Monday, October 29, 2007


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.

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


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."

_______________'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


"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