Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Friendly Reminder

Excuse me for not posting much. I suppose everyone is on their summery way and is not much for keeping up with blogs anyway. We have been busy helping friends get moved out. It is definitely strange knowing that we will be on the way out in just five weeks. I have begun to expect another fiasco like the one we experienced two years ago- move everything into storage, go visit some friends and parents, and wait. That is, if the four churches pursuing George don't say "no," "no," "no," and "no" in the next five weeks. Don't ask "then what?" Because you know what that gets you. That's right, pie in the face. Incidentally, I use the word "pursue" very loosely these days. I suppose I would be more accurate to say "considering." Where are they? All over. What are they? Associate pastorships (wasn't sure if pastorate could be used that way, and pastorship is a word, so there you go) with various areas of ministry as a focus. But most people aren't really on an end of June time crunch like we are. So, once again, the waiting game seems to be extending past the last minute for us. We know about this, as I have said before. We have faced unemployment (twice) and homelessness in the past. But hey, this will be our first time to be unemployed and homeless at the same time! Give it up! Woo woo! Woo woo! Woo woo!

So that's where we are. George is working a few odd jobs, and of course, our last month's rent is still free. We checked into staying and paying for a month or so, but they herd the students in and out of this place like cattle and there is no room at the inn for someone who has been graduated for longer than a month. We just got some new neighbors though. And they have given us a ton of great boxes so we can start getting ourselves going. Oh, and they are super nice and have children too. Nice because there aren't any children in our little strip of apartments or the strip adjacent to us. (Insert Alanis Morissette "Ironic") And who would've thought? It figures! For several months next door has been empty and grey, we prayed for a family with children who play. The moving truck pulled up at the very end of May. We met their daughter and said "now we'll be on our way." And isn't it (a misused version of the word) ironic? Don't ya think? I have another verse about my sister living in New Jersey for two years and George getting a job in New Jersey a month after she moves away in case he gets the job in New Jersey.

Alrighty, I will post again tomorrow, I think. I just saw that my friend Laura (well, we haven't ever met, but she's my blogworld friend and that counts) tagged me with a 59 question thingy. 59 things you never wanted to know about me, coming soon..... :)

Friday, May 23, 2008

My Splendid Table, My Ideal Husband, and The Week That Was

And now, the post you've all been waiting for, The Graduation Report. Everything went beautifully. Really. We had 13 guests from out of town, plus our family of five and the three other dudes that live in town, three big meals, three big events, and one amazing accomplishment to celebrate. It is quite something to see your husband handed a diploma, though I have had the privilege of seeing it once before. It is even more of something to see him hooded, an event that he alluded to years ago as being something he would really like to be part of one day, though he has forgotten ever mentioning it.

It is funny being married isn't it? I still think of George as the dorky guy with the stretched out tee shirts who sat next to me in history class and doodled the whole time, and who had the hardest time when it came to the "DTR." Not that I am not still the snotty girl that thought my North Face backpack and Vasque hiking boots were so cool, who sassed teachers and showed up 20 minutes late to class on a regular basis. The thing about George has always been what a gentle and kind person he is. But I have to say that when he encourages me or gives me a kind word, I often still think he just doesn't know because he is just a nice dorky guy. But hearing him preach over the past couple of years has reminded me that he really is a grown up with a lot of wisdom to offer. This may say more about my "God issues" than anything else, it's like I think you have to be mean to have authority- nice people just don't know what they're talking about. Or so I slip into thinking. But it is pretty cool to see your nice husband given physical symbols that say "this guy knows what he's talking about." It's kind of like what they say about preachers wearing robes, that it gives them the "uniform" of someone you can trust to preach the truth. Now if only I could get him to wear a cap, gown, and hood every day!

Besides actually seeing my dear husband be awarded his diploma, the biggest thing for me was entertaining and feeding all the folks. This went way better than I could have planned or dreamed. At one point, I had five helpers in the kitchen. And by helpers, I do not mean children that are actually in the way! I mean, Rebekah, Katie, Stephen, George, and Ami. And Ami was actually a guest at the party! Everyone else was too, but they helped before the party. Poor Ami showed up to the party and found herself slicing cheese and arranging fruit. I am sorry to say that as the party planner and chief chef, I did not actually perform any duties as photographer. But I was recently talking to a big fan of The Splendid Table, a radio show dedicated to the celebration of food, and began to get behind the idea of hearing about food without seeing it. And it's really nothing new for y'all, as I almost never have pictures. I think there must be a couple of pictures floating around out there of George in his cap and gown, but again, not in my camera. In my defense, he did not actually don cap and gown until arriving at the churches and both places were busy. I do recall posing a couple of times with him after the events, so I hope some of those come out well. Although, I have to say, I despise getting pictures back of myself. I am used to the way I look, though it frustrates me to no end considering all the work I do to not look this way, but somehow pictures of me seem to add that proverbial 10 pounds all in my face. Thus, my face looks to be the size of a dinner plate in pictures. And that is emotional for me. But that's another post. Moving on then, an unillustrated and detailed review of victuals for your reading enjoyment.

The "weekend" started on Wednesday when my dear friend Rebekah arrived with her two little ones. She drove all the way from the Ham with both children and no help, which I know from experience is exhausting. And though I had done a few things in advance, much of the cooking was left to be done. So with my sous-chef by my side, we began the task of entertaining for 14 for supper, 15 for breakfast, and 22 for heavy hors d'oeuvres. Rebekah and I have had a lot of experience cooking together and seem to have finally worked out the kinks. In my mind, it is best for Rebekah to be in charge and me to help, but this does not work as well when we are in my kitchen, feeding my guests from my menu. She did very well taking orders from an inferior cook, and I, even as the inferior cook, have learned to be confident enough to trust my plan and delegate responsibility. But really, most of the success came from other people keeping my hyper-sensitivity in mind, I think. That, and prayer. I was aware almost constantly that I had an unnatural dose of peace that I knew was an answer to prayer. Thanks, to everyone who has been praying for me.

Thursday night was our night with 14. It was actually remarkably easy as I use this menu almost every time I cook for a crowd in the summer. As everyone in my family but me has a summer birthday, I have had lots of practice. It is also wonderfully inexpensive. Before I get to the menu though, I want to say something about the evening that followed. We had two events that night. Most of the folks went to Amabel's and August's spring program at school which received rave reviews. I went with Rebekah over to the Baccalaureate service and I am so glad I did. I had several second thoughts about this because George was going early and sitting with the graduates and had no role to play. So what was the point? Well, I am so glad I decided to go. I did not know that a Baccalaureate is actually a worship service on the occasion of a graduation. I remember my high school Baccalaureate, a very somber and forgettable (my apologies to whomever worked hard to make it special) event with candles and I'm not really sure what else. Mostly I just remember that it was dark and that my dad forgot to put film in the camera (this after double exposing the film my prom pictures were taken on and forgetting the camera altogether at the the Awards Banquet). Covenant's Baccalaureate was anything but a somber event. There was a praise band made up of graduates, fully robed and mortar boarded (can you say "mortar boarded?" well, you can now), and y'all know I love me a praise band. Or maybe you didn't, but now you do. I crave this music, the whole RUF vibe (old hymns put to new music) and it was glorious to be sitting right behind the piano and drums. My only complaint is that I have been so long from a good old guitar in worship that I didn't know any of the songs! It was like RUF all over again though; I felt so blessed just to be there. There were also several students who gave testimonies of God's faithfulness to them during their time at Covenant. I confess I was somewhat envious of all the things these men and women seemed to be taking away with them. I feel like I must be really thick or slow or just plain hard to be at the end of this season and be as immature and unchanged as I seem to be. And in a way I felt kind of left out, left out of some awesome growing, nurturing experience. How did I miss that? Well, anyway, it was a really wonderful service.

Thursday night menu:
Sweet tea (of course!)
Pulled pork sandwiches
Cole slaw
Watermelon
Potato Chips
Jello Salad
Ice Cream Sandwiches

The recipes, and notes:
I am guessing most people know how to make sweet tea. But just in case, I just buy family sized tea bags, bring 2 cups of water almost to a boil, steep tea in water for like 20 minutes, add about 3/4 c. sugar and dissolve, pour into a 2qt. pitcher and fill the rest of the way with cold water.
I am also thinking most people know how to make their own pulled pork. But just in case, I buy a pork butt, which is often on sale for 99 cents a pound. I put it in ye olde crock pot the night before I want to serve it and take it out about an hour or thirty minutes before serving, pull of the fat and bones, and pull the meat apart with a pork. And I use bottled sauce. It's just that easy :)

Cole Slaw
1 head of cabbage
carrots
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. buttermilk
2 1/2 T lemon juice
1 1/2 T white vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
-grate cabbage and carrots in food processor
-stir remaining ingredients together to make dressing
-toss cabbage and carrots in dressing
-cover and chill at least 2 hours (make the day before easily)

Cut up a watermelon, open a bag of chips, and you're pretty much in business. Sometimes I make one of those cheesy potato hashbrown casserole dealys, but beer chips are just so good. These are loved by kids, the great grandparents, and everyone in between. Jello salad is really just my way of saying that I made fruit salad suspended in strawberry Jello, according to the setting directions on the package. I think this is absolutely delicious, even at 30. And from the way the gang ate on Thursday night, I am guessing most people do. Embrace your inner child :) Speaking of whom will also enjoy ice cream sandwiches made by making the Nestle Toll House cookie recipe without the Nestle Toll House morsels. Use (what else?) M&Ms instead, bake and cool the cookies, and scoop vanilla ice cream to make sandwiches. Wrap and freeze sandwiches as you go, you know, because of the whole melting thing. For some reason, these are a huge hit. Well, I suppose it's because they are delicious. But people are kind of impressed. Because you made ice cream sandwiches. And it was darn easy, even though that part doesn't really register.

As you can see, this is the easiest meal to put together ever. But the people will love it. Trust me, they will. They will also love this crazy easy brunch from Friday morning.

Breakfast Casserole
Banana Muffins
Blueberry Scones
Fresh fruit

Although, if you are like me, you will somehow manage to stay up until 3:30 in the morning making it. But only if you start after midnight and are also making marinade for steak, washing dishes, and starting chicken for the next day. I am pretty sure I have posted the link to the blueberry scones before. The banana muffins are Rebekah's recipe, but perhaps she will leave it in the comments for us. And that breakfast casserole is the one we all know and love. I doubled the sausage and eggs this time, which fed the crowd in the same sized pan, but if I did that again, I would also double stack the bread layer because the bread was lost with such a deep layer of sausage and eggs.

Friday night was the big shindig. I am sorry we could not invite friends, but we were on a limited budget and had limited space. It would be fun to give another party and invite all of our friends. We may do that as a "we finally have a job" celebration whenever we finally have a job. No way I was going to rent china and glasses for a bunch of randoms though ;) (Incidentally, I highly recommend renting. This was my first time. So inexpensive! So much nicer than paper!)

The menu:
Various wines
Lemon flank steak skewers with lemon dipping sauce
Crab cakes with roasted red pepper dipping sauce
Mini tortilla cups with spicy chicken and guacamole
Various cheeses, breads, and fruits
Bruschetta

The recipes, and notes:

Lemon Flank Steak Skewers
2/3 c. olive oil
4 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
8lb. of flank steaks, cut diagonally into 1/4 inch slices
wooden skewers
lemon dipping sauce

-combine first five ingredients in ziploc and add steak; seal and chill 8 hours, turning occasionally.
-place skewers in water to cover and soak for 10 minutes
-remove steak from marinade and discard marinade.
-thread each steak slice onto a skewer (these are not kabobs, you want one steak strip per skewer)
-grill skewers, covered with grill lid, 4-5 minutes on each side
-serve with lemon dipping sauce

lemon dipping sauce
16 oz. light sour cream
1T prepared horseradish
2 tsp. lemon zest
6T lemon juice
1tsp salt
-combine all ingredients, cover and chill at least one hour.

Crab Cakes- just FYI, crab is something like $38 a pound, so don't rush out to make these and then get to the seafood counter and panic. that is why, while crab cakes are among my top three favorite foods, I have never made them before. however, this recipe is highly worth it. we decided we might half the recipe and split the cost of ingredients plus a bottle of wine three ways next time and have a girls' night. the recipe makes 36 appetizer sized cakes. mmmm boy!
1T unsalted butter
10T olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
4 stalks of celery, finely diced
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb. lump crab meat, drained and picked to remove shells
3/4 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
roasted red pepper dipping sauce

-in a large skillet, heat butter and two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. add next seven ingredients and saute until veggies have softened, 8-10 minutes. let cool until room temp.
-mix cooled veggie mixture with crab and next five ingredients. stir to combine well. shape mixture into 2 inch patties.
-heat oven to 250. in a large saute pan, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. add 8 to 10 crab cakes and cook until golden brown, 1-2 minutes on each side. drain on paper towels. then transfer to baking sheet and keep warm ion the oven. keep making batches, adding 4 tablespoons of olive oil as needed.
-serve hot with roasted red pepper dipping sauce
roasted red pepper dipping sauce (I might half this recipe next time; it makes a lot! I also used yellow and orange peppers along with the red in this because of that variety pack you can get at Sam's. It turned out perfectly.)
4 red bell peppers cut in half and seeded
1/2 c. mayonnaise
coarse salt
freshly ground pepper

-heat broiler, place peppers, cut side down, in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet. broil until the skins start to blister, 8-10 minutes. transfer to ziploc bag to steam.
-when cool enough to handle, remove skin and place in food processor. process until a coarse puree forms. squeeze puree through cheesecloth to remove any liquid (this step seemed to do very little for me, except get a cloth really dirty). transfer to a bowl, mix with mayonnaise, and season with salt and pepper.

For the mini tortilla cups, use white corn tortillas, and steam them in the microwave between wet paper towels to make more pliable. Use a biscuit cutter to cut into small circles, brush circles with oil on both sides, and place in mini muffin cups. I really feel like you need an illustration here. But too bad; figure it out. Bake the tortilla cups on some temperature for some amount of time... See, here's where it starts to get fuzzy. I have packed next to nothing for our upcoming move to who knows where, but because my cookbooks were all out on a bench that belongs to some friends, I packed them so they could come get their bench. Consequently, I have no idea how long you should bake the cups or on what temperature. I think I'm gonna go 350 for 8 minutes. Sound good? Anyway, cook some chicken breasts up in your crockpot overnight and pour a little beer in there to keep them moist. Shred them with a fork and sprinkle them with Annie's taco seasoning. Put the chicken in the tortilla cups and garnish with a little shredded cheese, homemade guacamole, and a teeny little dollop of sour cream. Super cute, super tasty!

Annie's Taco Seasoning
1T chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground oregano
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix in small bowl. (This is equal to 1 1/4 ounce package of commercial taco seasoning.)

Guacamole
Your amounts will just have to depend on how much you want to make. Clearly you want the most of avocados. Adjust everything else accordingly. For the mini tortilla cups, you have to really finely dice everything.
Avocados, peeled, pitted, diced
Tomatoes, chopped
Cilantro (gross, I always use Parsley instead- you know if you are a cilantro hater; you either love it or you hate it)
Jalepeno, finely diced
Red onion, finely diced
Lime juice
Kosher salt

For the various cheeses, breads, and fruits, go to Trader Joe's. Or, if you have no Trader Joe's, just buy some fun cheese from your nicer cheese section in your deli. I had some St. Andre cheese and a white cheddar (gotta have something for the less adventurous). I would love more cheese recommendations for next time if anyone has any. But just know that George vetoed goat cheese. We had some of those fun tiny toasts and some lightly toasted pita rounds, truly nothing too glamorous because I don't know what the heck I'm doing yet when it comes to cheeses. I meant to put out some spiced pecans, but forgot. And we had some really pretty grapes in various colors and strawberries.

I hope not to insult anyone when I explain bruschetta. You pretty much just grill bread slices and then rub them with garlic. After that, drizzle them with olive oil, top them with diced tomatoes, basil, salt, and a little more olive oil. Some people toss the tomatoes and basil in balsamic vinegar first. I think I didn't for the party, but I usually do. It's just been since last summer that I made it, and it's the kind of thing you never actually put on a recipe card, though trying to recall it whilst making a half dozen other things is enough to make you decide to write it out after all!

Writing this post out makes it seem like I didn't really do that much, even though this post has taken me all week to complete. But it really was a nice party. I wanted it to be very elegant, because how often does your husband finish a four year master's program? Let's hope just once! I wanted it to be nice for our friends and family as well. The preparation for the party was a lot like the entire four year experience. I could not have done it without my kitchen helpers, without my mother's crystal and silver serving pieces, without the grandparents, aunt, and uncle occupying the kids for the day, without the extra money George's parents gave us for groceries, without the wine my parents and George's mom brought, and without things I know I am forgetting. In the same way, we could not have gotten through seminary without the constant financial and prayer support of all of our parents, siblings, and friends. And now, on to the next thing, which is yet to be revealed. Though, take heart, we have a few strong leads. But for now, I am being summoned. Can you believe I have never seen Raiders of the Lost Ark? Neither could George. That all changes now.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Plans to Harm Some of You?

If you take a look at my countdown, you will see that it is down to one week. Seven days. Seven days. Does saying that over and over make it any less true? I am a mixture of excitement, exhaustion, and frustration. Well, right, that's a good description of me any day. But we have people coming from all over, and I get to make a lot of food and entertain, and George is graduating! On the other hand, we have all these people coming from all over the place, I have to make all this food for them, and George is graduating. And that is a lesson on perspective. Because I said the same thing both times.

I really am excited. I would be a lot more excited if we had something to tell everyone about when they all get here. Because the big question is, of course, "what next?" And the big answer is, "we don't know." Generally speaking, we aren't too terribly worried. Frustrated? Yes. Determined that God will just cease to be a provider for his people? No. We have heard countless stories of people getting jobs at the very last minute. Our own lives provide a good four or five examples of the very same nick of time type provisions. And yet, the question after we give our "we don't know," is one that, though well meaning, is really just discouraging and all around negative. I am sorry to say so if you are perhaps one of the people to have said it to us, but we honestly don't remember who you are because everyone is saying it to us. However, please refrain from saying it if you can, because well, it's just not helpful. What is she talking about? What is this horrible thing that people keep saying to them? It's not really horrible at all. It's just six little words that keep showing up and shaking me to the core. "Do you have a plan B?" Why would someone ask this? I know. I know it's because they are worried for us, because things aren't looking so good right now, because they are curious. But do they really think we will just let our lease run out with nowhere to go? 'Cause we won't.

I have this gross need to explain myself to everyone. I mean, it's a good thing in that I am also able to just tell it like it is and be vulnerable. But it is a bad thing in that in many ways, I am just looking for affirmation or kindredness in others. Can you say kindredness? Well, I am going to either way. And I have kept a lot of my feelings and struggles with this whole not having a job a week before graduation thing to myself because I have recognized that in myself. I say things on my blog, I hope to be helpful, but also to be understood. I am trying to worry less about being understood and affirmed by everyone else and just believe that I am understood and affirmed by my Creator. Imagine trying to work on that during a time where it would seem that your prayers are just bouncing off the ceiling, and that the Creator may or may not have forgotten your family's existence! Of course, he does hear our prayers and knows and loves our family. And I think our prayers have been answered in many ways, in the form of a measure of patience and peace that is truly remarkable. A remarkable measure for me, at least. I am still, on a good day, never going to be half as calm as some of you are on a bad day! So when you take me, remarkably calm and patient for being me in the midst of uncertainty, but still oh-so-dramatic me who looks to everyone else so often to be affirmed and understood, and you throw in someone else's skeptical comment, the entire structure of my faith and confidence starts to sway. Not that it's their fault, just that I have that abysmal need to be built up by people who can't and shouldn't have to. So I am, in some ways, closing myself off to the comments that people make by just not talking about it in the first place. Okay, so I am talking about it a lot to some of you. But I haven't posted about it. And I am not sure why I am today. Except that I want to tell people to quit asking about "plan B." I am very close to having the back of my van loaded up with cream pies so that anyone who mentions plan B gets a pie in the face. But the obvious problem there is the timing. I'm really going to just run out to my car and get a pie when they ask? They would have started talking to someone else by then, probably about how rude I was to just leave in the middle of our conversation, and so then I would look like a really big jerk when I came back with the pie. The other option is that I could just carry a pie with me at all times. That probably really would be effective. Because who's going to ask about your plans when you're standing there with a pie? If anything, they would ask "what's with the pie?" If I could pare down what I have in my purse to just keys, wallet, and cell phone, I might have room for a covered pie, a pie plate with a snap on lid or something. Then, I could have a concealed pie, and the only timing concern would be how quickly I could get the lid off. The only other thing I can think of is to find the pie truck from the silent movie that the Brady Bunch made and work out a signal with the driver so that the truck would pull up at just the right time... But I don't really see how that would work if I was indoors.

So I guess for now, plan B really just involves pies. And as for our future, I assure you all, we will not keep you in the dark. When George gets a job, we will be celebrating and shouting about it from the rooftops. And if it takes a little longer than we hope, and our lease does start running out, well then, we'll be sure to tell you what the plan is. But that plan will be plan C now, you know, because of the pies.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Another Go at Interesting

Y'all know how I love to talk about children's literature from time to time. And did you also know that I like for my entire inbox to be viewable on one page? So I am up to two pages right now and am having to go through old emails and delete. The things that pile up most are receipts from online purchases and newsletters. I get several good cooking newsletters and don't always have time to try the recipes before the next ones come. And I also get, as I have mentioned before, the Veritas Press newsletter. I almost always enjoy the Veritas Press newsletter. Every now and then, they seem to try to moralize matters of opinion, but for the most part, good stuff. (A huge pet peeve of mine is when people try to make a huge deal out of one type of education over another, as if all children are the same, and learn the same way, and there is one "right" or "best" way. Please! Just to be clear, there are plenty of people in all veins of education saying their way is the only way. I am not picking on the classical education dudes- more power to them!) Anyway, this month's newsletter is about the history of children's literature. I think it is very interesting. Then again, I thought the difference between porcupines and hedgehogs was interesting. I swanee, you people are like crickets chirping sometimes! Anyway, read this, if you like.

Orbis Sensualium Pictus (The Visual World in Pictures), published in 1658, was written by Jan Amos Comenius. He was a reformer in education, and this was the first book that recognized that there was a difference between what children and adults would enjoy reading.

(In 1671) James Janeway's, A Token for Children, Being an Exact Account of the Conversation, Holy and Exemplary Lives and Joyful Deaths of Several Young Children would change the face of children's literature permanently. This book told the story of Christian boys and girls who died in a way that was honoring to Christ. It was written with the hope of influencing other children to walk in righteousness. Until this time children were never the protagonist in literature.

Wouldn't you love to get your hands on a copy of that?! Can you imagine?! "Hey little child, this is a story about a little boy or girl just like you.... who died!"

Locke and Rousseau ultimately pointed the way for a new genre of children's literature in which amusement and enjoyment, not instruction, were the goal of the literature. By the 1770's several of these books were placed in print in London by John Newberry. Innovations in typography and printing enabled the production of illustrated books at a new rate. One of Newberry's books, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, came with a ball for boys or a pincushion for girls. It is considered a landmark in the pleasure reading market for children. Newberry used the marketing phrase "instruction with delight," acting on Locke's idea of a half-century earlier that learning could be fun. Of course, Locke was not the first one to have thought of it. The Romans had been teaching their children this way for centuries, but that had been lost by modern times.

Jumping forward to the Victorian era (1830-1900) we find that developments in printing technology made producing books even less expensive. Juvenile sections became well established at libraries. The middle class was expanding, and these parents were willing to spend money on books for their children. During the latter part of the nineteenth century, many children's classics appeared.... Major publishing houses, already well-established, adopted children's divisions. Names like Harper, Putnam, Scribner, and Houghton participated. By 1865 every one of these publishers not only published books, but had at least one magazine. The magazines would prove to be a testing ground for young authors, and many books we know today came from a compilation of articles that first appeared in a magazine.

And I suppose we can kind of fill in the rest. There is also a little bit about the fables and tales that were passed down orally, but these were not considered children's stories in particular at the time. The newsletter also came with links to several great book lists for children, one for grades K-2, another for grades 3-6, and another for 7-12. Let me know if you are interested in them and I will forward the email to you.

Monday, May 05, 2008

My First Poll

I need y'all's help here. I know the first part for a fact. For Mother's Day, when the mother in question has a mother who is alive, you get her a red corsage. When the mother in question no longer has a mother who is alive, you get her a white corsage. I am encountering two opposing, but very strong positions on the next part. The flower in question: rose or orchid? I am interested specifically in the white flower. At this point I have one rose and one orchid ordered. I gave my mom an orchid last year and she seemed to think it was weird. At $10 less, I am happy to give her the less weird rose. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, loves orchids. I am paying for that one when I pick it up and I may be a little taken aback when I get my grand total. But, I tend to think orchids are right on this one. I am not sure why. One florist assumed orchids immediately, and the other assumed roses immediately. Both florists are swanky and do beautiful work. So which is it? What do y'all think? And incidentally, please don't say anything to Stephanie or the Carnster about their corsages if you talk to them.

Friday, May 02, 2008

But Not Ridiculous

It is all good and well to joke about oneself, to claim to be the Richard Simmons in all of your lives and whatnot, but while I do want to be able to laugh at myself, I truly do not want to (or want you to) think of myself as ridiculous. Not that anyone accused me of such. And sure, there are plenty of things about me that are fairly ridiculous. But I am learning not to apologize for myself. Well, okay, maybe I am not learning it yet, but I am thinking about it anyway! So while I am a little bit zany at times, a total basket case at others, have what tends to be a wild and crazy head of hair, and have "what doctors tend to call a little bit of a weight problem" (Tommy Boy, remember?), I am not Richard Simmons. Not that Richard Simmons is ridiculous either. He's a person with dignity, made in the image of God. But anyway, I just want to assure you all that I know I am not really crazy. And while I do apologize for myself more often than most people can stand, I have a list here for you all of things for which I do not apologize, things that are many things, but not ridiculous.

First of all, the South is not ridiculous. I have been out of the South for a while and gotten a gigantic culture shock. This has helped me be able to see some of the ignorance that was my personal experience as a Southerner. This is not to say that all Southerners have the same experience or are equally as ignorant. And even if they all have a serious blind spot in some regards, Southerners are not ridiculous. You get around people sometimes who have a soapbox, a pretty good soapbox, but suddenly everyone else is stupid or wrong. This happens with many things, unfortunately, all too often within different parts of the Church. People are fired up about one sort of fruit and suddenly it is the only fruit, or at the very least the best fruit. The part of the Body they are is somehow more important than other parts. This is of course, not the case. And I am not sure if this has a whole lot to do with the South and am also not sure if anyone ever doubted my love for home, but just wanted to be clear, the South is not ridiculous.

Having said that, St. Louis? Also not ridiculous. Okay, so I am not a big city gal. I cannot find any restaurant to which I would care to go back. And I am hard pressed to find the kind of children's clothes I want my mom to buy. Nonetheless, St. Louis is not ridiculous. I can see why people love it. I get the Cardinals, and the zoo, and Forest Park, and frozen custard, and Imo's. No, I do not get Imo's. But I get why people are so excited about St. Louis, particularly people who were raised in St. Louis. They value these things, and these things are delivered. Not having grown up where there were pro sports teams and free entertainment, I don't place as high a value on these things as many people would. They are great things, but I put a high value on other things, like proximity and cute little downtown squares with boutiques and places with lots and lots of trees to run through. St. Louis doesn't have those things, but it is not ridiculous. Me not loving St. Louis though, is also not ridiculous.

And if St. Louis is not ridiculous, neither are my downtown squares and trees. Okay, so St. Louis has trees. But no Warner parks. And certainly no Payne Street. More importantly, my little children's boutiques are not ridiculous. This is a hard one for me, because this is the thing that stood out about me as soon as I got here. This is also the thing that earned me more negative remarks than I could've believed. Who knew it would bug people so much for me to dress my kids well? I put so many hours into the clothes I made for Amabel and August, and had so many people imply that this made me shallow, or superficial, or snobby, or uneconomical, or just plain silly. At the very least, it puzzled most people. And to a degree, I understand. We are "poor seminary students." So I find myself constantly explaining "my mom buys all their clothes" (or all my fabric). Not that it is anyone's business. I sort of wonder if what people assumed by me dressing my kids up was that I thought their kids were not dressed well enough. But why do I care what their kids are wearing? I just like what I like for my own kids. But I have been so uncomfortable with that. I have felt so ridiculous. I even started wondering, as some implied, that I was making my kids dress a way that was embarrassing or uncomfortable for them. I was so relieved to know they liked their clothes (and hair bows!). I have several really sweet friends here, one of whom dresses her kids even fancier than mine, who really make me feel like it is okay to enjoy kids' clothes. I am actually kind of their go to girl when they are excited about a new outfit for their own children. They know I will be excited too. Other times I feel like a pageant mom. Ugh, what a horrible feeling! But I am not a pageant mom, who, I have to say, are ridiculous. But I am not in the competition that so many people seem to perceive, and I am not in the business of styling and parading my children about for applause. I am in the business of buying, stain treating, washing, drying, ironing, mending, folding, hanging, and putting away my children's clothes (y'all know it's true!) and don't like spending that much time and energy on clothes I don't like. This, I can say with all confidence, is not ridiculous.

So you might be thinking "no one thinks that you are ridiculous." And that just means that you don't think I am. Thanks. But some people do. It isn't all in my head, I assure you (also not ridiculous- the idea that some people think I am ridiculous). The important thing is that I know I am not. And it is easier for some of us to believe the truth about ourselves than others. It's good for me to have this little exercise, and also to get it straight with you all, sojourners on my blog (can ya say that?), what I do and don't really think about the things I have been thinking about. These are those topics that keep floating up for me. The things I just can't decide, because these guys say this, but those guys say that, and I keep thinking the other. But I have made a decision. Not ridiculous.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Recap From My Run Last Night

So basically, I just read TV captions and listen to my little iPod. Here are some various thoughts.

Clean House really has no business being an hour long show. We all want to see how the people piled into their house with stacks and stacks of mess get all organized and can move freely about the cabin again, but we should not have to wait an hour and watch people argue over whether or not to sell a three foot, plastic "Balrog" in order to see it. Also, the yard sale really only insures that someone else is going to have their own "hot mess" at their house. It isn't solving any real problem. The problem of junk. Like three foot, plastic Balrogs.

When did HGTV essentially become the real estate channel? Watching people you don't know shop for houses is about as exciting as watching paint dry, another show HGTV probably has. Holy boring, Batman!

I don't care what anyone says, "Sweet Child O' Mine" is still one of the greatest songs ever. It makes an excellent soundtrack for almost anything, particularly the Hampton Inn commercial where everyone is dancing.

And when did Food Network start only showing challenges and traveling shows? What happened to people cooking? Food Network, I don't even know you anymore!

Richard Simmons is such a sad little guy. I think there is no end to his strange, sad, awkward moments on TV. And then there's his out and out zaniness. I think this must be very much how I come across. I think about celebrity look alikes/act alikes in my realm of acquaintance often. (You kind of can't help it when you're watching Freaks and Geeks and it's like Courtney is on your TV!) I am so the Richard Simmons in all of your lives, fro and all. How depressing! Well, minus the tiny shorts. You're welcome.

"A Balrog?" you say? Why yes, a Balrog, some sort of flying, fire breathing, goblin looking thing. It actually really is a thing. The guy said, "I really like The Lord of the Rings." And yeah, it's one of the types of "monsters" in the Tolkien books. He does realize Balrogs were the bad guys though?

So Brooke White, eh? I wish I could say I am surprised. I liked her a lot at first, and then she was all cheesy and unoriginal. And then she sang the Monkees. So, I mean, don't expect to win American Idol by singing the Monkees. And while we're talking American Idol, can I just say that David Cook is like, a genius. I enjoy him so much. If you can take Mariah Carey and make it not girly, then well done. And if you can take "Billie Jean" and make it a totally different song, then whoa. And if you can take Neil Diamond and give both Neil Diamond and me goosebumps, then why are we still sitting around listening to everyone else? But wouldn't it be so weird and scary if Sanjaya, I mean, Jason Castro won? That's right, Jason is Sanjaya all over again- some guy who can only sort of sing but is appealing to tweens because of his weird hair and "dreamy" look. And he seems to have really limited knowledge of the world of music. I did enjoy his "Forever in Blue Jeans" though. Could this be because I am more used to the Will Ferrell version?

Blog Archive