30 December 2008

Feeling Crusty and Defensive

I had a discussion with my dad today wherein he took issue with homeschooling. Several times recently while discussing some changes going on in our family, it has been said that I needed to "put the kids in school". It really sucks that when I'm already down and out, feeling somewhat vulnerable is when people in my family from whom I most want love, acceptance and support, have chosen to use it to coerce me into the lifestyle they think I should have. Nothing doing.
In our conversation, it was asked if the kids were going to "sit around the house all day?" Is that really what people think we do? Perhaps if these people spent some time with us in our world, they would know better. My kids have always had friends and activities and engagements and lots of social outlets. I don't understand the small thinking that "socialization" is something learned in schools and not in the society at large.
I work hard to respect and love my siblings and the choices they make for their kids. I try to show my step-mother respect for what is important to her as a school secretary. Is it possible I could receive a little of this in return? Can we disagree and choose different things without making value judgments on one another? My kids are amazing, and it is really about damn time that they acknowledge it. If one of my nieces and nephews were shy - they would not blame the public schools. Don't blame homeschooling for my children's personalities. Don't blame homeschooling because they choose to sit with adults or their siblings instead of hanging out with a bunch of whooping, hollering teenagers who they think are idiots. Don't blame homeschooling because my kid doesn't care to play sports. Don't blame homeschooling for everything you think is wrong with my kids - who asked you to evaluate them anyway? Why do we all have to be gray - can't some of us have some color of our own?
When it comes down to it - I will never give up my choices for my family to live the way we see fit. That price is too high. I don't need anything if it comes with strings attached.

27 December 2008

New Year's Resolution - Live Free

I have been reading a couple of different blogs about New Year's resolutions. Each year I make some sort of statement regarding the futility of "resolutions" and the vague representation of time as we understand it. But in light of present circumstances, I am declaring 2009 the year to get free of some things that are weighing me down. I am not referring to excess poundage - which is a never-ending goal, but of the things in life that weigh me down. The expectations, definitions, implications, accusations - - I am in such hideous bondage to the chains I have allowed to bind me. It is exactly as the Message says, "a dark cloud".
With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

No more dark cloud. I am ready to be free. Whatever it takes, no matter how hard, I am going to be free. I hear Braveheart inserting my name into that famous William Wallace quote - take a listen and in place of "Scotland" insert my name.... our yours if perchance you want to be free too!


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25 December 2008

Jesus Taught Me How to Celebrate Christmas

Yesterday started with a bang. After several days of sleep deprivation, I had to brave the Christmas Eve shopping crowds to finish up shopping for my kids. Thankfully I knew what I wanted and knew where to get it - so with three stops to make, we headed first for the mall. It was early and not too crowded around 10 am - but by the time we left, close to noon - the place was a madhouse. It took 20 minutes just to pull out of the mall. Barnes and Noble offered a slight reprieve, and then on to Target which was another nuthouse!
Errands done, I headed off for my 4 hour Christmas Eve shift from 2-6pm at Walmart. From the second I walked in I could feel the tension in the atmosphere. The crowds were terrible, and people were in "me" mode. My line stayed busy - non-stop for 4 hours. Then it happened. About half an hour before the store closed, tensions started to build. Customers were being urged to the front to complete their purchases every 5 minutes or so - and they were getting cranky. When the CSM told me to close my line, people continued to get in. I kindly explained that my lane was closed as I finished up the last customer. As I concentrated on his order, a lady that comes in frequently and I have a fairly good rapport with got in line and unloaded several things onto the belt before I saw her and explained that I was closing. I was tired too. It was Christmas Eve for me and my co-workers too. I wanted to go home too. But she did not take this well, and started to throw things down in her cart angrily, swearing under her breath. We also had to have the local police come and guard the door that was left open for the last remaining customers and employees to exit because people were trying to force their way into the store after being told we were closed, and becoming violent.
There seems to be a disconnect in some people - some lack of recognition of the humanity of our fellow man. It is so disheartening. But it will not spoil Christmas. Neither will the "guaranteed delivery" of Kaitlyn's violin by Tuesday of this week - her big gift - that never came. Things happen and we often find ourselves discouraged by our circumstances - but none of those things should change what Christmas means. I had to choose throughout the tense day to remember that I did not know what brought each person to their disposition - perhaps they had lost a loved one this year, or like us had financial strain because of layoffs and job changes, or any number of a million other things. Even if they forgot my humanity, I made a conscious decision to remember theirs. Jesus taught me how.

To wish you Merry Christmas I leave you with the words to my favorite Christmas song:

I Am, You Are

In a lowly stable on that Bethlehem morn
The Savior of the world was born
Finally the one behind heaven's gates
Came to be earth's Emmanuel

Tenderly a mother rocks her baby boy
She is holding heaven's joy
Angels lend an ear as she begins to sing
A lullaby fit for a King

You are wonderful
Little Prince of Peace
Tiny Counselor
Almighty God
You are Ancient of Days
Precious newborn King
I Am, you are

Lowly shepherds came
The blessed Babe to see
And Mary marveled at the mystery
Only simple faith could help them understand
He would be the crucified Lamb

And Mary sang to her sweet little Lamb ...
You are wonderful
Little Prince of Peace
Tiny Counselor
Almighty God
You are Ancient of Days
Precious newborn King
I Am, you are


22 December 2008

Dream a Little Dream With Me

I don't know why - but all of my life sleep has eluded me. I love to sleep. When I lay down, it is usually only a matter of minutes before I'm out like a light. Typically this is because I don't go to bed one second before I'm utterly exhausted - which just so happens to be most of the time. With my new work schedule - 1/2 am is becoming pretty common which means I need to sleep until about 8 or 9. But, here it is 6 am and I am wide awake - well maybe not wide - but I am awake which is the opposite of sleeping which is what I want to be.
The hardest part is that I am often awake for reasons that could be prevented. I can't seem to make members of my family understand that I need peace and quiet to sleep. Conversations, doors shut too loudly, lights left on that stream into my room, etc. are all interruptions of my sleep and typically once I'm awake - I cannot go back to sleep. I am also not a napper, so I wake up without having had enough sleep and do not recover over the course of a day. If this happens several days in a row I manifest signs of insanity.
Growing up with a mom who was mentally ill, and one of her biggest problems was insomnia, I saw the effects of severe sleep deprivation. She would stay awake and not sleep for days on end, and then crash and sleep for days. The hard part for me was that if she didn't sleep, she did not allow me to rest either. She would call me for me from her room all hours of the night to get her cigarettes, "refresh" her tea, or wipe out her ashtray. Even if she went out, she would call and ask me to do things. It was such a huge issue that said "I'm more important than you" everytime she decided that her need for whatever it was superseded my need for sleep. A lot of that comes back now when members of my family disrespect my need for rest - and I stick up for myself in a way I couldn't back then. Proper rest is so necessary to a clear mind - and I'm not getting it lately. I am in one big fog.

19 December 2008

Flashback Friday - C. Thomas Howell

I was telling my kids that when I was younger I had a crush on Ponyboy from "The Outsiders". I even went to the mall and bought one of those baseball shirts with a rainbow that fell into hearts spelling the word LOVE on the front and the fuzzy letters spelling C. Thomas Howell on the back. How crazy is that? I can't even explain how little those feelings were compared to what I know real love to be now, but you could not have told me that then. Last night I rented a movie for Kullen and Travis to watch tonight while I'm working and the girls are at a birthday party, and found out that C. Thomas Howell is the director and main character. (This does not bode well for him as the movie had horrible reviews.) But it made me remember Ponyboy:

Bye bye Ponyboy - nothing gold can stay.
Here's the trailer for his new movie - he's the guy at the end screaming "What are you waiting for???!!"

16 December 2008

Feeling Like a Failure

I have been sobbing on and off for the last hour. I am certain some of it is hormonal, but it doesn't make the things I am feeling any less legitimate. It may just effect the way I manage those feelings.
I feel like a failure.
My oldest child is going to have her last "childhood" Christmas with us, and I am going to scrape to be able to do anything for her.... I know I should be thankful that I can give her something - but I think about the day she was born and how I wanted to do well in life - for her sake. I wanted to give her so much more. Not materially - but a full life. I just wonder if she's had it.
The younger two are pining away for West Virginia - and the friends and good times they knew there. Cookie baking days, Christmas parties, making gingerbread houses, shopping trips, ornament making, hanging out with friends for long winter days while the moms Christmas shop together - - and I don't know when or if they'll ever have that again. I have tried to muster up the energy to plan some of those things here - but I am really struggling and can't seem to plan a thing.
The larger these feelings get the less functional I am and the worse I feel.
I feel like a spectator in the lives of others, from a distance with my friends in WV, and the one who just isn't in the inner circle of things here. And I feel so bad that even if someone invited me shopping, to a movie or over for cookies and egg nog - if I had the day off I wouldn't be good company.
I know there are worse things in the world - but this is swallowing me right now. All I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry.

I Take Issue with That!

I read this quote from a 1908 publication called "What a Young Wife Ought to Know" reprinted in a current magazine this morning and it got me all worked up:
"A true woman would hardly care to exchange her delicate instinct, her deftness of finger her versatile mind - which enables her to do the many little and great things in our everyday home-life equally well - her quick perception, her motherly all-aroundness, her sweet womanly loveliness, for any other marketable thing, or any other characteristic or capability attained by culture or training. A true woman is a woman, and she does not desire to be anything else unless she can add it to her womanliness."

Where to start.
First of all - I lack all "delicate instinct". I am awkward, rambunctious, easily provoked to raucous laughter - but delicate I am not. I believe God made me - at the basic level - the person that I am, and after years of resisting this and trying to be someone that I am not, I am finally comfortable with the fact that I am not a wilting flower. I believe God made women in all shapes, sizes, colors, and yes, personality too. He created each of us individually - to be different, and to bring glory to Him through our uniqueness. Our creative God did not make us cookie cutter people - but rejoiced in his ability to put together so many different combinations.
I take offense at this idea that we are to use our "versatile mind" only for the home or it is some blemish on our womanliness. Do all of our pursuits not benefit our families? How is it that men may pursue their dreams, follow their ambitions and creativity where they lead and if women do the same outside of their homes, they have committed some terrible crime? We can have our identity as wives and mothers mean so much that we fail to be individuals.
I have been a stay-at-home mom for all of my children's lives until recently. I have always done something - babysitting, cleaning houses, computer work at home, etc. to bring in some extra income to help make ends meet. My times at home with my family have always been my favorite, but I've done it because that was the desire of my heart and not because there was some unwritten standard that I would be less of a woman if I did not. I have seen women crash and burn after divorce because they had all of who they were wrapped up in their families, including my own mother. My mother was not blameless - but she lost who she was when the man she married at 16 decided he didn't want to be married to her anymore, and she never recovered.
Last night, I was feeling rather overwhelmed. I saw women come through my line happily spending money on Christmas gifts and enjoying the season and I felt so envious. They got to go home that evening to their families. They didn't have to drive home at almost 1 am and hope they would be awake and alert enough not to hit a deer, or drive off the road because they were so tired. Then I thought of my co-workers - one who has to leave for work before her 4th grader gets off the bus and has to walk 2 blocks home to stay for the evening with a handicapped grandma while she works. One lady is so tired that her eyes never look like more than little slits. One lady works nights because she is taking care of a 21 year old daughter who is a paraplegic during the day. These women are true women, doing what is required, as I am to make it through the day, whether working out of their homes or not. Their deftness of finger, versatile mind and quick perception are often expended in their workplace and not their home. It is easy to sit back in a padded chair with a comfy life and make judgments on these women - but get in the trenches with them for a little while and you'll see - they are women just like you.

15 December 2008

Customer Etiquette

My husband, of all things has been most disappointed lately since he has decided he wants to know me better and become a more regular reader of my blog that I have not posted anything with much depth lately. This evidenced by the fact that I told you all on Friday to go Elf Yourself and have had nary a post all weekend.
La la la la life goes on. I love my blog - but it is not the be all end all of my existence. I am saving my writing energies for screenwriting. Maybe it's just something I'm dabbling in - or maybe I'll actually finish it - but I find I only have so much creative juice to go around.
However, this list has been writing itself in my head and I thought that since it is the holiday season we could all use a refresher of good etiquette when standing in the checkout line.
  • Don't use hand signals to gesture me when you are on your cell phone and expect me to know what they mean. I didn't get that kind of training. I don't mind if you're on your phone but if you need to communicate something to me, please do so clearly.
  • If you eat something as you are shopping and have yet to pay for it, and ditch the empty container, that is stealing.
  • If your child has sucked on an item in your cart, please do NOT hand it to me. Hold it in the air with the UPC suspended in mid air so I can use my hand scanner.
  • When your child spits at the shopping bags, debit/credit machine or any other part of my work area, it isn't funny.
  • If you ask me where something is, and I cannot immediately answer, please do not roll your eyes as if I am a moron. Can you truly expect me to have the entire inventory and location of every item in our store? (I will try to put you in touch with someone who does know - and that is really the best I can do.)
Be kind to people working in stores this holiday season. Remember if you find it stressful to be out in the throngs shopping how much more stressful it must be to be there working in that same environment.

12 December 2008

Since It's Christmas - Go Elf Yourself!

We loved Elf Yourself like crazy last year - and they have even more options this year - check out or jig!
Send your own ElfYourself eCards

11 December 2008

Over the Ground Lies a Mantle of White

A heaven of diamonds shine down through the night - two hearts are thrillin' in spite of the chill in the weather. That's how we felt this morning when we woke to a "Winter Wonderland" in southeast Texas. It was amazing - and such a lift of the spirit at Christmastime being far from home. Kendra and Kaitlyn called me to Kaitlyn's room for this view. It was snowing on the way home last night and when I went to bed, but I never expected this! If you want to see more pictures of the snow - check out the December 2008 album by clicking on my "web album" link in the left hand sidebar. Sleigh bells ring, are you listenin'? In the lane snow is glistenin'. A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland.

Showcasing My Special Talents

A friend shared a link on their Facebook to a website called Small Town Papers where you can search for your name or the names of people you know. Interesting stuff. I found this clipping for the shorthand award that I received in 12th grade. I loved shorthand - and exceeded anyone's expectations. If you notice below my name, I got an award for 80 words per minute as a first year student - and only a few second year students were even getting 60 words per minute awards. It was just something that came naturally, and before the year was over, I received the 90 wpm award. It's always nice to be good at something. (Yes, I can still do it to this day!)

09 December 2008

Prayers Please

I am enduring one of the most intense personal conflicts ever - and I am not sure how to handle it. I want to blog about it so badly but this would hurt more than one other person, some of whom I care about deeply. I am ready to give up. It is all too difficult. I could use some prayers.

What Christmas Character Are You?

I saw this on my friend, Donna's blog - seemed like fun. Which character are you? Be sure to come back and let me know -
Which Christmas Character Are You?

Rudolph

OK, so maybe you won't go down in history for having a glowing nose or being heckled by the reindeer gang (thank goodness), but like your Christmas counterpart, you're a good friend who'll stick with the people you love through thick and thin.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz

quiz
Quizzes and Personality Tests

08 December 2008

I Miss You

Yep - I have been absent from my blog a bit in the last week or so. My computer crashed and we had to send it packing - literally to HP so they could replace the motherboard. This happened after Travis and I did much hair-pulling (our own hair, not each other's) trying to troubleshoot the issue with technical support.
Life has been a whirlwind. I have been working about 20-25 hours a week. I still like my job, but I get home late a lot of nights. Travis and I have been spending much more time together - which is excellent - but also means I have less time to blog.
Just wanted you to know, my dear bloggy buddies, that although I may not be posting much - it is because life is offering me many opportunities to live outside the blog for now. I do miss you and hope to catch up with each of you very soon.

02 December 2008

Cashier Observations

Being a cashier offers many opportunities to observe human behavior. I am given lots of material for future writing, but sadly will likely forget it all since I actually have to run the cash register and can't sit there with my spiral notebook and jot it all down.
I wonder at people. They are so funny, and strange and interesting. It is a fascinating job, really. It appears that I have been broken in - and it no longer makes my back go into wrenching spasms. The big toe I was sure would fall off my first week from agony of de feet (get it?) has stopped throbbing. The teenagers that I work with find great joy in making infinitely repulsive fart sounds by burping the floam that is left at their registers and help me to remember what it was like to be young and carefree.
Sometimes I feel sad, like the lady that stood in line the whole time I was ringing up her stuff and fretting that her husband was going to kill her because he told her to only spend $5, and meant it. There was also the child who was whining about something or other whose father continued to say "shut up" in a voice that was louder and more demeaning each time.
But, overall, people are precious. From newlyweds to the little old lady with Texas sized hair that likely has a squirrel living in it - I get to meet a myriad of new people every day.
Jesus died for each of them. That has to count for something.
Beautiful, precious people. We share the bond of humanity. If I can make their day better for just the moment that they cross my path, then it is a day well done.

30 November 2008

The Short Straw on Black Friday

My friend Joanne posted a link to this article on Facebook and I was shocked. Evidently there is just enough naievety to think that people are basically good and that we do care about our fellow human beings. Stupid girl.
I just hate living in a world like this. I am the person who lets that car out in traffic, lets the person with only a few things ahead of me in a shopping line, holds the door, gives up the seat. I have had other people model some of these polite, sacrificial behaviors and been the benefactor of much courteous treatment in my life, but I have also been pushed and shoved, although nothing quite like this.
I have never been out for the "Black Friday" madness short of going to the fabric store with my neighbor last year. It was pretty mundane - the doors were open when we got there. Although it was crowded and people were struggling to share the space with one another, there wasn't anything terrible to report. I do not understand this frenzy to save a few bucks. I do not understand how that can take precedent over the fact that other living and breathing human beings may be getting injured in the frey.
I worked at Walmart on Black Friday - but not until evening. It was pretty calm. All the die-hard shoppers who slept in their cars overnight, in some places for several nights were long gone by the time I got there. But when I read this article I remembered a conversation I overheard in the breakroom where several people were discussing who would unlock the doors on Black Friday. I wonder if Mr. Jdimytai Damour, the man who was trampled drew the short straw in his store. What a horrible mar on what is supposed to be the season of giving.

26 November 2008

No Cancer for Me!

I wasn't able to post about this until this minute - just getting home from my shift at Walmart that ended at midnight. I did take a minute to put my PJs on and make Travis' lunch first. We disconnected the internet services we had on our phones - so I wasn't able to post it via my mobile. Drumroll please.......
NO CANCER - or displaysia (precancerous cells)!
The most we are dealing with are some polyps and some peri-menopausal hormone issues! I can't even believe it. All my symptoms said otherwise. I have spent hours preparing myself to handle hearing the bad news. What facial expression would I have? Would I cry? How would I tell others?
This afternoon I took the kids roller skating with our friends that we usually do science with, and while we were there I got a phone call from my doctor's office to "reschedule" my 2 week follow-up appointment. I nearly fainted. I said they could reschedule, but there was no way I was waiting another possible week for my test results. A short time later the nurse was giving me this good news.
I still have the same symptoms, but there are some other treatments we will try. The best and most amazing news is that it isn't cancer.
I praise God, with this disclaimer - God's goodness is not based on my circumstances. I tend to view Him in light of them, but it is flawed. He would be just as good had this news been bad. But I am so very thankful........ thank you Lord.

25 November 2008

Tomorrow's the Day

Tomorrow is my 2 week, post D&C check-up. I will also get the test results of the biopsy - and although I am trying not to, I feel like I'm holding my breath a bit. I know that whatever the outcome, I am in the hands of a loving Father, who already knows how this will play out. My head knows this - but my diaphragm that compels me to breathe in and out evidently did not get the memo. I am taking Kaitlyn with me - my calm center - the middle child. I am not taking her in to talk to the doctor with me, but after the appointment she and I are going to go shopping for some lights for our Christmas tree, and maybe get some lunch.
I am just waiting.
I am not good at that.
My friend Dwayne preached another sermon yesterday that really spoke to my heart about persevering through these difficult times. We chatted this morning about how perseverance is an on-the-job training kind of thing. You get thrust into a difficult situation that you have to persevere through - you don't necessarily get to practice it. I am going to share the link to his blog so you can watch it if you'd like. I love his heart - I know the big lug and what a hard year he has had, the most difficult of which was surely losing his mom. This was a sermon forged in the fire of a very painful year. Be sure to listen to the end - there's a great video clip illustration of perseverance.

24 November 2008

Blast From the Past - We are the World

I pulled up this oldie on YouTube today and shared it with my kids - and thought my bloggy regulars might appreciate it. I didn't have MTV or cable in the 80s - so I only ever saw this a few times when it aired on TV. It was cool to watch it again.

Do you remember USA for Africa?

(United Support of Artists for Africa), was the name under which forty-five predominantly U.S. artists, led by Harry Belafonte, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Lionel Richie, recorded the hit single "We Are the World" in 1985. The song was a US and UK Number One for the collective in April of that year.

The considerable profits from the enterprise went to the USA for Africa Foundation, which used them for the relief of famine and disease in Africa and specifically to 1984–1985 famine in Ethiopia

And you can also catch Do They Know It's Christmas if you're in the mood for some reminiscing.

20 November 2008

Where the Heart Is

Recently I watched this movie with my girls. It was cute and sappy and wonderful all rolled into one. Remember, the one about the girl whose boyfriend abandoned her at a Walmart, where she took up residence and gave birth to her baby before anyone suspected a thing?
I don't know how that actually segued into my life - but this week it did. Financial matters dictate that I have at least a small income, so I put in an application at Walmart last Saturday. I got a call on Monday asking me to come in for an interview on Tuesday. I started taking some computer based training yesterday and began working a cash register this morning.
I enjoyed several things about it - since I like people, it was nice to interact with such a wide scale of people in such a condensed amount of time. You realize that everybody runs through there from time to time from the guy hacking up a lung (yes, I am seriously washing my hands every chance I get), to the lady that is pregnant exits the line abruptly because she forgot ice cream (I understand the urgency), to the two year old who drops something and blows me a kiss when I pick it up for her, and the older gentleman and his wife who so happily engage in conversation and are so kind that I want to follow them home and ask them to adopt me!
I am very tired, but you can do anything for a time, right? And it is not without it's blessings. A paycheck being one of them. At least people aren't pulling the rug out from under me in Jesus' name anymore. I would much rather people blaspheme the name of Sam Walton.

19 November 2008

Our New Favorite Thing on the Internet - Pandora

I have been so excited about this, but haven't found a minute to blog about it. I looked on youtube for a video because I believe it will do a much better job explaining it than I will. Pandora.com is internet radio that you can customize. It will learn your preferences and continue to find songs to your liking as you tell it what you like and don't like. All the members of my family have gone crazy over it - and our main problem is arguing over whose stations to play. There is a completely free version - and in my opinion this is better than satellite radio because it learns your personal preferences, and free. Music lovers have got to check this out. My online friend Sheryl who introduced us to the joy that is Pandora, set up a little Christmas station - Christmas in Killarney with a lot of old Christmas classics that I am loving. I also love Composers on Broadway, Broadway Radio, etc. I have learned that I love Daughtry. I have only begun to scratch the surface. If you join, be sure to make me your friend so I can peruse your favorites - Julie Forsythe (Harpers Ferry, WV - which technically is my hometown).

18 November 2008

The Pregnant Man

Evidently the whole world knew about this "pregnant man" but me. I watched the Barbara Walters special this weekend about "What Makes a Man, What Makes a Woman" and it was intriguing. With the prospect of a potential hysterectomy, it is important to me to think that my uterus does not define me as a woman.
In a conversation I've been having with some unschoolers online, we have decided that it isn't the organs or externals that make one male or female so much as DNA. You either have male or female chromosomes - however, it appears that these can be overridden by hormones, so that leaves the question - are we really that different as men and women. I think that God made us unique in gender - but not as polar opposite as we may like to think.
I know a lot of people want to make this person, Thomas Beatie - be they male or female out to be a freak show. I don't think that - I am just fascinated. I want to know how what does make us male and female. If I no longer have a uterus, am I less of a woman? I know women who've had mastectomies and do not consider them any less female.
One thing that really stood out to me was that Thomas was happy - a joyful person, content to be so very different than what we consider normal. I know a lot of people trying to pretend to be something they are not who are so miserable, and all I can feel in my heart of hearts is - good for you, good for you Thomas.
That said, I am not without awkwardness or prejudice about the subject. I feel that Thomas has not made a choice - and is in essence refusing to choose one gender or the other, preferring to have the best of both worlds. But as my husband eloquently said, "What's it to you?" (The caveman can be pretty profound sometimes!)
The rest of my thoughts on the subject are still in process.

Happy Birthday Laura and Run Rob Run!!!

When the kids and I evacuated for the hurricane to my dad's house in North Carolina, we got to spend a lot of time with my family. It was really pretty terrific. One of the best things that happened when we were there was that I got to really connect with my sister, Laurie. She prefers to go by Laura now, but she will always be Laurie to me. She is the single mom of two high spirited kids, full time manager at the department of motor vehicles, sometimes works a second job in order to make ends meet, cheerleading coach, etc. etc. If you wonder why we've had a hard time connecting before now - it's because she is so dang busy! I was almost 10 years old when Laurie was born. Our dad and my mom were divorced, so I didn't always live with them. I remember thinking she was a little doll when she was small. Our lives did not always allow us the time to develop our relationship as sisters, but for me this time when we visited for the almost month that we were gone, it really clicked. I realized we have more in common that not, and that she is somebody that would be one of my dearest friends and companions if we lived closer to one another. My kids are just crazy about her. She is a pretty amazing person - and today is her 29th birthday! Happy Birthday Laurie. I am still hoping we can do something spectacular together next year when we turn 30 and 40! I love you!

Not to be outdone by our sister's birthday, my brother Rob sent us stats on the 10K marathon that he ran this weekend. You can read them here under Rob Main, or #563 on the list. I am so proud of him. Mostly because I remember when he was younger having orthopedic doctors advising my parents that in order to have legs that worked properly - his legs flexed his feet outward sort of like a duck - he would have to have them intentionally broken. They never had that surgery done, thankfully, but he had to wear painful "corrective" shoes for years. For him to be a runner now and to run this marathon is quite an accomplishment. Awesome.

17 November 2008

A Devastating Loss

The day after surgery, I was moving carefully around my kitchen trying to get some things together to throw in the crock-pot for dinner. One of the kids was helping me. I was in a less than pleasant mood trying to get things done so I could go lay back down. I was barking orders left and right so rapidly that my helper was struggling to keep up, not that the helper copped an attitude or anything. (Who would blame her?) The crock was sat on the edge of the island precariously and all of a sudden a loud CRASH! It fell. The crock pot which provided so many lovely meals for our family is gone forever! I was surprised that it did not break the tile when it hit so hard. It was quite a mess of broken glass and ceramic pieces to clean up. I was in the market for a new one anyway - but at $30-40 that will have to wait. Finances are so tight. It is going to be hard to cook without it. Somehow, we'll survive.

14 November 2008

My Mountain Mama - Part 1

I was feeling a bit homesick today and inspired to write, so I decided to put down some thoughts about my beautiful home state of West Virginia. This time of the year is especially hard not to be there. It is very much a work in progress, so please be gentle in your critique.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw her. Her arms outstretched across the horizon. The sun rose from behind her as if she had held back the night with the strength of her own might. My mountain mama was waking. She turned from a mourning gray to a burst of color, the sun revealing what the lazy morning fog tried to hide as it drowsily beckoned its inhabitants back into warm beds under down comforters as fires burned in their hearths.

The large windows in the upstairs classroom provided an excellent view of her beauty. The change was symbolic of the change that was happening to me, bursting from the gray of mourning into the spectacular color of a full and vibrant life. A confidant woman was emerging from the scared and confused girl, the peaks and valleys carving their indelible mark on my soul.

One can feel God and hear Him most clearly on this mountain and in the river that runs at her feet. I imagine them joyful lovers, His finger carving out the curves and painting the colors, making her as He chooses for Himself. A spirit is full just to be there with them, together.

Some may say that these are not mountains, and it makes little difference to me. I know the familiar fluttering in my stomach as I traverse the ribbon roads cut through her trees, letting me know that I belong here. I could travel the world and come to the conclusion that all art pales in comparison to the Creator’s fall canvas on the lofts of this mountain and the way He manages to dazzle spectators anew with each coming year.


I have two other displaced West Virginian blogger friends who are trying to make their homes elsewhere, and this is for them A. and Tina.

Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap - Kielbasa and Cabbage

I have wanted to participate in the Grocery Cart Challenge's Recipe Swap since it started - but for one reason or another, I have not gotten to just yet. I can always use new recipes, especially ones that are frugal. So without any further adieu, here is my first entry.
Kielbasa and Cabbage
1-2 kielbasas or smoked sausages cut in 1" pieces
this depends on how many people you're feeding
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 - 1 head of cabbage, cut in hunks
garlic (optional)
In a large skillet, saute onions and garlic in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for a couple of minutes until onions are translucent. Add sausage pieces and cook until browned. Once the sausage is browned, add cabbage and stir through. Turn temperature down to simmer, and cover with a lid for 5-7 minutes until cabbage has reached desired consistency. (I like my cabbage to have some texture and not slimy.)

For more recipes, check out this week's recipe swap.

10 November 2008

Dates with Daughters and Movie Reviews

Two weeks ago, Kaitlyn and I went to see The Secret Life of Bees. I had read the book of the same name by Sue Monk Kidd last summer and just loved it. The movie did not disappoint. The characters were amazing - Queen Latifah being my favorite. It was very well done and much as you picture it in your mind as you read. I love it when movie makers do that right.
The movie is about a girl named Lily whose mother died when she was younger putting up with an abusive, neglectful, angry father during the time when our country was still in the throes of some serious growing pains over racial inequality. Lily runs off with Rosaleen, a black woman who takes care of her one day and they meet the Boatwright women. The intersection of these lives forever changes them all.
Last week, after hours of testing at the hospital, Kendra and I decided to go see a movie. I had seen The Secret Life of Bees, but she hadn't - so I was going to see it again. Once we got to the movie theater, we saw that Changeling was playing, and asked to change our tickets. It was a very sad movie about a single mother living in Los Angeles in 1928 whose son goes missing one day while she is at work. The LAPD has a poor reputation with the public and uses her tragedy as a way to gain some public favor by trying to replace her son with another boy. The most appalling part of all is that it was based on a true story.
The kids and I all saw Madagascar 2 this past Friday at the cheap theater. Enough said.
We are movie-lovers, but you win some and you lose some!
Sorry for the really horrific writing here - my mind is elsewhere this morning. Writing about whatever to keep it busy!

08 November 2008

Uterine Cancer Awareness

I put up a new banner on my right sidebar about Uterine Cancer Awareness. I was shocked to find that I have so many of these symptoms that I was dismissing as just something I had to live with as a woman. Please pay attention if you have these symptoms. Gentlemen, feel free to look away if you cannot handle the personal nature of what I might share here - or feel free to read if you think it may help you encourage someone that you love to get a check up.
Uterine cancer, also known as Endometrial Cancer (the endometrium being the lining of the uterus) can be indicated by one or all of these symptoms:
1. Abnormal bleeding - this means any bleeding that is not associated with your normal menstrual cycle
2. Vaginal discharge
3. Vaginal discharge with mucus and blood for post-menopausal women
4. Difficult or painful urination
5. Pain during intercourse
6. Pelvic pain
This cancer is a killer. I am holding my breath to find out if indeed the five out of six symptoms that I am exhibiting are indicators. Please pay attention and have any of these symptoms checked out. Mine have gone on for at least four years, and it is terrifying to think of the time that I let lapse thinking that I had a strange reproductive system that has never quite worked right and dismissed these symptoms as one after the other has become a fact of life for me.
Just wanted to share the awareness. Don't ignore the symptoms like I did because I didn't know better.

06 November 2008

No Super Christian Here

I would love to say that I am "super-Christian" and that I have totally handed my medical issues, procedures, etc. over to the Lord in some super-spiritual wording to help you understand how I have transcended my flesh and entered into a pseudo-euphoric state of worrylessness. What I am going to tell you is the truth - I have been scared to death. I caught myself a couple of days ago spastically sucking in air the way you do reflexively when you're a child and you cry so hard that you don't get enough air to prevent yourself from passing out.
I did realize that one of my biggest fears was being put under. I have never been put under myself, but I did accompany Kendra to one of her several surgeries when she was small. She was about 4 years old, and just after they put the bubble gum scented mask over her face, she said, "Mommy, I can't breathe!" and then she konked out. So all of this time, I thought that being put under like that made you feel like you were suffocating. Kendra reassured me today that she only said that because she did not know how else to describe what she was feeling. At any rate, I found out today that they are planning on using an IV to sedate me first and that I will be out before the mask hits my face. That was a tremendous relief.
I had the best treatment today - and I was so thankful. Every single person that I encountered when I went for pre-surgical testing - from the registrar to the lady that had to stick me 3 times to take my blood - were all so kind, and efficient and personable. This was a very different experience from the testing I had done at a different hospital where the ultrasound tech didn't speak to me at all. I'm a chatty person and quiet makes me nervous. I am not going to apologize for it anymore - it is how I am.
Having had such a good experience today made me feel a lot better about next Tuesday. I am so grateful.

Dreaming With Martin

Political ideologies aside - socialist, communist, capitalist - our country made history two days ago. Yesterday morning it really started to dawn on me what had taken place when I saw a picture of Barack Obama superimposed onto that picture with the heads of all the past presidents - twelve of whom had been slave owners - how far we had come and what history had been made.
Throughout this whole process prejudices and ignorance abounded. I am so sick of this little "secret" between some white people that leans in a whispers some racist remark, with a wink of understanding. NO I do not know what you mean. NO I do not get what you're saying. Lord help me always as Mr. King so eloquently said it, judge others not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Watching the View yesterday morning and listening to Whoopi Goldberg talk about this sense of finally being able to "put her suitcase down", I was awestruck, and pained. Sherri Shepherd was so choked up that she could hardly talk telling about tucking her son in bed that night knowing that he COULD do anything, and that the color of his skin would not be a hindrance. This election has opened up that door. I found myself for the first time wishing that I was black just so I could share more intimately in this victory. It gave me chills. When Barbara Walters played the clip of Mr. King's I Have a Dream.... speech and told how it brought her to tears, I was choking up too.
This is HUGE. I am proud of America for this, that almost 50 years later we have seen a small glimpse of Mr. King's dream coming true. I'm dreaming with you sir. I'm still dreaming with you.
Kudos to my very talented writer daughter Kendra who has expressed some of the exact same thoughts on her own blog.

For the record, I am pro-life, believe strongly in our right to bear arms, don't want to spread the wealth, etc. But what's done is done. We have a fine system of checks and balances that prevent one man from having absolute power. I can be happy that I live in a country where the ghosts and demons of the past prejudices may be finally losing their power to haunt us. Amen!

04 November 2008

Ohhhhhhhhh-bama! Unschooling the Election

I mentioned in my earlier post that we got together and "studied" the election process today with some friends. It was pretty fun, and the kids participated to their interest level. I saw a spark really ignite in Kaitlyn - our resident Obama supporter. She was pretty interested in the electoral college and how it worked. Not understanding it fully myself - Kaitlyn and I both spent some time Googling different things to come to a better understanding. Tonight she looked up the electoral votes of each state and went looking for a printed map in our cabinet of schoolish-stuff. The only thing we could find was this huge US floor puzzle. The permission was granted to write on it with a permanent marker, and it became a tracking device as we watched the election coverage. Kaitlyn and Kullen used some white stickers in the cabinet and colored them red and blue and once a state was "called" for a certain candidate/party, they would place the appropriate colored sticker. I love to see learning become real because it has applicability, relevance. This was one of the best things I've seen my kids do - self-initiated in a while, but they learned so much more than when I purpose to "show" them or "teach" them something. Kaitlyn understands the election process more than she did yesterday and is interested enough to continue studying it. You can't beat that with a stick. Oh yeah - and her man was elected as if that isn't the icing on the cake!
Congratulations President Elect Obama. We'll see where the next four years take us.

THIS is an Outrage!!!!

We had a great day at my friend Shannon's house. A couple of us have been getting our kids together for some science experiments - but today we decided to put that on hold and study the election process. It was pretty interesting - and I know that Kaitlyn in particular was really taking it all in. BUT, this afternoon on our way home, Kendra got a text message from a friend that said,
Obama is in the lead for now, but that will change once white people get off of work.
I made her read it to me again - and then I asked her to let me read it for myself - as if I could not process the information. (I have to tell you I hate even having this written on my blog - but feel it is necessary for you to understand my outrage!) What was it implying - that black people don't work? It is just this same kind of thing that continues to drive a wedge between people, and I am sick to the full of Christians perpetuating this bullsh*t. The worst part of this was that this same friend sent a text message this morning reminding all her friends to pray that God's will would be done. Do these two messages imply that God's will would be for a white Republican man to win this election? Does God do our bidding? How arrogant to assume that God would not, could not and will not use whomever the American people put into office for His purposes, regardless of race or gender. If we wake up in the morning and Barak Obama is our president elect, are there those who will believe God has abandoned America?
I have just been so so so angry about this - fuming for the last few hours. It reminded me of this quote Kaitlyn pointed out:
I imagine that God is weary of being called down on both sides of an argument.
-Inman, Cold Mountain
I imagine so.
I stated here very clearly who got my vote here this morning - but let me be very clear that my vote had nothing to do with race or gender. My mantra will always be red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His site......



The VOTE: Just Do It!

I think with all that has happened this election year, it is exciting to think that within the next 24 hours we will finally have a new president elect. Either outcome will make history with either an African American holding the office of President or a woman in the role of Vice President. I am not sure what that outcome will be, and everything that I listen to or read looks as if it could go either way.
I have only recently decided where to place my own vote, and can say honestly that this is the first time I have ever considered voting against my conservative leanings. In the end I decided that socialism was too much of a risk to take, and am voting accordingly. Here is a quote from something that I wrote in an online political discussion that sums up my thoughts:
I have tried asking myself what Jesus would do – and I am reminded how he did not want a political standing – he wanted the hearts of people. I will vote my conscience – but I will also respect either outcome and remember that my Papa is still far more than capable of taking care of us whatever may come. I will know that He is in control. To me the absolute worst thing would be for people that are loved by Him to lose sight of the humanity of one another and start – as I have heard rumored- rioting and looting, escalated racial tensions, etc. – because these things will break HIS heart.

John McCain has my vote but Jesus Christ has my heart!

PS - You can vote however you like. I refer you to the previous post!

01 November 2008

You Can Vote However You Like

I saw this video on my friend Wendy's blog and I thought it was superb! The truth of the matter is that when this election is over - we will be a country divided. We have to all remember that we still have to be neighbors and friends. The message here is, you can vote however you like... and we can still be friends. I loved it!


Here are the lyrics that were written by the students performing the song - I love their attitude:
Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah

Democratic left
Republican right
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah

(McCain supporters)
McCain is the man
Fought for us in Vietnam
You know if anyone can
Help our country he can
Taxes droppin low
Dont you know oils gonna flow
Drill it low
I’ll show our economy will grow
McCain’s the best candidate
With Palin as his running mate
They’ll fight for gun rights, pro life,
The conservative right
Our future is bright
Better economy in site
And all the world will feel our military might

(Obama supporters)
But McCain and Bush are real close right
They vote alike and keep it tight
Obama’s new, he’s younger too
The Middle Class he will help you
He’ll bring a change, he’s got the brains
McCain and Bush are just the same
You are to blame, Iraq’s a shame
Four more years would be insane

Lower your Taxes - you know Obama Won’t
PROTECT THE LOWER CLASS - You know McCain won’t!
Have enough experience - you know that they don’t
STOP GLOBAL WARMING - you know that you won’t

I want Obama
FORGET OBAMA
Stick with McCain and you’re going to have some drama
We need it
HE’LL BRING IT
He’ll be it
YOU’LL SEE IT
We’ll do it
GET TO IT
Let’s move it
DO IT!

Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah

Democratic left
Republican right
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah

I’m talking big pipe lines, and low gas prices
Below $2.00 that would be nice

But to do it right we gotta start today
Finding renewable ways that are here to stay

I want Obama
FORGET OBAMA,
Stick wit McCain you gone have some drama
MORE WAR IN IRAQ
Iran he will attack
CAN’T BRING OUR TROOPS BACK
We gotta vote Barack!

Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah

Democratic left
Republican right
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Everybody has a bad day from time to time, but yesterday for me was one of the worst I have had in a long time. It started out first thing in the morning with a problem between Travis and I and never recovered. I did manage to assemble the last pieces for Kullen's Halloween costume and grab just enough things through the fog that was my mind from the grocery store so that my family wouldn't starve to death. I didn't even remember to buy any Halloween candy to hand out, which is just as well since we weren't home for trick-or-treaters anyway. Everywhere I looked people were dressed up - and I was SO not in the mood to appreciate or enjoy them or Halloween. I know a lot of it is probably my hormones - but I felt like I was on a fast train to the town Crazy yesterday!
The best part of the day was the 20 minutes in which I made myself take a nap - but sadly I woke up in the same strange state of mind.
Travis and I went together to take the kids to a Halloween party and for trick-or-treating with friends and then we went out to dinner. I ordered one of my new favorites, a "Monte Cristo" sandwich and Travis ordered his standard chicken friend steak with American cheese under the gravy. I took the first bite of my sandwich and got a mouth of hot liquefied GREASE. It was so disgusting. I took another bite on a different part of the sandwich thinking it may have been just the end. Nope. The whole thing was like a big grease saturated sponge. Nasty. It ruined.my.appetite. This is nearly impossible to do. They offered to make me another one but I knew I couldn't possibly eat it. I am not one of those who casually sends my food back - but this was completely unpalatable. Travis food was pretty greasy too. I've never seen him not clean his plate, but we brought a HUGE portion of his food back for the dog.
The kids had a great time at their party and trick-or-treating, although Kullen cut out early and went back to his friend's house and when he got home I discovered he had a fever. Poor guy.
It was a day I was glad to see come to an end. I am going to spend today trying to look for the little things in my life that make me happy - a bowl of fruit loops, the cat sleeping in the sun, and the pictures of my kids in their Halloween costumes. (Kendra = Hermione Granger, Kaitlyn = Chuck from Pushing Daisies and Kullen was originally Peter Parker but turned something else because he liked the hat so much!) I'm going to try to remember what it was like being a child and the sugar hangover the day after Halloween, the joys of sorting candy and negotiating some difficult trades with my brother. I am going to try to take a walk around the neighborhood and breathe in deeply. I'm going to drink more coffee than I should just because I want to, and spend some time with my family. I am going to remember that my Papa loves me. Focusing on these things may have the power to conquer the worst day.

30 October 2008

Unbelievable Gas

I'm just shaking my head!!
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28 October 2008

What's For Dinner - Italian Wedding Soup

Several people have asked for the recipe of Italian Wedding Soup. I have adapted it some from the Taste of Home cookbook. It is so yummy. It'll be perfect to have for dinner tonight to warm our tummies before an evening by the fireplace watching the Great Pumpkin!
Here is the recipe:

Italian Wedding Soup
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground turkey
2 cups bread crumbs
2 eggs
salt
pepper
oregano
2-3 cans chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups frozen or fresh chopped spinach
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 box small pasta - shells, bowties
Mix together the beef, turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and seasonings. Form 1" meatballs and brown in frying pan. In Dutch oven saute onion and minced garlic cloves in olive oil. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, kidney beans and cooked meatballs and bring to a boil. Add spinach and return to boil, then add noodles. Cook until noodles are cooked to desired texture.
Serve with crusty dinner rolls.




In Case You Missed This Last Fall...

A recipe Pumpkin Dip. This is some seriously dangerous stuff. Coming from someone who spent the first 25+ years of my life loathing the orange gourd and everyone who tried to cram its pie down my throat - this is really saying something. This dip is amazing - and served with Ginger Snaps is second to none! It is THE BEST fall treat!

26 October 2008

Living on Love, Buying on Time

...without somebody nothing ain't worth a dime. Classic country anyone? Well, this song kinda struck a chord with what has been on my mind since last night. Travis and I took the kids to the haunted house and then out for ice cream. Since the girls had their boyfriends around, everyone wanted to linger so the big guy and I decided to peruse Gander Mountain and Best Buy. We are not shoppers and last night we remembered why. With our limited, now reduced to one income household, we don't have two nickels to rub together after we pay the bills, and to be quite honest that paying the bills part is skating on thin ice at this point as well. We pipe dreamed about getting the kids each a laptop, looked at the Nikon D80 that I've been drooling over and price checked the PS3 that Kullen is chomping at the bit over and wondered how other people do it. Not that we don't understand that our income is much more limited that that of many of our peers, but still with such prices we wondered how people afforded to have so much - 2 or 3 game systems, laptops for every member of the family, surround sound, satellite radio, cable television. (Believe me, we are by no stretch of the imagination deprived.) Suddenly I had a revelation. Most of those people that have all these "things" are buying them on credit. The toys they play with aren't even owned outright. Frustratingly, we also realized that this culture of credit has driven up the prices to the point that cash paying customers such as ourselves are paying way more than we would have otherwise.
A very similar thing is happening not only in our nation, but in the world economy and I realize, it's all going down the crapper.
How's that for your daily ray of Susie Sunshine?!?
Seriously, without credit card debt, owning both of our vehicles outright and only our mortgage, utilities and medical expenses after insurance I realize that no matter how bad our 'credit' rating is, we are far better off than a lot of people. We'll likely at least die debt free. How many Americans can say that?

25 October 2008

Who Do You Follow?

I was wondering this the other day - before I wrote that last post about the "Family First" (tongue in cheek) motto. When I say following, I don't mean the blogs that you follow such as the little faces that appear in the widget on the sidebar to the right. When I say who do you follow I mean, what sources of information, advice, wisdom, etc. do you allow to have an influence over your thoughts and actions?
I have so much to say here regarding things that I have been holding back for the last couple of years, and I hope that I can bring it out in a way that is coherent. Why did I hold back, you ask? Because my blog was being monitored. My association with my former employer allowed them to put themselves in a position of "authority" over me. Why did I allow it? Pure and simple - our family needed the income. But, what boggles the mind are the masses that have allowed this same entity to have authority over them. It is so subtle that people hardly realize that it is happening. They buy what they are told to buy. They boycott what they are told to boycott. People don't want to think for themselves - they want a trusted source to do the footwork for them.
Drink the grape kool-aid. Just drink it. Don't ask any questions.
I am sure that sounds a bit extreme. After all nobody has tried to kill anybody.
But here is the thing - these people don't care about your family. I know they didn't care about mine. What they care about is bringing in money for their own family, and they want to keep you close because they know where you are there your wallet will be also. They are marketing to you using your identity as a Christian and homeschooler to pick your pocket.
I am tired of those that use Christianity as a marketing tool.
I am sick of others judging my relationship with Christ based on their man-made standard.
I am concerned that there are so many who are willing to follow these people who will set themselves up as authorities in your life - telling you what to read, what to do, when to do it, and to follow them.
Be exceedingly careful who you follow.

21 October 2008

You Can Dress Them Up .....

But you can't take them out!!
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Facebook is the New Myspace

And no, Kameron you may not comment on this post! :)
I have never really loved Myspace - although I've had one for a couple of years. I find it a little too chaotic. Sometimes the pages don't load, you can't find anybody because people don't use their real names, and when they do, they usually put a bracket or some swirly thing in front of it so you can't search for them. I have kept it primarily to stay in touch with some of the most awesomest youth that I had the chance to minister to and hang out with, and some of my cooler, hipper friends.
But then I discovered Facebook. I can use it on my cell phone. It is cleaner and easier to fluidly navigate. It doesn't have the half-dressed, scantily clad ads all over it either. I am downright addicted to it - and so many people I know from high school, WV, TX and all over are on it. I just wanted to let you know that if you are on Facebook, let's be friends. You can find me listed as Julie Forsythe, or Julie Main Forsythe since I put my maiden name in there so old friends can find me.
Hope to see some of you there!

20 October 2008

Utermetriectomy

I am not sure where to start. I had a doctor's appointment today to discuss the results of the tests I had back before the hurricane. The nurse had briefly given me the details on the phone, but today I was able to discuss this with the doctor, ask questions, and get a better idea of what's going on inside. (Gentlemen feel free to look away at this point.....)
It appears that my uterus is enlarged, and the lining (endometrium) that they like to have at less than 1 cm. is almost 2 cm. This is either a precancerous condition that would require a hysterectomy, or cancerous. The doctor said we will "cross that bridge when we get there". Mentally, I've been running across it all day like it was on fire! They are scheduling me for a D&C sometime in November. I am not looking forward to that.
I think I must have a really, really good doctor though because there is no way anyone would come just for his bedside manner. First, as soon as I entered the doorway of his office, no hello, howdy-do or anything - he immediately lurched into uterus education. Wow. Secondly, when I told him I had never been put to sleep before, which I will need to have done for the D&C and biopsy, he said, "Scares the h*ll out of you, huh?" Yessir, it does scare the h*ll out of me but you're not supposed to say that!

Brought to You By the Number 1

Yesterday at my old home church in WV one of my dearest friends was asked to preach/teach on a Sunday when the pastor would be out of town. I got to listen to it this morning and I was so proud of him. Dwayne is one of the most awesome guys you will ever have a chance to meet. In person he doesn't mince words, but he is also compassionate. We knew of each other in high school, but we really became friends years ago when I was a fairly new believer and we were in a book discussion group together. In his own off the cuff way, he challenged so many things that I believed or thought in a way that would sometimes make me angry but always left me thinking -valuable things that have stayed with me until this day. A few years ago he met his lovely wife Shasta - and I don't think anyone but the Lord could have picked a more perfect soul mate for Dwayne. She is cute and spunky and smart and all the things you know his companion would have to be. Our church family has known hard knocks. That is why this sermon is so profound to me. About 3 years ago - there was a major rift. It was painful, like losing an arm and a leg. Healing has continued to be a long arduous process for many of us. Being back home several weeks ago, I got to experience what he is talking about in this sermon - Christ is central and the rest is peripheral. I can tell you that Dwayne is one of the few who can truly preach this particular sermon - he has walked it out. He never chose sides, but he also never beat around the bush or withheld his thoughts in order to say what someone wanted to hear. You can always trust such a friend. I hope you'll enjoy this sermon clip as much as I did. Keep showing them Jesus, Dwayne!

There seems to be a teensy problem with playback. After a couple of minutes it abruptly stops - to remedy this, just restart it and move the play bar at the bottom of the video over to where it left off, and start it back up. There isn't any buffering if you have high speed internet.

18 October 2008

Is This Feminism?

I have described a slight shift that I've had in my thinking of late about male and female roles. After hardly blogging for a while, being rudely awaken at 6 am on a Saturday morning and now being unable to go back to sleep has me feeling a bit thoughtful, and edgy.
The roles that I took on as a homemaker, wife and mother were things that I enjoyed. The duties that I carried out on a daily basis were important to me, not because someone said I had to do them, but because it was my heart's desire to make a nice home for my family. However, none of this negates the fact that it takes a whole family living in a home to work together to make it all run smoothly.
This morning, before work my husband woke me up and asked me if I knew where there were any clean towels in the house. I started running through all of the things in my mind that I knew we had washed over the last several days and my mind eventually made it to the towel hamper. Sure enough, I had washed a load of towels last night, but they never made it to the dryer. He starts to mumble under his breath while walking in and out of our bedroom throwing lights on in both bathrooms about how our daughter should have gotten the towels washed. While it is a job I ask the girls to do to help around the house, he was home with them yesterday all day long while I was out running errands such as picking up medicine for my son who spent the previous night in the ER with a severe asthma attack and grocery shopping. He was home with the girls all day. They watched movies together, the girls took walks around the neighborhood, painted, did some drawing, read books, etc. I got home and both sinks were full of dishes, and of course nobody thought to do the things necessary to keep the household running smoothly. Did Dad remind them? No. Did he wake up the daughter who is responsible for the towels to ask her if there were any clean? No.
As the complaining and grumbling went on, I asked him if he was trying to pick a fight. Seems just two days ago when I got home from driving for 3 days, there wasn't a clean towel in the house. I mean it - not one hand towel, washcloth, or any of the 30 large towels, including every beach towel that we own in the entire house. Thankfully we had all taken showers in the hotel that morning, and I had the time to wash a load of towels before we would need them again.
Did the grouchy towel-less husband move the towels from the washer to the dryer this morning in an effort to assist with the household needs? No. I could possibly conjure up some sympathy that he had to drip-dry after his shower if I worked really hard at it but I don't have the energy. I am exhausted from this life. I don't know how to engage a partnership for these duties, but I know that I am wearing out. I am tired. I think it's my turn to have a wife. I want somebody to take care of everything and a job that I clock in and out of for 8 hours a day. Does that make me a feminist? I don't know - but it is what it is.

16 October 2008

I Don't Wanna Be Normal

This was a daily quote on my iGoogle page -
Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.
- Ellen Goodman

I don't want to be normal. Good thing!

14 October 2008

Good Friends Meet

I got to meet my buddy Stephanie and her awesome family tonight! It was so great. Her house felt like the home of an old friend. Dinner waiting for us when we got there, and sitting down to eat together seemed as natural as you could imagine. How nice to have a home cooked dinner in the midst of a very long road trip.
At the suggestion of her husband, we got a motel nearby. I was so tired when I got behind the wheel that I knew I wasn't going to be able to drive very far!
I am posting this picture in protest for all of our RCU friends. My four chins and greasy road-trip hair are not flattering at all - but for better or worse - this picture with my dear friend that is now not only an online friend but a friend IRL (in real life)! I just hope that we get to visit again very soon!
Love ya Stephanie - you are even more awesome (and cute!) than I could have expected!

13 October 2008

Almost to Stephanie's

Maybe 3 hours! Woo hoo!
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Graham, NC

48 miles
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I Could Just Barf

If you are still reading - what could have drawn you in?
I am excited this morning because I am going to meet the wonderful beautiful lovely Stephanie and her fabuloso family. We have both waited a long time for this day. We connect - ya know what I mean? That excitement has my stomach doing somersaults.
I am also filled with dread - I am not sure what awaits me. I don't want to go back to Texas. I have some people I would love to see, but I can't think of it as "home". Being away has made me realize how much I belong elsewhere. I would rather turn my car north and head back to WV.
Anyway - all of this does not sit well in my digestive regions if you know what I mean.

12 October 2008

Parade of What?

I had the best time yesterday. We went out in the afternoon to a Parade of Homes in the Raleigh area. My sister-in-law who is working toward her business degree had a real estate project to do, and thought it would be a fun way to do it looking at brand new several million dollar homes. One of them was 3 million to be exact. Yes, they were beautiful. Yes, they had luxuries I could not even imagine, including a built-in cappuccino machine, special wine storage, etc. But all I kept thinking was how hard it would be to clean the whole place,and how difficult it would be to be so spread out for my family. It would be great fun for entertaining - and yet with the whole bubble bursting economy we are learning the dangers of being "house poor". I think I'm with Queen Victoria on this one - things do taste better in small houses. Just as my friends said on my post with the picture of my dad's motor home that we have been staying in, life is so much simpler with less. How to get there is a different story. . .
The fun wasn't the houses -it was my brother passing gas then leaving a room, my sister accidentally turning up a whole house sound system up too loud, and laughing ourselves silly at the littlest things - especially the hoity-toity crowd commenting that the rooms, all of which were suites with their own walk-in closets and full baths, were too small, etc. Wow. We really rednecked it up!
After the tour of homes we went to look at some that were on the list in the downtown area, and ended up in a pretty bad neighborhood. My sister was in the car with me holding her cell phone out the car window to get the GPS to recognize where we were and give us some better directions. My brother, following us from behind and knowing the neighborhood was populated by gang members was saying things like "don't turn right, don't turn right" and of course the GPS would tell us to turn right. We laughed our heads off later. Thankfully, Laurie and I did not realize that we were in any danger at the time.
At the end of the evening we all got together had dinner at CiCi's pizza. The waitress remarked that we were a large family. We are. We tend to cause a lot of chaos and take up a lot of room, but one thing that is for certain, nobody in the whole place is ever having as much fun as we do when we get together!

10 October 2008

Ready to be Angry?

I talked to a friend from Texas the other evening and she told me some disturbing news. It appears that insurance companies are giving folks whose homes were damaged due to the storm surge some trouble because the homes were damaged directly by the hurricane. Common sense says that without a hurricane there is no storm surge - but it seems like another ways for insurance companies to split hairs to keep from paying people. It makes me so angry!

FREE Falling

FREE being the operative word. I just quit my job! I am a bit freaked out and exhilarated about the opportunity for change. I don't know whether to shout for joy or curl up into a ball! Whatever happens - I know Who holds my future in His hands!

My New Tattoo

Last night I found myself in a tattoo parlor with my extended family. My dad asked if I had ever thought about getting one - and I had. He said to pick one out! There were tons of things to choose from but nothing that was really "me", so the lady and I went to a computer and picked out something that I really liked, she made a stencil and 15 minutes later I had this beauty. It was so fun. My dad paid for it - and it was kind of a bonding experience with my family who are tattoo lovers. I am pretty happy with it - it is simple and stylish. I was kind of proud of myself. I woke up this morning thinking, "Did I really get a tattoo last night??" Sure enough - I did. I don't regret it at all.

09 October 2008

No to the Status Quo

I have noticed lately I have an aversion. Perhaps it has always been there, but lately I have become overwhelmingly conscious of it. The aversion is the male supremacy of our society in general. I am not sure what opened my eyes to this when it seems perhaps I have been half-asleep for so many years, but I can hardly stand it. My sister had a guest come over for dinner the other night, and while it was the right thing to do to serve dinner to that guest, since it was a man, something inside me wanted to scream, "let him get his own plate!".
This being said, I have served my husband many dinners, drinks, laid out his towel in the bathroom for his shower, and any number of other things. I have done these out of the love in my heart for him, and not out of some primitive idea that I owe him these things. But I have noticed more and more lately that men often sit back in silent expectation, as if they deserve to be served. Women tend to fall into the natural role of serving and our society has this unspoken structure that prevails to the point that I have noticed I do it without even a second thought. It is interesting that I find myself in this position when my mom wasn't the subservient kind of woman. She expected to be waited on and served. Nor was my dad a model of this kind of man that sits back and waits for women to do certain things. He has always jumped in and done what needed to be done, be it laundry, dishes, etc.
As a woman, I have been pushed out of intelligent conversation with men. I have watched other women serve food and drinks to the men in a gathering while the women, who are also guests are to serve themselves. I have seen boy children given preference and allowed to leave the dinner table and run and play while the daughters must stay and assist with clean up or are expected to help with the smaller children. I could go on and on with paragraph after paragraph of such examples.
I have been noticing that this doesn't just happen in marriage but in male and female interaction across the board. I am not sure I'm able to fully articulate why this is bothering me so much recently. I know that I feel the same way when a man holds the door for me, as if he is in some way indicating that I deserve preference because I'm a woman. I appreciate the gentlemanly gesture, while at the same time I know that this comes from the same mindset. I know that I am overthinking it all a bit, and hope that one day I don't have some mental fracture that causes me to jump behind the door and refuse to walk through it just because a man is holding it.
Even the Bible and Christian culture tend to follow the Jewish patriarchal model and show preference for the most part to men. Jesus however never modeled this. He said that the greatest in the kingdom must be the servant of all. He did not indicate a gender prerequisite, therefore making this premise applicable to everyone. We must all serve one another. When the world around us elevates men and diminishes women, Jesus spoke to both equally.
I am just feeling a little tired and frustrated with the status quo. Can anybody feel me?

08 October 2008

Home Sweet Home Away From Home

Until Monday . . .
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07 October 2008

Real LOL

In case you don't know what Flair is - it is a little button with quotes, pictures, icons from your favorite movie or band, kind of like the ones I used to wear covering my denim jacket in high school and they are part of an application on Facebook. Today I saw one that said "Fact: 90% of people who type LOL are not in fact, laughing out loud." How true is that?
I told my friend Tina not long ago that I wanted to hear and share real laughter - not just read LOL referring to the predominance of my cyber-life. This week I have spent quite a bit of time laughing with my family. We have told jokes, kicked back, laughed about old times and made some terrifically awesome new memories. I wish I had more time in West Virginia to stay with my friends - but I am so unbelievably grateful that I have had this chance to get to know my family and be crazy about them all over again! We played Apples to Apples tonight - and in the middle of all the laughing we are creating inside jokes that we'll tell for years to come, pick on each other, and roll on the floor laughing together. I don't think about the "c" word, biopsies, financial strains or anything else. All my burdens are lifted in the fun and companionship of their love.