Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Swim away, fugu fish. Swim away!"

Alright, alright. So, there's a sequel to yesterday's popular video post. I wasn't going to post it initially, but Ben gave it away in the comments. (I can't even click into your blogger profile, Ben! Otherwise I'd link you.) But when you watch this, you have to picture my two oldest boys putting their faces in mine and making noises with their tongues, akin to the very end of the video. (Remember to shut the music player off before clicking play.)



And again, Nate is reminding you that you can never get these six minutes of your life back.
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

"A Magical Liopleurodon, Charlie..."

Nate wanted me to title this post "You'll never get these four minutes of your life back."

I guess this is what tween boys are laughing hysterically over. Or, it's what they were laughing over about a month ago. It's probably something else now.

When I first watched it I thought, "This is the lamest thing ever." I almost got up and walked away. But I wanted to see the video the boys had been quoting ceaselessly for the past few weeks. And somehow watching it with them made me laugh. And then laugh more. And then we watched it again. And now I quote it with them.

So, be warned. But, be relevant.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

10 Easy Steps to Shopping H&M

My mecca. Well, one of my meccas. I guess you could count Steve Madden as a higher priority mecca, but you get my drift.

H&M opened at 6:00am. And do you know who their first customer was? Me. That's right. I was.

At 9:30am I was walking out.

Yes. One store. Three and a half hours of pure shopping. All purchases over $50.00 before 10:00am were an extra 20% off. I scored BIG time.

H&M requires systematic shopping:

Step 1: Work your way in one direction around the first floor, going around every rack. Place potential purchases in large provided shopping bag. Make note of cute accessories, but leave them where they are for now.

Step 2: When you have covered the entire first floor, go into first floor dressing room and elminate definite "no's." Put "yes's" and "maybe's" back into bag.

Step 3: Continue to second floor. Shop in same manner as first floor.

Step 4: Have dressing room attendant hold large bag with first floor "yes's" in it while you try on possibilities in second floor dressing room, again putting "yes's" and "maybe's" back into bag.

Step 5: Cover second floor and pick up accessories.

Step 6: Go back to first floor and pick up accessories, re-evaluating items you may have passed over the first time (i.e. silver tank).

Step 7: Re-enter first floor dressing room and re-try on all the "maybe's" and "yes's," also trying on new possibilities and accessories.

Step 8: Rank items by "must have" priority, if total cost is an issue. Eliminate all items above price limit. Don't regret it. You're getting some great deals, and money IS an object. Be thankful for what you ARE getting to purchase.

Step 9: Head to check out, making sure you didn't miss any of the items located solely by the register.

Step 10: Smile as you exit, knowing you just got amazing deals on awesome clothes.

A few extra H&M shopping tips:

*Try on things you wouldn't normally try!!! Don't play it safe. The only way you'll break from your rut is if you give those crazy shirts and scarves a chance. Plus, the price is right to take the risk.

*Check out fabric quality. That shirt dress looks good on the hangar, but if it's too thin onlookers will see every crack and wrinkle of your epidermis at that next office party. If it looks and feels cheap to you, it will look cheap to everyone else.

*If you're running low on time and can't spend the three and a half hours I did today, don't shop the more-teeny-bopper-ish floor. (On the West Coast, it's usually the second. Back East it seems to be the first.) Also, skip the third trip to the dressing room. Guesstimate and go with it.

These shopping tips can also be used at other shopping meccas, such as Forever 21 and your favorite thrift store.

Happy Shopping!!!
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

2008: Real Life Thankfulness

*That Ian's diabetes was detected early. May 8, 2008 my little boy's life changed forever. It sucks to have, but I'm so thankful it's under control and that he's a healthy, happy, normal five year old. I'm so thankful our insurance covers every bit of it.

*That our student loans were paid off JUST THIS PAST WEEK!!! Exactly ten years of paying $400.00 a month. The funny thing is, we live in the exact same area now (Vandenberg AFB) that we did when we started paying them. I'm thankful we were diligent when it was so tempting to not be... and that we were ABLE to be diligent when so many weren't. It feels good. REALLY good.

*That our house in Denver is rented and being taken care of. That in the middle of a destitute economy, we are secure.

*That lives are being changed. Little by little, day by day, relationship by relationship... this gives me so much hope. So much joy. That the Christ in me is reaching out and filling up the empty places in them. That they are receiving Christ into them and then reaching out and filling up the empty places in others. That as imperfect as I am, God continues to use me. But that's the nature of His grace.

*That I now have a stinking awesome, totally rockin' electric guitar to go with my absolutely beautiful, never-fails-me acoustic guitar. (I did title this Real Life Thankfulness. I'm being real.)

Think of some specific, real life things you're truly thankful for. Share them with someone else. Then listen to what they have to say. And have a wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving with the ones you love.
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In Walnut Creek for Thanksgiving. Family. Friends that are family. Rain. Food. Turkey Bowl. Happiness.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bringing Up Boys

I know, I know. I'm totally stealing the title from Dr. Dobson. But, since we've been watching the videos in our Thursday night small group, it's been on my mind a lot.

Today the boys had some friends over, and I heard one of the things most moms would NOT want to hear from her 12 year old son:

"Mom, can I use the video camera?"

"Ummm... why?"

"So I can film destruction."

(Honest answer. I guess that IS what we teach in our household.)

I saw his lips continue to move, but only after my heart found it's regular rhythm could I hear that he was explaining to me why. The great lego army he had built over the last year and had been storing on top of the air hockey table (Because those aren't actually for playing air hockey, their for storing things.) was meeting an untimely end and he wanted to film it.

Makes perfect sense. Filming destruction.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Santa Would Be Proud

The Santa Suit? The one that I longed to get Nate at the post-Christmas Target sales LAST year? The one that I knew I shouldn't get because we just couldn't do $25.00 right then? I mean, it was half off, but it just wasn't going to happen. Well, maybe it could have, but it shouldn't have. (Know what I mean?) So it didn't.

Well, I've already bragged about my bargain, brand-new-in-the-box find for $15.00. That's totally the God Loves Me part. (I should have swiped the other three that were there, too.)

But the over-the-top, "Oh, no it isn't... oh, yes it is!" part is right here:

Look what they had today at Target...



Do you see the price? That's right. Fifty buckaroos.

I think I like the EXACT SAME ONE for fifteen:



Although, it was a little weird when Santa grabbed my rear and talked dirty in my ear. Actually, creepy might be the right word.
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Sunday, November 23, 2008

"From a distance..."

(Do you hear Bette Midler in your head? Are you singing it?)

I came across this AWEsome site on another blog the other day, and it is seriously AWE. some. Awe inspiring. Click around to a few different satellites sometime in the evening until you find your part of the world at night. (The Sirius ones are over good places to view the US.) It's so breath taking to see the lights of our big cities shining in the darkness. And even the lights of the smaller ones speckled across our great nation.

As I sit here and look at our country in darkness, with so many concentrations of light shining so brightly so as to be seen from miles above our planet, I think of my own life. I know this might sound cheesy, but so be it. I want to shine like that. I want my life to shine so brightly that someone miles away... states away... a whole world away will be impacted by my light. Except that it's not my light, it's the light of Christ in me. It's the light of the salvation I have embraced in my savior, the light of a life transformed by walking in His Spirit. Do you see? All you who say, "Your life is different. I want what you have. I want your joy, your assurance, your peace, your stability." It's not me, but the life of Christ that's in me. It's so simple. It's not rules. It's not religion. It's not tiring legalism. It's simply believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and placing your trust in Him.

That's it.

If your life is not marked by this joy, this assurance, this peace, then why don't you change that? Right now. Just give your life to Him. It's that simple. Placing your trust in Jesus Christ, and then living your life in that trust.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

"It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." Isaiah 49:6

"The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." Romans 13:12

Go. See the lights. Be inspired.
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Goodwill...

...not as in "I have," rather, "I love going to." 50% off. Hours spent. Much bought. Much saved. AMAZING finds, including but not limited to:

Ralph Lauren NEVER WORN white wide leg trousers: $2.00
American Eagle brand-stinking-new-with-tags gray cable-knit funky sweater: $2.00
Nine West shrunken cardigan, perfect condition: $1.25
Gap 1969 limited edition denim button down: $1.25
An awesome americana-pottery-barn-ish looking desk (when I paint it black): $12.50
Exact Santa suit for Nate that I wanted to get in after Christmas sales last year but finances were too tight: $15.00

Bargain hunting with friends and Mother-in-Law: well, not exactly priceless... but quite exhilarating.

And I even made it back to post today, keeping my NaBloPoMo 2008 record alive and well.

That's right. I'm amazing.
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Friday, November 21, 2008

For Your Weekend Amusement

This little game is so simple, and so much fun! Ian just sat here forever figuring out angles and seeing what happened. Well, Ian and I did. Okay, sometimes it was just me.

We're all young at heart, right?
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sassy Shoe Thursday: Seriously? I mean, really?

No. No, no, no. Not ever. Maybe I should have tried them on, except they were way too big. But, maybe... maybe if I would have slipped my foot in I would have felt a difference that warranted the price tag. (I'm trying to give the benefit of the doubt, here. Come on.)

But, look at the shoe! Look at the price tag! And that is even on "clearance." How much were they to begin with? No, no, no. Not ever! They're jellies, for Pete's sake.



But then you take a look at the name on the inside of the shoe. Can you read it? Get close to the screen. It was hard to take a good photo with the glare of light glancing off the shiny yellow plastic-y stuff.


Jacobs. As in Marc. I'm sorry, sir, but that doesn't make this shoe any better.

Any.

Better.

These are not sassy. (Well, if I tried I could make them look cute with rolled up jeans and a white tee.) They're not even a good shoe. They're a molded piece of rubber with a few holes punched in them. And some girl is probably walking around with these on her feet feeling good because she's wearing Marc Jacobs... and she even got him on "sale."

Sick, it makes me. Blech. Don't get me wrong, I'd like Marc to send me some of his items any time. I will wear them and review them and be quite happy. But, these? Seriously? I mean, really? We are truly a mindless crowd, following the latest trend, the latest name... all the way to our fashion grave.

Would YOU buy them? How much would you pay?
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Death of the DVR*

We are joining this phone call currently in progress...

DirecTV Guy: "So, you're saying this problem was not resolved with prior phone calls, and you're calling back to resolve the problem."

Me: "No, it's not about the other phone calls. We had other problems, but you guys weren't able to fix those without us losing all our recorded shows. Now the DVR died, and all our shows are lost anyway."

DirecTV Guy: "So this is a new problem that we need to take care of?"

Me: "Well, the receiver has had problems, but it's never done THIS before. It's been a nightmare from the start, but we didn't want to lose all our recorded shows. It was 90% FULL and now it's all GONE! Just GONE! So, you might as well replace it."

DirecTV Guy: "Okay, so I can put in the order for a new receiver. It will be about 3 to 5 business days, and we'll charge your account $19.99."

Me: "What? Our receiver quit working and you're going to charge US to replace it?"

DirecTV Guy: "Well, no. The receiver is covered. We have to charge you shipping and handling."

Me: "But it was fine, and now it stopped working. And you're going to charge ME?"

DirecTV Guy: "The $19.99 is a shipping charge and a handling charge, ma'am."

Me: "But that just seems silly that WE have to pay the shipping and handling when YOUR receiver quit working. When I called before about the other problems, I was told to call back when we had watched the recorded shows and you guys would replace the receiver. No problem. No one said we'd have to PAY for it!"

DirecTV Guy: "So, that will be $19.99 charged to your account. Should I place the order?"

Me: "WAIT! No. Can't we just reformat THIS one? I mean, it's lame and it's always given us problems, but tomorrow is THURSday. And we HAVE to have it. Wait. That sounds awful. I'm so concerned about having my DVR working for tomorrow when there are starving children in Africa. I mean, in the grand scope of things, I guess it's not... but can't we just reformat THIS one?"

DirecTV Guy: "Umm, yes. We can try that. I'm going to talk you through some steps here. Press the red reset button. Now hold down the record button and the down arrow for ten seconds. The screen will flash a message. Now let go. Now put one hand on top of your head while the other waves wildly at your side. Now get a really worried look on your face. Okay. Good. What does the screen say? Alright. It should come up with a message that says it's reformatting. Okay. Now it's going to have a message that says you're really ridiculous for stressing over such a minor thing when there are starving children in Africa. Has that come up yet? Okay. Good. Are you still waving your hand by your side? Alright. Now stick one finger up your nose, wait about two hours, and the receiver should be reformatted."

Me: "Okay."

DirecTV Guy: "So, let's recap what we've done here today. You called in about an existing problem with your receiver and we've taken steps to reformat the reciever...

Me: "Wait! Oh, no. The screen said formatting error and went blank. Now it's trying to power up again."

DirecTV Guy: "Uh..."

Me: "Should I press restart and go through the steps again?"

DirecTV Guy: "Umm, yes. Yes."

Me: "Okay. Done. It says it's reformatting again, that it will take a little over two hours and... wait. It's blank. Now it's trying to power up again.

DirecTV Guy: "Ma'am, I'm sorry. Your only option is to order another receiver."

Me: "Weren't you guys going back to the TiVo receivers? You used to have TiVo ones, and nothing ever went wrong with THEM. We never had a problem. Then you switched to your own brand, and they've never worked right. When are you going back to TiVo? Do you have those now?"

DirecTV Guy: "No, not yet. We are switching back, but not until 2009. And I'm not sure if it will be in January or later in the year."

Me: "Well, will I have to pay to get a TiVo one when you DO come back out with them?"

DirecTV Guy: "Ma'am, I'm really not sure. I don't want to say yes, and then you don't, or no, and then you do. I really don't know when we'll be switching to TiVo. Do you want me to put in that order for you, then?"

Me: "But it's twenty dollars!!! And the receiver just stopped working! Why do I have to pay for that? Is there some sort of plan you're supposed to get so you don't have to pay for it?"

DirecTV Guy: "Yes, actually, there is. I can enroll you today in our protection plan and that fee will be covered for you."

Me: "How much is that?"

DirecTV Guy: "It's only $5.99 per month."

Me: "So, I've been a customer since 2003. That's five years. Six dollars a month for a year is 72 dollars a year. Multiply that by five. You're saying I should have paid all that just to cover a $20 shipping and handling fee?"

DirecTV Guy: "Well, ma'am, it also comes with some other great services, such as free service visits, unlimited dish realignments..."

Me: "But, in five years we haven't EVER needed any of that, so I would be paying all that money just to cover this $20 fee? That's ridiculous. We've been with you since 2003, now our receiver quits, and you're telling me that I'M the one who's going to pay. We've always had great service with DirecTV... well... no, that's not true. 60% of the time we've had great service, and now this happens."

DirecTV Guy: "Ma'am if it would make things easier for you, I could see if I could add on three free months of Showtime programming. That would more than defray the shipping cost of the new receiver."

Me: ****pause**** "Okay."

*Some of the script may have been altered in consideration of the length of this blog post. Let it be known that the author would not stick her finger up her nose for two hours... unless the right monetary sum was agreed upon and paid in advance.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Finally, a good post...

... but it's not mine.

Because I've been bringing you really lame blog posts the last few days, (except they're not lame, just short and devoid of much time and energy because I haven't had much of either), and because the holidays are nearing and you truly need amazing and inspirational posts, I'm going to send you to just one such entry:

The Most Wonderful Christmas Garland Ever And How To Make It

I hope you're amazed. And inspired. And that you keep coming back here to see if I my posts get better soon. (They will!)

And as soon as I get a few spare moments and some renegade garland pieces, I'm going to make me my own Most Wonderful Christmas Garland Ever.
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Peaceful Squirrel Watching

I totally stole this idea from Bethany. If you go to ustream.tv you can watch all kinds of things. It's very peaceful and quite addicting.

Live streaming video by Ustream
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Riding Solo

As of tonight, we are now a training wheel-less family. Congratulations Ian!

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Re-runs

It's Saturday. It's Brit's birthday (which I'll post on another time). We're heading out the door. So, I'm opting for a re-run of a previous post. Whenever I go back to it, it reminds me of the important things...

Cobwebs
(originally posted Monday, January 14th, 200*)

If I look above me (right now, right where I sit), I can see a cobweb. A dusty cobweb. A large, dusty cobweb. Not the acceptable kind of cobweb, but an old, haunted house kind... and it's in my kitchen... in plain sight. Well, plain sight if you're sitting in the corner at the computer and the morning sunlight is pouring in the window, but you get my drift.

I'm thinking "I should just run and get the duster really quick." And I continue to sit here. When people come over sometimes I remember the cobweb. Then it sticks in my head while they're here, but I can't very well run and get the duster at that point! They might see the cobweb and then KNOW, indeed, Angela has cobwebs. OR if they already see it, and if I acknowledge it's there by going to get it, they will know that I know and haven't taken care of it before now. But, if they see it and I don't acknowledge it, then they'll think maybe I don't know it exists, so I couldn't have taken care of it. (When, in fact, it has existed for a very long time.) Then the guest will leave and I'll forget about the cobweb, only remembering I have this problem when I'm either sitting at the computer or the next guest comes over. (It's a very old cobweb.)

It makes me wonder what other cobwebs are around? I know there used to be one in our bedroom. You could only see it in the right light, when the sun was fully shining in the windows. It was just a "one string" cobweb that went from the wall to the end poster on my side of the bed. (That freaks me out. A spider was on our bed. Our bed. He was on MY BED, on MY SIDE. Yes, I know this happens, but I try to stay in "Angela World" where spiders should never be on my bed, on me, in my clothes, or touching anything that I would ever touch.) There's also a large cobweb in the laundry room. I'm in there so stinking often you think I would have taken care of it. I always think "I'll run and get the duster," and then don't come back until the next load needs to go in... sans duster.

There are some cobwebs in my attitude. I know they're there, and when they're able to be seen by other people I realize they should be dealt with. But when they're not directly exposed I forget and let them sit. Then they get dusty, and the next time I see them they're even worse.

My time management has some pretty large cobwebs. I see those ones often, but the time it would take to clean them out seems overwhelming. So I tell myself that I'll "go get the duster" in a week, a month... next year. But I never do.

My relationship with God has some cobwebs. They've built up in a few areas of my life that I don't always want to discuss. Places where he prods my heart, and I know I should deal with it, but it's not really TOO bad. Is it? The cobwebs are okay for now. Aren't they? I'd rather live with the discomfort than go through the pain of "getting the duster." But, growth and maturity require truth. Real relationships require us to be real ourselves. In every area. Cobwebs and all. God desires real relationship with me. If I choose to leave the cobwebs, He can still use me... but if I choose to clean them out, oh how much clearer and beautiful that relationship will be!

"Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart." Psalm 26:2 (NAS)

"Examine me, God, from head to foot, order your battery of tests. Make sure I'm fit inside and out." Psalm 26:2 (The Message)

Maybe what David was trying to say was, "God, look for cobwebs. Show me where they are so I can clear them out!"

The danger is when we become so used to the cobwebs they become a part of us, a part of who we are. A certain way of thinking is "just me. That's just who I am." We forget it may be a dusty, dirty way of thinking that's only there because we've neglected to clean it out. How we do things is "just our personality." Is it? Is it really? Or is it something that could be done a much healthier way, but we don't want to take the time to change it? We no longer see the cobwebs, and when someone lovingly points them out, we take offense. "That's me. That's how I do things. How dare you suggest anything different."

I don't EVER want to be blind to the cobwebs... in my house or in my heart... I think I'll go get the duster...
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Friday, November 14, 2008

To the guy who flipped me off,

I'm sorry. I really, really am. I did not mean to cut you off. Truly, I didn't. I looked in my rearview mirror, and even checked my blind spot. I just sincerely did not see you. I moved into the right hand lane to scoot around the slow truck in front of me and suddenly you were there behind my Suburban. The only thing I can figure is that you were already there, and I simply cut you off.

I. Felt. AWFUL.

I am SO SORRY!!! But, how can I tell you that? You hung way back, probably because you thought I was a crazy driver and didn't care about you, so you were worried I'd do something else foolish. When I turned left at the light and you went straight, I was going to try to smile sheepishly and wave, make some kind of a motion to apologize, or mouth the word "sorry." So was it really necessary to roll down your window and make that obscene gesture? I'm sure you were upset with me, but so was I. I was upset with me, too.

We all make mistakes. You may have inadvertently cut someone off before, just like I did to you. So next time someone accidentally comes a little too close, please have some grace. Because flipping off the woman who already feels horrible just makes everything that much worse. And I'd really like to think that if you knew how badly I felt and that I really didn't mean to do it, you'd smile and shrug it off.
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tiger David Thoman

I was very honored to meet my new little nephew today, and I'd like you to meet him, too!

Tiger David Thoman was born last Friday, November 7th. He weighed in at 7 lbs. 2 oz. and was 20" long. And I am a VERY, very proud Auntie.


He was a little skeptical of the camera and all.


Big brother Rocky is proud, too.


Lots of love and kisses for Tiger!


A very happy, very joyful Auntie with her very adorable, miraculous nephew.

Congratulations to my wonderful sister, Charity, and beloved brother-in-law, David. I love you guys so much. SO much.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday: Make Super Yummy Coffee

About a year ago one of my amazing friends (I have many. Amazing friends, that is. People think I'M amazing, but I'm not. My friends actually make me seem as if I'm amazing, because THEY are so truly, incredibly amazing.) brought me the. best. coffee. I. have. ever. tasted. in. my. life.

THE. BEST.

Turns out it's from some small town somewhere in Mexico and the only way I can get it is by stalking my friend when her husband comes back from his trips with some and making really mournful puppy dog eyes. Or maybe I could go live in Mexico. Hmmm.

Because I love my friend, (read: I think she's awesome and don't want to scare her away so when she DOES feel like giving me coffee, she still will), I decided to try and make it myself. After many tries, I did not succeed exactly, but I came PRETTY DARN CLOSE. I also realized in the process that my new-found technique can take really lame tasting coffee and turn it into Super Yummy Coffee. This is a big help for people like me who take the little coffee samples out of hotel rooms, then combine them later hoping to get a halfway decent result.

Here's how you can achieve Super Yummy Coffee:

1. Put whatever coffee you have in coffee filter. If it's hotel coffee, dump it out of its existing filter and into your own. I usually go 1/4 cup grounds plus a few pinches for 10 cups coffee, varying how much by who shows up to my Tuesday morning small group, and whether they like it stronger or weaker.

2. Add some cinnamon and some chocolate to the grounds. Mix it up a bit. The Authentic Mexican Delicacy has actual chunks of chocolate and bits of cinnamon stick, but I tend to go with whatever is in the cupboard. (Besides, chunks of chocolate are revered around here too much to put in the coffee.) You'll figure out how much you like the more you make it.

3. Fill the pot with water and dump it in the reservoir.

4. Get one of those fancy sugar cones that's brown. I'm not sure where, because another one of my amazing friends gets mine for me. I can never remember where she gets it, even though she always tells me. I think it's on the Fancy Sugar Cone aisle. (See? People think I'm amazing because I have a Fancy Sugar Cone, but it's really my amazing friend. Case in point.) Grate some of it. I'm only showing you the picture because I've had people say "Grate the sugar? Huh?" Yes. Grate the sugar. That's what it will look like. Then put it in the pot. (Yes, I'm sure you could use brown sugar or some kind of other fancy looking natural sugar. But this is what I've used because I'm told it's what they use in Mexico. Besides, my amazing friend gets me the super cool sugar cone. It's like using my son's fun gadgets. I feel cool. )See why I made step 3 the "fill the pot with water" step? Because if you wait until after you've put the sugar in, you've got to fill the reservoir some other way. More things to get out and put away. No one likes that.

5. Turn it on.

6. Enjoy your Super Yummy Coffee. I usually just put milk in mine... and more sugar. My amazing friend that gets the Authentic Mexican Delicacy says the sugar in the pot makes it sweet enough for her, and maybe it will for you. But not for me. And I use milk because I don't want to cover over the flavor with flavored creamer. (And I'm also a little weird and sometimes like milk in my coffee rather than cream.)

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You now know how to make Super Yummy Coffee! It's fun to experiment with the amounts and see what you come up with. You might even report back that you found a way to make it Super DUPER Yummy Coffee.

This is one of the things that works for me. To see more awesome tips, visit this week's Works For Me Wednesday over at Rocks in My Dryer.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

All in the family

I've come to the conclusion that the same family who celebrates Christmas in August in Santa Maria must have relatives in Porterville. What else could explain the Virgen De Guadalupe being immortalized on their tailgate right next to the very artistically painted topless woman and lowrider? The murals complimented each other so well. I just couldn't resist whipping out the camera in front of the Town & Country Supermarket.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Misleading Headlines

On Comcast.net, just a few minutes ago, was the headline, Prop 8 Backers: Church Told 'Obvious Lies'.

Wouldn't that lead you to believe that people who had backed Prop 8 are now saying the church was lying? That's how it read to me. So I clicked into it.

No, the person in the article who is saying the church told obvious lies was Ed Todeschini, a volunteer who campaigned against Prop 8. The church in question, Saddelback, could not be reached for immediate comment on Sunday. Their offices were closed. (On a Sunday. Duh.)

In my journalism classes in college I was taught journalists are supposed to uphold truth to the highest degree, that headlines were never to be misleading, or written in a way that they could easily be misinterrpreted. Hmmm...

I've noticed this more and more on Comcast, that the snippet you get in the headline doesn't always match the information in the article, and even then, the article seems oddly coming from only one point of view. It's as if Comcast News itself is trying to communicate a certain slant in their reporting. Now, in my journalism classes, this was called "a lack of journalistic integrity."

Maybe the guidelines on integrity have changed in the past ten years. I must be out of date.
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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happiness

With amazing friends.

The forever kind of friends.

Right now.

In Porterville.

Lots of fun and laughter.

Adults and children.

We mix well.

There must be an arranged marriage in here somehow.

Much happiness.
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Saturday, November 8, 2008

I am the coolest I've ever been RIGHT NOW!!!

I am blogging from Taylor's new iPod Touch. How stinking cool is that??!!!? He's been refereeing soccer games this season, saving his money, and decided this was what he wanted to do with it. I. Am. So. Proud. Of. Him. Earning and saving and researching and whatnot. There are so many life lessons in this I may cry if I dwell on it too much longer.

And it's awfully darn nice of him to let his dear old mom use it, too. :-)

So I'm sitting in the lobby of our hotel, (Brit has a gymnastics meet in the morning), blogging on a device that's smaller than a billfold.

I feel really super duper cool.

(Who uses the word "billfold" anymore? Oh. Me. Maybe I'm not as cool as I feel right now. And maybe the words "super duper" confirmed it. Darn.)
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Another Season Over

Ha, HA! It's over! Done! No more! I have this oddly maniacal laugh echoing in my head, and a tension seems to gone from my neck somehow. Soccer season is wonderful, the kids have a blast, the team parents are great... but there's just a huge sigh of relief when everything comes to a close.

From climbing trees to lasting friendships to the "tunnel of love," soccer season is always about way more than getting the ball into the net. Which is why, even though I lose my brain trying to figure out how to juggle four consecutive games at two different fields and when we should eat lunch in the middle of it all every Saturday, we'll do it all again next year. Our laundry load may be doubled for three months, but I really can't recommend it highly enough. The smiles make everything well worth it!

A few snapshots from the season:










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Friday, November 7, 2008

It's a little late...

...and I need to post something. So I'm linking you to one of my favorite blogs. Read her stuff. Be inspired. Make your house a home.
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sassy Shoe Thursday: Boot Advice

My friend and I were doing a little shoe shopping yesterday... (because that's what you do when all is not quite right with the world... you go shoe shopping...) and I realized we are IN BOOT SEASON. It is here. There are important things we should discuss, yet I have been remiss in letting the conversation lay dormant for this long! Forgive me.

There are crucial things to consider when buying a new pair of boots. You need to look at how you're going to wear them. Will it be more with skirts? Or more with jeans? Over or under jeans? Or do you need a pair that can do both?

Calf size:

I know I've touched on this before, and it seems to be an issue for most of us (unless you're strange and can puff up and deflate your calves to fit in whatever boot you fancy wearing with a given outfit). The boot shaft REALLY needs to fit the size of your calf. If you have small calves, boots that are too big look floppy and sloppy. I call this the bell effect, because the boot shaft moves back and forth on my leg like a bell tolling with each step. I've told you before about duoboots.com, whose boots come in actual calf sizes (genius). *Men who read this blog, please realize at this point we're not discussing cows' babies.* If you have a few hundred dollars to spend and want a classic boot that will last forever, this is the way to go. However, if you're like me and want something that can work with the trends and not cost quite so much, you're going to have to hunt.

Now, if the boot construction is sturdy and the leather is thick, you can get away with a little bit bigger shaft. Remember, you're going to be wearing it with tights and leggings, which will compensate for the little bit of space. But you really shouldn't be able to fit more than one finger on either side at the top of the boot. However, if the material is thin (probably not leather), as stretchy boots are, it is essential they fit snuggly. Here's the difference:
Stretchy:


Sturdy:


Do you see how the first one will stretch and the second one won't?

With skirts:

Now, a few moments ago I mentioned, "remember, you're going to be wearing it with tights and leggings," and some of you thought, "I am? Why?" If you aren't aware of this, I'm going to break it to you now: boots with bare legs are out. OUT. The only way they are possibly in is if your legs are tan and you're wearing funky, motorcycle type boots with some shorts, a fun tee, and a cool hat. (Amber, you can pull this one off flawlessly. Of course, you can pull ANYthing off flawlessly.) So, if you're wearing your boots with a skirt, you need to get leggings/tights. NOT NYLONS! Don't mistake tights for nylons. EVER. You can go for a more sheer look if you want, but make sure the construction is thicker, hence the word "tights." If you're wearing stretchier boots, go with more of a tight. If you're wearing sturdier boots, go with more of a legging. (Then pull on a chunky, long sweater, some large hoops and an oversized purse, and you're this seasons "it" girl!)

With jeans:

To wear boots over your jeans, you need to have a slim fitting pair of denim. Skinny works best, but straight leg is fine, too. Here is where we run into a catch - you can't really wear stretchy boots over jeans. If you can see any lumps from pants that are folded up or over, this does not work. Don't try to rationalize them away, it just doesn't. You've got to have a sturdy pair to go over pants. One of the fun things about boots right now is that there are so many options made to look slouchy or that have embellishments. This hides wonderfully any bulk from your denim!

Case in point:



Everyone wants their boots to double with both skirts and jeans. But, while both stretchy AND sturdy boots can be worn with skirts, they have to be worn differently with jeans. Sturdy ones won't fit under them, they have to go over. And (as we just addressed) stretchy ones usually should not be worn over (unless your jeans are completely painted on you), so should usually be worn under. If you choose to wear stretchy boots under your jeans, you should never, ever, be able to distinguish the rim of the boot top beneath your pants. If you're looking in a mirror and can see where the top of your boot is under your jeans, the combo doesn't work. A great problem solver for this is the bootie:


Sometimes a bootie is also referred to as a shootie, which is a cross between a shoe and a boot:


(Keep in mind, all shooties are booties, but not all booties are shooties.)

The bootie can be worn with all pant styles and cuts. Wear them with a loose cuff that reaches to the ground, you're classic. With a skinny jean that sits on top, you're trendy. With an ankle length pant, you're fashion forward. And you don't have to worry about the bulk of a boot shaft beneath your jeans! You can also now wear them with skirts and dresses. They do a great job of adding funk to a business suit.

Some closing tips:

*If you go with dirt cheap boots, you're going to get dirt cheap results. Be willing to spend a little more for something that you'll love. You can usually find a great pair for around $100.00 that will last you quite a few years.

*Shop in the spring to get close-out deals on boots you can wear the next fall. But, if you do this, don't get something uber-trendy that will be passe in a few months.

*Don't be afraid to get something with a little embellishment or funk. They'll spice up your wardrobe and be a lot more versatile than you think. Anyone can be safe with their shoes! Let's live a little on the edge and spice things up a bit!

*Black and brown are safe colors, but a yummy red can work with outfits of both tones.

(Could someone please buy these for me? Here's the link, if you feel so inclined. Size 7 1/2.))

*Don't be scared away from flat boots! They can be dressed up or down to work with almost any outfit, and have an unparalleled funk factor.


*Go ahead and spend the extra $5.00 on the instant shine stuff the store always tries to sell you. Use it every couple months or so to maintain a nice sheen and buff out scratches. I love my foam pad one.

*If you have problems with heels, go for a boot with a wedge. They'll provide a sturdier platform for all day wear.


(Here are my favorites that I wear with everything.)

All the boots pictured in this post can be found at endless.com. Free overnight shipping, free returns, and great sales.
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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday: Smarter Boys, Lasting Toys


This is a special assignment edition of Works For Me Wednesday. We're all tired of toys that break, toys that clutter, and toys that both break, then clutter, then get moved from corner to corner, never making it to the trash can and never quite getting fixed. OR, even worse, toys that are in perfect condition, never get used, and we feel guilty for ever spending the money on them in the first place.

So, without further ado, I give you... (drum roll please? DRUM ROLL??!!!?)

Toys We Have Loved:

Legos - Hands down, an all time favorite. I have to admit, as a mother who never had brothers and is skeptical of small parts that could hurt my feet when stepped on, I was skeptical. But we have built our collection over the years and it has been one of the best investments we have made for our children. (In addition to school morning devotions and Sunday School.) I'm not saying that our children's IQ is directly related to their Lego building capabilities, but Taylor and Jordan are both in GATE (gifted/talented) classes, are excellent problem solvers, and love to read. I can see these qualities shaping up in Brittney, and Ian looks to follow in his older siblings' footsteps, too. I truly do attribute their success in these areas largely to the time they've spent reading lego manuals, putting together intricate sets, disassembling said sets and recreating something else, and working together on all of it. Best of all, Legos reach across the age span. From Taylor (12) to Ian (5), all four kids (Brit included) will sit and construct masterpieces.

Some Lego tips:

*Always keep an eye out for sales. We've scored castles worth $100.00 for $25.00 post-Christmas. Always do a run through at Target, Wal-mart and Toys R Us, especially in the early Spring and Fall. That's when they tend to clear some out by marking them down, to make way for new sets.

*If you find a super awesome deal, buy extra and save them for the inevitable, last minute, "Mom, so-and-so's birthday is tomorrow. What am I gonna give 'em?"

*Keep the Legos in clear plastic storage bins. Great for digging through, yet keeping everything in one place.

*Keep the manuals in a binder in plastic sheets. If they ever want to go back and use the original instructions, they're handy.

*If the kids want to dump them all out and have a marathon building session, lay a blanket down on the floor first. That way you can easily dump them all back in when you're finished.

*If you're lucky like us and have a play room, make a rule that all Legos are confined to that room unless special permission is granted. That way you're risk of stepping on spare parts in the middle of the night, waking everyone with some choice words spoken loudly, and then having to explain to the kids why you just used those choice words when they're not allowed to is greatly decreased.


Mexican Train: We love this game!!! A full session is 12 rounds and takes a while, but the great thing is you can stop it after any round and pick it up again later. It's easy to learn for visiting guests, and since the kids can play right along with adults, they really feel like a part of everything. It helps kids learn to plan ahead and solve problems. And even if they never use any strategy, they still might win! A hands down favorite in our home. Especially at Christmas, when they seem to like having some ongoing activity that we can keep going back to between cookie making and tree decorating.


iTunes giftcards: This one takes up NO space at all, and the kids have a blast going onto iTunes and picking out songs they love! Taylor can put them on his iPod (that he worked very hard for, thankyouverymuch), but the younger kids just like having them on the computer. We'll put on "their" music and we all dance around the house. It seems to make them feel important because their music tastes are valued. At we all get a work out dancing to "Bird, bird, bird. Bird is the word..."


A trampoline: I just had to throw this one in here, because it's the best darn $50.00 we spent. Yes, we bought it used off Craigslist, and *literally!* not a day has gone by since it came to our backyard that it hasn't been used. We've worn it out completely over the past 16 months and now need to find another used one to replace it. It's exercise and entertainment all in one. And, best of all, the kids love it when their Dad gets on with them! So I guess it's exercise, entertainment AND family time all in one.



For more great toy suggestions, check out Works For Me Wednesday at Rocks In My Dryer!
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And now...

"Their impressive credentials and dazzling performances will pull the wool over the eyes of even those who ought to know better." Mark 13:23 (The Message)

And now we will continue praying, we will continue petitioning, and we will continue pleading for God's mercy on our nation. We will keep fighting for Truth, and will continue speaking it in love to all who will listen. We will pray for our president, that he will seek God's heart as he leads us, that he will position his steps according to the truth of God's word.

"They're going to drag you into court. And then it will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry My name. You're placed there as sentinels to truth. The Message has to be preached all across the world... the Holy Spirit will make his witness in and through you... There's no telling who will hate you because of Me. Stay with it - that's what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry; you'll be saved." Mark 13:9-13

Monday night, "Mom, what's a sentinel?"

"It's a guard. It's someone who guards something."

"So, we're supposed to guard the truth?"

"Yes, that's right. We are."
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Comic Relief

The Final Countdown - Turn your computer volume ALL the way up!!! HilARious.

(Thanks to Robert for sending this my way. It's one of those things our family will parody around the house for decades to come.)

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Monday, November 3, 2008

True.

This is excellent, and true, as reported by snopes.com. Read to the bottom for a direct response from the author.
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I'm stacking bricks on their heads.

Ian, our youngest, has always been lovingly considered the runt of the family. Not that he's ever been small, by any means. Growth chart wise, he's been normal, which, with our chubby babies, "husky" toddlers (as WIC put it) and "90th percentile in height" children, was not normal. On our measuring chart, he's always been waaaay shorter than the other kids were at that respective age, by quite a bit. (Taylor's been tallest, then Jord, then Brit.) They all went through that awkward time around age 3 when their pants fit funny because the waist had to make room for the slowly fading baby gut, and the legs were never long enough. Ian never had the baby gut to begin with, and I've always had to cuff his pants and cinch those adjustable elastic waistbands as far as they could go. We figured he'd wind up being smaller in height and girth than the others. (Which would go well with his penchant for front rolls and standing on his head. Gymnasts tend to be small.)

Last night we measured them. (Here is where we will overlook the fact that Taylor is fast closing in on my 5'6 1/4" with his now 5'3" frame so I don't hyperventilate.)

Nate hollered from upstairs. "Holy Cow! Babe, come look a this!"

Ian is suddenly TALLER than Taylor was at his age, which means he has Jord and Brit beat by quite a bit, too. (No wonder all his shorts and pants suddenly didn't fit this summer.)

I was taking solace in the hope that maybe just one of my children wouldn't tower over me as adults. I guess that's out the window now.
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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Response to "One Issue"

I've received some interesting comments to my post last week on the issue of abortion. I wanted to respond to one in particular here:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "One Issue":

As a born-again Christian woman who had an abortion at 8 weeks, because if I did not, I WOULD HAVE DIED along with my unborn fetus, I take offense to your extreme stance on abortion.

I was not about to leave my 2 year old son motherless to prove some vague moral point.

Anti-abortion people have this idea that women are creatures of whimsy who go out of their way to have abortions, who waddle into abortion clinics 8 months pregnant and demand them! This simply doesn't happen, this is a decision that NO WOMAN takes lightly, it is a heartbreaking, heartrending decision that women take very seriously. I have never met another woman who treats abortion flippantly! EVER.

See, the problem is, anti-abortion people scream their heads off about wanting the woman to keep the baby, but once that baby is born, "Girlfriend, you are on your own!" They continously vote to cut social services, until there is nothing left, leaving these women in even more desperate situations.

So, until I see you pay 20% of your income to some desperate teenage rape victim to send her child to daycare so she can continue working her butt off at Orange Julius, or UNTIL I SEE YOU ADOPT A CHILD OF THE 12 YEAR OLD VICTIM OF INCEST OR TEENAGER,

Get off your morally superior high horse.

And don't you dare question my spirituality or whether the blood of Jesus Christ covers me, because it does! Praise the Lord, it does!!

Dear Anonymous,

I am so sorry for the circumstance you had to walk through. The heartbreak of losing a child at any age is more than any parent should ever have to bear. I'm wondering, however, if you read all the way through my post? It addresses, although briefly, your extremely rare and horrific situation: when the physical life of the mother is at stake. When the purpose of the surgery is to save the life of the mother, and the child is lost because of it, this can be in no way considered on the same plane as those surgeries that take place to save the preferred way of life of the mother. Please read more about that here.

This issue of life is not a vague one. The Bible is very clear about when life starts:

"Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you" Jeremiah 1:5

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:13-16

And it is very clear about the value of life:

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" John 10:10

While many women struggle greatly with the decision of whether or not to end their child's life before actually following through with it, I personally know of those who do not. You said, "I have never met another woman who treats abortion flippantly! EVER." I have. There are girls that do not comprehend the weight of their decision. They are pregnant. They do not want to be. An abortion seems to be an easier alternative to carrying the baby to term and dealing with the consequences of it.

There are those that argue abortion needs to be legal so we can save these women from back alley, botched abortions, so we can prevent their injury or death from seeking to end their unwanted circumstances in a dangerous and life-threatening way. I would be curious to know the statistic of women who underwent these procedures when abortion was illegal, compared to the statistic of women who are no longer able to conceive or, worse yet, lose their life now because of legal abortions. I would also be curious to know the statistic of previously illegal abortions compared to currently legal ones. Something that is readily accessible is readily accessed.

Two wrongs do not make a right. Legalized killing of children is not the answer to unwanted pregnancy, just as legalizing drugs to reduce the crime rate and overcrowding in jails is not the answer.

This is why my husband and I support crisis pregnancy centers, such as Care Net, so these women can know they are loved and supported, that there are other options. And this is why we support Proposition 4 in California, because a 12 year old girl should not be able to be taken for an abortion by her school guidance counselor without her parents ever knowing. My children's nurse cannot give my children tylenol or even chap stick without a sign doctor's note. But if a classmate of Taylor's became pregnant, she could be taken to terminate the baby without her parents ever even knowing anything occurred.

I have many dear friends who have been blessed with the joy of children because the birth mothers chose life for their unborn babies instead of death.

I have an amazing 12 year old son because I did not choose to maintain my preferred way of life. I chose my son's life. It was an easy to decision to make because I know firmly the value of life... but it was NOT an easy road to walk.

This is not a "morally superior high horse," as you call it, this is the truth of God's Word. ALL life is valued. Whether it fits into our life easily or not, whether the circumstances are extremely difficult and life-altering or not. The "teenage rape victim" and "12 year old victim of incest" are both horrible, awful situations that the self-indulgent nature of our society has made a reality. Pregnancies resulting from these circumstances are extremely rare, but the bottom line remains that these children should not be punished because of the awful choices their father made. Read more about that here.

I wouldn't ever question the blood of my Savior. There is nothing too heinous, too secret, too dark or deep that Christ cannot wash clean. That is the beauty of the cross. May God have mercy on anyone who believes anything else. I know amazing women who are have done amazing things and fought desperately for the sanctity of life because they have learned firsthand the horrific consequences of making the decision to take life. You and I together serve a compassionate God who is quick to show mercy and comes close to comfort His children.

I am so thankful your son can share life with his mother, that you can laugh together and learn and grow. But your specific circumstance was not what my post was referring to at ALL. I completely support the decision you had to make to save your own life.
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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Recap


Heading out the door into the neighborhood of candy possibilities. (Three of ours plus two friends.)


A varied costume selection.


Wolverine tries to shred the Beauty Queen.


Where's Taylor?


Nate dressed up for the occasion. Note the tuxedo.


The loot.
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