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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Keeping My Money Local


We are blessed to have a small house and some land near our family.  It’s an older home and has needed quite a bit of work.  There is still much to be done, but the basement is our first big project (if you don’t count replacing the HVAC system that died at Thanksgiving).  This past week I spent much time up to my elbows in paint.  Luckily my little guy got to spend a lot of time with his grandparents.  Otherwise he would have also been up to his elbows and knees and probably every other little body part in paint as well.

I’m constantly amazed at how productive I can be now when left alone.  I marvel at the quantity of time I was obviously wasting before he came in to our lives and shook things up.

The first order of business with any job around the house is getting the supplies.  I could’ve headed to either of the large chain hardware stores to buy what I needed, but I kept it local.  I instead headed to a locally owned building supply to get my paint and a little advice about brushes.  I also ran into an old friend that has worked there for decades!  That doesn’t happen often in the other options.  I’m a huge fan of locally owned hardware stores.  They often have the best stuff.  More on my love of hardware stores another time.

I was also trying to find a couple unusual things from the pharmacy.  The big box stores had let me down.  My first thought was to head to one of the big national pharmacies.  I realized I was right at a small local pharmacy owned by another friend.  I figured it was at least with a shot.  He had exactly what I was looking for – both items.  One was in a version I didn’t even know I could find.  It was perfect and I was still keeping my money local. 

So far, I was 2 for 2.

My tummy was beckoning for food at this point.  It’s amazing the dining options that will open up to you when there isn’t a 3 year old to consider.  I headed across town to a little spot I’ve wanted to try.  It was under new ownership, and I was probably a little underdressed for the whole place, but it was wonderful.  As I waited for my food, I enjoyed the quiet, did a little people watching and caught up on Twitter.  I paid for lunch, keeping my money local, and headed off for a little walk.

One of the last tweets was from a yarn shop just down the street.  Since there was no 3 year old in tow it was safe to go in.  I was thanked by the owner for recognizing that this was indeed not a place for a 3 year old.  I know we all love our children, but you still need to be respectful of others and their property.  I bought a lovely book mentioned in the tweet and was on my way – again keeping the money local.





It was a wonderful start to the day.  According to The 3/50 Project, $68 of every $100 spent at locally owned, independent store returns back to the community as compared to $43 if I’d shopped in a national chain.  So while I got everything I needed and wanted in one town, I also helped it out at the same time.

At the end of the day I was 4 for 4, batting 1.000.  That’s pretty good; ask any baseball fan.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Daffy Does it, So Does Sylvester


Cartoon characters of the week: Daffy Duck and Sylvester the Cat. 

These 2 have bad lisps! Did their mom's let them take their pacifier too long?  Is it the anatomy/physiology of the oral cavity? I wasn't there so I can't say for sure. Well, don't panic if you 3, 4, or 5 year old has a lisp....it is most likely going to go away. 

Do they always go away? 

Can they always be corrected?

In my professional opinion.....it depends. 

Anyway, if you want to seek private speech therapy, go for it.  Don't expect that your school speech therapist will be able to provide therapy for this though.  It is very, very, very hard to justify that there is an adverse impact on their ability to access the curriculum because of a lisp.  That's not to say you shouldn't seek therapy from an outside agency. 

In the meantime, teach them when they are older than 5 to keep their bird in the cage (tongue behind teeth).  You can grab a straw and teach them that the air should come out of their mouth in the middle like they are blowing through a tiny straw.  You might want to use a coffee straw that you stir with.

Relax and just keep an ear on things.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Does This Helmet Make Me Look ….


It’s Wednesday so that means it’s time to LEARN A NEW WORD!!  Here we go.

Earlier this week a friend made a comment on Facebook about the name of a business that she had seen.  She wondered what might possibly come out the doors based on the name and then made a reference to The Hunger Games.  I’ve not read the books, seen the movie, nor do I have plans to do so.  She did give me a little bit of a clue by using this as a potential comparison. 

This is one of those words that I’ve seen and heard many times, but I just don’t really know what it means.  This annoys me.  So I went to look it up!

Photo Credit


The word was QUIXOTIC.  I read Don Quixote in college – en Español no less – but have never figured out how this worked as an adjective in most of the ways I’d seen it.  Then comes the issue of how to say it if you are reading it.  One would think, based on its origin that KEE – HO –TIC would be right.  Actually, it’s how someone without a lick of Spanish would say it: KWIK – ZAH – TIC.  I know, crazy, right?

But what does it mean?  You would think delusional, or clad in armor, maybe as on horseback preparing to joust with a windmill.  Well, you would be wrong, but not entirely.  Put all those things together and you are getting closer. 

Tangled - Cakes by Kerrin

Think of the deeper qualities:  idealistic, dreamy, romantic, unrealistic, or impractical.  Still makes me wonder what would come out of an establishment with that in its name.  Depending on the business, for say a cake decorator, it could be wonderful, not so much for a financial planner.

Words have power.  Often in this world having more words can mean having more power.  Choose them wisely, use them graciously and receive more than you give.



A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Shake That!


Yesterday I found myself with about a hundred other guys and gals in a gym waiting to dance, dance, dance.  We were all there for a 2 hour Zumbathon to benefit Augie’s Quest  and the Lifetime Foundation.  I love Zumba!  It is an amazing workout and more fun than you would ever imagine you could have while working so hard.

Before the class in my super cute (in)RL shirt.


3 instructors came together to keep us energized and work every little teeny tiny muscle in our bodies.  I have seen my strength and energy increase dramatically, but that didn’t keep me from nearly collapsing into my car afterwards.  I wasn’t alone in this!



I am incredibly blessed to be able to participate in any physical activity.  Most of us take even the simplest motion for granted on a daily basis.  This was a benefit to raise funds and awareness for ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  This was held under the umbrella of the MDA – the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  The work of the MDA is very near and dear to my heart because of my nephew, Mark.  I’ll tell his story another day.

So while I may gripe and wince some due to the shrieking muscles in my back, arms, legs and abs, I know this is temporary and will only make me stronger.  Not so for the many stricken with this dystrophic diseases, including Mark and Augie.  Their pain and discomfort is constant, permanent, and often fatal.  I’ll gladly give up a little comfort and some cash if it keeps these issues close to my mind and heart.

So here’s my challenge to you:  find an event to participate in that will benefit someone else.  If you can find one that has a direct relationship to your own life, that is wonderful.  Maybe you can broaden your empathies and find a way to benefit others you’ve never thought of before.  EveryBODY wins.  It’s one way you can DO GOOD!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Perspective Gained


On Fridays, a group joins together to write for five minutes flat – no editing, no backtracking, just raw words.  Here are mine:



I went through the mail yesterday and there was a letter addressed to me.  It was for an advanced degree at a local university for their interior design program.  I don’t think I qualified for it, but it really got me thinking.

I thought about all the hours and late nights and money spent on project after project in design school.  There were codes to learn, software to learn, tools to learn, theories to learn.  Let’s not even get into art history and design history.  It was the hardest thing I’d ever done, and I loved almost every minute of it – see previous sentence.  I learned rendering and perspective drawing.

Lunch with fabulous co-workers

Perspective.  That was what I had.  I’d loved the small firm I worked at after finishing my degree.  I was shocked at how physical the job was, not just stretching my creativity.  I adored the people I worked with and the opportunities I had.  But that is gone.

T-squares and carpet squares are replaced by wooden trains and Legos.  Do I miss it?  Absolutely, but would I trade for it?  Absolutely not.  That is what I call perspective.

Time.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How to Bake a Mud Pie


Here's a fun idea for following directions and imaginative play while increasing knowledge of quantitative and qualitative concept at the same time.

Cooking

Many boxes of food often have pictures to go along with the directions to cook the food.  Muffin mix is a perfect example.



Cut out the back panel with directions and pictures. You can create a "cookbook" with all the different directions/recipes you find. If your child has a play kitchen with play food you can practice cooking with pretend food before heading into the real kitchen.  You can talk about what you do first, next, last, etc.

Talk about how many eggs you will need, how much water or milk, etc. You get the idea.  You don't even need a play kitchen to do this. Kids would probably have even more fun doing this outside with sand, rocks, grass, water, sticks… while pretending those are the ingredients!

Great summer fun!


               -Jennifer


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Are You Erudite?


I love to learn.  This love is often fueled by reading or even watching television programming.  One thing that annoys me is when I don’t know a word that a writer or speaker has used.  It’s often in a way that assumes I know that word.  There’s little to no context.  By the time I am able to look it up I have forgotten the word in the first place, well, because I didn’t know it.

It’s a vicious cycle. 



I say let’s stop this merry-go-round one word at a time.

Today’s word is ERUDITE.  It’s not a super difficult term; many of you may even scoff at my choice.  The scoffers out there are probably ERUDITE themselves.  Their education and knowledge has made this a familiar word.  They may be very well-read and cultured.  Some may even have a scholarly background.  If so, then they are indeed ERUDITE.  

At this point, my dear reader, you are also on your way to becoming ERUDITE.  Enjoy your new word and feel free to use it as often as is appropriate.  Spread the learning around.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

M.I.A.

Hello there!  Sorry there's nothing new on here in case you've dropped by today.  I'm a little under the weather and hope to be back tomorrow.  Take some time to meander through some older posts from the archives if you'd like. Thanks for coming by.
     -Amy

Friday, May 11, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Identity


On Fridays, a group joins together to write for five minutes flat – no editing, no backtracking, just raw words.  Here are mine:




I look through photos, folder after folder.  Who am I looking for in there?  Who do I find?

I wonder what happened to the athlete, where did the designer go?  What about the one who was passionate for women’s ministry?

I see other faces mixed in.  There are smiles and hugs and shared life.  There are children – some of mine some of others.



Do those experiences define me?  

My given name stays the same throughout every day and month and season, but who am I really?

My name means “loved one”.  That really is all that matters, but do I KNOW my name.  Know it deep down in a way that is not just unforgettable, but comforts and assures me every day, month and season.

And by whom am I loved?  There is family, of course, but also friends.  Most importantly, I am loved by my Maker.  Not One who is content to just be the responsible party for this life, but One who chooses to be my soul Father. 

Stop
(Ack… five minutes goes fast!!)

Now it’s your turn.  Just click on the button up top to link in yourself.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Out Of The Box & Into Another


As I mentioned before, silence is not golden when you are the parent of a rascally 3 year old boy.  This is especially true when said child is curious and quite ingenious.  This was the case yesterday.

Quiet/nap time was anything but.  There were multiple relocations back to the bedroom.  Mind you there is a gate outside his door and door knob covers on two adjacent doors.  This is no deterrent for the little Einstein/Houdini that lives here.  Stealth is also becoming a trait.  I’m not sure where he’s doing his training.  Coronado, CA is clear on the other side of the country. (That’s where the Navy SEALs train)

When I went to check on what I thought was a sleeping boy I immediately sensed that things weren’t right.  Some doors were closed and others opened.  It took a bit to assess fully the situation at hand.  Some things weren’t discovered until hours later.  Does that give you an idea of the magnitude I’m talking about here?

The first thing that caught my eye was a brand new box of tissues that had been ripped open – WITHOUT A TISSUE IN SIGHT!  The first thought was that somewhere a toilet or two had been stuffed.  After the culprit had been interrogated, I was taken to the second scene.  They had been put into an empty baby wipes box.  All of them.





Look closely at this feat of engineering.  I couldn't close it after I inspected it.  We should have him start packing the suitcases and van for travel.  Have you ever seen so much in such a little space?  His father and I had to laugh and try to figure out how to keep the ingenuity without encouraging the destructiveness.  Talk about a parenting challenge.
 
How do you funnel all that energy and creativity in the right direction?  I think that is a never-ending quest.  For now we just have to make sure we are providing ample opportunity for discovery and experimentation while teaching some common sense.  Let’s hope that’s possible. 

Until next time….



Jennifer is up to her eyeballs in school year-end stuff so today I'm linking up with Brooke at her new blog for the "One Beautiful Thing" challenge "to see your life as the beautiful work of art God made it to be."
-Amy






Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Living on Bread Alone



Word Wednesday:  Bonking

I love to ride my bike.  For a while, this was a pretty intense endeavor.  I completed a charity ride that covered 100 miles in 3 days.  I know that one stage in a major tour may cover this in one day, but no one is paying me to wear their name on a shirt while I’m riding.

I love cycling and most everything about it.  There is, however, one thing that no cyclist enjoys, yet almost everyone has done – BONKING!  Runners call this hitting the wall.  It’s painful and embarrassing; it takes a while to recover from, too.



When you bonk you just stop in your tracks and try to keep from collapsing.  This is a frightening experience when you are on a hill and your shoes are actually clipped to the pedals.  Images of cuts and scrapes and bruises flash through your mind.  That’s without the added terrors of traffic or spectators.

How is bonking prevented?  Adequate fuel.  It’s really quite simple.  You need to eat and drink enough for your body to keep going.

I bonked in a kickboxing class on Monday.  It wasn’t a total collapse and I was able to keep moving, but I knew I hadn’t fed myself properly.  

I’ve been bonking everyday spiritually, though.  I am not feeding myself what it takes to endure the trials or the routine of my daily life.  In the grand scheme of this fallen world, my trials are not that extreme, yet I am collapsing and nearly paralyzed before the end.  But where to find the fuel?

Before beginning His earthly ministry, Jesus spent forty days fasting in the wilderness.  He was physically hungry.  When the testing came there was no whining about needing coffee or lack of sleep.  His response to every dagger thrown at him was the Word.  He even begins by saying that we don’t live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4).

I’m heading into battle each day.  Let alone the fact that I am going in unarmed, I haven’t even been eating.  No wonder I’m hitting the wall with every little thing that comes my way.  

As encouraging as many books and blogs and music may be, they are the Cheetos and Nutella of spiritual food (I know that’s a little hyperbolic, but you get my point).  I need to be feasting on the richness and goodness that has been so generously and conveniently provided for me.  I need to run and finish this race.  No time for bonking.


Do you find that you are bonking on a regular basis like me?  What’s does your “meal plan” look like?


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Shoes That Change A Life


I’m on a shoe kick right now and just don’t want to get off it.  We’re going to take a little different tack right now. I’ll give you the hanky alert right now.  There is powerful and heart-wrenching stuff to be seen beyond the links I’m giving you today.

Growing up, I was one of those kids that didn’t really like to go barefoot.  One of my best friends, Emily, is the opposite.  If there weren’t signs saying “No Shoes, No service”, well you can see where I’m going.  We grew up in the country and dirty feet are just part of life.  You washed your feet before you went to bed in the summer if you’d been running through the grass and dirt all day.



Some children just don’t have this luxury.  Going barefoot isn’t a summer ritual; it’s a way of life.  They aren’t running through grassy back yards or river lots.  They are walking on jigger infested bare ground.   These nasty little parasites are more than a discomfort.  Easy prevention: SHOES!




An organization that I have recently become aware of is SOLE HOPE.  You can be personally involved in providing shoes for children in Africa and jobs for otherwise outcast widows.  All you need to do is host a shoe cutting party.  I can’t wait to get a few friends together and do this myself!  Because they are using recycled materials, it’s green as well!



I’ve just finished reading Very Valentine by Adriana Triginani and was fascinated by the whole shoemaking process.  How amazing to think that anyone can DO GOOD in such a simple way!



Want to know more?  Check out SOLE HOPE’s website, follow them on Twitter or on Facebook.

How do you get involved to do good on a local scale or a global one?  Know another organization that DOES GOOD?  Tell me about it in the comments.  I’d love to learn about it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Need Shoes!!


It's Monday, the day when we learn how to DO GOOD in this world in easy ways.  Today it's shoes!


I hate shoe shopping, there I said it.  I love shoes, but not the shopping for them.  I have notoriously difficult feet to fit.  Can you say 9 ½ Narrow? The high point on my foot is in the wrong place.  My ankles don’t cooperate very well with boots or sandals.  However, when the planets align and I do find those perfect shoes, WATCH OUT!!!
 

This, my friends, is what we classify as a FIRST WORLD PROBLEM!


What if it didn’t matter whether the shade of pink was just right?  What if the heel wasn’t exactly what you were looking for?


What if you had no shoes at all and it actually was a matter of life and death?  Or at least serious illness or injury?  What if your child had no shoes?  What if going to school depended on having shoes?

These, my friends are REAL PROBLEMS!

So what’s a girl to do?  Go shopping!  Yes, you heard me.  Go shopping.  I just bought my first pair of TOMS shoes.  With that pair for me a pair will be given to a child in need in some other part of the world.  I could guarantee that I would even be able to get a pair of shoes to a child in a foreign country if I wanted to on my own.  With these, I can.



Remember my first world problem?  These fit perfectly and are so comfortable, way more supportive than I imagined with the flat sole.  I’ve got my eyes on some cute wedges, and I can feel good knowing I’ll DO GOOD if I get them.

Go check them out if you’re looking for that perfect little summer go everywhere shoe.  Look around their website and see how you can get involved.  There are other ways to help and we’ll talk about them later.

How do you do good when shopping?  Have a tip for me?  Leave it in the comments.  I’d love to learn more.


How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
Isaiah 52:7


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Scavenger Hunt


It is Spring and the weather has been wonderful!!!  Perfect time for a scavenger hunt (the technical term is actually "outdoor language building activity").  


Make a list of things to go outside and look for. Take a box and spend time with your kiddo looking for the treasures and build vocabulary skills at the same time.  For example, find something green, something hard, something soft, something long, etc.  You get the picture. 

Then spread out a blanket, have a picnic lunch and take turns talking about the items you found on your scavenger hunt.  See how many other descriptive words you can come up with for each item. Have fun!!!     

                   - Jennifer

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

If Only You Had Been There


Me from your perspective - This is the latest of a series of writing challenges sponsored by Allume. The object of this challenge is to write a snapshot about myself in third person.  This happened yesterday.  Enjoy!

#BetterWriter 

She heard a faint clicking sound coming from the end of the hallway.  It seemed to be coming from the bathroom.  After a quick glance it was noted that the lights were off and door closed.  Everything was as it had been earlier.  It must’ve just been those strange random noises that are the dialect of this particular house.  Every house speaks its own language in pops and squeaks.  This one was particularly verbose.

The quiet and newly purchased magazine were calling her back to the place of rest and escape from the trying morning.  It was nice to forget about the spilled tea.  The defiant shouts of “no” were fading into the background.  The tense muscles were relaxing.  After reading for a while the notion of pampering made its way to the mind.  Ahh.. just a few moments to take care of that third person in the house, Self.  This would be nice.

After the masking and straightening were done it came again.  There was that click, but also a lower shuffling sound like a small chair being repositioned.  Not a chair, but a step stool.  With closer examination there was also a high pitched hissing sound behind it all.  Just beyond that closed door.  And then the giveaway, the light changing with shadows dancing across the threshold.  This was not good.

If observation of the situation had been more thorough the missing door knob cover would’ve been obvious.  The gleaming brass orb was completely exposed.  But the ear overpowered the eye and the mind raced with what would be beyond that whitewashed slab of wood.  There was water, but what else.  The potential combinations of potions and elixirs were mindboggling.

As the door opened the offender could be seen.  A corner of a closet concealed the inset sink and counter and all that had taken place.  He stood there white up to his elbows, and on his face, and in his hair.  The thought that this wasn’t as bad as she thought mistakenly ran through her mind.  A simple rinse in the gushing water would wash all offense away, but then the slickness.  This was not soap.  This was the thick crème from the tub.  This was the “dip dip” for the very dry skin that had been scooped and slathered on nearly every surface.  It was so outrageous that all there was to be done was laugh.

After the laughter came the dry towel wipe down of the boy and every fixture within his reach.  After the wipe down came the discussion.  After the discussion, she held the two softest little hands and arms that had ever been involved in such mischief.  And they stayed that way for the rest of the day, soft and full of mischief.



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Coming up for Air


What to say about the last 4 days… where do I begin?  The beginning would be the obvious choice, but I think I need to go beyond this weekend.  I think I need to go back nearly 10 months ago.  Back to when we said goodbye to Chicago – again – and hello to our home state of VA.  Granted we aren’t very close to where we grew up, but we cut our distance in half.



Coming “home” will be easy I think.  I know how to be like these people and will slot right into a new full life.  A life that I thought would be full of friends, small group, church community, and friends for my son.  Then here we are with none of that.  AS I said before – I AM AN EXTROVERT. I love being around people.  Other than some random meetings with neighbors out for walks and familiar faces at the gym, it just has not happened.

This past weekend was the worldwide meetup for a no-travel, where you are retreat hosted by (in)Courage. Through social media we develop relationships with others, but we need to see skin.  We need face time with others (in)RL – in REAL LIFE!  I hemmed and hawed about going because it didn’t seem like anyone was doing one near me.  This all changed when I was tagged in a Facebook post by a friend I had gone to church with several years ago.  She’s friends with a local gal here who was hosting a meetup.  I was IN!  It was just completely awesome that this gal’s name is Lisa-Jo.  If you read many blogs, you may know her better as The Gypsy Mama.
 
Lots of tweeting later with her and another fabulous co-host that couldn’t come and I was starting to feel like I was connecting with people here for the first time.  The day arrived and I finally met Lisa-Jo.  She was the only one there I “knew”.  I think I was the only person who actually came alone.  I picked a table because of a plaque  sitting on it and a celadon colored bag that was speaking my name.  This put me right beside her and with two other lovely ladies that live relatively close to me.  I was right where I was supposed to be!

Pinterest success!! Key Lime cupcake with blackberry frosting!


You’ll see many posts out there that will summarize the content of the amazing videos and giveaways.  They will cover that.  What I left with was three new friends; friends that I know intimate details about after only a few hours.  Isn’t that the difference between an acquaintance and a friend?  We were real with each other.  We shared joy, fear, frustration, tears, prayers and cupcakes.  We also took that great photo in yesterday’s post.  We were just 4 at our table and about 40 at this church out of 1700 women all connecting around the world.  Amazing stuff!



Later that night I just sat and read through the twitter stream of the #inrl comments.  I watched videos we didn’t have time for earlier.   To see and hear story after story of God’s work through community was overwhelming.  [Can I tell you that Ann Voskamp could literally read the phone book and you would be transfixed by the poetry of it all.  To hear her read her words in her own voice has changed how I will finish reading One Thousand Gifts.  That will be a post for another day.  I do highly recommend it, though.]

I ended the night pulling a Beth Moore, Ann Voskamp-style!  What??  I was face down on the floor thanking God for the thousand and more gifts I’ve received from him.  Many on that very day.  Friendship is breath to me. I had come up for air.  This breathing isn’t instinctive, it’s work.  I have to be intentional and seek it out and maintain it for it to continue.  It has renewed my longing to do so.

So I ask you, how is your real life community?  Who wears the skin that you press against in hugs and high fives and hands on shoulders?  Do you have that at all?  If not, seek it out.  It can be painful at times, but it is so worth it.  Our rough edges are smoothed out as we bump up against each other in daily life.

What does community and friendship look like and mean to you?


This post is linked up with (In)Courage.