. I like dark," our waitress said with a giggle.

Then she took Hubs' order for a Coke, looked at both of us and said,"Should I bring two straws?"


Edited to add: For the hand foam that will destroy those icky bacteria and leave nothing but a fresh, clean scent of cucumber melon, go here.

You will wonder how you ever survived without it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Observations From My Remote

It has been raining here for days. And it's cold. Yesterday we stayed in the house the entire time and my mind began to wander...

1. Why do the people in scary movies never have Brinks or ADT?

Don't they know that there is a guy in a blue oxford shirt sitting in an office that looks like a spaceship, just waiting to call the police for them?

2. Why is it that the Christmas trees in movies never lose any needles? They bring them in the house, drag them across the floor and decorate them in like 15 minutes. You never see the mom vacuuming the needles or better yet, picking one out of her foot.

And they're always soooo happy. And drinking hot cocoa. And no one has to look for hooks to hang the ornaments. Then some kid is off to bed before Santa arrives.

Who decorates their tree on Christmas Eve?

3. Why do they never tear the wrapping paper on gifts in Soap Operas? They just take the lid off and that's it. (I know the technical answer- the sound of ripping paper is not pleasant for audio, but this is just stupid.)

People don't do that in real life. And we know that Soap Operas are just like real life.

Proof- Marlena.

4. Why don't people ever sit down on TV? They spend all of that money on decorating the set with a sofa and chairs and no one ever sits down to talk. Folks are just standing around for a whole hour and no one offers anyone a seat.

Except for Friends.

5. Not counting Forrest Gump, how many times have you ever seen a movie or TV character tie his shoes?

Okay, now count Forrest Gump.

6. People eat a lot of salad on TV.

And potatoes. You always hear, "Will you please pass the potatoes?"

You never hear, "Will you please pass the collard greens?"

7. People in movies have noisy trash cans. The aluminum kind. Not Rubbermaid like the rest of us. And I never found a cat around my trash can. Maybe they are attracted to aluminum.

8. In the movies, some woman is always falsely alarmed by a cat hanging around an aluminum trash can. She thinks someone is out there and then she picks up Fluffy to give her a bowl of milk. Within seconds the bad guy shows up and there is no one to help.

If only she had Brinks.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Eric Carle nailed it.

The caterpillar raisin' has gotten a bit out of hand.

One of them has gone and gotten grouchy and decided not to share with the triplets. I fed them fresh leaves (yes, my life is just brimming with excitement) and the big guy reared up at a little guy. His little mouth was too small for me to hear and, um, well, caterpillars don't talk, but I can bet he was being sassy.

Hey, buddy. I can put you on the porch for the crows. Yes, I can.

When I picked up my daughter from school this afternoon, she was walking down the hall with her backpack, chatting away with some friends and holding a pill bottle.

It seems a very sweet boy found two caterpillars at his house, plopped them in an old Wal-mart pharmacy pill bottle, added a few sprigs of grass and VOILA!

Gift to my daughter.

Note to class: She is not Marlin Perkins.

Of course, she was thrilled to pieces.

Two kids in the class wanted to take them home with them, and this placed my daughter in an awkward position. She wanted to make them smile but we aren't re-gifters. Besides the sweetness of the gift, the gifter actually caught the gifts, so I'd say it's pretty special.

So now we have six caterpillars. Count them. Six. And an old pill bottle to return.

I'm so glad she doesn't like snakes!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Left Behind

Your comments about Maggie had me rolling! Y'all are hilarious. If I didn't know any better, I'd think that even a few of you dog people have grown to love our Miss Congeniality.


You'll be happy to know that as I write this, Maggie is resting peacefully on the rug completely stress and odor free. Truthfully, she is probably scheming about which spot on the rug she will use for her next hair ball deposit.


With all of the excitement about grooming cats, I forgot to share our other news. We are raising caterpillars again.


Critters seem to love us. Or they know when they see a couple of suckers.


We think these caterpillars are moth caterpillars and that they'll become a type of tiger moth. For now, they are teenage mutant ninja insects eating us out of house and home.


My word. They can eat.


We started out with just one, then another, then three more. The triplets stayed, along with the first guy. Number two ended up in the yard after we decided he wasn't eating the leaves we provided.


The Number Two Guy AKA Hamster was rescued from the playground. A few of the boys found him and immediately brought him to my daughter. It hasn't taken long for the kids at my daughter's new school to realize she is the bug expert.

The big excitement happened in the middle of the night last night. Two of the triplets had molted and turned black (like a Woolly Bear.) AND THEY LEFT THEIR TAILS.

Yes. They did.

I wish I could do that. Morph into a new shape, get a great tan and leave my tail. Call Jenny. I have a new idea...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

An update of sorts

Yeah, about today.



We lived.





May I remind you of the severity of the situation?





Yes, it could be considered a health hazard to bathe a cat.

Or just plain stupid.

Edited to add: This is an old photo of a previous traumatic experience (for me, she was fine.)I wanted a photo of today but I was afraid to turn my back long enough to get the camera.


At which point I've just lost my mind.

So, I decided I should take a break from all the Political Introspection Bloggity Boredom and just do something completely irrational.

Today, Maggie gets a bath.

I've given my login information to a friend in case of emergencies, so if this is the last time you hear from me, please know I heart you all.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Fall Into Flavor: Mighty Good Cornbread

Linda is hosting Fall Into Flavor, a wonderful way for us to share our favorite comfort foods of the season.

When cold weather rolls in, I often head to the stove to make chili. One thing that always goes well with chili is cornbread.

This is my favorite cornbread recipe. I wish I could take credit for it, but it can be found in many Southern cookbooks. It is so easy and moist! YUM! And it tastes great crumbled in your favorite chili.



Mighty Good Cornbread

1 cup self-rising corn meal
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup veg. oil
1 8 oz. can cream style corn (I like Green Giant)
1 cup regular sour cream (do not use low fat or light)

Preheat oven to 425. Mix corn meal, eggs, oil and corn until well blended. Fold in sour cream until just mixed. Pour into greased, preheated iron skillet or in round baking pan. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.