Sunday, February 28, 2010

Undue Celebrity?

Okay, I just have to wonder, how in the world did Katie Brown get a show? Have y'all seen this? Now, I 'm not saying that I could do any better, because I am not a big "crafter." And most quick crafts, the kind you can explain and assemble in a five minute television segment, strike me as a waste of five minutes of what could have otherwise been good TV. Seriously, is something really a craft if it can be done in five minutes by just anyone? Someone should have come up with a different word by now. But anyway, Katie Brown's "crafts" are not only a waste of time, but they're also contrived and odd. The idea of doing one of these types of projects is usually to create something with which to set one's table for entertaining of some sort. Where some craft show type projects might inspire a guest to remark, "Oh, how clever!" or even just to offer a polite and vanilla, "Awww, cute," these pieces seem more likely to leave an observer bewildered or distracted wondering, "What is that supposed to be?" or even simply, "Why?" Her tagline is "keep it simple," but that is exactly what she seems to be unable to do. She takes something perfectly mediocre and "good enough" and makes it into something ugly and ridiculous.

Take, for example, her Valentine's Day placemats, a plain woven black placemat that has been shot with Cupid's arrow. Now, why we would want to make our place mats fall in love is a question I can't begin to wonder at, but assuming we do, I actually do think that I could come up with a better craft. The "arrow" in this craft is nothing more than a faux fern frond spray painted silver. The pointed end is stuck through one corner to be the head of the arrow, and a few of the leaflets from lower down are inverted and stuck through the other side of the corner to make the fletching. Yes, it's that simple... Never mind the fact that it looks exactly like a placemat with a plastic spray painted fern sticking out of it.

Still not convinced? Then take her flower arrangements from the same show. I will say that part of the visual to this could be somewhat inspiring with other flowers or fruits, but A) there is no need to waste five minutes explaining the obvious, and B) what's up with the red water? But I'm getting ahead of myself. So she has these giant cylindrical vases, like three feet tall, that she fills halfway up with water and then squirts a bunch of red food coloring in there to make the water all red. Then she takes some limes and some roses, lops the blooms off the roses and slices the limes in half, and jams a giant skewer through the middles to make a kabob of sorts, which she then immerses in the red water. The result is an arrangement that makes it appear as if she has killed the flowers and fruit by way of impalement and then left them in a bath of their own blood. Sorry, but it does!

Surely you don't still need to be convinced? Perhaps you think it was just the one show? Okay, you do deserve an example from a different show. And so I give you the craft that inspired this blog post, "faux-real trees." Is that supposed to be a pun? Fo' real?! (chuckle, chuckle) Okay, so she takes a few cone shaped metallic-hued structures (one was most likely spray painted grapevine and another was almost certainly glitter coated styrofoam), and then she gets some pine boughs, some Christmas tree clippings, and various other sprigs of Christmas-time flora, and starts hot gluing a twig here and a spray there, willy-nilly, until she has essentially bedazzled the already gaudy tree, whose purpose it is to last year after year, with soon to be dried out pieces of dead trees. The upside is that since it is now ruined for next year, we won't have to look at it again after this Christmas season is past. The downside is, of course, that we have to look at it at all.

For you sensitive folks, of whom I am one, I will have to allow that she is, in all likelihood, a perfectly adorable person who is probably very nice and accomplished. I am sure it would be an honor to sit at her table and even a lot of fun, not to mention that it would doubtless be a delicious experience. Nonetheless, she needs to 86 the crafting portions of her show, or, as she calls them, "nest" and "grow." And she needs to get some better pictures on her website so that when I make fun of her show, I can put up a picture so y'all know what I'm talking about!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How Job Hunting is A Little Like Prime Time

So after that blog post and a couple of subsequent emails (some of which I didn't even have time to finish and send), we got a rejection note from the church I was really excited about. Boo. They have been sort of funny about it. I know it is one of those things that is hard to do. I have said all along that it is like Sorority Rush, which was just awkward and superficial and often mean almost no matter what.

It's just funny to me that we "make the cut" or "make it through to the next round" almost like it's The Bachelor: "George, will you accept this rose?" But then, when you get the old heave ho, they don't bother to call you and talk to you one on one anymore. They completely forget that they now know you quite well, everything about you really, and are (albeit necessarily) rejecting who you are on a very personal level. Sure, they send you a cordial email and wish you well as you continue to look for a job, but it usually comes across a little bit like Darrell Hammond doing Donald Trump, "Blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah, you're fired!" Because they really aren't saying anything personal anymore or taking the time to really talk to you and help you think about how you could interview better or what you could work on that might make you a better pastoral candidate, or even affirming you and reminding you that you really are a well qualified applicant for reasons A, B, and C. It's just like, "Okay, we're done here."

And so, the really cool job in Colorado (or wherever else we have looked) has become just like Samantha Who? and Mismatch (from like 2003, and I'm still not over it!), cancelled right when I started getting excited about it. And the whole situation feels more and more like Lost where it's just like "what in the world is going on here?!" and moreover when this all ends will it even be remotely satisfying? Because this far in, and as frustrated as I am at this point, and as nonsensical as it all seems to be, it's going to have to be pretty amazingly awesome for me to feel like all of this was worth it. And that's just breaking even. I have no idea what it would take for me to be like "Totally worth it." Charlie coming back? Wait, I've lost the metaphor. But you know what I mean. And anyway, surely Charlie will be back, I hope just not as the suicidal drug addict from the premier. But-- what were we talking about? Oh yeah, "Pierce, you're a B."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Just Thought I'd Mention This

I haven't said much about George's job hunt lately, but it occurs to me as I write to catch a friend up that I haven't really mentioned anything to anyone in a very long time. For months there really was nothing to say. But over the last month, we have been in contact with three churches! While it is very possible that none of these could be the place the Lord has for us, there is one in particular that I am hoping for. Feel free to email or call and ask about specifics. I really don't mind sharing, but may have finally learned not to publish everything! Or, if just knowing that is enough, great, and, if you think of it, pray for the really awesome one to work out. Then you can all come visit me. You will want to!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

This Is Going To Be Huge

So I'm sitting here watching Superbowl commercials (and nonchalantly cheering for Peyton Manning in between) and my kids start going nuts over the commercial (which is sort of funny, actually) with the sock monkey and the Yo Gabba Gabba guy in it. Of course, most people will recognize the Yo Gabba Gabba doll on some level, as well as the easily identifiable robot, teddy bear and sock monkey dolls, but what's up with that fringey looking thing? That's what I wondered anyway. And so, with the wealth of information from the internet at my finger tips, I quickly found out. The fringey looking doll is actually a "Mr. X" doll from an Atlanta-based company called Blabla. And they are adorable! I don't much care for the Mr. X doll (from the Boogaloo line) in particular, but some of the other Boogaloos are darling. Pictured to the left is "Coco" from the Classic blabla line. But it was hard to decide which picture to use, between Coco, Prudence the Owl, and so many others. Unless I have somehow missed the craze, I am betting that this is the next cutest-thing-you-have-to-have for all the hip mommies on the block. Or is it already? If dolls aren't your thing, they also have sweaters, booties, hats, blankets, mobiles, backpacks, and these super-sweet little rattle sets. I want it all!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Winter Reading

I have been meaning to write about books for a while. I can't possibly remember everything right now, but I want to get a start anyway. We are currently awaiting another snow in St. Louis. Or, at least, we all hope we are! Even our headmaster was telling me today how much he could use a snow day! And so, with a nod toward happy winter weather, my first book is Cynthia Rylant's recent book Snow. You have probably seen this book on the shelves at the bookstore recently. It is beautiful. The illustrations are vibrant and inviting, but what I am really taken with are the words:

"The best snow is the snow that comes softly at night, like a shy friend afraid to knock."

"And then there is the snow that begins to fall in fat, cheerful flakes while you are somewhere you'd rather not be. Maybe school. Maybe work."

"Some snows fall only lightly, just enough to make you notice the delicate limbs of trees, the light falling from the lamppost, a sparrow's small feet."

I want to give you the whole book! But just go get it. From the library at first, but this is one of those you will probably want to keep.

If you are like me, and you do actually have a little bit of book money squirreled away from Christmas, you will want to get a book for each of your children. May I then suggest Snow by Uri Shulvitz? As you can see, it is a Caldecott Honor book. It is such a fabulous story. A little boy is eagerly anticipating snow in spite of the doubtfulness of the people walking by, the announcer on the radio, and the anchorman on the television, But, to the boy's (and the reader's) delight, snow does come in abundance. The author captures the feeling of joy and triumph so precisely and delightfully that you will feel it yourself. And couldn't we all use a little cheer and success?! Unfortunately, the only edition to easily obtain from your bookstore or Amazon right now is the paperback with audio recording. However, Scholastic is currently offering a hardcover for $8! You may think that you have to know a teacher to order from Scholastic, and, as far as I can tell, that is true. But you do know a teacher! ME! Alternatively, Amazon has sellers that will sell it to you, but you will have to pay shipping.

Another great book about snow that you will surely all be familiar with is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. A book that we found at the library called Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Yee recently reminded me a little of The Snowy Day. In Tracks in the Snow, a little girl spends her day following the tracks in the snow outside her house and through the woods in order to discover who made them. It's pretty adorable, but a little familiar, like surely you've heard this story before. But children haven't, and that's who this book will delight.

Other notable wintery books you are likely familiar with include: Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton, The Mitten as told by Jan Brett, and Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson. But do you know about The First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming? I have always meant to mention this one and I think I have neglected to this far. It is a book a little more appropriate for December, as the first day of winter is actually December 21st. However, the book is only "Christmasy" in that it can be read to the tune of the twelve days of Christmas. Of course, it doesn't have to be read that way. It is about a snowman and all the different things added to him each day for ten days ("four prickly pinecones, three striped scarves, two bright blue mittens, and a red cap with a gold snap"). It's really fun for kids.

But back to Cynthia Rylant, she is really becoming a favorite with me. You may already know her from the ever popular Mr. Putter and Tabby books and Henry and Mudge books. I will have to be sure to mention this again in the fall, but In November is an enchanting book of hers about the end of fall and the beginning of winter. I discovered several books like this this fall, so yes, I will definitely bring this up again. It is not hard to be enchanted by that time of year, but capturing the magic with words takes a special gift. I mention the book out of season now simply to further my case for Cynthia Rylant. I think I actually fell in love with her this last summer. That is when I read an absolutely marvelous series of six short chapter books called Cobblestreet Cousins that you simply must read as well. I don't care how old you are, you will love these. Another series she is developing for very young children is the Brownie and Pearl series. There is only one available now, the recently released Brownie and Pearl Step Out. This story is told very simply for very young children like Elspeth (who is three). I found this book just this week on the "New and Noteworthy" shelf at Barnes and Noble and was impressed with how very well it deals with a child's fear of going somewhere new without losing any of the whimsy of the story. Just this last weekend, we met with the very fear that Brownie encounters in the book, going into a birthday party where there are a lot of other children. I wish I had had this book to use as a reminder for Elspeth when she found herself shy and afraid to join her friends just like Brownie, who overcomes her fear in the end with help from a friend. The illustrations are simple, cheerful, and bright- perfect for preschoolers. Up and coming Brownie and Pearl books include Brownie and Pearl Get Dolled Up, which is scheduled to be released in May and is available for pre-order on Amazon, and Brownie and Pearl See the Sights which is scheduled to be out in August.

Well, this should keep you busy for a while! Hope y'all get some snow! Or, if that sounds more like a curse than a blessing, I hope you at least get some good books to curl up with inside while it is still winter outside.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

"My New Momma"

Elspeth has started a new thing where she talks about "my new Momma." I have pressed her on this other mother and discovered that her new mother has a green coat, a green shirt, green shoes, and, of course, green hair. She lives at the River House. She likes apples and fruit. Her new Momma says she can watch a video. Her new Momma says she can have a snack. But her new Momma also says she can play Legos only after her nap. Except for all the green, her new Momma doesn't really sound that much different from me. But she is definitely different. However, I am her "favorite Momma."

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