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.


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.




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.


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!