Friday, March 30, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

Peach, in a moment of sleep-deprived thinking, reached out and nominated me for the Thinking Blogger Award.

Ta da!

I told her that if she renamed it the the "What Were You Thinking Blogging Award", then she might have a case for my earning this one. But alas, she is not to be deterred from the error of this nomination.

The participation rules are simple:
  1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
  2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
  3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

So in the spirit of honoring those who truly deserve this award, I am following the rules (for once) and paying it forward to some of those bloggers who really deserve this award. (Here is where you realize that the list is not complete and I'm really fretting over someone getting their feelings hurt if I don't name them, but I'm just going to name them and step back and pray that y'all understand how hard this is, okay?)

Antique Mommy has a knack for making me value my time with my children while laughing at the absurdity involved with being a mom, a woman and a friend. Let me thank her now for adopting me and striving to lead me onto the path of righteousness. Good luck, honey. You're going to need it...

GiBee is able to make me laugh at the trials of being a working mom (like me) and also brings the focus of God into the smack dab middle of everything that she does. Her prayers asking for God to use her in every experience brings a humility to my life and a hope to my heart. Thank you for having such a spirit of righteousness as an example for me.

Shayne, although she only posts once in a blue moon because she lets a little thing called work get in her way, can make me stand still with her words of wisdom and her finger pointing back to the One who started it all. Shayne, thanks for allowing God to speak through you and often touch my stubborn heart.

Will's Eats, you get this award because you make me think about food in a whole new way. You bring practicality, yet fun back into the making of new meals and even though I'm not willing to try your European love for pigs' feet or fish with their head still attached, I love your down-to-earth style and your obvious love for food. Thanks for being a epicurean inspiration to me and my dining room table.

And last, but not least, is Jeana of Days to Come. This woman truly is my long lost twin who was separated from me at birth in order to save the sanity of the original mother. Because if the two of us had been raised together, there truly would have been laughter for days to come from the entire house. Jeana, thanks for making me think about children, family, movies and sex in a whole new light. (Well, not the sex really, but I had to bring it up since you're another woman who likes it as much as me. Now aren't you proud to be nominated on this post?) Anyway, thanks for being so much like me that I'm not the only odd woman out in this blogging world.

Go and thank a blogger today and tell someone else that you're glad that they're there to inspire you.

***Updated because Laurel Wreath also honored me with this most distinguishing award... What is wrong with these people?!

Thanks Laurel for your sweet words. I'll be sure to get you a new supply of Depends for next week... or Kleenex depending on the way I'm inspired to write.

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Las Vegas Solution

This may come as a surprise to those of you not living in the Las Vegas area, but there are more Catholic churches than casinos.

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Not surprisingly, some worshippers at Sunday services will give casino chips rather than cash when the basket is passed.

Since they get chips from many different casinos, the churches have devised a method to collect the offerings. The churches send all their collected chips to a nearby Francisian monestery for sorting, and then the chips are taken to the casinos of origin and cashed in.

This is done by the Chip Monks.


Have a wonderful weekend, y'all! Thank God that it's Friday... (No really, I am praising him abundantly over this fact. It's been one of those never-ending weeks here.)


Dyson Anyone?

Oh. My. Lands. I need this vacuum in the worst way...

So you need it too? Head on over to 5 Minutes for Mom to see how you can enter for a chance to win.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Weird Meme

Stacey, Stacey, Stacey... Do you know what kind of can of worms you have opened here? I know I'm weird, but truly there is not enough blogspace available to point out all my peculiarities...

But I shall attempt to abide by the rules...

Oops, I just deleted the rules. Oh well, more stuff for me to not have to follow. I do remember something about listing six and then tagging six, so it can't be too hard to do.

  1. I love to eat Milk Duds with popcorn. The chewy, chocolaty caramel goes so well with the crunchy, salty puffs of corn.
  2. When driving down the road, I take extreme satisfaction when I happen to catch up to and pass the car in front of me. Not that I'm competitive or anything.
  3. I love to play cards: Spades, Hearts, Euchre, Razzle-dazzle (5 player pitch), bid around the table, rummy, etc.
  4. I don't feel guilty when I get to have time away from the kids, but at the same time, I can't wait to get them back.
  5. When we get to go out to eat, I prefer to split a meal with Mr. Right rather than ordering one on my own, unless of course he's ordering some weird dinner. Then I'll be quite happy to have my own. But as a rule, food tastes better from someone else's plate.
  6. Like Jeana, I sleep with multiple pillows, one of which usually is on my head. But the reason for this is hereditary. My mom does it, so I always figured it was how you were supposed to sleep...

There, I even kept it to six! I'm such a good rule follower, especially when they're my own.

I tag Shayne, Sharon, Julie Q, Barbie, Deena, Joyful Days and Beth.

Okay, so you know I can't count...

And I can't keep track of time either because Stacey tagged me to do this only about 2 months ago. (Sorry Stacey!)


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Because He Said So

One of the things that I love about reading straight through the Bible is that it helps to see the personality and character of God in a more complete picture. He becomes a fuller subject, rather than a smorgasbord of adjectives or metaphors that seem to fit in some contexts but not in others.

For example, we know that God is love by 1 John 4:7-13.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

God is a refuge in all times. (Just read the accounts of Joseph, Joshua, Ruth and the Psalms as a starting place to see God's provisions and protections.)

God is mighty in all things. The flood (Gen 7), Israelites exodus from Egypt (Exodus 6-14), battles (Joshua 6, 8, 10 and 12) and the cross (Matthew - John) are just a minute few examples of his power.

And yet he also is able to punish to the nth degree where warranted as seen in the flooding of the earth when all of mankind was wicked, the utter and complete destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for their perverse and contrary ways and in Numbers 16 when Korah, Dathan Abiram and 250 others rose up against Moses and Aaron, wanting to claim priesthood too. When they opposed Moses and Aaron, they were actually opposing God and his laws. When God punished those men for their insolence, he allowed the earth to swallow the men, their wives and all their children and grandchildren in punishment, burying them alive (vs 32-33). That just gives me the willies!

And the 250 who where also wanting to be ordained priests without the permission of God?

35 and fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

And it went further when others who saw these things and grumbled that Moses and Aaron killed those Israelites, the Lord caused a plague to wipe out almost 15,000 more people, only stopping because Moses and Aaron where offering incense in defense of the people.

Sometimes God just seems angry and unjust in his actions.

But when starting at Genesis and reading through Revelations, I see a more defining image of him. He's becoming more and more clear in who he is the more I read straight through the Bible. He's not just a God of right and wrong or a God who commands my fear and trembling. He's compassionate, forgiving, fair and he's right to no end just because he is God. Even when my human, fair-minded feeble mind objects to events that seem unjustified, I know that they are just because God deemed them to be. I'm able to step back and say, "Well, I don't get it, but I know that you're God and I don't have to get it."

But the one thing that has stuck in my mind during my reading this time is this: God is faithful even when I am not. The keeping of his promises is not dependent on any actions on my part. Why? Because he said he would keep them and unlike me, he is a God of his word.

I would guess that most of us envision the cross when we think about God's unconditional love. But did you know that God showed his faithfulness and love way before the cross? Just as an example - in Deuteronomy, he took Israelites to the promised land knowing full well they would disobey and turn from him. He knew it so well that he gave the Israelites a song to learn and to teach to their children regarding their disobedience before he let them enter Canaan. He wanted the Israelites to know that he was faithful and just despite their habit of rejecting him and his love.

I don't know about you, but understanding this kind of devotion and love before and after the cross fills me with relief as a Christian because God is who he said he would be. And in that fact is my peace because I know I'm going to fail. But even more secure in my understanding is the knowledge that God will be there to pick me up again, to brush me off, to take my hand and to continue on our way together - just as he said he would do.


Monday, March 26, 2007

That Darn Cat!

You know, I always knew our high-tech surveillance camera would come into good use someday.

I always wondered what Tenni does when we're not at home...

Now I know.

Hmph. No wonder our kids complain about the Gameboys not holding their charges...


Friday, March 23, 2007

For Those Who Are Wondering...

Well - Suzi anyway because she asked.

Mr. Right and I are selling our home because we feel compelled by God to do so.

No, he hasn't talked to us from a burning bush in the front yard... or back.

Nor has he sent an angel in bright shining light to tell us to get out of the house.

Nor has he left any notes lying around the house telling us to sell.

However he has put an idea in our hearts that we haven't been able to shake. It all started last fall when we took the Financial Peace University course at our church...

We took the class with the intention of getting control of our finances rather than living as if money was limitless. We didn't fight about money, but we both knew that with the two of us working, we shouldn't be as strapped as we were every. single. month.

(I know it's the norm, but we would prefer to not have to live paycheck to paycheck for the rest of our lives. We want to pay off our student loans, to have money to sock away for retirement, to be able to give freely and to be able to have some fun without wondering how we are going to pay for it all.)

Anyway, the class taught us to see where we were really spending the money that God gave to us, to look for areas that were frivolous spending and to find ways to pay off debt more quickly - be it an extra job for a while, saying no to extras and putting that money on a bill and/or selling things you don't really need. Here's where we're at on this list:
  • I really don't want Mr. Right or me to have a 2nd job because we don't get enough time with the kids as it is.
  • Even after we cut out all the extras, we weren't making the budget.
  • So that left selling some things, but if you looked at most of our stuff, you'd know we'd only get about 75 cents for anything that we'd try to sell at a yard sale...

So we prayed about what to do and God put it on our hearts to sell the house. Well, really Mr. Right's heart.

Me? I fought the thought every step of the way and cried like a baby when I realized that it really is the best thing for us to do. We've moved so much in the last six years, and it felt so peaceful finally to have a place to put down roots. I cried because I didn't want my kids to have to make new friends again. I sobbed because I had a home I loved. I cried because... well, I cried because I'm selfish and I didn't have enough faith to trust in God's plan.

But Mr. Right stopped me with one sentence: If God can give us one place to love, he can do it again. Oh yeah... God doesn't have limits like me.

Once I realized what a jerk I was being to God, I quit crying about a bunch of wood, brick and plaster. I quit focusing on worldly things that don't define me, and I started focusing on what God wants. I've prayed that God will give me wisdom, faith, perseverance and flexibility. I've prayed more about the people we'll be living by than the place we will be living in. In other words, I've given it over to God and I'm just following his lead. And leading he is...

  • He's blessed us with a fantastic Christian realtor who understands what we're trying to do and has offered to us a less-than-normal commission rate.
  • He has blessed both Mr. Right and me with employment in companies in the real estate/mortgage areas that have free/discounted benefits that will aid us in buying and selling our house.
  • He's blessed us with friends who have the knowledge we need to make our place nicer for the next owner. (Thanks John, Brock, Mike and Ben!)
  • He's blessed us with incredible sales for most of the things we had purchase to update it.
  • He's blessed us with parents who are able and willing to watch our kids over spring break while we work on the house.
  • He's blessed us with a nice tax return so that none of these renovations need to be on a credit card.
  • He's blessed me with a man who is focused, detail-oriented, calm and has a great attitude that is infectious to me.
  • He's given me a content heart about the move, the process and with whom I get to move.

God's hand has been guiding us all the way. And he has made this entire process so easy for us - even Mr. Right's fall through the ceiling had a God twist on it.

We have decided not to purchase another house until our place is sold. We would like to avoid being saddled with two mortgages mainly because there's no way we could afford it. I know that God has our new house out there. He'll show it to us in his time.

So if you would offer up a prayer on our behalf - for the quick, adequate sale of our present house and for the purchase of a new house, then we would be most appreciative. Oh, and please add the request that our family would be a blessing to those in our new neighborhood and that both our kids could make great friends. I'm sure it's part of God's plan already, but I'd love to have it lifted up to him anyway.

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A Personal Note From Jesus

When purging crap unearthing treasures my son's room, I came along this note.

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Hmmm... I can honestly say that I've felt the nudging of the Spirit and I can clearly recall times when I've felt God holding me by the hand to lead me where he wanted me to go, but I cannot declare that I've ever had such a direct personal note written to me from the Savior himself. I could see why this one is a keeper. Knowing him, he probably thinks it really is from Jesus...

I could probably make a bundle from it on ebay!

I think someone in this house was trying to make the "thou shalt not lie" commandment hit a little more close to home...
But you know what? I love that she's trying to get it more personal and real for her brother. I know there are times I could use a note just like this from him. Maybe not a lie one, but perhaps one that goes something like this:

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Or this:

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Or perhaps this:

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Or even this:

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Yep, Jesus could leave lots of notes just like these around the house for me.

But fortunately for me, he does leave notes like these all the time - and I know just where to find them bound neatly in one place. Sometimes, he even helps me out by putting his words in red...

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pray for Addison

Please stop what you're doing right now and start talking to God for both Sarah (In the Midst of It) and her little Addison. Addison was rushed to the hospital just a little bit ago. You can go to Sarah's mom's site (Blessed Beyond Measure) for any additional information.

Remember, it doesn't matter whether or not you know them. God does, and that's what counts.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spring Reading Thing 2007

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I am so thankful for creative and initiative individuals like Katrina at Callapidder Days who find ways for us to better ourselves. Y'all all know that I love reading. I don't think we do enough of it in this boob tube world. So anytime someone is encouraging us to work our brains, expand our minds and to live in a world of imagination, I'm all over it!

So I hearby announce my reading challenge list.

Hopefully I can do more than what is listed, but this is an excellent start.

>The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George

The Bible
by God (Joshua – II Kings)

The Boleyn Inheritance
by Philppa Gregory

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle

The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver

Dune by Frank Herbert

Eldest by Christopher Palolini

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfiel

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

And to further show my obsession with books, I am refraining from mentioning the other 28 books that I wanted to list but didn't. I know, I know. I need help. But until then, pass me another book, would ya?


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Heard In the Past Week...

Before the real post for today, I want to thank whoever put my "Lost and Found" entry on the Crazy Hip Blog Mamas' Pimp a Post Carnival, a carnival dedicated to bringing more traffic to post that you thinks others should be read. That was a very unexpected, kind and lovely surprise.


"Just a few more minutes to read... PLEEEEEEEEEEEASE!" - said by the girl when told it was time to turn off her light.


"I don't want to go to Grandma's!!!" - said by the boy in a fake crying sort of way when he knew it would draw a laugh from me as we where walking to Grandma's car.


"What's your blog address?" asked by the girl who was over at a friend's house in Nebraska. Unfortunately she asked for it on Friday, the day I posted about enjoying life without the kids... Hopefully she'll know that we really enjoy life with them too.


"Hey, tell Mr. Right to be careful around the house. We don't need anymore stories about him." - said by a friend who knows Mr. Right too well.


"Shalee: You're a mess." - said by a different friend who know me too well.


(conversation between Mr. Right and me on Saturday)

Me: I'm sorry I'm such a jerk sometimes.

Mr. Right: It's okay.

Me: (Pause) You know, you didn't have to agree with that statement so quickly. You could have said that you're not really a jerk or something like that.

Mr. Right: Well sometimes you are a jerk, but I still love you.

Me: (Pause) Sometimes this honesty thing sucks.


"Are these REAL biscuits?! And REAL sausage gravy! Oh man... this is going to be good." - said by a friend who came over for a breakfast dinner. He was helping us fix the ceiling in the garage, so he deserved a dinner where I pulled out all the stops!


On Wednesday night, late night mind you, when the kids were supposedly asleep:

The girl outside our door: Why's Dad making that noise?

(The mood was pregnant with wonder, embarrassment and pause.)

Me: Ummm, you're Dad's just being silly. It's late - you're supposed to be asleep. Now go to bed!

The girl, mumbling as she walks away: Oooookay. But it's awfully late for him to be silly...

Me, to Mr. Right: I thought they were asleep!

Mr. Right: Me too! Oh man... we were caught in the act.

Me: But that's so funny. You know it's going on the blog!

Mr. Right: (staring at me) I'm going to start a blog just to record all your embarrassing times too.

Note to Mr. Right: Unfortunately for you, there's not enough web space in the world to note all my embarrassing moments and fortunately for me, I know that you don't have the time to get them down. Whew - one area of discomfiture deterred! Don't worry. I'll make up for it somewhere else.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

God Moments

Oh what a tired Monday morning this is for me. I could hardly sleep a wink this weekend... :)

To give you a few details about the kids' trip to Grandma's World of FUN, we met my parents-in-awe halfway on Thursday night so that the kids can get spoiled for about 10 days at the grandparents' house. Our only request to Grandma was to see that the kids make it to bed at a normal bedtime a couple days before we get them back to ease their re-entry state into reality.

In an effort to rid ourselves of debt more quickly, we are putting our house on the market in April. Therefore, Mr. Right and I have decided to use this time ever so wisely. During our offsprings' absences over Spring Break, Mr. Right and I are working like crazy to get as much stuff done to the house as possible while no kids are underfoot, asking questions, arguing over whose turn it is to use the computer or wanting trivialities such as dinner. I would tell you that I even have put off reading for a while, but you know that that would be a lie. I've already started on my Spring Reading Thing 2007 list (which I'll be posting on Wednesday).

Friday, as soon as I was home from work, we started in on "the list." We've gone pretty much non-stop since then. We've spackled; sanded; painted; primed exterior trim; tore off wood-rotted trim (exterior of house); cut wood (by hand - we really need to purchase a circular saw); replaced trim; caulked it; painted it; took 7 trips to Walmart for things we needed; purged both of the kid's room; straightened closets and ran a load to Goodwill. And we have so much left to do...

Now don't worry that we're all work and no play. On Friday, we decided to celebrate our independence with a dinner at Shogun Japanese Restaurant - a teppanyaki/sushi bar that we discovered last year. When we walked into the restaurant, Mr. Right the sushi lover was debating as to which he would order, but our Entertainment coupon made that decision for us - "Sushi excluded" was in the fine print. Bummer for him. But he made the best of it by ordering teriyaki salmon and shrimp while I, the adventurous one, ordered the teriyaki steak and chicken combo. I live on the edge, can you not tell? We had a great time and were able to get home early enough to still have energy to spare... *Ahem*

God moment #1: The couple across from us were debating about an order from the sushi menu. They whispered and were reserved and asked no questions, but they placed an order with a very helpful and friendly waitress. Five minutes later, their Califonia rolls were set before them. The couple put their heads together and started pointing and staring at the food. Mr. Right leaned over to me and said jokingly, "Their complaining about their food not being cooked!" When the waitress came by, the couple complained about the order because they thought they were ordering egg rolls! We laughed at Mr. Right calling that one correctly. The waitress took the food away, but then she came back out and said to us, "I noticed you were looking at them; if you would like them, I'll bring them to you. No cost. But if you want to try them, you may." So Mr. Right had a small sushi fix, I tried a piece (delicious!) and we thanked God for his blessing of providing an extra.

God moment #2: We worked all day Saturday; I awoke before 6 AM, and I hit the ground running. (That "sleeping in" thing was really for Mr. Right's benefit. It's really rare for me to sleep late. However, I let him sleep until 9 AM and then it was work, work, work!) We had a wonderful friend come over to help us and to show us how to replace the exterior trim properly. (Thank you Mike!) Near the end of the day, Mr. Right had plans for us to attend a St. Patty's Day Festival for our enjoyment and relaxing end to the day. And y'all I totally blew it. I just told Mr. Right that I didn't think I could do it. And then I was on the verge of tears for being the partypooper. But Mr. Right, in all his love and understanding, cared for me anyway, knew I was just crabby, hungry and tired and took me out for some great butter burgers (oh, they must serve those in heaven!), coffee from Beanology and returned home for some one "on" one time. *Ahem again* The God moment? The fact that Mr. Right altered his plans for the evening seemlessly, and he stayed awake for a movie after the *Ahem again* time. A miracle I tell you!

God moment #3: When returning home after church, Mr. Right mentioned that we forgot to go by Home Depot to pick up a 2x4 that we needed to complete the exterior trim job. (We had to nail some wood into the roof so that Mr. Right wouldn't fall off the steep pitch of the roof as he was working on the trim.) As I was talking about needed to pick up a caulk gun as well as the 2x4 when we go by Home Depot, I spotted four old 2x4s sitting in a ditch on the side of the road. I quickly asked Mr. Right to turn onto the street which was about a 50 feet away and as he stopped, I told him that the Lord had provided what we needed. He ran back and picked up a couple of the pieces. Free stuff always works for me! As we were heading home again, Mr. Right said, "Maybe we should ask for God to help you see a caulk gun on the side of the road too..." I love that man's sense of humor!

God moment #4: I realized yesterday afternoon that I couldn't find my wallet. I had no idea where I could have left it either. I prayed throughout the day for God to open my eyes to where I could have put/left it and to help me to not fret about it. Last night he directed me straight to it. God is sooo good!

God moment #5: One of my coworkers occasionally reads my blog. When he read in an archived post that I usually spend all my gift cards on the family, he sent me a Bath and Body Works gift certificate with instructions that I was only to use it on myself. What a wonderful gesture and an unexpected blessing! Thanks Nate - and I'll follow your instructions to a "T"!

So you can see that our weekend has be packed to the brim with all sorts of activities - some tedious, some tiring, some fun, but all blessed by God. And really, I couldn't ask for a better weekend.

And Beth, in answer to your question as to when the "I miss you" calls might have started? 30 minutes after we left them. I couldn't help but call to tell them that I missed them - the car was entirely too quiet already.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Don't Hate Me...

And it's not because I'm beautiful...

My most excellent in-laws relieved us of our children last night. We met them halfway (they live in Nebraska), ate a great breakfast dinner and then shoved celebrated sadly reliquished the care of our kids into their hands. Then we sped away slowly watched as they faded into the distance.

My poor children... Oh the suffering they will be made to endure. They will be forced to watch cartoons, made to eat ice cream and/or peanut butter and marshmellow sandwiches, made to toil in Grandma's garden, required to stay up late, obliged to play with cousins/friends and coerced into eating McDonald's. I really don't know how they shall bear it...

We the parents, on the other hand, plan on having a lot of fun - like sleeping naked and sleeping in when possible, going out for some St. Patty's Day Saturday night, eating at a restaurant without a playplace, working on the house without 20 million questions coming our way, having uninterrupted conversations, kissing without anyone in the peanut gallery saying, "YUCK! GROSS!" and basically pretending like we're DINKS again.

Oh, and I'm sure we'll have a few "I miss you" calls thrown in there for fun... mainly from our side.

It's a fun job, but somebody's got to do it. I'm just glad it gets to be us.

My little shoutout: Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa! You're the best!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mirling Heather

That would be a great title for a movie...

Well, what can I say. Heather and I didn't get along.

Well... except for the time that we chatted all the way to my house. I didn't feel as if I were driving with someone I didn't know; I felt as if I were driving with a old friend.

And then there's the time that we laughed during dinner - like the whole time - while quoting While You Were Sleeping lines. A lot of time was spent laughing at my kids who were pulling out some great one liners. Of course I can't remember any of them...

Or when she asked if she could help with making the apple pie only to find out that she's not really a whiz in the deseeding apples area. I don't think pies are one of her fortes... "It doesn't matter what they look like; they'll still taste good!"

Also we talked, talked, talked while sitting out on the back deck, enjoying the divine spring weather. She's pretty good at holding a conversation with a mom who is constantly being bombarded with "Look at me Mom!", "Come play with me Mom!" or "Mom, did you know that in Star Wars Legos 2 that..." (here you fill in any question and invaritably my answer would be "Uh... No, honey.") That girl is good at keeping track is all I'm saying.

And we talked about fellow bloggers we wish we could meet or the ones we have met. That list was long, too long for my comfort. I'm determined to rectify that situation if I can.

We got along pretty well when I understood Heather to be an American Idol fan and told her that we'll have to watch it in our messy bedroom (where we're remodeling our bathroom) because that's the tv that has the antenna and she, without batting an eye, agreed to watch the show while sitting on our bed. On our way up there, Mr. Right remembered that we can move the antenna (duh!), so we all traipsed down to the basement where we couldn't get a signal for some reason - so we decided to head back to the bedroom only to have Mr. Right find the signal as we headed up the stairs. I said that we got our exercise for the evening and she was a-okay with that.

Plus, she has excellent taste in evaluating music. We agreed on every criticism of the performances, clothing and selection of who should go home. (We missed the first 3 performers, so we couldn't comment on their presentations.) And we had the same "What?!" expressions when the judges totally messed up on their evaluation on Jordin. (She did okay, but y'all - her notes were flat in several places and the register was too far of a jump for her in a few places. It, contrary to what each of the judges said, was not her best performance. And just for the record: I like her. So there. Oh and Haley - I thought it was ironic that the Randy pointed out that she forgot her words (Paula did too) only to have Paula later say, "No matter what, go on like nothing like that happened. The audience won't know!" Ummm, Paula - we didn't know that she forgot them until THE JUDGES pointed it out... She did a great job of covering her memory loss; I thought she had a lovely performance as the song very well matched her personality and character. Oh, and Haley's potato sack with a big ribbon did not work for her. If that's fashionable, then I choose to remain out of style. I liked Phil's performance. He seemed very comfortable singing his song and his performance was believable. Gina did a good job with her selection. The song fit her stage presence - lively, rebellious and a fighter. I did agree that she seemed to be shouting her words at time. Stephanie looked fabulous with her choice of ensemble, even if she needed a clothespin for the top as we were all getting an eyeful of her breastage after her performance! We got an eyeful, but not the earful that was needed. Her voice sounded beautiful, but the song was booooorrrring. When she finished, I thought "That's it?" She'll have to make better choices in her song selections be known on that stage. Blake, well the boy should just leave the classic as a classic and be voted off, but as Heather pointed out, he is a Justin Timberlake wanna-be, so I think he'll stay for a little longer. Chris had the most "get up and dance" performance, but even though he chose a perfect song for himself, he still looked like a Star Search contestant rather than an AI winner. We heard LaKisha as well, but I have got to tell you, although her performance was soulful, resonant and beautiful, her lisp kept getting in the way of my enjoyment. I cannot see her being the AI winner because of that one "flaw". And we missed the best performance... sigh. Melinda did wonders from what we understood from Mr. Right. At least we got to hear the recap and it was spine-tingling from what little we heard. Couldn't say the same for the other two... And unfortunately for us, we did hear Sanjaya. Someone please put us out of our misery and get the boy off tv. A singer he is not!!! Not that I have any kind of opinions about these things.)

Oh, and I definitely liked her when we found out that the oven was on too high of a temperature and the pie was slightly more brown than it should have been. (I burnt the pie, y'all! I. Burnt. The. Pie! Oh sweet mercy, that has never happen before and for the love of all that is good and delicious, I hope it never happens again because the stench was awful!!) Okay, in reality the pie was by no means ruined, but I quickly shaved off some of the browner parts of the crust (Sob!!! Oh, goodbye sweet crust! I shall miss your flakiness and your thick crunchiness!). When Heather came up from the basement, I told her what had happened, and she looked at me and sheepishly confessed that she liked it more done. I just started laughing and told her it was too bad... she had to eat the shaved pie. (Which was fabulous, I must say! Couldn't taste a burnt piece anywhere. Whew.) And she likes coffee, so that was a plus for the evening.

Also we both kept singing Diana Ross songs after AI... and neither of us cringed at the sudden outbursts of song. And when I said that she was forced to be in a picture with me, she bucked the thought, but really she had no say. I had the car keys and I knew how to use them to my advantage. We took a few, but the first two make me look so dorky, I refuse to post them. I will show you the good one though...

Note to self: Get a haircut, don't make a pie while wearing black, get rid of that shirt, posture(!) and for goodness sake, start working out if you're going to insist on eating said pies! Nothing like a picture of yourself in all your glory to have reality smack you in the face...

And when taking her home, I started talking to this poor driver who was giving me all sorts of frustrated hand movements (nothing offensive - just visible frustations) because I needed to go straight when she chose to stop and to block the street on which I needed to travel. She had ample time to turn (I was backing out of my driveway when she approached the turn a good distance from my house but for some reason she decided to wait), but she wasn't thrilled when I decided to go. I said, "Well go then lady; don't be mad at me because you didn't turn!" Looking over to Heather, I remarked, "Ummm, yeah... I talk to the other drivers." Then she started laughing, stating that she does the same thing. Thus we talked all the way back to her hotel.

Oh, and I made the remark that if she were free tonight, I'd love to have her over again. We'll be working around the house, but we would love to have her over another night if she could stomach all of us again.

Other than that, I couldn't stand her. Yep, some people just weren't made to get along.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Today's the Day!

After work, I get to stop by a hotel to pick up a person I've never met. AND said person is coming home with me. AND Mr. Right approves!

Yes, I live on the wild side, don't I? Didn't you know it's National Pick-Up a Stranger Day? Well, it is.

Heather of My Roller Coaster Ride of My Life and Funny Thoughts About Life's Daily Happenings! (say that ten times fast - I know, I know... "that ten times fast" - very funny) is in town for a little business trip, and I plan on taking full advantage of monopolizing her time tonight. She's making it ever so easy on me with her staying in a place that is on my way home and having the sweetest disposition you can imagine... at least over the phone. When I told her that I can guarantee a messy house, she just laughed and said she'll feel right at home! Now who doesn't want a visitor like that! Then I warned her that my kids most likely will talk her ear off, and she laughed and replied, "I'm an aunt. I'm used to it."

I think Heather should move to Kansas. I'm just saying!

So amid all the paint cans, cleaners and clutter, I will have a nice, comfy, much-anticipated rendevous with Heather. Oh the sheer bliss of spending time with a her! (If you want me to give her a hug, you'd better get your count in quickly. She's got a big one coming from me, but I'm sure there are others who want me to pass one along to her as well.)

Tonight we'll be feasting on a traditional Sunday meal- even though it's Tuesday... roast beef (lucky her, it's what was in the freezer), po-tay-toes, carrots, rolls and I do believe I can con Mr. Right into making a pie with me... I can't decide on strawberry or apple...

What do you think? Which one would you choose given a choice? And what areas of conversations do you think we should discuss? (Because you know I have such a hard time thinking of anything to say...)

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Monday, March 12, 2007

In Case of Emergency ONLY

This is just a taste of our weekend...

I'll just blame it on the time change. Why not? It seems to be working for every other problem that occured on Sunday.

And yes, the boy's bottom was as red as a firetruck.
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Friday, March 09, 2007

Books, Books, and More Books

It's time! It's time!

Another reading challenge sponsored by Katrina at Calladidder Days. And you'll never guess what she named it, it's so creative and wild, I tell you - oh if I only had her talent to name things, then my kids would probably be kissing my feet for such great naming abilities -

Ta da daaaa:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Cute, isn't it? Anyone can join. All you have to do is come up with a list of books you want to read and then try to work your way throught them. It doesn't matter if you read them all; the idea is to read! Head on over to Katrina's (or click the button above) to find out more about it if you want to get in on the fun.

I've already got a list a mile long. My hard part will be narrowing down the list to about 20 or so.

And in celebration of this wonderful event, I'm going to do Another Book Meme! (And the crowd goes wild...)

Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole, underline the ones on your book shelf, asterisk the ones you’ve never heard of and color the ones you loved.

Did I confuse you?

Join Mr. Right's world. I have that man's head spinning All. The. Time.

Let me recap:

  • bold - did read
  • italicize - want to read
  • strike - won't read or read but hated it with a passion and if I could burn every copy so that others wouldn't be exposed to such terrible dribble I would do it and people should not be allowed to get paid for such awful writing
  • underline - own
  • * - never heard of the book
  • colored - loved it and would recommend it to others
  • If there is nothing done to the title, then that means I'm indifferent to it or I haven't decided about it yet.

If only I could make a legend like this for Mr. Right to follow. Poor guy. Sorry Honey... there's no guide for me...

  1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
  2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
  3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
  5. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
  6. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
  7. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
  8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
  9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
  10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
  11. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
  12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
  13. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
  14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
  15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
  16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Rowling)
  17. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
  18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
  19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire(Rowling)
  20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
  21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Rowling)
  22. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
  23. The Stand (Stephen King)
  24. Ulysses (James Joyce)
  25. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
  26. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
  27. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
  28. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
  29. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
  30. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
  31. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
  32. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
  33. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
  34. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
  35. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
  36. Dune (Frank Herbert)
  37. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
  38. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
  39. 1984 (Orwell)
  40. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
  41. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
  42. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
  43. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (Gregory Maguire)
  44. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
  45. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
  46. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
  47. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
  48. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
  49. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
  50. Bible
  51. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
  52. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
  53. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
  54. The Blue Sword (Robin Mckinley)
  55. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
  56. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
  57. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
  58. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
  59. Great Expectations (Dickens)
  60. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
  61. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)*
  62. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
  63. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
  64. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
  65. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
  66. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
  67. War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
  68. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
  69. The Hiding Place (Corrie Tin Boon)
  70. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
  71. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
  72. Les Miserables (Hugo)
  73. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
  74. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
  75. Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
  76. Shogun (James Clavell)
  77. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
  78. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
  79. Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers)
  80. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
  81. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
  82. The Giver (Lois Lowry)
  83. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
  84. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)*
  85. Of Mice And Men (John Steinbeck)
  86. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
  87. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
  88. Emma (Jane Austen)
  89. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
  90. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
  91. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)*
  92. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
  93. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer) *
  94. The Talisman (Stephen King)
  95. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
  96. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
  97. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
  98. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
  99. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
  100. Lightning (Dean Koontz)

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Apologies, A Shoutout and A Modern Version of The Birds and The Bees

(Bows head in shame.)

I would first like to apologize to several people for omitting their blogs from yesterday's WFMW Post. There's really no reason for these oversights other than telling you that I was have a Brain Cloud (name the movie from whence that line came), and it makes me forget things of great importance.

So in way of restitution, I want to include these sites as a further cooking helps:

Trista's Tasty Thursday where you can find tried and liked family favorites from other bloggers

GiBee who posts some good'uns from her family's recipe vault

And last, but in no way least because I have tried several of his wonderful recipes mainly because I want to prove to myself that I can cook just as well as a chef living and working wonders in Spain, Will's Eats and because I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him on a personal basis. Really, if you haven't viewed his blog, you are missing out on some culinary fun with a man who has a wonderful sense of humor and an adventurous spirit.

Now I'm sure I've missed others too, but I've already apologized once and I'm not going to keep going back to do it again and again. I would probably be here all day were I to go that route... So let's just make it a blanket apology and move on, shall we?


My daughter has requested that I give a big hello to Susanne's youngest. She received her letter yesterday and will start on her letter back tonight. And she loves the drawing that was included and my girl wants all blogdom to know that Susanne's daughter is a talented artist, and she loves this pen pal thing that they've got going!


And to cap off a Thursday - which I just realized is the day that I'm to post a Thursday Thirteen or a Tasty Thursday post - there's that Brain Cloud again - I'm winding down with a little modern sex talk.

A little boy goes to his father and asks, "Daddy, how was I born?"

The father answers, "Well son, I guess one day you will need to find out anyway. Your Mom and I first got together in a chat room on Yahoo. Then I set up a date via e-mail with your Mom and we met at a cyber-cafe. We sneaked into a secluded room, where your mother agreed to a download from my hard drive.

As soon as I was ready to upload, we discovered that neither one of us had used a firewall, and since it was too late to hit the delete button, nine months later a little Pop-Up appeared that said: You got Male."

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

WFMW - Cooking Conundrum

Lately, I've been at a loss at what to make for dinner. I have food, so that's not the kind of loss to which I'm referring. Although I'm incredibly thankful for the food with which God blesses us, I'm becoming tired of the same thing. And I'm really trying to avoid sounding like the Israelites who did nothing but complain about their situation only to find themselves drowning in manna. I might like the food of angels, but I don't want it for years on end.

So in order to find new recipes without taking time out of my ever busy, working mom schedule, I have discovered some wonderful blogs that have recently helped to refresh our recipe files. And the best part? Most of the recipes are tried and true favorites of other families, so I don't worry too much about whether or not my family will like them. (Since my kids eat most anything, I figure that if other kids like it, it will most likely be a hit at my place.)

Okay, I know that there are several more who post recipes on a continual basis, but for the life of me, I'm drawing a blank. This will have to do.

So that's how I keep my menus varied and tempting. I basically steal from everyone else. It seems to be working just fine, and I don't think anyone else minds.

Head on over to Shannon's place to find some great kitchen ideas.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Computers and Kids

I was just thinking that it's been a few months since I've posted anything about my computer woes at work. That's because it's been doing wonderfully lately. Until now. I had Flash installed at one time, but for some reason, it disappeared. So of course I had to get it back.

Here's my ticket submission:

Subject: Y'all lied... or else I've misunderstood.

Problem: According to the Fixed Status of Incident ID*******, I should be Flashing away. However, when I attempt to enter the knowledge spot to do a little self-paced training, the site refuses to let me learn anything because I didn't have Flash. Hmph. As if I don't know all this stuff already. Well, this message came as a shock since I KNEW I had an email that said y'all fixed my inability to Flash. Now its just a personal agenda to show this knowledge spot who's the boss.

Would someone Flash me again - in the most computer-program sense? Because if y'all think I mean it in the NYC way, I've got to tell you that it's cold here, and I will laugh... at you, not with you.

I received a call from our IT department and Mike (the man who usually helps me) is on the other end, laughing yet again. He fixed my problem in 4 minutes flat. And the best part? He told me that if there were ever a ticket submitter award, I would win hands down. He said everyone would vote for me. Ahhh, it's the little things in life that makes me smile.

And speaking of the little things, this morning at breakfast my daughter looked over at me and said, "Mom, you don't look as old as you are."

With a mouth full of peanut butter toast, I shot my hands up in the air as if I were a ever-useful Super Bowl goal judge on the Colt's never-ending scoring drives and made a real girly squeal. Then I swallowed (manners and all, you know - I've got to practice what I preach) and asked her how old she thought I looked.

She looked at me thoughtfully, taking in all of my face and said, "You look like you're Miss Laura's age." And then she smiled really big - while my face fell.

Miss Laura is 40 years old, y'all. That's not old by any means - it's the new 30's so they say, but in case you can't remember my age or else you can't do math so well, that's five years older than I am. I don't mind looking 40, but I would prefer to do it when I'm in my 50's! Oil of Olay, where for art thou... Not on my face obviously.

When I made the remark that I appreciate her comment, but Miss Laura is five years older than me, her eyes brightened and she expanded, "No not Miss Laura, Abby's mom. Miss Laura our babysitter! You look her age."

Oh THAT Miss Laura! Well, that's a whole different story because that Miss Laura is a perky, jubilant 21 year old college student who is as fresh as a spring day. I like that comparison oh-so-much better...

Note to self: Give daughter a bonus in her allowance and teach kids to use last names...


Monday, March 05, 2007

Party at the Diner

Ultimate Blog Party

To be honest, I didn't get my party started on time, but all my other blogging friends know that parties and I do not always run on the same time schedule. But pay no mind to that.

Welcome to Shalee's Diner, a downhome place with great coffee and really good apple pie. Come on in, pick a booth and let's get to know each other.

Help yourself to some pie and coffee. It's always easier to get to know each other over food and drinks.

I'm a daughter of the King who is struggling to act like it. I'm also a 35 year old working mom who has multiple problems with my computer. I am also still happily married to my first husband - Mr. Right - for almost 15 years. 15 YEARS? Where has the time gone... We've a 10 year old daughter and a 7 year old son who on some days will be lucky to see his eighth birthday.

I like laughing, cooking, eating and meeting other bloggers, sometimes all at the same time! I like to sing and to watch football (GO MANNING! GO COLTS! Sorry, couldn't help myself there I'm still so excited about the Colts winning the Super Bowl), sometimes the two DO go hand in hand. I thrill at making others laugh. I have a serious side, but don't worry, I don't let it out too often.

I'm competitive, but fun-loving. I have a healthy love for wines and alcohol and chocolate. I want to learn to dance (not the white woman's dance, but the wow - look at them! They dance so well together type dancing), but I can't convince Mr. Right to make all the arrangements since he promised me as a Christmas gift one year that we would learn together. Not that I've thought about that or bear any hard feelings about it or anything...

My one claim to any sort of talent is that I am an avid reader. I often read 3-5 books at a time. Yes, I can keep the stories straight. I just like having different stories for different times.

Okay, I really claim to have more talents than that, but no one likes a showoff. There's more to me here in case you're interested in finding out what I'm like in real life, as opposed to what I'm like at a party.

Feel free to lurk around my archives because there's some good stuff in there. Those posts will tell you a whole lot more about me than this post ever could. I'm feeling all self-conscious all of the sudden... I feel as if I'm trying to leave some kind of message for a dating service... "Hi, I'm Shalee. I like going on long walks, to play in the rain and I just want someone to love me forever..."

But really, I'm just a wallflower. And really shy. And I never step out of my comfort zone. And I have a really hard time telling others what I think. And lying is my only bad habit.

That's it. You need to leave now because I think I've just run out of things to say.
Diner's now closed.

But I'll be open again, Lord willing. Just as soon as I think of something minutely interesting to say for all the world to read. Hopefully I'll be seeing you here soon.
Come back now, ya hear!


Working for 9 - "5"'s, What a Way to Make a Living!

Last week turned out to be pretty fantastic, well... all except for that whole "Mr. Right falling through the ceiling and leaving a pretty impressive butt prink in the hood of my car" thing. The rest of the week seemed to go a lot more smoothly, even with the tornadic weather with the downpouring of stone-sized hail and the temperature that will not setting into a routine. 70's one day and 30's the next. Just one more reason to love living in Kansas.

Our office is going to move somewhere, and I told my boss that I found the perfect spot for it. Cancun! He laughed and said we would probably be the only two who would go for it. I'm pretty sure I'd go even if it meant going with just him... I'm sure I could convince Mr. Right that he could handle things on this end until the sun decides to cooperate at home. I just want winter to be over. (And I'm pretty sure that Mr. Right would only let me go without him over his dead body...)

On the plus side of work, my two year anniversary just passed. It also meant that it was time for my yearly review. Our area of the country in this company was in on a new beta program for employee assessments. It was a neat program that has each employee evaluate, analyze and define his/her strengths and weaknesses. Having natural ability to communicate well in written form, I loved going through each of the nine categories that they defined, answering in detail each and every given category. If anything, I bet the computer was grumbling, "Just say you're perfect and move on already." And it would have been right, in my not-so-humble opinion...

For the most part, I can say that I've had an excellent time in this position. I've only had a handful of days/situations that I can remember that were awful - you know those days when nothing seems to go the way it should, and it's even worse because you mostly out-of-town boss happened to be in the offices on just those days. Have I mentioned that my boss has an excellent memory? Those days just suck... Oh, and I don't enjoy my ever -expanding backside which is an unwanted side effect from sitting most of the day. (But I'm working on that one.) Other than those two things, I have to say that since I must work so that we can eat, I love being in this office and in this position. God has truly blessed me here.

Anyway, the written evaluation and my manager review happened to coincide in the timing. So it was convenient that after submitting my written evaluationto my manager for his comments and rating a month earlier, I had to go into his office for my one-on-one discussion about my work.

He began the review by stating that he believed it should be hard to receive the highest rating of "5" in each of the categories. He felt that that rating should be reserved for the cream of the crop, used only for the most outstanding performances in that area and that a "5", in his mind, means perfection. He went on to say that a "4" should only be used in cases where the work is still exceptional and the employee exceeded expectations of what was considered the norm. He also told me that he felt that review should be contingient to whether or not an employee should receive a raise.

To my delight, I received four "5" ratings and five "4" ratings. He declared that he was excessively pleased that I'm his assistant, gave me a couple of pointers in areas that he would like to see me improve and and then emailed HR immediately to put my raise into effect on the next check.

And that, my friends, made for a very grand Friday.

And it gives me a goal to add a few more "5"'s to that evaluation next year...

And even though I don't feel this way today, I love this card. Because there was one day in particular about a month ago that I felt this way, right about the time that I needed to submit the aforementioned evaluation. My boss was in the office, everything that I touched turned to mud and I'm sure tears weren't far behind. I remember telling him that I needed to leave early to either go back to bed or to hit a bar, and it was only 11 in the morning. If I recall correctly, he gave me a loooong lunch hour that day...

And yeah, he did mention that day in the review. At least he laughed about it, too.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Lost and Found

When we moved to KC, we were looking forward to experiencing some wonderful events that we hadn't been able to do in Nebraska. One of the joys we experienced was our first MLB games with the kids. The Royals may not have been playing that well, but that didn't matter to a 5 year old girl who was going to her first game. (Our son was just 1 and a half years old; he was only along for the juice and crackers.)

We went with a group of friends from church on a Family Fun Night at the stadium. It only cost $5 to get in the game, and all the hot dogs and Cokes were only a buck each. Big bonus for a family on a limited budget. We were going to make the most of that night.

I went to go get some food for everyone, and my daughter begged to come with me to help. Why not? It was her first experience and she wanted to get as much out of it too. I gave her the whole "stay right by me, don't wander off, it's a big, crowded place" spiel that every mom utters in those kind of environments, making sure she understood every word. She indicated that she understood, grabbed my hand and then we were off!

We waited in line, talked with those other parents/kids all around us and finally we got our food. I turned to my daughter and asked if she wanted ketchup or mustard on her hot dog; she said yes, so we moved to the condiment stand. I turned to ask her to carry the napkins... and she was gone.

Gone. No where in site. Could not be seen. Out of my line of vision. Disappeared.

My heart stopped. My mouth didn't.

"Daughter!" (Obviously I used her name then; I just choose not to do so here.) "Daughter!" I scanned all around the consession stand. I looked down the corridor leading to the stands. I kept yelling her name. She wasn't where I told her to be - right by my side.

Others just stared at me, offering no help. I couldn't see a security guard anywhere.

Oh God, please help me find my daughter. Please bring her back to me. Please give me your eyes to see through the crowd to find my little girl. Please let a nice person help my daughter right now- a nice person who will do her no harm. Please give me sense to stay calm enough to think clearly. Help me God. Help me!

Not knowing what else to do, I ran back to our seats while carrying all that food, crying and yelled to Mr. Right, "Come down here right now! I can't find Daughter!" Someone in our church group immediately grabbed our son, and Mr. Right and a couple of friends came running down from the nosebleed seats. I explained what happened while one of them unloaded my arms, answered all the questions about what she was wearing; then I told them that while they were going to find a security guard, I was going back to the concession stand to see if I could find her there. You'd better believe that I kept a continual uttering of those frantic prayers from the moment of not seeing her beside me. Pray without ceasing never became so clear to me as in that moment.

I waited. It was an eternity. I kept calling out her name, turning and looking everywhere, praying with such earnest belief that God would lead me to her. Suddenly I started to walk down all the corridors between the concession stands and our corridor - there were 4 in all.

Down the second one, I heard a woman saying, "Don't worry, Sweetie. Your mom will be here in a minute. She's looking for you too." And there before me was a woman who was standing with my crying daughter at the head of the stairs, scanning the area.

Thank you, God! Oh thank you for helping me to find her.

I ran up to the woman, grateful for God's answer that a nice person found my daughter and stayed with her until she could be found. I kept thanking her over and over as I hugged the breath out of my daughter. If I had some kind of reward to give her, I would have handed it over to her without a moment's pause...

When we were walking down the corridor back to the hallway, I asked my daughter what happened, why she left my side, why she didn't listen to my directions. She replied that she was just looking for our seats and she thought I was with her.

Mr. Right, our friend and Security was coming up the walkway. They must have thought that my daughter was still lost with all my crying, but it became clear immediately that everything was all right, that I was leaking tears of joy. I thanked the Security man, who said that I did a great job of describing her and did right by dressing her uniquely. (She was wearing a Cracker Jacks t-shirt and shorts.) I think he was trying to help me redeem some dignity and mothering skills at that moment.

Believe it or not, neither Mr. Right nor I badgered our daughter about what had happened. We did give her the "See why you need to listen to us!" speech on the way back to our seats, but that was it. We were so happy to have her back, safe and sound. And trust me, lukewarm hotdogs and watered down drinks never tasted so good. My daughter, who may have stayed just a tad bit closer to us than normal still laughed a lot, ate a lot of peanuts, asked a lot of questions, bossed her little brother around and enjoyed the fireworks at the end of the game. It was a great night had by all.

Now, years later, I can look at this terrible moment and see it in new light. Several ideas come to mind about how it can apply to us spiritually.

  1. I think I can imagine how God feels when we return to him on one of our self-induced wandering. Even though he knows exactly where we are and what we're doing, I imagine that he still has that sense of relief when we return from our straying. He holds us close, glad to have us back where we belong - in the safety of him and his protection.
  2. He doesn't quit "looking" for us when we've wandered away. He calls and calls and calls our name, wanting us to hear his voice and to come back.
  3. He asks us why we didn't listen to his instruction. He knows that with his words of wisdom or instructions comes safety and protection.
  4. Even though we chose to not listen to his words of warning that would keep us from sin, he doesn't lecture us to death about not listening. He says he won't remember our sins when we repent, and he means it. We get a fresh clean slate with him so that we can start enjoying life again.
  5. He wants us to stay close to him when we realize how scary life is when we walk away from him. He wants to hold us, love us and to let us enjoy the blessings that still come our way. I imagine him pulling us into his lap and snuggling with us just a little longer so that we can rest assure in his love. He wants us to remember how awful life is when we don't listen to his instructions.
  6. He takes special care to show that we are still his children. He gives us back the family seal; he doesn't make us feel as if we're not good enough to be back in his care. He tells us from the first moment that we will always be a part of his family - loved, welcomed and included.
  7. He'll start the entire process over if we wander away again. He loves us without ceasing and his patience knows no end.

Although I would never want to go through that awful experience again, I love that I have a new understanding of the prodigal son parable. I seem to know it inside-out from the son's point of view. I am that wandering sinner. I even have been able to empathize with the brother who stayed home, doing everything the father asked. (And I can't tell you how many "It's not fair!" moments I've had with God.)

But this time, I think I have a better understanding of what it means to be the father, on the search for his child. And the joy that comes when all our family is safe at home. No wonder the dad gave the son gifts and threw such a huge party. He was happy beyond belief and relieved beyond measure, and he just wanted to get jiggy with it to share his excitement, encouraging others to take pleasure in his joy.

The same way that I smiled at everyone for the rest of that game.

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