Jul 30, 2008
Jul 27, 2008
Jul 25, 2008
These discussions were totally unrelated to one another, but I must say that both were good for my personal growth. One was a debate of the parenting methods of Michael & Debi Pearl, who I now know have a rather large following, not unlike the Ezzos. Because of this one I got to read up on things like Hermeneutics 101, and Debate 101, and I actually paid money to read the Pearls' child training book (maybe like 3 halfway-decent suggestions but, in my opinion, mostly performance-based drivel and some...um...unconventional theology, let's call it).
The other was a discussion of whether or not Christians should go to the weddings of their gay friends. This one is a tricky question, but to me it really boils down to issues of conscience, whether or not you agree with gay marriage, and how that manifests itself with your beliefs on wedding attendance. I think I'd probably go, but then again if for some reason I felt God was telling me not to, I'd send my love and stay home. If they were good enough friends to invite me to their wedding, I should hope they would understand.
Now obviously I can't condense the facets & aspects & intricacies of these discussions enough to do them justice, so instead I will provide a sweepingly-general nutshell synopsis of each.
Regarding the Pearls' parenting methods: "I disagree with their methods and I'm not comfortable with their theology. I think they're wonderful, and people need to stop persecuting them! Disagreement is not the same as persecution! Yes it is! No it's not! My kids are awesomer than your kids! No mine are awesomer! You guys suck."
Regarding gay weddings: "I think it's OK to go 'cuz you can love someone and still disagree with them. I think it's OK 'cuz there shouldn't be a problem with gay weddings. I think it's not OK--to attend is to condone, and oh by the way all the homosexuals are going to hell. No they're not! Yes they are! No they're not! Yes they are! You guys suck."
Yeah, a little emotional, these two topics. On that front I grew weary quickly. Most people don't know how to debate & discuss. They make sure to get their opinion in there quickly and forcefully, but then when someone presents an different one they get all freaked out and feel personally threatened (um, this includes me, by the way). So things escalate, and tempers get out of control, and it's not pretty. Discussion is so much more productive when we can be a little more objective, and even academic about it...but then can you really separate your emotions completely from such sensitive topics as parenting and marriage? I don't think so. The trick is being free to feel your feelings without trouncing on someone else's.
The horrible part to me was seeing that, among a very diverse sampling of beliefs, the worst-behaved were the Christians, and those who would probably count themselves as the more conservative (ie, best?) Christians, at that. Where are we getting our license to verbally abuse people and call it speaking the truth in love? Seriously, a lot of the "sharing love, ideas, and/or the gospel" was more like "seething shame and judgement, but if you change your mind and start agreeing with me right now I'll be nice and sunny with you." Horrendous.
I'm pretty sure all (five) of you reading this do not go into hate-mode when discussing sensitive things, but for the benefit of the emotionally stunted who might find their way here someday, I would like to share some discussion tips I've picked up along the way:
1) People are allowed to believe whatever they want. Even if they believe that the sun is actually a giant orange and that traffic lights are run by tiny little men inside riding stationary bikes and running on hampster wheels. Doesn't matter if you agree. Doesn't matter if they're wrong. Doesn't matter if you crack open a "Don't Walk" sign and show them the wires and bulbs. If they are intent on trying to juice the sunrise, that is their prerogative.
2) Increasing your volume does not make you more credible or convincing. It just makes you louder, or MORE CAPITALIZED, whichever the case may be.
3) Sharing your personal experiences is fine. Expecting people to validate you by copy-catting your personal experiences is not. "Be a clone of me!!" is just not a healthy argument.
4) Diagnosing the state of people's hearts and minds based solely on blog comments is silly. And obnoxious. And judgmental.
5) Even if you're right, an angry diatribe based on scripture is not the same as speaking the truth in love. Mrs. T once described speaking the truth in love as talking to someone the same way you'd talk to your favorite aunt or grandma (or some other favorite person, if you have extensive family issues). Mrs. T is purple-haired wisdom personified.
6) If someone chooses to do things differently than you, it doesn't necessarily mean they think you're wrong. Or if they do, it doesn't mean you actually are wrong. I mean, maybe you are, but hey if you think you'll get some OJ out of the sun's rays go for it. But I think the little men in the traffic signals already drank it.
7) Including the words "should," "have to," and "must" is a good way to get me to dig in my heels, and then turn on them & run the other way. Probably other people, too. Simply put, you're not the boss of me.
Those are the biggies that come to mind. Feel free to chime in with your own. But you should know that my kid is awesomer than yours, and that you suck.
Jul 22, 2008
CD to His Highness: "You wanna tattoo?"
HH: "dooga-dooga-dooga" [which means something that is unknown to the rest of us]
At first I pretended to be engrossed in my crossword, unaware of the body art that was commencing. Then I asked:
Me to CD: "What'd you draw?"
Me: "Show me his tattoo."
CD: "I don't know what you're talking about."
Now see, here's something I don't understand. I was sitting right there. The Cat Daddy knew I knew what he was doing...why bother with the silly round & round conversational games? Is he afraid I'll get mad? If I had had a problem with the Bic-tattooing I'd have spoken up much sooner...
...We're at t-minus-4.5 weeks to go until our move to Cheyenne. Yee-haw. I assembled and packed two boxes yesterday, so the packing has officially begun. We were able to put off the packing much longer this time around since we only unpacked halfway to begin with...I am looking forward weeding through our stuff while we unpack completely in the new house. There are some who say "if you didn't need it for 6 months, toss it," but here we must exercise some discretion and actually go thru the stuff. For example, I really want to have pictures on my walls again, and I'm almost certain I'll need my winter stuff again this year.
Actually, that last part is a joke. I know I'll need my winter stuff again. In Cheyenne we are high & dry. I'm told other than two weeks or so where it sits around zero, the temps really aren't too bad. But the wind makes things miserable.
That's all to say I've got some LL Bean credit which I intend to use soon.
His Highness and I are off to swim lessons. Hope the tattoo doesn't wash off...
Jul 16, 2008
And then it dawned on me that I don't think I've ever shared the story of how the Cat Daddy entered the military, and consequently how I came to be a military wife. So...
The Cat Daddy and I met in college my freshman year. He was an RA in the dorms. Blah blah blah, we got married just after he graduated with a degree in business management. He started a full-time job on campus working as a techie-type in the computer lab. I had a year to go, after which time I completed my degree in math and secondary education (double major--not so important for social recognition, but very important for grad school entrance committees). Then I taught for two years while he transitioned into more of a network administrator role, got hired with another company, and decided that he didn't want to be a professional computer nerd for his entire working life. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just not what he wanted to do.
So we're driving along one night on the way home from dinner out, and out of nowhere the Cat Daddy said, "So, I've never told you this, but my secret dream is to join the Air Force and become a pilot."
Huh? I was thinking "What?? We've committed to be life partners and you neglected to mention your deepest dream (which sounds terrible to me, by the way)??" but I mumbled something like "OK, pray about it," and mentally dismissed the idea, since we had talked about careers & stuff before we got married. I specifically had not wanted to marry a military guy. The whole being away, and possibility of dying, and potential for stereotypical drill-sergeant personalities, and all. It was one of my criteria for a husband. And at the time, he had assured me that he would not be joining the military. Something about his mom "wouldn't let him." Which, even though he really did say it (in a lighthearded way, mind you), is not entirely accurate. Mom-in-law was in the Army for 20 years, and because of her challenges & experiences had more or less discouraged him from joining. Or something.
So it sort of went away for a few months, except it didn't really, because then he started talking about what he was finding out in researching how to actually go about becoming an Air Force pilot. And started studying for the entry exam. And taking the entry exam, passing with flying colors, and all that. Oh crap.
In all of this, I gave my passive blessing. I wasn't sure if this was a real and true dream, or some sort of macho phase, but in the event it was a real dream I didn't want to be a wife who squashed her husband's deepest desires. But I really didn't want it to work out. I wanted the AF to decline him so I could get back to doing my thing without worrying about the possibility of change. When it started looking promising, that's when I put down my terms. I would not sell the house, and we had to seek counsel from trusted friends. And the Cat Daddy said "OK," and we sought counsel from many trusted friends, and I actually said to one friend "I just don't see how God could be behind any of this," and she responded, "Actually, it's entirely possible that he is." Again, oh crap.
By then I had a really, really bad feeling that it was all going to work out. This was a hard thing, because I was more or less living my dream of being a teacher and living in our fantastic little neighborhood near our friends and our church. A complete change in course hadn't even crossed my mind, much less one that involved moving out of state...and then doing so again and again.
And I was really, really afraid of the stereotypes about military wives (and specifically, officers' wives). I didn't want to join the Officers' Wives Club and exchange pleasantries and kiss up to whomever had the highest-ranking husband. Someone (who shall remain nameless, to protect the uninformed) told me that as an officer's wife I would have to start dressing up all the time & hosting teas & whatnot. Nice. I perused the Officers Wives Handbook. Yes, it exists. I'd buy it for the sheer entertainment value and blogging potential, but I still have some hangups there.
Long story short--it worked out. I supported the Cat Daddy in a kicking-&-screaming sort of way. We moved to Ohio. I grieved the loss of my dream, spent 6 months in the depths of despair, & did some counseling. The counselor happened to be a retired major and encouraged me to join the OWC. I made sure I got better real quick.
Then I went to grad school, and God opened my mind to the vast unfathomability of his workings. Not because of grad school, per se, but because I found myself in a co-op position where my duties included flying/floating/puking on the NASA KC-135, thereby fulfilling my secret dream of being weightless, without having to go thru astronaut training and/or get shot into orbit sitting on top of a rocket. Who'da thought...
As for the Cat Daddy, he decided not to pursue pilot training for a variety of really good reasons, and has enjoyed getting to use his business degree (his current 4-year foray into the operational world notwithstanding). Even I must admit that he is totally suited for the military way of life. Me, not so much...but lots of mil-wives aren't, and we console each other frequently and secretly. Whoops, did I say that out loud?
I still don't quite have the words for it. It's not that my life has turned out differently than I expected, it's that the way my life has turned out is so mind-blowingly different than anything I could've thought up on my own (in both good & bad ways). In some ways it's been one big lesson in never saying "never," because you just don't know what can happen. I can tell you with much authority--do NOT test that theory unless you're prepared to deal with the consequences.
I think there's something to be said for the "if you don't like your life, change it" approach, and empowerment and all that, but we must remember that really it's up to God what we do. Somewhere in there I went through the One Year Bible and came across Prov 16:33. The New Living Translation puts it this way: "We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall." I like that.
Another side to it is that because/in spite of various circumstances God has done a lot of healing in me, both physically with my back stuff, and emotionally with my neuroses and anxieties. Could he have done the same things had we remained in AZ? Yes. Did he? No, but it has kind of grown on me, the way he's woven things together.
Oh, right. Military wives. That's more or less how it happened. It took me a long time to accept the whole thing, and even longer to like it...and still some days I really, really want to chuck it all. But I'm grateful. And I still wear jeans, and make snide remarks, and try to minimize the amount of kissing-up I do. And I still get frustrated at and make fun of the military life because there's a lot to get frustrated at and make fun of.
And I do not play bunco! The end.
Jul 15, 2008
When I got older and learned that you don't have to wear Jesus t-shirts all the time, and listen to Christian music all the time, and eat Icthus-Goldfish all the time (certainly there's a marketing phenomenon in there somewhere) to be a real Christian, I sort of ditched her. And Michael W. Smith (But only after starting the wave at the concert where Jars of Clay opened for him. Oh yes I did). I'd have ditched Petra too, but I was never all that into them to begin with. Sorry, Petra.
I never really had a problem with Amy, although I was confused throughout the 90's as to whether I was supposed to embrace or disown her for going mainstream and writing "Baby Baby" ostensibly about her new baby, and then making the video with a good lookin' model instead of a baby. Really the problem was my being so wrapped up in my own church-kid-ness that I didn't know what I really thought about much of anything. So rather than make a decision one way or the other, I decided to distance myself altogether and let Amy be Amy while I explored the wide world of music (and freedom in Christ).
Since then I've poked fun at myself for my Amy-love. I've made gagging gestures when listening to "Grown Up Christmas Wish." I've poked fun at Amy when I really should've been poking fun at the Christian music industry for not letting artists be real people, lest they set a bad example or make some weak listener stumble.
But then she went and said something really, really smart that resonated with me. In a moment of weakness, I bought a magazine from the check-out rack that had an article with her in it. I wish I could remember the name of the dang magazine. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I wish I'd saved the article so I could get an exact quote.
She was talking about how all through the years of being presented as more or less having it all together (as most Christian musicians are portrayed) she has had real and serious struggles which very few people knew about. Through her process she learned that, even though all of us make snap judgements, you can never really know all that is going on behind what you hear or read about a person, and that she has gained a great deal of compassion for others who are going through highly-publicized struggles (and those not so highly publicized).
Of not knowing all the facts and back-stories and hurts and whatnot, she said, "It's a good reason to be gentle."
Of course then I had to go to her website and see more--which I'm sure is exactly what the article intended me to do--and found a real person amid all the marketing hype (ie: Friends of Amy, who never did send me an autographed picture back in 1988. Thanks for nothing, FOA!). And dangit if I can't make fun of Amy anymore, 'cuz as a person she seemed perfectly lovely. Human, not perfect, but fairly normal and nice.
It didn't reignite my passion for Amy Grant songs or anything, but that little quote has stuck with me. It is good to remember that there are very few situations where we have the whole story and can truly speak with authority outside of our personal experiences. Before I go railing on someone I disagree with, it's good to at least consider the possibility that there are external factors contributing to their viewpoint, as opposed to my blanket assumption that those who think differently than I do are all a bunch of morons. Maybe they are, but maybe not.
I'm just saying...
Jul 14, 2008
Well let me say, here and now, that my parents know how to do the beach. Oh yes. They do the beach well. They have one of those 10' canopy-thingies, which I really wasn't too sure about at first. I wondered if it was some form of beach snobbery with the canopy, and their plethora of lounge chairs, and spray-on sunscreen, and their massively-huge & cushy beach towels.
Which maybe it is, but even if that is the case, it is totally worth it. Judge all you want. I don't care. On Saturday Dad set up the canopy, under which he, Mom, and I each read and snoozed while listening to the pound of the surf. After napping I decided to put one of the boogie boards to good use. It was loads of beachy bliss.
As for the Cat Daddy, I think he had a breakthrough this weekend. A few weeks ago he had declared that he really didn't like the beach all that much. I wasn't sure what to make of it--I mean, he had told me of this dislike amid the beaches in our general vicinity, which aren't very pretty, and have icy-cold water, and are not really swimmable because the currents are too strong, and are best enjoyed by hardcore beach enthusiasts. I like them, but even I must admit they aren't the best beaches ever. Still, I have such fond childhood memories of the beach growing up that it was hard for me to understand an all-out dislike of all things beachy.
So when His Highness was napping indoors, it was completely understandable that the Cat Daddy willingly volunteered to nap alongside him, completely unaware of the sheer joy the folks and I were experiencing mere yards away.
After the napping, however, he did agree to go boogie-boarding with me (while His Highness had fun playing in the sand with Grandma & Grandpa). Then the next day, despite soreness of all types, he ventured out again while I stayed in & napped with His Highness. And after naptime I joined him, and he convinced me to give body surfing a try, extolling the virtues and advantages over lugging a boogie board through the water. I lasted all of 5 minutes before deciding that I didn't like body surfing one bit, and I retrieved the board from beneath the canopy (anchored anew, since beach rules dictate that one must take them down for the night).
Somewhere in there the Cat Daddy decided that all beaches are not bad. He said, "yeah, this beach is great." I gave him a knowing look on that one. And we pretty much agreed unanimously that, for optimum enjoyment, we must do the beach much like my parents. That is, with the appropriate gear and a great lack of urgency.
After swimming and kicking to exhaustion, and surprisingly little sunburn (the spray-on sunscreen is fantastic, I tell you), it was time to clean up, pack up, and head home. Just under four hours later (slightly shy of 1 am), and with aching bodies, we stumbled into the house and collapsed blissfully into bed, still with that wavy-disequilibrium-feeling.
Needless to say, we ditched church this weekend.
Since he drove us home while we snoozed, I told the Cat Daddy that I'd get up with the kiddo this morning. But THEN I managed to convince His Highness to sleep in til, like, 9:00. The Cat Daddy got up before we did, in fact.
I love that boy...
Jul 9, 2008
I attend a weekly support group at the Nazarene church. Now, I don't struggle with addiction. Honest. I'm not just in denial. Those of you familiar with Bill W. and the Twelve Steps know that they are applicable to anyone, regardless of their personal issues in life. And we all have issues (even the Cat Daddy, believe it or not).
So being neurotic, and a nervous type, I was introduced to support groups several years ago as a way to maybe be not quite as neurotic and nervous, but mostly just to have a place to share my thoughts, no matter how crazy, and to be open to whatever work God wanted to do in me, and to have a safe place in which to do it. I went for some time at the home church before we started this whole Air Force thing. Then I didn't go to any groups for a long time, and when we moved here I felt like it might be a good idea to start back up again, so I found this group at the Nazarene church, and here I am.
Admitting you have issues is hard to begin with, being that it feels weak and vulnerable, and sometimes it's hard to know when and where it's safe to do so. There is no shortage of people in this world who will immediately try to:
a) Fix your issues with a simple blanket homily about victory in Christ, and then wait for you to respond with "Oh! I'd never heard of victory in Christ, I'm fixed now, thank you!"
b) Chalk up your issues to being human, which is true but doesn't help you to deal with your particular ones.
c) Pigeonhole you into their own mental inventory of what people with various issues are like. Then try to fix you with a more specific homily about victory in Christ over alcohol, or profanity, or whatever.
d) Run the other way. It's actually best when they do this one.
e) Talk about their brother-in-law who has issues, and embarrasses the whole family with his antics every Thanksgiving.
It just so happens that all of the above are generally not allowed at support groups (except the running away--you can leave anytime you want). The groups are comprised of people who all admit that they have one weakness or another, so everyone's on the same level. Similar to therapy, but on a much smaller and more low-profile scale. And free.
Keeping in the spirit of my "bad church visitor" summer, I am allowing myself to be a teensy-bit bad about the group. I'm not on the phone list, I haven't acquired any of the written materials, and I'm not going to the summer conference. However, I do share honestly about my feelings and I don't make any snide remarks. Or very many, anyway. And never directed at anybody.
It's actually kind of rewarding, every so often, to take stock of where I've been, how I've grown, and such. And doubly cool to share encouragement when a newbie comes in looking just as freaked out as I was my first time and say "you're in the right place, and we're glad you're here." Really it's just like Cheers, but without beer. Or Cliff Clavin. In a support group, Cliff would have to cool it after 3-5 minutes...
Jul 8, 2008
Jul 7, 2008
This is the house we chose. Note the soothing green color scheme and curb appeal:
This is a portion of the basement. I very nearly cried tears of joy at the sight of the wall o' shelves (miniature chairs not included). I was repulsed by the green carpet at first, but later decided it wasn't so bad. Now it might be growing on me:
And here we have the egress well outside one of the basement windows. You can get these murals from any major DIY center, and you can choose from several styles to make your egress wells more pleasing to the eye. In the event that you actually need to egress, the serene setting depicted will take you to your happy place while you claw your way up to the back yard and call the fire department:
An older lady lives there now, but her grandkids are over all the time, hence the toys and mini-chairs and such. She's pretty sharp, too...all the improvements she made to the house were done well and in good taste. We felt very fortunate on this one, because sometimes matching tastes with an older lady can get sketchy. We looked at another house where the previous owner (a much older lady, now a late older lady) had kept everything original from 1962. Dark brown appliances, an in-the-counter warmer complete with zodiac symbols, green shag & berber carpets in the living area, orange shag, blue shag, and brown striped berber in the three bedrooms, and an orange berber so bright that it alone kept the basement illuminated. No overhead lighting necessary. It was the most fantastic retro house EVER, but sadly way too much fix-up work for us to take on in this season of our life.
Anyway, everything went swimmingly. With His Highness and me (and my mom) looking at houses, combined with nightly debriefing telecons with the Cat Daddy, we were able to make a decision with surprisingly little weeping and gnashing of teeth. The most exhausting part was looking at 40 houses in 3 days, which isn't quite as bad as it sounds when you factor in several properties we were able to rule out just by driving by. And it turns out that the house we chose was the second one we looked at all week. Second. Exactly like trying on 20 wedding dresses and deciding on the first one because really you knew all along, but you just had to rule out the others.
While I loved this house from the moment I walked in, I did not like the location as much. It's one of many cookie-cutter homes in a newer subdivision, so it doesn't have the character of an older, more mature neighborhood. As time went on though, I kept being pulled back to this house. And then one night talking to the Cat Daddy he said, "I just keep getting pulled back to that one house." Which was good 'cuz I'd been worried about how I'd choose which house to buy, and that confirmed it.
So after we got the offering, & counter-offering, & negotiating, and signing all squared away, Mom, His Highness and I headed to Phoenix for a week of rest and relaxation. Then the Cat Daddy joined us for the long weekend, which was made even more cool by the fact that my uncle was also in town. So the whole fam-damily got to hang out, catch up, and goof off. The grandmas were able to pamper His Highness up to his standards while the more obnoxious members (that would be my dad, the Cat Daddy, and myself) took an early morning to do some 'caching--seven finds out of 9 attempts! It was hot and sweaty and fantastic. Then we did a blow-out-cook-out with frou-frou Omaha steaks and Dad's new phatty-phat-phat grill. Yum.
By the time we hit the road yesterday, His Highness had been declared "brilliant" and "so far advanced for his age" by several completely objective family members, and had been stuffed so full of candy that since we got back I've had to give him something to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms (no, not really).
I'd really like to go into more detail, but after a week in the 112 range, I'm compelled to go outside & play in the 71 range. Also I fear that His Highness may have turned the living room into some sort of disaster area/giant canvas for ballpoint pen marks...
Jul 3, 2008
Jul 2, 2008
Jul 1, 2008
1. What did you do 10 years ago?
Oh my--well, on July 1 of 1998 I had been married about 6 weeks, was in the middle of summer school & (still) unpacking my stuff in the campus apt I was suddenly sharing with the Cat Daddy, heading into my final year of college, majoring in education & math. That summer we saw the Z's get married, I was introduced to Amish Friendship Bread, and after summer school ended we went on our honeymoon to San Diego. Busy summer.
2. Five items on your to-do list today:
1--Drop Mom off at work (done)
2--Hang out with Smiller (done)
3--Take His Highness swimming after his nap
4--Checkbook/budget update & planning
5--Pick Mom up from work
3. Snacks I enjoy:
Oh my--I just ate a nectarine, Ding Dong, cookie, and some Dots (and a glass of water). Let's not count dessert foods and narrow it down to my current faves--apples & cheese (colby jack, string cheese, Babybels, and so on), fruit smoothies, chocolate covered strawberries, and yogurt & graham crackers.
4. What would you do if you were a billionaire?
--Hire an entire physical therapy & fitness team to keep an eye on my back
--Hire an accountant
--Feed hungry people
--Buy two houses--one in Ohio and one in Phoenix--and become a snowbird
--Contribute heavily to the home church's building fund. Anonymously, so as to drive people crazy with curiosity
--Walk around trying to convince people that I hadn't changed, thereby convincing them that I probably had.
Smiller, Emj, and Miranda, you're up...