Tuesday, December 07, 2010

"…which shall be to ALL people…"



Hope. That's a funny word, isn't it? In our language, at least, we use it a lot:

"I HOPE it doesn't rain on Saturday…"

"I HOPE I get this job…"

(And especially at this time of year)

"I HOPE these pants still fit…"

According to the handy-dandy dictionary widget on my computer, hope has a couple of different meanings. It can mean "a feeling of expectation, a desire for something to happen." I think that's what most of us, as relatively secure Americans, think of when we use that word.

But…there is another meaning. And I think it's more than appropriate at this time of year to remember it.

"A person or thing that might help to save someone."

On Sunday, our Pastor started a series entitled "Hope for the Holidays." And boy, did it ever seem to resonate with the congregation in both services (which I attended, and paid much attention to, as it was my turn to run the media computer.)

The angels who appeared to the shepherds in Luke 2 said some very important things: You don't have to be afraid, I bring you good news, and it's for ALL people.

(Oh no. The waterworks are about to start in 3, 2, 1…)

All people. ALL of them. Not just us, in our comfortable chairs in our heated sanctuaries, waiting to get out so we can be the first in line at Qdoba after church.

The single mom, who is working three jobs to put food on the table. The middle-aged man, sitting in a bar drowning his sorrows in the bottom of the glass. The junkie about to shoot up one more time, who can't even put food on the table because his habit is so all-consuming.

ALL people.

The people in Haiti, who nearly a year after a devastating earthquake are still living in tent cities, afraid to drink the water for fear they will contract a deadly disease. The folks in war-ravaged African nations, afraid to vote because of the riots that will soon follow. The Muslim living in the Middle East, who feels a longing in his soul for something more.

ALL people.

The only, only hope any of these people have is Jesus. He fits that second definition up there, except He's THE person who will save someone. That's the Good News that the angels brought, to a world which wasn't much different than the one we live in now: wars, high taxes, social unrest. Good news. Hope. For all people.

That single mom? She can only do so much on her own. That junkie can get clean, but even secular treatment programs advise reliance on a "higher power." The poverty stricken in our country and around the world have no hope, in this world or the next, without Him.

Hope. It's resonating in my soul today.

Lord, let me spread your hope to those who need it most.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmastime is here...


Wow. It takes a major holiday to get me off my proverbial stool of do-nothing a post to this blog! Huzzah!

Last night, as many of you know, was the first night of Advent. Now, we're not Catholic, or Lutheran, or any of those liturgical, high-church people. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) We're Assembly of God, which (for those of you who don't know) is a Pentecostal denomination. Having grown up in that sort of atmosphere, Advent was not something we were taught about.

I grew up feeling like Christmas came and went, and never savoring the season. Every year on December 25, when it was time for bed, I'd feel this huge "let down" that it was all over, and I hadn't really enjoyed it.

What I was really feeling was the secular hustle and bustle, and, although it was a "Jesus" holiday, we were just as caught up in all that as the rest of the world.

(This isn't a blame-my-upbringing post, mind you. It's very, VERY easy to let that be the default way to celebrate.)

But, as I got older, got married, and had a child of my own, I wanted to start some traditions that she would remember when she was older. I wanted her to learn to take time out during the Christmas season and really reflect on what a Gift we have been given. I don't remember when we started lighting the Advent candles, but I do know this: our first candleholder was one Jason picked up at a thrift shop, and it isn't even an "officially licensed" Advent do-dad. It's long and made of metal, and it's got reindeer heads at each end. But it had the requisite number of holes, and we were learning as we went.

Finally, I bought a nice candleholder on sale after Christmas a few years ago, specifically made for this purpose. We were official!

Every year - and I do mean EVERY year, I forget to start the whole thing. Many years, we end up doing the four Sundays (because we've not progressed to the every night thing that some have, due to our schedules) on the four DAYS before Christmas because I've forgotten that long.

Last night, thanks to a Facebook friend from church, I remembered! (Thanks, Ben!)

Unfortunately, I had to find the candle holder. And then I had to find the candles (which we didn't have). And then I had to travel to TWO stores, because the first one didn't have any tapers.

And, no, they aren't the "traditional" colors. They're white, except for one which is red. I'm sorry if that offends the sensibilities of my more traditional readers, but see my previous disclaimers. There were no purple or pink candles in the store!

I found a simple devotional online, and, to keep Anna Marie engaged, I had her read part of it. Shazam - why have I not tried this before? We had a discussion about waiting, and I asked Anna Marie how God wanted us to wait for things (and Him) and she said, "Joyfully!"

(I think I'm going to email our pastor, and suggest big fat Christmas bonuses for our children's pastors. They are making my job way too easy.)

I loved her answer - JOYFULLY. All those years I felt empty after Christmas was over, I wasn't waiting joyfully for the Advent. I was waiting impatiently for the chance to open my presents and stuff my face, and after those things were done, there was a big fat hole left in my heart.

JOYFULLY - like parents waiting nine months on a child's birth. We should be waiting on His Advent with joy, and anticipation just like that. When the baby is born, you don't feel empty that the birth is over - you feel joy that the fulfillment of the promise is here.

May we all wait, JOYFULLY, for the Promise of Christmas.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Really? Over a month?

It seems my writer's block can only be broken by some sort of crisis.

Although, once we got the mice gone, I then had to deal with (all by myself, because Jason was out of town and unreachable) an infestation of ants. IN MY ROOM. What the heck? Contrary to popular myth, this fat kid does NOT hide Twinkies and Ho Ho's in her nightstand, so I don't know what they were after.

(That reminds me of a joke my dad used to tell - maybe a Flip Wilson gag? - "Do you believe in the hereafter? Good. Because I'm here after your money.)

(HAHAHA. You've missed my razor-sharp wit, haven't you?)

Once I got shed of the ants, via two applications of Terro, the best ant-killer ever invented, it was FLIES.

We have never, in the six years we've lived at our present address, had an issue with flies. Ever. It started out being a couple, which we chalked up to Anna Marie not closing the back door properly. And then one day I get a phone call from Jason, asking em to go to the store (THWACK!) and pick up (THWACK!) some flying insect spray (TWACK!).

Yes, he was calling me with one hand, and slaughtering flies with the other. Because he's a great multitasker that way.

They were all congregating around one of the windows in the kitchen, and were apparently quite dumb. Because even though they saw the rolled up newspaper sending their insect brethren to that big manure pile in the sky, they didn't move, and consequently suffered the same fate.

Thankfully, the flies seem to be gone. We're hoping for a nice, cold winter to kill them and all their mosquito cousins who live in the drainage ditch at the back of our yard, and attack us when we go out there to spend time with the dogs.

I don't know anyone named Moses, I haven't been to Egypt lately, and I'm not expecting frogs to show up in my kitchen any time soon.

And no, I'm not going to rename this blog "Plagues I have known." Just so you know.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

I may as well blog


Y'all, if I had known how much cleaning was going to be involved with the aftermath of a handful of rodents, I probably would have just left everything and moved.

Seriously. Anyone who knows anything about me at all knows I HATE cleaning. HATE it. Not in a "Oh, well, I'd rather be watching reruns of LOST than mopping this floor," way, but more of a "I'd rather have my hair pulled out strand-by-strand than mop this floor."

Yeah, there's a difference.

Sure, I like my home to be clean. Who doesn't? Other than those people on those hoarding shows on A&E, most people you polled would prefer a tidy house over a messy one. It's just that, even after a dozen years of living in my own house, my brain just doesn't "work" that way. I don't look around a room and think "I need to do X to clean this room, and then when that's done I'll do Y as the next step." Noooo, I walk into a room, become overwhelmed because I don't know where to start, and walk right back out again.

Lest you think that Neicy Nash and her Clean House crew is due to show up on my doorstep, let me reassure you that I married smart. My husband has that "cleaning" gene, in spades!

In our marriage, we've only had a couple of real "bones of contention." The biggest one is housework. Jason is a "clean up after yourself" type of guy, and I'm more of a "I'll pick it up when I get around to it" type. I know, I KNOW, this is a horrible way for an adult to behave, and a terrible example for my daughter.

I'm just being real, y'all.

So, back to my current situation.

Jason has spent the last few days taking everything out of the cabinets, inspecting for evidence of mice, and cleaning all the contents. He has also discovered that we have way, WAY too much stuff in our teeny tiny kitchen. So, he gave me instructions to decide what to keep and what to toss.

People, I still had half a dozen sippy cups in my cabinet. And my daughter hasn't used them in probably four or five years, nearly the amount of time we've lived here! Unfortunately, they were all chewed up (from a teething toddler) and missing their seals, so they had to be trashed.

Random plastic containers, broken bits of this and that - all on their way to the landfill. Part of this is Jason's fault - HE is the one who can't seem to throw anything out. I think he has realized where that philosophy has gotten us!

We also - and this will make my mother VERY happy - have started a "send to mom's yardsale" pile. She's forever planning yard sales, and forever asking us for donations, so there she goes. She now has enough for a whole separate kitchen section.

Now comes my greatest dilemma. In our teeny, tiny kitchen (seriously, it's probably 9x12) we have very, very little counter or cabinet space. That kitchen also contains our washer and dryer (it's an old house) and doors to the backyard and the room next to it. To try to counter this problem, we used a small hutch we'd had since we got married, placing it in front of one of the windows. I LIKED this arrangement. It was just big enough for my coffee maker and our microwave, with my coffee stuff and some fancy dishes going up top, and larger appliances (like my crock pot and George Foreman grill) underneath.

However, Jason has decided that the hutch has to go. True, it did take up some of our kitchen space. And, it blocked a window, which blocked some of the light from the room. He is under the impression that we can clean-and-organize our way to a hutch-free existence. I am not so sure.

I guess we shall see who wins this round.

Yesterday I left work early because of the holiday, and spent two hours helping him clean. And then we left to run some errands, and returned for another two hours of work. And we're STILL not done - I had to look for nearly five whole minutes to find my coffee grinder this morning. That is NOT a good feeling.

But, I have a temporary respite. He's still asleep, and no way in the world am I embarking on this mission without his directions. Did I mention, he has re-loaded the dishwasher when I didn't do it to his specifications? So, yeah. This kitchen re-do is way bigger than that.

My kitchen and dining room are a mess. Jason is still asleep. My hands are pretty much tied.

I may as well blog.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Success!

(Sorry for the lack of a picture, folks. It goes against everything in my newspaper page designing background not to have one, but seriously - I'm pretty sure we don't need to see some deceased rodents up in here.)

When last we met, Jason was trying to figure out a way to out-fox a wily mouse.

Turns out, he was trying to out-fox wily mice. PLURAL. As in, there has been more than one varmint roaming around my kitchen.

Saturday night, he decided to put a trap in the small gap between the refrigerator and the stove.

Sunday morning, I heard a very, very nice sound: SNAP. As in, the death knell for the mouse. As in, music to my ears.

He re-set the trap, you know, just in case. After church yesterday, we found out just what that case was: Mouse #2.

I thought it was over. Really, I did. I mean, come ON - what were the odds that we had more that one mouse, let alone, more than two? Once again, we left the trap there, on the off chance that another mouse might show its little mousie head.

(Did I mention, he's RE-USING the traps? GAG. He says they are made to be re-used, and I'm sure he's right. It seems like what all those super-exterminator shows he likes to watch recommend doing. He also says that mice are cannibalistic, and that if they smell a dead mouse, it will draw them to that spot.)

(EWWW.)

So tonight, we came back home late after a meeting at church, thanked my mom for watching Anna Marie, and started getting ready to turn in for the night. And then my eye caught an odd sight: the mouse trap beside the stove was upside down.

I will give you three guesses as to why that was, and the first two don't count.

Jason is taking heart, though. He says they're getting smaller.

"This one was itty bitty," he proclaimed, a little hopefully.

He checked the dryer vent hose to see if that was the point of entry, but it doesn't appear that way. He's working tomorrow in Memphis, so we'll have to move the stove out tomorrow night or Wednesday and investigate that situation more fully. It is quite possible, or so he tells me, that the mice are living in an open space at the back of the stove, but we still don't know how they're getting in.

In the meantime, guess where that trap is. Yep, you got it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

And the saga continues...


I wish I could report to you, gentle reader, that my shock-and-awe campaign had rid our house of its unwanted guest.

But that would not be the truth. And I am nothing if not honest, y'all.

Oh, sure, we started out going easy on the little guy with the glue traps. One under the cabinet where he'd taken up sky diving on Tuesday morning, and one behind the refrigerator, where he had taken refuge after his descent from on high.

Nothing. Well, I guess I should be more precise: Jason spied some, ahem, evidence that the mouse had lighted on one of the glue traps, but apparently he wasn't stout enough to actually get stuck on the board.

So, we set out an old-school trap under that cabinet. A day or two passed, and we still didn't catch the little booger. Finally, Jason figured out what part of our problem is: this is no ordinary mouse.

I know, I know. We all like to think that our mouse is something special, but the one who is interloping here on Tate Street really is a cut above. You see, while most mice play it safe and run along the perimeter of a room, this mouse goes for the gusto and runs right straight ACROSS the room.

This makes it nigh unto impossible to place a trap where he will be tripped up by it. I'm beginning to understand all those bumbling idiot vs. mouse movies I've seen over the years. They aren't that far off base. Jason has threatened to litter the kitchen floor with traps, just like in one of those movies - but he's afraid he'd come through at 2:30 a.m. to go to work, forget about the traps, and set off a chain reaction.

So, four days in, we're still no closer to catching the mouse than we were last week.

Next stop: KING SNAKE.

Oh yeah, it's on.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dear Little Mousie that fell out of my kitchen cabinet,


(Yes, I'm breaking a nearly two-month blogging hiatus with a post about a mouse.)

Ahem, as I was saying,

Dear Little Mousie that fell out of my kitchen cabinet this morning,

I don't know who you think you are, or how you got in there. We run a clean establishment around here. But I'm issuing a cease and desist order right now.

I did not appreciate it when you very nearly gave me a heart attack this morning, falling out of my high cabinet and scurrying across the floor that way.

Why can't you just meander peacefully across the floor? It isn't so much YOU I'm frightened of, it's your scurrying-ness. You STARTLE me.

There is a difference, you know.

So, here is the deal. I am offering amnesty, good for one day only. If you leave the way you came, and inform your little mousie friends that the Turner house is not one to be reckoned with, I will let you go on your merry mousie way. No questions asked.

If you refuse, be forewarned that I went to Walmart this morning and stocked up on an arsenal of mouse-fighting devices. I will come at you with a quickness. You will not know what hit you.

(I would make a GREAT Dread Pirate Roberts, by the way, little mousie. Just so you know.)

Furthermore, be advised that I will be sending you a bill for the lunch money I had to give Anna Marie today (because packing her lunch would have meant opening the refrigerator, the same appliance behind which you were lurking); the $5 worth of wooden and glue traps, along with the $2 in peanut butter to bait them with, that I had to buy this morning; and the $7 for the shirt I bought on clearance, just to make myself feel better. Because I totally wouldn't have bought THAT if you hadn't traumatized me so.

Also, I will be sending a bill for whatever we eat out for dinner, because I am totally not cooking in that kitchen while you're still around.

For your convenience, I accept cash, credit cards, and PayPal. I've been burned by too many rodents in the past, so please, no checks.

Sincerely,

Melissa

Friday, July 09, 2010

Methinks I need some Minions

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Last night was the first night of my annual "Week-of-no-redheads" observance - that time of year when Jason and Little AM get a "vacation" and I do not, because I am so "vital" to the "operations" at my "job" that no one can fill in for me for a week.

In honor of WONR, Amanda (pictured above) and I typically try to have a girls' night out. One year, it was Vietnamese food and Napoleon Dynamite. Another, it was Vietnamese food (from a different place) and Batman Begins. This year, it was Pei Wei (are you sensing an Asian-centric vibe to our food choices?) and Despicable Me.

Since she works at the most-awesome Muddy's Bake Shop, which is across the street from the equally-awesome Paradiso Theater, someone came by last week and offered free passes to a sneak peak of the movie.

(Yeah. Anna Marie still doesn't know I went to see it without her!)

She is off this week because Muddy's closed for a "break," and the two of us painted the town yellow. Or as yellow as you can paint it on a budget and a weeknight.

(We lived dangerously, though - snuck in snacks in my purse! Power to the people!)

Thankfully, the theater showed it on a HUGE screen in a HUGE room, so there was plenty good room for all the freeloaders.

I didn't know much about this movie before last night, which I guess was a good thing. I watched a trailer this morning, and many of the jokes were included there (but were surprises to me.) But don't worry - this isn't one of those movies where all the best jokes are in the trailer!

Gru is a villain (voiced by Steve Carell) who needs to step up his bad-guy game due to competition from up-and-coming baddies. He adopts three girls from a local orphanage to help in one of his schemes, but does not expect to be won over by their love.

It was a really, really sweet movie. And funny. Did I mention funny? Laugh-out-loud funny. Not just 10-year-old toilet humor, either. I felt it was a really family-friendly-flick.

As it was a promotional event, meant to build buzz, they did have folks stationed at the exits writing down comments. We, however, were not approached personally.

We were blessed to see it in 3D, and my Android phone had a Best Buy movie app that kicked in magically as the credits rolled, translating the Minions' language. Amanda and I thought it really added to the film, and I figure other smart phones have the app as well.

I'm planning on sending Anna Marie and my mom to see this when she gets back, and downloading the app onto my mom's Hero so they can join in too.

Disclaimer: I got a free ticket to this movie, but they didn't ask me to do anything promotional in return. I'm just doing this in the name of good, family-friendly fun.

Friday, July 02, 2010

And on the {14th} day, {some of them} rested.

I Duz Yoga Ta Relax
see more Lolcats and funny pictures


Two weeks straight of running at full steam does not a happy Melz make.

Most folks get to take it easy in the summer (especially you teacher types out there - don't even get me started on summer vacation!) but not me. Not newspaper reporters, who instead see weeks filled with special editions, and weekends filled with special events needing covered, and contentious school board meetings as they decide how much to tax us THIS year.

Last week - well, I spent the first three days getting together our annual "Progress" edition (something I'd never heard of before I moved here, but apparently they're kind of a BIG DEAL, in Mississippi at least.) Strangely, though, there hasn't been much more "progress" around here than there has been anywhere else in the country. One year we had about a dozen subdivisions going up; the next, the bottom fell out of the housing market, and we've spent the past two years spotlighting the "progress" of local businesses staying around.

(Well, we have had a couple of large companies locate here in that time, but one was tied to the Toyota plant and so has been treading water for two years, and the other won't start production until first quarter next year.)

Then, I spent that Thursday doing all three of my pages, so I could be gone to our press association convention. Now, don't get me wrong - I was thankful for the opportunity to go, especially since it was only half an hour away in Tunica and not all the way down on the coast, but still - I near about pulled my hair out that week trying to get ready. Because it doesn't matter if I'm off work for a day or two - I have to get my work done before I leave!

(I was really, really happy to be there when we brought home second place in the General Excellence category, and so was my boss, who in all of his years in the business and all the papers he has owned, has NEVER placed in that competition. It's been kind of a big deal around our office this week.)

This week I thought it would be a little quieter, but we've had a couple of those contentious school board meetings, plus some other extra work thrown in there, and trying to get finished early today for an early press time - all of it landed me with a throbbing headache.

Four days with Anna Marie at camp, and I still didn't get any rest.

So, I hope you can appreciate the AHHH of relief I am letting out right now - Anna Marie spent the day here at home (with my mom in the morning and me in the afternoon) recovering from returning from camp yesterday. She is on the computer, again, making up for four days without electronics. Jason has been at the church three days this week (and only three because he had to work his "real job" the other two) helping install a new computer system for the children's department, and is still there now; and I'm on my bed, surrounded by stacks of clean, folded towels, watching the Clean House Messiest Home in the Country special on the DVR.

My house is still (relatively) clean because we've been gone so much - my child is home for a few days before she and her dad leave again for South Carolina - my headache is (mostly) gone - and I'm propped up in bed, writing for pleasure (not business), and ready to enjoy my three-day weekend.

Say it with me now: AHHHH.

Monday, June 21, 2010

We all had a lovely time, thank you.

A very lovely time indeed.

Guess who finally got a BIG trophy at the Five Star Races? Hmm? Hmm? Betcha can't!

IMAG0032


YESSSS!

She won first place in her age group, and she couldn't be happier. Well, I suppose she could, if she'd won the quarter-mile overall. But, whatever.

I did not race again this year, because 1. I kept hearing the scanner go off, with the EMS getting called out for people PASSING OUT because of the heat; 2. My knees were bothering me again, and 3. Having to take pictures of all the racers, and be prepared to race myself, is just too taxing. Within a 20-minute time span, I have to be in about four different places, getting photos and names of winners, and that doesn't leave me much time to psych myself out.

Saturday was very, very relaxing, since a miracle happened and the cleaning we did last weekend was kept up on a daily basis! I KNOW! Who would have ever thought that the "pick up after yourself" thing would actually work?

And yesterday, I did another sugar overload, as Amanda came to have lunch with us and my parents and brought not one, but TWO cakes from her job. One, called a Frankly Scarlett, was a miniature red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. "Happy Father's Day" was written on top, and they couldn't get a hold of the person who'd ordered it, (and they would be closed for the next two days) so she brought it home.

(Yes, apparently REPEATED attempts at contact were made. I'm pretty sure they aren't in the habit of taking paid baking goods home without their due diligence.)

The other cake was a MASSIVE, three-layer number called the Cindy Lou Who. Each layer was a different color - pink, yellow, or purple - and it had pink frosting with coordinating "polka dots."It was a birthday cake, but the patron who'd ordered it insisted she had canceled the order the next day. It was vanilla flavored cake with vanilla buttercream, and it was sinful.

I'm "detoxing" today, because I need to be on my Ps and Qs in anticipation of our Press Association convention this weekend. Wohoo! It isn't at the coast, but at a casino about half an hour from here - which I guess was fortuitous, since none of us know what the condition of the beaches will be from one day to the next.

Fortunately, there don't seem to be any family functions on the horizon, so Amanda shouldn't be bringing $40 cakes to tempt me with!

Friday, June 18, 2010

You're gonna need a bigger birthday cake.

This weekend, Jason's probable pick for all-time favorite movie is having a birthday.

Jaws is turning 35!



I did not know when we got married just how obsessed he was with this movie. Or, should I say, movies. He has shown over the years to be a fan of those cheesy SyFy made-for-TV-movies with ridiculously unlikely plots. I guess Jaws is where it all started.

Last summer, we went to The Orpheum in Memphis to watch Jaws as part of their Summer Movie Series, on the big screen. I had never watched it in its entirety before, and I jumped out of my seat a couple of times!

Jason is the proud owner of Jaws I-IV on DVD, and has just about memorized the commentary. Do you know how much he enjoys telling people trivia tidbits, like that the "You're gonna need a bigger boat" line was ad libbed?

Loves. It.

So, I suppose at some point this weekend, one (or all) of the Jaws installments will be playing on a television (or computer) screen at the Turner house. I shall have to find somewhere to be, so as not to pee my pants again at the sight of that dead body under that sunken boat.

(Which, by the way, they had to reshoot in someone's pool, because it didn't turn out right the first time?)

(Man, he's starting to rub of on me.)

I think I'm gonna need a bigger house.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I love a good wedding.

This weekend, I was a guest at three - count them, THREE - very distinct weddings. Two were held at my church and the third in the tiny chapel at a Baptist church here in town.

Thursday night, our church bookkeeper tied the knot. She and her intended had both done this before, and both have grown children and grandchildren. It was a sweet, simple ceremony with a sweet ending - a dessert and coffee reception! A table full of pies and cakes, and divinity shaped like hearts. How cool is that?

One of the best parts of the wedding was the new (to me, but I'm seeing it more often) tradition of having the couple pour grains of sand of different colors from separate containers into one larger vessel, symbolizing their new blended life. Since the bride and groom were also blending a larger family unit, each grandchild (five of them in all, ranging in age from about 3-10 years old) came, one by one, and dumped a bottle of sand into their respective grandparent's vase, and then gave the couple a hug before sitting back down. I don't know what it was about that moment, but I was truly touched!

Friday night, a young couple (and fellow LOST fanatics) were the bride and groom. Their love for each other and God was so sweet, and so pure, and everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) spent the whole service crying. The groom started boo-hooing as soon as he saw his lovely bride come in the door, and basically didn't stop for the rest of the evening. Both he and the bride had a hard time getting through their vows for their emotions, and even the pastor had to take a handkerchief break.

The bride comes from a large family, and they all played a part - from sisters as bridesmaids, to a brother and brother-in-law as ushers, to her VERY talented twin brothers serenading us with a couple of duets.

Their reception was off site at a community center, but we didn't stay long. We got caught in traffic coming up and had to drop Jason off at the church (to help with the video feed) so he didn't get dinner, and it was HOT and CROWDED up in there. Apparently, our pastor and his lovely wife cut quite a rug, so I'm a bit disappointed we missed that!

Oh, and before the ceremony, this happened:

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That's the pastor's daughter, Anna Grace, with my own Anna Marie. Two Annas, two DSs, two church weddings in two days' time!

Saturday night, we attended the wedding of a girl I've known since she was in her mother's womb. Seriously. My mother's family has had a strong connection to a certain neighborhood in Memphis for years, where both the bride and her father grew up. My grandfather planted a church there in the early 1970's, and our family lived there at different time for several years. We were living there when Char was born.

She has ALWAYS loved horses, which I suppose she got from her mother (who had a horse in her backyard in that neighborhood. No joke.) She just graduated from vet school at Mississippi State University, and I'm extremely proud of her for getting through all that.

She had a very small wedding, where she wore cowboy boots under her dress and had wanted posters with a bride and groom silhouette on the ends of the pews.

(Good thing it was small, because the minister was slightly senile and messed the ceremony all up. He tried to pronounce them man and wife three times while she still had other things on the program.)

IMAG0014


The reception was barbeque, prepared by her uncle, at the couple's new house. Anna Marie was super stoked, because their horses came up to the fence and she got to see them up close and personal.

(The bride's mother encouraged me to buy Anna Marie a horse. Easy for her to say!)

It was a very relaxed, laid back affair, just like the couple themselves. Thankfully, they also had the foresight to bring in a fan to conjure a breeze and keep the insects away!

Yes, I love a good wedding - but right now, I'm glad to have a break from nuptials for a few weeks!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

What to do, what to do…

So, Anna Marie had her dance recital on Saturday. And she has declared it to be her very last one.

So now, I have to find something else to occupy her time once a week, preferably on Wednesday afternoons (while Jason is at work.)

It isn't anything against the dance studio. The teacher is lovely, and Anna Marie has learned some things about music, and dance, and rhythm in the past three years. Between the dance performances, and being involved with the childrens music program at First Baptist after school on Tuesdays, she has basically overcome her stage fright.

But, she isn't "into" dance. At least not the ballet and tap parts. I think if they offered some type of "TobyMac Hip Hop" lessons, that'd be right up her alley. However, her teacher is a classically trained ballerina, so I don't see that happening.

She has also taken tumbling lessons for the past two years after her dance lessons, and honestly, it's the tumbling that has kept her going all year. She has begged me not to make her go next year, and when we've been getting our costume pictures made and dressing up for the recital, she kept saying, "At least this is the last time I have to do this."

So now, she wants to concentrate on gymnastics. There are a couple of places here which offer classes: one which she went to when she was four (and I wasn't crazy about the instructor) and another, newer gym (where many of the girls who used to take dance with her now go.) I don't have a problem with that, and in fact, watching the older girls dance on Saturday, I had the distinct feeling that if she'd continued in that vein that as she got older we would be more and more uncomfortable with the outfits she was assigned and the moves she was learning. (If that makes any sense at all).

I can't find a listing for the other gymnastics teacher, but I know a couple of people who can get me the information.

We've also considered music lessons, since Jason plays piano and violin and I play, well, the radio (as my dad says.) We have a piano, but Jason's violin is too big for her and we'd have to rent or buy her a smaller model.

At any rate, I have a couple of criteria: it can't take up more than one day during the week (we have other obligations, like church and family, and she'll likely be playing Upward basketball again in the winter), it can't cost more than what we were paying for dance/tumbling, and it really, REALLY needs to be on Wednesdays, so I can justify the expense as "childcare."

Not too much to ask, is it?

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Dear God,

Thank you that all it took to get me going this morning was a cup of coffee and some of your Word, and not a bucket full of pills.

Thank you that I'm ambulatory enough to take care of my home and that the work isn't overwhelming.

Thank you that while our cash flow might not have been ideal this week, You supplied all of our needs and gave us wisdom to use what resources we did have.

Thank you that I need to be two places at once today, but that they're joyous occasions like a dance recital and a wedding, and not two funerals.

Thank you that my family is healthy and well fed, and that we have more "stuff" than we actually even need.

And thank you for the realization that, as I cleaned up the nearly WHOLE BOTTLE of laundry detergent that I spilled this morning, that I probably won't need to add any to the next load of towels I do - so not all is lost.

Thank you for little reminders that you always have us held safely in the palm of your hand, and help me to see whatever I encounter today through your eyes.

Amen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Book review: The Revolutionary Paul Revere


You don't know how much you don't know, until you find out. Isn't that how the old saying goes?

I had studied American History in eighth and twelfth grades, and again in college, but other than memorizing a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, I knew next to nothing about Paul Revere.

Did you know that he was a soldier in both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War? I didn't. I also did not know that he had two wives, and between them bore 16 children for him.

I also learned that he wasn't the only rider on April 18, 1775, but one of three - and that he didn't even make it to his destination because of a run-in with British forces.

So if you're a history buff, or even if you aren't, you owe it to your American self to read The Revolutionary Paul Revere. It will give you a much deeper understanding of a true American patriot.

You can buy your copy here or here.

Full disclosure - this book was provided free of charge by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh Pandora, how do I love thee?


Let me count the ways…

• I love that I can access you from work or at home, and not have to worry about which computer I've synced my iTunes library with.

• I love that you give me access to WAY more music than I have hard drive space/money for, and help me discover new stuff all the time. For FREE.

• I love that I can dial you up on my netbook, take it into the kitchen, and listen to TobyMac or Sinatra or Aretha Franklin or Jack Johnson while I putter around.

• And I really, REALLY love that when Jason brings home my Android phone in the next day or two, there will, indeed, be an app for that.

Sigh. What did I ever do without you, Pandora dear?

Monday, May 17, 2010

You just THOUGHT I was back from the Bloggy Wasteland



Instead, I continue to take long, unscheduled breaks from Melz World.

Heh. Guess I showed you.

In the past couple of weeks, we've finished up our One Month to Live challenge, and, as a result, I'm thinking a lot more deeply about some things than I might have otherwise.

And, last weekend, Jason went to Discipleship Walk, the life-changing retreat I went on last fall. And, well, it was life-changing for him as well.

And now, I've been thinking a lot (since yesterday, anyway), about self-control.

I thought I had self-control. Most of the time, anyway. I've never been a binge eater, unless you count the whole bags of Vinegar and Salt Lays I'd inhale in college. (And really, since their slogan is "You can't eat just one, I seriously think that doesn't count.)

I've never gone out partying, and I've never blown $1,000 on a mall-wide shopping spree.

I've lost 90 pounds. I think that speaks to some measure of self-control, don't you?

But lately, I've been letting that self-control slip. And my waistline is starting to show it.

And then yesterday after church, Anna Marie told us what their verse was in Children's Church: "A person with no self-control is like a city with broken down walls (Proverbs 25:28)"

Man. That hit me as very profound. We spent a good bit of time at lunch talking about what that verse meant. I explained to her that in Bible days, cities had walls to guard their residents, but a broken down wall let all sorts of things in.

In modern language, I broke it down even further. Lack self-control in your spending? That can let in massive debt. No self-control in your eating? Sign me up for bigger pants, please! Need to control your mouth at school? That'll cost you recess.

A lack of self-control can let all sorts of ugly things into our lives. And make no mistake, you can lack self-control in some good areas too. Too much exercise can be just as bad for you as none at all, and you can eat too much of the right things just like too much of the right ones.

Not that I've ever been accused of either of those. It's just, you know, an example.

So, I'm looking at my self-control today. I am exhibiting a major amount of it, because one of my co-workers keeps putting snack-sized Snickers on her desk. And she isn't even there a lot of the time, so no one would know it was me getting one every time I walk past.

But I would. And eventually, so will my pants.

And I'm looking at my self-control when it comes to wasting time. Instead of getting caught up in watching TV when I got back from the gym this morning, I sat and ate my breakfast quietly, enjoying the short solitude before my people-filled day began.

So, today, take a little time to look at areas when you need to exercise a little self-control. Let's build up those city walls, instead of letting them be broken down.

Your pants, and probably your sanity, will thank you.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Sometimes, being a mom is kinda like being God.


You know, in that "Better clean up your mess because you won't like it if I have to step in" sense.

(Because I'd MUCH rather see my issues and start to deal with them, before God has to bring them to my attention. Because sometimes He can be a little drastic. I'm just sayin.)

I spent nearly my whole lunch break today cleaning Anna Marie's room.

I've been after her for weeks and weeks and weeks to do something about it, but somehow, nothing ever got accomplished. So today, I took action.

I actually started last Tuesday, in the space of time after I take her to school and before I have to be back over there to volunteer with the PTO. I carried out three Walmart bags full of T-R-A-S-H.

(And lest you think my kid's room is a landfill, bear in mind that I'm including Happy Meal toys and broken Dollar Tree trinkets in that designation.)

Today, I did the same thing. Another couple of bags of trash, plus two large-ish school projects. As much as I love that model of K-9 she made last year for her class, I just don't have room for the pooch anymore.

Sorry, little dude.

I wisely made sure to carry the items to the trashcan, which was on the curb, because I've made the mistake of ditching it in the kitchen can one too many times - and then she throws something away herself, and discovers what I've done.

At lunch, out went another 13-gallon bag. I took all the "junque" on her floor, placed it on her bed, and will give her a checklist this afternoon.

To whit:

• Pick up EVERY SINGLE THING on this bed. Individually.
• Put it WHERE IT BELONGS. If it's a book, put it on the bookshelf. If it's a small plastic toy, put it in your toy box. If it's paper, put it in the sidetable drawer.

If it's money, give it to me. KIDDING! Well, only slightly.

That's it. That's the extent of what I need her to do today. Go through the stuff on her bed, and put it away. I'm not asking for the cure for the common cold here, folks.

I think she shall be pleasantly surprised when she gets to the bottom of the pile, because her reward will be several items she's been looking for over the past couple of weeks. I'm not going to even tell her they're in there - I'll know she's done her job when she finds them.

This weekend, Jason is going away with the men from church for four days. Know what I'm NOT going to be doing while he's gone? Cleaning her room.

She may get a bit miffed if/when she figures out where some of her "things" have gone, but I think there's a life lesson to be learned here: if she had dealt with it when I told her to, I wouldn't have had to step in and be the Cosmic Sheriff.

As I saw on a billboard once: "Don't make me come down there - GOD."

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Contrary to popular belief

We did not blow or wash away this weekend.

Although, at times it felt like we could have.

Really, we didn't get nearly the bad weather that those around us did. There were lots of bleary-eyed folks at church today because the tornado sirens were going off all night Friday and Saturday in the county where the church is (and where most of the folks live). They didn't go off down here at all - we just got tons and tons and TONS of rain.

(We were bleary-eyed this morning too, but because we had an eight-year-old climb into bed with us during the thunderstorm last night!)

There are stories of horrible flooding not far from here, and a couple of tornadoes touched down - and some lost their lives. Add that to the tornadoes in south Mississippi last weekend, and that oil spill making its way towards shore, and we have a lot of praying to do in the next few days, my homies.

I hope that wherever you are out there in blogland, you are safe, and DRY!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Looks like I'm going to have to moderate you folks

I wish it was because my posts were so awesomely thought-provoking that they inspired great debate.

Unfortunately, that isn't the case. You can thank your Friendly Neighborhood Spammers for the change. The word verification doesn't seem to be stopping the weird, out-of-country comments, so this is the only way.

Now, if you'd like to have some heated debate about this, I'm all ears ...

Friday, April 30, 2010

If Valerie can come back to Blogland, guess I can too.


When last we met, Anna Marie was surprising us all with her sudden interest in wearing things that FIT and did not involve baggy jeans and one-size-too-big T-shirts.

There's a little of that still going on - she wore a dress to school yesterday - but there's something much deeper going on in my life than that.

On Easter, our church started this study called the One Month to Live challenge.

And what a challenge it is.

The premise is this: if you had just one month to live, what would you do differently? We each had the opportunity to purchase the book of the same name for a discounted price, which has 30 days worth of chapters in it. (Thankfully, the chapters are only about five pages long!) Each week, our pastor's sermon takes its theme from the upcoming week's readings: Love Completely, Learn Humbly, etc. Then, each day we read a short chapter comparing life to something - a hurricane, or a roller coaster, or GPS.

Our pastor joined Facebook about this time, and he posts his thoughts on the chapter each day. We can then discuss them in the comments.

It's very, very, practical stuff. And very thought-provoking.

We're also wearing some nifty green wristbands to remind us of the challenge. Several people have commented that they've had "green wristband moments," where they've stopped what they were "busy" doing (usually watching TV, or, I don't know, maybe Farmville) and spent quality time with their families.

Because really, no offense to the Farmville folks, but if you only had a month to live, would you want to spend it feeding imaginary farm animals? Or would you want your kids to remember you spent time with them?

We're a little over halfway through the book, and each day I'm made more aware of how I'm spending the most precious commodity I have: my time.

So, I'll leave you with this challenge today: if you had just one month to live, what would you change?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Well I'll be a monkey's uncle


(Just kidding. I'm not a monkey's uncle. I'm not actually anyone's uncle, come to think of it. I just couldn't think of a more appropriate way to express my shock.)

So, in the nearly 10 days since I last blogged (that incredibly depressing post, as I look back on it now) Anna Marie has made a mockery of my muddling.

This picture is from an amazing photoshoot my sister did with Anna Marie on Easter. Since she didn't want a dress, we compromised on a nice capri set. And she let me fix her hair - a HUGE deal for us!

The afternoon after I wrote that last post, I went to my favorite children's consignment shop, Jack N Jill. I had mom bring Anna Marie over so she could 1. Try on a couple of things, and 2. Make sure she'd wear them, since they have a no-return policy.

We picked out a cute pair of peach and olive flowery camouflage-type print (GAP) capris and a peach (GREEN DOG) shirt to match ($12 total!).

And - an Old Navy denim dress.

Yes. She picked out a dress, and would have had a couple of denim skirts if my budget would've allowed it.

And she's worn that dress twice already - once to school, and yesterday to church. Both times it was her idea. She had shorts on underneath, naturally, but still. A. DRESS.

Today? She's wearing a skort she picked out on Saturday. Not quite a dress, but it's halfway to being a skirt! And her hair is done today as well. I think she only allowed it because I told her it was Lucy's hairstyle in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. I really must try replicating the hairstyles of more of her favorite movie characters.

So there you have it. My daughter, the enigma wrapped in a mystery.

I don't know what has gotten into her, but she can prove me wrong like this anytime.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Muddling through


(By the way, y'all don't let me forget to go plug up my iPod when I get finished typing this. It's battery died a couple days ago, and I keep forgetting. I really wanted to listed to some stuff on it at work yesterday, but had to resort to Pandora instead. Thanks!)

Am I the only parent who feels like she's muddling through raising her child? I mean, I knew before I had Anna Marie that they didn't come with instruction manuals, but jeez Louise, I think my child is a bit more difficult to understand than most.

For starters, she's both book smart (like me, ahem) and interested in a lot of other stuff. I can't wait to get to a couch somewhere and watch TV or read a book, but her first thoughts run to MOVING - especially basketball these days.

And artistic - I can't draw a straight line with a ruler, and neither can Jason. But I can't tell you how many times I walk into a room and she's got the floor covered in drawings of imaginary animals, cartoon characters, or (increasingly these days) horses. Yes, she's into horses! We, of course, don't have any horses, unless you count those three beasts who live in the backyard and take up a sizable portion of my bank account with their food and care.

(Have you PRICED heartworm meds lately? Oh my stars and garters. And we have three dogs!)

She's just so very different from me, and Jason, that if she wasn't his spitting image I'd think someone at the hospital gave me the wrong kid.

She really doesn't like to wear dresses, or anything that's not a baggy T-shirt and jeans, these days. We came to a compromise on her Easter outfit - a pretty blue capri and tank set, with a sweater to wear over it.

But I'm trying not to worry about it. I'm trying to tell myself that if she isn't over-sexualized at the age of 8 (like a LOT of girls her age are getting to be) then maybe I won't have so much of a struggle when she's a teenager. It's getting increasingly difficult to find modest, age-appropriate clothes for her in stores, so that T-shirt and jeans look may be working for her for a while to come.

Her legs are so long, I can't even really buy her shorts these days. I'd prefer that her little butt cheeks aren't hanging out the legs, thankyouverymuch. Thank God for capris!

I think I've mentioned before, I had kind of a hard time "bonding" with her. I didn't feel that overwhelming rush of love when she was born, and because her stomach needed to be pumped immediately, she was whisked away to the nursery just about as soon as I gave birth. Breastfeeding was extremely difficult, and while I did it for three months, I'm not sure it helped us connect because it was so hard. She's never been a "momma's girl." Or a "daddy's girl" for that matter. She's more like a "gramma's girl," because my mom is the one she's most attached to.

But as she gets older, I'm starting to be thankful for the little moments we have together. We spend most every Thursday night alone, because Jason is at praise team practice at church. I try to make that time special.

She's recently become interested in lip gloss, of all things. Which is good, because she has very chapped lips most of the time and I can't get her to use Chapstick!

Monday night, we went shopping to find her some Easter shoes and me an outfit. We were in Dress Barn, and she was helping me pick out things to try on. And she asked me to wear something blue so we'd match! I probably could've found something to wear that night that wasn't blue, and told her that she was being silly - but considering the nature of our relationship so far, her request seemed like a HUGE thing to me.

So I found a blue shirt to wear, even if I have to wear a pair of pants I already own. Because that didn't seem like too much for my daughter, my only child, to ask of me this year.

A kid who asks, "Who wants to go to church looking sloppy on Easter," and then follows up with "But what if you went to church in a costume looking like a cross? What about that, mom?"

Muddling through - I guess we all do it from time to time in our children's lives.

And it looks like this weekend, we'll be doing our muddling in baby blue.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm not a doctor, but I'm getting pretty good at using Web MD

So. The cardiologist's office called yesterday with the results from my Holter monitor.

"Your results were within normal limits."

Normal? You call losing my breath while sitting down doing nothing normal?

I was pretty upset after I hung up the phone. I felt like I'd wasted two days of my time and no-telling-how-much money, and every test I took seems to have come back as "normal."

I have a follow up appointment in about two weeks, so maybe I'll get more answers then. I sure as heck am going to ask more questions!

Looks like I need to fire up Web MD.

Friday, March 26, 2010

An update, of sorts

I don't have much new information on my heart, just yet. Jason dropped the monitor at the cardiologist's office last night, and it'll be a couple of days before I hear those results.

They did call today, and tell me that my thyroid is normal. I guess that's good news, except, don't we all kinda wish that our thyroid is to blame for things like weight gain and sluggishness, instead of our poor diets and lack of exercise?

Yeah, me too.

So thus far, all we know for sure is my thyroid is A-Ok. Hopefully the other results will be in sometime next week. My next face-to-face appointment is in two and a half weeks, and I'm really, REALLY hoping they won't wait that long to get back with me.

Thanks for the prayers!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How to: scare your kid

Just come home from the cardiologist's office with a bunch of wires hooked to you.

Yeah, that's what I did today.

I'm sorry I haven't gotten my Kroger Shakedowns from the past two weeks posted, but I've been dealing with a bit of a health issue over here.

I've had issues with my heart for years. In fact, before I was born, the doctor detected an irregular hearbeat. We've always chalked it up to my size (I was over nine pounds when I was born) and a stressful pregnancy (my mom was going to the city hospital because they were broke, and it was August in Memphis. 'Nuff said.)

When I was in college, right before I graduated, I ended up in the ER because of my heart rhythm. To be fair, I was 100 lbs. overweight, not taking care of myself AT ALL, eating a steady diet of junk, planning a wedding, and trying to finish school. Know what set off the episode? I opened my Visa bill from ordering my invitations.

Of course, that EKG came back perfectly normal.

Since I have lost weight, I haven't worried so much about my heart. I was still having the odd palpitation, but it really wasn't that serious - until last year.

For some reason, I was having episodes where I'd lay down at night to sleep, and my heart was pounding so hard I thought it would beat out of my chest. During the day, not only would my heart flutter, it would skip so many beats that it felt like it was turning flips trying to catch back up.

I almost fainted a couple of times walking around Walmart. And just sitting at my desk or in the car would bring a severe shortness of breath.

Since I didn't have insurance, I didn't feel like there was much I could do. I prayed. A lot. And it would get better. And then it would come back.

And then last year, I was able to buy insurance. The heart issues continued, but I'd visited an OBGYN who thought my uterus was tipped over and too big, and ordered an ultrasound. I figured I'd let myself get through one health crisis at a time, you know.

Well, my uterus is some sort of gymnast, because by golly, it's back where it needs to be. But my heart kept giving me problems.

So last week, after losing my breath while sitting at my desk, I asked a co-worker what cardiologist she used and made an appointment. I figured if my insurance didn't require a referral, it didn't make much sense to go to a general practitioner first, and waste that time and money just to end up at the specialist anyway.

So, Tuesday, I went. They performed an EKG, which showed my resting heart rate at over 100 bpm. Normal is under 80! I explained to the doctor that it felt like that at night when I was trying to sleep. He drew blood to check my thyroid, and scheduled me for a Holter Monitor and an echo cardiogram (basically an ultrasound of my heart - who knew?)

They were out of monitors yesterday, so I went back today. It was actually pretty cool to see my heart beating on that screen! The tech didn't say anything about what she saw, so I'm hoping it was normal.

Then, they put me into a monitor.

I've got five electrodes hooked to different parts of my body, and a small device the size of a cell phone on a lanyard around my neck. And I have to wear this contraption for 24 hours, meaning I not only have to sleep in it, but I also cannot shower tomorrow morning.

This ought to be fun.

I've been very open with Anna Marie about all of this, answering her questions about what happened at the doctor's office. But tonight, as I was putting her to bed, I could tell she was concerned about my condition.

So, we had a long talk. I told her that it was OK to admit she was concerned about me, and a little freaked out by all the wires stuck to me. I assured her that God was in control, and that no matter what happened, He would take care of all of us.

And then she asked me how much this visit was costing.

I explained about co-pays, and how I'd get a bill for part of the rest. From what I can gather, she was afraid that we wouldn't have the money to send her to camp this summer! I assured her that we had money set aside for camp, and that she didn't need to worry about that either.

I don't like sensing that she's upset. I want her to feel free to tell me how she feels, without worrying about whether those feelings are OK or not. I think she's just a little freaked out because she's never known me to go to doctors - I haven't had insurance since she was a baby.

Hopefully, this little experience will be good for the both of us. I will find out what's up with the old ticker, and Anna Marie will learn that she can talk to me about how she's feeling.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try to get as much rest at this medical equipment will allow!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book review: Mom's Bible


As a mom, I have found out that there are a lot of resources geared toward us: devotion books for moms, prayer journals for moms, and of course, Bibles for moms.

Mom's Bible: God's Wisdom for Mothers is one of the more useful of these resources I've found. It includes notes by Bobbie Wolgemuth, who has been writing Christian literature with the likes of Joni Eareckson Tada and Dr. John MacArthur. Sprinkled throughout the verses are tidbits with titles such as "Insights" and "Walking in . . ." It helps to have someone relate what I'm reading to my role as a mother, and how to develop the necessary Godly characteristics.

I also like the version they used for this edition. The New Century Version is very clear and easy to understand, and makes the reading flow very smoothly.

You can pick up your copy here or here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When Irish eyes are smilin'

Yes, I know, today is NOT Saint Patrick's Day. I'm a day ahead. It's not my fault, though - my book club met today, and we had a three-pronged attack from the Emerald Isle. The three hostesses presented a lesson on the history of the holiday, a study of Irish authors, and an Irish sing-a-long by (a badly out-of-tune) piano.

And although I've never been to Ireland, it made me want to visit - or, at least, watch two of my favorite Irish-themed movies. I think Amanda introduced me to both of them, so I have her to thank.



Have you ever seen Waking Ned Divine? I think it's what you movie-types would refer to as a "black comedy." It's not the most well-known movie, but it's one I can watch over and over.

The other movie it made me want to see again is The Quiet Man. Maureen O'Hara, John Wayne, Ireland - need I say more? I'd love to show you this clip, but unfortunately you'll have to travel all the way to YouTube to see it - they've disabled embedding.

Anyone else have any favorite Irish-themed movies for this time of year?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kroger Shakedown!

shakedown graphic.indd


It's weeks like this when I LOVE my list. And this week, it wasn't even printed out!

Jason sings on the praise team at church, and he had to be there by 8:30 Sunday morning. Meaning we had to leave the house around 8:00 a.m. My list wasn't up yet, so I took my netbook, dropped him off, and by the time I got to some free wifi (thanks ATT Hotspot in the Starbucks parking lot!) there it was. I made my selections, printed out an "xps" document (kinda like a PDF, I think) and was ready to go.

(For the record, our church has wifi too. It also has a pretty extensive security key to keep folks from driving up in the parking lot and doing what I did at Starbucks, and I didn't know then that Jason had already programmed it into my netbook.)

Since I didn't have a physical printer handy, I took my netbook into the store, sat it in the "kiddie seat" of the cart, and shopped off the screen. Easy-peasy, but something I probably won't be making a habit of. The computer is so small, and blocked from the back by a sign on the back rest, but still - I never took my hand off the cart, and as soon as I was finished shopping I put the computer into my purse.

We'd had a dinner with a slew of my family at a restaurant, and didn't have much time, so having the list was a lifesaver!

Here's how the shakedown went down this week:

2 packages of styrofoam cups (not on my list, but we needed them for our small group meeting that night)
2 cans of Progresso lower-sodium chicken gumbo (paper coupon plus Shortcuts)
2 cans of Progresso lower-sodium vegetable soup (paper coupon only)
3 boxes of Fiber One bars (paper coupons plus Cellfire plus Shortcuts)
2 boxes of Nature Valley granola bars (paper coupons, plus Cellfire)
2 bottles of Dawn foam dish detergent
1 package Betty Crocker cookie mix (paper coupon plus Cellfire)
2 bags of Kroger 2% milk shredded cheese
1 king sized Reese's Cup (which was free, because Jason found a $1 off coupon when you purchase a 20 oz Coke and the candy was on sale for $1. I've taught him well!)
1 20 oz. Coke Zero
3.58 lbs of Fuji apples
2.54 lbs of bananas
4 bags of Green Giant frozen veggies
1 California Pizza Kitchen pizza (since I had to work covering a banquet Tuesday night, for the folks at home)
2 boxes of Toaster Strudels (paper coupon plus Cellfire)
1 Hormel pork loin (which we had in the crockpot yesterday!)
4 Lunchables

Total before coupons/savings: $101.11
Total after coupons/savings: $46.90
Total saved: $54.21 (55%)

I am really digging these electronic coupons added to my card, and I REALLY hope they keep offering them!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Do do do, lookin' out my back door . . .

Boy, do I feel dumb.

My house, in case I haven't told you before, backs up to the businesses on the south side of Main Street. There is, quite literally, a used car lot in my backyard.

Well, there is a drainage ditch which separates the two plots of property, but still, CAR LOT. BACKYARD.

There is a car detail business near there too, and on a sunny day the sound of a power washer just permeates the neighborhood for hours. Really adds to the charm of the place, no?

But back to the car lot. You know, the one in my BACKYARD?

That car lot hasn't been there long. In the five years we've been in this house, there has been a pet store, a home improvement business, and a different used car lot back there. Or maybe two car lots. I've lost count at this point.

The current car lot (which uses as its business name some generic "your credit is good here" sign which I'm pretty sure is copyrighted) has been there about six weeks.

About a week ago, Anna Marie complained that she couldn't sleep because a car horn kept going off. I figured one of the neighborhood cats or possums had triggered a car alarm, and that was par for the course.

But then - we came home Sunday night, and something like an 18-wheeler horn kept going off. I looked around for one (there aren't supposed to be any parked on the residential streets in town) but saw none. And then when I looked out my back door, I noticed lights on in the RV at the lot. And people moving around. And that horn kept going off, but I didn't call it in because I feel like I'm the only one who ever complains about such things in town.

(I know I'm not the only one who complains. I'm just sayin'.)

It stopped. And I thought maybe some teenagers had broken in there, but then this morning as we were leaving for school, I looked back there to find KIDS. With BACKPACKS. Also, I assume, leaving for school.

Someone is living over there, y'all. In an RV in a commercial zone. With kids. So I'm torn, because it's totally against the law to do that here, but there are KIDS. I don't want to put people out, not in this economy. I resolved to just let it slide, since maybe it was a temporary arrangement.

As long as there were no more horns involved.

So tonight, it started back up as I was trying to get Anna Marie down for bed. You know, in the room at the back of the house, just a few hundred feet from the car lot in my BACKYARD. And when I got finished tucking her in, I called the Sheriff's Department, and as the phone was ringing, I looked out my back door.

They were gone. GONE. I had not a clue what to tell that poor dispatcher, except that I was sorry I'd taken up his time. It wasn't the 911 line, just the regular number, but still.

OF COURSE THEY WERE GONE.

*Irony alert - part of my job is to go get the 911 dispatch logs and put the calls in the paper. Guess what I have to go do in the morning? I can't WAIT to see what they write about this call.

So, I feel really, really dumb. They were there, and now they aren't. And I've wasted a call to the dispatch office, which I now have the indignity to relive tomorrow morning when I read the log books.

It's like David Copperfield got all Las Vegas on that RV, and poof - thin air.

At least I called anonymously from my cell phone, so they won't know I was the crazy RV horn lady who called.

Edited to add: As I was finishing this up, guess what? THEY'RE BACK. And honkin' that horn like a boss! Boo-yeah, validation! Heck yeah, I called back. God a different dispatcher too. Guess I'd better go look out my back door one more time.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Who knew half a dozen sentences could be so hard?


Know how, when you're waiting a minute or two on something (like, say, a pregnancy test or some microwaved popcorn), and it would normally go by really quickly, but it doesn't, because you're counting the seconds?

Yeah, helping a second grader write eight sentences about her favorite type of whale is just like that.

I write for a living. For me, pounding out eight sentences on a subject is no big deal. But between her utter lack of typing skills, and her penchant for being distracted, writing eight sentences on Killer Whales took an hour.

And we nearly came to blows when the photo of a whale (a requirement for the report) which I'd found wasn't deemed suitable by Her Redheadedness.

I had her leave the couch where we were sitting to work on the report, and sit on the floor on her hippo chair. Because I needed a minute to COOL DOWN, as it were.

But the report (which is due Thursday) is done. I still have to buy a folder to put it in, but that's no big deal - shopping I can handle.

Writing eight sentences with an eight-year-old? Not so much.

What? I have how many years until she graduates?

Somebody make me another pot of coffee. This is going to be a long decade.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Kroger shakedown!


Special-Ops edition. Because I did my shopping in CAMO, and late at night!

We had a service entitled "Special Ops" at church on Sunday (where the pastor talked about our church's mission statement) and the choir all wore camo. Including me. Camo man pants to be exact, because I couldn't find any way-cheap camo LADY pants. The pastor and his wife rappelled out of the catwalk. The choir marched in to an old Carman song.

We sang some Stryper. It was all good.

I then walked around for about four hours, because we had our annual business meeting that night and never went home between services. So I had to wait until after 8 p.m., and I was WAY exhausted.

So my bleary-eyed, camo-clad crew and I made a mad dash through Kroger, and this is what happened:

2 cans of black beans
1 box of Krusteaz blueberry pancake mix
4 boxes of Nutri-grain bars
3 bottles of Wishbone dressing
3 cans of Red Gold tomatoes
1 bottle of Suave shampoo
1 bottle of Suave conditioner
2 bottles of Suave kids shampoo
1 stick of Suave deodorant
1 package of Glide floss
3 Cadbury eggs (OF COURSE)
1 gallon of chocolate milk (free, because I bought the four boxes of Nutri-grain bars)
5 lbs. of grapefruit
6 lbs. of clementines
1 bag of "overripe" bananas
2 boxes of Green Giant veggies (paper coupons plus Shortcuts)
1 Red Baron pizza

Total before coupons/sales: $79.31
Total after: $48.18
Total savings: $31.13 (41%)

Not as good as last week's, but the total is slightly deceiving - when clearance stuff, like those bananas, rings up, it doesn't calculate how much it WOULD have cost if it had been full price. They were 10 cents cheaper per pound because of their state of ripeness - which didn't really matter, because we ate them before they went bad anyway.

It looks like a really random assortment of groceries, but remember - stockpiling. That way I only buy what's on sale, and I have a rotation of groceries to go through.

I had also gone to Target that morning before church, and gotten two boxes of Kashi cereal and a box of Kashi bars for $5, thanks to a coupon I found on one of the boxes!

How sad is it that I'm really excited about March being Frozen Foods Month, and getting to stock my freezer on the cheap?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The road to bigger pants

Is paved with good intentions.

I have a confession - it's been, ahem, several days since I've made it to the gym.

Now, don't get me wrong. I haven't been sitting on my "blessed assurance" and eating bonbons. One day last week, I was running behind and did a session on my Gazelle. One day, I spent an hour cleaning two rooms in my house. Saturday, we took the dogs on a LOOOONG walk, culminating in a trip to the groomers, and I also spent three hours preparing entries for a newspaper contest. Sunday, we had a service called "Special Ops," which entailed the choir dressing up in camo and marching in. (And practicing that marching in several times - more on that later) And then, we spent four hours walking around town so we would still be in the area for that evening's business meeting.

Monday, I was so exhausted from Sunday (and still sore from all that marching/walking) that I slept in. Yesterday, Jason went to work at 2 a.m. so I couldn't leave the house. And then, we come to today.

Apparently, my little short legs don't like to march much. Apparently, my knees like it even less. Because, since Sunday, I have had a "comes and goes" pain in them, and this morning, wouldn't you know it, it came. I can't walk around my house without pain, so I was a little leery of putting the knee through its paces at the gym.

I know I could take some ibuprofen and go on, but I'm more concerned about treating the actual cause, and not just the symptoms.

So, this morning, no gym. Again. Some housework, but no cardio.

Good intentions. I have them. And hopefully they won't bring me a bigger pair of pants.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Dear God,



If you have a calendar up in Heaven, you know it's March 1.

Down here on earth, where the weather isn't a comfortable 72 degrees year round*, that means that winter needs to be over.

We, The Humans, are done with winter. Really. We don't need it anymore. You can have it back. We promise we took good care of it.

So, now that it's March, the weather can start to warm up and clear up and generally get nice and "pretty."

Keep up the good work!

xoxo,
Melissa

*We have a very toney suburb of Memphis, where the city keeps pretty strict tabs on what can/can't be done in the way of outdoor colors (down to blue trash cans instead of green because "they" think it looks better) and an old joke says that, in that town, it's a comfortable 72 degrees year-round.

(Guess you had to be {raised} there.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kroger Shakedown!

shakedown graphic.indd


Geez Louise. You'd think that being the owner of my very own computer for the first time since college would afford me LOADS more time to blog.

Yeah, not so much.

Granted, I didn't go grocery shopping at all on Valentine's weekend. Anna Marie had two different performances in two different counties that day, in addition to church. I was going to go on Monday night, but my brakes were acting up on my van and the weather turned unexpectedly bad, so I stayed myself to home.

I did go to Walgreens, and got three boxes of Kellogg's cereal (two of which I gave to my sister) for $1.66 each and two boxes of Pop Tarts (for Jason) for $1 each.

So.

This past weekend, I was determined that I was going to shop. And I was thankful that Uncle Sam had made a deposit into my checking account, because I knew I needed to spend twice as much for missing a week!

I will interject here that the cashier made some cryptic remark to me upon checkout, which I think she meant to say that people like me (with The Coupons) were responsible for grocery prices going up.

I don't believe that for a minute. I'm pretty sure the prices of raw materials, as well as the rising price of transportation, are what made the groceries get more expensive.

But I digress.

Here's the rundown for this week:

1 (8 pack) Bounty paper towels
4 bottles of Kraft bbq sauce
2 cans Chunky Healthy Request gumbo
1 box Betty Crocker muffin mix (paper coupon + Shortcuts)
4 bags Martha White muffin mix
1 box Capri Suns
4 boxes of Betty Crocker fruit snacks (paper coupons + Cellfire + Shortcuts)
1 box of Lipton pyramid-shaped tea bags
1 McCormick seasoning grinder
3 Chef Boyardee microwave bowls
6 cups of Yoplait (paper coupon + Cellfire)
2 (2 liters) of Coke Zero
2.11 lbs bananas
3.38 lbs. apples
1 package Murray sugar free cookies
2 boxes of Orville Redenbachers popcorn
4 packages of sliced meats (turkey and ham)(On sale, + buy 3, get 1 free coupon)
1 loaf Natures Own light bread
1 bag coffee filters
1 tub of Land O Lakes spread
2 cans of Suave Professionals mousse

Total before coupons/deals: $109.66
Total after coupons/deals: $57.13
Total savings: $52.53 (49 percent)

Kroger was running one of their "Buy 10 of these things, get $3 off" promotions, and I qualified for two of those (a total of $6 off).

On Monday, I went to our local grocery store here and picked up some reduced-for-quick-sale steaks, a small roast, some chicken breasts, a couple of cans of store-brand vegetables, a half gallon of milk, two boxes of Betty Crocker instant potatoes, and an 8 lb. bag of potatoes. I spent about $25 more on all that. I hate that I've spent that much on groceries this week, but I hadn't been in two weeks, so I guess it evens out.

We have our annual business meeting at church this Sunday, but I'm going to have to find time to shop because this is my week to work late every night (and Anna Marie has her basketball awards night on Tuesday, so I'll be out even later than usual.)

At least with my new netbook, I can surf the web from my bed when I get home!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Best.Valentine's.Ever.

Sweet lawd, I've had an awesome Valentine's Day. Or days, since my celebrations started Friday night.

(I know there are some anti-Valentine's people out there. I am very sorry for you, because even if you either don't have a sweetheart, or think a day of forced affection is dumb, you can still celebrate love in general. You do love SOMEONE, right? RIGHT?)

Friday, Jason had to work unexpectedly, due to Tuesday's "weather situation" here in the Midsouth. He came home from work and, in a surprise move, said that my mom had offered her babysitting services if we wanted to go out for an early Valentine's date.

(Mom offering her services wasn't the surprise here. It was Jason wanting to go out after he'd been at work since 3 a.m.)

Somehow, we gathered our collective strength and went out to dinner at Logan's. Man, I love a good steak and a sweet potato!

When we got out to the parking lot to go home, he pulled out a huge red bag. Guess what was inside - can you guess? Well, can you?

Here's a hint: I'm typing on it right now!

That's right - he got me a netbook! A cute little 10" emachines, and I love it so much I'd probably marry it if I wasn't already spoken for.

(KIDDING, dear!)

But seriously? Having my own computer rocks. So many times I have to wait for Jason or Anna Marie to get off the desktop or the laptop before I can do something I need to do. No more! This baby is all mine!

(He gave it to me Friday night, because he knows me pretty well after all these years, and he correctly guessed that I'd be too distracted by the thought of a new toy during this morning's service to get anything out of it. He hit the nail on the head, as usual.)

Anna Marie had a look I can only describe as "crestfallen" when she saw it and realized it wasn't for her. I've never actually seen her so openly envious, and it made me very sad. I explained that it would keep her from having to wait for me to get done with one of the other computers, and that if I took good care of it, it might be passed down to her one day.

She was down with that.

Today, we had church, and Amanda met us at Cici's afterwards for lunch. We had some really good coupons (naturally) and I figured it was Anna Marie's turn to get a Valentine's treat, so we went to one of her favorite places. Amanda brought the dozen toffee bars I'd ordered Jason from her job, and surprised me with a dozen of their famous "pucker up" lemon mini cupcakes and Anna Marie with a little apron and a box filled with "love potion" cookies and a "baby pie."

Yes, we're all going to have horrible sugar hangovers in the morning. Did I mention that I'd already gotten Anna Marie a little box of chocolates this morning, or that she had a whole bag left over from school Friday? Or that Jason asked me to bake him a caramel cake last night?

We're all going to need a detox tomorrow. This might possibly be worse than Christmas.

Anna Marie also had her dance class's annual performance at a nursing home, and a handbell/choir concert tonight. Amanda came down to do laundry and spend time with The Kid, and they had a couple of rousing games of Battleship between them.

We have been busy, busy folks today.

It's raining/snowing again outside, and I'm not even sure if we'll have school tomorrow. The temperatures are supposed to drop into the mid-20's, and I'm a little worried about all that precipitation on the roads freezing.

At least if we get snowed in, we'll have plenty of sugar calories to sustain us.

Editor's note: Don't worry about Jason only getting toffee bars while I got a netbook. He's got a surprise winging its way from Amazon.com, if the weather will allow it to come through!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Kroger shakedown!


Yep, I went shopping this week. But this weather has us all thrown for a loop, so I'm just now getting around to posting my list.

I didn't get to go on my normal day, Sunday, because we were CRAZY busy. Our service at church was (way awesome and) football themed. Then, Anna Marie had a cousin's birthday party at a bowling alley. And finally, our small group had a Super Bowl party that night.

Like I said, crazy busy.

So, I had every intention of going Monday night, but when I stepped out the door headed towards the gym on Monday morning (in an attempt to work off the pizza/hotwings/brownies of the day before) I was greeted with the aforementioned snow. And I was all, "Huh? It wasn't supposed to snow!" But it did. And it was way messy outside. And I only worked for three hours, because I had AM with me while Jason went to Memphis.

And then when he got home after lunch - he took me to Kroger! Honestly, we didn't HAVE to have food on Monday, thanks to my stockpile. But it sure was nice!

Here's how my trip went:

3 boxes of Nature Valley granola bars (paper coupons, plus Cellfire/Shortcuts)
1 box of Capri Sun Roaring Waters
1 bag of Ronzoni whole wheat egg noodles
1 jar of Hardeez Salsa
1 bottle of Country Bob's steak sauce (for my dad - it's his favorite, and I had a coupon for a free bottle!)
2 packages of Kraft 2% cheese singles
1 box of Philly 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 bottle of Softsoap
3 Cadbury caramel eggs (guess who THOSE were for?)
1 bottle of Sunny D fruit smoothie
2 bottles of Big K Diet Ginger Ale
3 2-liters of Pepsi products
1 20 oz Coke Zero (to go with his caramel eggs, of course!)
3.45 lbs of "ripe" bananas (at 39 cents a pound, and some were organic)
2.97 lbs of jonagold apples
2 bags of Green Giant steamers broccoli and cheese
4 boxes of Toaster Strudels (I'm set for about six months now)
2 bags of Chex Mix (paper coupons plus Cellfire for these)
2 boxes of Pop Secret 94% fat free popcorn
1 bag of Poppycock
1 package of Butterball turkey smoked sausage

Total before coupons: $88.34
Total after coupons: $40.76
Total savings: $47.58 (56%)

They were having their Mega Event again this week, so I saved $10 right there. I got home and realized I could have had a couple more Cellfire and Shortcuts coupons loaded on my card, but that would have been another $1.00 or so, and the trip was really a spur-of-the-moment thing.

One of the other "perks" I've noticed to all this couponing (besides eating at home more, because we have food available to us) is the savings on gas. Kroger gives 10 cents off per gallon with every 100 points you earn, and I get points based on my before-coupon savings, not my out-of-pocket expense. So Jason fills up at least once a month on the cheaper gas. Score!

I'd also like to give a "shout out" to my college chum Kathy Garvin, a fellow English major who started with The Grocery Game this week. She saved over 50% on her first trip! She's promised me her first-born son as a thank-you, but I'm sure she's gotten pretty attached to him by now - and I haven't clipped any Pullups coupons!

They're forecasting more snow for this weekend up here. I don't know what I'm going to do if Anna Marie has to miss any more school - at this point, we'll be looking at making the days up on Saturdays!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

So much for "GLOBAL WARMING."



Hmph.

Someone needs to tell Al Gore that his little "Oh, no, the earth is about to burn up" scheme isn't working so well.

Anna Marie just had her FOURTH snow day of this year - as in, 2010.

School has been in session for just about a month, and already they've spent four of those days at home due to snow. She went back today, but some of our surrounding school systems are still out.

Currently, it's about 20 degrees COLDER than usual out there. It's barely above freezing.

As in, it's really, really, ridiculously cold out there - not above average. Not even average. Just really, really cold.

What do you have to say about that, Mr. Gore? Hmmm?

Maybe when it thaws out a little bit around here, we can have a little chat.