Friday, May 30, 2008

I Always Pictured Myself As Lizzy, But That's Probably Because I Wanted To Make Out With Darcy...

I am Elizabeth Bennet!

Take the Quiz here!

You are Elizabeth Bennet of Pride & Prejudice! You are intelligent, witty, and tremendously attractive. You have a good head on your shoulders, and often times find yourself the lone beacon of reason in a sea of ridiculousness. You take great pleasure in many things. You are proficient in nearly all of them, though you will never own it. Lest you seem too perfect, you have a tendency toward prejudgement that serves you very ill indeed.

Hmmm, often times I am my own sea of ridiculousness...

That Jane Austen. She sure did create some lovely, wonderful characters who are still completely memorable almost 200 years later.

Speaking of Jane Austen, I just finished a lovely novel titled The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James.

I know. I know. It wasn't on my Spring Reading 2008 list at all, but I couldn't help it. I was skeptical of reading it at first because I did not want to see a favored authpress mired in muck or to see her innocence disturbed like with in The Jane Austen Book Club (yuck!), but the back caught my eye most readily.

What if, hidden in an old attic chest, Jane Austen's memoirs were discovered after hundreds of years? What if those pages revealed the untold story of a life-changing love affair? That's the premise behind this spell-binding novel, which delves into the secrets of Jane Austen's life, giving us untold insights into her mind and heart.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that there are only a handful of things in this world that are truly irresistible: Colin Firth in a cravat; a love story gone awry but with the promising outcome of a happily ever after; and a deliciously witty comedic scene a la Jane Austen." This delightful book might be added to the list as well.

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen is written from Jane Austen's perspective in the form of one of her undiscovered journals. It brings Austen to life through the use of past letters, known details and possible experiences that may have inspired her books. James does an incredible job of making the book sound as if it were straight from the mind of Austen, while in no way making herself out to be Jane Austen the writer.

James captures all that is best and true about Jane Austen. She satisfies on every score...except that perhaps of a happily ever after, for everyone knows that Austen never married. Even the hardest of readers will be caught and enchanted and praying for an ending that will not come.

For those with an unquenchable thirst for more Austen, this is the book to satisfy that thirst, at least for a while. For those readers who do not mind a bittersweet ending, this one is sure to enthrall. For those wishing for knowledge of how to be a writer like Austen, well, that can found, too.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Techies? They're Quicker Than I Thought...

Well as far as I'm concerned, you can teach old dogs new tricks... For example, here is the last Tech Support incident that I submitted on work last Friday.

Problem Description - [(Shalee) -- 05/23/08 10:07 AM] My printer has checked out for the long weekend already...

Although you and I know that the holiday weekend doesn't officially start until 5 PM tonight, my printer has decided to leave early. I imagine that it's thinking of all the techno-partying it's going to do while we're out grilling and relaxing, and who could blame it? I could see how the printer would like to hook up to the scanner when it gets a chance. I know that I get a little more festive when my boss is gone... However, I'm still here, and I still need it to work until I call it quitting time. Would you please talk some sense into my machine? I need it to stick with me until my day is done. (I'm all for leaving early, but the printer can't go until I go!)

[Close Description][Closed by McCormick, Douglas -- 05/23/08 11:02 AM]

Turned the printer off and on and it reconnected to the Network and started printing all of her recipes.

Did you catch that? The technician totally copped a joke and poked fun at me all at the same time. Oh, they're alearnin' there. They're alearnin'! (And for the record, Doug told me that I would have been helped even sooner, but the team had to quit laughing first. Now that's the way to start a 3-day weekend!)

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

WFMW - Slave Labor

With the up and coming move, we've involved our kids in the entire process. They've helped pray for the sale of our house. They trudged through more houses than they would care to admit. They've continued to pray that God would lead us to the house in which He wants us to live. Now they're praying that God will make friends readily available for them when we move to the new place.

In other words, they have an invested interest in this move.

So now that we're at the packing stage, guess what my kids want to do? Let me put it this way: There are four full boxes in The Boy's room and The Girl is cleaning out her desk so that she can pack her things away. And I've had no hand in any of it.

If you get your kids excited enough about anything, they quickly will offer their services to help. And having one less room to pack definitely works for me!

(By the way, it's working for teaching The Girl to cook and for teaching The Boy to help around the yard. You don't have to move to get your kids' help. You just have to encourage excitement in whatever you need to do.)

Head on over to Shannon's for some other great tips.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gratituesday 8

It's time for a little shout out to the Lord, so you know that it must be Gratituesday, where one can be vocally thankful for something in life.

Today, I am extremely grateful to God that we will NOT BE HOMELESS. The seller and we finally agreed on a bid for the house we want. We've signed the contract and now all we need to do is to have the inspection and then to wait for our closing day.

Oh and as an added blessing, we were looking for a house with a lower cost, knowing that we could repair things as we lived in a house. For just a little more, we were able to find an older house that already has everything done: new roof, new paint, new AC, new kitchen, new paint. It's all been done for us. We only have one thing to change on the house, but that's a want, not a need.

We'll only be five minutes from church and much closer to work for both of us.

Knowing that God could have moved us to much more rural or remote places or to no place at all, we're very thankful that we won't be wandering in the desert like the Israelites with nary a place to lay our heads or any place to call "home" for long. (Personally, I like running water and electricity. I'm spoiled that way. I'm just glad it was in God's plan to give us those things now.)

By the way, I'm really thankful to have so many friends who have raised us to the Lord time and time again for all or our home transitions. Y'all prayed for our house to sell, y'all prayed for us to find a home and y'all prayed for us to have patience like Job. I cannot have prayed for better friends.

Head on over to Laura's place to see some other ways that some bloggers are thankful to God today. Your heart can't help but sing praise to God when you see such words of adoration for the God who provides for all our needs and who keeps us close to Him.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Thank You To Those Who Make This The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

I was having a conversation with a friend of a returning soldier from Iraq. The military man said that he was amazed at what his uniform did for him: on this return trip home, everywhere he went in the airports, people would stop him to say thanks, to buy him a drink or to hug him. He was struck with the thought that so many people would outwardly appreciate him - a stranger - just because he has honor of serving this country. He realized that his uniform was more than just cloth and threads; it was a sign of freedom.


I received this email earlier, and I couldn't help but feel the serious beauty that demands nothing less than my utmost respect and my deepest thanks to the men and women who are courageous, brave and more selfless than I. To those serving our country in any capacity, thank you. For those who have fallen in defending and honoring us, I promise to not crush your backs on which I stand a free citizen.

Here are two pictures that were awarded first and second place at the Picture of the Year International this year. Very very touching photos.

First Place

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Todd Heisler The Rocky Mountain News

When 2nd Lt. James Cathey's body arrived at the Reno Airport, Marines climbed into the cargo hold of the plane and draped the flag over his casket as passengers watched the family gather on the tarmac. During the arrival of another Marine's casket last year at Denver International Airport, Major Steve Beck described the scene as one of the most powerful in the process: "See the people in the windows? They'll sit right there in the plane, watching those Marines. You gotta wonder what's going through their minds, knowing that they're on the plane that brought him home," he said. "They're going to remember being on that plane for the rest of their lives. They're going to remember bringing that Marine home. And they should."

Second Place

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Todd Heisler The Rocky Mountain News

The night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of 'Cat,' and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. "I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it," she said. "I think that's what he would have done."

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

We'd Like It To Be Home Sweet Home... (with update)

Hey, we made an offer on a house. It immediately gave us the feeling of "home" when we saw it.

Would y'all say a prayer that the seller would accept it as it is under what her asking price was? We're really hoping that it's where God wants us to land.

Oh, and it has a guest room so when you decide to come for a visit, we'll have a place for you.

Help us give it to God so that we'll know his direction for us. Thanks!

Update: The seller waited until 2 PM to make a counter offer, to which we made another counter offer, to which she made another counter offer, to which we said "Here's our final offer." As of tonight, she said she would sleep on it and let up know tomorrow. So, we'll know tomorrow.

(And Stacey, just so you know, we can definitely make 5 fit around the house. Heck, we'll even be able to make spots for Jeana's crew, as long as some younguns don't mind the floor...)


Friday, May 23, 2008

You Have Questions; They Have Answers!

Remember when I told you about the Q&A regarding skin, breast, and cervix cancer?

Cancer Q&A

Some answers are in! Some because the doctors were overloaded with good questions and they needed longer than a week to answer them. They're working on them though!

Part One deals with the questions about skin cancer so head on over to Karen's place to find out the answers that you need to know.

Part Two, which will answer the questions regarding breast and cervix cancer will be answered next week.

Speaking of breast cancer, today I received a call from a friend of mine who is having a biopsy done in a couple of weeks on a "suspicious mass." Would you please say a prayer for Rachel? She is incredibly worried about it. She doesn't go to church, but she called me to request to be put on a prayer list. There's no bigger list that I know of than the internet!

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

For the Record: Y'all Rock!

Thank you so much for your suggestions for my Mac situation. Y'all were coming up with some fabulous ideas!

To answer a couple of questions about it, here's what happened: It died. I woke up one day, turned it on and got the gray screen of death. I hadn't done anything with it that was daring other than to bring it to work so that I could try to blog on Blogger blogs. (STUPID WORK FILTERS!)

We did take it to someone, but he couldn't get anything off of it. Nada, zip, zilch. Daneen, don't worry; I'll contact your person because it would be worth the money if we could get just the pictures off of it. Kevin, thanks for the encouragement. Seriously, someone should be able to get something off of it... It's not like it was in a fire, dropped from 100 feet or waterlogged from a pool.

Becky, the funny thing is that we do have an external drive, but THAT quit working too. So the pictures we did have backed up are all in limbo. We have it as a "to try to recover" item on our list too, but we want to wait until we are in the new house to have the money to try it. We'll also grab another external drive while we're at it to hold all of our pictures in a secondary place.

Mr. Right already thought of my Photobucket/blog posts accounts and friends. So we do have some photos, but between you and me, I haven't uploaded nearly enough pictures to it. So many other occasions may be lost, but not forgotten. All in all, I know we'll be okay without them, but right now it just bites.

Oh, and The Girl and I had a blast on our outing, despite my only sleeping a couple of hours the night before. (This house deal is getting to me... I'm not worried, but I can't make my mind shut off about it. All the questions, all the decisions to be made... they are a many...) But we walked the Plaza, looking at all the statues there. Then we visited the ancient sections of the museum, and while there, The Girl held my hand as we walked through the place... while we were with her friends! Amazing, I tell you! Lastly, we ate at Winstead's where the girl and I shared a chocolate milkshake because a girls' day together isn't complete without chocolate!

Over all, it was a great and wonderful day. I really needed a day like that. So, tell me something that was wonderful about your yesterday. Hit me with your best shot.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008


All I can think right now is "Bummer." About 2 months ago our MacBook died. It wasn't even a year old! But now it is dead dead dead.

You want to know the thing that I hate the most? All my pictures were on it. We tried to get them recovered, but the specialist can't get anything off of it. The reason we bought a Mac is because they're supposed to last forever. Well, I'm here to tell you that nothing on this earth will last forever, except maybe Spam.

In a very small way, I feel as if I'm a survivor of a fire. The only thing I want are the things I can't get back - the pictures of my kids in these fun years. Sigh. At least we still have our memories.

Okay, I'm off to make some new memories with my daughter. We're going on a field trip to the museum and then to lunch on the Plaza. Yep, me and about 150 6th graders. Oh, and I will be taking my camera, even if I can't download the pictures for a bit.

You might want to pray for those kids. You know I'm going to mar them for life with my singing. :)

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gratituesday 7

It's time for a little shout out to the Lord, so you know that it must be Gratituesday, where one can be vocally thankful for something in life.

Why is it that I constantly need reminders as to how good God is? I mean, I know he is good, but somewhere along the way, I forget his promises for his children. Then I start thinking about how hopeless things seem, how much of we need to get by and what we don’t have, knowing that things are going to be mighty tough soon.

On Thursday, I started nagging Mr. Right about his lack of follow-through that may help us in the long run. Then I thought about the medical bills that we can’t pay at this moment, the ones that are coming up and lots of lean times and creative accounting to make sure that we can get by until some unknown, long-lost relative passes and leaves us a small inheritance to pay these bills. In other words, things were looking bleak in my eyes.

By bedtime, I could feel my heart racing and my worries growing to epic proportions. I was moody, exasperating to Mr. Right and depressed. After one long big sigh, I realized that I couldn’t keep it in, so I turned to Mr. Right and said, “Mr. Right, can I just tell you that I’m struggling with a bunch of financial worries. I know I shouldn’t be feeling this at all, but I can’t stop!” Mr. Right in all his wisdom, grabbed my hand and said, “Then let’s read.” He didn’t try to take the place of God and make things better. He loved me with all my fears and sought to offer relief for me. I know that he started praying for me too. And my spirit felt more at ease immediately. I even had a full night’s sleep, something that I thought would evade me when I was in my panic mode.

The next day when I was looking at our bank account online, the account balances page showed an incredibly high amount in our checking account. Surely this must be a big mistake! I opened the checking account to find that our IRS “bonus” check was electronically deposited to a tune of triple of what we expected, just enough to cover the present bills and the ones that will be coming in a month. I immediately called Mr. Right to tell him about this blessing, and I just started bawling. Once again, it was as if God said to me, “See? I know your heart, silly girl. Now quit your useless worrying and find something worthwhile to do. I’ve got everything under control. Just trust me.”

Throw in the fact that HE sold our house since the time I've written this post, and I can really see God smiling and shaking his head at me and my doubts. O me of little faith... I can only hope that God will continually help me in my unbelief.

So it’s for mercy and grace that I’m extremely thankful, not to mention God’s excellent sense of humor. When God says that he’s got it, He does, even if I can’t see it.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Simply Amazing

You know what amazes me the most about this world? That it's not as standoffish or closed-off as it seems at times. Y'all amaze me with your offers of encouragement, support and readiness to pray for someone across the web. I don't mean just for me either. Kelli, Heather, missionaries, tsunami/tornado/earthquake/hurricane survivors, Compassion... Y'all are not even picky about for whom you'll pray. Thank you for your sweet embraces. You all have made me smile quite a bit lately.

You know what else amazes me? The way that God continually shows his power.

Take Mr. Right's bout with melanoma. Only God could orchestrate such a situation that encouraged not only us, but our friends as well. We've been able to share that story, giving God all the glory for his protection.

Take when Mr. Right being let go from his job not even a month after we bought our house. God showed his hand of protection those few months that he was searching. Twice someone stepped up and anonymously paid our mortgage. We had more food to eat than we ever could eat. It seemed that we had more money in the bank than we did when Mr. Right was employed, all because of the outpouring of support and love from our friends and the church. When we would profuse our thanks to anyone, I can't tell you how many times we heard, "Stop right there. You don't know what a blessing it is to me to be able to do this for you. Thank you for letting me serve God through you." Wow. Talk about eye-opening. This lack of job stuff had more going on behind the scenes than we realized!

Take our house being on the market. When we put it on the market last year, we had this feeling that God was telling us to sell. Okay, Mr. Right had the feeling. I was pouting in the corner about selling my home. But God is good at using situations that deal with the physical world to make big changes in our hearts. Soon I came to see that selling the house wasn't about me and my wants at all. It's about trusting God to lead us and following whenever he calls. That lesson was totally worth the breaking of my selfish spirit and letting me see a bigger view.

Take the crummy agent (unbeknownst to us) who brought no clients nor advertisement. Our clean place saw a few visitors, but not many. When the basement had seepage after a huge rain (and we're on a hill, y'all!), we pulled it off the market thinking that maybe we misheard God's directions. Then we received enough money to fix the basement, buy a sump pump and replace the old carpet with a much better carpet. Due to some wonderful networking and finding a quality workman who made bids at a fraction of the cost of other workmen, we were able to save about 4K to throw into savings.

Next our insurance agent came out for something or other, and while there, he asked if we received any money for the hail that came through our area. After replying that we received a letter from his offers that basically said, "Don't even think about asking for money because we told you that roof had to be replaced when you bought it," he said that we must have read that letter wrong and that he would send an inspector our right away. By the end of the week, we had half the money to pay for the new roof. The other half was the from the money we saved from using the carpet guy. So we had a new basement and a new roof in no time, with little money out of our pocket.

This March we were still feeling the directive to put the house on the market. Many people around here said, "I don't know about this market... You might want to wait," or "You're selling it yourself? Are you crazy? You need someone who has the buyers to show your house. Well, good luck with that."

We always reply that if God wants it sold, he'll sell it no matter what the market looks like. Our God, he's the God of all things impossible. He likes to flex his muscles when he knows it seems like that there is not good end possible.

So, anyone want to guess what happened this weekend?

Let me give you a hint: we spent all day yesterday (after church, of course) looking at houses...

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Nip and Tuck This Info Away

Did you know?

  • Melanoma - Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells. One American dies from melanoma almost every hour (every 62 minutes) and is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old. If detected in the early stages before it reaches the lymph nodes, melanoma has a 99 percent five-year survival.
  • Breast cancer - Excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women. An estimated 40,930 breast cancer deaths (40,480 women, 450 men) are expected in 2008. Early detection remains the single most effective way for combating the disease with regular mammograms suggested for women once they reach age 40. When detected early before it spreads, women have a 98 percent survival rate after five years.
  • Cervical cancer - Cervical cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the cervix or the lower part of a woman’s uterus. While cervical cancer was once a leading cause of cancer death for women, the number of deaths has decreased dramatically due to prevention and early detection. When detected early before the cancer spreads, women have a 92-percent survival rate after five years.

About three years ago, Mr. Right had moles removed, tested and diagnosed as the worse cancer a mole could contain: Melanoma. Couple this discovery with this statement: “Although the incidence of melanoma is lower than other types of skin cancer, it has the highest death rate and is responsible for 79 percent of all deaths from skin cancer,” you could see why I would be “slightly worried.”

Do you want to take a gander at how often I was praying for a change? Not just me, but the church, friends, family? That pray without ceasing thing was finally understood by me. We had many friends who offered to help pay for tests and to do whatever it took to ease our burdens. We have mighty good friends is all I can say.

When Mr. Right went back to the doctors, the specialist was amazed. After rerunning the tests a third time, the moles weren’t just benign; they were shown to be healthy, with no hint at all that cancer was present. So not only did God remove the cancer, he sponged away any insurance comments that would have been left on a record. That God… he sure is good.

Now I have a new pray without ceasing moment: My gynecologist ordered that I have a hysterosonogram and an endobiopsy due to some abnormal results that "just don't look right" and some pain with my menstrual cycle. God’s been really good to me because I really don’t think about it. I have a good peace right now and I’m not worrying about it, but you know that I’m going to be there, checking things out despite the impending bills we’ll receive. Some things are worth the cost, especially knowledge.

So with that memory and my up-and-coming procedures running around in my head, I want to encourage you to head over to Karen’s place, Simply A Musing Blog. She has a wonderful Q & A idea that involves our asking questions and some doctors at Texas Oncology answering them. She’s doing all she can think of doing to “nip cancer in the bud with early detection.” Hey, like she says: “If we are only able to help save one life with early detection, it will be WORTH it.”

Cancer Q&A

Here are a few details about the event, but please head over to her place to post your questions.

Her objective is to promote early detection and yearly screening as the best tool for preventing the deaths of thousands of women from skin, breast, and cervical cancers by taking is taking questions straight to the doctors at Texas Oncology to have them answered.

Leave your questions/send your questions to Karen starting today through Sunday. Comments will close Sunday, May 18 at 9pm central. By Friday, May 23, you can find the answers your questions back at Simply A Musing Blog.

We blog about all sorts of fun things, tidbit and memories. We share tips and recipes. Why not share something that just may help save a life or two or possibly yours?

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

10 Things I Hate About Me

Thanks Sherry at Life With Sherry for picking me to do this meme.

Of course, I can't be just like everyone else, so I had to put my little spin on things. Originally, the meme was to tell 10 things about your self, but since I've done those a few time, I thought I'd do this one with a twist. If you're tagged, then you can do whichever one suits your mood.

So hate is a really strong word. Let's change it to dislike and move on, shall we?

And it could go without saying that there are more than 10 things that I don't like about myself, especially if I'm running close to my "Give Me Chocolate And Back Away" time. Fortunately for you, I'm not near it, so I easily left it at 10.

  1. I'm pretty self-centered. I've shared with you that I struggle with thinking of others first. However, God, in all his infinite wisdom, gives me plenty of opportunities to work on this one.

  2. Sometimes, I'm dissatisfied and complain when I have no right to complain. Overall, my life is extremely blessed, and I need to remember that fact.

  3. I get angry to quickly. Too often I jump the gun about a situation without having all the facts. My poor kids... at least they get to hear an adult say "I'm sorry" a lot.

  4. I'm bossy. Sometimes it comes in handy; sometimes it's plain old annoying.

  5. I cannot remember jokes! It's so annoying to get into one and then have to backtrack because I forgot a major part and then forget the ending and wind up just tapering off at the end.

  6. I'm a terrible penpal. I started writing to Lori, aka Pezmama and now a former blogger, a couple of years ago. I kept it up for a while, but the last letter I sent to her was a Valentine's Day card. Somehow that doesn't equate to great letter writing in my book.

  7. I don't always answer the phone. Most of the time I'll let the answering machine get it. I mainly do it to prove that the phone doesn't have power over me. This tidbit drives Mr. Right nuts.

  8. I'm so forgetful. Sometimes I start something and

  9. I get envious of others too often. This attitude doesn't always work well with trying to have a God-like life. I'm sure that God's envious of nothing.

  10. I don't have the world's greatest willpower. For example, I need to exercise. I know that I need to exercise. I actually want to exercise. But if it's cold outside, I'll read a book instead. Or take this one, I'm full from dinner and quite satisfied. But I see a brownie and suddenly, I want that brownie. I need that brownie. I have the brownie, but then I regret my decision withing minutes because now I'm uncomfortably stuffed. The sad thing is that I knew I would feel that way if I ate the brownie, and I ate it anyway.
Okay now I tag Pam, Susanne, Chilihead, Sister Honey Bunch, Beck (this one should be easy for you, right?) and My Best Investments. And feel free to change the meme back to things you love about yourself if you're not as negative about yourself as I am.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Green Detergent That Saves Some Green (Free Sample!)

Back in the days before I made my own detergent, I used to buy Purex, mainly because it cleaned really well at a fraction of what Tide, Gain or All cost. I was always pleased with its scent, its cleaning power and its price.

A week ago, I received a sample bottle of the new Purex Natural Elements Apple & Melon scented detergent, a laundry cleaner derived from 100 % natural cleansing ingredients and natural fragrance. I had high hopes about this detergent. I wondered if it could still live up to its reputation of cleaning really well while being gentle on the environment.

I can honestly say that after umpteen loads of laundry, I am extremely please with the results. It really is tough on dirt while it’s still softens the clothes and makes them smell fantastic! This detergent is concentrated, so I still have many capfuls left after all my washing. And being the rebel that I am, I always just poured the capful into the tub when I started the washer and threw my clothes into the washer immediately. I’ve had clean clothes every single time.

So if you’re looking for a way to go a little greener without it costing an arm and a leg, I would recommend this detergent. If Apple & Melon aren’t for you, there’s also Linen & Lilies or Cherry Blossoms & Vanilla. You can find a 100 oz bottle for about $7. So not only is Purex going green, it’s saving green too!

If you want to know more about this product, check out this Purex site. In addition to tips and product information, the site is home to an auction of celebrity designed t-shirts with eco-friendly slogans with all proceeds going to the Earth Day Network (check out Jaime Pressly and Bette Midler’s designs among others). Consumers can also get involved by entering the national design contest and creating a virtual t-shirt with your own original design. Every person who enters the contest will get a free sample. The winner will have their design produced for sale on the Web site (with all proceeds going to EDN) and will win a smart-for-two car from Mercedes Benz.

Not in the mood to design a shirt? You can still get a free sample here.

You’re welcome.

Head on over to Shannon’s place for some other fabulous tips.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gratituesday 6

It's time for a little shout out to the Lord, so you know that it must be Gratituesday, where one can be vocally thankful for something in life.

Four days ago, when I was having an awkward day, I asked Mr. Right to make us some brownies. That sweet man knows me well; after pouring some into the pan, he handed me the bowl and spatula, making sure that he left quite a bit behind for me to lick clean.

Three days ago, when I had about 3 hours of sleep, Mr. Right gave me a massage to help relax me for a nap. He never once belittled me for being a lazy bum who read most of the day in hopes of it helping me to fall asleep. (I finally got an hour’s nap sometime in the afternoon.)

That same day when Mr. Right called one of our friends with whom we always eat Sunday lunch to ask about the Mother’s Day plans, he spoke briefly to one of the other men. We were all to go to someone’s house for a barbeque. I inquired as to what they wanted our family to bring. The look I received lead me to believe that bringing something never came up. Another call to our friend indicated that we could just bring a side and a dessert.

“So, what do you think you should make?” asked Mr. Right.

“Are you really asking what you think I should make to bring to a Mother’s Day lunch?” I inquired, arching my eyebrows to give the look.

“Ummm, I probably shouldn’t have asked that,” he meekly replied with a smile.

Two days ago, I awoke around 6:30 in the morning with a smile on my face. Ahhh! Mother’s Day! Rolling over to gently wake the man in charge of the morning festivities, I whispered, “If you want to make me breakfast in bed, you’re going to need to get the kids up and get started.”

“Huh?” and a glare at disturbing some sweet dreams is what I got from him. I repeated my statement, adding, “If you’re not doing breakfast in bed with the kids, then I’m getting up.”

“Oh. Yeah. So what do you want?”

“Are you really asking me that?” I asked for the second time in 24 hours.

“Ummm, I probably shouldn’t ask that either,” he meekly replied again.

40 minutes later, after quickly hiding the book I was reading and looking as if I was asleep, I “awoke” to a kiss from The Boy. Next, The Girl sang me a sweet little serenade to the tune of James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful song. “You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful. In every single way. Happy Mother’s Day.” After that came Mr. Right with a huge chocolate chip pancake, bacon and coffee that was going to hit the spot. Homemade cards, morning snuggles and breakfast in bed… it doesn’t get much better than that, no matter what day of the week it is.

The rest of the day was fun with multiple families and as relaxing as I’ll get out. (Oh, and he decided to bring chips and brownies to the bbq.) That night he cooked us steaks. They were so good, I even helped him with the dishes. (They were that good.)

I’m grateful that God has given me such a sweet man who has a funny sense of humor, as well as the insight as to how to treat me like a queen, his queen. Not only is he good to me, he encourages our children to show their affections in their own unique ways. I thank God for His goodness that is so visible through the people in my life.

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Monday, May 12, 2008


Tragedy struck the summer before my sophomore year. Mandy, my dear friend and confidant, had to move. Being in our military town certainly had its advantages: new friends, cultural diversity, southern upbringing, the determination to hold dear to others while they were around. The major disadvantage was that most everyone had to move just when you formed a beautiful friendship. So before our second year of high school began, I had to help my best friend pack up and move halfway across the state to Murfreesboro. So with many tears and as many promises to stay friends, I waved my sweet Mandy off to a new year somewhere new. As much as it hurt to say goodbye, at least I had the stability of familiarity and an established community of friends. Mandy was starting all over in high school. That’s not always an easy move.

However, God had a funny twist in store for me. Our home rooms, that first 10 minutes of accounting for each student’s presence, was divided up by last name. I was in the room that held M-P, which allowed me to start the day with my friends Danny and Jennifer… always a good thing when you’re in many of the same classes. We really helped each other with the homework not done (wink, wink) But suddenly there was a new boy in the room. He was quiet and well-mannered, but that didn’t stop me from walking up to him, plopping down beside him and commencing to hold a conversation with him. (I know, it’s shocking that I would make a big jump out there like that, huh?)

I soon discovered that I would have several classes with this boy named Ken. Like me, he elected to take the AP classes in almost everything: English, Trig, chemistry. Unlike me, he was artistic in an entirely different way. Where I was all about the vocal and dramatic art, he was an actual artist who left something of his talent to be seen by others. And he played something rather unheard of at that time – soccer. I had no idea what it was, but I soon found out.

So out stepped Mandy and in stepped Ken. God is good in so many ways. He knew that I needed Ken to keep my balance and perspective. He was logical, grounded – you know, typical male characteristics – but fun and witty, but not as the same caliber as me. He appreciated my outgoingness and sense of adventure as much as I loved his steadiness and outlook on life, not to mention his more intelligent answers to a number of math questions. He was a great conversationalist and (eventually) a wonderful movie/dance/pal-around mate. We made a great pair from day one.

It’s rather odd having a guy for a best friend. Well, not for me, but it was for most other people, probably my parents too. Most of my friends kept asking if Ken and I were an item. “No, we’re just really great friends,” was my usually reply. The funny thing was that as the year advanced, Ken decided that he wanted to be more than just friends. I distinctly remember the note declaring his affections for me. He also asked me out to a school dance in a group date setting. It was exciting but weird and unsettling at the same time. I didn’t know what I felt about Ken except that he was my best friend, that I could talk to him about anything and everything and that I spent more time with him than anyone else. Knowing that I was closed to dating age (16) and that his parents would be taking us to the dance, my parents let me go. They had met Ken enough to know that he was a decent guy.

We went. We had a great time as usual, but in my heart, I knew that I couldn’t see myself with him. Why? He was Catholic. I didn’t want to get involved with someone where religion might eventually play a huge factor in our relationship. (Please don’t ask how I knew that was something to consider. It seemed like such a mature decision at the time.) Sure I loved most everything about him, but I valued his friendship so much more. After explaining all these feelings to him, he was upset for a bit but then accepted them gracefully, and we agreed that our friendship was worth more than what might have developed over time… because he was staying Catholic and I wasn’t converting. Fortunately, he was a man of his word. We didn’t have any kind of breakdown in our relationship. If anything, it was stronger afterwards.

The school year progressed beautifully, full of more love of English with Mrs. Dobson, fun in French II, a new found love of chemistry (Loved Mr. Como and his teaching style, not to mention the experiments!), and of course Concert Choir. Yes, readers, I progressed enough to make it into the top choir. Woo hoo! It didn’t matter that I went from a first soprano to an alto. I was just so happy to be in the class. Don’t ask. I don’t understand it either. And the bonus was that there was a new teacher whom I adored, Miss Morrow. I loved being around her so much that I was soon given the nickname Shadow. Unfortunately for me, she was only there for a semester because she was getting married. The nerve of her! (At least she let us sing at her wedding.)

So we had a new teacher, Ms. Thomas; she was just as likable and kind to us. We were quite pleased with her as a teacher, even if she did start the semester off track. She was in an accident and began her classes a week late on crutches and with a black eye. Hey, at least everyone listened well to her out of pity.

Plays became a vital part of my high school experience. We had a new drama teacher, Mr. Collins. He was a large, gregarious, young teacher who brought new life to the stage. His first production was Godspell, and though I didn’t win a part, I took on a backstage role as a set maker and a props assistant in order to learn all that I could from theater experience. One huge role that I took great pride in doing was being the daisy pusher-upper. (In one scene where Jesus was talking about the flowers, he made them “grow”. My being the skinny-minnie, 80-lbs-soaking-wet person that I was, I was the one deemed small enough to crawl under the slightly raised platform to handle that task. I relished that distinction.)

I worked on the other plays as well: The Star-Spangled Girl as the Prop Manager, and finally I had my chance to be on stage as an extra in Grease. I was a pink lady and other various extras throughout the play. My favorite part was at the opening of the second act where I was one of the many people getting ready for the big dance. During the rehearsals, Mr. Collins let us do our own thing to see what would come out of it. For my part, I started stuffing my bra with tissues, making me much more endowed than God had in mind. He watched me, started busting out laughing and then told me to keep that bit, no matter what. Later in the dance scene, when some girl stole my date, I reached into my bra, pulled out a tissue and started wailing as I ran off stage. I got more laughs out of that little gesture. That made me happy.

In 1987, I turned 16. My friend Jennifer threw a huge surprise party for me and all our friends. It was wonderful, not to mention really crowded… I felt so good that night. My hair looked good and no pimples the size of Ireland. I was wearing my oversized white button down, my beige pants that were rolled tightly against my legs, my slip-on tennis shoes and my really cool Swatch Watch. As a matter of fact, it was so cool that Jennifer asked to see it to show it to someone else. Then Danny said that it was a warm party night and everyone should take off their shoes. Then Ken asked me to go out to the back yard with him to say hi to those out there. As soon as I hit the back yard, the next think I knew two guys had me up and over the side of the pool. I’d say that it bothered me, but that would be lying. I used that time to splash everyone else. My only problem came when I realized I was wearing a white shirt… Ummm, white and water do not a good combination make. Laughs all around, along with a towel and a new set of Jennifer’s clothes and the party was a lot of fun.

It was actually a great start to that fun summer and the joys of being allowed (finally) to drive.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

A woman, renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's office was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation. She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself. "What I mean is," explained the recorder, "do you have a job or are you just a...?"

"Of course I have a job," snapped the woman.

"I'm a Mom."

"We don't list 'Mom' as an occupation, "housewife covers it," said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day, I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient and possessed of a high sounding title like, "Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar."

"What is your occupation?" she probed.

What made me say it? I do not know. The words simply popped out. "I'm a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations."*

The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair and looked up as though she had not heard right. I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?"

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn't) in the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out). I'm working for my Masters, (the whole family) and already have four credits (all daughters). Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?), and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money."

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants -- ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6 month old baby) in the child development program, testing out a new vocal pattern. I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another Mom."

Motherhood! What a glorious career! Especially when there's a title on the door.

Does this make grandmothers "Senior Research associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations" and great grandmothers Executive Senior Research Associates"? I think so!!! I also think it makes Aunts "Associate Research Assistants.

Whatever your title, Happy Mother's Day!


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Another Giveaway That I Don't Really Want YOU To Win

So since I'm all about trying to win free good stuff (Target gift card from Blogged-In, A&E Romantic Classics from everyone - but most presently Barb), I might as well tell you about the Netflix giveaway at Kelli's place, Living In Grace. She's giving away a mighty fun prize.

"I'm giving away FOUR! FREE! starter memberships to Netflix. You will get a one month subscription to Netflix, and can rent up to three movies at any time. So, if you play your cards right, you could watch between TWELVE! and SIXTEEN! movies FREE! at home.

But wait! there's more!
Netflix also lets you watch movies on your computer! Instantly!

But wait! There's even MORE!
The winners will recieve a Movie Goodies Box from me, full of yummy treats to indulge in while watching their movies! (To win, you will need to be willing to trust me with your physical address).

Word on the street is that you shouldn't trust her at all. I'm just sayin'...

I don't want to tell you because I'm stinkin' selfish and I'd love to watch some of may favorites-but-I-don't-own-them movies, but really, it's worth the 10 extra entries to hope that you'll enter and then "forget" to tell others because you want to win too.

Hmmm, I was just thinking... I wish that someone would have a Colonix giveaway. I think my chances would be MUCH greater at winning that kind of prize because I'm probably the only one who would want to win something like that...

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Who What When Where Meme

I found this meme at Pam's place, Without Fear. I couldn't help myself.
  • Where is your cell phone? In my purse... along with my new matching Bluetooth which I still haven't gotten used to yet.

  • Your significant other? Well, assuming you mean Mr. Right, he's upstairs in the shower. Hey! That gives me an idea. I'll be back in a bit...

  • Your hair? Well, some of it I'm sure is down the drain now... But the rest is still on top of my head.

  • Your mother? In Florida with my Dad

  • Your father? In Florida with my Mom

  • Your favorite thing? My favorite thing is still upstairs getting ready for work. (My two other favorite things are at school.)

  • Your dream last night? Gone. I didn't have any Chocolate Fudge ice cream to bring out the good stuff.

  • Your favorite drink? My favorite drink is separated in different parts of the kitchen, waiting to be mixed for a wonderfully fruity and refreshing cocktail. That gives me another idea! But I'll wait until tonight to follow through on that one.

  • Your dream/goal? To go on a long, romantic trip with Mr. Right to Italy

  • The room you’re in? Kitchen, but I'd rather be in the bathroom (see above)

  • Your fears? They're locked in the remotest part of my heart, wanting to come out, but I've prayed to God that he'll keep them imprisoned for the rest of my life. Those suckers are gonna be there a looooong time.

  • Where do you want to be in 6 years? Happily living with Mr. Right, while the The Girl is getting ready to go to her graduation and The Boy is preparing to hit the high school scene. Good night... All that in six years?! Oh, that's too soon.

  • Where were you last night? Home with the family, taking a walk with the family, then reading a book - but not with the family. We did however all pile onto the bed and read our own books. So I lied. I did read with the family.

  • What you’re not? Tall or perfect or as funny as I think I am or as thin as you think I am

  • Muffins? No, I'm not a muffin either. But if I were, I'd be a blueberry or strawberry one.

  • One of your wish list items? I've already told you that one... More nets please!

  • Where you grew up? Millington, Tennessee - but technically speaking, I'm still growing up even if it means that I won't get an inch taller in height.

  • The last thing you did? Took a drink of yummy coffee (Thanks Avon for our wonderful gift!)

  • What are you wearing? A tank and black exercise pants, which have been poorly named in my case...

  • Your TV? OFF, and that suits me just fine.

  • Your pets? At my mother-in-awe's house. We miss that cat.

  • Your computer? I'd love to say iBook, but wouldn't you know it? We got one that crashed (gasp!), and we have to have it fixed. Now I'm on the PC in the kitchen.

  • Your life? Well-lived and well-loved

  • Your mood? I'm feeling pretty happy and content right now.

  • Missing someone? Yes! Would you all come for visits sometime? I could use some company to share this good mood. You bring the wine. Mr. Right and Iwill make the pie.

  • Your car? No, I'm not missing my car, although I love my sweet Accord.

  • Something you’re not wearing? Well, a bra for starters... (#19)

  • Favorite store? TJ Maxx, Walmart, Target, Aldi, Junior League store - basically anywhere I can get a great deal at an incredibly low price

  • Your summer? Will be spent mostly at home with Mr. Right, thanks the ever-rising gas prices. The kids will be at Grandma's again and hopefully, we'll be packing up and moving into a new home before the kids return. Hey, one can always hope!

  • Like someone? Well, I always pictured myself like Sandra Bullock or Katharine Hepburn, at least in their funnier roles. Knowing y'all, you're thinking I'm more like Grover or Oscar the Grouch

  • Your favorite color? Blue. No, red! Aaaaahhhh... (Name that movie.)

  • When is the last time you laughed? This morning. The Boy tried on all his shorts and he can be pretty entertaining when you get him one on one.

  • Last time you cried? Hmmm... I'll say Sunday because sometimes those sermons hit right were I need to be hit.

  • Who will repost this? Good question. You tell me!

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Do I Have To Share?

I really don't want to tell you this little tidbit of information because it will decrease my chances of winning... But I'm also striving to be less selfish, so this will make a great start.

So you wanna chance to win a cold hard gift card to Target? Then head on over to Blogged-In Network to see how you too could pay for your daughter's new tennis shoes. And some new shorts for her ever-growing body. And a new swim trunk for your son. (So you see, I wasn't completely self-centered. I'm pretend spending it on my kids. That has to count for something.)

If you win and I don't, just remember that my kids may be going commando next year. You're welcome.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

WDWFM - Not Participating In Life

It's one of those days for me. I can't seem to wake up. I'm not grumpy, but I can tell that I'm not my normal merry self either. What's up with that? Perhaps the fieldtrip with my son took more out of me than I thought it would. I know that I woke up yesterday with legs that were telling me that I had more muscles that aren't being put to good use than I thought.

Here's my gripe: Why is it that parents will go on a fieldtrip with their kids and not participate with them? I was the sole parent who chose to get in there and have fun with the kids. The rest of the moms (and one dad) sat outside the area and just talked amongst themselves.

The school went to a play place where the kids could play in the foam ball pit, play miniature golf and then go through a series of mini-classes that taught about weather. When we arrived at the establishment, our group was the first to enter the pit. The kids walked in, but they weren't really playing. I saw the problem: No one knew what the room was capable of doing. I ran upstairs, quickly threw some balls into a container and started pelting the kids with foam balls.

Oh. My. Lands! You should have seen the look of understanding that crossed their faces. Squeals of glee could be heard throughout the room as the kids quickly ran upstairs to shoot each other with balls. I totally got pelted a time or two for all my trouble. Kids!

I quickly headed down and told some other kids to start throwing balls into the machine in the center of the room. Over time, the machine would blast several balls into the air all over the room. This produced more screams of delight.

For the piece de resistance, I had the kids start vacuuming up balls, but I didn't tell them why. They also gathered balls to throw into another vacuum-type machine. Soon I heard a beeping sound so I gathered all the kids to one spot, backed up and watched as a huge bucket dumped all the balls onto the kids. You would have thought that they had died and gone to heaven, they were so happy!

It was the same for the rest of the day, even on the bus. But one joy I had was that several of the kids were requesting to sit by me on the way home. We played charades, sang songs and overall had a wonderful time with each other. I had a feeling that they were glad to have an adult talk with them in a way that didn't involve yelling or disciplining. The smiles were contagious.

And The Boy? He was really happy to have his mom along on the fieldtrip, spending unexpected time with him as he shared me with the other kids.

My other gripe? I didn't download the pictures in time for this post. That definitely doesn't work for me.

What I'm mainly trying to say is that rather than sit on the sidelines, why don't you jump into the game? You might find that you're having just as much fun as the kids. I, for one, did not feel that it was a wasted day, even if my legs aren't really thanking me.

Head on over to the timed-out Shannon's place to see what other things doesn't work!


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Gratituesday 5

It's time for a little shout out to the Lord, so you know that it must be Gratituesday, where one can be vocally thankful for something in life.

I'm so thankful that Christian music has evolved to a point of being as good or better than secular music. When I was growing up, most of the Christian music was good, but not anything that you would want to hear on the radio. It seemed mostly sappy or slow or slightly operatic... not exactly the stuff you want to listen to or share with your friends. (That's just my opinion. You were more than entitled to have liked the early origins of Christian music.)

Now, I love the musical offerings of today's artists. Mercy Me, Monk and Eagle, Lifehouse, Superchick, Hawk Nelson... those are just a few (very few) of the artists that have worthwhile, positive lyrics set to rocking music, music that is for the most part above par to the secular songs. We've taken to giving today's Christian music as presents to family and friends or for no reason at all. We just like the artistry available to us nowadays.

Speaking of new music, I was one of the hundred who received the new Matt Maher CD.


I didn't want to post on it right away; I wanted to listen to it well and often to give an honest opinion about it. Here it is: It is AWESOME! I like the tender reality of his voice that has the capability of full throttle in the climatic parts. The songs are authentic and relatable to Christians in their everyday walk with God. My favorite song on the CD is Lay It Down. It's such a simple yet poingnant song about letting ourselves lay everything down at the feet of God, where it belongs in the first place.

If you're looking for a new addition to your summer rides, I highly recommend that you get this album.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

The Birthday Fun

Sorry Mom and Chris... you'll have to wait til next Monday for the high school memories and the really great music.

Thank you all so much for the sweet birthday wishes. I did indeed have a wonderful day! It's amazing how much fun you can have when you and your family are pretty footloose and fancy free.

I posted the birthday list before we did anything that day, so there were a few minor additions to it.

First of all, the weather was supposed to be rainy and cold, but one of God's gift to me was a beautifully sunny 70 day. The kids and I took the opportunity to plant some flowers while Mr. Right was mowing the lawn. The hanging pots were missing from our pretty view.

Secondly, our neighbor, the one who works for AMC, came over to see if we wanted to go see a movie. (He gets free tickets and he offered them to us.) So we went to go see Iron Man, which I must tell you was thoroughly enjoyable. There were a couple of parts that I wish the story left out - like a one night stand, but they only implied the one night stand, not showed it. But the story was witty and enjoyable, the graphics were phenomenal and the time was well spent. Oh! And stay to the very end past the credits. (We always stay to find the caterer... don't know why, we just have always done that.) Anyway, we stayed to the end and there was an extra little bit at the end.

Dinner couldn't be any better... except maybe if Addie and Ben could have made it. The food was delish and the company was even better. I think we all had a great time together.

Everyone came back to the house for desserts, wine and fun. The funny part about the evening was that a couple stopped by to pick up a sheet for the house and began looking in the back yard. The Girl came running in to say that a weird man was checking out the house, so Mr. Right went out to check him out. Next thing I know, the man is inside looking around the house. Ummm, did I mention the fact that it was my birthday and I didn't waste anytime cleaning a thing? So there were unmade beds, dirty laundry and a kitchen that had the telltale signs of baking. I ran up to at least try to compile the dirty underwear into one place and to put away the ironing board. Next think I know, the man's wife is looking at the house, and I begged someone to come upstairs with me to make the beds and to clean the toothpaste out of the sink. (Thank you, Laura!) The funny thing is that if that couple buys this house (and they did seem very interested), then that will prove once again that it's God in control, not us, because we broke every house-selling rule that day. We had guests, we didn't have a clean house, our kids were climbing the trees, and we literally aired our dirty laundry. I find the entire situation truly humorous and fitting to the honor of God. Kind of like the walls of Jericho falling down with only some people walking around and blowing trumpets. We'll see if they want it, but if not, it's at least a great story...

The rest of the night we relaxed, played charades and SWAP! and enjoyed each other. (Oh, and I received some wonderful gifts. I'm geared up for chocolate, coffee, there's a new planter on the front porch, an AMC giftcard, a new Bluetooth piece for when I'm willing to talk on the cell, and three wonderful massages in my future. Oh, and my kids made me the most precious coupons to use with them later. I can't wait to use them!)

I plopped into bed, tired and happy. I couldn't have had a better birthday at all. It's good to be 37.

I've taken the day off to go on a field trip with The Boy. I'll catch y'all on the flip side tomorrow.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008


What does turning 37 mean to me?
  1. Lunch the week before with my boss (steak with blue cheese crumbles)
  2. Gift card to favorite Chinese restaurant
  3. Lunch the day before birthday with coworkers for worlds best salad
  4. Thoughtful gifts from them (I'll be smelling really great for a while.)
  5. Smiling at the number of “birthday gifts” from my online friends (Yay y’all!)
  6. Waking to kisses from the not so little ones
  7. Morning snuggles from them (still!)
  8. Coffee in bed with the man I love
  9. Biscuits and gravy
  10. Morning serenade
  11. Homemade cards
  12. Special gifts from the kids
  13. Checking to see if I still look young
  14. Having a day with no plans (that I know of anyway)
  15. Being waited on hand and foot
  16. Time alone with Mr. Right (ahem)
  17. Reading next P.D. James book in series
  18. Not having to make lunch
  19. Spending time with my favorite people
  20. Calls from the family with well wishes
  21. Dinner at my favorite place (see #2)
  22. With lots of friends
  23. Much laughing
  24. Much conversing
  25. Returning home for games
  26. Charades
  27. Strawberry pie
  28. Apple pie
  29. Brownies
  30. Decaf coffee
  31. Wine
  32. Opening gifts
  33. Tucking tired-but-not-sleepy kids into bed
  34. Thanking friends for their love and the pleasure of their company
  35. Falling into bed happy
  36. Knowing that I have an extremely blessed life
  37. Thanking God for giving me another wonderful year

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Friday, May 02, 2008

The Fourth Servant

Do you know the parable about the talents? The one where the master gives 5 talents to one servant, 2 talents to another and one talent to the last servant? The master leaves for a journey. The first two servants double the talents given to them, but the last one does nothing but bury it in the ground. The master is thrilled with the first two servants because they did something with the money he gave them. However, the last one earns his ire because he did nothing with it. He just sat on the money, knowing that his master was hard. He just wanted to give it back to him to avoid the master’s fearsome anger. Then the master takes the talent and gives it to the servant with 10 talents and throws the lazy servant out of his service.

What if there were a fourth outcome? What if the last servant took the money and gave it all away to some other souls who needed it more than he did, giving it away in his master’s name? I think then that the master would have been pleased in the outward effort of the servant to do some good with that which was given to him and adding praise to the lips of others for the generosity of the master, making the others long to work for that generous master too.

I really hope that when God comes to collect me, He finds me divvying out the blessings that he gives me to others who really need it. After all, the gold here will pale in comparison to the streets I’ll be walking someday.

Everyone has talents, time and money. It's what we're doing with them that will count when we want the Master call us “good and faithful servants.”

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Water For Elephants

Contrary to what a commenter who described me as closed-minded and not wanting to “live in the real world” thinks, I love a good story – one that is genuine, substantial, gritty, with all sorts of obstacles to overcome and all sorts of real life situations to endure. I want to read stories where the protagonist is believable, struggling with some fear or hindrance, but in the end finding something worthy about an unknown inner strength. I don’t equate quality to Christian literature, clean virtue or perky storylines. I deem a story worthwhile for its excellent writing, its wonderful character definitions and its ability to make me think, believe, hope, ponder. However, I would hope that a writer can present such a story without the vulgarity of explicit sex, crude situations or terrible language.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have to have fairy tale endings. Often my favorite books leave me crying over the impending peril or pain that a favored character endured or eventually must suffer. More often than not I have the connection with the characters because they have been written so well that they seem genuine, alive, soulful. I make no apologies for becoming so wrapped up in a story that I emote for a fictional character. It’s the way I work. I am entitled to berate stupidity, to applaud conquests and to weep for a loss. To be honest, I always pictured the emotions and deep connection with a story/character as being the highest compliment a reader could give to an author.

What I resent most of the commenter is that she took one review where I stated my opinion about the atrociousness of a book and labeled me as living out of the real world. She immediately (and incorrectly) assumed that I, not liking what was portrayed nor the poor writing, cannot have a real grasp on life and all its ugliness or all its beauty. Too bad she took no time to read any of my other reviews. She would be sorely embarrassed for her quick judgment and lack of grace.

I just needed to get that off my chest. Now I feel better. Thanks for bearing through the first part to get to the review.

Remembering that I just deemed a story worthwhile and beautiful based on it being “genuine, substantial, gritty, with all sorts of obstacles to overcome and all sorts of real life situations to endure,” I can only whole-heartedly recommend Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen as a Must Read book.

Meet Joseph Jankowski. He’s a spry, personable, cantankerous person trapped in the body of a 93 year old man. "I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other.” So begins the story of a man with a gloriously colorful, story-filled past which no one is hears because he has been shut away in a nursing home, which he hates with the utmost passion. He wasn’t always a prisoner of age. He at one time fulfilled most peoples’ dreams of running away to join a circus… literally.

As the pages move flawlessly back and forth from present-day mind of Jankowski to past life of him in 1931 during the middle of the Depression - from the raucous, worldly circus environment to the bland corridors of the assisted-living institution - the world is seen through Jacob's viewpoint, as he battles powerlessly against the decay of old age and the secrets of his life in the Big Top.

The characters are rich and true, uttering lines that will make the reader laugh out loud and weep with despair. Even the animals, who are complex, personable and lively, are a crucial part of the story. After all, no circus is complete without the menagerie. Gruen’s research into the lives of circus entertainers/workers and the animals performing in the 1930s was a thorough, not to mention fascinating. She spared no details to include all the right vocabulary: grifters, roustabouts, workers, cooch tent, rubes, First of May, what the band plays when there's trouble, Jamaican ginger paralysis, life on a circus train, set-up and take-down, being run out of town by the "revenooers" or the cops, and losing all your hooch.

There is something in the novel for everyone: it is equal parts adventure, mystery, fictional memoir, love story, and historical account. It is a well-written, convincing narrative that is full of characters with flaws, uncomfortable situations and a yarn that make the reader want to keep turning the pages until the book is finished.

Try Water For Elephants… I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

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