Thursday, November 27, 2008

Photo Shoot (as in shoot me now)

A peek into the minds of our lovely family...brought to you by BOTH Ginger and Valerie....

CLAY: The game started at 3:15. Of course we had to start taking pictures at 3:18.
DAD: Fake laughing is HILARIOUS! We need something different this year! HAHAHA!!
MOM: Can't we just take a nice picture?
GINGER: Dear God, PLEASE let me have a double chin in this year's Christmas card photo.
VALERIE: Whatevs, G! Your double chin looks AWESOME! And my fake laughing is totally more convincing than Dad's!
MOM: At least the kid's didn't try to take their picture with a fake owl this year. What is WITH them and weird pictures?

CLAY: Seriously. Are we done yet? Cowboys. On television. Right now.
GINGER: Maybe we can take a goofy picture with a poinsetta! Ooooh! Or we could all make a PYRAMID! With the poinsetta on top! And a partridge in a pear tree! LOL!
MOM: I'm so glad the kids are here to help me decorate this year. Hopefully they won't be weird and sarcastic. Again.
DAD: My jaw hurts. But-- HAHAHAHA!
CLAY: You know what I'm going to be thankful for today? Getting this the freak done and going to watch the Cowboys.
GINGER: I really don't think we should have the red shirts standing so close together. Mom? Valerie? Switch places!
MOM: Why are we just standing in front of bricks? I wish we could sit down or something. Maybe we can all be in front of the fireplace! With hot chocolate! And scarves! Where's Olan Mills when you need them....
DAD: HAHAHAHA....Are we almost done?
CLAY: You have 12 seconds and I'm going back inside.
GINGER: Does this pose make my arms look fat? Yes. Yes it does.
VALERIE: Everyone is funny! Everything is hilarious!!
MOM: Ginger doesn't even look related to us anymore. Why is her hair so dark!?
CLAY: 8....7....6....
GINGER: Easy with the camera there, buddy! Two hands, please! You're holding my child. If only I could get a picture with my child. My precious....
VALERIE: Why does the PALEST person in the family have to be standing next to the TANNEST? Not. Fair.
MOM: I'm so thankful for all of my family.
DAD: I'm so thankful this is almost done.
CLAY: 5....4....3....
GINGER: I'm so thankful that I'm tanner than Valerie.
VALERIE: I'm so thankful that I'm the funny one.
CLAY: 2....1.... I'm outta here. PEACE.
May your day be as HILARIOUS as ours.... But we bet yours didn't include a wheelchair, a throwdown fight over chocolate pie, 18 people, two dogs, the Jonas brothers, Mario Kart, brussel sprouts, text messaging over turkey, and setting up a Christmas tree! And if yours did, Please let us know. That would be UNBELIEVABLE.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers and fellow bloggers!

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Smattering

I hate it when I'm filling up my car and I pick up the pump and start turning it towards my car but I realize it's twisting and it has to go the other way so I end up having to turn myself and the hose in the other direction to get it to the gas tank. I'm sure the other gas station patrons must think I'm trying to dance around with the gas hose thing but I'm really not. It was just twisted.

Whenever I type the word 'recognition' I always sound it out in my head as if it is said ree-cog-ni-shun.

Once I had a dream that I went to visit the people from my old job at Chick-Fil-A. Incidentally, no, I have never worked there. My old boss, Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show," kept hitting on me and being really funny and I decided that it would probably be okay to date him because I don't work there anymore.

We used to all live in one city. I can barely wrap my brain around that fact. We all were in one place? We saw each other every day? How did I get so lucky! Now we are in New Mexico and California and Tennessee and...all over! And even the ones who didn't leave the state are spread all over. Not cool. What if the United States was a big piece of fabric and you could just pinch and pull certain areas closer together? Just grab that state over there and stretch it to be right next to mine. That way an entire year wouldn't have to pass before I saw you again! Seems like a simple solution to me, anyway.

I know I've mentioned "Twilight" before on this blog. So in answer to your question (you did ask me, didn't you?)-- yes, I saw the movie (and yes, I went to the midnight showing). Yes, I enjoyed it. So let me first of all say that any movie you see at midnight will instantly be more fun. For one thing, you are sleep-deprived. For another, and more importantly, you're seeing the movie with people who are genuinely excited about it. It's a crowd that's free to laugh and scream and woooo to their heart's content. Second, I think it was a pretty good representation of the book, which itself was a pretty good book to begin with. So all in all, a very fun movie-going experience. I'm ready to see it again!

Wouldn't it be great if life was always like MasterCard commercials? All those "priceless" memories. Playing in the backyard with your family, going to baseball games, cooking with your Grandma... These people seem to always spend their money but never really have to pay the bills.

Yesterday our Movie Club watched "Psycho." That is a great, great movie. And not even from a simply "suspense" or "horror" standpoint either. It is a stand-alone, truly well-made film. I highly recommend it. Just don't read any spoilers....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Spice Up Your Life.

Phone message received yesterday morning:

"Hi, this is Cinnamon, Jamie's mother from the Children's Choir. I was calling about the next rehearsal for the Christmas Musical. If you could call me back at 623-###-#### that would be great. Thanks."

Deep breath and dial.

"Hi...Cinnamon...this is Ginger." Laughter ensues from both of us.

A child's name can be a heavy burden to carry. I'm not saying that my name is an actual burden. I've always pretty felt pretty detached from it for some reason, as if it's not really me, but someone I refer to. I don't dislike it and I probably wouldn't change it even if I could. But I do dislike the same three jokes used by everyone in the entire world. Yes, it would be funny if I married Tom Bread or Larry Snap. I had a youth leader growing up named Andy Ale. He had a son about eight years my junior and everyone thought it would be just swell for me to end up as one of the Ales. I don't even like Ginger Ale.

I worked at a summer camp that provides each of it's employees with a summer nickname. Campers spend an entire week trying to guess your real name. I used to give the following clues. I am a noun that can be found in your kitchen. My name can also be added to and become an adverb. You can't do that with Katie or Jessica.

My best friend all through elementary school was Kelly. She moved from Michigan right before the start of first grade. We met at Sunday School and Kelly went home to tell her mother that she had made a new friend named "Nutmeg." Confused, her mother suggested she rethink that name. They ended up pulling every spice from the cabinet before determining that my name was not Nutmeg or Sugar.

Do you know what isn't exciting for me? When I meet you and you excitedly proclaim that "My dog is named Ginger!!" Am I supposed to be pleased with this?

Something I have been pleased with is the costume possibilities that my name allows. I once went to a Christmas party with bread hanging off my shirt and fashioned as earrings.

"Nice costume. So, what are you supposed to be?"

What's my name?


What am I wearing?


That's right. I'm ginger toast. Good guess, genius.

And finally, the piece de resistance. The summer after my senior year of high school, my family moved from Dallas to Houston. I had to order a new voter's registration card. I don't remember how we registered at that time, but it would not have been on-line. Someone typed in the information on my card and made one slight error. For years our house received jury summons for one FINGER. Oh snap.

Monday, November 17, 2008

This List Brought To You By The Letter....

Another list, Valerie? Really? Okay, okay. But it had better not have anything to do with movies, though. All you ever talk about is movies! Wait-- don’t tell me you are posting another LIST about MOVIES!

Well, blogiverse, I am so sorry to let you down, but this is indeed another list. I absolutely love this idea: it’s the The Alphabetical Favorites Meme! In this one, you get to pick a favorite movie for every letter of the alphabet. I’m in heaven!

It turned out to be a lot more difficult than I’d anticipated, though. I mean, how do you choose between your most beloved films? It was tough, but…I had to do it. What if someday someone asks me to name my very favorite movie that starts with the letter “U?” Or “X,” even? That’s not something you think about every day! Now, though? Now I am prepared.


A- Almost Famous
B- Bend it Like Beckham
C- Clue
D- Diary of a Mad Black Woman
E- Ever After
F- Finding Neverland
G- Gone With the Wind
H- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
I- Iron Giant
J- Juno
K- Kate and Leopold
L- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
M- Moulin Rouge
N- Newsies
O- Oklahoma
P- Pirates of the Caribbean
Q- The Quiet Man
R- Remember the Titans
S- Singin' in the Rain
T- That Thing You Do
U- The Unsinkable Molly Brown
V- Vertigo
W- Waiting for Guffman
X- X-Men
Y- You've Got Mail
Z- Ziegfeld Follies

Ack! There’s no room for "A League of their Own" or "Sense and Sensibility!" And I had to pick between "The Notebook" and "Newsies?" Like cutting off a hand here, people.

P” might’ve been the hardest letter. Because in order to pick “Pirates of the Caribbean,” I had to skip over “The Princess Bride,” “Pride and Prejudice,” and “The Prestige.”

This is like SOPHIE'S CHOICE!

And I know. “Kate and Leopold?” Ridiculous. I KNOW. It’s not even a great movie. But seriously- tell me some other “K” movies! Really, it was either that or like… “A Kid in King Arthur’s Court.” See? Exactly.

Man, for a few of those letters I was literally paging through my giant movie review book trying to think of something- anything!- that started with the right letter. Look! I'm saved! "Ziegfeld Follies." Phew! I've seen that. That right my favorite "Z" movie. I can sleep tonight after all.

Totally harder than it looks, guys. I dare you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I have a friend that I affectionately refer to as Superwoman. She’s only 26 and she absolutely blows me away. I can’t tell her story without tearing up. I remember very vividly having a conversation with Megan a few years ago as she described to me her desire to be a foster parent. She had graduated college and begun teaching at a local elementary school and was now considering this next enormous step. Megan accepted the call to foster and was able to provide a stable and loving home for three different children. This month Megan adopted her foster son Cooper. They are now connected forever. She spent this past weekend moving her new family into a home closer to her parents. Her heart’s desire is to provide for her son the best way she can. You may ask why a single young woman would be willing to drastically alter her life for a two year-old. I love Megan’s answer: “I can guarantee that he will be loved and will know of God’s love through me. I can’t be assured of that if he’s sent back into the foster system.” Megan has chosen to live sacrificially and I am blessed to call her friend.

I would also like to introduce you to the Incredibles…Mr. and Mrs. Incredible. Not only are the Amaros two of the most talented people I have ever met, but they inspire everyone around them to think creatively about the bigger picture. Fernando is a gifted musician and filmmaker who leads by example. Carrie Fay excels in photography and writing and half a dozen other things. Bilingual, biracial, and now they are looking to grow their family internationally. Already the incredible parents to one of the sweetest kids on the planet, they are in the long and tedious process of international adoption. I’ve been surprised to hear the questions they’ve received about their reasoning in making this decision, and humbled to hear their response. There is a very lucky girl in Ethiopia who will be coming to live with the Incredibles one day. And although this process is lengthy, frustrating, and expensive, the Amaros are reassured that God’s plan is perfect and their family will only blossom with the new addition.

Finally, I want to highlight the work of a talented Wonder Woman who has chosen to work for something bigger than herself. I worked with Sydney at summer camp several years ago and have been following her photography and design work since then. Last spring Sydney packed her life in Austin up and headed to Uganda. She works for an organization called Watoto and it has been incredible to live vicariously through her journey. I read her blog and was especially moved by a recent entry that was both simple and poignant. I love to see the way she is utilizing her giftings not only in the provinces, but all over the world. (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
I am blessed to know so many superheroes, I could just go on and on about them. But I wanted to remind us all that the choices we make, whether big or small, do have real and lasting impact on those around us. I am both motivated and humbled to see what can be done with one life. We each choose what our stories will say. As Erwin McManus says,” You were born with potential; you were not intended to die with it.” What's your story saying?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tagged for Seven

Dani tagged me for this fun "seven things" survey, which comes at the perfect time. Most of these items are things I've considered devoting whole blog entries to but just aren't long enough. So this makes for a great mosiac of randomness! Here we go, seven things I've never blogged about before...

1. I'm not typically a fan of fantasy or science fiction. At least, so I've thought. Witches, elves, vampires, they never really interested me. And I saw myself for a long time as staunchly separated from anything having to do with any of those things. "I'm not one of those people." And even as I began to enjoy certain sci-fi/fantasy (sci-fantasy?) shows, movies, and books, I qualified each of them as an exception to the rule. But recently I've begun to realize something. My favorite movie? Is "Lord of the Rings." Favorite books? "Harry Potter." Musical? "Wicked." Favorite TV drama? "Lost." Most recent book series read? "Twilight." Wait-- when did this happen? Y'all. I am totally geeking out! And you know what? I couldn't be more okay with that.

2. I'm currently reading Lana Turner's autobiography. It's a really exciting book, and I always love hearing the inside Hollywood story. However, I think prefer the self-deprecating tone of Debbie Reynolds or the unassuming and humble approach of Henry Fonda in their autobiographies. Lana was fabulous, yes, and most assuredly a screen icon. However, she certainly won't let you forget it! Hardly a page goes by that she doesn't mention how many men desired her, how valuable she was to MGM, how glamorous her nights on the town were, or how dramatic her entire life was. Ginger Rogers was the same way in her book: not necessarily conceited, but she never let you forget how popular she was or how influential her dancing has been. Some of it may be fawning by the ghostwriter, and I don't doubt it's all (or mostly) true, but seriously...give it a rest!

3. My new favorite game is Word Twist. I absolutely love it! You're given six letters and you try to make as many words as you can out of it. Very simple, and very addicting. I like to play right before bed, and the other night I woke up thinking "If you can make the word shelf then you can also make the words self and elf...." Cool, Val. Anyway, the best part is-- you get to play your friends! The competition is pretty fierce between Julie, Dani and I. Sometimes the clock is ticking toward zero and I haven't gotten the six letter word yet but Julie and Dani both have why can't I think of it and NOOOOO! Time's up. Widely. The word is widely. GAH!

4. "Legally Blonde: The Musical" is so. Much. Fun. I never thought I'd be here recommending it, but I just love it! It really is a quality show, and the songs are so sing-alongable. It's hilarious, the music is great, and I can't WAIT to see it on tour! Check out my favorite song from the show, "So Much Better:"

Love it! If you're interested in checking out more, my other favorite songs are "Chip On My Shoulder," "What You Want," and of course, the show opener, "Omigod You Guys!"

5. I keep a small squishy soccer ball (see what I did there, alliteration?) on my desk at work. It's fun to squeeze while I'm making phone calls or toss to people who walk through the door. Yesterday one of the part-timers and I went out into the long hallway to see how hard we could throw it at each other. What does my boss think of these crazy shenanigans? Well, the other week he led us in a longest putt competition in that same hallway, so I'd say he's okay with a little craziness every once in a while. And yes, we totally do real work at my office. Why do you ask?

6. When I was in sixth grade and Ginger was in eighth, we were in a wonderfully cheesy school play called "Thanks is Something You Give." The show involved a group of kids that raise money to give to a poor family, until OH NO! Someone STOLE the money. My character blames Ginger and turns the group against her, and she cries. Angels come down from heaven to help us (I'm not making this up) and in the end the real thief confesses. Who was it? Why it was me all along, of course!

7. One time several months ago my cousin Shannon and I went shopping at Target. She was looking for some new work-out clothes and found several items to try on. I sat in the dressing room opposite her so that as she modeled different outfits I could give her my opinion. After three or four different looks, she opened the door wearing a shirt that I instantly vetoed. "Oh, no," I said emphatically, shaking my head. "Definitely not." Seriously, I did everything short of sticking my finger down my throat and rolling my eyes. She just stood there staring at me, her smile widening. "What?" I asked, obliviously. Finally, it dawned on me just as she answered: "This is my shirt." Yeah, as in the shirt she came in wearing. Wow. Foot in mouth much, Val?*

*In my defense, though, it was a 3/4-length black shirt that looked like it would be very uncomfortable to exercise in! It was a nice shirt, not a workout shirt! See? I just had her best interests at heart. Love you, Shanni!

Tag! You're it: Amanda, Katie, and Kaki- who is doing NaBloPoMo and surely needs more new blog ideas!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


IF thou indeed derive thy light from Heaven,
Then, to the measure of that heaven-born light,
Shine, Poet! in thy place, and be content:--
The stars pre-eminent in magnitude,
And they that from the zenith dart their beams,
(Visible though they be to half the earth,
Though half a sphere be conscious of their brightness)
Are yet of no diviner origin,
No purer essence, than the one that burns,
Like an untended watch-fire on the ridge
Of some dark mountain; or than those which seem
Humbly to hang, like twinkling winter lamps,
Among the branches of the leafless trees.
All are the undying offspring of one Sire:
Then, to the measure of the light vouchsafed,
Shine, Poet! in thy place, and be content.
- William Wordsworth

I was invited to dinner at the home of a very nice young family last Monday. The weather was pleasant, even though the highs here have been in the lower 90’s recently. We sat outside on the porch and had pulled pork sandwiches, sweet potatoes, and an ambrosia salad. Fearful of anything covered in a white sauce, I was skeptical of the mandarin oranges and pineapple that were encased in sour cream, coconut, and marshmallows. We really had an enjoyable evening and I found myself saying, “Orange you glad you’ve made friends?”

As little Ruthie and Lilly ran inside to watch “Lilo and Stitch,” I was asked how life in Arizona is really going. After all, it’s been two years since I left friends and family and the great state of Texas to trek out to the desert. And what a two years it has been. What a gambit of emotions I've felt...then and now, and all parts in between. Many miles jogged, grilled cheese sandwiches and cups of coffee made, e-mails written, lessons taught, lessons learned, library trips made, tears cried, bills paid, hopes recorded, books read, conversations had, and laughs enjoyed. Believe me, the desire to run home has remained at the forefront of my mind. Catch me on a rough enough day and you will probably hear me lament the wish to be back in the Lone Star State and nearer to family. Truth be told, I would like nothing more than to spend the rest of my days in Texas. I believe that it would be both familiar and comforting. But I don't know if I can say good-bye to my friends and community here.

My response to my hosts was plain and simple. “I’m learning to bloom where I’m planted.” Asked to then clarify, I explained that I tend to live my life in anticipation of the next goal or adventure. The world just doesn’t feel right if I can’t pull my latest to-do list out of my drawer and add and subtract to it before I fall asleep. I’m so focused on thinking ahead that sometimes I forget to enjoy the present. I’ve been reminded by several friends and advisors to find contentment right where I am. In fact, beginning in August my prayer has been to find true contentment in the life I currently have. Thankfully, the Lord has been faithful to answer that prayer. Even in the past month I've felt peace seeping in and contentment allowing me to accept this desert as an important chapter in my life. I've made new friends, started new endeavors, and am blessed to find freedom I find in my job.

The Lord is teaching me to:
Continue to guard my heart.
Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.
Forget myself long enough to lend a helping hand (Philippians 2).
Get outside of myself.
Get moving.
Realize my potential.

This has become my home, and I'm ready to bloom.

IF thou indeed derive thy light from Heaven,
Then, to the measure of that heaven-born light,
Shine, Poet! in thy place, and be content...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Carryin' the Banner Tumpin' Tall!

I first saw “Newsies” when it came out in theaters in 1992. My best friend Meredith's mom took us to see it. The theater was completely packed, and we had to sit on the very edge of a row right by the wall. I’ve always remembered this detail, because for years whenever I mentioned “Newsies” as a favorite movie I got nothing but blank stares and furrowed brows. Weren’t the theaters packed when it came out? Where were all the people who had watched the movie with us that day? It wasn't until I got to college that people seemed to know the movie again, and to this day I find that nearly everyone has at least heard of it, if not seen it. So don't ask me what happened in that time period—I'm just happy that we as a society are moving toward more “Newsies” awareness every day.

Meredith and I loved that movie. We would always pick out our favorite newsie (she liked to pick Spot or Kid Blink, while I've always been a Jack girl). She gave me the cassette tape for my birthday and it was nearly destroyed when we played it over and over and over again. We would dance around the house for hours singing the songs and pretending that we could dance like the newsies. I can remember jumping around to “High Times, Hard Times,” and pretending to spin on a fan during “King of New York.”
We sang those songs a lot, even though I had no idea what the boys were really saying. I still remember the lyrics as I thought they were, so here now is a bit of my interpretation of a couple of the lyrics from "Carryin' the Banner":

Try Bridal Alley... (Try Border Alley)
Full of buck-an-eye! (For a buck I might)
Carryin' the banner tumpin' tall! (Carryin' the banner tough and tall)
Showbiz washin' dishes! (Sure beats washin' dishes)
It takes an orphan with a stunner! (It takes an orphan with a stutter)
I know Snowza! (I’m no snoozer)
Since you left me high and undone! (Since you left me I am undone)
We need a gooder sassination! (We need a good assassination)

I think that this early love of “Newsies” was just an early love of musicals for me. I love Broadway musicals, movie musicals, and even “High School Musicals.” “Newsies” was an introduction to the joy, spirit, and passion that musicals could bring. I still get lyrics from “Santa Fe” stuck in my head, and I still get excited when “The World Will Know” comes up on my iPod. Yes, it’s a kid’s movie, and Disney at that. But it means so much more to me. It's memories of dancing to those songs as a kid with my best friend (and, yes, doing the spit shake with her too). It's the freedom to roll down my car windows and sing "Once and For All" at the top of my lungs. It's the ability to have an instant bond with someone once I find out they're a fan too. It's the gateway to a world where people stop their lives and burst out into song because everything they are feeling is just too big for mere words; they need lyrics and orchestration and choreography and exclamation points!

“Newsies” has been on my mind especially this week because of Halloween. Some of the girls in my office decided to dress up as different decades. I couldn’t decide which decade was right for me. But then... inspiration! I decided to dress up as... the 1900’s. And I would be a newsie. Luckily I got some enthusiastic responses when I shared my idea, so I decided to go for it. One black newsie hat and a pair of pink suspenders later, I was set. Finally, my heart’s desire:

                                               Ain't it a fine life?