Friday, February 25, 2011

My Daughter, The Drama Queen

I realize that many people think they have drama queens on their hands. It very well could be true. My daughter, Emma, is almost four...going on fourteen. She has a habit of acting like a teenager. Or should I say backtalking like a teenager? Everything is a trial. Everything is an inconvenience. The world must answer to Emma.

One of Emma's best qualities is that she doesn't complain about food. She eats nearly anything you put in front of her, so when she dislikes something, there's no need to argue. Fish, chicken, steak, even venison are all acceptable to her.

One night I made spaghetti. Something we have three or four times a month. I try to change it up for some variety now and then. So, I put in some extra fresh ingredients to brighten it up. I top it off with fresh parsley.

Emma gets halfway through the meal when she realizes something is different.

"What is this green stuff, Mommy?" she asked quizzically.

"It's parsley," I reply.

She throws her hands in the air and places one to her forehead in utter exasperation and wails:

"Well, it's the first time I've ever had it, and now. My life. Is ruined."

Aaaaand scene.

*This post was brought to you as a prompt by the Social Moms site.  You can find them here: Check them out!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


On a fairly regular basis my mom makes a comment about how I'm always in some sort of mess or she'll say, "There's no one like you" or "You just won't do" or my personal favorite "I don't know where you get it."

I'll show you where I get it.  My mom's name is Sue.  Her sister, my aunt, is Kitty.  Kitty has a daughter named Jennifer (she would be my cousin).  Sometimes we have Facebook conversations.  They go like this:

For the record- I had just posted a picture of my children and my dogs.  My children are not black, but my dogs are.  I would be absolutely fine with my children being black; it's simply a genetic thing.  You probably know that though.

Sue (my mom) -  My, you have such cute children!

Traci (me, myself, and I) - So do you.

Kitty (aunt) - I really think the two black ones are cute.

Sue  - Two black what?

Traci  - The dogs Mom

Sue  - I thought she surely did not mean the dogs...after all, she doesn't even like dogs.

Traci  - She likes dogs- you don't like dogs.

Sue   - I like dogs....just not Mac! Ivy and I get along great.

Jennifer (Kitty's daughter, my cousin) - She likes dogs. Just not dog hair. Or slobber. Or dog food in the house. Or dogs in the house. And especially not dogs on the furniture or dog puke on the carpet. But she likes other people's dogs. At their house.

Just a couple of things I need to point out.  My mom doesn't like dogs.  She thinks she does; she doesn't.  She's not afraid of them, we grew up with them, she tolerated them.  She doesn't really LIKE them. 

My dad does though.  He'll tell you he is indifferent as far as dogs go; he'll try to covince you that they are just a lot of trouble.  But he likes dogs- he likes them a lot.  Especially big ones.

I'm not sure if my aunt likes dogs or not.  If she really doesn't like dogs, she fakes her fondness a bit better than my mom.  She LOVES to vacuum though.  My mom is fond of the vacuuming as well.

You know Coach loves to vacuum, right?  He and my aunt could be related.  Technically, I guess they are related now.

I'm not fond of vacuuming though.  I missed that gene.

I got the dog gene.

See y'all!

Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Come, and I Will Make You Fishers of Men

So, that's what I want for my birthday. I want you to go fishing with me. In Ethiopia. I can't think of anything better than raising money so that the people you are about to see in the video will have clean water, a clinic to visit when they have basic health needs, classrooms to educate their children, and a veterinary clinic so that the animals that sustain their lives can be cared for as well.

Look at their faces. Listen to their songs. Watch little Eyasu ride into his village with his mom knowing that because he was chosen by the Alexanders, and because the Alexanders were chosen by God to do this thing, his village will have the means to sustain itself. Children won't have to die because they are starving or their water isn't clean. The elderly will exalted as they should be rather than left to die. The animals that provide food and clothing will not be ridden with disease.

I'm asking for 100 people/families to donate $100. If you could help by donating and/or spreading the word, we can help eradicate extreme poverty and give God's people some relief.

Please? It would be the best birthday present I could imagine. There is a button on the right side of the site. Click there and you can donate directly to Gladney which manages the project.

Also, please read more about the Alexanders and their love for Ethiopia on her blog, Soli Deo Gloria.

ethiopiasmile: Hope For Dube Bute from Kurt Neale on Vimeo.

See y'all!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Let's Go Fishing

In less than 40 days I will be 40.  This spring my oldest baby will graduate from 8th grade and enter high school, and my youngest baby will graduate from elementary school and enter middle school.  Have I mentioned that baby #1 gave me stretch marks and baby #2 gave me wrinkles?

It's a perfect storm.

On Sunday I was convinced I'd end up like George Clooney trapped inside a sinking ship wondering what happened to my life.

And I do believe I mentioned that I wept.  The weeping didn't help.

So I continued on into Monday.

And that's when I realized that I was in the throes of a  mid-life crisis.

But I digress.  I know I promised you HUGE news.  So here it is:

Last night I asked you to pray two things for me:

"If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will be like the noon day."   Isaiah 58:10

"I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living."   Amos 5:24

And then I told you that God had a come to Jesus meeting with me. 

It's big.  It's really, really big.  It's so big that there is absolutely no way that I can pull it off.  This will be a total God thing.

And it's left me speechless and terrified. 

We are going to raise $10,000 in 40 days for Dube Bute, a small village in Ethiopia.

I told you.  HUGE.

Over the next few days I'll tell you how all of this came about, but for now can I ask you to do one thing? 

Prayerfully consider giving to this cause.  Your gift will help to provide water points, classrooms, medicines, and veterinary services to a village so that poverty can be wiped out one village at a time.

You can read more about it here.  What I'll tell you today is this- 100% of your gift goes directly to the people of  Dube Bute. 

My bloggy friend Emily and her family started the campaign to raise almost $500,000 in order to save the children of this village.  They are roughly $47,000 away from finishing the project.

Did I tell you that in addition to their 4 children, Emily and her husband have adopted two boys from Ethiopia? Those two boys have changed their family forever, but more importantly, because their family was changed, the lives of hundreds of Ethiopians will change. 

I promise, there will be more information tomorrow.  But tonight I need you to pray and consider giving. 

And consider this...

And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."

God told me to go fishing for my birthday.  He promised a big catch.  Will you come with me?
See y'all.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

40 Days

I realized on Sunday that I had exactly 40 days until I reached my 40th birthday. Actually, I didn't "realize" it, God told me.  I know, I know-  weird.   Not that he would tell me something, but that He was actually making a big deal about me being 40.

Don't get me wrong, I'm making a HUGE deal out of it, mainly because I don't want it to happen.  Not even a little bit, which is totally out of character for me.

Coach will be the first to tell you that I usually start my birthday celebrations a good month or so ahead of time- he says it's really like my own little Mardi Gras.

Anyway, God made a big deal out of the 40 day countdown on Sunday.  And it was totally not a coincidence that it was Sunday. 

It was warm and sunny, and we took the dogs to our favorite park so they could swim, and that's when He told me to get my act together (of course, I had to go home and count the days on the calendar, because HELLO- I have abysmal math skills).

And I have to be honest here - I didn't really listen because I thought it was residual Coach talk from earlier when I tried to tell him I just wanted to remain planted on the couch for the day, and that I was not at all interested in seeing the sun or feeling the 65+ temperatures outside thank you very much.

To which he replied: "Too darn bad, get your sorry butt up and let's go.  You're not going to sit in the house and mope today- it's too pretty"

So I said, "Fine, I'll go to the park and mope.  Loudly.  In your ear.  Until you wish I'd just stayed home..."

Coach says I'm hard-headed.  He says I'm wound tight.  He even said that sometimes I get so wound that I fight life like a wildcat.

He said that.  He actually called me a wildcat. 

Honestly, if I'd been a boy, he probably would have punched me in the nose at some point on Sunday.  And I would have deserved it.  So, being called a wildcat is not so bad.  (Actually, as much as I hate to admit it, I liked that analogy- still do.  Wildcats aren't all bad...I guess.  I don't really know much about them to be honest, but I would be willing to bet they don't have 40th birthdays, and that is a definite plus.)

So, to wrap this part up, we went to the park and let the dogs play, and I continued to pout until we made it home.  Then I pouted some more.  Coach shook his head at me.

Then I cried.  Cried may not be a good word; wept is probably better.  I think it was Mark Twain, or maybe it was Ernest Hemingway, or it could have been William Faulkner- anyway- somebody important once said that the most effective sentence ever published was the following:

"Jesus wept."

So, in the interest of effective writing and brevity, I'll keep is short.  I wept.

And because brevity went out the window six paragraphs ago, I'll keep the rest short.

I prayed.  And prayed. And prayed.  For TWO DAYS. 

I'm not patient either.  It's a virtue that is foreign to me.  So, two days was a long time.

Do you know the biblical significance of the number 40?  I knew it was significant, but I didn't really know why.

Turns out, the number 40 is universally recognized as significant because of the number and uniformity of its occurrence and its association with a period of probation, trial, and chastisement which ends in renewal.  Huh. 

I have to be honest here- I'm not really a fan of the whole trial and chastisement part, but to be brutally honest- Coach and I have been wading in that for several months now.  I am pumped about the renewal part though.  I'd love a renewed heart, and I won't lie.  I wouldn't balk at a miraculous erasure of some fine lines around my eyes.

Anyhoo, there are 8 instances in the Bible which specifically mention a period of 40 days.  And there are 15 instances which specifically mention a period of 40 years.  And EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM from the Israelites to Moses to Elijah to Jesus is a story of a period of trial that ends in renewal.

In hope.  In truth.  In love.


Tomorrow I'm going to make a HUGE announcement. HUGE.  It's the biggest step of faith I have ever consciously and willingly made. 

But for now, pray these with/for me:

"If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will be like the noon day."  Isaiah 58:10

"I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living."  Amos 5:24

Stay tuned.  Be sure to come back tomorrow.  Tell all your friends.  It's going to be good.  It's going to be real good.

See y'all!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Treasure Hunt

My mom started the family tradition of doing a treasure hunt on Valentine's day!  Today I made one that is just right for a beginning reader, though I just noticed it's not very Valentinesy.  Well, here's the clues if you want to use some in your own treasure hunt (click "Read More" if you want to see the clues).

[ Clue #1 -- start ]
This small hunt won't take hours;
Look for pink little flowers.

[ Clue #2 – pink flowers ]
Orange is this food's hue
At Halloween we carve it, too

[ Clue #3 – pumpkin ]
Outside there is a small house,
It is much too big for a mouse.

[ Clue #4 -- playhouse ]
When you climb into your bed
This is where you rest your head.

[ Clue #5 – pillow ]
Now find this, if you are able --
a drawer below a little table.

[ Clue #6 – kid's table ]
Do not stop, you are close
Look where you can make some toast.

[ Clue #7 -- toaster ]
One last place for you to look
Look where we put the library books!

[ Prize – on library book shelf]

Friday, February 11, 2011

Momsense's Wild Kingdom

Tuesday night Coach and I found ourselves sitting on our respective couches in a catatonic state trying to muster the strength to walk the 40 feet to our bedroom when I noticed the tingling sensation and an odd and not entirely pleasant smell.

I assumed it was a combination of being tired and Coach's overzealous and compulsive need to eat gratuitous amounts of fiber in the form of broccoli, nature's most pleasant smelling vegetable. 

And then Coach said, "I smell a skunk."

And I thought to myself, "Yeah right.  Skunk.  However you want to spin it, we both know it's broccoli gas."

But then he got all wily and hyper and started walking around the house sniffing the air like a bloodhound without a cause.  All the while, I continued to ignore him and was weighing the pros and cons of just collapsing on the couch for the night rather taking the long walk to the bed.

Then he opened the door to the garage, and bellowed "Holy Cow, I think one of the dogs had a run-in with a skunk."

I decided that Coach was overreacting.  At the very least, I was hoping  he was overreacting because oh my word the tiredness that had set in.

Did I tell you it was 11:00.  In the P.M.? 

And it was cold.  28 degrees to be exact.  And sure enough, Ivy had been thoroughly doused in the face by a skunk.  I know this because I was convinced that it was Mack who would be dumb enough to take on a skunk, so I decided to take the less pungent of the two creatures.

So. Very. Wrong.

Within moments both Ivy and I were in the front yard hacking and heaving. 

And then I went inside.

Well, Coach was having none of that.  It was at that moment that Coach decided to define a limit in our marriage.  Apparently ridding the dog of skunk spray is a couple activity, not a husband activity.

So I got on the internet.  And before you say tomato juice, let me tell you a few of things:
1.  If you think I was about to pour cans of tomato juice on a neurotic dog in 28 degree weather at 11:00 in the evening, you have another thing coming.
2.  Tomato juice doesn't work.  It masks the smell, but doesn't get rid of it.
3.  We didn't have any tomato juice.

Coach has never been more dumbfounded or put out as he was when he had to get in his truck and drive to the grocery store for peroxide, but I found a sure-fire solution to the skunk problem.

Peroxide, baking soda, and ivory dish washing soap.

Oh, and standing outside in  28 degree weather in shorts and a t-shirt soaking wet washing a neurotic dog who was more bothered by the bath than the skunk.

And if it happens again, I'll happily oblige her.

See y'all

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Going Nuts and Bananas

Sapphire has made a picnic

Quartz and Onyx have made guns
Q: "Have you ever gone nuts before?"
O: "I don't know how."
Q: "Going nuts is the same things as going crazy."
O: "Ohhh.   Can you help me go bananas?"
Q: "I don't really feel like doing that right now.  Maybe later."

S: "I turning big!"

O: "I'm Atrillion!  I can eat things people can't eat!"
Q: "Could you eat the whole world in one bite, Atrillion?"
O: "I . . . don't know if I did that."

S (putting on dress): "I look like mom!"

Q: "Let's brush our teeth"
O: "Oh, now bacteria won't steal our teeth!"

S: "Is that bacon?"
A: "Yes."
S: "I love bacon!"

W: "I got more work done at home today than in a whole week of sitting in my office.  They should have snow days more often!"

W: "Onyx, the toilet's saying, 'Come pee in me!  I'm way better than your pants!'"

Wordless Wednesday

Friday, February 4, 2011

At-home Winter Fun

With school cancelled for four days in a row due to snow and cold, I decided to brainstorm some indoor things that the kids will enjoy.  Now you can enjoy them, too, if you've got a hankering for free indoor fun.

  1. Decorate for Valentine's Day!  Cut out hearts & decorate them and tape them up all over the house for that elusive "yes-three-kids-live-here" look!
  2. Play hide and seek with flashlights (at night)
  3. Dance party!  If you don't have a playlist of dance music, try Pandora's "Dance/Club" station and tweak it to your liking.
  4. Have a building contest with material of your choice (legos, tinker toys, toothpicks and marshmallows, pipe cleaners, cardboard and duct tape, etc).  You can give a theme or a time limit and at the end everyone shows off their creations.  I like to have candy for prizes because I'm evil like that.
  5. Youtube surfing with the kids can be fun (and sometimes educational).  Try these to start with:
  6. Fill jars or glasses part way with water and tap with a butter knife to make chimes.  Yes, this requires some guts.
  7. Pretend to visit a new place, like the bottom of the ocean, Antarctica, or the moon.  Bunk beds with a sheet over the side or closets work great for a pretend camper van.
  8. Make homemade pretzels, and let the kids shape them into letters, sculptures, or whatever and put on their own toppings (seeds, nuts, spices, etc).
  9. Decorate your own wrapping paper to use later.  There's the good ol' potato stamps (or use sponges if you want them to be reusable).
 What are your favorite cheap indoor activities?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

One Flew Away From the Cuckoo's Nest

Maybe I didn't mention it, but I went to San Francisco for a long weekend. 

One of my dear friends from ninth grade turned 40, and it took a village and more wine than was probably prudent to get her there.  To 40 that is.  She lives in San Francisco. 

Nat is an organizer by nature, so she organized an entire weekend of events for a group of her friends, and in the midst of fascinating conversation and lots of good food several books and films came up.  It's an eclectic assortment, but I have to say a welcomed assortment.  I've been trying for weeks to find a novel that could hold my interest for more than twenty minutes.  I can't tell you how many novels I've started and quit because, frankly I'd rather drill a hole in my skull than continue, so I'm hoping there are a few gems.

I'll be really honest here, Natalie gave me her copy of Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stenger because I was so taken with the premise.  I planned on reading it on the return trip.

Then I had to stop, because if I had continued reading while all of civilzation continued on its downward spiral into absolute savagery in the airport I was going to cross over into something, and I'm fairly certain it wasn't going to be safety.  So I picked up a People and read about how Reese Witherspoon has finally found true love. 

I just wonder, when did people lose all sense of decorum and good manners?  Or is it just that I'm almost 40 and grumpy?  I don't know.  All I know is that my trip home was not an idyllic crossing into safety, rather it was really more of a One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest sort of trip.

Anyway, here are the book and film suggestions from the weekend.  Enjoy.

1.  One Day by David Nicholls - One Day (Vintage Contemporaries Original)
2.  Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts - Shantaram: A Novel

3.  Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - Never Let Me Go (Movie Tie-In Edition) (Vintage International)
4.  The Postmistress by Sarah Blake - The Postmistress

5.  Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman - Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel
6.  1000 Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - A Thousand Splendid Suns
7.  Wild Swans by Jung Chang - Wild Swans : Three Daughters of China
8.  Loving Frank by Nancy Horan - Loving Frank: A Novel
9.  The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson - The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
10.  Shadow of the Wind by Carlose Ruiz Zafon - The Shadow of the Wind
11.  The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova - The Historian
12.  Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner - Crossing to Safety (Modern Library Classics)
13.  A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah - A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
14.  A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry - A Fine Balance (Oprah's Book Club)
15.  Freedom by Jonathan Franzen - Freedom: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)
16.  The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen - The Corrections: A Novel
17.  Little Bee by Chris Cleave - Little Bee: A Novel
18.  Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali - Infidel
19.  The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay - The Power of One: A Novel
20.  Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett - The Pillars of the Earth
21.  East of Eden by John Steinbeck - East of Eden
22.  Reach for the Stars by Serge Bloch - Reach for the Stars: and Other Advice for Life's Journey
23.  A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza - A Mother for Choco (Paperstar)
24.  What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver - What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories
25.  The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin - The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
26.  Not Quite What I Was Planning - Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure 

1.  Requiem for a Dream - Requiem for a Dream (Director's Cut)
2.  A Prophet - A Prophet
3.  The Secret in Their Eyes - The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)
4.  White Ribbon - The White Ribbon
5.  Gods & Monsters - Gods and Monsters
6.  The Silence - The Silence
7.  Renzel
8.  Vitus - Vitus
9.  38 -  Serbian -
10.  State of Play (the BBC TV Series)
11.  Short Cuts - Short Cuts - (The Criterion Collection)

See y'all!