Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just One or Two Reasons Why I am a Cat Person

We have a blended household here....a mixed marriage. Paul is a die-hard dog person, and I am a cat-person. We have had many a conversation over why we refuse to switch camps. And I do have to point out that Paul showed great sacrificial love to me about five years ago when, for my birthday, he got me our cat, Cammie. She is pretty great, most of the time....but that could be said for any cat.

Paul's entire family consists of dog-people. Any time you enter any one of their homes, you will most likely be welcomed by barking. But enough about his family's strange welcoming routine....

We went to his sister Carey's house yesterday for the family Thanksgiving. They have three dogs, all of different breeds. Their newest family member is a puppy named Boss. He is a Beabull, which is a cross of a Beagle and English Bulldog. He has the face and height of a Beagle, but the markings and stockiness of a bulldog. He IS a cute little guy, and yes, I am able to recognize the extreme cuteness of a puppy. I just don't want to be the mama to one. When Carey's husband got Boss out of the cage to greet Abigail and me, he jumped on us in all of his puppy wiggliness. And then I felt it on my jeans. The warm. The wet.

Five minutes at their house, an hour and a half from my nearest wardrobe change, and I had been peed on.

Now, I can handle a little pee with grace and dignity. It happens. Carey washed my jeans for me while I wore some of her daughter's cargos (thanks, Brandi). But I did feel the need to remind them about another time I had visited their house.....

Paul and I were engaged at the time, and we had gone to Carey's house. They had a dog at the time named Harley. We had just eaten, and I had my legs outstretched under the table. Then I felt....something....that I had never felt before happening to my leg. Yes, my dears, I was officially being humped. As someone who had been raised with cats, I reacted normally and freaked out. I felt extremely violated. He hadn't even ASKED! All of the dog-people around me had a good laugh and then told me that was just part of owning a dog.

Don't get me wrong. I truly enjoy going to Carey's house. It is warm and welcoming in every way. But for me, that is not any way that involves their dogs. I must have a cat-shaped target on my forehead when I walk in there, and those dogs are ready for me. I just told them yesterday that I have had reaffirmed to me, once again, why I choose to stick with aloof, uncaring felines. Oh, I'm sure Paul will win this battle someday, but as long as I can keep coming up with excuses, I think it will be a while.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just a Few Points

Sometimes I just love the look of a list. So today, I shall make one.

1. The Halls have been Decked. We put up Christmas decorations last night at home. We have started earlier ever since we moved into the parsonage. It just has so much more room to be festive than our old house did. The tree is up, lights are on, nativity in place. I find this time of year that I don't have nearly enough "flat surfaces" in my know, the places to put all of the cute little snowmen and candles and multiple nativities. We have the top of our piano and the top of our tv. That is just about it, so a lot of really cute decorations usually do not get put out. Boo. However, Paul and I both fell asleep in the living room last night to the light of the tree, and I think it is just about the coziest feeling in the world.

2. Abigail has rediscovered Tiny the Elf. You can read my post from last year about Tiny if you want, but to be concise, Tiny WAS the Elf on the Shelf in our house 25 years ago, before Elf on the Shelf had a store or a website to call home. I would still like to submit that it was my mom's original idea, but it was at least the idea of tired mamas everywhere who needed a little elf help. We got out our little ceramic Tiny last night, and he stayed awake all night watching Abigail sleep to report to Santa that she slept well. She seems a lot more ready to play with him this year (she is currently helping him ski down the Christmas tree), so I hope he can survive the season intact.

3. My 30 days of meals is going quite well, one week in! Thanks for all who have sent recipes. I made a cute little calendar to hang on the fridge, and have stuck to it. I have actually loved having a plan for each night....not having to make excuses, not having to scramble at the last minute. I just look at the calendar, and that is what I make. I think it has brought a little corner of peace to my mealtime madness.

4. Picture day today! My friend Hilary is coming today to take pictures for family Christmas/Abigail's birthday/pregnancy. She is excellent at her skill. I still remember her winning all of the blue ribbons at the 4-H fair when we were younger with her amateur photography, and she has crafted it well. Even on a blustery, rainy day like today, I trust that we will have some pretty photos to show you soon!

5. I've been doing a new Bible study lately called Knowing God by Name by Mary Kassian. I'm not very far into it yet, but I have certainly enjoyed meditating on God as Yahweh, Elohim, and Adonai. I want to know God better in His glory and majesty....and be able to pray those characteristics by title.

6. Please be in prayer for us over our Muncie home. I haven't had the need to write about it lately, but in a nutshell, we have been selling it on an 18-month contract. The couple buying the house is 15 months into the contract, and have so far been wonderful. They have made their payments on time every month, and we have not had a single issue with them. We are so desperate to be free of this house we moved out of two and a half years ago, and I was starting to see a much needed light at the end of the tunnel.
Then, two days ago, we received notification in the mail that the lady living in the house is filing for bankruptcy. NOT the news we wanted at this stage of the game....or any other stage, for that matter. The couple is not married, as far as I know, so we just don't know any answers as far as how this will affect his responsibility in things, if they will be able to continue to make payments, if he will be able to get financing in his name without her, etc. We may be once again, getting this house back and starting payments all over again until we can find a new buyer. We were really hoping these would be our buyers. We just don't know what happens from here, and have to do things we don't want to do, like talk to attorneys. I'm sure you understand this needs much prayer right now.....God will make a way somehow, and we will get through this, but it has been a damper on our week.

That's what I've got for you.....six points! Doesn't a list look so pretty and official, though? I'm off to make breakfast for us so we have pretty smiles for our pictures!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's Good to Have Goals

I told my husband today that I had a new goal. He said, "Let me guess....does it last 30 days?"

Well, yes. Actually, it does, Mr. Smartie-Pants. We all know that any goal worth learning anything from has to last 30 days. Sheesh.

Last night, I was up very late (too late), googling things on the computer. And I googled "30 days of meals," or something like that. And I am now totally excited and motivated to plan out a month worth of meals for my family. We will still do our weekly grocery shopping, so I will only buy what I need for that week's worth of meals.

I have just fallen too many times into the trap of, "I don't have meat thawed out for dinner. Let's go out." Paul and I know that if there is one main area that we could tighten the bootstraps of our budget on, it is in the area of eating out. Plus, if the meals are planned, then I won't be so likely to grocery shop like I am hopped up on cough syrup. A plan, y'all, I just need a plan.

This will be a healthier change for my family (compared to too many meals out), and give me that sense of being ready for what comes at the end of the day. You know, it's not like I can pretend to be surprised by dinner for the rest of my life.

So, it will take work. It will take preparation. It will take prayer. But I like the idea of planning it out. Except for dad's frying a turkey that day, and I would hate to take that joy away from him.

Any suggestions of your family's favorite meals that I could add to my list?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mars and Venus Collide in a Minivan

I've been with my family in Springfield the last two days for our annual Baptist state meeting. Anyone who has driven across Illinois this time of year knows that most country roads lead to Springfield, and they all make boring drives. I'm sure at other times of the year, when the corn is high and green, it could be quite pretty, but considering most of the fields have been cut flat (real farming terminology in my world), it all just looks kind of vast and brown and blah.

So, today we were driving home on some country road approaching another tiny berg of a town near Amish country. Abigail was asleep in her carseat, and Paul and I were quiet up front as we stared out the windows.

My mind started wandering, or racing, as it often does in the quiet of thoughts such as, We have things going on almost every weekend between now and 2010. I really need to get the baby's room painted, so we really need to get the office junk moved out of that room. In all reality, I'm almost in my third trimester, and it will fly by. I mean, it feels like it was just August. There is so much to do. So much, so much, so much.....

Then Paul spoke up, and I once again had a glimpse of how not similar our quiet time thoughts are.
"Do you know what I just realized?" he asked, as he looked out the driver's window onto a vast, empty field.

"What?" I asked back, jarring my thoughts of to-do lists back toward today.

"If Spider-man lived in the country, he really wouldn't be able to use his abilities. I mean, look at these fields. There would be nothing for him to climb like there would in the city. He really couldn't live out here."

I stared at him blankly. "Do you know what I just realized?"
Then I stopped myself before I said something that might hurt the head of a man who still sometimes thinks like an eight-year-old.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I was always a patriotic little child. My first favorite song that I can remember was "The Star-Spangled Banner." LOVED IT.

My second favorite song was the jingle from the Crystal Light commercials in the 80s, but I don't know if jingles count for anything. Crystal Light, 'cuz I believe in me.

My next favorite song as a child was "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood. It still is one of my faves. I don't know what it is about hearing that scratchy voice from that bearded man sing, "And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free...," but it still gets me choked up to this day. And should I hear it on the radio in my car, that puppy is getting turned UP.

All this to say, I don't know when my heart began to bend toward a love for my country. But it was natural to me. I don't remember being taught these things...they just always were within me. We have done our best to teach Abigail about the importance of soldiers and what they do for to fight for our freedoms. I know that it may be years before she understands the depth of these things, but I still love to see her say the Pledge of Allegiance or tell me with a little bit of awe in her voice that she just saw a soldier.
We were in McDonald's a couple of weeks ago, and there was a woman there, dressed in Army fatigues. Abigail got up really close to me and said, "Mommy, I didn't know there were GIRL soldiers!" In her world, there are very distinct lines of what girls do and what boys do. She is always telling us something is a "boy" thing to do, until we expand her thinking a little more to say that girls do a lot of the same things.
On a day like today, I'm glad that our country gives pause to celebrate and honor our veterans. Even though I am sad for the reason, I appreciate seeing flags everywhere flying at half-staff in memory of those who gave the greatest sacrifice one can give, of their very lives for the freedom of others. It is so much of Jesus, and so not a natural part of our human selves. I know many soldiers may never get the full appreciation they deserve, or see the spiritural parallels in the work they do. But I do think a soldier is the closest earthly picture we may see of great sacrifice. To think that Jesus went even beyond that, to give His own life for a fallen, sinful world, to lay himself on an alter that no other sacrifice could fulfill will forever amaze my mind and heart.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Things Abigail has Learned Lately

When a baby is ages birth through a year or two old, the questions are always being asked, "What are they doing now?", "What are their milestones?", and "What are their new tricks?" I always laughed at that one, like she was a little puppy or something. Those questions start to fizzle out around preschool age, but I've realized that even at almost four years old, Abigail has learned several new things.

1. Bargaining Skills. She is getting a lot better with getting what she wants, whether that is just one more book, one more Blues Clues video, or one more piece of Halloween candy. I don't know if I am just too tired to think of how to bargain back, or not willing to argue. Sometimes I am firm, say, close to nap time. Other times, as much as I want to say no, I think of the "big picture parenting", and ask myself what one extra book will hurt.
Note: Bargaining and throwing fits are not the same thing. Last night when we were leaving Toys R Us, she wanted to ride one of the little cars and we told her no. She immediately started crying, and we didn't cave. We are pretty good at not caving to bad behavior, which is different than just giving in to "one more ___________." I think.....

2. Being defensive. Paul says she learned this trait from him, the propensity to self-defend. I'm not sure where this came from, and it seems like it really came out of the blue. When she gets called out for doing something wrong, she immediately tells us all the reasons why it is not her fault, why she wasn't doing anything wrong, why she is so justified.'s annoying. It may be a long road ahead of us, but by golly, this kid will learn to accept when she has messed up. She may be 30 when she learns it, but I'm counting on that lesson sinking in someday.

3. Showing us her booty. Recently, she thinks giving me and Paul a full moon is hilarious. Luckily, she only does this at home, and usually before bedtime when giddiness ensues. The pants get pulled down, and she just stands there and waits for us to realize what she is showing us. I admit, it can be pretty funny, but we tell her we don't need to see her "cracker". She also thinks this word is hilarious, which makes the pants-pulling-down happen even more.

4. Telling us what words are not okay to say. Somehow, I think this is her way of exercising the chance to actually say those words. One word she has said for a while is "bammit", which we tell her not to say because it rhymes with a bad word. Yesterday, she dropped the broom she was playing with, and then came to me and said, "I'm sorry I said bammit." Hmmm, tricky.

5. Baby talking. I don't know if the closer we get to baby's arrival, the more she feels the need to be a baby again herself, or what. But the baby talking is about to drive this mama up a wall.

6. Coloring and drawing. She loves it and could do it for hours on end. It keeps her very quiet and occupied, and she's actually pretty good. I'm all for it.

7. Saying sweet things. She has moved beyond the sole "I love you" stage, and is getting more creative. Last night I was getting her out of her carseat, and she said, "I'm glad Jesus made you my mommy." These moments melt me completely.....and I still didn't give in at Toys R Us!

So, those are her latest tricks. Don't get me wrong, she's pretty fun lately. There are fun things about every stage, and trying things, too. In some ways, I'm hoping age four is a little easier than age three. But overall, she is always a great kid, and I sure am glad she's mine.

Monday, November 2, 2009

So Good

Today, I am reminding myself that God is good ALL the time. And not because anything is going wrong today, because it isn't. But I was a little apprehensive over something that I shouldn't have been.

The couple that has been buying our house on contract sends us a mortgage check at the beginning of each month for the payment. They have never missed a payment, nor have they been late. The contract period is almost up, about three more months to go.

Usually, we receive their payment even before the first of the month. It is usually in the mail on the 27th or 28th of the month, making me content and happy and secure and blah, blah, blah. For some reason, this month, it didn't arrive a few days early as usual, but it still was not late. It arrived on the 2nd. And wouldn't you know it, my mind started racing a hundred different ways with the "what if's?". What if they couldn't make their payment this month? What if they get this close to the end of the contract and default? What if we still have possession of this crazy house almost two and a half years after we moved out of it????

But today, the check came. Payment will be made on time once again. I called Paul and said, "Check was in the mail. God is good." Then I realized what I had just said, and said, "I mean, God is always good, even if the check had not come. But it did come, and He is good." We had a good little chuckle over it, but it made me realize today that I needed that little reminder....God is ALWAYS good. If the payment is made or not, if our house sells or not, if we are healthy or sick, if we are rich or poor (sound like marriage vows, anyone?). Thank you, God, that Your goodness never changes, and it is not based on me.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever! Psalm 107:1