Nov 29, 2007

Christmas Post II--Best Lights EVER...

This one's been making the rounds for a few years now. You can get the full story here.

And just for fun, here's another:

Christmas Post I--YES!!

Your Christmas is Most Like: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Christmas is a big, boisterous event at your place.
And no matter what, something hilarious usually happens.

Nov 27, 2007

A Bone to Pick...

Had an interesting conversation with Well-Meaning Person the other day. And ironically enough, the only reason I'm posting here is that I know WMP doesn't read my blog (so see, it's not you--by reading this post you're automatically disqualified from being WMP). Does anyone else do that, or am I the only wuss not brave enough to say what I'm really thinking and risk hurting someone's feelings? I know WMP desperately just wants everything to be OK, so the basis really is good intentions. But a nerve has been struck and I must address it.

Wait, wait, wait...background info...word on the street is that we'll be moving in the April timeframe. Heading to California for the Cat Daddy to do some training, and then off to the frozen tundra for the next 3-4 years to implement said training. I knew we'd be moving in 2008, but I wasn't expecting so soon. And while we are STOKED to spend the summer in California (couple hours north of L.A.), first we have to do the painful business of leaving here. Lots of things about the military have grown on me, but the leaving is ALWAYS the pits.

But California!! Aaah! So fun!

SO, back to my conversation...WMP said something to the effect of hoping that the military life is always "easy" on me. And proceeded to point out several good things about each of our duty stations thus far. And let me be clear--these are all very, very good things and I have enjoyed them immensely. But I need to make a distinction that I'm pretty sure most people will relate to, regardless of their plight in life, and that is this [you may enter your own specifics in the bracketed areas]:

I may deliberately avoid the standard "look at the bright side" approaches in my public ruminations, but I'm just as likely as the next guy to look for the silver lining. And I can look at my life and see a lot of good. A lot. The [military] life has lots of good things, and I've been blessed beyond all get-out in my adventures as a [military spouse]. In many areas I'm quite comfortable, and as far as creature comforts go I have no complaints. My general reaction to my life is pure gratitude. Honest.

But let's get something clear. The good things about the [military] life make some things easy, and other things difficult, and other things nearly unbearable. My life is abundant, and full, and a spectacular
adventure...but it is NOT "easy."

And I'm really quite content with that, as long as I'm allowed to live in that reality without trying to make it something it's not. Let me remain in the emotional tension and more-than-occasional ambivalence. Let me choose to be excited on my own terms. Let me experience pain and the occasional rant without trying to resolve it or make it "better." Wanna make sure I'm happy and OK all the time? Sorry, that's just not me.

There, I feel better. Hopefully soon I'll post a bit I'm working on about defensiveness. Probably a good thing...

Today's Corporate Happenings...

So, today I had a short training course on a remote-access capability my company provides. Happily, it was not excruciating; in fact, I found the info quite useful, especially taking into account our pending move and such (more about that later).

The gentleman seated across from me had, um, artificially enhanced his hairline. Yes folks, he had used the Ronco spray-product that fills in the gaps and attaches itself to existing hair to create a filling-out effect for those with less-than-full heads of hair. I have to say, this was the first time I'd seen it in real life. That I know of. In this instance it was clear--a nice, clean, vivid black region defining a theoretical hairline, the existing hair parted and combed according to the theoretical hairline, and the natural "salt & sand" color (which I thought would be quite distinguished if left to its own devices) peeking out at the sideburn areas.

Now I'm all for personal freedom in grooming. And I know there are myriad men (and women) out there who choose to enhance their sparsely-populated locks instead of embracing the thinning and/or receding (in which case less is better--think Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard. Very nice). To each his own, honest. It's just when the goal is to look as if you've done nothing special, it seems reasonable to ditch anything that obviously points to what you're trying to cover up. That's all I'm sayin'...

Nov 26, 2007

Yep, I Really Said It...

To His Highness: "NO already ate those vegetables once, you do not need to eat them again."

(you can probably guess the scenario here)

Nov 25, 2007

Nov 23, 2007

Mid-Book Review...

So lately I’m reading a book called “12 ‘Christian’ Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy,” by Cloud & Townsend. Have I ever mentioned that I love Cloud & Townsend? I might even have a (platonic) crush on the both of them. They really know their stuff. The bulk of their work is from a psychology/counseling bent, but oh-so-much of their stuff applies to pretty much anyone.

The whole point of this one is exploring common (but wrong) ideas most of us have probably heard or been told in our quest for spiritual growth. Check out these assumptions—

  1. It’s selfish to have my needs met
  2. If I’m spiritual enough, I will have no pain or sinfulness
  3. If I change my behavior, I will grow spiritually and emotionally
  4. I just need to give it to the Lord
  5. One day, I’ll be finished with recovery
  6. Leave the past behind
  7. If I have God, I don’t need people
  8. “Shoulds” are good
  9. Guilt and shame are good for me
  10. If I make right choices, I will grow spiritually
  11. Just doing the right thing is more important than why I do it
  12. If I know the truth I will grow

Good stuff, yes? The tricky part to all of the ideas is that they sound good, and most people can spew scriptures that they think support all 12 of them. And each does have a bit of truth to it, so it takes some thinking and processing and discernment to sort out the good parts from the harmful.

I'm only on number 7, but based on the first half alone, I totally recommend it to pretty much anyone. Don’t get freaked out by the feely-words like “recovery” and "emotional"…I’m telling you, it’s a really good read.

Nov 21, 2007

A Quick Breath...

Well how about that...some downtime and nothing to do. Strike that--there's always something to do. Nothing pressing to do. Thanksgiving is tomorrow, so the only things I'm concerned with right now are my dinner tonight and meal preparations for tomorrow. Mostly I need to calculate backwards from our projected 4pm dinnertime to determine when to begin the brining, but that shouldn't take more than a couple minutes.

We are doing a simple, casual Thanksgiving this year. We're cooking and having a couple friends over; that's it. One is bringing his Wii, so we expect visual hilarity to ensue. Should be a good time.

The Cat Daddy and I did a quick run to the store this evening, to pick up some last-minute hors d'oeuvres and snackies. While browsing the aisles I heard him murmur "Did you see the mustache on that guy? It was obviously fake! Why is he walking around with a fake mustache?" I had not seen it, so I ignored the thought until the next aisle over, when lo & behold a young man was perusing the canned veggies in a small, very neat, and very-obviously-fake handlebar mustache. Oddly enough, the handlebars were fully contained upon his upper lip. I walked on by before casting a grin at the Cat Daddy.

I've begun a new list, to be entitled "Things Christians Say That Sound Dirty, but Aren't." I have also decided that an appropriate subtitle would be something to the effect of "Well Intentioned Mutterings by Those Whose Minds Are Not In the Gutter." It begins with these--

"Those aren't prostitutes; they're the worship team." (Thanks to Pastor T for this one)

"Let's put the love on Jesus tonight." (Apparently a Southern expression; conjures Barry White's voice in my head)

"Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus" (Worship song. Oh yes, it really is. And sadly, I've sung it)

I need to find a protein chaser for the molasses cookies I broke into. Maybe some beefy log...

I'm Here! I'm Here...

Brain bursting with bloggy topics, but alas, no time to get them down properly. You know how it goes, real life and all...and having to actually work at work is really cramping my style...maybe over the holiday weekend I'll steal some time (if I'm not knitting). Gobble Gobble!

Nov 15, 2007

Quote of the Day...

"Sometimes there are no bad people, Sal. Just bad situations."

...from today's Sally Forth.

Nov 14, 2007

Before I Head Out the Door...

I'm feeling very random today. Had to get some thoughts out before I pick up His Highness and go home & pump iron...

I took up knitting last night. I bought a learn-to-knit kit over a year ago because I thought I'd need something to do over last winter. You know, while His Highness was sleeping all the time and it was too cold & dark to go outdoors and burn off all my excess energy. Then last night I found myself ready for bed early for once, so I finally broke open the package and went thru the basic instructions. I got the first row of 30 stitches or so onto my needle, and then knit(ted?) two more rows for a grand total of 3. An hour later (yes, an hour...for 3 little rows), I dropped into bed, exhausted.

After nearly 13 years, I have replaced my reversible, green, canvas coat. It is one of my most beloved articles of clothing ever, despite the fact that I haven't actually reversed it since about 1995. I could if I wanted to; that's the important thing. It is my most-worn coat due to its mid-weight versatility and casual functionality. I'd been considering replacing it for about 3 years, ever since I saw the first signs of fraying on the sleeves. Thus far I couldn't bring myself to do it, but then I found a corduroy barn jacket on clearance at LL Bean. I considered the ramifications extensively, but in the end I decided that $30 was too good a deal to pass up. I was a little sad to let it go, but within 20 minutes of putting on the new jacket I was hooked. It's thin but deceptively warm, incredibly comfortable yet appropriate for work or play. And being on the camel-end of khaki, it goes with most anything. No hood, but otherwise perfect.

As a sidenote, I've been embracing my preppiness as of late. Why fight it.

It's one of many tiny steps of subtle refinement I'm taking lately. It goes in cycles with me...every so often I feel more 'adult' for one reason or another, either producing or resulting from subtle changes of some sort. Corduroy barn jacket last week; new makeup and girly-time with Mrs. Roots next week. I chalk it up to equal parts rebellion and growing maturity. The growing maturity I'm sure has at least a little bit to do with motherhood (it was inevitable, I suppose), and maybe also a bit to do with the drugs and therapy, which is a story for another time. The rebellion is due to the Cat Daddy's job duties shifting to a more formal capacity, resulting in a perceived 'social pressure' and a resistance on my part to said perceived social pressure. Simply put, I'm still not going to dress up all the time and host teas. Even though no one's asking me to.

Which really has nothing to do with corduroy barn jackets, but it does give me a shot of confidence when I assert myself, and I tend to make good fashion decisions when I'm feeling confident. There are supposed rumors of purple hair in my future, as well; we'll see if they materialize.

Read. This. Now.

(thank you, EmmaSometimes)

Nov 10, 2007

Behold, the Oracle of Starbucks...

High praise to EmmaSometimes for this one...

I drink a tall vanilla steamed milk...
Personality type: Lame
You're a simple person with modest tastes and a reasonable lifestyle. In other words, you're boring. Going to Starbucks makes you feel sophisticated; you'd like to be snooty and order an espresso but aren't sure if you're ready for that level of excitement. People laugh at you because you use fake curse words like "friggin'" and "oh, crumb!" Everyone who thinks America's Funniest Home Videos is a great show drinks tall vanilla steamed milk.

Also drinks: V8
Can also be found: On the couch at home

Mom drinks a tall caramel macchiato...
Personality type: Clueless

You don't go to Starbucks much; when you do you just tag along with other people since you have nothing better to do. You would like to order a Tazo Chai Crème but don't know how to pronounce it. Most people who drink tall caramel macchiato are strippers.

Also drinks: Wine coolers
Can also be found at: The mall

The Cat Daddy drinks venti passion tea...
Personality type: A$$-clown
You tell people that you're an executive at your company. You think that your repeated references to being "addicted" to caffeine make you seem intriguing and dangerous. People think you're a sucker because you spend 60% of your annual income at Starbucks. Everyone who drinks venti passion tea ends up addicted to crack.

Also drinks: Zima
Can also be found at: Karaoke bars

...With valencia syrup when they're not out...
Personality type: High Maintenance
You pride yourself on being assertive and direct; everyone else thinks you're bossy and arrogant. You're constantly running your mouth about topics that only you would find interesting. Your capacity for wasting other people's time is limitless. Your friends find you intolerable, that's why they're plotting to kill you.

Also drinks: Water. Bottled, chilled, with four ice cubes, a twist of lemon, in a crystal glass.
Can also be found at: Trendy martini bars

Enter your Starbucks drink of choice here

Nov 5, 2007

Monday Morning Snippets...

This Sunday marked one of my favorite days of the year--the clocks fell back to mark this year's end of Daylight Saving Time (DST), also known as "The Biggest Crock Ever" (BCE). Don't even get me started.

What troubled me this year was suddenly realizing that, since His Highness was born, DST (or the lack thereof) doesn't matter nearly as much as usual. For the time being, I now do my exercising in the afternoon, so the extra morning daylight as of yesterday doesn't benefit me anymore. In fact, now the 'earlier' sunset (which we all know is not really 'earlier,' just like we weren't really 'saving' daylight) only leaves less leeway in my schedule.

So first I found myself (almost) sad about DST ending, and then I became even MORE sad about actually benefitting from DST and being sad that it was ending. I'm almost certain I've admitted this before: while DST was completely useless in Ohio (where we were on the western edge of the time zone), it actually makes some sense here on the East Coast. I only say that, however, because DST makes the summertime sunrise/set times similar to what I was accustomed to while growing up. I still maintain that we would all be happier and healthier if we stopped messing with the clocks...

...That said, I did take advantage of the fact that my body hasn't yet adjusted to the new time. This morning we all rose that much easier and I got in some early-morning mowing after sending the guys off for the day. Hopefully it's the last mow of the season, or darn near close. Our trees are dropping leaves, creating a big ol' raking bonanza (for another day). And we finally got some rain over the past several weeks so our healthy patches of grass were getting way long. This creates a spiraling problem with the raking (in my opinion)--raking the leaves would make mowing much easier; however, the long grass makes raking more difficult and hence mowing would then make the raking easier. And before too long we (OK, I) get caught in the circular thinking and before we know it the first blizzard has arrived, covering everything, making mowing AND raking impossible until about March, which puts the problem out of our minds until the springtime thaw, when we have to play catch-up and clean-up in the yard before we can seed and fertilize and all that..

Which is a way of life for some; and I won't begrudge anyone their way of life (usually), but for a nervous-type like myself it's really better to take care of things ahead of time as much as possible. So today I mowed. Not the whole yard, only the patches that haven't died yet and were visible above the leaves. I skipped the side yard entirely, and got by with half-a$$ing it through the front and the back. Should be more conducive to the raking we need to do over the next several weeks.

The other reason I HAD to mow...mushrooms. For some reason this year we've got them all over the place. There's no way I'd try to eat them, most notably because I know next to nothing about which mushrooms are nutritious and which are fatal, but also because they tend to grow best in the areas where Zoe does her business, and that knowledge is too much of a burden.

Also, I find them disgusting. Cartoony mushrooms in Mario video games--cool and fun. Smurf houses--cute. Small, regular mushrooms going directly from the produce section of the grocery store into my dinner--potentially delicious. Several years back though, I had some dreams about myself and some friends having wild mushrooms growing out of our heads, and seeing them in my yard only reminded me of those disturbing times. I actually felt a little nauseated, in fact. See, aren't you cringing now?? This is why I can't abide mushrooms that are still connected to the ground. So I mowed them, and my relief will be quite complete when the ground freezes and they can no longer grow for the season...

...So lately I've been dreaming more vividly and my brain is awash in activity. Things to do, work to get done before the first snow (RAKING), blurbs to blog about, and such. This online devotional/discussion I joined is only making things worse (well, not 'worse,' per se; just...more intense, perhaps). The topic for the month is Intentional Living. How it relates to Christ in us, our daily lives, etc. Crazy-cool. I sat down last night to type up some thoughts and I couldn't even capture them in words without thinking that I needed, like, several hours to jot everything down. So I forced myself to just post snippets of what I'm thinking in a nutshell (much like I'm doing here) with the hope and intent to return and expand on those thoughts...

...and finally I would like to share my epiphany of the weekend. The Cat Daddy and I were discussing the things of life, and we came to things we do that drive each other nuts. In an unexpected moment of clarity, I gave him the chance to share what I do that drives him nuts. The really hard part was listening without becoming defensive. This is one of the basic tenets of communication and fair fighting, and in my opinion the single hardest one to stick to. Fight or flight is instinctive, so to listen without defending is pretty much the opposite of our natural inclinations.

He went thru the things I know about--turning off lights when I'm not using them, keeping the heat just below comfortable, blah blah blah (and in my defense, I think I do a better job at these than he thinks I do. And I feel OK defending myself here because it's my blog and I can say what I want. Dangit.)...but one thing really did get my attention. My parking in the garage in a way that leaves my car doors susceptible to dings. Which I knew irked him; I just didn't understand why. It turns out this drives him nuts because in his mind I'm not respecting my (kick-a$$) car enough to take care of it.

I can honestly say I had never thought of it that way. I mean, I think I take pretty good care of my car. I try to keep it cleaned out (by not throwing McDonalds cups in the back--ahem!), washed somewhat regularly, get things serviced/repaired when needed, etc. In my mind, the minor dings and such are a healthy reminder not to hang onto our stuff too tightly in an imperfect world. I could try to protect my car to the fullest extent possible, but that would just make me neurotic to an unhealthy point. The better balance for me is to do my best to take care of my car, but to accept some minor blemishes as a part of long-term car ownership. Battle scars, war wounds...character, if you will.

So it was an eye-opener. A relational epiphany. I was reminded that, regardless of whether or not I agree with the Cat Daddy, it is a good thing for me to set aside my defenses and hear him out in order to understand where he's coming from and why he thinks the way he does. This, in turn, reminds me that the Cat Daddy might not always be trying to be bossy & controlling. Maybe almost never, in fact. Maybe...

Nov 2, 2007

Ready, Set...

I've been intending to go sign in to the online devotional/discussion group I joined for the month, but these are pressing matters.

ProudMommy told me about the following videos. Watch them in order. I'm 88% cetain that the DVD will be on my Christmas list (Mom & Dad, take note)...




Discussion about the recalls is not permitted here. 'Cuz it's irrelevant in this instance.

And now I can concentrate on my group. Later...