Saturday, October 25, 2014

Superpowers for Moms

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It's fairly obvious that mothers would be the demographic that would put superpowers to good use.  Super speed, teleportation, flight and invisibility all come to mind as something that should be bestowed on the mother at the very instant that her child shows up.  But there are a few more that might make a mothers' life better.

Zapping bugs with your eyes.  Not only would that eliminate the pesky flies in the house, or worse, the dreaded creepy spider, but how useful would it be to save your child from a stinging bee?  One blink of the eye ought to zap the creature to kingdom come, without having to come close to it. 

The Mary Poppins Clean Up Power.  You know the drill, snap and everything cleans up.  But in a fun way, like all the toys march to their toy box.  And birds come and magically chirp a little song at your window while you're doing it.

The Magic Chop Touch.  The worst part about cooking is all the prep.  So what if you could pick up the onion you need, set it on the cutting board, cover it with your hands and when you pull away your hands it was magically chopped?  This could cut cooking time in half, and you'd be able to make better dinners than the usual spaghetti or mac and cheese back up because you don't really have time to make anything else.

Stain Removal.  This one would involve your magic thumb.  Just rub your thumb over a pesky stain on your kid's favorite shirt and BOOM.  The stain is gone!

Sound Dampening.  I haven't quite figured out how, but basically this would be the ability to absorb all unwanted sounds while the babies are napping.  You know, the doorbell from the cable salesman or the jackhammer outside on the street that just HAD to be done at 1:00 in the afternoon.  They could go about their work, and you could absorb all their sounds and your baby could sleep in bliss.

Any that I missed?

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Jobs That Seem Like the Coolest Jobs in the World

Sometimes I wonder if thinking about this falls into a Grass is Greener category.  I'm sure every job in the world has its downside.  But to this girl who has mostly done data-entry type desk jobs, there are a few out there that seem like they would be coolest in the world.

Meteorologists. I have always been fascinated by weather.  And meteorologists get to just watch weather all day.  And look up cool stats about the last time the weather was exactly the same or way different.  Or how often the weather patters shift and move.  And the really good ones get paid a lot of money to look pretty on TV while telling everyone what the computer models say.  It sounds amazing.

Ultrasound Technicians (the baby measuring kind).  I realize that there are days when what shows up on the ultrasound is not a good thing.  But most of the time they get to show parents a peek of the miracle growing inside.  I had an amazing ultrasound tech with Sweetie Pie.  She was fun and was determined to teach us something, even though it was our third baby.  I've had some adequate ones too.  They just did their jobs.  But to be the one who gets to see growing babies all day would be so fun.

Birth workers in general.  L&&D nurses, midwives, OBs, doulas, birth photographers...all of them get to witness birth on a regular basis and that is so amazing.  I wonder if they are amazed every time, or if they lose the wonder.  A birth is such a significant time in a woman's life, and she will always remember the people around her, even if they don't remember her.  The only downside I see is the all-hours thing, since babies rarely come at convenient times.

NFL stat people.  You know those crazy stats they put up during the game? Like this person did this that many times while wearing his white jersey and purple socks?  Somebody somewhere had to come up with that kind of stuff.  What. A. Job.

I like to imagine that these people are never bored at their job.  They never have those times where the hours seem to take days, or their eyes just want to shut on their own because the work they are doing is mind-numbing.  It's probably not true, but I can dream.  And here is the thing about mind-numbing jobs: they need to get done.  That mind-numbing stuff frees up other people to do the other things.  And I'm quite good at doing mind-numbing things.  So am I selling myself short by remaining in mind-numbing jobs, or am I fulfilling God's purpose for me?  I know it's my choice whether or not to be cheerful about it, but I believe you can be cheerful AND bored at the same time.  So I'm not talking about whether or not you can do a job cheerfully.

Maybe I'm just saying that this side of heaven, not everyone can have their dream job.  Because there are plenty of jobs that are no one's dream, but they need to be done.  And the people need to have jobs.  So I guess you can draw your own conclusions about that.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cool People

I often feel like I hit the jackpot family-wise.  I understand that there are a lot of dysfunctional families out there, but I don't seem to be a part of one.  I am so grateful that my parents AND my in-laws are still married to each other and serve the Lord with their whole hearts.  And I know how rare it is to have every single one of my siblings and their spouses (if they have them) serve the Lord too.  So don't mind me if I take a day to tell you how cool my siblings are.

My older sister Jamie has always been kinder to me than I probably deserve.  We still have our tiffs now and then, but all throughout my life she's been a champion and a friend.  I had a rough go of things friend-wise in 8th and 9th grade, and she let me hang with her and her friends during those times.  She could have shrugged me off as the younger sister, but she didn't.  And now she is a great source of advice and encouragement.  She's a go-getter and a great servant and she's awesome.

Jamie's husband Nick is a pretty cool guy too.  Very early in their relationship, he was hanging out at my parents' house, and we were all eating popcorn.  One piece fell on the floor and my mom's dog licked it up then spit it back out.  I told Nick I'd give him a dollar to eat it.  Like a champ he popped that thing in his mouth, chewed and swallowed.  I knew then that he'd do great things just to be with my sister, so he passed all my tests.
My younger sister Carolyn is amazing with kids.  She is the one I try to channel when interacting with my kids.  She knows how to play and be silly with them, and I wish I were more like her.  She's bold and adventurous, and has traveled the world many times over.  She lives in a foreign country, for goodness' sake.  She's not afraid to reach out and befriend others and she's awesome.
Carolyn's husband Jason is the kind of guy who is friends with everyone.  He is so easy to talk to and he brings fun whenever they make it down from their home in Canada.  I wish they lived nearby.
My baby brother Ben is one of the coolest guys in the world.  He was a surprise in our family, and is 12 years younger than I am.  He's in the middle of college now, and I feel all kinds of proud about how he's doing, even though none of it has to do with me.  He's musical, he's a leader, he's friendly, and he's awesome.
My sister-in-law Mindy is the opposite of me in every way, the yin to my yang.  She's outgoing and friendly; I'm introverted and hermity.  She loves to help people and is so good at what she does.  She's lighthearted and fun to be around.  She's the life of the party and she's awesome.

Mindy's husband Josh is the smartest man in the world, according to Pumpkin Pie.  She's right about that.  He knows so much about so many things, and his pursuit of knowledge makes me feel like a slug.  He is so patient with my girls, and a trait that like will endear him to anyone.  I wish they lived nearby too.

I have amazing siblings.  I hope you all can meet them one day.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dinners We Eat Over and Over and Over and....

I wish we ate this over and over

I thought this might make a good 31 days topic because perhaps our rut would be something new for someone else.  But I fear we're not in a 31 meal cycle rut.  We're in a 10 meal cycle rut.  Actually, it's more like a 7 meal cycle rut.  And I can't seem to claw my way out.

Mondays are usually our grill days.  This way my husband can grill enough chicken for me to eat during lunches for the rest of the week.  It is safe to say that if you dropped by our house on a Monday you'd find us eating grilled chicken.  I try to change it up by using a different marinade recipe every week, but after awhile even the different marinades start to taste the same.

Wednesdays are mac and cheese days.  The boxed kind.  Great Value brand Thick and Creamy.  I am beyond sick of it.  But it is a meal that the girls will eat quickly and without complaining, which is kind of essential for a night when we need to get out the door for Awana.

Thursdays are usually spaghetti night, and I do mean boiling noodles and heating up jarred sauce.  It also happens to be one of our bath nights, so it works out well.  Every once in awhile I'll bake the spaghetti or something to change it up, but pasta is pasta.

Saturdays end up being hot dog/frozen burrito night or Little Caesars' Hot n' Ready pizza night, depending on the week.  This is because we usually end up at church on Saturday night, and church ends at 5:15.  That puts us home around 5:45.  On regular nights we eat around 5:00, so on a late night like this we try and find the fastest thing we can make to eat.  Maybe someday I'll master the crockpot for a real meal, but for now, this is it.

Sundays are breakfast for dinner nights.  My husband makes pancakes or waffles, or I make eggs or something.  We are a cereal for breakfast kind of family (because it's easiest), so it's fun to make the fancier breakfast meals on Sunday evenings when we have more time.

I try to change it up on Tuesdays and Fridays, but even then we often end up with old standbys, like taco salad or my favorite casserole recipes.  But the meal plan rut around here is real, folks.  You know where to find me.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Things I Would Do With $1,000,000

We once saw an episode of King of Queens where Doug and Deacon won, like, $10,000.  Some crazy amount.  Anyway, they realized that their wives would be furious if they found out they had been gambling, so they decided that they had better spend the whole thing before they got home.  Obviously they couldn't buy anything like electronics or the girls would ask how they could afford it.  So they blew it on meals and renting fancy cars and the like.  So now it's a game we like to play.  What would you do if you received a crazy amount of money that you had to spend within 24 hours, but weren't allowed to buy anything that you could physically keep?  Oh, and no just donating it somewhere.

There are obvious things, like a day at the spa.  My favorite idea, though is chartering a jet to fly me to Maine for a lobster dinner.  I have no idea how much that would cost, but I imagine it would cost quite a bit.

I also like to pretend that I've won the $1 million prize on Wheel of Fortune.  Go ahead and assume that we would pay taxes and tithe and pay off our school debt and mortgage.  First, I could buy shrimp for my jambalaya.  Then I like to dream of buying a condo in the mountains, maybe in Vail or Copper Mountain.  Then I would just rent it out.  It would be a nice getaway for our friends and family too, but I've heard you can rent out those bad boys for a pretty penny, especially during ski season.  Especially during Christmas time.  It would pay for its own property taxes and upkeep easily.  And it would be in the mountains. 

Your turn!  Boom!  You just got $50,000 that you have to spend in 24 hours, but cannot buy any large items.  What would you do?

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Excuses I Make for Not Writing

My ordinary writing space

To be labelled a writer, all you have to do is write.  That's it.  Not be published.  Not have readership in the hundreds or thousands.  A writer is one who writes.  But sometimes I think a writer is one who avoids writing at all costs.  We all have our reasons.  Here are a few of mine:

I feel like I have to have a fully formed story before I can start.  I've taken only a few creative writing courses in my day, but I've learned enough to feel like if I don't have the story completely thought out then I have no business starting.  That's probably not true.  I've heard enough published writers talk about how the story surprised them as they wrote.  And I wish I could remember who (Anne Lamont maybe?) but someone once said just to write what you see in a window or something.  Pretend the story is moving past your window and write it one scene at a time.  If I could convince myself of that, then I truly could no longer use this excuse.

I know I don't edit properly.  I've never written a story then gone through the multiple edit process.  I edit for gross grammatical errors, but not story errors.  Once I write something I'm done.  I barely edited Soprano Trouble, which is why I doubt anyone would ever want to buy it.  Maybe I just don't have the patience for it.  So maybe I have no business calling myself a writer.

Grammar Nazis.  I have a few friends who are self-proclaimed grammar nazis, and I love them.  And they are super funny on Facebook.  But the thought of a grammar nazi picking apart something I've written makes me not want to start writing at all.  There are enough critics out there, and writing feels like jumping into a swimming pool full of sharks.  My self preservation skills kick in hard core.

I don't have uninterrupted hours to write.  I can barely find 15 uninterrupted minutes to write this blog.  And usually these blogs take over an hour to write because kids need me multiple times in the middle.  Don't longer more serious things like actual stories need longer attention spans than that?

I don't have a beautiful place to write.  My laptop is on a tiny corner desk in the kitchen, surrounded by all our house related and school related paperwork and clutter.  Two feet away from our kitchen trash can.  I don't have a beautiful office like Jen Hatmaker or all the writers who live in the northwest or New England. 

Reading.  I love to read.  It's why I want to write.  To create stories that mean as much to others as they do to me.  But I can totally get lost in "market research," finding out what is out there in the genre that I'd like to pursue.  I can read forever, which takes plenty of time away from writing.

I've taken my first step to combat these by writing in the carpool lane at school pick up.  I usually have a good 15 minutes of sitting there, so maybe instead of reading I could write a sentence or two.  And maybe those two sentences will become something greater one day.  It's a start anyway.  And I can call myself a writer because I write those two sentences.


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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Reasons to Serve in Children's Ministry

Or reasons to serve anywhere.  But I'll focus on children's ministry (with a few plugs into worship ministry), since that's where I'm the most familiar.  I'll tell you my point right up front: SERVE.  Do something for the church.  Add your voice, your talent, or simply your body and manpower to something that the church is doing.

Here's the thing: we want new people who don't know the Lord to come to church, right?  Well, these new people are going to be looking for something that the church can do for them.  So the church creates all these programs to show them that we will take care of them and their children.  But some of these people are quite skittish, and look for the slightest thing to give them a reason not to come.  And shoddy programs provide exactly the excuse they are looking for.  Especially in the area of children's ministry.  If they take their children and find a place that seems unsafe, or not properly supervised, or unfun, they will not return.  Or they'll keep their kids with them in regular service, which is decidedly unfun for kids, and they won't return because who wants to spend an hour and fifteen minutes lecturing their kids about being still and quiet or being embarrassed because their kids are acting like kids?

Enter children's ministry.  I think children's ministry is the most feared ministry by believers.  They think that they have to be magic with kids or have a doctorate in Biblical Studies to serve with the kids.  Both are so untrue.  I'm a prime example.  I'm not a "kid person."  My younger sister is.  She's magic with kids.  She can relate to anyone shorter than her hip immediately.  Me?  I can hold a baby and change a diaper and try a few different things if they're getting fussy.  But I'm not magic with them.  But when we first came to our church, Pumpkin Pie was 4 months old, and I knew that the nursery was staffed with volunteers, and if I was using their services the least I could do is get in on the rotation and serve one service a month.  Fast forward to now.  I'm the nursery director.  Still not magic with kids, but I know that parents need a safe and fun place for their babies and toddlers to play so they can be free to worship and serve the Lord themselves.  And I have the ability to provide that.  So do you.

If you don't know how to teach all you have to do is ask. At our church literally anyone could do it.  Our curriculum is video based, so all we need is a facilitator.  And we have a Children's Pastor, so if a kid asks a question that you don't know the answer to, all you have to do is call Pastor Jeff!  Really we just need someone who will look kids in the eye and smile and be willing to learn along with them.

Here's the secret: kids will love you.  If you look them in the eye and smile and learn along with them, they will remember you for the rest of their life.  They love their teachers, and not because they had the entire book of 2 Thessalonians memorized.  They love all adults who aren't their parents who care about their well being and their souls enough to show up and talk to them for an hour about God.  You don't have to come up with the tools, but we do need you to hold them.

Still not sold on kids?  Fine.  Pick worship ministry.  They have non-musical holes that need filled, trust me.  Or greet and be willing to point out the bathroom to someone.  Or be the one who checks the bathrooms each weekend to make sure the paper towels are filled.  It's always the tiny details that seem to go unnoticed that make the biggest difference when they haven't been done right.

The church needs you.  You can be a blessing to others.  And in doing so, you'll be worshiping the Lord in a way that is so pleasing to Him.


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