Monday, November 30, 2009

7 Score and 5 Years Ago...

145 years ago today one of the bloodiest and short-lived battles of the Civil War was fought right here. 6 generals died on the porch of this house-turned-hospital on that day. The historians say that the battlefield was so packed that men literally died standing up because they had no place to fall.

It is this beautiful house that is surrounded by one of the most serene and peaceful parks in our city where we run, take the dogs to swim, ride bikes, and pic-nic on this consecrated field that almost 10,000 men lost their lives on in a darker part of our history.

The traditions and gentility of the South are the virtues that I have loved and appreciated my entire life. I love that hospitality and relationships still take precedence over prosperity and progress (well for most of us anyway). I love that I pass by a dozen churches of several different denominations on my 7 minute drive to school each day. And I love that I live in a place where heritage and history are still a vital part of every day life.

The blood of several thousand men drenched the fields where my children play, the lot that my house was built on, and the land that our local Kroger and Target currently sit upon. Every place we travel in this town is marked in one way or another by the scars of that bloody battle.

This is the country's largest private military cemetery. Carrie McGavock, the lady of the Carnton Plantation, meticulously recorded in her Book of the Dead the name and/or serial number of every soldier that lay dead in her yard in an effort to get these men home either in body or in spirit. Hundreds whose bodies were never claimed were put to rest in her family's cemetery.

Oddly, and I guess rightfully so, our children love to be in this graveyard. So, their excitement at getting to see a reenactment of the battle that gave birth to the cemetery was more than they could stand.

So we watched as these men fought the Union troops unsuccessfully, and then we walked around the grounds to hear the demonstrations and learn about the life of a Confederate Soldier.

And the life of a slave in the Antebellum South. I KNOW. I was appalled too. I cannot tell you how uncomfortable I was talking to this man who was relishing his role as Jim the Happy Slave. He told the kids what his day would have been like during the 1860's. He told us that he was one of about 44 slaves on the Carnton Plantation. He had the kids beat rugs with large sticks while he told them how up to a dozen of them would sleep in a single bed together to keep warm in the winter, and finally, he talked about how he longed for freedom...

And that's when I was able to reconcile it all. Because I get that. We all long for freedom at one point or another. Bondage is a sinister and comfortable thing.

It seems that the longing for freedom is the one universal struggle that every man regardless of race, gender, religion, or social class shares. And if you don't take anything away from a thorough reading of the Bible, you should take this- we have an uncanny ability to enslave ourselves over and over again. And when it's voluntary, we relish in our bondage.

And while Jim was involuntarily enslaved physically, and certainly didn't deserve his lot in life; I have always been inspired by the stories of bravery and perserverance of the slaves during a horrific time in the history.

So when we listened to Abraham Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address as passionately as if he were actually on the field at Gettysburg, it started to make sense. Talking about my love and appreciation of the men who fought the battles on these southern fields seemed to be so politically incorrect that I finally decided that no good could have ever come from this war that so decisively split our young nation.

But maybe I was wrong. Because as Abe Lincoln said, "we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

And just as God ordained, a new birth of freedom under God is always a good thing irregardless of the situation that it springs from.

And as the great Southern General Robert E. Lee said, "The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He can not only forgive; he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which imparts sufficient strength to let the past be put the past."

So may God and man both forgive the South for its transgressions against our fellow man, and may we never forget the brave soldiers who have fought and are fighting to preserve freedom for the entire brotherhood of man.

See y'all.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Celebrate Cyber Monday

I have a confession. I'm finished.

Finished with shopping, with decorating, with Christmas Card picturing, addressing, and mailing.

Finished. Finis. Finissimo. I. BE. DONE.

Memories of Christmases during my childhood were magical. My dad would start teasing us about the first of December saying "I know somebody who is going to be awfully surprised when Santa comes..." or the ever predictable, "Boy, you sure are getting something neat for Christmas..."

And then we'd look at my mom, and she had this wild-eyed frenzied grin on her face- one that we mistook for raw Christmas excitement, but now I know better.

I recognize that face now. I recognize it because it's the face of pure unadulterated Christmas anxiety. It's the grin that hides the reality: the lists, the shopping, the acquiring and ironing of Christmas performance clothes, the classroom Christmas party cookies, the lists, the office parties, the secret Santa gifts, the lists, the cards, the purchasing of wrapping paraphernalia, the toy store wrestling matches, the traffic, the lists, the cooking, the family schedules, the lists, the making of shepherd costumes, the baking, and the wreath making, the wrapping...and the list goes on, oh and did I say the lists? Because it seems that everywhere I turn there are lists.

And let's be honest here, while men are great for a shopping day here and there, and they can certainly drum up some Christmas hullabaloo around the house, you can really only count on them for so much of the Christmas prep- they'll hang lights on the tree, and maybe put some wreathes on the windows, but girlie- you are left with the rest of it. So you smack on that scary wild-eyed grin and run with wild abandon through December.

Now there's good news, it doesn't have to be that way thanks to my BFF, the internet. Is it wrong that the three things I was most thankful for on Thursday were my faith, family, and free shipping?

Maybe it's shallow, I don't know. I do know this: I am finished shopping and I will spend the rest of this holiday season focusing on the important things like faith and family, and if free shipping was the provider of that peace, then so be it.

So, ladies, take advantage of Cyber Monday. Go ahead, let your fingers do the shopping.

And in case you're stumped on where to begin, I posted a few pics to get you going.

A Snuggie for your cold-natured dog.

A suit for the executive dog.

A Squall jacket and hat for those of you who live in rainy climates,

and for the fashionista dog, a shearling coat.

No, I'm not kidding- every single one of those items can be found for purchase online!

Happy shopping!

See Y'all!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Griswolds Take Thanksgiving

This weekend was busy.  We started Wednesday with some good old-fashioned Griswold family fun, and we decorated the tree.


Then Thursday at 8:00 am we headed over to the football field for the Inaugural Family Turkey Bowl.  Let’s just say that though the brain still feels 18 the body is singing an entirely different tune…ENTIRELY different.

turkey bowl

Then we ate…twice…in two hours.  There are no pictures because what kind of person would I be if I spent all that time taking pictures and not enjoying the food?  Exactly right- a bad person (and possibly a person who is currently at her goal weight, but who needs all the stress of maintaining a good figure?  I certainly don’t.)

Friday morning we woke up and played around the house for a bit until Ivy, the oldest dog started having seizures.  A vet bill and a small stroke later -and let me clarify here that I had the small stroke whilst sitting in the mud singing hymns to a seizing dog while Coach was putting on clothes to take her to the vet.  And yes, I’m absolutely serious, the dog laid down in my lap seizing her little body away, and I did sing some old hymns- and honestly, I do think she enjoyed them.  Well, as much as a dog having a seizure can enjoy poorly tuned Baptist hymns.

Then we went to see this movie…


About this guy…


and it was fabulous, even if he did choose Ole Miss over Tennessee.  You should run to see this movie, and there will be more on it later on this week.

Today we did something we have NEVER done before, and I have to say, it was so much more fun than I anticipated.  We attended our first Civil War Re-enactment. 

I know.  I KNOW.

Before you think we’ve all lost our minds, you have to understand that our house sits on the battlefield that the Battle of Franklin was fought on.  The school we teach at also sits on that field.  There’s history.  Lots of it.

And occasionally we find it necessary to see it play out in all its glory.  And honestly, where else can you hear a Lincoln impersonator recite the Gettysburg Address? 

Okay, well maybe you could hear it at Gettysburg, but this was much closer.  And I’ve got to hand it to the guy, he made me cry a little bit.


Then we walked over to the slave quarters on the plantation where  we met Jim, the happy slave.  I have to be honest here, I haven’t been quite that uncomfortable in a while.


After touring the plantation and seeing all of the camps and learning about life during the Civil War we waited around for the reenactment.  They fought for about 35 minutes, cannons went off, guns were fired, people fell down…it was all mightily impressive.

But I think my favorite part was when all the fallen soldiers resurrected themselves and joined back in the fighting. 


  And since a Civil War Battle re-enactment isn’t complete without wise words from the big man himself, the kids posed with General Robert E. Lee before we left.726281350_so9k4-M[1]

There are no words.  Well, actually that’s not entirely true, there are words, but they need to stew a day or so. 

In the meantime enjoy the pictures.  The Vols just about caused me to have my second stroke of the weekend when they had to go to overtime to beat Kentucky, so I’m going to take to my bed and convalesce for the rest of the evening. 

See y’all!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What Shall We Do With a Tired Baby?

(to the tune of "What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor?")

What shall we do with a tired baby,
What shall we do with a tired baby,
What shall we do with a tired baby,
Early in the morning?

Way, hey, and up she rises,
Way, hey, and up she rises,
Way, hey, and up she rises,
Early in the morning!

Change her diaper and put her back,
Change her diaper and put her back,
Change her diaper and put her back,
Early in the morning.

Snuggle in a blanket 'til you're sleepy,
Snuggle in a blanket 'til you're sleepy,
Snuggle in a blanket 'til you're sleepy,
Early in the morning.

Don't watch TV; it's just infomercials (etc)

Feed her some Cheerios while you doze off

Let her play while you take a shower

Make hot chocolate and have a party

Hold her close and watch the sun rise

That's what we'll do with a tired baby

This is one of the many ways being a parent is like being a pirate.  :-)  So, what do YOU do with a tired baby early in the morning?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why I Love the South


So, I don’t know what y’all be doing on Thanksgiving, but if you need some groceries you can go to HG HIll’s.  (Thank you Paige and Leigh!  Paige, my oldest and dearest friend for posting this and her little sister Leigh, the photographer)

Seriously though, this is why I be lovin’  the South…





And these be the reasons I thankful this year.




Happy Thanksgiving from God’s Country.

See Y’all!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Some Day My Prince Will Come

Tonight Coach and I had a real live date where we went to dinner and a football game alone, and he wasn't coaching.

Anyway, we got a little chilled, so after the game we went to Starbucks where Coach made himself a new friend:

Perky Starbucks Girl (who we'll now refer to as PSG): "Hello there, what can I get you this lovely evening? " (And y'all I am NOT exaggerating when I tell you that she spoke in a Disney Princess talking to birds and deer in a meadow kind of voice.)

Coach: "Can we get a grande hot chocolate?"

PSG: "Ooooooh good choice. Can I put a shot of peppermint in that for you?"

Me (to Coach): "oh no- yuck."

Coach: "No, not tonight thanks. And can I also get a Tall Peppermint Mocha decaf?"

PSG: "Oh sure. Can I tempt you with a double chocolate brownie or a biscotti as well?"

Coach: "No than--"

PSG: "Oooooh, but it's tempting isn't it? Mmmm mmm."

Me: Eyes rolling as I mouth "seriously" to Coach

Coach: "Yes, very tempting, but I think we're good."

PSG: "Okay, that will be $6.99. I'll see you when you turn the corner."

Me: (thinking to myself) Yeah, I'm gonna turn your corner sister.

Coach: (to me) "Oh babe, she's just enjoying her job."

And again, I am not exaggerating...

Coach: "Oh my. I do believe that PSG has a bejeweled headset. Are those sequins?"

Me: "Yes. Her headset, is in fact, bejeweled. So lame. And are those cartooned bluebirds flying around her head???"

Coach: "Be nice. There's nothing wrong with bejeweling your headset."

Me: "Hmmmph. I bet Big Mama would have a HUGE problem with a bejeweled headset. Matter of fact, I'm totally writing in to see if she'll comment on whether bejeweling is in or out this season."

Coach: "Big Mama?"

Me; "Do you even know me?"

Our turn to pay...

PSG: "Hello there! Here is your hot chocolate. Your peppermint mocha is coming right...." She looks around a moment "Huh. Well goodness, let me go find out where that mocha is."

Coach: Grinning ridiculously at this point, he looks at me "She's older than I pictured her."

Me: "Why are you picturing her. And SERIOUSLY????"

Coach: "Oh babe..."

PSG: "Here's your mocha sir. Have a lovely evening." BIG. SPARKLY. STARBUCKS. GRIN.

Coach: "Thank you. You have a lovely evening too." BIG. SPARKLY. STARBUCKS. GRIN.

Me: "Really Coach? You just said lovely. I've never known you to say lovely."

Coach: "What? I'm just being nice."

Me: "Why are you being so weird? You're all jolly and giddy"

Coach: "I'm always jolly and giddy. I'm a happy guy."

Me: "Dude, I live with you. The gig is up."

Coach: "Mmm. The peppermint makes my gums tingle...." BIG. SPARKLY. STARBUCKS. GRIN.

So, it looks like I've got to go find a bejeweled headset, learn how to make peppermint mochas, and sing "Some Day My Prince Will Come" whenever he enters the room.

See y'all.

Meet Mack

How can you not love this face?

My mom would be quick to count the ways. It's a short list. 1. He jumps on people 2. He made her swan dive across our porch and into the storm door...head first.

But really, he's harmless. He just thinks he's a chihuahua; he loves to sit in your lap, jump up and greet you when you come home, and when you're running he thinks you're inviting him to play "wrestle."

But since Kelly is doing a post on pets, I thought I'd give you ten random Mack facts;

1. He is addicted to tennis balls. He won't let you touch him if he has one. He just wants you to throw it for him, and he'll fetch for hours. Seriously, last summer we had to physically put him in the pool we bought him so he could cool down- he ended up propping his head on the side and taking a nap.

2. His favorite food is M&M's. And yes, I know chocolate is not good for him; we give him two- no more. But I'm telling you, it's like giving him Prozac.

3. He has two mortal enemies: hot air balloons and plastic grocery sacks. We have hot air balloons fly over our neighborhood regularly because there are many fields around our house where they are able to land. Mack will bark at them until he has foamed an entire beard on himself.

4. He loves to play with other dogs; especially Maverick when he gets loose. If you haven't read about Maverick, he's a 128 pound Pit Bull that goes on the lamb every so often and comes over for a play date. We've tried to tell Mack to choose his friends wisely, but you know teenagers, they just don't listen.

5. He cries to go to bed at night. Every night, like clockwork, his head pops up in the back door and he cries until Coach puts him in his kennel for the night.

6. He sleeps with his tennis ball.

7. When he is allowed to come in, he likes to lay on top of me like a blanket- an 80 pound blanket that drools and occasionally passes gas.

8. He swims under water like a human. It's weird and honestly, a little disconcerting.

9. When we take him to a farm that some friends own to swim in their pond he swims right through the gaggle of ducks he is born to hunt to fetch his ball. Every single time.

10. He loves us all unconditionally, and really what more can you ask? Even if it is a love that is complete with drool, dog hair, and a little gas.

See y'all!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Soy Sauce Chin

Sapphire!  She loves to snuggle with dad (I can't blame her for that).  She also likes to play in the pantry.  You can tell she was playing with the soy sauce container because she has soy sauce on her chin.  She can now say a few words, like "hi", "mama", "dada", and "hug".

The boys and I built this castle out of Duplos together.  They were pretty proud of it.  The army guys go inside it, so they can shoot people trying to get in (says Quartz).  The yellow pieces are slides so they can get down quickly. Unfortunately, Sapphire tried to stand up using it and it fell apart.  :-)

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Little Help for My Friends

Here are some people from the neighborhood:

Carlos, who we renamed "BM" which was short for "Bullet Magnet" had a talent for getting caught in the crossfire of neighborhood shootings. The year I taught him he was shot six times; not a single time was he being targeted. Just an uncanny ability to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It made for some funny stories though, well, if you're into funny "How I got shot this time" stories.

Orlando, whose mom was a prostitute, was a pretty street-smart kid. He took care of himself mostly because his mother slept while he was at school. One day he came to school with gouges cut out of his face. He had inadvertently gotten stabbed while trying to break up a knife fight between two girls on the way to school. He was so excited to tell me that he felt like Tybalt from Romeo and Juliet that he said he didn't even realize he'd been stabbed. Who would've ever thought a 14-year old kid in the projects would love Romeo & Juliet? He was arrested in my classroom one morning for the accidental shooting death of his best friend; he returned to class two days later.

Markese had killed 4 people the previous summer in a drug-related fight. When the police arrested him in NOVEMBER after what the news called a "long and exhaustive man-hunt to find him in a neighborhood where the residents refuse to cooperate," he made sure his research paper was turned in via a messenger from jail. He hadn't missed a day of school the entire year, but somehow the "exhaustive search" never led the police to the high school he attended.

Eric's lifelong dream was to be a postman so he could get health insurance and benefits.

Kevin wanted to be a preacher. He finished his education at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

Shannon, possibly the most intelligent person I've EVER met, had dreams of attending the University of Michigan. He's in the state penitentiary serving a life sentence for murder. I used to hear from him occasionally- he'd send me an e-mail to tell me what books he had read and then would ask for a list of others to read. He was a fan of Thoreau and the Apostle Paul.

Johnesia was abused by her father and her boyfriend. Her response to the police about one particular beating she received at home, was to excuse the behavior because her father was really hoping for a boy to name John. He got her instead, so he added the suffix to her name and resented her and abused her the rest of her life. That's where she learned how to let boys treat her.

Stacia's mom died suddenly of a brain aneurysm which left her in charge of 4 younger siblings at the age of 17.

Shawnte could fly. She was magic on a track. So on weekends I held her baby while she competed in track meets.

Lucretia missed the first day of her junior year because she was taking her oldest child to kindergarten. She was 9 the first time she got pregnant. (I KNOW).

Brianna bought me a birthday cake with her food stamps, but we never were able to eat it because it was stolen before she could get to class.

The last day of school all these dear people had a bridal shower for me. After it was all over and I was packing up there was Eric standing by my desk. He just hugged me and said "Thank you for everything you did for us."

And the thing is, I really didn't do anything. I taught them English, I listened to their stories, I did my job, but I was there. And apparently, being there was everything.

So, I know the importance of just showing up and being around in a neighborhood where kids are living in poverty and left to themselves much of the time. I've taught kids who've been neglected and sometimes abused by parents; kids who've had more life experience than I hope I ever have.

These are just a few of the thousands of stories of kids like these living in our cities. They need a throng of people to step up and just be there.

There's a way you can help kids like these. Melissa and her husband along with several others run a ministry in West Dallas, one of the city's roughest neighborhoods. Mercy Street Ministries is a place where kids can go for mentoring, for tutoring, for camps, for church, for food, and for so many things.

But most importantly, it's a place where kids and families can go where there's someone there. Walking through tough circumstances is always easier if you've got someone there to walk them with you. That's what Mercy Street tries to do.

For the first time ever, they have had to do formal fundraising to meet their budget. They are praying that 250 people will commit to $25 a month for a year. Can you do that? If not, can you do something? If you can, click on the link below. You can donate there and I know they'd all be really grateful that you helped.

Just so you know, Melissa and Trey are serious about helping. They've moved their family into the 'hood in West Dallas. They and their four children are right in the middle of it, so don't think they are sitting in a big house in the suburbs driving in to help the poor folk everyday. They are right there in the middle of the poverty, abuse, drugs, and the staggering need for people to be there. You really should check out the Mercy Street Web site and if you want to get a really good feel for what life is like in the 'hood, read Melissa's blog.

I can tell you from just a little experience that a Boyz 'n the Hood education about is not a good education on what it's like to be down and out in the streets of our cities- there's a little more hope than that.

If you are able, please help Mercy Street offer hope to West Dallas.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sunday Supper 21: Ninja Edition

Please forgive me. I've developed some sort of farming addiction on Facebook.

Turns out, I'm one heck of a virtual farmer. I was also running a restaurant on Cafe World, but had to give it up because it was cutting into my harvesting time.

No, sadly I'm not kidding.

In other news, we lost our football game last weekend which means that Coach can join the family again.

We've eaten dinner together at home 3 times since July.

Again, sadly I'm not kidding.

But he's back, and the weather is cool, and the leaves are magnificent, and I'm almost motivated to get back to cooking regularly.

And by cooking I don't mean buying fried chicken from Publix, opening a can of Allen's Southern Green Beans, and making Velveeta Shells and Cheese. (Which the kids have deemed the "best meal ever")

I mean really cooking.

And tomorrow we're going to have Chicken Parmigiana, Tortellini, and a salad.

I might also make the Chocolate Citrus Cake that is on the cover of the December issue of Southern Living that was in my mailbox today...

but Coach has some crazy idea about all of us dressing up like ninjas for our Christmas Card picture, and I'm not sure I'll have time to be both a ninja and Martha Stewart in the same day.

Tragically, I'm still not kidding.

It all started with me joking about making everyone put on footie pajamas for the picture, which usually just gets Coach a little upset and ranting on and on about how he'll look like a sausage in footie pajamas, but this year he retaliated with the Christmas Ninja idea.

There was even talk about using throwing stars in the picture.

I'm fairly certain that's not legal.

So, who knows... This year you may or may not get a Christmas card with the five of us dressed as ninjas donning illegal street weapons.

I wouldn't bet on it though.

Here's the Chicken Parmigiana recipe. I bought Bertolli tortellini, and will just throw a salad together and let everyone put on their own dressings- it's just easier that way.

Chicken Parmigiana

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin (I just buy the thin sliced breasts)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
4 large eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons water and seasoned with salt and pepper
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 cup vegetable oil or pure olive oil
Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Fresh basil or parsley leaves, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge each breast in the flour and tap off excess, then dip in the egg and let excess drip off, then dredge on both sides in the bread crumbs.

Divide the oil between 2 large saute pans and heat over high heat until almost smoking. Add 2 chicken breasts to each pan and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking sheet and top each breast with some tomato sauce, a few slices of the mozzarella, salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of Parmesan. Bake in the oven until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese is melted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with basil or parsley leaves.

Tomato Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed with some kosher salt to make a paste
2 (28-ounce) cans plum tomatoes and their juices, pureed in a blender
1 (16-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch Italian parsley
1 Cubano chile pepper, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add pureed tomatoes with their juices, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 cup water, bay leaf, parsley, Cubano pepper, and bring to a boil. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.


See y'all!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Where She Be?

Between reading this...

and grading these...

and going to soccer games and football games and brownie meetings and basketball practice and the doctor and the pharmacy and the grocery and working and, you know, breathing occasionally...

there hasn't been much time for blogging this week.

No worries though. Life is just as nuts as always around here, so I'll be back momentarily with more Momsense!

In the meantime, check out Miss Leslie. She seriously had the most amazing inaugural Tennessee Vol football exerience EVER.

I think the only thing she didn't do was run through the "T" - or maybe she did, only time will tell.

See y'all tomorrow...or maybe Thursday. :)

Happy Birthday, Sapphire!

Sapphire is one, hooray!

We just had a little party at home with a few presents and some cake.  She got a cute little doll from grandma and grandpa that can go in the bath.  Quartz made it crawl around like a scary ninja baby.  She got some pop-bead things, which Quartz made into a necklace and a belt and made everyone wear (I'm sensing a theme here . . . ).  She got a Mrs. Potato Head, which Onyx took most of the parts from and put them inside Mr. Potato Head.  Then she crawled around to each toy in turn crying for people to give them back.  She made cute cooing noises to the baby doll (and took a bath with it), chewed on potato head pieces and laughed at the boys putting on silly parts, and waved wrapping paper around for all to see.

I'm not sure why the boys loved her toys so much; maybe because we don't have that many "girl toys".  Either way, it was a fun evening.

What is Sapphire doing now?  She stands without support for a few seconds, she loves when people talk to her or make faces at her or say silly noises (which Quartz is good at).  She likes to play outside or at the park, picking flowers and crunching leaves in her hands, and she loves to open and close drawers (though she sometimes gets her fingers pinched).  She climbs up stairs really quickly, but never seems to want to climb down (though we're trying to teach her).  She likes to eat peas, crackers, and blueberries.  We love our little Sapphire!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Morning Talk Show

Mornings are not usually our best time.

Let's just leave it at that.

This morning things started off better than normal, G has a cold and is too weary to fight after having a soccer game and a million hours of homework last night.

AC, who hits the floor talking at the speed of light, started as she always does- we played 1000 questions while I was in the shower, she travelled the house and methodically destroyed every room she entered, burned some oatmeal, and then finally relented and got in the car.

And then she opened up her Bible.

She's been going to Students in Touch, a prayer group that meets every Wednesday morning and prays for fellow students, families, and the school. This past Wednesday the teacher that leads them was teaching them about praying scripture over people. Then she told them to look in their Bibles for a passage of scripture that they could pray over someone.

Apparently AC has taken this task very seriously because she's been searching. This morning she read the passage she wants to pray:

"How beautiful your sandaled feet, O prince's daughter!

Your graceful legs are like jewels, the work of a craftsman's hands.

Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine.
Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by lilies.

Your breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle.

Your neck is like an ivory tower.

Your eyes are the pools of Heshbon by the gate of Bath Rabbim.

Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon looking toward Damascus.

Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel.

Your hair is like royal tapestry; the king is held captive by its tresses.

How beautiful you are and how pleasing, O love, with your delights!

Your stature is like that of the palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit.

I said, "I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit."

May your breasts be like the clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples,
and your mouth like the best wine."

That my friends, would be the seventh chapter of the Song of Solomon. And she read it with more gusto than a cheerleader on Homecoming.

I cannot begin to describe the look on G's face. Priceless. And all he could say was, "Seriously?" And try as he might, a great big ole grin spread across his face.

Why did she pick this particular passage? Because she likes shoes, fruit, and climbing trees. My my my, all I can say is this: watch your children because my child just prayed that someone will take hold of your child's fruit.

It might be time for The Talk.

Then I asked G about the standardized testing they've been doing at school. He said it's all easy except for the Quantitative Reasoning sections. I asked him what kinds of questions he was being asked. His reply?

"It's like math, but with words and numbers, and you have to think about it, you can't just figure it out."

Huh. That has been my experience with the entirety of the mathematical world. Which is why I have denied the existence of numbers and finite answers since I left pre-calculus in college.

Hey, by the way, did you know you can get a math credit for taking Astronomy?

You know why?

Because you have to do math. (Trust me on this, I'm speaking from experience, a very, very, bad experience).

BUT, the piece de resistance of the morning? It has to be this little jewel from a student:

Me: "Okay everybody, tell me what Odysseus' unhealable wound is."

Thing 1: "Hey Mrs. Momsense, did you know Sam can whistle through his eyeballs?"

Let's recap:
  1. AC is praying for intimate pleasure for her fellow elementary school classmates, but it's all good, because really she thinks she's praying that they will all have good shoes, grapes at snack, and fun climbing trees at recess, although she was disappointed that there are no palm trees at school. All I can say there is Thank You Lord.
  2. G finds math with numbers and letters difficult, especially when it requires thought. Conclusion: he is his mother's son.
  3. And finally, Sam can whistle through his eyeballs if ever the need arises.

And all of that was before 8:15 this morning.

Happy Weekend. I'll put some Sunday Supper up this weekend.

See Y'all!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why do you read?

Sometimes I wonder, why read books (and, to some extent, experience other media, such as movies, some video games, etc)?  It's not just that they're fun (though they certainly are that).  I think that I read books to understand things and people in a way I can't get from everyday life.  This is one reason I love SF/fantasy; when the world is different, the parallels between situations and human actions and psychology are easier to see.  I tend to be a little too demanding of real-life settings -- if an author is not going to write about the fantastic, I want it to be as accurate and realistic as possible.  Why do you read books?

Some situations I think I understand a little better after books I've read this year:
- being a leader, making difficult decisions involving people's lives
- "coming out"; struggling with one's sexuality
- struggling to control one's inner demons
- being in a loveless marriage and seeking comfort elsewhere
- being a widow
- questioning wartime morality
- being a new immigrant
- living in a remote village in Pakistan
- having a strong talent and deciding how to use it
- struggling against being manipulated
- living on a chicken farm in rural Washington
- trying to raise a child with disabilities
- rejecting the religion of one's youth
- having a vampire baby (hee hee, had to throw that one in there)

Some situations I don't really understand very well and maybe should read more about (any suggestions?):
- being someone who seems superficial
- being a redneck
- being single at an older age
- being a criminal
- abandoning one's kids
- being homeless

Most of those things I don't really want to read about, but maybe I should.  Maybe understanding these types of situations better would help me to be able to love and help people.  Thoughts, ideas?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Highway to the Danger Zone

Hey- guess who's back.

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Maverick.


All 128 pounds of his pure-blooded Pit Bull self is skulking about in the yard right this moment.

He snuck in the garage behind Coach as he was putting our two pups to bed. Apparently Ivy did a creepy low growling kind of thing about the time Coach heard paws on the garage floor, and then he had his second face-to-face meeting with Maverick.

Coach is a bit unnerved right now. He has completely lost the urge to dust-bust or do laundry, and I have an uncontrollable urge to watch Cujo.

If you don't remember this devil dog click here. It's sort of a funny story.

Sort of.

Right now devil dog is outside our house causing our two dogs to bark and howl and foam at the mouth (while safely inside the locked garage inside their locked kennels totally out of harm's way).

Ivy is feeling froggy tonight; she went hunting in the yard today, and put all her spoils in her bed for me to find this evening. Right now she's having a hissy fit to get out so she can go defend her turf.

Clearly she suffers from a pretty impressive Napoleon Complex.

Anyway, I'm going to have to go now. I've got to go call Clyde the funeral embalmer to come get his devil dog.

No, I'm not kidding.

Seriously, I couldn't make this up if I tried.

See y'all!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Out of The Box

Yesterday at church our pastor delivered himself a message.

Not your warm fuzzy campfire song kind of message, but such a good one. He was talking about a praise song- specifically the one that the Israelites sang right after God delivered them through the Red Sea. It's here - Exodus 15:1-21. If you'd like to see the sermon, click here.

His point being that we have a tendency to put God in a little box on the shelf for most of the week and then get him down on Sunday mornings, take him to church, and then put him back on the shelf as we prepare for our lives.

Then he said this: "A God who can fit in a box is NOT a God who can get you across your Red Sea. A God in a box doesn't lead people to an Exodus 15 kind of praise. A God that we can understand and explain is not God."

He started giving biblical examples of people who followed Jesus without question, and he quoted Acts 4:13 "When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and knew that they had been with Jesus."

The obvious point being that neither Peter nor John were "equipped or educated" well enough to do the job they were doing, but they were doing it, and doing it in such a way that those who came into contact with them knew they had been with Jesus.

YES! I want to be like that. I started thinking about authenticity and boldness and prayer- you know, all those things we think about when we think about doing all the things on the spiritual to-do list we keep.

I was ready to go until he said this: " Paul wasn't beaten or put in prison until AFTER he started following Jesus."

And I'm out.

I didn't want to be, but honestly, and I'm talking soul bearing honesty here, I'm scared.

Because what if His "big-ness" takes me out of this life that I think I love so much?

This life, that honestly has just become way too much lately. This life that has me waking up soaked to the bone in sweat and shaking with fear about what will happen next. This life, that even as imprisoning as it has been lately, is the life I know and have become comfortable with.

Isn't it odd that we'll settle for a life that on a good day is mediocre at best and crammed full of worry and fear and stress and busyness rather than seeking something better?

Because, if we're really honest with ourselves, we know that if we do look for life abundant we might find more heartache and uncertainty- and I don't know about you, but I'm just not sure I'm up to that right now.

Or, and here is where I am right now, we might find life abundant, but what if life abundant is in West Dallas living in the 'hood, or parenting a little boy who was orphaned in Ethiopia and has some significant neurological delays, or having to walk with your 3-year-old daughter as she fights leukemia?

Last night I was thinking about all this and honestly thought "You know what? As hard as this is, I'll take this life, because I'm too scared to believe that there will ever be anything different."

This time I was honestly choosing the moderate discomfort of mediocrity.

And then God walked in, and I don't think it's any accident at all that 3 significant messages were delivered to me in 3 hours.

1. I bought Forgotten God by Francis Chan (author of Crazy Love) and began reading the introduction in the car while I was waiting for G to finish soccer.

5 pages into the introduction he quoted Acts 4:13 - yeah the same verse I heard in church yesterday- a verse that our pastor only used in passing, a verse that wasn't really meant to be the focus, except that for me, it was.


2. I made it home and checked my e-mail. My dad had sent me an e-mail with a link to a blog that a man in his office wrote while taking his teenage daughter on a 2-week trip to Rwanda to meet their sponsored Compassion child. You can check it out here- it's really a neat story.

You might know I have a thing for Africa. We sponsor a little boy through Compassion, we send money monthly to build wells in remote parts of Africa, we donate money monthly to Mocha Club to help women in children in Africa, and we tithe at church and earmark a percentage of that money to go directly to a church in South Africa.

My life-long dream is to travel there and work with orphans. Coach jokes that if I ever get to go I will either never get back on a plane, or I'll end up with 75 kids.

Neither is possible or plausible, or is it? And is that what I'm afraid of?

What if the way out of my fear and mediocrity and bondage is entering someone else's? What if it's painful? What if it breaks my heart...again? What if I'm not strong enough?

What if...what if...what if...?

3. I was doing my evening blog-roll. I checked in on Team Alexander to see how little man Abe was doing, and to read about their upcoming travels to pick up Seth, the newest Alexander. Momma Alexander had posted this.

Three messages in three hours from a three-headed God.

And so I'll leave with a few of Francis Chan's thoughts:

"Without Him [Holy Spirit], people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-size results. The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation...But when believers live in the power of the Holy Spirit, the evidence of their lives is supernatural." (17)

"...if the Holy Spirit moves, nothing can stop Him. If He doesn't move, we will not produce genuine fruit--no matter how much effort or money we expend." (18)

"Many have the knowledge but lack the courage to admit the discrepancy between what we know and how we live." (18)

So I ask myself- am I operating out of my own strength? YES

Is the Holy Spirit moving in me and producing genuine fruit? Maybe, but it's little runt fruit, not the big juicy kind. :)

Do I have the knowledge? YES

Am I living in accordance with that knowledge? Probably not.

It's the truth. I don't know if admitting to all of that is courageous or not, but it sure isn't fun.

So I guess it's time for the Divine rubber to meet the road...even if it means facing my Red Sea because "the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power." (1 Corinthians 4:20)

Let's pray for some Divine Power.

See y'all.

Fall Fun

Here's a saffron crocus blooming in our yard with fall leaves.  The red strands are the saffron.  I thought it would be cool to grow my own saffron, since it's pretty expensive, but you don't get very much from just six flowers!  Then again, I don't use that much saffron, so it's not too bad.

Sapphire loves to push cars around.  I'm not sure if she really likes cars, or if she's just copying the boys, or what, but it's very cute.  She spends the rest of her free time climbing the stairs, where she hopes to go into the kids' bathroom and unroll all the toilet paper, wave the magic toilet brush wand around, and throw washcloths into the toilet.

We had one day of snow.  Quartz was so happy there was enough for the two of us to have a snowball fight and snowcones.  Onyx decided to take a nap instead.  He says, "I'm a nice pirate that talks politely to everyone.  Pirates hit bad guys.  If there's any bad guys, let me know."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hallowe'en Revelry

Yay, Halloween pictures!  I love Halloween!  Costumes are fun, going out walking at night is fun, candy is fun -- I just love the whole thing.

Our costumes are (from youngest to oldest): turtle, frog, alligator, Venus flytrap, and the Biologist who captured us all as as specimens.  It was really fun to have matching costumes; we'll have to do that next year if we can get away with it.

We had a trunk-or-treat at the church on Wednesday, where the kids got to play games and thankfully didn't win a pet fish or mouse (though Quartz was really upset about that). 

Then Saturday there was a neighborhood party, with a cool magician and costumes and everything.  We carved out pumpkins (Quartz cut his face out himself), and trick-or-treated from 6:30 to 8pm.  We figured we'd spend our extra hour trick-or-treating.  :-)  The boys really liked it -- they got startled by a motion-sensing skeleton, and spooked by a fog machine, but the guy dressed as Scream was "not scary", according to the boys.  Quartz gave commentary on the treats -- "She gave me tons of candy!"  "I think this has milk in it" "Crackers with cheese?  That's more of a snack than a treat!"  "Mom, I got Nerds!".  Onyx said, "Ribbit, ribbit, thank you, Happy Halloween!"  Sapphire chewed on a package of fruit snacks and watched the boys happily.  A fun time indeed.