Friday, December 21, 2007

The Forgotten Love Language

There are five love languages, or so say the experts. Five ways to express your love, no more and no less. According to the book, there's quality time, gifts, service, words of affirmation, and physical touch (not big in our extended family-- we prefer comfortable side hugs). I've always thought my language was a mix of some of these, but lately I've been thinking that I have a language that's not included in the above list.

(This may be a good time to confess that I've never actually read the book. Regardless, I have heard the love languages explained and discussed, and feel I have a solid handle on the general idea.)

Recently I've been thinking about how I get excited about certain things, and always want to share them with those around me. Be it books, funny videos, stories, interesting web sites, movie trailers, or what have you, I want to present these to others. So I think the lost love language that I possess must be "interests."

Whenever I find a funny or fascinating section of the book I am reading, I find that I want to jump up and read it aloud to whoever is nearby. If I've found an amazing movie trailer or film clip, I find a way to distribute it to the people I think would enjoy it. It might be something I find interesting myself, or it could be something that I think one of my friends will especially like.

I just can't express the enjoyment I get from watching someone else appreciate a television show, comic strip, article, or song that I love. I recently re-watched the entire first season of Heroes a second time just to be able to see my brother's reaction to each scene as he saw it all for the first time. I was delighted to find that he loved it too, and elated that he loved it enough to share it with his own friends.
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I want you to see this certain movie because I want you to love it like I love it. I want you to read this book so we can discuss it and share what we learned or why we think it's amazing. I want you to understand even an inklings worth why I am passionate about something in particular.

So next time I am pushing my favorite movie on you, or telling you I think you will like a particular piece of music, just know I am doing it out of love. It's one of my love languages, so I am no doubt expressing my love for you by wanting you to feel the happiness that I get from my various books, videos, articles, etc. etc. etc. And thank you for humoring me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I couldn't believe my own ears. Tinker Toys?

Just a warning...I've been sick for 2 days and I think my creativity and sense of humor have died a very tragic death because of the pressure in my head. Regardless, I will buck up and deliver. No telling what is to follow.

I'm sitting on the floor typing on the old laptop as it sits on the coffee table that I inherited from my parents. My little Charlie Brown tree is in the corner and my suitcase sits half packed on the chairs I inherited from my grandparents. Oh wait, "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" just came on the radio. You can't script this stuff. Any minute the opening credits will start rolling for this rather charming new movie about a young woman who just wants to get home for the holidays. I think it's on Lifetime, television for women.

Sadly, the young woman has a terrible cold which has caused her co-workers to mock her lack of pronunciation and diction throughout the day. As she gets up from the small table she makes her way to the coffee pot counting out just enough for two small cups of coffee. She walks to the room and sets the alarm for the awful time of 5:45 and says to herself, "Shall I go to the gym tomorrow? No, I think not." After making her lunch of turkey and mustard she washes her face, pausing long enough to let one tear fall. "Oh Santa, all I want for Christmas is an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle."

Ok - so I got a little off track there. You know, I very rarely have much direction from the beginning. I love that quote - love that movie. My family is not a "National Lampoon's Christmas" family. We are of "A Christmas Story" stock. I'm not sure why. That's just the way it is. I mentioned the movie this week and someone in the office said, "what movie is that?" Apparently they've been living under a rock, or at a house where there parents didn't let them watch t.v. on the weeknights (no one does that, right?). But then again, I hadn't seen the Chevy Chase movie until about 2 years ago...true story. And then, I decided to rent it because I thought my family would get a laugh out of it, and it did get a few gracious chuckles, but nothing like the classic with Ralphie. That's a good memory. Almost as good as watching my cousins getting chewed out for "snooping in the attic" for their Christmas presents - something which they continue to deny into their late 20's. And maybe it's just as good as watching my sister and I open the same gift. We were always big fans of that. Throw in that a memory of all the cousins sleeping in the back bedrooms at the grandparent's house and then running down the brick hallway at 6:00am and you have yourself one very Merry Little Christmas made for t.v. movie.

My head hurts. I'm going to bed. Merry Christmas everyone.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Trail That Led Them Here

One of the smartest things we ever did in creating this blog was to install a counter that collects information about who visits the site and how they get here. I find endless entertainment in reading what people searched for that led them to Saltwater Coke. Here are a few of my favorite keywords:

fisher and pickle magna doodle (Huh?)
little drummer boy orphan annie (How do these go together?)
why some people are always single (This one is depressing.)
side ponytail 90s (No. Not okay.)
turkey a la key recipe (Do they mean 'a la king?')
sara troll (Is this... someone's name?)
ginger for canker sores (Ginger, do you heal people's canker sores?)
small bathroom in closet (Huh?)
high school awful (Why would you search for this?)
jenna fischer horse scene (Not sure I even want to know)
coming up with names for wow (Actually i think "wow" is a very good name already)
what does little orphan annie look like today (Why would someone need to know this?)
stacy london overalls (I don't think Stacy London would appreciate being associated with overalls. At all)
how do you spell kaki? (The pants khaki, or my cousin Kaki?)
skim milk vs 2% expiration (No idea how they found our blog with this one)
she reminds me the accident (Again, how is this associated with us?)
apple head doll caveman (I just....what?)
Here's to hoping that people continue to Google odd/weird/trippy phrases, and most importantly, that they continue to be directed to our little blog.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Like Clockwork


Ten days until Christmas. I asked my kids tonight how many days were left and it was amazing to see almost all of them light up and scream out the number. I love seeing their excitement over the season and the gifts it brings.

This year as I'm so very far from family and friends it's been a wonderful time to actually celebrate the Birth of Christ. As I tell the story each weekend at church and see my kids learning new portions for the first time I continue to learn right along with them. For the first time in my life (finally!) I truly am more excited about the presents I'm giving and the people I will be seeing than any gift I could possibly receive. I am so blessed to have family to spend this holiday with and a Heavenly Father who has given me the greatest gift of all.

Our Kid Konnect question tonight was, "What is one thing that would be impossible for you to give away." What a question, right? I heard just about every response possible: "my video games, my family, my quad, my dog." All are truthful and thought out answers. Oh, I did have one little theologian who answered "sin." He reasoned that his sin needed to be taken away.

I am so thankful this Christmas for the gift of Jesus, the baby in the Manger who is Ruler of the World and the King of Kings. I am in awe of the poetry used by God in announcing his son. Angels to a 13 year old girl, a confused fiancee, and dirty shepherds on a hill. And then...the Star. The Heavens that have been set like clockwork performed marvelously to proclaim to the world the coming of the King. Somehow Magi in the east caught it and saw the significance of the King Planet Jupiter in Conjunction three times with the King Star Remulus within the constellation of Leo...the Lion. If you really want to stand in amazement this Christmas, spend some time at http://www.bethlehemstar.net/. Although I haven't become an astronomer, I did watch the full 65 minute DVD "The Bethlehem Star" this week. I'm speechless. I've shown clips to everyone at work. Much of the research and information is on the site. It's worth the time. I will leave you with a quote from the author of the site, Rick Larson:

For if the Star wasn't magic or a special miracle from outside of the natural order, then it was something even more startling. It was a Clockwork Star. And that is overwhelming. The movement of the heavenly bodies is regular, like a great clock. The Clockwork Star finally means that from the very instant at which God flung the universe into existence, he also knew the moment he would enter human history in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. He marked it in the stars. And from before the beginning of time as we experience it, God knew the very moment when Messiah would breath his last on the cross.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Traditions

I love the thought of Christmas traditions. Families reading the Christmas story from Luke on Christmas Eve, always having a certain type of food for breakfast on Christmas, or everyone sharing a cup of hot chocolate before bed- it's a nice thought. As we've grown older, a lot of our family traditions have slowly been retired, such as my siblings and I all sleeping in the same room on Christmas Eve, gifts from Santa, and decorating the tree together. It's just part of getting older, and while I treasure these memories, I'm fine sleeping in my own room on Christmas Eve. Here are a few of my favorite traditions that still live on.

* Every year about two weeks before Christmas, my whole extended family on my dad's side gathers together to exchange Christmas gifts and see each other before we're spread all over the state (or country) for the holidays. We used to exchange gifts at the grandparents house, but now with spouses, babies, and big changes, we center it on the city in which the most family members live. Each year a different family hosts, and this Saturday everyone will be descending on my family's house. It's a great time of food, laughter, and presents (with, of course, the occasional gag gift thrown in). I can't wait for our house to be stuffed with 24 people from the ages of 16 months to 70+ years, though it won't be complete, as my Arizona sister is too far-flung to make the trip out for the event. Despite the fractured family, the event should be a great time, and the continuation of a delightful Christmas tradition.

*We have an old VHS tape that must be at least 20 years old, that has recorded onto it something very special. One year when we actually had the Disney Channel (probably by accident), my mom recorded a special called "A Disney Channel Christmas" hosted by Jiminy Cricket that featured all sorts of Disney Christmas shorts. From "Mickey's Christmas Carol" to Donald Duck wrapping presents to an old black and white Mickey Mouse cartoon in which Mickey sells Pluto to pay for a special Christmas surprise, this tape has it all. Every year my brother and I (and occasionally big sister) curl up under a blanket to watch our special Christmas tape, sing along to the songs, and ring in the season along with Mickey and the gang.
{edit} I can't believe it, but I just found it for sale on Amazon! Check it out!

*One of my favorite traditions involves the tradition almost everyone partakes in. Christmas Eve services used to be tortorous for me to sit through, and I'm sure that's true for a lot of kids. I still feel an inexplicable sense of urgency at church, thinking "Hurry, hurry, hurry! Gotta get home! Gotta get to bed!" But it all comes to a screeching halt when we take out our little white candles and prepare for them to be lit. The lights are turned down in the church, and suddenly the night is so still and reverant. I love watching the candles get lit and watch the flames spread to every corner of the church, until the entire room is filled with the soft glow of golden candlelight. And all the while the beautiful strains of "Silent Night" are being sweetly sung in the background. Everything is different- warm and fuzzy and glittering and perfect- and that's when I'm truly filled with the Christmas Spirit. The Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Little Drummer Boy

I'm listening to the Christmas Music station via my T.V. and the current selection happens to be Burl Ives singing "The Little Drummer Boy." I'm not the biggest Burl fan, and I've also inherited my Father's "love" for this particular Christmas Carol. Maybe it's the rum-pa-pum-pum that drives me crazy. Yes, as I listen to Burl, that's it. He's asking if he should play for me, pa-rum-pa-pum. No. Please do not play for me Burl.
I promise I'm not a Scrooge. Aaah. The rum-pa-pum is getting louder. I need to move to try and turn down the volume. This is going to be harder than I thought, seeing as I have not moved from my spot on the couch for the past hour or so. It's been one of those evenings. It's rainy and 45 degrees outside. It's just the perfect "no moving unless the rum-pa-pum-pum song is on" kind of night.

I thought about going to the gym. I thought long and hard about it. I even watched part of "The Biggest Loser" and felt very inspired and guilty all at the same time. I have a love-hate relationship with shows that make you feel like you too should be able to lose 5% of your body weight in one week. So I counter-acted those thoughts by watching "Chocolat" (http://videodetective.com/photos/065/002770_19.jpg)- again. Watching that movie usually requires me to eat some form of chocolate. Go figure. So I've decided to compromise between the chocolate and the gym. I'm not eating anything else, but I'm also not moving. I suppose I will have to move to brush my teeth before going to bed, but that's it. The really funny part is that I've somehow convinced myself that somehow I will be going to the gym at 6:00 in the morning. That's hysterical. I have like a 10% likelihood of that actually happening, if my track record is any indication. My alarm will ring at 5:30 and I will proceed to hit the alarm until 6:30 when I will be forced to chide myself for not going to the gym and then go and turn the coffee on. It's going to be swell....pa-rum-pa-pum-pum.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

10 Reasons I Love 'Kid Nation'

My favorite new show, Kid Nation, is sadly coming to an end this Wednesday. But before it bows out, I'd like to give you a little insight as to why I enjoy this show so much.

10. Laurel's Accent- There is no mistaking where Laurel (12, Massachussets), one of the original town councilmembers, is from. She has a true Massachussets accent through and through. Luckily she recently won the gold star and we were privileged to see a phone call between Laurela and her Maaa. Let's just say there's not doubt where she gets her accent from! Take a look at the clip below and watch Maa get excited that her dawtah won twenty thousand dawlas!



9. Jared- There are no adequate words to describe the hilarity that is Jared, an oddball 11-year-old who performed Shakespeare for the town talent show, tried to explain the possibilities of teleportation to the saloon, and finds new ways to be weird every week. He's just awesome, but I think I'll let this little montage of him speak for itself:



8. Kid Nation Church- In the episode "Bless Us and Keep Us Safe," the topic of religion was suddenly a hot button issue. The kids are advised to have a religious service together, and the council attempts to make everyone show up to the chapel for a little service. Predictably no one comes, and it looks like religion may end up falling by the wayside. But Morgan steps up, and that night some of the kids gather around a fire for an impromptu prayer service. It becomes a very moving experience for some of the kids, and proves that a little respect toward other religions can go a long way.

7. Taylor the Pageant Queen- Little 10-year-old Taylor started out on the right foot as part of the town council and someone who appeared to be willing to work hard. But soon enough she could be seen shirking her duties and barking her trademark: "Deal with it!" to anyone who dared to cross her. She was voted off the council after the first election, which served to only give her license to work even less than before. Asked to haul water, she stopped to set the buckets down and then kicked them over, snotting, "Oops. My bad." Repeatedly asked to do dishes, she loved to answer that pageant queens do not do dishes. Finally threatened to be kept out of the new arcade unless she did some real work, Taylor finally stepped into the kitchen and proceeded to do hours and hours worth of work. Whether this new-found work ethic is here to stay or not is still to be determined. If it is, I just hope we'll still be treated to her catchphrase.



6. Bonaza Politics- Just like in the real world, polictics are of the upmost importance in the Kid Nation town of Bonanza. Despite a town council being pre-selected before even arriving, the kids were able to elect their own government by the fifth episode. Since then they've had yet another election, meaning out of the 40 kids who started on the show, 10 of them have had a seat on the council. The interesting part is how seriously the kids take their government and the power that has been bestowed on their council members. The council recently appointed Sophia as town sheriff and left her in charge while they were out of Bonanza. The kids were soon up in arms over the decision, partcularly with the idea of Sophia being given so much power. Eric asks if they can vote on their new temporary leader instead, but the council is quick to nix that idea. Then Nathan joins in the protest, saying, "You're giving Sophia a lot of power- we didn't elect her." The kids treat the council and the prestige of that job with the upmost importance, something that is integral to building a society, and I find that utterly fascinating.

5. Sophia's Social Experiments- Sophia, the self proclaimed 30-year-old in the body of a 14-year-old is constantly finding ways of using the other kids as her own entertainment. In the most recent episode, she used a rope to mark off a small portion of the town and proclaimed it as her own. The theory, she explained, was that once she claimed the land as her own, everyone else would want it, and the kids would be fighting just to get in or walk through it. She was right, of course, and it didn't take long before a small crowd had formed around her and her new piece of land. Another time she simply lay down in the middle of the street without saying a word, and before long she was joined on the ground by at least half the town. My favorite, though, was when she got a group of kids to dig around in a disgusting pot of rotting food. Here, you just have to see it:



4. Showdown Teamwork- In each episode there is a showdown challenge, which pits district vs. district, playing for the town jobs and salaries. Everyone wants to be upper class, and no one wants to be laborers, so the competition can get pretty heated. However, the districts are also playing as a town, and if everyone can complete the challenge in a certain time limit, they will win the town a huge reward. After the first, second, and third place teams have placed, they all turn from competing for their status as a district to competing as a town for their reward. When the time is running out, the teams that are already finished with the showdown can be heard shouting encouragement for the last place district. While their movitation is mostly due to their desire for a town reward, I like to think the kids are also encouraging the other teams out of friendship and pride for the town. So when Yellow District is lagging and the rest of the town has rallied behind them, I believe that their cheers and acclamation are for their friends and fellow Bonanzians.

3. Olivia vs. Anjay- Olivia is definitely the town stick-in-the-mud, there is just no doubt about it. Constantly disapproving of the council and of her fellow townspeople. Where there is a joke not funny enough, where there is a statement not agreed upon, generally there is Olivia. Also without question is the fact that Olivia's nemesis is Anjay. From day one Olivia has struggled with her district's councilmember, never missing an opportunity to put him down or rub his nose in his mistakes. He in turn doesn't hide his hatred of her very well, especially when she annouces she'll be running for his seat on the council. Funnily enough, she turns out to be the only challenging candidate to lose their election, but that doesn't do anything for her mean streak. Olivia and Anjay will likely be at each other's throats until the day they leave New Mexico, but until then I will relish in every delicious insult.

2. More Jared- I swear, he would be reason enough to watch this show. This whole video is hilarious, but skip to 1:30 if you're in a hurry.



1. "We Got the Port-o-Potties! Yea!"- It's rare in the real world to hear kids cheer for port-o-potties, or for washing machines, or fruits and vegetables, but this is what Kid Nation has done. Each week that the kids win their showdown, they must choose between a practical and a fun reward. More often than not, suprisingly enough, the kids go with the smart choice, and the whole town is more or less happy about it. Nowhere else could you see kids jumping up and down at the idea of some hand-crank laundry machines, but that's just what this show is about. And I get the biggest kick out of the kids yelling and screaming for bathrooms and toothbrushes.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Favorite Things

I didn't think I should let Oprah have all the fun. This is my list of favorite picks for Christmas gifts this year. I couldn't actually list everything that I am buying for family and friends (mostly because it's just family and friends who probably read this), but I decided to choose some gifts that you won't find on a shelf at the Mall.

So...happy shopping. I certainly don't have the money for it, so hopefully you can do your part to help the economy and I'll just be here.

1. Random Shirts from http://www.randomshirts.com/ - a great little Internet company out of Texas who have helped me to clothe my teenage brother for the past few years. Right now there is free shipping for all orders over $30...and the shirts fit well and the color stays great even after several washes.


2. Uncommon gifts at http://www.uncommongifts.com/ - this site has so many odds and ends at every price. I wish I had tons of money to spend on these cool keepsakes. My favorite are Slang flash cards.


3. A gift for the person who makes everything into a keepsake at http://www.ticketstubdiary.com/ - You use the book to hold ticket stubs of all sizes.


4. The gift of hope to Uganda via your purchase of some gifts and the paper to wrap with at www.invisiblechildren.com/holidaystore2008/index.html - My personal favorite are the bracelets. You can purchase one for $20 or four for $65. Every bracelet is handmade in Uganda from reed and recycled wire. Once made, each bracelet is packaged in the States and sold with a short film that tells the story of a child who has been affected by the war.


5. Find the only kitchen knife you need at http://www.pamperedchef.com/ - I love my Chef's knife with sharpening case. I do actually own this product. It is amazing.

6. For looking good in the kitchen I found this great apron at http://www.violet.com/ - it's a fun little place to look around, but a little too rich for my blood...or my wallet...either way. I would pick up this apron in a heartbeat.

7. And lastly, I don't know why there are only 7, except that I've been doing this for over 45 minutes...I really recommend the Irwin Laser Level to aid in hanging things in your walls at http://www.homedepot.com/ (or any home store).








I'm sure I can add as I think of more, but for now...happy shopping.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

He Asked For a Line, Like in a Play

I know a lot of people like to use writing prompts to get their creative juices flowing. If you've been looking for some ideas, have no fear- I have a few listed below, along with my take on these delicious prompts.

Connect these images in a story or poem: “pleading knife,” “basket reciting angrily,” and “icy saucer.
I think this story begins with the part about the pleading knife and ends with somebody getting checked into rehab….

What happens when a computer malfunctions and traps about 400 people in a small department store? There is only one food store in there.
What happens when the person coming up with the writing prompts is actually a good writer?

Write from the view of a freshly scrubbed floor.
Now that sounds like a winning book idea, doesn’t it? I wonder why JK Rowling hasn’t already staked her claim on this one!

Use these words in your story: dog trainer, bills, beach, pie.
Does this not sound like the beginning to a really cheesy joke?

Why would a speaker be afraid of cats?
Do you think they are referring to a person, or a piece of sound equipment? Personally I think the latter would be more interesting….

What if you're going to write a story about deception with a male alcoholic as the main character and yellow bag as the key object? Set your story in an ice rink.
With ideas like this in the world, to borrow a line from Lorelai Gilmore, "Well, at least now I know how Snow Dogs got made."

*Special thanks to Creative Writing Prompts. Well done, you.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Turkey a la King


I was talking to my mom today about our plans for Turkey Day this Thursday, or should I say, lack of plans for Turkey day. We are having one set of grandparents over for the main meal at 1:00pm, and then the other set is stopping by on their way back home to East Texas. That grandma was very concerned that she would be disrupting our afternoon plans.

The only common denominator about Thanksgiving in our house regarding "plans" tended to be getting dressed up to eat. I'm pretty sure the time changes, the relatives change, and what we do during the day changes as well. Some years we've gone to see a movie, one year we were on a cruise, football is generally on, and we sit at the table long enough for Grandma Ann to force feed a fifth course of food into my dad.

I always watch those crescent roll commercials with the New England family in their sweaters as they joyously pass the rolls and watch as Father Dear carves the turkey. I've never once seen a whole turkey at our table. We're buffet people. The dishes of food do not end up on the table until Grandma Ann is lamenting once again that no one has eaten anything - crescent rolls aside. I asked last year if we could have the turkey on the table. The response, "Why?" The turkey did not make it to the table except in slices on our plates.

What was I saying? Ah yes, tradition is going out the window this year. That in itself is not that odd since our traditional food does not seem to make it on anyone else's table. The influences of my dad's family were seen on his mothers table with German Home-made noodles (not sure what makes them German except that my German great-grandmother made them), rolls, turkey and wet dressing, cranberry mold from the can chocolate pie, key lime pie, and pecan pie. The other grandparent's, table (mom's family) held turkey with dry and wet dressing, white rice, sweet potato casserole, cranberry relish, asparagus, sometimes that interesting mixture of fruit and whipped cream or something like that (something my siblings and I would never eat), and some other things I can't remember, (did I say rolls? we like bread) and then coffee, and maybe pecan and pumpkin pie and ice cream. No table was complete without that great American condiment, ketchup. My brother, sister, and I have have all put ketchup on our turkey at some point and come to the conclusion that (drum roll)...we're not big turkey fans.

So this year? Fillet Mignon, mashed potatoes (who would have thought?), some form of bread, some form of vegetables, and we are currently debating the desert. Whatever the case, I'm thankful for my family and our own varied form of random traditions...that for at least just this one time, do not include turkey.

"The heavenly aroma still hung in the house. But it was gone, all gone! No turkey! No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey Hash! Turkey a la King! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone, ALL GONE!" - A Christmas Story.

Thank you God for this food.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Top 5 Childhood Nightmare Movies

We all have our creepy movies. Ghost stories, slasher flicks, twisted films-- there's something that gets everyone. But some of the scariest can be the ones you saw as a child, that scarred you with nightmares and bad memories for life. For my brother it was Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland. And don't worry, Mom and Dad, it's not your fault-- it happens to all of us! The following is my list of the top 5 movies that messed me up/gave me bad dreams/I'm still afraid of.

5. The Last Unicorn: A very interesting story, and very pretty animation. It really is a very likeable movie; in fact, I own it on dvd. But there are elements of the movie, such as some eerie ghosts walking through a fire, a collection of grotesque beasts (including one of them killing and eating the woman who imprisoned them), and, of course, the red bull. And I'm not talking about some pansy Lindsay Lohan fuel either. I am talking about a scary, firey red bull that rounds up all the unicorns in the world and keeps them as waves in the ocean. Definitely a scary concept, especially to a 6 year-old girl! Take a gander at the trailer:




4. The Neverending Story: You know, I don't even remember much about this movie, other than I know it scared the bejeesus out of me. And I know I'm not alone. My sister was creeped by this movie, my roommate was creeped by this movie (particularly the sinking horse scene), and it probably is just not as kid friendly as the marketers wanted us all to believe. Just watch the trailer and you'll see how it could have terrified me:



3. Alice in Wonderland: To be more precise, the 1985 TV version of Alice in Wonderland. This movie was scary to me in so many ways. Looking at clips now, I just get a bad feeling looking at the costumes, the sets, the little girl, and Carol Channing in that creepy white dress. I think something that made this particularly unsettling was the fact that Alice was lost for so long, and it felt like she'd never get home. And then, when she finally does-- she's on the wrong side of the mirror! She can see her parents, but they can't see her, and she's left there screaming and banging on the glass to no avail. But the ultimate terrifer in this movie most definitely would be the Jabberwocky. It's not just that he was big and mean and Godzilla-ish, it was also the way the lightning flashed, everything got dark, and Alice was just left screaming and running for her life. Also. I didn't like the rabbit or this creepy bird guy:




2. Return to Oz: This frightening story is about exactly what you think it's about, except everything is old and broken down (including the yellow brick road), and everything that was magical about The Wizard of Oz has now become dark and scary. The most distinct memory I have is of the evil witch, who instead of changing her hair or makeup, could change her entire head. I remember having nightmares about those heads for years. Just check out the following scene, which really belongs in a horror movie, and not as a sequel to a beloved children's story:



1. The Dollhouse Murders (Secrets in the Attic): Poorly made, poorly acted. Unless you are counting the dolls, because they acted great, carrying out their rolls as the ultimate terrorizers to perfection. This early nineties movie is about a young girl who comes to live with her aunt, and slowly learns the story of how her grandparents were murdered in the house. She finds a dollhouse in the attic (pause to say that I am freaking myself out just writing this) and comes to realize that the dolls are acting out the murders so the mystery can finally be solved. There are several terrifying scenes of not only flashbacks to the actual murder, but of the dolls moving on their own: turning their heads to the camera, moving around the dollhouse, and causing books to fly off the shelves. If I remember correctly, the dolls also cry and shriek. And I wasn't kidding before, I really am starting to scare myself just thinking about this movie. Yes, I realize it might not sound scary at all, but to a young kid who never watched horror/ghost movies, it's downright terrifying. Believe it or not, there are no clips or trailers of this little gem on youtube (shocker!), so instead I'll just direct you over to IMDB, so you can verify that this movie does exist.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Trading Spaces


Sometimes I feel like I'm destined to have white walls for the rest of my life. I know that seems an odd point to complain about, but I'm sitting in my very white living room and staring into my white dining area and kitchen. I don't mind apartment living, the fact that I cough up a chunk of cash every month to feel safe in my community is well worth it to me. But what I cannot stand is this glaring white image that reminds me how much this isn't really "my" home.

I was able to choose the blue color of "my" room at my parents house. Aside from that, I don't believe I've been privileged to paint to my preference. I was visiting friends this morning who have made their small home into a wealth of color and warmth. Their paint is daring, creative, and I love it. One room has vertical strips, another looks like the inside of a Starbucks. They're still working on the kitchen, but are planning to do something with bricks.

I've done what I can to my little space. Added bits of color through drapes, chairs, and colorful photos. Luckily I have giant windows that draw your attention outwards rather than up the high walls. I really have no idea what I would actually paint this room, now that I think about it. I may actually be too much of a coward to ever paint with real authority and courage. My visions of deep reds and bright yellows will probably fade away to practical khaki and beige hues...but that's assuming I might one day be allowed to paint a wall.


Oh well, here's to hoping.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

5 Movies You May Have Missed

Just in case your Netflix queue is running dry, here are a few suggestions of some decent movies you might not have seen.

You Can't Take It With You- This is a delightful treasure of a Frank Capra movie. The story concerns the engagement of a young man, (James Stewart) who comes from a rich banking family, to his secretary, who has a rather... eccentric family. Her relatives are the engine of the film: her father makes fireworks, her sister makes candy amidst her ballet dancing, and grandpa spends his time playing his harmonica and making the neighbors happy. The family has also taken in various other occupants, and their home has become a screwy funhouse filled with music, laughter, explosions, and the occasional person sliding down the banister. Though released in 1938, the film doesn't feel dated at all, and I'd expect even those who don't care for old movies to get a big kick out of it. You'll probably find the family to be decidedly odd at the start of the movie, but I'll be surprised if by the end of it you aren't ready to move in with them too.

Murder By Death: An offbeat but truly hilarious spoof of detective movies, Murder By Death will have you doubled over with laughter if you can allow it to be weird and see it for its comic genius. Featuring an all-star cast including Alec Guinness (playing a blind butler named Jamesir Bensonmum), Maggie Smith, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Peter Falk, and Truman Capote (yes, you read that right), this comedy/mystery spoofs some of the most famous literary detectives, including Agatha Christie's Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, and even Nick and Nora Charles of the Thin Man movies (appearing in the movie as Dick and Dora Charleston). Some may find it a little too slapsticky and self-referential, not to mention overwhelmingly silly (the house address is 2-2 Twain), but it's also a lot of fun. Plus, it has some terribly clever dialogue, such as the following conversation between Tess and Sam, whose character is a sendup of Humphrey Bogart- type characters....

Sam: I'll be around if you need me. All you gotta do is whistle, and you know how to whistle, don't ya, baby?
Tess: Certainly. What do you mean? I don't understand you...
Sam: All right, never mind. Forget it. You ruined it.

Equilibrium- If you are a fan of smart action movies, Equilibrium would be worth your time. It takes place in a post- World War III future, where no music or art is allowed- similar to Fahrenheit 451- type stories. Christian Bale gives an amazing performance as a security officer who slowly discovers what he has been missing. Look for a truly remarkable scene where his character hears an opera for the first time. It's definitely a treasure that demonstrates the power of music in movies. Sean Bean and Taye Diggs also star.
Tip: When John Preston heads in to raid the building in the first scene of the film, be sure to turn off all the lights in the room. It will definitely complete the experience, and you'll thank me later.

Galaxy Quest- Not the most sophisticated brand of comedy, but a likeable film none-the-less. I'm sure we all saw the previews (even if you didn't see the movie): Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Alan Rickman are Star Trek-like TV stars who actually end up in space saving some aliens. Not the deepest plot, but still a funny and entertaining movie. Sam Rockwell is hysterical as a castmember who really was more of an extra, and Tony Shaloub has a hilarious turn as the actor who falls in love with an alien. It's terribly silly, but if you get a big group together that's ready to laugh, I promise you'll have a good time.

Treasure Planet- Largely dismissed by critics, this little gem of a movie is beautifully animated, with enchanting music and delightful characters. It follows the Treasure Island storyline remarkably closely, but giving everything an imaginative sci-fi spin. Treasure Planet features the voice talents of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emma Thompson, David Hyde Pierce, and Martin Short, who all seem to have a lot of fun with their parts, for good reason. It's a fun movie, and if you love classic Disney movies but somehow missed this one, I'm pretty sure you'll find this to be just as entertaining.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sabbath

I am such a mixed up person. I have this desire to take life slowly and enjoy it as it comes. But I also have a desire to make decisions, to run around, and to accomplish as many things as possible before my eyes close at night. (I couldn’t even type “before my head hits the pillow” because a lot of the time I’m still making lists or doing things once I get into bed.)

I spent a large part of my afternoon in a Gelato shop that was playing some great music. After the 93 degree heat outside (yes, it IS November) the cool interior was a real treat. I sat down with “East of Eden” for the better part of an hour. Every so often the guilt would creep in and I would feel the need to flee the scene and become responsible and accomplished with my afternoon…but the music was so nice, and the smell from the neighboring Coffee Shop so comforting…that I couldn’t. I just couldn’t t myself away from the enjoyment.

Usually, the responsible side of me wins. I never stay in one place for very long, perhaps something I picked up from an overly productive father. I walk into a coffee shop to read or study and end up leaving after 30 minutes, the moment I have finished my purchase. I don’t know what the deal is. I’m trying hard to balance this out. But even now, I am gazing at the clock on the wall of the library knowing that I should hop on the elevator to take me to class…but it’s not really time for class…I just like to be responsible and early.

Perhaps that is why I’m generally the first one at the party…the first one for jury summons this morning, and by far one of the first ones to leave a gathering. I’m pretty sure I’m not socially awkward, but I do find myself increasingly inept at rest and recuperation.

Hmm…maybe I’m onto something. Didn’t God say something about having a Sabbath? I think that sounds ri ----- better go. Don’t want to be late to being early to class.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Those Awful High School Years


"High school is hard. I don’t care who you are: Band geek, mathlete, burnout, jocktard, or prom queen. Psychologically, there is no three-to-four year period in most people’s lives as harrowing and emotionally traumatizing as those the hours between 8 and 3, Monday through Friday, three seasons a goddamn year. That the most of us can muster the mental courage it takes to wake up every morning and subject ourselves to the daily firing squad, the humiliation pratfalls, and the torment of super-heightened self-awareness is a testament to the great unrecognized fortitude of teenagedom." --Pajiba.com

You hear a lot about how hard high school was. The backstabbing, the lying, the embarassment. But that wasn't me at all. If high school was hard, it's because my classes were hard.

I couldn't tell you who the most popular people in my school were, because I wasn't tapped into that world at all. The band and colorguard were my domain, not anything outside those walls. If you were in an organization like band, you know how much it can just be its own appendage of the school. My senior year the band ran its own candidate for homecoming queen, and she won. She also won prom queen.

I've read a lot of criticism of "High School Musical" saying that it's just not representative of what high schools are actually like because they left out the drugs, parties, sex, etc. But for me, Taylor High School was a lot more "High School Musical" than "Dangerous Minds."

In movies like "Mean Girls," there is a set "queen bee" of the school, and everyone not only knows who they are, but also want to be like her. That's just not the way things were at my school at all. I'm not sure if this is due to my not being interested in the social scene or if our school is just too big for something like that, but it just wasn't there.

Similarly, I don't recall a lot of girls in my circle being extra mean to each other, spreading lies and rumors and generally just making life hard for other people. I do recall there being some idiot guys and girls who bragged about drinking and getting into trouble, but they were more of the weird outcasts than anyone else.

So maybe I missed out on the "high school experience." But from what I have observed of other high schools, it looks like I just missed out on the "Hollywood high school experience."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Recipe


Among other things "we're the result of what was done for us or to us by our parents." I think that quote is by Lucy Swindoll, although I'm pretty sure anyone could have written it.

My parents were in for the weekend and it was amazing to see how much we all respond to certain things in the same way, especially any irritants - although we each responded to varying degrees. On our hike, we repeatedly worked hard to keep our distance from really chatty groups, and the chatty groups seemed to keep finding us along the trail. I don't know why we need distance from the other people while on a hike, we just do.

As I stood on my steps and produced the "Benny Hill Salute" to send my parents off the the airport, (something my mom's side of the family has always done, or at least for as long as I can remember) I started thinking through all of the interests and pet peeves that I have picked up from my family, or hold to as a result of the nature/nurture aspect.


I am the result of a house with classical music, The Three Stooges, theatre tickets, and baseball games. The radio was changed with gusto if country, rap, r&b, saxophone solos, easy listening jazz, or new age music hit the speakers in the car. Both of my parents are not afraid to send a meal back at a restaurant, and drivers who do not enter the freeway at an appropriate speed had better watch out.

We spent Advent around a wreath and Easter at the Cha-Cha church. And because we love each other, we take turns sharing at the dinner table everything that drives us crazy about the person to our left. I can't wait to go home at Thanksgiving and enjoy something other than Turkey.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Web Diversions

Because you have nothing better to do than look at mindless stuff on the internet...

Only those who enjoy grammatical humor will find this "funny." The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks

And the hits just keep on coming! A deliciously terribly written review of Aida, from my new favorite "writer." ACU Optimist

Apparently Garrison Keillor has a stalker. Yes, that Garrison Keillor. QuizLaw

Reading other people grocery lists: an oddly interesting pasttime, similar to reading other people's mail. The Grocery List Collection

Think of a movie. Or a tv show. Okay, got it? This site will read your mind.... Guess the name

I'm not the only one who dislikes Taylor! AND I'm not the only one who knows who Taylor is! Defamer

What's going on, Lost? Are they trying to break some sort of TV cast DUI record? The Honolulu Advertiser

Good news! Looks like Colbert really does have a lock on that whole presidency thing. Best Week Ever

The private thoughts of Tom and Katie are a lot funnier (but no less creepy) than I thought they'd be: Fugly is the New Pretty

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Don't Eat That

I was listening to the NPR news quiz, “Wait, Wait…Don’t tell me” as I hiked this weekend and heard a story that hit close to home. The question, or should I say limerick, described the picky eating habits of some children.

At one point in my life (or at least 15 years) I was a picky eater, and my brother has continued to carry that title for his entire life. I’ve since outgrown most of my eating oddities, but I do not believe that my brother ever will. For instead of adding food to his repertoire as he grows, he seems to maintain the status quo over the years.

My sister is not innocent of the picky charge either. I believe that all three of us at one time in our childhood actually gagged on a vegetable at the table – and probably green beans. Always a great way to eat your veggies…maybe the 2nd time down could be the charm. After all, isn’t that what cottage cheese is anyways? Chewed up and spit out cheese? I wonder why it’s called cottage cheese? Maybe the cheese makers chew it up and spit it out in a cottage? No THANK YOU. I am not a baby bird.
And now, finally…we have been vindicated thanks to an article in the New York Times by Kim Severson.

Researchers examined the eating habits of 5,390 pairs of twins between 8 and 11 years old and found children’s aversions to trying new foods are mostly inherited. The message to parents: It’s not your cooking, it’s your genes. The study, led by Dr. Lucy Cooke of the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London, was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August. Dr. Cooke and others in the field believe it is the first to use a standard scale to investigate the contribution of genetics and environment to childhood neophobia. According to the report, 78 percent is genetic and the other 22 percent environmental.

For the full article check out.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/10/dining/10pick.html?_r=2&hp&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Just thought I would set the record straight for all the family members who give our eating habits such a hard time. We got them from you.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Expiration



I've found the best skim milk in the world. I know the comic strip doesn't exactly talk about milk, but when I think about breakfast I think cereal, milk, and the funnies - which include my favorite comic strip..."Rhymes with Orange" - which happens to have had this strip that made me laugh because I buy Breakfast Blend Coffee...which I drink in the morning...sometimes with breakfast.
Why is milk (fat-free plus) produced by Shamrock Farms the best skim milk ever?
1. The skim milk has no fat and yet tastes like a higher percent.
2. It expires close to 2 months after you buy it. My current half-gallon does not expire until DECEMBER! That's right. No more smelling, guessing, and fearing the expiration label.
jerry seinfeld...
How do they know that that is the definite exact day? You know they don't say like it's in the vicinity, give or take, roughly, they brand it right in the side of the cart! That's your day right there! Oh don't mess with us, we know what day is the final day! and then it is sooo over. Maybe cows tip them off when they are milking them? "July third"...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Galveston Part 3

Soon the back of the vehicles were loaded up with beach mats, pails, shovels, tarps, balls, coolers, chairs, boogie boards, and everything necessary to build a veritable beach command center in the sand.

"I wanna sit with Shannon!" Amy yelled, making a bee line for Shannon's side.

"Shane, where are you sitting?" Clay called.

"Who's leaving now?" I asked, wiping my already sweaty face.

"Let's go!" Snuf said, climbing behind the wheel of one of the vans. I jumped in and grabbed a window seat, and before I knew it Amy had climbed in beside me and laid her head on my shoulder.

"No Ame," I said pulling my shoulder back, "It's too hot for that!"

"Leave her alone, Amy!" Carter shouted, climbing into the seat behind us.

"Yeah!" said Dawson, sliding in next to Carter.

"Shut up, Dawson!" Amy shouted back. "Shannon's sitting by me!"

"Who else?!" yelled Snuf, starting the engine.

I looked over to the suburban Tim had just climbed behind the wheel of and spotted Hilary in the front seat leaning forward to adjust the radio. Soon Aaron had leaped in our van and sat next to Dawson. Kathy had claimed the front seat, and Greg sat next to Amy. Everyone else had piled into other vehicles, and as soon as Amy realized what was happening, her panic set in.

"No, Dad!" Amy screamed as he pulled the door shut. "Shannon!"

"I'll come in the next car, Ame!" Shannon explained, waving as we pulled away from the house.

"Noooooo!" Amy screamed, the tears beginning to roll down her face.

"Ame," Greg said in a warning voice.

"Amy, shut up!" Dawson insisted.

"My, what a happy way to start the day!" I said, straining to be heard over her wails.

"Dad!" Aaron called. "Air!"

Snuf answered by flicking the AC to high, the sudden wind making my eyes water.

"Ow, Carter stop it!" yelped Dawson.

"I didn't do anything!" insisted Carter.

I looked out the window and tried to focus on the passing golf course, not quite able to tune out the ever increasing noise of Amy that Snuf was not succeeding in drowning out by turning up the radio louder and louder.

Sooner we had passed the Cha Cha church, the fire station, the general store whose name was constantly changing but to us would always be Sasser's, and were crossing the intersection into the beachfront neighborhood of Pirate's Beach. Amy was still screaming "Shannon" but her brothers had abandoned bickering and Dawson had begun a new career peppering Aaron with questions . Snuf, Kathy, and Greg were discussing how much of the beach had been washed away this year, despite the fact that Amy's cries had taken on a decidedly desperate "Streetcar Named Desire" quality.

When Snuf came to the last street parallel to the beach he made a right and we began our search for the cul de sac with the least number of cars. As we made the final turn into a satisfactory cul de sac, Snuf reminded, "Everybody help!"

"Everybody take something," Kathy echoed.

"Carter, Dawson, that means you too," Greg said.

"I know, Dad!" Carter replied, his eyes rolling.

Greg opened the door and Amy, as if realizing where we were for the first time, abandoned her quest to scream "Shannon" louder than a jet engine and excitedly jumped out of the van almost knocking her father over and ran laughing for the bridge over the sand dunes.

"Amy, you have to help!" Carter yelled.

We all grabbed for the beach equipment as Tim pulled the suburban up behind us and jokingly pretended to almost run us over.

I tucked a towel under my arm, grabbed a cooler, and slung an old, moldy orange boogie board that was undoubtedly older than I over my shoulder.

As I followed Aaron up over the sand dune bridge I couldn't squelch the excitement that was rising up within me. I reached the summit of the bridge and grinned at the sight of the ocean. Bliss!

I traipsed down the ramp and let the orange boogie board trail behind me. I shuffled through the sand behind Aaron and picked up the pace as the baked sand engulfed my feet and did its best to burn off a layer of skin.

We found a free section of beach and began setting up our camp for the day. Soon four holes had been dug, PVC pipes had been inserted, and the tarp was tied with bungee chords to the top. Kathy rolled out the beach mats, Tim began setting up chairs, and Snuf was finding an appropriate radio station on the small yellow stereo.

Clay, Carter, and Dawson made a bee line for the water and Amy sat on the sand right in front of the chairs and began digging a hole. Hilary and I walked down to the edge of the shore and put our toes in the water and I grinned, just happy to be standing on the beach.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Big Year

One year ago this weekend I made my first trek of many out to Arizona. I found a journal entry that marked the occasion:
________________
"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow." - Ronald E. Osborn

"Strong lives are motivate by dynamic purpose." - Kenneth Hildebrand

"Make no mistake. God tests our willingness to follow Him in obedience even if no one can or will go with us. We won't embrace with both hands what God has for us if we hold our old lives with a death grip." -Beth Moore

"There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord." -Proverbs 21:30

Ginger: "It's so far."
Grandma Ann: "It's not that far. It's not London."
Ginger: "True. It's not London."

_______________
No...it's not London, but it is definitely not close. However, the distance from home has provided for more opportunities and challenges than I could ever have imagined. I stuck it out through the heat of summer, a horrible New Year's, and quiet Friday nights. I have been blessed with friendships here and the very distant there. Just as I've started to settle in and make this here a home, I continue to try to pull and manipulate the pieces of my life, to claim that I know what the next page holds. But I don't, and I don't think I really want to.

"Place a small rock in the open palm of your hand. Now clench your fist around that rock, holding it tightly, keeping your muscles rigid and tense. How long can you hold this position comfortably? Notice how quickly your hand tires. Now open your hand again, allowing the rock to lie comfortably in the center of your open palm. Do you think you could hold the rock more comfortably for a longer period of time in this open position?

Our bodies illustrate spiritual lessons. How often have you clutched your life in a clenched fist, fighting the natural forces, trying to control and confine life within the small boundaries of your fears and expectations? It is as uncomfortable for the human heart to be clenched and closed as it is for the human hand. We were meant for openness, movement, and freedom.

Grace is a gift that God gives to an open hand. If your hand is closed, you have no room to receive the surprise packages of life and love that God offers. Unclench your fist. Instead of trying to second-guess, judge, and control life, allow God to surprise you with new insight and unexpected gifts. Let go your rigid opinions and limited expectations. Open your heart and hand to receive God's gifts of grace and freedom and delight." - From Checklist for Life

Time to open up.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Galveston Part 2

Continued....

"Alright, who's ready to go to the beach?" called out Snuf coming in from outside and clapping his hands several times.

"Beach!" yelled Amy, her mouth full of cantaloupe and juice running down her chin.

Other affirmative responses were vocalized and I ran out of the house, careful not to slam the front door, and thundered down the stairs to get my bathing suit off the line. After grabbing it and attempting to shake some of the sand out I saw Carter, Clay and Dawson tear past the house on the golf cart, weaving in and out of neighbor's driveways. I ran to the end of the driveway.

"Clay! Carter! Dawson! Come on! We're going to the beach!" Not waiting for a response, I turned and sprinted up the stairs to the deck where I almost ran into Hilary who was on her way to get her suit. She clattered down the stairs and yelped. I turned just in time to see her narrowly avoid getting clipped by the golf cart, the boys laughing maniacally. I grinned and ran for the front door as Hilary yelled at her cousins for their carelessness.

In the kitchen, Amy had already changed into her faded blue and pink swimsuit and was standing still as a statue as her mother sprayed suntan lotion on her back and rubbed it in.

"Val, do you want to go ahead and make your sandwich?" Mom asked, loading a cooler with ice packs and water.

Ginger and Shannon were making their lunch at the kitchen table, whose contents had magically been transformed from breakfast food to sandwich fixings. As I started on my own ham sandwich Clay came through the front door having already changed into his swimsuit.

"Clay, I made you a hot dog to take to the beach, do you want anything else?" Mom asked.

"Do we have any chips?"

As the food dialogue continued between them, Hilary, Carter, and Dawson had all come through the front door and Shane and Aaron came down from upstairs, having donned their board shorts and the appropriate grungy beach t-shirts.

"Grandma do we have any grape jelly?" asked Aaron, grabbing a jar of peanut butter from the pantry.

"Umm.... What is this?" asked Shane, holding up a zip lock bag containing a smashed looking sandwich with mustard smeared on the inside.

"That's my sandwich!" exclaimed a grinning Amy, who, have been sufficiently covered in sun block, was attempting to tug on a sandy pair of aqua shoes.

"Hi, Mrs. Apple-head," said Dad, coming in from outside.

"Hi Uncle Steve," Amy answered, rolling her eyes.

"How many cokes can I take?" Clay chorused.

"Just one," Mom answered.

"What? Mom, that's not fair!" he whined. "I always have two cokes at the beach!"

"Where does he get these rules?" Dad asked Grandma, shaking his head.

"Do we have any turkey?" Carter asked.

Ginger tossed it to him and handed Mom her sandwich to put in the cooler.

"Did you get my suit too?" she inquired, looking at me.

I stopped spreading the butter on my bread to look incredulously at her. She rolled her eyes and walked outside, passing Grant who also had returned from retrieving his suit. Kathy came downstairs and began chattering about the seaweed as she adjusted a visor over her hair.

"Is it really bad?" asked Joannie, who luckily did not notice Hilary's obvious disapproval of her mother's choice of a cover-up.

I turned my attention back to the other side of the kitchen. Dawson was struggling to be heard over Clay's insistence that he didn't need sunscreen. Shane was saying something to make Aaron and Grant laugh, and Shannon, having finished making her sandwich and already in her suit, was leaning against the sink talking to Grandma.

I hurried to cram my sandwich into a zip lock and scribbled a giant V on the outside in permanent marker. Having tossed it into the sandwich cooler I grabbed my suit and scurried into the bathroom to change and slather myself in sunscreen. I opened the door and almost tripped attempting to step into my beach shorts.

"Val, do you need a hat?" Mom asked, putting a book into her mesh beach bag. I made a face and started to shake my head but seeing that I was about to enter a losing battle, I instead nodded and let her put a cap in the bag for me.

"Dad, you got it in my eyes!" Clay wailed from the living room. I turned to see Dad laughing as he smeared Clay's face in one fell swoop with white goop and moved on to his back and chest, his large hands almost matching the circumference of Clay's tiny torso.

"Why don't Shane and Aaron have to wear sunscreen?" Clay asked, wiping his eyes with the back of his hands.

"We put it on at the beach!" said Aaron, throwing one peanut butter and jelly sandwich into the cooler and cramming half of another one into his mouth.

"Ha ha!" Shane taunted as they both walked out the front door.

"Cute suit, Hil!" said Shannon.

"Thanks," said Hilary, entering the kitchen from the stairwell.

"Y'all ready?" asked Kathy. She and her enormous basket of a beach bag were heading toward the front door.

"Come on, Dawson, let's go!" said Amy, slinging her own beach bag, full of what looked like a doll, some cd's, and a handful of beaded necklaces over her shoulder.

"Wait, Ame," said Greg, passing Kathy through the front door. He attempted to get her to leave the bag behind as Hilary attempted to get Grant to carry her towel and Pam attempted to cover both Dawson and Carter in greasy sunscreen.

"Ready?" asked Shannon, her towel tucked under her arm and her beach bag in hand.

"Let's do it!" said Ginger, and I followed the two of them out the door. As soon as it had shut behind me it opened again and Hilary and Grant emerged.

"Did you see what my mom was wearing?" Hilary laughed as we all trooped down the stairs.

"It's not bad!" Ginger called over her shoulder.

My excitement for our trip to the beach heightened as I entered the garage in search of a good boogie board and a solid beach chair. This would be a very good day.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Drastic Measures

"We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are, to see through plastic sham to living, breathing reality, and to break down our defenses of self-protection in order to be free to receive and give love." Madeleine L'Engle

I am by nature, a creature of habit. I put my keys in the same place. I keep my socks in the right drawer. That is why I must resort to drastic measures when it comes to food selections. When shopping for cereal I make it my goal to never purchase the same product twice in a row. I could go 8 months in between boxes of Cheerios, one of my favorites. If I don't live on the edge in the morning, I probably won't during the rest of my day. I used to be so predictable that you could tell me what I was about to order at any given restaurant. In recent years I have made it my goal to live life on the edge when dining, to incur some sort of a risk. If I don't like lunch, I can always eat dinner, right? (Sometimes it's the small victories that make your day.)

I recently read the definition of COURAGE as "The belief that I am indestructible until my work on earth is done." It's one of those definitions that cause you to raise your fist in the air and yell “charge” with complete enthusiasm. The only problem is that I do not think courage is one of my defining characteristics. I line my bookshelves with inspiration, purchase maps of the world, and make life mission statements that would rival the greatest explorer. I take notes on anything that has to do with adventure.

I would like to consider this definition when discussing courage: "taking action despite fear for a purpose." I recognize that there isn't a great moral or philosophical purpose in choosing Special K. I don't expect to wake up tomorrow ready to take on the world - but I am taking steps daily towards reckless abandonment in every aspect of my life. I am asking that the Lord would show me where a fear of failure rips the courage out from under me. My fear isn't heights, speaking in front of a crowd, or even being alone. My fear is missing out on the adventurous life God has for me because of my own self-doubts. Thankfully He is and will always be there to push and guide every step of the way.

“How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow on those who take refuge in you.” Psalm 31:19

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Galveston Memories

The following does not take place in a specific year or time period. It is a mash-up of Galveston memories and summers at the beach. These are the images I see when I close my eyes and imagine the Beach House.
-----

I vaguely heard the door open and lifted an eyelid just in time to see Ginger leaving the room. I tried to fall back asleep but now that I was faintly awake I could hear a barrage of noises and feel the sunshine straining to pour through the hurricane blinds. After several minutes my eyes fluttered open and the sound of odd video game pings came more into focus. I stared at the piece of plywood above me that was supporting the mattress of the top bunk and reluctantly swung my feet out onto the floor.

I crossed the room and opened the door, squinting at the brightness that flooded the beach house. Stumbling down the stairs I grunted a hello to Tim as he walked out the kitchen towards the front door.

"Good morning, Princess!" Grandma said softly, opening her arms to me. I leaned in to her and let her stroke my hair for a moment before pulling away and asked the all important question-

"Is that sausage?"

"Yes," she answered. "I made the boys leave some for you."

"Thanks Grandma." I smiled and bit the end of a link.

"Would you like some orange juice? I'll strain it for you!"

I nodded as Greg came through the kitchen and began loading ice into a blue disposable cup with his name scrawled in Sharpie on the side.

"You guys and your strained orange juice," Greg laughed, filling his cup with water.

"It tastes like hair!" I insisted, quoting my mantra and trying to decide between Cocoa Krispies and Fruity Pebbles. Any cereal that can turn your milk into a shock of pinky orange or a murky tone of chocolatey brown equals a great way to start the day.

As I slurped the last of my cereal, Grant appeared bleary-eyed at the foot of the stairs. Grandma began laughing at his hair sticking straight up and Grant answered with a sleepy grin. He sat at a chair at the end of the table just as Amy entered from the living room with one of her colorfully tattooed dolls.

"Hi Grant!" she said as she approached him. "Sleep okay?"

"Mhmm, I- auggh! Amy no!"

I looked up to see that she had leaned in to kiss him on the cheek and I chuckled to myself as he attempted to push her away.

"Amy, space please, darlin'," said Pam, entering from the next room.

She and Grandma began talking by the stove as Clay, Carter, and Dawson, having abandoned their video games, came barreling in from the next room and swarmed around the breakfast table. In a flash, Carter had his hand in the Fruit Loops box, Dawson was grabbing a piece of banana bread, and Clay was reaching for a sausage link.

"Hey, you boys! Shoo! You already ate your breakfast!" said Grandma.

"But we're still hungry!" Carter laughed, stuffing a handful of the colored cereal into his mouth.

Just then Kathy came in the front door, sweating from her walk and clutching a handful of orange and purple wildflowers.

"Good morning!" she said smiling at everyone. "Hi Mom, are my boys up yet?"

"No I don't think so," said Grandma.

"Grandma, I wanna go to the beach," insisted Amy.

"Do you boys want to wake up Aaron and Shane?" asked Kathy with a devilish grin.

"Yeah!" Clay and Carter chorused.

"Can we jump on them?" asked Dawson, but he was already running up the stairs with the others.

"Sure," called Kathy.

"Come on, Grant!" Clay yelled over his shoulder.

Grant looked up from his bowl of Frosted Mini Wheat's with a conflicted look in his eyes.

"Go!" said Kathy as she opened the cupboard in search of a plastic cup for her wildflowers.

"Beach!" said Amy.

I headed into the living room to the strains of Pam attempting to appease Amy. As I flopped onto the couch next to Hilary and Ginger, who were engrossed in an episode of "The Price is Right," yells and thumps began erupting from upstairs.

"What's going on?" asked Hilary.

"They're waking up Aaron and Shane," I answered, snuggling into one of the scratchy couch pillows.

After a moment of Bob Barker lecturing us to spay and neuter our pets, Shannon pushed open the front door clad in a strapless bikini clutching a magazine and a bottle of tanning oil in one hand and a portable CD player in the other.

"Goooood morning, sleepy heads!" she sang out.

Ginger looked up from the copy of People magazine she had been perusing. "You've already been out this morning?"

"Since 8:30!" Shannon answered excitedly as she tossed her things into a chair. "Gettin' a jumpstart on the tan! What do you think?" she asked, walking closer to us.

She grabbed Hilary's hand and pressed her finger's to her stomach. And although Hilary pulled her hand away, her white finger marks remained emblazoned across Shannon's stomach and heightened the reddish brown tint of her skin.

"Oh, gosh, Shannon!" Mom exclaimed as she walked in the room. "Burn yourself already?"

"Trying to!" she answered, crossing her fingers.

Soon the sound of thundering footsteps filled the house. Clay, Carter, and Dawson came tumbling down the stairs, giggling and falling on top of each other at the bottom. Dad told them to settle down, so they raced out of the house each yelling that they would be the one to drive the golf cart. They made the mistake of slamming the door behind them, and I glanced out the window just in time to see Grandpa point to the door, point to them, and shake his finger.

"Did you tell them to do that?" Shane asked accusingly as he stepped off the last stair into the kitchen.

"Who, me?" asked Kathy, laughing. "No, I think it was Valerie."

"Whatever!" I called, rising from my cuddled seat on the couch. "That's a lie!"

Kathy grinned at me as I walked in to the kitchen.

"Where's Aaron, didn't you boys wake him up too?" she asked Grant, who had returned to the kitchen and his bowl of cereal moments before.

"No, they woke me up," mumbled Aaron, coming down the stairs rubbing his elbow. In one motion he had slid into a chair, grabbed a tiny box of Cocoa Puffs, and started pouring its entire contents into a bowl.

Amy, who had engrossed herself in coloring in her Pocahontas coloring book, tore out the page she had just finished writing her name and few other random characters on and set it in front of Shane.

"Here Shane, that's for you," she said.

"Thanks, Amy," he said through a mouthful of banana bread.

"Here, you boys finish this cantaloupe," Grandma said setting the bowl on the corner of the table between Aaron and Shane.

Before either of them could make a move toward the fruit, Amy had taken a piece and put almost the entire thing into her mouth.

"Amy, love," said Pam, drying her hands on a towel. "No more."

"Alright, who's ready to go to the beach?" called out Snuf coming in from outside and clapping his hands several times.

---------
To be continued...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I would recommend...

To Read
if you are hoping
to feel inspired: Educating Esme by Esme Raji Codell
to be challenged: A Heart for God by Sinclair Ferguson
for a great story: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
for an off-the-beaten-path adventure: Still Life with Chickens by Catherine Goldhammer

To Rent
if you are looking for
a satisfying cry: The Spitfire Grill
a stirring hero: Chariots of Fire
an epoch tale: Jean de Fleurett
a quirky cast of characters: Babette's Feast

To Listen (Podcasts)
if you need
some hometown news: A Prairie Home Companion- http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/about/podcast/
a review on current events: Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me- http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast/podcast_detail.php?siteId=5183214
a get-you-going message: The Village Church-
http://www.thevillagechurch.net/podcast/index.html
a fresh perspective: Mosaic Church-
http://www.mosaic.org/podcast/

To Educate
if you haven't yet heard of
the native missionaries of Asia: http://www.gfa.org/
the hope of an end: http://www.savedarfur.org/
the children of Uganda: http://www.invisiblechildren.com
the plight of the innocent: http://www.ijm.org/

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dear Diary

A journal entry from when I was 13.

Let me introduce the names and stuff of the characters in this journal.

Steve: (whose age I don't think I should tell) Loves to play the piano and to get away from all of us he leaves for work before we wake up and doesn't get home till bout 6:00 pm or so.
Kerry: (whose age I also don't think I should say) Does lots of stuff around the house during the day. Or so she says. Picture this: A man in a dark room. He leans over to her and says "Bonjour Fantine. As a French spy what have you found out today?"
But I don't think so.
Ginger: (16) Is the oldest daughter. She's my sister, obviously. She drives, and has two cars. When I drive, I'll get the ugliest one. She has the superior upstairs room, which I will get when she goes off to college.
Valerie: (13) That's me. Middle child. The ham in the sandwhich. I'm me.
Clay: (10) Can be bratty but sometimes I play with him and his friends.
That's us.
One of these next few days I am going to go craaazee! On one hand I can't wait for school which starts next MONDAY. On the other hand I am sort of dreading it. I mean, school is school, you know?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

And Yes, I too have a flute journal.

I thought that I should set the record straight and share my very own entries from the same trip that Val wrote about in her last entry. But after reading through my very enthralling notes, I determined not to bore the entire world with my geographic details. Apparently I had a wonderful time on that trip. I'm not sure why Valerie was so angry. What I did find was one entry from Colorado worth mentioning and an excellent mention of the start of another trip.


July 18, 1994

Today we traveled from Trinidad to Euray. Euray is beautiful. The mountain air is refreshing! We saw a lot of beautiful scenery. Tomorrow we aren't going jeeping. Instead I have no clue as to what we are doing. The town is so small, and quaint. Last night I was burning hot, tonight I will be hot. For dinner we had...HAM! Grandma Ann's favorite meal to fix. Every time we see her its HAM! I like ham but this is beginning to be a tradition! We, Gotta get some sleep. I'm extra tired.

March 11, 1995

Today we began the long trip to Georgia. The trip is long and annoying. Valerie and Clay constantly play and whine. Ann is completely silent. The phone constantly rings for Linda. It is usually Diana. The smell in Monroe, Louisiana is unbearable. We ate at Shonies. We have an 8 hour driver tomorrow. Maybe we will listen to more weird ghost stories. Oh Goodie.

(From the ghost story we heard - I can still remember the first three lines. It was a book on tape...I found the real lyrics on-line.)

'It was my mother who murdered me; It was my father who ate of me; It was my sister Marjory Who all my bones in pieces found; hem in a handkerchief she bound, And laid them under the almond tree. Kywitt, kywitt, kywitt, I cry, Oh what a beautiful bird am I!”

For the full story check out http://www.grimmstories.com/en/grimm_fairy-tales/the_almond_tree