Monthly Archives: February 2010

My Kids and Their Mother, The Island-Drink-Loving Screamer

Most moms assume a call from the school means they have a sick child that needs to come home. I assume one of my kids has said or done something that the teachers found too hilarious to wait until pick-up line to tell me. They almost always start the conversation the same way: “You’ll never guess what ______ said/did today.”

“Nope. I probably won’t. So why don’t you go ahead and tell me.”

After B’s kindergarten teacher told me of his latest zinger, I decided to interrogate ask him about the incident on the way home from school.

“Mrs. D said you did a good job in reading today. What word did she ask you to read?”

“‘Mother.'”

“Did you get to use it in a sentence?”

(Pause)

“Yes.”

“Yes, MA’AM. Do you remember what your sentence was?”

(Knowing grin) “Yes, MA’AM.”

“Well, I’d love to hear it.”

“‘My mother screamed at me.'”

“Your mother screamed at you.”

“Yeah.”

“Yes, MA’AM.”

“Yes, MA’AM.”

“B. Does your mother scream at you?”

“No, but it makes a very funny sentence.”

(Sigh.)

Meanwhile, A told her class that she LOVES peanut butter and pina colada sandwiches. In fact, she said, her mother just loves pina colada. Her mom has pina colada almost every day. A told me she told her class that pina colada is one of our family’s very favorite things. What in the world did I put in her lunch box that day, you ask? A peanut butter and NUTELLA sandwich. Sometimes she confuses words. For the record and before you call CPS and just in case anyone from our incredible school is reading, this is the only pina colada I allow the children to drink:

I’m expecting a visit from a member or two of the school board just any day to discuss my tendency to get drunk on coconutty island beverages and yell at my kids. I’ll let you know how everything turns out.

I won’t be seeing you tomorrow, but I didn’t want to leave this week without being sure that you had heard about my big plans for Saturday night. I’m going to a concert! It’s at THE Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and just wait until you hear who’s going to be there: Jon Foreman (from Switchfoot), Alison Krauss and Union Station, Big Kenny, Mat Kearney, Jars of Clay, Brandon Heath, NEEDTOBREATHE, Dave Barnes (oh, how I love him!), and Matt Wertz. Want to come? You can! Want to know what I love about this concert, besides the incredible line-up? I get to wear my pajamas. I don’t even have to leave my house! It’s all happening online at www.helphaitilive.com.  All the ticket proceeds from the Nashville show are going towards Compassion International’s efforts to help Haiti. The nightly news may have moved on to other stories, but people in Haiti are still struggling to have their daily basic needs met. We can’t forget and move on to the next story.

UPDATE: I think I made it sound like I’m actually going to be at the concert in Nashville. I am not. I wish I were. But Compassion is broadcasting it live and I can watch it for free from the comforts of my own home! The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. CST and all you have to do is click over to http://www.helphaitilive.com and you can watch it with me…from the comforts of YOUR home.

In other news, I’ll be hopefully broadcasting live from Alabama next week. K and I have to attend a special training course in preparation for his upcoming job change this summer. I went to a junior version of this course a couple of years ago for one of his previous positions. They nicknamed that school “Charm School,” so I guess this is “Charm School 2.0.” I’m not sure the first course took anyway. (Ask my kids’ teachers if you doubt that.) From what I can ascertain, my schedule looks pretty full, but maybe I’ll have some time in the evenings to check in with my friends who live in my computer. Or maybe I’ll see you at the concert tomorrow night.  I’m sure our paths will cross somewhere along the way. Until then, have a peanut butter and pina colada sandwich in my honor….and while you’re at it, scream at a kid. (I am SO just joking!)

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Love Your Heart: A Book Review

Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me a free copy of Tim McGraw’s (yes, that Tim McGraw!) and Tom Douglas’s latest book Love Your Heart. I know a six-year-old story lover who was gracious enough to allow me to interview her on her thoughts about the book.

In case you didn’t get all that Vanna our sweet reviewer said, this is a book about a little girl who is trying to decide what she should do for the upcoming talent show.  In the end, the girl chooses to make a sacrifice to help a friend and her father tells her that of all her many talents and abilities, he loves her heart most of all. It’s a sweet book with pretty pictures and a positive message. It isn’t the Velveteen Rabbit by a long stretch, but it’s a good book all the same. The forty-year-old reading the book struggled a little with the logic flow of the story, but the six-year-old who was more likely a member of the target reading audience than her mother didn’t seem to see the same problems. I guess this would be one of those instances where my husband would need to remind me, “It’s just a book/movie/TV show/Geico commercial. It’s supposed to be fun.” From that perspective, I enjoyed the satisfaction my daughter received from the book. I like that the book features a strong father who loves and is supportive of his daughter. My daughter is blessed to have a dad like that in her life and I like to find books that portray men as strong and loving.

For the record, when I said “boy friends,” the space between those two words was not emphasized as much as I would have liked. We have friends who are boys. We will not be having any “boyfriends” in this family for many, many years.

My thanks to my lovely book reviewer. And to the Coney Dog wearing his Cone of Shame.

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Tech-Fast

For the next several Fridays, I’m taking a break from the computer.  Thanks, Becca, for the great idea and for the techni-cool button.

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Finding My Thinky Place

I’ve started three different posts on three different subjects but my thoughts are just in big knots tonight and I can’t untangle the mess. A sweet friend sent me a one-sentence email Monday that said “Let’s take a few days and go hide somewhere and read, write, talk, cry . . .” And I’d add “laugh until we can’t breathe and eat fun food.” She and I had a chance to eat lunch yesterday and on the way home I realized that during our time together I’d said a lot of things that were just raw, unprocessed, incomplete thoughts. Some of them probably should have baked a little longer before I’d offered them for public consumption. Thankfully, I think/hope/pray she’s a friend who takes what I say with a heavy helping of salt.

I’m not in the dumps. I’m not in a bad place at all. Just a little thinky, I guess. I just think somehow I’ve let life get away from me and I haven’t had taken time to just be still and think a thought all the way through to its completion. I need to take some time. Time to wrestle with some questions that keep surfacing in my thoughts. To look up some verses in the Bible and study them word by word. To be still and listen. To daydream. To do inventory. To set goals. To be still and think of nothing at all. To take all the time we need to deeply communicate heart stuff with a friend. To laugh so much and so loud and so hard that we forget why we started laughing in the first place. To cry the kind of cry that makes my heart and soul feel freshly washed and clean when I’m finished, like a deep, cleansing breath. To write down some of the thoughts that keep floating in my brain and that bump into other thoughts. To intercede in prayer for and with a friend. To have an uninterrupted conversation with my Father. To think about my earthly dad. To read wise things much wiser people have written.

Is it just me or do you ever feel like that, too? If or when you do, what do you do about it? Have you ever had a time like the one I’m describing?  If you’ve found a home for your thinky place, tell us how you did it. Do you plan regular times away? Do you have an agenda for those times or do you just let the time arrange itself? Do you get away by yourself or with others? How do you negotiate time away from your kids? Do you feel guilty for taking time-for-me retreats? Talk to me, friends.

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Snow Day in the South

We don’t get many snow days where I live, but last Friday, we had snow. Before 10 a.m. we had created a multitude of heavenly hosts (aka snow angels) and an androgynous snow person. No one could decide whether we’d made a snow”he” or a snow”she.”

I took pictures. Want to see?

Sometimes I fancy myself to be a real photographer. K gave me a fancy, new camera for Christmas. I planned to learn how to use it by reading the owner’s manual on the way to his family’s house for Christmas, but I packed the Spanish version of the manual instead of the English one. I took Spanish for Medical Professionals for one semester when I was in nursing school but I all I remember is how to say “Where does it hurt? (“[upside-down question mark] Donde le duele?”) and “Push!” (“Empuja!”) I also speak a little Dora (“Come on! Vamonos!”), but I’ve never seen an episode of Dora where she deals specifically with aperture settings. Hence, I only know how to use my fancy, new camera on the automatic setting.

Anyway, here are my artsy pictures of snowy trees:

The tire swing in our yard:

I was trying to do a “Narnia” thing here with the lampost. I didn’t realize the car was in the frame. That kind of ruins the effect for me:

I love it when trees come together like this to make a little tunnel of sorts:

I like to think that my little signs are part of the reason the snow decided to visit us. (Never mind that I put them out many a year with nary a flake to be seen all winter.):

My “home sweet home gnome.” He makes me smile:

Feeling artsy again:

Real live snow really falling down right here in Louisiana. I took a picture. It will last longer:

Find the cardinal:

My mom used to get irritated when we’d get our vacation pictures developed only to find that my dad had taken six rolls of film with nothing but birds and trees on them. I wonder if Ansel Adams’s wife gave him the same kind of grief. I did take pictures of people. Here are a few:

He owns a coat and yet he doesn’t always wear it:

His brother, on the other hand, is ready for some black diamonds. Ski googles are a must:

Always camera ready:

One of the obligatory snow angels:

Grammy takes Colonel out for a romp in the snow:

The obligatory snow person. We thought it was a snowman but look at those eyelashes!:

Mugging with the snowperson:

You know what I like about snow days? I mean besides the…snow? I like that we take the time to notice the stuff we miss when our schedules are full and our days are “normal.” I don’t usually take the time to look at trees. I don’t always take the time to make our hot chocolate more special by adding whipped cream and peppermint syrup. I go from Task A to Task B and sometimes I don’t fully look and listen to the people around me. But on snow days, I slow down and enjoy life one minute at a time. We play and laugh and rest. I think I’m going to schedule more snow days….whether the snow comes or not.

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Read HisGirl’s Post Today Since Mine Has to Wait Until Later

I know I posted a book review earlier today, but I was catching up on my Google Reader and saw a blog post that I want to share with you.

My friend HisGirl Amber (who I am going to see LIVE AND IN PERSON NEXT MONTH!!!!) posted a review this weekend of a brand new DVD from Phil Vischer called What’s in the Bible?  I’m reviewing the DVD for Tyndale House and they assigned me the week of March 15 to post my blog. WHY DO I HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL MARCH FOR ALL THE FUN STUFF TO HAPPEN???

I’ll do as I was asked because I tend to be a rule follower (most of the time), but you really need to go read Amber’s post and then I’ll tell you what I thought next month. SPOILER ALERT: I LOVED IT!!! However, I’m biased because I’m a big fan of Mr. Vischer’s. So I’ll be including reviews from my children, who aren’t afraid to not like anything. Just ask my meatloaf.  ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT: THEY LOVED IT!!! Come back in March to read my review. I’ll also be giving away a gift certificate for each of the two DVDs that will be available on March 1st at your local Christian bookstore. You won’t want to wait until I get to post my review to buy a copy. Go ahead and buy a copy for your house and then maybe you’ll win a certificate for one to give to a friend.

Go to http://www.whatsinthebible.com to join the What’s in the Bible newsletter, subscribe to their blog (an excerpt from HisGirl’s post is on there!), and watch videos. But first go read HisGirl Amber’s review. Now!

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Love & War: A Book Review

I love books. I love free. I love to talk. Some publishing companies need people to read  and review their books. They send me free books, I read them, and then tell you what I thought on my blog. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!

When WaterBrook Multnomah offered me the chance to read Love & War by John and Stasi Eldredge, I couldn’t reply fast enough. Some of you who have been here awhile may remember that their book Captivating is on my list of Books You Should Read If We’re Going to Be Friends:  The Nonfiction Version. More  than any other book I’ve read, Captivating helped me to understand who I am as a woman.

Love & War is like Captivating for marriage. I read nonfiction books, but it’s usually fiction books that I’m unable to put down. The things that I loved about Captivating kept me turning the pages of Love & War way past my bedtime. The book is honest, passionate, frank, and the authors are transparent. They say the things most of us think but are too afraid or embarrassed to say to others and sometimes even admit to ourselves.

But that’s not all. Instead of just giving validation that it’s not abnormal to feel the way we feel, John & Stasi (I know about their sex life, so it feels like we should be o a first-name basis) help us understand why we feel that way and then point us to God as the only way to feel the holes we feel inside ourselves. This is probably the most romantic book about marriage that I’ve ever read. But I love that the romance they describe isn’t just the picture of the relationship between a husband and a wife, it’s ultimately about the love of  a passionate God for us.

This book isn’t flowery prose from a married couple waxing poetically about love and marriage. This is a love story, but it’s also a war story. (HEY! I just now realized why that title works so well!) Certainly, John and Stasi are masterful word artists, but this book gets down to the brass tacks of what marriage is really like in the trenches. Marriage is tough. A broken man and a broken woman join their messy lives and hope their partner will be able to fix their pieces. It’s an impossible proposition. But it becomes a thing of unmatched beauty when both people allow God to be who their partner can not. Then they are free to live this adventure called life together and make a difference in the world they live.

John and Stasi spend a lot of time discussing spiritual warfare, “making agreements” in yourself about things that may not be true, and “speaking against” evil that satan brings into your marriage. I’m not discounting or making light of anything that they say. I’m not wise enough to say that any of their thoughts on spiritual warfare are entirely correct or off-base. However, I wasn’t sure about their emphasis on these ideas. Could it be my Baptist upbringing? Maybe. Is it because of a past experience with these ideas at a very emotional time in my life? Very possibly. I believe most assuredly that we are in a fierce battle against satan in this world. But I don’t want to give him any extra credit. Sometimes I think we attribute things to satan that are merely the results of our bad choices because we have a sinful nature that we have to fight alongside our battle with satan.

I happen to be reading this book during a time when my marriage is in a strong and healthy place. But I’m not naive. This year K and I will have been married fourteen years. We’ve weathered marriage storms that make Hurricane Katrina look like a spring shower. We’re in a good place now, but I know that tough times will come again. If we do nothing, we won’t survive the next crisis. Marriages don’t work on cruise control. This book is going in my library for future reference, but I plan to put into practice some of their advice now while we’re doing well so that we can have an even better marriage, one that is an even better representation of the love God has for us.

If you would like to read the first chapter of the book, go to http://www.loveandwar.net. There, you can also find more information about John and Stasi and details about a small group DVD that accompanies the book.

Thank you, WaterBrook Multnomah, for the opportunity to review this book.

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