Saturday, October 29, 2011

I'm wearing red on the inside

A couple of years ago, it was Cubs-White Sox night at Awana. Since I'm the one who buys clothes for everyone in this house, the kids didn't have a stitch of sports-related clothing in their closets.

I called my husband from a last-minute clothing search at Wal-Mart a couple of hours before it was time to go: "Honey, are we for the Cubs or the White Sox?"

"The Cardinals," he replied.

You see, my husband and I are both born and raised in southern Illinois. Down there, if you talk about baseball, you are either for the Cardinals or the Cubs. If you choose the Cubs, everyone hates you, but at least you do have that as a choice.

So, I have been a Cardinals fan as long as I can remember. Well, that's a Cardinals fan in my own little, "I don't care about baseball and could you please turn the radio station to some music" type of way.

Even though St. Louis proper is just past the border of Illinois, I think people in southern Illinois feel more like they can relate to that city than what's happening in big ol' Chi-ca-go, a million miles away. To us, even though St. Louis was a two-hour drive, it was one of the closest shopping malls to my home. My whole family would pile in the station wagon and drive over there for an entire day of shopping and dinner out at The Spaghetti Factory.

This might not make sense to some of my suburban readers who think that when I'm talking about southern Illinois I mean Joliet or DeKalb or Rock Island. Those are very much in the northern part of the state. And, I regret to inform you that even Peoria, Champaign and Bloomington still don't make it past the halfway point of our long state. I am actually talking about places and events that happen in SOUTHERN Illinois.

It's there. Trust me.

Anyway... Back to baseball.

My husband has always been a huge Cardinals fan, but up here, you kind of have to practice your allegiance in private since you are so surrounded by St. Louis haters. There just aren't a lot of people who want to come over to watch a Cardinals game on TV. And I do believe he has been boo-ed a time or two for wearing his redbird hat out in public.

But during the last couple of years, we have become good friends with a family from St. Louis. They have three boys who are great friends with our boys. So, our two families have developed a bond around our love for the Cardinals.

When it became apparent the Cardinals were on their way to the World Series, I couldn't look away any longer. I decided to join in on the fun. I had to stop thinking about my iPhone and necklaces and Photoshop tricks for a while and focus my brain on sports.

I have to tell you there have been some DRAMATIC changes in my lifestyle during the last few weeks. For example:

  • Last week, my husband was not home, and for the first time in my life, I willingly turned on the TV to watch a sporting event.
  • On another day, I missed the game. The first thing I did the next morning was check the score. (I can't believe I just said, "I checked the score.") hee hee hee.
  • I have learned to recognize the players. I can now match up their names to their faces and the positions they play on the field.
  • I even know some facts about the players and have been known to spout them off while we're watching a game.
  • But the most amazing feat yet came during Game 6. My husband got discourage after the 5th inning and went to bed. I stayed up until midnight, watching that unbelievable 11-inning game! I even posted about it on Facebook like real sports fans do! (You have to know how much sleep I require on a nightly basis to fully grasp the magnitude of this last statement.)

However, there has been one thing I have not been able to bring myself to do to support My Cardinals. I simply can't wear red.

I'm sorry, redbirds.

I don't look good in red. When I wear red, people always ask me if I'm feeling OK. Before I diagnosed myself with a red-wearing disorder, I was known to have to go home in the middle of the day and change clothes because I wasn't feeling "quite right."

I don't even like to stand in a red room or next to a red wall. With my pale, splotchy skin, I look like a corpse with chicken pox.

I'm not able to get all dressed up in my Cardinals gear today to support the World Series Champs. I'll have to do that in a cute, comfy sweater in a neutral tone and possibly a coordinating scarf. But believe me, people, I'm Cardinals through and through. I'm wearing red on the inside.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My new frenemy

I was really a little surprised when I got up today and found it was pretty much like any other day. I had expected more of a change. A transformation even. Surely my life would be radically different.

I mean yesterday was the day I had been waiting on for months. It was around 10:29 a.m. when we heard a knock at the door. We all leaped from our seats and ran to make sure she didn't leave. The FedEx lady handed me the package, and I gave her my signature.

I was afraid to even open the box for the first few hours. I knew the excitement would be too much for us to concentrate on school. So there it sat. All wrapped up in its cute little white box just waiting to work its magic.

I had already been thinking of how I would use Facetime. I was imagining who I could iMessage. Oh, and the Reminders. Those were going to be amazing.

But in reality, not much had changed when I rolled out of bed this morning for my first full day with my new 4S. I synched her up, and my day started out like any ordinary day. I checked my e-mail. I checked Facebook. I texted a few people.

By the afternoon, I even used the phone feature.

I started playing around. All my apps were there. My music was there. But there was one button I was determined I would never tap. I had heard enough about Siri to bring back nightmares of that love-hate relationship I once had with my GPS. I have accepted the fact I simply have an unhealthy fear of automated voices telling me what to do.

I remembered how irritated I used to get when Richard, my GPS voice, would start shouting at me to make a U-Turn when I was simply trying to pull off the highway to get gas. I know my way around my own neighborhood so I would about lose it when he would tell me to turn left and take the long way out of the subdivision. And I can't even tell you how many times I almost veered into a line of semi-tractor trailers because Richard insisted that I "GET IN THE RIGHT LANE."

I admit it. I was afraid of Siri.

So, I guess that's what finally did it for me. I just felt I needed to conquer my fear. And what better time to do it than when I was browning hamburger meat and holding a cranky toddler on my hip. I needed to get my 9-year-old home for dinner.

I held down the center button and told Siri to text. I was nervous, yes. But I gave her my message plain and clear. Then she said, "Are you ready to send your message?"

Being the control freak I am, I couldn't help it. I reached up and tapped the send option myself.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," I told her. Could she hear me? What would she say?

I fully expected her to lash out at me or to tell me to make a U-Turn. Her screen didn't change. She seemed fine. No big deal. Whew.

My confidence was growing. "Add So-and-So to my contacts," I said.

"I'm not allowed to complete that request."

What? Not allowed? Hmmm. I could sense her passive aggressive attitude. I would show her who is boss.

"What can Siri do?" I asked.

She displayed a long, and I must say, impressive list of her functions. She could text someone. Call someone. Play a song. Search the Internet. Check the weather. Remind me of stuff. Set an alarm. And the list goes on.

I decided to give her a test.

"What's the weather?"

"Play Jamie Grace."

Not only did she do what I asked, she added on a few cheerful remarks, like "Let's hear some 'Hold Me'," or "The weather isn't looking so great this week."

I couldn't believe it. Maybe she likes me!

And you know what... I was starting to like my personal assistant. You might even call her My Office Manager. Except it just seemed so stereotypical. Why did Siri have to be a woman? If I was going to have an assistant, I think it would be nice to have a man to boss around.

So, I asked her how to change her voice. I went through about 20 voices with my GPS before I settled on Richard. She didn't know the answer (or so she said) so I had to figure it out on my own. I finally discovered that I couldn't change her voice, but I could change her nationality.

I decided to make her English (Australian). Now that sounded much better. Her voice wasn't as choppy and uptight with that nice Australian accent.

Only one problem. I asked her the weather and she gave me the weather in Sydney, Australia. I asked her to search for something and she said she couldn't understand me. I tried to convince myself that just because SHE was from Australia that didn't mean she could only understand me if I was from Australia!

Just because she was speaking English (Australian) didn't mean she couldn't understand what I was saying when I spoke English (perfect Midwestern United States of American with a slight southern drawl).

I asked her to "Show me Popeye," and she responded with "Show me Papa?" I asked her "Where is Olive Oyl?" and she responded with "Redial by?"

I wished I could set her voice to Swedish Chef or Yoda or Southern.... something — ANYTHING — I might be able to better communicate with. But no. I wasn't going to dare try Spanish or French. English (Australian) seemed like my best bet.

So, we'll see what happens tomorrow.

Hopefully, it's all just a fluke. If not, maybe she'll be able to understand me all the way over in Australia. Or maybe I will be able to perfect my Australian accent by then.

I'm hoping I didn't irk her enough already. With my luck, she'll probably turn her alarm on for 5 a.m. and set it to shout, "Turn right! Turn right!"


Building Identification 101: Church vs. School

I always wonder how my kids are going to react when they are doing their math and one of the word problems asks them something like this: "Count the number of windows in your classroom." Or "Make a graph showing the birthdays of everyone in your class."

I get nervous for a second, wondering if this will lead to a discussion about how they wish they were in a real classroom right now and how they wish they had more than five people to count — includes the baby and their mom!

But they happily start walking around the house, counting windows. And I get annoyed at the curriculum writers for saying this is the "home school kit" but not changing the question so my child has more than five people to add to her birthday chart.

We could imagine, I suppose, how many windows might be in a classroom if they went to a "real" school. The problem is, the only time any of them attended a "real" school was when my boys went to private school and that met in a church.

I'm glad they had that experience, though, because at least now they understand what the inside of a real church would look like. OUR church actually meets in a high school. Often, when we are driving around the suburbs and they see a huge new high school, they ask me if that is a church. I try to explain that, no, THAT is a school and a church looks more like the place with the big steeple on the top where they used to go to school.

They are going to be disappointed some day when it finally sinks in that most churches don't have a lighted football field or vending machines in the lounge.

Once in a while, their writing curriculum will ask them to write about their favorite teacher. Of course, they only have one choice and the teacher is really their mom. And she's not a teacher. But she does work for a church. And the church meets in a school. So, that sort of makes her qualified, right?

Things haven't gotten much clearer this year since we started our academic co-op. We still home school, but they go to classes and have teachers who give assignments, report cards and tests. So, when we get ready to go, they fumble around trying to say it's time for "school... I mean, co-op." I finally told them it's perfectly fine if they want to just call it school!

And by the way, the "school" meets in a church. But the church doesn't look a thing like a church. It has a gymnasium and a cafe, and it really reminds me more of a school, which makes sense because they are used to going to church in a school and now they go to school in a church that looks like a school that reminds them of a church.

Got it?


Friday, October 21, 2011


Two months ago, my husband bought our first-ever membership to Costco. I have been trying my best to learn the ropes of warehouse club membership and handle the responsibility with more moderation than I did a few years ago when we belonged to Sam's.

I know that Rule #1 is try to find out when they are giving away free samples and avoid going there during that time. Yes, you can eat a full dinner on samples alone, but you WILL come home with gallons of Acai berry juice, the best chocolate-covered blueberries you ever tasted and a variety of granola bars. STAY AWAY from the samples!

I also try to limit myself to trying only ONE new item per shopping trip. I know from experience that if you buy the package of 54 individual vegetable quiches and decide after the first one that you don't actually like them, you only have two choices. You either have to endure eating the other 53 yourself because no one else in your family will try them. Or you have to keep them in your freezer for an entire year until they have reached their expiration date so you don't feel as guilty throwing them away.

So, I try to approach bulk foods with as much care and caution as possible. And that's why I knew I could be taking a chance when I decided to purchase this:

That's 12.5 pounds of popcorn kernels. Like most families, we have grown accustomed to popping our popcorn in microwaveable bags.

But in the last couple of years, we have experienced on several occasions the amazing freshly-popped popcorn made by some good friends of ours. I would choose the hot-buttered popcorn over dessert any day of the week. 

I just wasn't sure if I could see myself getting out a big pan and melting butter every time I wanted some popcorn. I've gotten so used to throwing a bag in the microwave and coming back two minutes later when it's done.

I made our first batch about a week ago and we have been eating a steady stream of popcorn ever since. We don't even bother putting the big pan back in the cabinet. We just keep it out on the stovetop after its washed, ready to be sprinkled with oil and then covered with a thin layer of kernels. Our days of eating bags of popped styrofoam are a distant memory.

We have been working on the best combination of oil and butter to make our fresh popcorn. If you add too much oil at the beginning, you can't add as much butter at the end. But you have to make sure you use enough oil to get it to pop quickly. Our salt consumption also has increased dramatically in the last week or so.

The freshly-made popcorn is such a comfort food for me. It reminds me of growing up in southern Illinois when my parents would pop a big batch of popcorn and serve a combination of orange juice and crushed ice they made in the blender. Our whole family would sit down together with our popcorn and orange juice icees for a family game night or Friday night in front of the TV. Some friends reminded me that their moms used to pop their popcorn in bacon grease. I have a feeling my mom would have done the same thing, although it kind of ruins my memory to think about it.

We are quickly making our way through that 12.5-pound jug of popcorn kernels. I'm starting to worry though about how many pounds I am putting on from all of that oil and melted butter! Microwave popcorn will never taste the same again.

How about you? Do you ever make your popcorn from scratch? Do you have another snack food that brings back childhood memories?


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ah-bee! Go, go, goooo! ME!

Our beloved toddler has just reached that stage where her language is exploding. She is trying to repeat every word that she hears, and she is learning new words faster than I can write them down in her baby book — as if she had a baby book!

I wish I could wrap up these sweet moments of broken words and repeated syllables and keep them to re-live another day. But as I watch my older three look on in wonder, I know that I will just as quickly forget about these moments as she grows and learns about new things.

So, today's blog post is mostly to remind me of the moments that inspire so much laughter in our house lately.

Jayda is less than two months shy of her second birthday now, but she's so petite that most people usually think she is younger than that.

Little sister is small, but she has a big voice, and she makes herself heard. She is demanding and persistent and when she yells it is with a loud voice that seems way too big for her little body. We think it's hilarious that she calls all of the other children in the family, "Ah-bee." This is her way of saying, "Everybody," which we know because when it's time for dinner she runs around yelling at the top of her lungs: "Ah-bee! Eat!"

In fact, she calls all other children, "Ah-bee," with only one exception. She adores one friend whose name is Ty. So, when all the other kids are around, she either is shouting, "Ty-Ty!" or "Ah-bee!" (This is not good for poor Ty-Ty. When she is yelling at Ah-bee, it could be anyone. But when she says, "Ty-Ty", only one person has to respond!)

Jayda loves sitting in a laundry basket to watch TV. Her big sister put a big blanket in the laundry basket to give her a nice cushy padding on the back and sides.

Last night, as she sat in her basket, her big sister got on her plastic rocking horse and began rocking like crazy. Jayda did not like this one bit. She climbed out of her laundry basket, which is about like watching a fifth grader try to jump over the hurdles in a high school track meet. She was shouting, "Ah-bee! Go, go, go! ME!"

She used her little 26-pound body to push big sister off the horse, and she got on and started rocking as hard as she could. But then sister got in the laundry basket. Oh, no!

"Ah-BEE!! GO! GO! GO!," she yelled. "ME!"

Finally, she stood holding the handle of her rocking horse while trying to climb into the laundry basket so she could make sure she was able to enjoy both of her favorite seats without any interference.

Finally, it was time for dessert. Her big sister asked her if she wanted a popsicle.

"Pa-pa, pa-pa," she exclaimed. This should not be confused with any of her other favorite foods:

Ba-pa (apple)
Sa-sa (salsa)
ba-pa-sa-sa (applesauce)
or pa-pa (popcorn)

It is so hard to resist her pleas for food when she walks around saying, "Peas! Peas!" (Please! Please!)

Big sister gave her a green popsicle and gave herself a red. This might have worked six months ago, the first time she had tasted the frozen sugary goodness of a popsicle. We could have give her green and then orange until the less-desirable flavors were depleted. But by now, she is wise to the ways of the world and the preferred colors of popsicles.

She took a few licks of her frozen green treat and then handed it to her sister. She stood with her mouth wide open demanding the red popsicle until finally big sissy had to give in. Finally, sister got tired of arguing over the red and gave herself a purple popsicle. This prompted a rotating popsicle exchange. Red for purple. Purple for green. Green for red. The germ exchange would have made many moms a little whoosy.

We were eventually ready to wind down for the night. Jayda brought me her two baby dolls. She gave one to me and kept the other for herself.

"Down. Down," she would instruct me. We would lay down the babies and then pat them on the tummy.

The only time Jayjay sucks her thumb is when she is tired. When she does so, she makes a little noise that sounds like, "Goy-goy." So, when we want her to rest, we say to her, "Goy-goy," and she will start sucking her thumb.

After she got her babies positioned just right, she would take their little plastic thumbs and position them in their mouths and say, "Goy-goy. Goy-goy." She would then gesture for me to pick mine up, pat it on its back and then she would start over. "Down, down." "Goy-goy."

I love that she is able to communicate so well now, but at the same time, I'm not really anxious for her to improve too quickly. She provides way too much entertainment for us with her cute way of expressing herself.


Monday, October 17, 2011

When all else fails, try a necklace

For those of you who know me well, you will probably find this hard to believe. In fact, I find it hard to believe myself, but it's true. Here goes.

Back in my 20s, I had an unnatural obsession with the turtleneck. From November to March, my wardrobe consisted mainly of every type of turtleneck: turtleneck sweaters, mock turtlenecks and just plain old turtlenecks. During this time in my life, I was having a contest with myself to see how thin I could become. The natural result of this effort was that I was always freezing cold.

I realized that I wasn't quite normal one day when I actually wore two turtlenecks to work. In case you found that last sentence confusing, I mean that I wore one turtleneck and then wore another one right on top of it. I am not kidding.

Like any addiction, my love for turtlenecks started out gradually. I don't think I even realized how serious my problem had become until one day when I was in my early 30s. I was watching the TV show, "What Not to Wear." I remember so clearly the moment when the host of the show said these words to the poor, unsuspecting person who had been nominated for the show: "You are addicted to turtlenecks."

Those words hit me right between the eyes like one of those suction cup bullets my kids shoot from their Nerf guns. To say that moment was life changing would be an understatement. My eyes were opened for the first time to the fact my love for turtlenecks was not normal. Oh sure, it started with an attempt to stay on top of a fashion trend in the 1990s.

But it had grown beyond that. What I always saw as a natural way to keep myself as warm as possible by wearing a shirt that covered my neck had grown into a decade-long addiction. I couldn't stand to go out of the house with my long, pale neck exposed to the cold air. I was obsessed with keeping it covered.

That moment began for me what was a long and difficult process of ridding my wardrobe of turtlenecks. I would be lying if I told you that breaking this cycle of addiction was easy. I tried little by little to choose something other than a turtleneck on a cold winter day. It probably took me at least a year to reduce my weekly turtleneck consumption to only a few a week, rather than one — or more! — a day.

But once I finally got myself to a place where my neck was bare on a regular basis, I think my friends noticed something was missing. I believe it was the Christmas of 2004, when my friends had to do what only good friends are willing to do. They bought me a necklace for Christmas.

It was a simple silver pendant on a thick silver chain. Up until that point, the only time I wore a necklace was to a formal dance, as a bridesmaid in a wedding and, of course, on my wedding day. I don't think I even owned a gold chain, a string of pearls or anything else to wrap around my neck.

I wore that silver chain nearly every day. I loved how it filled up that blank space between my collar bones.

It wasn't long until I was so at home in my silver chain that I purchased another necklace. Now, I actually had a choice of which necklace to wear. One necklace led to another. And the necklaces themselves grew larger and bolder. For those of you who know me now, you know that my necklace collection has gone completely overboard.

I love necklaces! I rarely leave the house without one. Some are cute and simple. Others are obnoxiously large. I feel naked if I don't have some type of colorful pendant dangling around my neck.

Only recently have I actually expanded my array of neckware to include the scarf. This was tricky at first. I had to watch a YouTube video to figure out what to even do with the scarf. I also had to accept the fact that I couldn't wear a necklace AND a scarf at the same time. The necklaces would have to stay home for a day and relax while I ventured out of the house with a large, long colorful cloth poofed up around my neck.

All of this leads me to a simple question. What is your signature accessory? Do you have one accessory that you can't leave the house without? Maybe it's ear rings or a bracelet? Could be a necklace? Or are you into scarves?

Or is it possible that you need to confess right now that you have are having a love affair with a turtleneck? I'm here to tell you that there IS hope. I'm living proof.

Although, I must warn you. If you give up your turtlenecks, there's always another accessory waiting to wrap its pretty little self around your neck.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

A blog post about blogging

So, I was thinking about my blog the other day.

Some of you probably remember when I started blogging. I would write something nearly every day. It seemed that everywhere I went and everything I did, I was thinking about how I was going to turn it into a blog post. I couldn't go to sleep at night until I wrote something on my blog. I had to control myself to keep from updating my blog multiple times throughout the day.

Of course, with all that blogging, I was also always hoping someone would read my blog. I would mention it in casual conversation. I would read blog posts about how to attract blog readers. I would read blogs about how to be a better blogger.

Each morning, I would make the rounds of all of the "successful" bloggers, lurking around to try to figure out what made them so popular. I would dream about the day when I would eventually BE a blogger. Someone would ask me what I "do," and I would say, "Oh, I'm a blogger." (As if that was an important thing to be.)

I would spend time each day reading blogs and leaving comments, hoping to attract more readers to my blog. Other bloggers would reciprocate by reading my blog, and then I would reciprocate by reading theirs and on and on and on. I would get annoyed and envious when someone else would write a blog post about the most trivial topic and get dozens, even hundreds, of comments.

And eventually, I was trying so hard to be a good blogger that it wasn't as fun to write on my blog. I started to worry about the topics I was choosing. Would people be interested in reading them? What would people think of me if I wrote about THAT?

The one thing I do miss from that time is the interaction I got to have on a daily basis with readers. I loved my handful of loyal readers. I got to re-connect with friends from my childhood. I made new friends who I will probably never meet in real life. I also made new friends who I have met in real life and are now my real friends. And I got to know some friends on a deeper level from reading their blogs.

I realized that this year, I've gotten to the point where I'm almost afraid to blog. This year has been full of trials and challenges. It seems that most people who like my blog like it because it's funny. And I haven't felt very funny this year. I ran out of funny things to say. It's much harder to write about personal topics and do it in a way that doesn't sound whiny or preachy or annoying.

It's also hard to write about serious topics and wonder who might be reading. And it's hard to write about serious topics and think no one is reading because the topic was too serious.

It all became a vicious cycle. I stopped blogging as much. People stopped reading as much. Without the interaction of readers, I wasn't motivated to blog.

It seems difficult for me to find a middle ground.

I no longer have any interest in trying to "attract" readers or trying to convince people to read my blog.  I've finally reached a point where I'm OK to write on my blog just because I want to write on my blog. It makes me feel better to write what's on my mind. And if someone wants to read, that's awesome! If they want to interact with me by leaving a comment, that's even better.

I do love knowing someone might be out there reading. So, I'll ask this question: Can anyone relate?


Friday, October 14, 2011

Group therapy

I've been joking this fall that my Friday mornings are like group therapy for home school moms. Honestly, Friday mornings have become the highlight of my week.

The three big kids take their enrichment classes at co-op. I sit around with two of my favorite friends in the cafe area upstairs, sipping hot tea and talking about life. We discuss important topics like shopping, shoes and travel, as well as curriculum, teaching strategies and the challenges of being both mom and teacher.

Throughout the morning, we have several other friends who come and go. We've gotten to know everyone's schedule. A few people join our group at 10 a.m., and then a couple more jump in at 11. By Noon, we have a full table for lunch. I know the kids enjoy their classes at co-op and the chance to hang out with friends, but I don't think they could possibly be having half as much fun as the moms upstairs.

Today, the topics of discussion were a bit more intense. This whole week has been full of challenges and struggles, not just for me, but for several of us. I know it's no coincidence that we also are going through a sermon series at church focused on finding joy in the midst of trials. Several of the moms from Friday morning therapy go to my church and two of them are in my small group.

This week at small group, we had to complete the following sentence: "When I face a trial, I..."

That was a tough question. I had to think about it long and hard. I think we all agreed that the big trials are the ones that force you to your knees. When the problems are larger than anything we could possibly handle on our own, we have no choice but to trust God for the answer.

But what about those small struggles we face everyday? Those little irritations? The frustrations? The smaller decisions?

My week has been full of those. So, I answered honestly: "First I get a drink — hot, carbonated or caffeinated. Then I get some chocolate. And if it's really bad, I go shopping." (I realize this wasn't the best answer, but I believe in honesty.)

Well, back to Friday morning co-op. Have you ever had one of those moments when someone asks you a simple question and it triggers a flood of emotion? I guess that's what happened this morning during Friday morning group therapy. All of those tiny frustrations, challenges and trials had built up to a point that they all came rushing out in one unexpected deluge.

I'm so thankful for this group of moms who care enough about me to talk me through it, pray for me and just listen in moments like those.

A few hours ago, one of them showed up at my front door. She handed me a bag with a drink and some chocolate. (We both wished there was time for shopping.) She sat in my messy kitchen and listened while we munched on chocolate covered bananas.

What a gift. I'm not sure what I would do without these women to go through life with me. Through the good and the bad. And to be there when life requires a nice warm drink and some deep, dark chocolate.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

The great sale...

I'm about to make a confession that could be a bit shocking to the two of you. If I happen to have three readers today, then, I'm sure it will be a shock to all three of you.

But for some reason, I feel like I have to come clean. Maybe at least one third of you can relate (which would be one of you), and then I will at least feel better.

A few months ago, I was shopping at New York & Company. (Shocker!) This is where I buy about 90 percent of my clothes, and I do so for a few reasons. Their clothes seem to fit my style, and they fit me. Most importantly, I understand how to work their coupons.

Anyway, they had some dresses on clearance. And I really didn't need any dresses. But the dresses were cute, and they were 50 percent off the sale price. Plus, I had a 30 percent off coupon. So, basically, I bought a dress for $16.

A few months later, I wanted to wear the dress. But I needed a little sweater to go over the top. I didn't want a big bulky sweater. I really just wanted a shrug. A girl knows when she needs a sweater and when she needs a shrug.

Well, at this point, stores were replacing all of the summer clothes with fall clothes, and, as you both know, the shrug isn't really a fall sweater. But MIRACULOUSLY, I found a shrug in You Know Where and it was the right color.

The only problem was that the shrug was not on sale. It was $29. That is $29 for a little piece of knitted fabric designed to cover my shoulders. So, of course I did not buy the $29 shrug to wear with the $16 dress.

Until two days later.

That's when I gave up on finding a shrug that was cheaper than the dress and gave in to the fact that if I was ever going to wear the $16 dress, I would have to buy the $29 shrug. That is a simple mathematical equation, but one that is not always easy to solve the first time.

At this point, I had a coupon to save $30 off my purchase of $70. I needed some new jeans and all of the jeans were buy one, get one half off. So, basically, I could get a good deal on jeans and get the shrug for free. Right?

So, I carefully calculated my order to make sure I didn't go too much beyond $70. But alas, when I went to check out, I had actually spent $80. There was a second offer attached to my first coupon, and this one was to get $70 off my purchase of $150. When the cashier pointed this out to me, I quickly refused. I WILL NOT BUY ANYTHING ELSE! I know their tricks.

But then, I did the math. And I realized that if  I purchased $150 worth of clothes, I would only spend $80, which was the same amount I was spending anyway.

I reluctantly wandered around the store trying to find another $70 worth of stuff so I could get it for free. I added two shirts and a scarf to my pile and headed back to the check out.

Now I was good to go. I had my $16 dress, plus the shrug I needed to wear it, along with two pairs of jeans, two shirts and a scarf. I was set.

However, I realized I needed a new female undergarment, which shall remain nameless because I already attract enough spam to my blog, and I don't want more. I headed to Kohls (without a coupon, I will add) and spent way too much on the undergarment. And I will not admit here, because it would sound ridiculous, that there was a long, short-sleeved sweater that is absolutely perfect for early fall that would look great with those new jeans I just bought, and I might or might not have purchased that, too.

I was totally ready now. I had the $16 dress, the shrug, two pairs of jeans, two shirts, a scarf, an undergarment and, maybe, a sweater.

Thankfully, I already had shoes.

The only thing I could possibly need now would be a necklace. So, I headed to my favorite jewelry store, Charming Charlie. I walked straight to the color-coded section required for my particular dress without looking to the right or left at anything else. OK. I can't lie. I did try on a sweater in there, as well, but I PROMISE I did not buy this one, even though it was long and the exact color... OK, nevermind.

I found a necklace. It was only $12. (That is LESS than the dress, I might add.) But I wasn't sure how the necklace was going to look with the dress. And there was another necklace that might be the perfect one. And it was only $12. And what if I got the wrong one, drove all the way home, and realized I had not purchased the correct necklace. So, of course, I had to get both. And it's a good thing because the one I wasn't going to buy was actually the right one.

Now, I was good.

I had the dress. The shrug. Two pairs of jeans. Two shirts. A scarf. An undergarment. A sweater. And two necklaces.

I was ready to wear that $16 dress.

And I know this has never happened to anyone else but me. So, if you leave me a comment and try to tell me that you can sympathize or relate, I will know it's only to make me feel better.

And please remind me that if I EVER see a dress on sale for $16 to RUN!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Flood changed everything

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous here the past few days. I was going for a walk the other day and just soaking in the 74-degree temperature, the gentle breeze, the cloudless blue sky and the brightly-colored leaves on the trees.

And I kept thinking about The Flood.

Because that's normal.

Thinking about THE Flood. Yep, I do mean The Big One. The flood that is the subject of myths and legends. Storybooks and fairy tales. The inspiration for children's toys and baby bedding. It's nice to think about in those terms, anyway. We all like to think of Noah and the animals marching two-by-two into the ark.

But lately, I've been thinking a lot about the flood and its implications. I mean, I've always thought about the flood from a Biblical perspective. And sure, I've even considered it as part of history. But I have to admit that never before in my life have I really stopped to ponder the scientific implications of the flood.

I've always been a creationist in my scientific thinking. And to me that meant a literal translation of the Bible in which God created the earth, the planets, the galaxy and everything else that exists in outer space. I'm a "strict" creationist, in that I don't believe in the evolutionary progression of species over billions of years. I believe in a young earth that is thousands — not billions — of years old. And that's about as far as I've ever gotten in my thinking about earth science.

I simply never gave it much thought.

This year, my fifth grader is taking a geology and astronomy class. The curriculum is written by Answers in Genesis. The first book is called, "Our Planet Earth," and I'm finding it fascinating that it bases pretty much everything that we see today in the formation of the earth on the scientific fact of a massive, worldwide flood that wiped out all living things on the planet thousands of years ago. Noah's flood.

Before the flood, the earth was a tropical paradise. No seasons. No rainy days. No cold winters. No leaves changing on the trees. The weather was perfect everywhere, all the time.

The flood changed everything.

That massive storm changed the weather, bringing on an ice age in parts of the world.

Glaciers formed. The earth shifted. Land masses broke apart, forming the continents we know today.

The surface of the earth quickly eroded, depositing layers of sediment over every part of the earth. Billions of living things were rapidly buried, leaving the fossils that we still find today across the globe. Fossils of fish and other creatures of the sea have been found on tops of mountains, in desserts and on Antarctica because the surface of the earth changed so dramatically when the water dried up.

In many areas of the world, we see strata, which are layers of rock stacked on top of each other. This can be accounted for by a massive flood that swept large amounts of sediment on top of layers of earth. According to "flood science," it was caused by a swift and massive erosion, not a slow, gradual process that took billions of years.

Even the fossil fuels that we rely on for coal, oil and natural gas were created when plants and animals were buried under the earth and then experienced great heat and pressure. While evolutionists believe this happened over billions of years, creationists say that the flood is a more reasonable explanation of how so many plants and animals were buried fast enough to cause their bodies to be converted into fossil fuels.

I realize that studying the flood as a scientific fact and a major factor in the development of the earth as we know it today is highly controversial. Even as a kid growing up in a family that believed in creation, I certainly was never exposed to that type of thinking. And I know that my kids are going to hear lots of other scientific theories in their lives about why the earth is the way it is.

So, I'm loving the fact that they also get to study the events of the Bible as actual fact and think about their implications from a scientific point of view. As they get older, they will have lots of opportunity to hear other ways of thinking. But this one will also be part of their thinking. I wish it had been part of mine.

And it has me wondering about what this earth would have been like without The Flood. Would we experience geological features as unusual as the Grand Canyon? Would our cars and homes be powered by fossil fuels? Would I have the opportunity to soak in the smell of fallen leaves on a warm autumn day?


Here's are some photos from a little flood experiment we did last week.

Our candy pieces were enjoying their life on earth before the flood.

Here comes the rain! (aka, Jello.)

Our candy is turning into fossil fuel deep under the layers of earth that formed under all the sediment.

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