July 31, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance: Top 6

Hey, look, I'm on time! Can you believe it? Last week my computer didn't record the show, so I ended up just reading who had gotten eliminated, and I was so shocked! I watched the performances afterwards, and I still can't believe that Will got eliminated.

I can't believe it's down to the top 6 already - I feel like it just started yesterday! And we're left with Courtney, Joshua, Chelsea, Mark, Katee, and Twitch. I think I'm rooting for Mark and Katee. I don't know. It's hard to choose, but I think my FAVORITE at this point is Mark.
  • Courtney & Mark dancing Viennese Waltz: What a cute couple. it was beautiful, smooth, looked effortless to me. What a good match. I believed tehm both, and they made it look so easy. I didn't like Courtney that much in the beginning, but I've grown to really like her as the season went on. I loved the look on Mark's face as they ended the dance, joyful. I agree with Adam - terrifying! How will we be able to judge if they ALL do well!?
  • Chelsea Solo: I freaking hate the Pussycat Dolls. I hate that freaky thing they do with their voices where it slides up. She looked good, but I feel like her solos are always the same.
  • Twitch Solo: Awesome as usual. I love watching him dance. He's amazing. And I love it that a dancer of his style has made it this far in the competition this year. It just goes to show that people shouldn't be pigeonholed. Also, hilarious that Cat put on the gold teeth - so funny!
  • Joshua & Katee dancing Contemporary: It was beautiful. That leap Katee did into Joshua's harms with her legs spread was just amazing (leap catch). They were beautiful together. They really do dance well as a couple.
  • Chelsea & Twitch dancing Mambo: Loved her costumes, the little ankle flair was funny. She did amazing. I think he did too, especially for that completely not being his background, they both kept up with the routine, which was FAST. And they managed the kickkover, plus that spin at the end where she was crouched down was freaking crazy.
  • Katee Solo: I thought she used the music pretty well, but all in all it was definitely not my favorite solo that she's done.
  • Joshua Solo: Loved it. It's so amazing to watch him go from dancing contemporary to that! Just amazing.
  • Courtney & Mark dancing Jazz: I'm not sure I usually get Sonya's routines so we'll see how this goes. I do like pieces that are a little darker sometimes. And... I did like it, but I still don't get what 'Jazz' means. I liked watching it, but I didn't feel connected with it. Of course the judges LOVED it. I did think it really suited Mark, and Nigel is right about Courtney - she does well at EVERYTHING they throw at her!
  • Katee & Joshua dancing Pasa Doble: I loved the music, I just loved the beginning when it picked up and Joshua slid across the stage. That was just fucking FABULOUS. The look on Joshua's face at the end was perfect. I totally agree with Adam, Joshua is just amazing. As far as couples go, I think they may be my favorite couple this season.
  • Courtney Solo: She looked really pretty. I could tell she was putting herself into it, good different choice of music. Definitely my favorite girl solo of the night.
  • Mark Solo: I just love his style.
  • Twitch & Chelsea dancing Hip Hop: It's interesting that this couple both got their own styles in their routines tonight. I love it when there's a story, and this was a great one. Loved the stick, and the choreography. I thought they danced it really well.

It's so hard to choose after seeing the boys solos, I like all three of them so much. But I just love the combination of Mark's style and personality.

I love it when people show up, like how Gillian Lynne who choreographed Cats & Phantom of the Opera, and Paula Abdul, who is also a dancer/choreographer (some people forget that). Especially for GL being there, it makes me feel like it really is a legitimate outlet for so many choreographers. I think that's cool because in this country, I don't feel like dancing is as recognized, let alone choreography. I just love it.

Prediction: I think that Joshua and Katee will be safe, the others will be the bottom four.

A Journey in Faith: Baptism, Washington Style

Oh happy day
When Jesus washed
He washed my sins away!
Oh happy day

He taught me how
He taught me how to watch
and fight and pray
yes, fight and pray

And he'll rejoice
rejoice in things we say

"Oh Happy Day"

I was the only person in our new members class who had not been baptized. In the Presbyterian church, you can only be baptized once, no matter how old or aware you were the first time around. When I decided to join the church and get baptized, I scheduled a day to be baptized during church service. After thinking about it though, I figured if I was going to do it, I might as well REALLY do it. Summer was coming up and my church offers immersion baptisms once or twice a year in Lake Washington.

My baptism was in true Washington style: September 16, 2007 rolled around to be an overcast, slightly chilly day. It was originally supposed to take place a little bit earlier in the summer, but had to be rescheduled and it was eventually decided that it would be easiest to wait until school started again so people wouldn't be on vacation. I was baptized by Mike Young, our church's Associate Pastor, and Megan Teeter, one of my church's youth leaders. Mike Teeter was there as well, and he and Megan switched back and forth so they could both participate. As you may be able to ascertain from this first photo, it was not warm:

We waded into the water. My friend Violet and her family were there, as were my husband and son and my Mother and my Mother-in-Law and her husband.

There were four of us getting baptized that day - I was the oldest. Listening to the words of Mark, Megan & Mike our legs got used to the chilly water.

Then it was my turn. Into the water I went, purple hair and all.

And was born anew.

I felt this day was the official beginning of my life in Christ. Not only washing away my sins, but washing away my doubts, letting go of the uncertainty I'd felt for all of those years. My life was changed.

To be continued next Thursday.

- Find the next post in the series here: 'My Life, New'
- Find links to all posts in the series here.

July 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Bathtime Joy

Ten Years Have Made a Huge Difference, and None at All

Sitting there after dinner last Saturday night sipping my Amaretto Sour alone, I suddenly realized that 10 years is not always long enough to get over it. I looked around the room, and recognized almost everyone. But I was still sitting by myself, and all those feelings of being left out, being an outsider were there, the same feelings I felt 10 years ago. I didn't invite them, and I didn't appreciate it that they were back, but they were.

If you had asked me 10 years ago what I'd be doing in 2008, my answer would most certainly not have been 'planning my 10 year high school reunion'. While I was in high school, I didn't really enjoy it. Somehow, in February, there I was planning the reunion anyway. With two people who I wasn't friends with in high school (but who are both very nice). The entire time, I found myself thinking that high school wasn't so bad. After all, I had a good time, and I have a lot of good memories from that time in my life. I had fun planning the reunion, although it was a hell of a lot of work. I didn't really do it for myself. The people I would have liked to see mostly don't live in the area, and as planning went on I realized they wouldn't be there. But I wanted everyone else to have a good time none the less.

As I've freely admitted before, I am an emotional packrat. I hold on to things like there is no tomorrow. I still think about my middle school best friend and wonder why she dumped me the way she did. I don't regret it because I made one of my best friends freshman year (whose wedding shower I'm throwing next weekend), and I might not have if I'd still been frinds with the other girl. But I'll always wonder why she chose to do it the way she did. I still miss the friends I made during the time I worked at Borders. I know they don't think about me, but I can't help thinking about them. I have problems letting go. I don't want to lose a friendship even when I'm putting in 99.99% of the work. I still think about the guy that I was in love with in high school, and wish that we were still friends.

Sitting at the reunion that night, nostalgia crept in fast. It took hold of me as I sat there alone, wondering how many people there even knew my name, wishing that people were there who couldn't make it, feeling the loss of friendships that I haven't had for ten or more years. I felt like the same shy outcast that I was during my Freshman year. And it still hurt.

The picnic on Sunday was much more comfortable for me. Chatting and seeing people's children I was more in my element. I've found I have a hard time relating to people who don't have husbands or families. I just don't have all that much to talk about. What have I done in the last 10 years? Well, I got married and had a kid. And I love it, but it's pretty much all I have to talk about at this point. Sure there's my job, but it's not the biggest part of my life. Sure I graduated college, but that was seven years ago. I don't know what to say to people that aren't at the same place in life as I am, and I admit that sometimes it's hard to listen to people talk about their lives when they're in a place that I was in five or ten years ago.

I thought that 10 years would be enough time for people to get over themselves, to get over what happened in high school. But after Saturday night, I know it's not. I'm not the same person I was then. I am a strong woman, I'm (usually) confident, I'm happy with my life, I am a wife, a mother, and a great friend to the people I surround myself with. I'm smart, I work and take care of my family and I know what my path is at least for the next 15 years. I'm settling down, and I'm happy with that. But somehow being around all of the popular girls again, and hearing some other girls gossiping about others, none of that mattered. I felt like I'd been transported back in time and that I was still that girl that no one knew. It's not that people didn't like me, it's just that I wasn't important, I didn't stand out, I wasn't popular or the life of the party or part of any of those cliques.

Two days after the weekend, I am still physically and emotionally exhausted. It's not that I didn't have fun. I talked to a few people, and I had a good time. In the planning and execution I got to know the two girls who were planning it with me better, and hopefully will stay in contact and friends with them. One of them lives in the area, and invited me to join her book club, and I'm actually really looking forward to it. They've both grown into smart, successful wonderfully nice women. I took pride in the fact that the event I'd helped plan went so successfully. I also realized I still care what those people think of me. I saw them chat and form little groups, I saw some of them act like they were so much better than everyone else, I saw some of them treat others like they were still the popular kids. I hope that in 5 or 10 more years, things will be different. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

An Exciting Blog-Day

Today is an exciting day for me. Firstly, I have been TAGGED. That is right, Auds at Barking Mad tagged me for the below meme. It's the first time I have done a meme, well, except that time I tagged myself, but that doesn't really count, right? Here it is:

What is your favorite quotable line from a movie? It's a tie. "If you're gonna eat like an animal, take yer food out to the barn." spoken by Sam Shepard in Prancer (you have to do it in the grizzled southernish voice too for maximum effect) OR "I was overwhelmed by the power of this place; but I made a mistake, too. I didn't have enough respect for that power and it's out now." spoken by Laura Dern as Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park.

Who is the most famous person you've talked to? Bruce Campbell probably? I have also spoken to B.D. Wong, Bruce Harwood (Byers from the X-Files), and Al Franken. Who is the most famous?

How many bags/boxes of potato chips are consumed at your house per month? We don't really eat potato chips. Now tortilla chips, that's a different story.

What foreign food dish do you prepare from scratch and serve? I am ashamed to even TRY to answer this. What do you mean 'from scratch'...? I do not know this phrase. We make tacos a lot, but we use prepackaged seasoning. I do make some really good guacamole from scratch though!

What is your favorite section of the supermarket? The section with the cheesecake? Seriously, probably the bakery. I could eat myself sick there, and I always look at all the pretty pastries and cookies even when I am not buying.

What was your high school team's mascot and what were the school colors? Golden Eagles. Not bald, golden. Our colors were blue and gold. I was on the school newspaper, it was called the Eagle Eye.

I have never tagged anyone for a meme either. Even if I ever did one, I would feel presumptious tagging anyone. I think I might still be too chicken... no I'm not! I'm doing it...

Maria at Immoral Matriarch

Nap Warden at The Chronicles of a SAHM

OMG I did it.

P.S. I was also asked today to guest post on one of my favorite blogs next week, which just about makes me wet myself with excitement. Curious? You'll find out all about it next week!

No more post now b/c I am running through the living room waving my hands in the air.

July 28, 2008

Movie Monday: The X-Files (No Spoilers)

I call my car the Mulder-mobile. Why, you ask? That's because I have a personalized license plate that says 'MULDER' in the bold blue letters of the Washtington DOL. So, you can imagine how excited I was for the opening day of the 2nd movie - "The X-Files: I Want to Believe". You can also imagine that I have a LOT to say about it. I also respect the fact that I need to protect YOU from any spoilers. Therefore, I will say a little here, and then link below to a very detailed review with my thoughts about the movie. If you click on the link, you WILL BE SPOILED. Don't say I didn't warn you.

For those of you who were not chomping at the bit like me, and didn't go to the theater on opening day, or giggle like a crazy person when the theme song first started to play, well, here's what I thought in a nutshell: It was good. There were things I didn't like, but it's hard to judge the movie in any objective way for me. I don't know what it would be like to see it without having the background of the series. I do think that they did a fairly good job in that arena, from what I can judge the movie could have stood as it's own supernatural murder mystery. There wasn't a lot of mythology, although I have a hunch that perhaps some of the Mulder/Scully relationship stuff would have been a little harder to understand. Maybe I'm wrong though. Maybe it would have been easier to understand if you weren't thinking about it as hard as I was though.

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprised their roles wonderfully, and Billy Connolly was quite brilliant in his role as a possible psychic. I realize I am definitely biased, but I think that YOU, my friend, should go and see this movie!

A full review will be up later.

July 27, 2008

Banana Mondays: A Tale of Three Heartbreaks

Today's writing prompt is about heartbreak. It took me a long time to decide what to write about. Heartbreak comes in many shapes and sizes, and at many different times in life. It can come from so many places, and happen to anyone at any moment. When I think of my biggest heartbreak, it's not hard to decide.

When I was 17, I met a boy named Sam. We had classes together at the community college. He was younger than I was, and incredibly smart. He was a paleontologist at 16, with published papers and speaking engagements. He was adorable. He had this round face, and these eyes full of hope. He was tall and made me feel safe and smelled good. We became friends. I had a boyfriend, but I developed a crush. I knew he liked me too, he told me flat out that he would be good to me if we were together.

We ended up dating. He was sweet to me. He took me to the movies, we sat next to each other in class. He was adorable, he was kind, he was caring. He was everything I should have wanted, but once I had him it wasn't the same. I wanted to be with him, I really did. But I didn't FEEL it. We broke up, remained friends, got back together. Five months after we'd met, I knew it wasn't right.

I met Sam in the library. I told him that I couldn't see him anymore, that there were a lot of reasons, and I could tell him if he wanted to hear it, but that it wasn't working for me. He was young, and he got attached fast. He was incredibly smart, so he didn't fit in with kids his age, nor did he fit in with the adults who were his intellectual equals. He told me a story about waking up in his car at his house after being at a party and not remembering how he'd gotten there, and that bothered me. The level of his attachment to me in such a short amount of time made me uneasy. I thought we could still be friends.

For weeks, we ran into each other on campus, we sent e-mails back and forth. He still liked me, and I felt that power. I probably led him on in some ways. I was a silly teenage girl, and I hadn't had that kind of power many times in my life, where someone would do what I wanted them to do. But it didn't last. The day came when he confronted me with this: "You keep saying you want to be my friend, well, then why don't you act like it?'

We were heartbroken together. I'd broken his heart, and hadn't even left it at that. I'd forcefully remained in his life, stepping on him with every offhanded remark, grinding him into the ground, thinking only about myself and the way it made me feel that someone had wanted me that badly.

Then suddenly, my heart was broken too. I realized that I was being a bad person, and an even worse friend. He was right. That one sentence impacted my entire life from that point forward. For the first time in life I was forced to truly look at me behavior and make a conscious choice about how I was going to live, how I was going to treat people, from that point forward. I was horrified at the way I'd behaved. I got in the car, and I drove to campus, even though I didn't have class that day. I knew where he'd be, and I found him on a bench, in a hallway outside his next class. I sat down next to him, and I didn't realize that I was shaking until he pointed it out to me. I looked down and saw that my hand was trembling, I was so nervous and upset.

I told Sam that day that I'd driven there to see him, that I'd gotten his e-mail, that he was right and that I was sorry. I told him I understood if he didn't want to be friends, in fact, if he never wanted to talk again. He said "I'll get back to you on that". And we didn't talk again.

This could be where the story ends, but if you read the title, you'll notice that there's another heartbreak here, after all, we've only seen two so far.

About a year and a half later, I was checking my e-mail and there it was, out of the blue. I saw his name in my e-mail inbox and my heart skipped a beat. His e-mail started out "I said I'd get back to you, I didn't say when". He was attending college in Seattle, about an hour and a half south, and was going to be coming home for the summer. He seemed happy. He told me about the girl he was dating, he told me about school, and I was overjoyed. We talked on the phone for hours. I was so glad to have him back, truly as a friend this time. I loved him as a friend, but also as an influence in my life. We made plans to meet that Friday at my favorite coffee shop. I waited there for him for over an hour, he didn't show up. I was confused and upset, and got home to an e-mail from him saying that his car had broken down. It was Labor Day weekend 1999.

On Monday, September 7, 1999 I woke up to an ordinary day. My best friend, Sati, had spent the night and we were getting ready to go. I had to drive her home and drop my younger sister off at school. Before we left, I decided to check my e-mail, and that is when I felt the third, the biggest, the worst heartbreak. It was a simple message from my friend Xotchil... 'do you remember that really smart kid Sam'... 'my grandparents live next door to his parents'... 'he killed himself this weekend'. I was 18.

I still think about him all the time. My son is named not only after his great (x6) grandfather, Samuel Denn, but also after my friend Samuel Girouard, who left this world before his time. I contacted his parents that day, and have maintained a friendly relationship with his mother. We exchange Christmas Cards and sometimes e-mails. I went and had tea with her. When I had Sam, she sent me a beautiful baby blanket. Long later, I found out that they think Sam may have had Asperger's Syndrome. It explains a lot about the way he acted in social situations and the way he made attachments. One of the triggers for his suicide was that his live-in-girlfriend had broken up with him. By mailing all of his stuff to him in a box. I don't know where he got the gun.

Terrible things happen to people all the time, and we move on. But still, there is always a little part of my heart that is broken and can't be fixed with Sam's name on it. It's part of what makes me who I am.

To read more stories of heartbreak from Absolutely Bananas and others, click here.

July 26, 2008

Saturday Share #2

What's that? It's Saturday and you need something to do/read? Well, I have just the things for you...

  • Mrs. Chicken reminds us to listen, and to write.
  • Auds at Barking Mad makes the list again because she is awesome. Short but so sweet, this post made me cry.
  • Sue teaches us some tricks for easier parenting, and for an extra bonus check out all the comments.
  • Heather says it better than I do - Michael Savage is a brat. I wish her son Payton had a radio show, I'd totally listen to that. Maybe he could get Michael Savage's spot when he gets fired (oh, sorry, that was my dream world for a minute).
  • Lotus reminds me what life feels like sometimes, and why I am glad that I'm out of that place, but wish somehow I could help all those who are still in it. Give Lotus a big hug, she deserves one! Kthxbai.

If you are ready for a new game that will TOTALLY suck you in and you won't even notice that hurricane [your kids name here] is destroying your house, check out this awesome flickr sudoku.

Enjoy them, and have a great weekend!

July 25, 2008


Holy effing crap. So, for some reason my computer didn't download SYTYCD this week, either the performance show or the results show. I just read who got eliminated. Comfort, not surprising at all. I have expected her to go every since Jessica couldn't continue. But WILL?? Seriously? I can't believe he is gone! I am seriously shocked by it. Holy cow. He is just so amazing, his technique, his character... just, wow. I feel like this is the first BIG upset of the season - Kherington last week was a surprise, but not like this. My frakkin computer better download this show next week!

Haiku Friday: The Truth is Out There

Haiku Friday

For nine seasons and
One fabulous film, I was
FBI obsessed

My first viewing was
In a hotel room with Mom
We'd never seen it

Second season start
A man named Fox who wants so
badly to believe

I was a goner
Became a trekkie type, but
for this other show

Taped every showing
Later bought the DVDs
Rewatched full series

Loved Small Potatoes,
The Great Mutato, Bad Blood
and of course fluke man

I have been waiting
Since six months ago when I
heard of this sequel

Sorry, can't talk now
Off to see my favorites
Mulder and Scully

Is anyone else as excited about this as me?

To read more (and probably less dorky) Haiku click here.

July 24, 2008

The times, they are a changin'

Every day, I am amazed by Sam. I just can't believe the amount of progress he's made over the past two months. I was so worried about him when he had his second birthday. He wasn't talking, he wasn't communicating, he was just whining. I didn't know if I should be worried or not, but he definitely seemed to be having troubles. Fast forward 2 1/2 months and he is a totally different child. Once I was able to pull myself out of the rut I'd been in, Sam changed. He babbles constantly. He is happy almost all the time. And he COMMUNICATES!

Sam uses the signs for 'more' and 'help' all the time now. Help also started to mean 'come and do this with me'. More has morphed to also mean 'I would like this thing to happen', directed at something like the TV that's not on when he wakes up in the morning, or to the fridge. He has his own sign for 'all done' which is fluttering his hands, and that's also come to mean 'this isn't right' like when he is trying to put in a puzzle piece and is trying to put it in the wrong spot.

Sam loves his family, he loves spending time with Grandma, Grandpa Paul and his new Aunt, Jemma. The other night, Jemma babysat so we could go see the new Batman movie. When we got home, she told us about something that happened while we were gone. She put Sam to bed, and he was being fussy and not going to sleep. Eventually, she went into his room and when she went over to his crib, he signed 'help' and pointed at his foot. It turns out that his footie pajamas had a hole and his toe was sticking out. She put it back in, but he signed 'more', pointed at her, signed 'help' and pointed at his foot. She took him out of his crib, changed his pajamas, and then he went right back to sleep! I couldn't believe it when she told us, he basically communicated a four part thought to her. He doesn't have many words yet, but he is REALLY growing and learning! I'm so proud.

Speaking of words, he is gaining. He knows pop, no and go. He has said garden, dog, don't, and mama. He has word sounds (partial words) for boom, bubbles (bub), car (ca). He can also make the sounds of a dog, cat, cow, train and if you ask what a bubble sounds like, he says pop. I know there are more, but it's late and I can't think of them. Sometimes he only says a word once, but I know it's in his head and will reappear at some point!

His receptive language is amazing. He knows so much that I don't even know, and only find out when I ask him to point it out and he does. He can point out about 1/2 the animals in his 100 animal pictures book. He can identify star, circle, triangle and square. He knows a few colors, and has no problem matching shapes and colors when doign puzzles.

Sam loves to run, and will grab my hand and pull me along until we find the activity he wants. He loves his train set and is always coming up with new ways to play with it - right now he really likes driving his toy motorcycle around it and laughing. He loves to be tickled and is most ticklish on his thighs.

In the last 2 weeks, Sam completely gave up his pacifier, on his own. He was down to only using it at bedtime or in the car. Then it got eliminated from the car, and then he started shaking his head no when we offered it to him, and one day I realized that we had stopped offering it to him and forgotten all about it, and he hasn't been using one at all. Sometimes, he makes it easy for us...

He's not perfect - he had a couple of really difficult bedtimes this week with lots of screaming, but then tonight he put his head on my shoulder and we rocked in the rocking chair until he fell asleep. I thought about putting him in his crib awake, but the heavy warmth of him resting on me was so peaceful that I didn't want to move. He's been having issues with throwing things, especially AT me, and had a time out this morning. Hopefully it'll be a short phase. He hasn't been eating much or very well this week, but it happens with toddlers. He is probably only taking naps maybe three times a week now, which makes him a little crabby at night some days, but not always. I'm not ready for him to be done with naps, so hopefully he'll continue taking them at least SOME days!

I look at him, and I can't believe that he's mine. I can't believe it's been over two years since we brought him home from the hospital, so small and helpless. I can't believe how much he's grown and how much he can do for himself now, how fast and smart and beautiful he is. He still likes to cuddle, and he knows what a cuddle is, he'll come and lie down in my arms pressed up against me. Sometimes he spontaneously sits down in my lap in the middle of playing and I smell his toddler hair and kiss his neck and let the love just wash over me. I had no reason to be worried.

A Journey in Faith: Holy Crap, I Believe!

Open up the skies of mercy
And rain down the cleansing flood
Healing waters rise around us
Hear our cries Lord let 'em rise
It's your kindness Lord

That leads us to repentance
Your favor lord, is our desire
It's your beauty Lord
That makes us stand in silence
Your love
Your love
Is better than life

"Kindness" by Chris Tomlin

This post will also start with something I wrote last year.

Saturday, March 31

Today I joined the Lake Forest Park Presbyterian Church. I am still amazed at the transformation over the past 30 hours. I feel happy. I am the kind of person who sometimes feels passionate or strongly about things at first, but then sometimes it fades. Sometimes things seem exciting to me and like a good idea, but I find that then a few days or weeks later that my opinion has gone back down to normal and I feel like a hypocrite because I spoke words that were strong and sort of have to take them back. Usually I trty to just never mention it again and hope people don't notice. There is a part of me that was scared over the past day that the feelings that I had last night and the things I feel like I've been discovering will leave me. That I will wake up one day and realize that I didn't find anything, that I just got inspired somehow by being at church, or that I was influenced by other people and just went along with what they were saying and it wasn't really my opinion. I have to let go of that. Part of having faith is trusting that the faith is not just going to abandon you.

This morning we went to the second half of our new members class at the church. Today we talked more about what it means to be Presbyterian, what they believe, how the church is structured, the two sacraments that they observe, and what their ideas about the bible are. We got a little history in there, and a little bit of information about the bible, and a tour of the church, which has WAY more staircases than I realized and several rooms I never knew were there! Towards the end of the class the active church Elders came in to meet us and vote on the new membership. At that time, we went around the room again and introduced ourselves, and I was able to share a little bit about the experience and discovery that I had last night. I got teary eyed, even just reading the above that I wrote last night out loud makes me cry a little bit. I even made Mike (the Associate Pastor) cry, but that's not hard because he cries at just about everything if it has to do with God. Then we answered the four questions out loud for the Elders, they motioned to let us join the church, and we all became members. Then we prayed together and I couldn't stop smiling. I could try to describe the feeling of being surrounded by joy and love, but I don't feel all that articulate right now and it really can't fit into words well. I was the only person in the class who has not been baptized, so I will have that done. I see it as the beginning of something new - living a life of faith in goodness and love. I am currently supposed to be baptized by sprinkling at church on the 22nd, but I am actually thinking about changing my mind and being immersion baptized in the lake when it gets warmer out in the summer time. I feel like it might be a powerful experience, and you only get baptized once, so maybe I should really go for it. So, I have a couple of weeks to decide.

After the class several people came up to me and thanked me for sharing and one person even said that I was articulate. I found that particularly funny because as I spoke to the group this morning I actually felt really unarticulate and like I was just blabbing out in a disorganized way. They gave me hugs and made me feel really welcome.

I feel comfortable and confident in my choice of churches. There are several reasons that I am happy with my choice of denominations and of churches. This is the first church where I have felt really, unconditionally welcomed. Where I didn't feel like they were ultimately thinking of having a new member, pulling in someone new, having someone contributing to their church monetarily. In the congregation and also in the small group of the new member class, I feel comfortable in having my own opinions and ideas. I don't feel like I have to conform, that I have to feel the same way as everyone else or have exactly the same ideas that they have. That I feel loved, that people are just happy for me because I have discovered something new, they're just glad I'm there sharing with them in love and faith. This is also a church that is very family oriented. They have a wonderful nursery and a wonderful children's ministry with Sunday School all the way through middle school, then youth groups. They have lots of mission trips for the teens and the adults, they have vacation bible school in the summer and a lot of options for hands on ministry. They believe in worship plus two - growing faith and hands on ministry being the plus two. I don't feel judged. I feel comfortable with Mike, which is important to me because I usually feel somewhat intimidated by that kind of 'authority figure'.

As for the denomination, there are a lot of things I like about Presbyterianism. I like the fact that they believe in family and marriage. I like their views on the Bible, and that they don't necessarily believe that the Bible is the word of God and he just used people to write it like they were puppets, but that it was written by people who were inspired by God and understood what to write because of that inspiration. I like it that they are welcoming of people from other churches, recognize baptisms done at other churches, and welcome all people to take communion and don't exclude people because they aren't church members or were not baptized presbyterian. They gave us a pamphlet about what it means to be a presbyterian and the last page says that the presbyterian church is people. That's what I like. It's all people, and it's a community. Somewhere to belong and feel welcome and to be there for other people and have them be there for you.

So, here I am. Belonging somewhere that I never thought I would belong. Understanding things I never understood and never thought I would. Thanks for 'listening'.

So, there I was. Suddenly a member of a community. What would be next?

to be continued next Thursday...

- Find the next post in the series here: 'Baptism, Washington Style'
- Find links to all posts in the series here.

July 23, 2008

Project Runway Week 2: Why Brown Satin?

Justin is being really nice and letting me watch PR right now event though it probably annoys the poop out of him. What a nice guy, huh?

"Remnants of nonsense" might be one of my new favorite phrases. Poor designers. The models saw pretty stuff, but not all of them knew what they were doing at all. Haha. Funny. Why did like four models pick brown shiny satiny fabric? So odd.

That urban woman (Stella) was annoying me, I felt like she really wasn't listening to her model, she just wanted to do what SHE was good at. You have to consider your client lady. That's the whole point of the challenge.

Now that we're talking about that urban woman, I don't really like her. I don't like that lion face guy (they just showed his name, it's Blayne) either. I also am not sure I like Suede now that he is talking about himself in the third person. At least I can remember his name without them showing it though.

I didn't expect Natalie Portman! I didn't know she had a shoe collection, but I guess that's partly the point. Off the cuff:

Suede (I didn't like the colors personally, but the dress looked really cool, I really liked the top part and it looked like it was a lot of detail. Also, when Natalie said she'd wear it, I immediately pictured her in it - cute!)
Daniel (turned out well, I can't believe he almost didn't finish)
Jennifer (didn't like the colors, but great design)

Least Favorites:
Korto (the color was hideous and it looked inside out)
Blayne (WTF was that weird arm cowl thing?)
Leanne (looked totally pinned together/unfinished)
Kelli (didn't like the design and what the hell was all that rick rack hanging off the back?)
Emily (so short... looked like a bathing suit)
Kensley (no with the collar. Just NO.)
Jerell (hated it. ugly, weird beads... ugly)


Auf wiedersehen:

Farewell, so long, auf wiedersehen, good night...

July 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Tats!

No, not tits. If you were searching for tits and made a typo and ended up here, the jokes on you. For WW this week, I decided to do pictures of my tattoos & my husbands. I know it's supposed to be wordless, but I will provide a brief explanation of them. They're in the order I got them in.
My 1st, on my right ankle. My Mom also has a flower vine on her ankle, but it's different. I originally was going to get the same one as her, but ended up making my own.
My second, which I got during my honeymoon in Hawaii, around my right wrist. I wanted something that looked sort of tribal, that would represent Hawaii to me. I also ended up later (see below) with a hibiscus flower, which I believe is the state flower of Hawaii.

This is my 3rd, on my left upper arm. I LOVE unicorns. I have an extensive collection with over 200 items in it, including this - extra points if you recognize what this unicorn is from.

My fourth, on my left outer calf. Calla lillies with the same coloring as the ones we had in our wedding.

My fifth, on my left inner wrist. A trinity knot, which can symbolize many things including father, son and holy spirit; maiden, mother and crone; mind, body and spirit.

My last tattoo (for now), a purple hibiscus flower on my right upper arm. I was going to get a big purple one and two smaller pink ones off to the side but she ended up having to make it bigger than I originally planned, so we didn't have time for the smaller ones that day.

Hubby's 1st, which he got before he met me, Bohr's atom.

His second, which he got the same day I got my flower anklet. It's a sun, but made to look like stone.
Hubby's fourth, which he got on our honeymoon the day I got the tribal wrist band. Stitch from Lilo & Stitch - represents Hawaii to him!

Hubby's fourth, which he got in China. It means 'relax'. It's on his right inner wrist.

Hubby's fifth, which he got the day I got the lillies. A phoenix rising on his left inner wrist. This is my favorite of his, I'm thinking about getting it somewhere, but I haven't decided where.

The Omnivore's Dilemma: It's easier to be ignorant

I just finished reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, which marked my 25th book read this year, and the halfway point in my goal to read at least 50 books this year. I have been wanting to read this book for quite some time, and was finally given a little push when it was chosen as the July book for my book club.


I LOVED this book. Despite that I ended my reading with many more questions than answers and a sense of general uneasiness about the way I eat and feed my family, I am glad I read it. It is much easier to be ignorant of what is really going on with the food and farming industries, but that doesn't mean it's right.

My first shock when reading this book was reading the list of things in the food I eat that are made from corn. I cannot believe how much corn I am eating, especially considering the amount of processed food I eat. It made me think about how much I DON'T think about where my food comes from, or what I've been putting in to my body. This is an issue that's come up in our family recently anyway with Justin being diagnosed with Celiac Disease we've had to really start checking our food and making sure that nothing he eats contains wheat gluten and other things like malt, barley etc. Despite becoming more familiar with our food, it still made me feel a little weird when I found out that 13 out of the 38 ingredients in a McDonalds chichen nugget can be derived from corn. Beyond that beign weird, what are 38 ingredients doing in a nugget anyhow?

Not only that, but knowing how all of the corn I'm ingesting gets processed really made me less excited about eating it. Did you know that it takes 50 gallons of oil to grow 1 acre of corn? No? I bet you also didn't know that after WW2 some munitions plants were switched to making chemical fertilizer, which is made from the same stuff used to make explosives. Which means instead of shooting those bombs off, we're eating them.


This book also gave me a lot of insight into some of the reasons why we are so fat these days. And by WE I mean Americans. I mean, have you ever been to another country? They walk. They exercise. After I spent 3 months in London walking everywhere, and walking FAST, I was in the best shape of my life. In America, they figured out that people felt like gluttons asking for seconds, so instead they just made the portion sizes ginormous. Have you noticed what you get now when you ask for a small at most fast food places? 20 oz? A small used to be 8 oz, Coke used to come in 8 oz cans.

Organic vs. Sustainable

For the past couple of years, I've made much more of an effort to buy organic. I buy Sam organic milk, and I try to buy organic products as often as possible because I figured it was better. What I'm really thinking about now is buying organic vs. buying sustainable. What does organic really mean? In some cases, not much at all. At a chicken plant, the only difference between an organic chicken and a non-organic chicken is that the organic chickens are fed a certified organic corn feed, which probably costs a tiny bit more. Other than that, they're treated the same way as the other chickens. In the same category, you might want to think about what it really means when a chicken is labeled as 'free range'. It means bupkis, that's what. The average lifespan of a chicken in a plant might be around 7 weeks. For the first 5, they're kept inside because organic chickens are so susceptible to disease and infection. For the last 2 weeks they are given a door with access to a grassy strip outside. Guess what? They don't go out. They've already lived five weeks without going outside, why the hell would they go out now? Two weeks later, they're on our plates.

I'm not saying there is no upside to 'organic', there is. The land that grows organic crops isn't spread with chemicals. But the field right next to it, owned by the same company, might be.

Pastoral Farming

My favorite part of the book was the middle section, where Michael went to live at Polyface Farms, a pastoral farm on the East Coast. They grow everything naturally, and the lives of the animals and plants on the farm are so intertwined that you couldn't have one without the others. This section of the book literally made me want to go and live there. Yes it would be hard. I would be working for ten or twelve hours a day doing manual labor. But I would also be healthier, in better shape, well fed, and wouldn't have to worry as much about the kind of damage I'm doing with the food products I choose to buy. The farm is much too much to describe here, but it's an amazing place. Pollan also points out that if the 16 million acres now being used to grow corn to feed cows in the US were converted to this kind of pastoral farm, it would be the equivalent of taking about four million cars off the road. That's a lot of freaking cars.

What Do I Know?

There are several quotes in this book from people eating wild meat, or meat raised on farms like Polyface. They say that it tastes like the chicken they remember from when they were kids, or that it really tastes like chicken. This got me thinking that perhaps I don't even know what REAL meat tastes like. I was talking to Violet about the book and admitted that in a lot of cases, I would rather order something without chicken (like a quesadilla) because the chicken is just... protein. It doesn't taste like anything, it's not particularly tender or juicy or flavorful. It's just an ingredient. It made me wonder how far this extends into my life - have I ever had REAL meat? Pollan also makes an excellent point regarding the price of food - honestly priced, more expensive food (like a dozen eggs from Polyface) versus irresponsibly priced food where the costs to the earth, the costs to the environment, the amount of oil it took to be produced are not considered or factored in to the cost.

So What?

What I've written here is a tiny slice of the pie. This book was so good that I find it hard to sit down and write anything about it without just saying, heck, just go read it! I do recommend it to anyone who is interested in getting the facts about where food comes from. Pollan is very fair and factual in his representations, I was actually very appreciative of the way he talked about vegetarians and showed both sides of the argument without bias. He observed, experienced, and researched, and the outcome is an amazing look into the food we eat in America today.

It's not easy to change your life overnight. It would have been a lot easier not to read this book, to have stayed ignorant and never considered where my meat comes from or the huge cost of industrial farming. This book made me want to think more about what I put into my body. To buy locally and try and support local and sustainable farmers. To go to the farmers market more often. Not everyone can change everything. These products can be more expensive. But every tiny step that you take in the right direction can make a difference. I don't know where this book will take me, but I would like to hope that I'll be able to make some changes in where and how we buy our food that will allow the earth and our family to be a little bit healthier.

July 21, 2008

Movie Monday: The Dark Knight (No Spoilers)

Justin and I have been SO lucky this summer to have so much family around, including new family we gained when my Mom got married in June! My new sister, Jemma, has been spending time with Sam (he loves her, of course), and she watched him on Saturday night so we could go see The Dark Knight! Woo hoo!


It was good. It was really good. I was talking to Jemma afterwards and telling her how I like this new take on the Batman movies, I like the darkness and the rawness, and the non-humor of it all. I was kind of comparing it to the new James Bond movies with Daniel Craig and how he's just James Bond... he's not smarmy like Pierce Brosnan was, and despite my love for Pierce, I do like this new Bond. Heath Ledger was just... insane. Crazy. Scary. Amazing. I've been reading a little bit about some Oscar Buzz for him for this role. There are two things. One, he was pretty impressive in this movie, and compared to other things I've seen this year I would not find it in any way unreasonable for him to be nominated. Two, I have read a couple of articles regarding Heath holding an Oscar IOU since he lost when he was nominated for Brokeback Mountain, and since this was his last finished film, it's also the last chance to honor him. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he does get an Oscar nomination next year. Whether he wins will depend on what he's up against.

I loved this movie. It was long, almost 2.5 hours, but that's the way I like my movies! I often find myself wishing movies were longer or wondering about what got cut or extra scenes that could have been added. I felt that the time was used wisely considering that about 1/2 way through I felt like so much story had been told I was starting to get a little anxious about how the heck they were going to be able to wrap everything up in time! Luckily, I had nothing to worry about.

Despite how much I liked the movie, there was something that bothered me. The most annoying thing about this movie to me was Christian Bale's "Batman voice". I get that he would need to disguise his voice when he was being Batman. But it was SO over the top, low and gravelly, that I found it distracting. I don't remember it being like that in Batman Begins, but maybe it's just been a while since I saw it? In any case, there was absolutely nothing else annoying about Christian Bale except for maybe the fact that he is TOO hot. Seriously.

Heath Ledger played the joker so well. I liked the darkness of his performance. I like goofy comic book movies (Fantastic Four etc), but I have found that I REALLY enjoy the darker more graphic novel based movies like 300 and this world of Batman. Gotham City is a dark place, and Ledger's portrayal of the Joker was spot on for that world. Criminally insane. He had no motive other than to create chaos. And that he did. The make-up was not funny, but scary and discomforting. The tics, the speech effects, it was all there.

I don't want to post anything here that will spoil the movie for anyone, but I will say that I LOVED the outcome of the ferry scene, and I loved Batman's crazy ass motorcycle thing. I found at several points in the movie I was surprised by things, which I love, because that doesn't always happen anymore, especially with this kind of movie. I didn't figure every single thing out before it happened, and of course that just made it more fun.


July 20, 2008

Thanks, Bananas: Travel Horror Stories

I don't know that my travel horror stories will be as entertaining as some... but they were CERTAINLY horrifying to me at the time. Mostly I'm looking forward to reading other people's horror stories!

Travel Horror #1: London Night Bus

Ten years ago when I was 18, I went to London for a quarter through a study abroad program at the community college I went to. I had a little bit of trouble in the first couple weeks adjusting because I was 18 and had never been away from home like this, and had never been away from my sister (then 16) for more than a week in my entire life.

Public transportation in London is AWESOME, but if you stay in Central London too late, the tubes shut down and you have to ride the night bus with limited service. When I arrived, there was a Monet exhibit showing at one of the museums, and I couldn't pass up the chance to go and see it. My new friend, Heather, and I went to go get tickets, and due to demand they had decided to keep the museum open all night on the last weekend of the exhibition. We got tickets for the earliest available time - 3 AM. Which meant that afterwards, the Night Bus it was. The exhibit itself was amazing, I couldn't believe what I was seeing, I'd been to museums before, but never anything like that. In the end, it was really all worth it, despite anythin gelse that happened.

I managed to board the correct bus, which was standing room only. I talked to the driver, and asked him to announce my stop - Merton Rd - so that I'd know when to get off the bus since I wasn't familiar with the area and didn't know how close to my house it would let me off. When the driver announced my stop, I made my way to the front of the bus and looked out. It did not look familiar AT ALL. So I didn't get off. If I had bothered to look across the street I would have seen that I was a block away from my house, but on the opposite side of the street, which is why it looked unfamiliar. Instead, I stayed on the bus. Until everyone else had gotten off. By which point I was crying.

I was so tired and confused and in a foreign country that I didn't know what to do. I explained what had happened to the driver and he agreed to drop me on the way back to the city, but he was going to take his break first. I am sure he felt sorry for me. In any case, I got home okay, but it was pretty scary for a few minutes!

Travel Horror #2: Kids Change Everything

Last Christmas, my husband, then 18 month old Sam, and I flew to New Jersey for Christmas. We had a seat for the boy, brought his carseat so we could keep him contained and comfortable, and the flight on the way there went swimmingly. Justin flew back to Washington before Sam and I, so on the return flight I was on my own.

Problem #1: Me, pushing my 18 month old in a stroller and carrying two bags and a carseat.

We checked our bags at the curb, but I still had all of our carryon stuff. At this point I would have given just about anything for one of those things that screws wheels and a handle on to your carseat to convert it so you can push it. If I take the carseat on the plane next time, I'm totally borrowing one, but I also found this online today, and am thinking about whether it would be worth it.

Problem #2: Going through the security line with all of that stuff while having to remove my shoes, fold up the stroller, remove the portable DVD player from it's bag, and TAKE OFF SAM'S SHOES.

That's right, they made me take off Sam's shoes. He was 18 months old, for frak's sake! Then after I finally got through, trying to gather up all my belongings without holding up the line for two years, while juggling my kid.

Problem #3: I then found out that I had to take a SHUTTLE to get to my plane. With all my shit.

Luckily, I then ran into a woman who had been sitting right in front of me on the flight TO New Jersey (funny, huh?) and she was kind enough to help me carry the car seat.

Problem #4: The airline proceeds to give about 3 minutes for pre-boarding, and by the time I can manage to pick everything up and head to the door, they are already boarding all the other passengers.

Problem #5: As I get on the plane with the carseat, the flight attendant at the front of the plane stops me to check Sam's carseat.

There are many problems within this problem. First of all, by him taking the carseat we are now holding up boarding for ALL of the other passengers. They couldn't have checked the car seat when I checked in to make sure it was FAA approved? Secondly, Sam is now squirming in my arms and I'm struggling to hold on. Thirdly, English is not the guy's first language, and he's having trouble understanding the label on the seat. I FINALLY get through to him that it IS FAA approved, and that the label says that it is FAA approved as long as it's used as a 5 point harness and not a booster seat. This all probably took about 10 minutes. I'm annoyed, tired, anxious. I start down the aisle and then...

Problem #6: I realize the aisle is so narrow that there is no way in hell I am going to be able to make it to my seat with Sam and all of our stuff.

The flight attendant basically says, well, I wish I could help but I am NOT ALLOWED TO LEAVE MY POST. I think that it wouldn't be that hard for him to freaking call one of the other flight attendants, but whatever. I stop once to let people by, try again, stop again. At this point I am swearing under my breath and trying to keep Sam calm at the same time. Finally someone helps me and I get to my seat, get Sam's car seat in, and we get settled. The first hour or so of the 5 hour flight goes fine. Then...

Problem #7: Portable DVD player battery dies.

Sam starts getting restless and wants to get down. I distract him as long as I can, give him juice and snacks, and then...

Problem #8: Sam starts to cry.

Crying escalates.

Problem #9: Crying turns into scream crying.

I try everything. Rocking, food, taking him to the back of the plan and rocking him. He cries for OVER AN HOUR. I feel horrible. My anxiety is out of control, I feel sorry for the other passengers, especially the 20 year old boy sitting next to me who was travelling with his parents (they were across the aisle) who had to deal with all of this. I feel bad for my baby because he's obviously really unhappy, and REALLY tired. Finally, I get him to calm down. He's awake, but he's not crying.

Problem #10: On the way back to our seats, I realize Sam is wet. Really wet. Soaked through his diaper onto his onesie & pants.

Problem #11: Even though I ALWAYS have at least one extra set of clothes for him, I don't.

Problem #12: He HAS to be changed. We go to the restroom and I put him on the hideous hard changing table that takes up most of the bathroom. The calm disappears and he is crying again.

I now have an 18 month old with a onesie, no pants, no shoes or socks. I let him walk up and down the aisle of the plane, looking at things, as I follow, bumping into people. This fainlly calms him down, and we finally head back to our seat. I put him in the carseat and he finally falls asleep, facing backwards, legs curled under him. I decide if any of the flight attendants tells me I have to buckle him in for landing, I will literally kick them in the crotch.

He stays asleep until we land. During landing I hear the 20 year old boy's mother whisper to him "She needs help". The boy and his family walk with me, and he carries the car seat AND my carryon all the way from the plane to the other side of security, where Justin is waiting. I am practically in tears at their kindness, and can't thank them enough.

On August 6 I am boarding a plan BY MYSELF with Sam to fly to New Jersey again. Eight months have passed since the most horrible flight I have ever taken in my life. I am praying this time will be better. I have more faith, I have ideas, and I know my limitations, like not bringing a stroller AND a car seat to the plane. Sam listens a little better now and can walk further by himself. Oh God... writing this all down just reminds me what it was like... please excuse me while I go have a panic attack.

July 19, 2008

Saturday Share

Here are a few things I've found recently that I think are worth your while...
  • Head over to Casa Barking Mad and read Auds' take on motherhood and opinion. Specifically, other people's opinions and how it might be good to treat each other.
  • Visit The Bean for a reminder on what love means in life, how 17 years has taught her a lot about love, laughter, heartbreak and joy, and what it's like when the man you adore starts becoming dizzy, and waiting for anwers.
  • Try out Oh, the Joys and read about how our kids can bring us from the deepest fear and heartbreak one day to the most amazing pride and astonishment the next.
  • Head over to Sweetney's linkblog, which is one of the best things ever - she will search the internet and find awesome stuff so you don't have to - and view one of my recent favorite finds. Mmmm... bacon.
  • Head over to fourfour to watch a hilarious tribute to people who are not here to make friends.

Sam got up at 6 again today. That is WAY too early. I'm going to try and get hubby to take over so I might take a little nap... Otherwise I might stick a fork in my eye.

July 18, 2008

SYTYCD: Top 10 Results Show

Wow, Cat's dress actually isn't that horrible. Way to go with continuing to include Bollywood! It's great to see new styles being introduced to this country. Also, woo hoo for four Emmy nominations for SYTYCD! I do love Wade Robson & Shane Sparks.

The Mia Michaels routine was just gorgeous. I loved seeing all the girls dance together like that, and it was just so raw and beautiful. The longing was great, they were so in character, and the makeup was really cool, subtle, but when they showed their faces during the announcement of the bottom two girls, you could really see the makeup. Kherington looked SO DIFFERENT with the make-up and the extensions! I almost didn't recognize her. Bottom two girls then... Comfort and Kherington! I was right!

When the routine started, I guessed that the mystery choreographer was Benji. And.... I was totally WRONG! It was NIGEL! That is awesome. Seriously. I liked the routine, it was fun! I liked Twitch with his glasses. Bottom two guys then... Mark and Gev. Only 1/2 right on that one... I love Gev! and Mark! I didn't want EITHER of them to go home!

I LOVED Comfort's solo. It was just awesome. I also LOVED Mark's solo, I really like him, he's so unique and weird and interesting, and kinda cute, ya know? Quirky! Wow to Kherington and her toe points! I love that Gev was dancing to Michael Buble. That is funny. Holy crap, that one move he did where he wa son his head then went up on his arms... good Lord! It seemed like they all put so much into their solos on this show, it's too bad it has no effect on the outcome, you know? After the solos, I didn't want any of them to go. Although I definitely cared more about the guys - I guess I really like ALL FIVE of the guys, I need to pick my favorites! It's so hard though, I've never liked all the guys this much before. For the girls, I think Courtney and Katee are my favorites at this point.

I was actually really surprised when she said Kherington. Somehow, I just thought it would be Comfort. It was so sad when they showed Kherington's family, her Mom looked so sad. Then when they showed Twitch and he had his head down, that seriously almost made me cry!

Then I had to lose one of my boys... nooo... Gev. I will miss him. Sad... I agree with Gev, that's a really sad goodbye song they chose for the boys!

Sigh... so we are down to top 8! More next week - I can't wait!

Haiku Friday: Positive Energy, Prayers or Telepathic Hugs

Haiku Friday

In my wanderings
In worlds real and virtual
I come across them

People who are sad
Or trying to be so strong
In the face of pain

People who smile
Trying not to see the worst
In the face of fear

They have lived through it
Sickness, abuse, children lost
Loved ones facing death

They are living it
Seizures, stalkers, pregnancies
Testing for answers

I pray for them but
They could use more positive
Energy from you

Let us lift them up
Show them the good in the world
Send virtual hugs

Not everyone prays
But positive thoughts or notes
Mean the world sometimes

A difference is made
When someone says simple words,
"You are not alone"

I've read some pretty powerful, sad, touching and emotional posts in the last few weeks. I have a running list in my head of people who need positive energy and love a little more than I do right now, people who I will pray for.

I know that not everyone prays, but most people have their own way of caring, of sending positivie energy into the world, of lifting up people who really need it. To this effect, I have started a Prayer List. There is a link over there on the left, under Listmania & Favorite Posts. It will help me keep track of who needs support right now in my life, people I've met, or people who I only know through the posts I've read. I will always include links when possible so I can go back for updates, and you can too if you want to.

We can really make a difference to each other. If you push all of the bloggy drama and snark to the background, in the blogs I read, I find a real community of people who care for each other, support each other, and help each other. I have found support online when I couldn't find what I needed elsewhere and I hope that I will be able to provide the same for the other people out there. Those who read my blog, and those whose blogs I read who don't even know I exist. I find myself really caring, emotionally invested, and want to offer my help in whatever way I can. If you find yourself feeling that way, and you have positive energy to spare, check in on the list every once in a while, and send it out to those who need it.

To read more fantastic Haikus, click here.

July 17, 2008

Tablecloths and Garbage Bags: Project Runway is back!

Yay! I love Project Runway. I haven't really decided who I like, as far as fashion, I liked Jennifer and Emily's things. For some reason I like Suede, but it had nothign to do with his designs. I might like Keith. I don't like the weird lion faced tan guy. I think I like Leslie too.

I was just reading in EW about Heidi's favorite challenges, and she mentioned the grocery store one, I'm I was really excited when I found out that they were doing it again and I'd get to see it.

When the one girl said she was nervous becuase other people had tablecloths and she wanted to be different, I was just like... why would you pick tablecloths then? It's CLOTH! Of course people went for it. Why was everyone so surprised by it?

My favorites: Paper towel dress, Oven Mitt/Pasta dress, Coffee filter/Marbled Vacuum Bag dress

Least favorites: Tablecloth/Meringue dress, Tablecloth/Doggie Bag Dress, Garbage Bag Dress, Shower Curtain dress/raincoat (hideous), girlicious indescribably ugliness

I don't know all of their names yet, so I'm just going by design for now.

Top 3: Solo Cup dress, Tablecloth/Kale/Tomato Dress, Coffee filter/Marbled Vacuum Bag dress

Bottom 3: Showercurtain raincoat, Garbage Bag Dress, girlicious indescribable ugliness

Winner: Kelly with her Coffee Filter dress!

OUT: Jerry. Too bad, but his outfit really did look like a serial killer would wear it to keep off the blood spatter.

Can't wait for more!!

So You Think You Can Dance: Top 10!

Hey look at me, on time with my SYTYCD post. As in, I am posting about the dancing show BEFORE the results show airs. Go me.

I like when they get to week 10 and the partners switch up. It'll be interesting to see how people do with different partners. So, here we go...

God, Kat Deely, WHY? I mean, is it just that your trademark is ugly dresses now? I thought it was interesting that they didn't include Comfort in the beginning introductions. I didn't expect Jessica to be there though. Oh no, Mary has a bad wardrobe problem today too. Sigh...

Round 1:
  • Courtney & Joshua dancing Hip Hop: Courtney popping? Hm... I liked it - of course you might have known that I'd like the story aspect. It was pretty good, they did a good job together, and I loved her costume. Great choreography, I agree. Courtney did step it up, and they did make it their own.
  • Kherington & Mark dancing Country Two-Step: Dude, it looks fast. Husband: That's a hot dress. Me: It's UGLY though! Husband: *laughter* Yeah, it is. It was kind of cool, but I didn't really believe it. It went fast, but once they showed all those replays with all the missed connections, I could see why it wasn't working.
  • Comfort & Twitch dancing Smooth Waltz: My first words: "Oh God". I was impressed. Not necessarily by their technique, the extensions weren't quite there, and even I could see that. They were BELIEVABLE though! So cute, I was just sitting there smiling! It wasn't at the level of top 10. In explaining to my husband why I didn't think it was good, I said something about the rise and fall and seeing a waltz rhythm in a waltz. He said "Oh that was a waltz?' and then laughed, understanding why I didn't think it was that good!
  • Katee & Will dancing Broadway: Husband: Is his name Tasty Oreo? I SO need to get him to watch this with me more often... I have high hopes for this couple. Oh, it was so cute! Or, freaking HOT with the shirt ripping... I loves me some Will. It was great, and they make a great couple.
  • Chelsea & Gev dancing Contemporary: Gev's leaps were just gorgeous. I felt like he shined in this routine, and I'm not sure I expected that. They were belieavable, they were a good couple.

Round 2...

  • Courtney & Joshua dancing Rhumba: This has such potential to be amazing, passionate... hot. Let's see. Joshua looks so elegant and powerful like a lion. I'm sorry I just said that, but it's the analogy that came to mind. It was good, but not quite as good as I expected it to be. I didn't feel the passion like I wanted to. After the judges spoke, I seem to not know what I'm talking about... I would like for Joshua to take his shirt off though.
  • Kherington & Mark dancing Jazz: Excellent song choice. I almost forgot that I don't "get" jazz, but then I remembered. I agree with Mary, I wasn't fired up and didn't feel it.
  • Comfort & Twitch dancing Hip Hop: I expect A LOT from this. It was pretty good, and I LOVED the ending.
  • Katee & Will dancing Pas de Deux: I seriously had to look up online what the hell this dance was called (Thanks, BSYTYCD!). Just in case you don't know either, here's the definition from wikipedia: In ballet, a pas de duex is a duet in which ballet steps are performed together. Um... couldn't they at least just say ballet for us simpletons out here? Anyhow... barf on dancing to DAvid Archuleta. Will was GORGEOUS. His jumps were just amazing. That was a HARD routine. I saw once in the middle where she got a little stuck during a turn, but other than that, it was pretty impressive.
  • Chelsea & Gev dancing Jive: Woah, that is fast. My legs would fall off. I think, literally fall off. Well, that was just fucking fabulous. I liked the comment "Your legs were like lightning" that Li'l C made about Chelsea.

I'm not sure I like how the solos are interspersed. Has it always been like that? Probably, and I just don't remember.

Favorites: Courtney & Joshua (Hip Hop), Katee & Will (Broadway), Katee & Will (Pas de Deux), Chelsea & Gev (Jive)

Favorite Solos: Gev, Mark, Twitch, Katee (I could see it in her face), Will, Joshua

Okay, I don't know how many they put in the bottom tomorrow, so I'm going to predict 2 guys and 2 girls.

Predictions for Bottom 2 Girls & Guys: Seriously, this is so hard. I am just taking shots in the dark. Um... Twitch & Mark and Comfort & Kherington??

A Journey in Faith: Something Stirs

Your love is a mystery
How you gently lift me
When I am surrounded,
Your love carries me
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Your love makes me sing!

"Hallelujah" by Brenton Brown & Brian Doerkson

I'm going to start today's post with something I wrote last year when this journey really began...

Written Friday, March 30

Tonight we attended the new members class at the Lake Forest Park Presbyterian Church. We started going to the church every Sunday about three weeks ago and have been enjoying it. I have never had a religious presence in my life in any consistent or significant way. I have never said I believed in God or that I thought that Jesus was the Lord or the savior of all mankind. There have been many times in my life when I was unsure whether I would ever understand religion. I have had friends who were very religious or faithful people, and I looked at them with a little bit of envy and wondered what it would be like to believe in something so fully. Even though I've said that I kept my mind open, and that I was still deciding what I believed, I never truly thought religion or church would ever be a part of my life, let alone one that I might enjoy or that would really mean something to me.

So we decided to go to a new member class because I thought that maybe Justin would want to join and that I would just get a little more acquainted with the church etc. I knew that one of us would have to be a member if we wanted to dedicate Sam, which I think we do want to do. I want to provide Sam with the community and education that the church provides, because I think that way it will be easier for him to decide on his own what he believes when he gets older. Well, it turned out a lot differently than I thought...

When we got there, they gave us each a folder with some papers in it. I was looking through it and came to the sheet that to me signified the reason that I wouldn't be able to become a member of the church. The four questions. The questions they ask you in the Presbyterian church, and the answers you must give:

Who is your Lord and Savior?
Jesus Christ is My Lord and Savior

Do you trust in Him?
I do

Do you intend to be his disciple, to obey his word and to show his love?
I do

Will you be a faithful member of this congregation, giving of yourself in every way, and will you seek the fellowship of the church wherever you may be?
I will

We all introduced ourselves then went through a few exercises. We talked about what was the source of 'warmth' in our lives when we were kids, and most people's answers revolved around their families or mothers. My answer was my mom for sure. She was always there for us and provided us with everything we needed throughout the years. Then we moved to the question of when in your life did God become real to you instead of just being a concept? This was an amazing conversation that involved tears from several people, myself included. Listening to one of the group members talk about feeling like he wasn't alone and not worrying during his wife's c-section, and hearing another group member talk about praying for her daughter in the hospital when her daughter almost died and knowing that her daughter was going to be okay and make it. A few people said that they didn't think they'd really had a moment like that, one person said she felt she'd had prayers answered. I spoke up and said that the closest thing I thought I'd felt was feeling an intense love for my family and that one moment in particular I could think of was when I was pregnant with Sam and had a moment of absolute peace when I thought of the miracle that Sam was for me, thinking I would never be pregnant and then it actually happening and how I couldn't believe it.

It was very emotional in the room, but in a good way. It's wonderful to be in an environment where you feel completely comfortable and that it's okay to be open and to share, and I did feel that way. Then we moved on to the purple paper... We started with the first question - Who is your Lord and Savior? Mike asked us what it meant for Jesus to be your Savior? What is he saving us from? There were various answers. Jesus saves us from death. Jesus saves us from suffering for our sins. Etc. Justin said Jesus saves us from ourselves and from only thinking of ourselves, helping us remember to do things for others and for God. And something started in me... we started to move on to the Lord part, but in the meantime I wrote this down in my notebook: "[What it means if] Jesus is our Savior - Jesus saves us from each other and from pain. By following the things he taught, we save each other through generosity, love, kindness and charity. Jesus' example was love - he loved everyone enough to be crucified, beaten and persecuted because he thought it would make things better for us. If we all loved one another as much as Jesus loved us we could eliminate all pain and suffering. When we love each other we save ourselves." The funny thing is, it's not something someone told me. It's not me spouting off someone else's ideas. It's just my interpretation of what it means for Jesus to be your Savior. I didn't even know I had an opinion about that. Then we moved on to the part about the Lord. Mike asked, what does it mean for Jesus to be your Lord? Well, what is a Lord? Again, people had a few answers, but it's pretty straight forward. The Lord is the boss. What he says goes. I wrote down - "The Lord is our leader. Live by his example always. If you make a mistake it's okay because you will be forgiven as long as you keep trying."

We moved on then to the second question - Do you trust in him? What does it mean to trust in Jesus? I wrote down "Trust Jesus - Trust that it will be okay. Trust that if you are good, you will be rewarded with love and goodness returned to you. Trust that you are on a path and that you make life what you make it. Trust that the things he said made sense and that we have the strength to carry it out." Other people said things like, trust that he has a plan for you. Trust that even when you don't know why, things are happening for a reason. Now, I've always thought the idea that someone has a plan for me is a little ridiculous. But what if that's not what it means? What if it means that Jesus had a plan for everyone, and that plan was for us to be good people, to help people, to love one another, and that by doing that we would be fulfilling his plan? What if it means that he knew the best way to live and that will lead us to the futures we deserve?

The third question - Do you intend to be his disciple, to obey his word and to show his love? Well, that's an easy one. A disciple is like a student. By answering positively to this question, you agree to learn his word, obey it, and to follow his teachings, love one another, show charity to your fellow man. Whether you are a religious person or not I think that if you break it down the golden rule is something that really everyone should follow, no matter what they believe.

The fourth question - Will you be a faithful member of this congregation, giving of yourself in every way, and will you seek the fellowship of the church wherever yo may be? What do you agree to by answering that you will do these things? You agree to be a committed member of the community that is the church. Participate and support your fellow church members. Know that the church will be there for you no matter where you go, that you will always have a place when you are feeling lost and need comfort. Know that you can provide comfort in that way for other people as well.

Those are the base questions you must answer to become a member of the Lake Forest Park Presbyterian Church. And I can honestly say that I might be able to answer them the same way that other people who are members do. My interpretation isn't necessarily exactly the same. Even before tonight, I thought that if I said those words above, that I would just be totally lying. But now I'm not so sure.

I've never thought about any of this in this way before. I never GOT IT. I always thought that religion was something very strict and stiff. I thought that in order to be religious I would have to conform to someone else's ideas of what God is or who Jesus was, or what exactly it means to BELIEVE and to have faith. I didn't get it. Having faith doesn't have to mean that you agree to what someone else thinks exactly. You can have different ideas about the details of what God is or what it means to believe in Jesus and God. The bottom line is still the same! Not everyone has the same exact view, and that's okay. So, I don't believe that God is a dude sitting up in the sky telling us what to do and where to go. Maybe I believe that God is love. God is the love and compassion that lives within people, it's the positive spirit that is available to everyone if they choose to tap into it. God is what makes us love each other, care for each other, want to help each other and give everything for each other. God makes a mother love her baby. God helps us see how to work it out when we have problems with friends and family. God is the spirit of love. I know I might sound like a giant hippie here, but I never got it. I didn't realize that in a church full of 100 people, there could be 100 different ideas and beliefs and that is okay, because it leads to the same place. Loving one another. Doing good in the world. Helping people. I suddenly realize that I CAN have faith. I CAN believe. I CAN belong in a community, in a Church. My interpretations are just as good as anyone else's. I actually have interpretations! What?? I might believe in God. I didn't realize there were different ways to believe in God. I didn't realize that I might be able to do it... that mabye I have actually believed in God for longer than I realized. By the way, I could just go on writing about this... but I would just be repeating myself.

I am freaked out. Not in a bad way. I just can't believe that I never saw this before. I can't believe that I went to church and something clicked. I don't know what to think. I can't believe that it could be that I actually might find religion in my own way. I didn't know it was possible. In the car on the way home, I talked to Justin about what I'd written down and what I was thinking about. I felt emotional, charged and overflowing with a weird kind of wonder at all the thoughts in my head. I talked to Violet after I got home. I wanted to call her even though it was late because we've had so many conversations about faith and because I know how happy she was when we decided to start going to her church. I told her that I had a moment at the group, and told her about what I'd written and what I'd been thinking about. This is when I came to the above realization that I hadn't gotten it before, and tears were streaming down my face. And I could feel how happy she was for me. I don't even know what is happening to me. It's all very new. I don't even know what it means. I told her that I felt freaked out and didn't know what I was even thinking. She told me she remembers feeling that way too.

Well, it's almost one in the morning now and we have to get up and be at the church at 9:00 for the 2nd part of the class tomorrow morning, and then at the end, the church elders are going to be there to help anyone become a member who wants to do it. And I am thinking about it....

That night was one of the most amazing nights of my life, and always will be. I still get tears in my eyes when I think about it. It was literally an awakening to something I never thought I would see. Ever. Suddenly, I felt this great love in the world and I had access to it. It truly was awesome, it was empowering, it was glorious.

to be continued next Thursday...

- Find the next post in the series here: 'Holy Crap, I Believe!'
- Find links to all posts in the series here.

July 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Flowers, flowers, flowers!

I love taking pictures of flowers. I am particularly interested in detail shots, which is one reason that I want to eventually (read: when we have money again) get a really good camera that will allow me to do super close up shots. In the meantime, here are some of my favorites so far. If you like any of them, you should click over and view them large size for better detail, they all link to Flickr.

That last one is probably one of my 5 favorite photos ever taken, which is saying a lot with the number of pictures I take...

For more wonderful Wordless Wednesday participants, clicky!

July 15, 2008

Apparently I am going to throw my baby off a bridge

Two of Sam's favorite things in the whole world are cars and trains. This means that two of his favorite activities in the whole world are watching trains and watching cars. I had been reluctant to take him to the freeway overpass near our house, because it's a little noisy. However, a few weeks ago I took him to watch the cars, and it was just about the best thing he'd ever seen.

Before I go any further, I will point out that this overpass is a four lane street with wide sidewalks on each side, and a railing with bars. There are probably only 2 inches between each bar, and maybe 3 or 4 inches between the bottom bar of the railing and the sidewalk. The top of the railing is above my waist, and above Sam's head. The sidewalk is wide enough that two bikes can pass each other comfortably. The railing stretches at least 10 feet past the ends of the actual bridge on each side.

If we let him, Sam would sit there for hours and watch the cars. He points at every motorcycle, big truck, and bus that goes by, and people honk at him to say Hello. After we've been there a few minutes, Sam will often squat or sit on the sidewalk to watch. He holds on to the bars with his hands, and no part of him is on the other side of the railing. Today, he wanted me to be down there with him, so I sat down on the sidewalk and not too long later, he sat on my lap and we watched together and got excited about big trucks and I told him about all the cars.

We saw Justin ride by on his motorcycle, and he stopped just around the corner and came up to say Hi and watch with us. About three minutes later, a cop showed up. In a cop car. With his lights flashing. He asked if we were just watching the cars, and we said yes. He said that the police department had gotten SEVERAL CALLS and that people were extremely concerned. Apparently people have jumped from this overpass before (I've never heard of that happening, but I suppose it has), and that people were worried about the baby. WHAT THE HELL? There was absolutely NOTHING putting my child in danger in that situation, unless I was about to THROW him over the railing. I was holding him. There was ZERO chance he could fall because of the railing, and ZERO chance that he could wander into the traffic on the overpass because he was sitting on my lap a couple feet away from the cars, and I ALWAYS hold his hand when we walk down that street. He said we were not doing anything illegal but asked us to leave/go watch somewhere else because otherwise they were just going to keep getting calls. Is it really that weird that a kid would enjoy watching cars?

I am fighting back tears right now. I feel awful. I feel upset and angry and I think embarrassed that a copcar with flashing lights showed up, blocking traffic, to tell me that I was doing something wrong and people apparently think I am a terrible parent. I realize that this is not necessarily rational. I realize that some people (like my husband) could just say 'people are stupid' and laugh it off. But somehow I can't. I feel hurt and paranoid and self conscious. Sometimes, stuff just sucks.