Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

What says "summer" better than this?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

This Little Light of Mine

At church they are starting a series about the sermon on the mount. Today we talked about how God is light and we are supposed to let that light shine, like the old gospel hymn says.

Fromt he Scripture:
John 8:12 "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone else in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

What does it mean to let our light shine?

2 Corinthians 5:20 "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us."

James 2:17 "Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

I've heard preachings on this concept many times. I always felt like this was an all or nothing concept. There are the real Christians - the ones who are involved with the church, people you can count on to pray for you, though imperfect, really seem to have their walk with God under control. Those people are the ones God wants to let their light shine. They are the reflection of God that He wants the world to see.

And then there's me, and others like me. Those of us who are better at some things than others. I don't really have it together, and I'm not a good example of a Christian. I lose my temper too often and swear too much and pray too little. God doesn't want me to reflect Him. At least not yet. Not until I get it down. I'm still a work in progress.

But today, the pastor said something that shattered that idea. He said, what if God's light isn't a spotlight shining in the darkness? Maybe it's like a disco ball with many different hues and shapes. God created us differently, so it makes sense that we would reflect him differently. We can't all be outspoken and called to be pastors. Maybe the world would be a better place if we all just learned to dance together under the disco ball. Some people may shine a little light and some people may shine a big light. We all need to work on our light in our own way.

And of course that makes sense. Even the real Christians are flawed, as are all people. It's hard to look past my own flaws because I have so many of them. I need to focus on the light I do have, nurture and cultivate it, shine it with all my might. And as the rest of the sermon said, be a peacemaker. God can't physically be here, so he wants us to be His hands and feet. The moment we recognize God as our Father, we become a light to someone else. I need to remember that, and really make my light count.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Featured on Studio30 Plus!

Preview


I have to say that when Studio30 Plus tweeted me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I wanted to be one of their featured writers, I was a little (A LOT) taken aback. I mean, I love writing, and I think some of my stuff turns out ok, but to have something as huge as S30P take an interest in me? Completely unexpected.

Surprisingly, I got a huge creative boost and felt inspired to write three different posts about three different subjects as potential submissions. But, nothing was really coming together the way I wanted. Sigh. The deadline was approaching, and I had zero results.

As usual, my kids came to my rescue. Lately I've been getting to caught up in the "need to do this, need to do that" part of life. And S reminded me that what I need to do is Slow Down and Breathe. So please jump over and check out the post before Studio30 Plus realizes I'm not worthy of being featured!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Perspective




I started taking dance lessons in August, 1980. Back then, public smoking hadn't been banned yet; there were ashtrays at the end of the aisles in the grocery store. No one wore helmets or pads when they rode their bikes. Pay phones were on every corner. We had one television (without a remote) and only four channels to choose from.

And in the car? Kids didn't wear seat belts or even have to sit in the back seat.

A five-year-old's perspective through the windshield is quite different from that of an adult. When sitting correctly (which, let's be honest, I rarely did), the dashboard prevented me from seeing cars in front of us. My view was at an upward trajectory. I saw the stoplights, and beyond them, cerulean skies with cotton candy clouds. Gabled rooftops and leafy tree branches occasionally passed by as well. I would reach my fingertips up to the open window and feel the soggy air envelope my skin as it rushed by.


If When we were running late to dance class, or I was being stubborn/whiny about putting on my leotard and tights before we left the house, I would change after we got to the studio. Wearing shorts, the backs of my twiggy, pale thighs would stick to the vinyl seats of our white Chevy, and I could feel the perspiration form at the nape of my neck and slither down my back. The 10-15 minute ride felt like it took forever in that heat, and I would eagerly anticipate seeing the landmark that told me we were almost there.

Halfway down the last block before we got to the studio there was a tree. A pine or evergreen of some sort. It was uneven at best. At the top, instead of having the conventional Christmas-tree, single, pointed top, it made a "V". That "V" was my sign. The sign that came to stand for joy, escape, competition, discipline, elation and freedom being around the next corner.

For six years, several times a week, I saw that tree. Then, when I was 11, the dance studio owner's granddaughter hung herself. That was the last of a string of reasons my parents felt it was best that we move to a different studio. I no longer had occasion to traverse the road that passed my inspirational sign.

The first time I drove by that tree after leaving the dance studio was about twenty years later when I got a job in that part of town. I was taller, just like that tree; I had to lean over the steering wheel, the seat belt resisting against my shoulder, to catch a glimpse of it. Over the years, it had grown and become even more scraggly. It's attempts to thrive had been squashed at every turn. A section of branches was cut out of one side to accommodate the power lines that it had spread into. Summer microbursts had ripped limbs away. Winter ice storms had bent and cracked it so it no longer reached out and up, but down and around.

But, at the tip, it still had that "V." It continues to reflect my life, now as a symbol of continuity and perseverance. I drive past it every workday. Whenever I'm running late or irritated by traffic, for one moment, when I pass the tree, I pause and look up, and regain my perspective.

This post was written in response to a prompt from The Red Dress Club: "The first time I ________-ed after _________-ing."

Monday, June 20, 2011

My First Time

I was afraid to say where I was going. And a little nervous when I got there. Felt a bit like an online-dating virgin would have ten years ago.

I was a few minutes late when I walked into the restaurant. There was a long table with about 15 women seated at it. I debated waiting to ask the server or walking straight over to the table. What was the worst that could happen? If it wasn't the right group, no one there knew me.

I took a deep breath and walked toward them. "Hi, is this the KCBlog group?"

•    •    •    •    •

To be honest, I had heard about people meeting IRL, but didn't entirely understand the allure. Though it would be fun to chat it up with a couple of people I know through blogs and Twitter, in general, I like the anonymity of the Internet. And going to BlogHer or TypeA would be fun, but I can't afford to do anything like that right now, so it didn't seem like anything to worry about.

Then a few weeks ago, a woman I used to work with who has a money-saving blog told me about a group of local bloggers who were getting together.

I had mixed emotions about going. On the one hand, I was looking forward to seeing ex-coworker again. On the other, I didn't know any of these other people, or their blogs, so what was that going to be like? Were they all going to be full-time bloggers with way more experience and talent than me? Were they going to be talking about stuff I didn't understand? Were they going to be rich housewives with time on their hands I couldn't relate to?

It ended up being a lot of fun. One of the girls who organized it explained that she was interested in setting up a support group so we could help drive traffic to each other's sides, give each other feedback, and help each other with questions. And it's exposed me to a whole bunch of blogs I probably wouldn't have found on my own. We plan to meet once a month, and in July, I'll go without all the nervousness that goes with the first time.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Raising a Savvy Eater


Broccoli from our garden


When I was a kid, we were a meat and potatoes family. We also had a garden with fresh fruits and vegetables in the summer. That we loaded down with butter, sour cream and other yummy stuff. Then when I was 14, my dad had his first heart attack. Our diet changed dramatically. So much so that it literally divides my childhood in half in my memories. We started eating chicken and fish, very little red meat. And no more butter or salt. Everything was plain.

I was a bit of a picky eater and not a big fan of condiments, so plain was ok with me. And since 14 was around the time I started to really learn how to cook for myself, that’s how I learned to make meals. So for the next 15 years, I mostly ate bland, repetitive food, rarely venturing outside my comfort zone. And since I was single, I ate A LOT of frozen, processed foods.

Then I got married. And my poor husband was not loving my cooking. But his solution was to go to the opposite extreme – Hamburger Helper was a staple. I started trying new recipes to meet him in the middle. I looked for quick and easy things that wouldn’t be excessively fattening. It wasn’t until we had our first child that I really started thinking about WHAT we were eating. I realized most of what we ate wasn’t really good for us. It may have been low-fat or low-cal, but it was full of additives, chemicals and who knows what else.

I decided to make our baby food from scratch. It was so easy! And I wanted our daughter to get to try as many different foods as possible, so I bought things for her that I never bought for us before, like mango and avocado. Because of that, she’s been very good about eating a variety of food.

Now that she’s 3.5 and has an opinion that she likes to share with everyone (just like her mama!), she will sometimes say she doesn’t want something. I don’t force her to eat anything, but I do ask her to try everything on her plate each time. I tell her that her taste buds change every day, so something she may not have liked yesterday, she could like today. And I remind her of her favorite foods and what she would be missing if she had never tried them. Most of the time, she tries something and she likes it. And that encourages her to try more new things.

Of course, now that she’s been introduced to sugar, she often wants candy. I don’t oppose it, though I try to limit the kinds that have excessive dyes. I don’t want her to think that she can’t have it, I just want her to understand that it’s important to eat mostly fruits and vegetables, and teach her to make smart choices about treats. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Love Is Patient




When I left home for college, I moved 600 miles away. I left everything that was comfortable and familiar. My parents. My sisters. My friends.

And my boyfriend.

I didn't want a long distance relationship. I had seen a friend who had tried that, and it had ended in disaster. Plus I wanted to break out of expectations that had cradled me, find out if I had what it took to be on my own and find contentment. I knew I wouldn't be able to do that if I had a safety net that tethered me to my old self.

My ex and I survived the breakup. The distance actually made us better friends.

Fast forward eight years. I was back in Kansas City and finally at a stage in my life where I felt confident about who I was. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. I knew what I wanted in a husband, and I was keeping an eye out for him without being on the hunt. It was a liberating feeling.

My old boyfriend and I were still close friends. Actually, closer than we had ever been. We spent a lot of time together and spoke on the phone at least once a day. Gradually that summer I could sense that his intentions were on a different level than mine. I tried to back off a little bit. He said he wanted us to try dating again. I was shocked. Perplexed. Confused. Uncertain.

I told him I needed to think about it.

He was patient. He was kind. He was protective, trusting, hopeful and persevering. 

A couple of days later while we were hanging out watching TV together, I was lying on the couch. He sat down, put my head in his lap, and stroked my hair. This man who wore bravado every day and felt awkward hugging family and friends let down his guard. Let his love flow through his fingertips. Let me begin to feel love for him in return.

And in that moment, I knew we would spend the rest of our lives together.

This post was written in response to a prompt from The Red Dress Club: "This week we would like you to write about how the show of affection has played a part in your memory.
"

Rockin' The Bump



Shell at Things I Can't Say thought it would be fun to post pics of our preggo bellies. Too fun! I was digging through ones that were about four years old and found these:
Me with two girlfriends who were due within weeks of me.

Me in the nursery/spare bedroom. I think I was 36 weeks here? 
Dad and me comparing belly sizes the day I went in to be induced.


And not to be left out, of course I had to find a few from about a year and a half ago:


S and me on Halloween. My bump is sort of camouflaged here.

Dad and I had to reenact our belly pic. I think I won this round!

Check out the others in the link-up on Shell's site!

Monday, June 13, 2011

My First Vlog

**I was so nervous about this, that I got the dates wrong and missed the link up for this last week! Aack! I'm going to try to get one done for this week, too, but wanted to post this anyway since it's been sitting in my queue waiting to post. I'll get it together next time...




Photobucket


Uh, yeah, that's what I said, vlog, people. Vlog. Y-to the-IKES!

First, I just want to say that I'm not excited to be in front of the camera when I am all gussied up, much less at the end of a long day when I'm trying to be quiet so I don't wake up the kids. So while I'm quite positive I need some con crit, save it for the next one, k? I'm just proud of myself for doing it at all at this point.

Second, I know nothing about webcams, video editing or formatting for blog use! Kudos to Seth from iRockMyMac who helped me on Twitter @irockmymac to figure out how to upload the dang thing.

Jessica at My Time As a Mom started this vlog meme with Elena from Mommy is in Timeout and Kate from Mommy Monologues, so I thought, why not? I haven't tried anything new on here for awhile. Let's give it a shot. Um, clearly I had a momentary lapse of sanity due to points one and two above. Oh well, right?


So without further adieu, I present to you my first vlog based on the prompt, how I met my spouse.

Check out the other links, too!

video

Friday, June 10, 2011

Non-Bloggers Just Don't Understand

So I was Tweeting with  @DonutsMama and @suitcasetricks about their entry in @fourplusanangel 's #TwitterTwin contest and @DonutsMama mentioned that her family thought she was crazy. I told her DH thinks I'm weird when I talk about my blog/Twitter friends. And THEN @DonutsMama said this:




Ok, what's the first thing that pops into your head when you see that? Well, if you're in your late thirties like me, it's Will Smith, baby. (If you are crazy and don't remember that song, here's a link to it.)

Then I thought of @KelleysBreakRm and how she does awesome song parodies - she even did a Will Smith (Hottie McToddie!) one recently - The Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song which of course ROCKED. So I said I was considering doing one myself. Then @bellebeandog jumped on board and encouraged the idea (as did Kelley!). I jumped in with gusto! And then I remembered how long that song is. So I only did half of it. (You'll thank me for that later.)

So without further ado, I present to you, "Non-Bloggers Just Don't Understand."

You know people are the same
No matter time nor place.
They don't understand that bloggers
Play for high stakes!
So to Tweeters and bloggers all across the land
There's no need to argue,
Non-bloggers just don't understand.

Oh-kay, here's the situation:
My family went away on a week's vacation, and
I brought my iTouch so I could Tweet.
Would they mind?
Umm, well, of course not.
I'll just Tweet for a little while
We're in California - Tweet about style!
And maybe bring my laptop to Hollywood.
Well, maybe I shouldn't...
Yeah, of course I should!

Pay attention, here's the thick of the plot:
My family asked me to get offline - I think not!
Just last week, on the Twitter I had heard about
A cool stat program I needed to join that's called Klout.
It's the latest term I've learned in the Twitterverse.
Tried to get a handle on the Blogosphere first.
Gigi from Kludgy Mom started me on my course
With a B2B program I finished without remorse!
Then I learned about SEO from Aunt Becky -
John Meyer must admit she's not your average mommy!
Support in the blogger world is unparalleled:
Eli Rose Social? My hand they have held!
SITS Girls, Theta Mom, Mamaped - ia,
Studio 30 Plus, BlogHer, TRDC! Uh!

Not to mention all the fun I have with my Tweeps!
One I know has an avi that looks like a sheep!
There's Liz, Kris and Shell, Angie and Lori,
Rachel, Jen and D, and of course, KLZ!
Not to mention Cheryl, Nichole and Katie,
Tim, Erin, Alex, and then there's Natalie.
Jen, Sherry, Kelley; Julia and Yulia.
Wait, hold the phone - did you say Julia Goulia?
No, don't be ridiculous! These people aren't fake!
They're funny and witty and their tweets take the cake!
Some I've grown to know so well it seems like they're kin.
Jessica says some of them even look like twins!
I'd name more, but I must pay some attention
To my fam I'm with since we're on vacation.

It was time to head home, back to KC,
Had the windows down - "Road trip!" - nice and breezy.
Instead of family vacation memories,
The thoughts in my head were re: my online peeps.
I found myself laughing about a tweet or story
That I read on a blog, a forum or a linky.
I 'd tell my hubby and my kids and they would say,
"OK, but you don't really KNOW them anyway."
I tried to speak, I said, "I want to plead my case!"
But my hubby and my kids just made a weird face.
That was a hard ride home, I don't know how I survived it.
The kids just laughed while my husband was driving.

Well, people are the same
No matter time nor place,
So to Tweeters and bloggers all across the land
Take it from me,
Non-bloggers just don't understand.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Invisible Woman



Sometimes I feel like I could disappear, and no one would notice.

At work this week, a colleague asked if he should make a phone call to a vendor I was having trouble with. I said no. He said he didn't mind. I explained why I didn't want him to make the call. I specifically went of my way to iterate how important it was to me for him NOT to make the call. Less than five minutes after I left his desk, he made the call.

I felt myself beginning to fade...

Last night my summer volleyball league started, the only extra-curricular activity I'm partaking in this year since we are trying to save money. I had told DH several weeks ago when the start date was. I sent him an email on Monday outlining the activities for the week for the whole family - including my volleyball date and time. Yesterday he called and asked when I would be home from work because he needed to go get the meat for a catering job he's doing this weekend. I reminded him that I would be home for a few minutes before volleyball, but then I wouldn't be back until after the girls were in bed. He said he didn't know I had volleyball that night, that I had never told him about it, and he was annoyed with me.

Fading...

This morning I was trying to get the girls ready for the day, and I asked S to put her clothes on. I handed her underwear to her while we were still in my bedroom. I finished getting dressed and got Baby R ready, and saw S still nude, lying on my bed.

Fading...

I asked her to put her underwear on again. We headed downstairs to the kitchen for breakfast. She started chasing her sister around the house. I asked her to stop running. She kept going.

Fading...

I finally had to physically take hold of her to get her to stop, and again asked her to put her underwear on, handing her a dress to wear as well. I calmly told her if she didn't get dressed and sit down, she wouldn't get to have breakfast before we left. She ignored me again.

Fading...

No breakfast. She threw a tantrum, naked. I threw a tantrum.

Gone


.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rapture

I seem to inadvertently have a Blondie theme going this week!

Today, I'm lucky enough to have a guest post over at The Lazy Christian again. Rachel is on vaca (jealous!), so I offered to keep an eye on the place while she's gone. Would you pretty please go by and say hi? One of the things I love about Rachel is that she's a regular gal like me, just trying to get through this crazy life. She doesn't have all the answers, she's not perfect, and she's not afraid to put that out there. While you're visiting her site, roam around a bit. Thanks!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Call Me





My parents flipped houses when I was growing up; I lived in 4 places before starting school. Obviously I don't remember much from those homes since I was so young, though I suppose it's surprising how much I DO remember. For example, the backyard at the house on Witham was HUGE. At least, to me. Full of trees that seemed to touch the sky, whose foliage created a cool canopy from the oppressive humidity of summer in Kansas City. There was a path worn in the grass that wove through those monoliths, and I would push my little sister along it in the wheelbarrow, eliciting excited squeals from her and encouraging my already active imagination to envision a jungle one day, a deserted island the next.

Autumn came, and we went mushroom picking with my dad and his friend and ate the harvest for supper. After stalling as long as possible, we kids were sent to bed while the adults continued to chat. That night, I flipped over the railing of my top bunk, rolled across the hardwood floor and smacked my face into the avocado-green dresser, breaking my nose. I told my parents my sister was having a bad dream, so I'd reached down to hold her hand and lost my balance. It would be years before I came clean; I had heard my parents talking about me, and I was actually leaning as far as I could toward the door so I could better hear what they were saying!

The next summer, we were living in a house on Marty. The little girl next door showed me how to do a cartwheel. I always thought "cartwheel" was a weird word; I pictured it in its literal sense. I also think that was the house we lived in where a man down the street smoked a pipe. I can envision his recliner and floor-stand ashtray with a pipe rack, the sweet smell of tobacco permeating the room. That summer I began to question why I had to go to bed when it wasn't dark out yet. I remember the sticky heat that didn't dissipate even after the sun did eventually go down - the last house we lived in that didn't have central air conditioning. Sleeping with the windows open in the hope that a small breeze might break through the thick blanket of humidity.

When I was 5, and it was time for me to start kindergarten, my parents moved us to the top school district in our area. It was in that house that I learned to roller skate in the kitchen, sliced open my finger with a box cutter while my parents wallpapered my bedroom, and got my first pet - an adorable runt mutt I named Scruffy. That was also where my sister and I bonded over being mad at our parents by talking to each other through our closet walls, having the chicken pox over Christmas and creating our own language. And where I first remember learning our phone number.

My family moved five more times before I graduated from high school - all in the same school district - once just three houses down the street from where we were currently living. Then I went away to college and lived in the dorm, then the sorority house where I switched rooms each semester. Once I was out of school, I lived with a girlfriend in an apartment, and then a duplex with two guy friends before DH and I got married and lived in his house. Then we moved to our home we live in now. At each of these places, I had a new phone number I had to learn.

The numbers blend together after awhile. Several of the prefixes were the same. But the one from my childhood I still know by heart? The first one I learned when I was 5.


This post was inspired by the prompt, "We want to know what, from your childhood, do you still know by heart?" from The Red Dress Club.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Love Trumps Everything

So Mad Woman had a baby and was kind enough to let me hang out at her place today so she could focus on resting and loving on the Dude's new baby brother! (I may or may not have been chatting with her on Twitter the last couple of days during this resting time. People, if you have kids, as much as you adore maternity leave, you know you need a link to the outside world and adult conversation.)

Anyway, all this talk of cute babies got me to pondering our baby factory and how much longer it will be open, so the post I wrote for her is about that and called "Love Trumps Everything." Check it out!
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