Friday, March 28, 2008

Apply directly to the forehead

Out of a combination of curiosity and desperation, I tried "Head On" yesterday. We were on our way out of town to camp at Hot Springs National Park (the first overnight camping trip for the girls -- and I mean REAL camping -- in tents), and I had a headache brewing. The kind that could have become a migraine if it really, really wanted to. So at the Wal-Mart in the bustling city of Malvern, Arkansas, I picked up some Excedrin and a box of Head On. Well, it's actually a tube. Picture a glue stick that smells like Vicks VapoRub.

I don't know if it worked or not. I took Excedrin, and that's probably why the headache went away. But I found the Head On to be oddly soothing. I think I could get addicted to it. It made my head feel kind of cool and tingly -- I guess because of the menthol listed as an inactive ingredient on the label. It was sort of like a homeopathic high. I kept finding myself reaching for the Head On long after the headache was gone. I guess it's kind of like Burt's Bees Lip Balm for your head.

So now I carry it around with me with all my other addictions: lotion, mints, Purell, and the aforementioned Burt's Bees Lip Balm. Hey, I don't drink, smoke or gamble. I have to have something.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sisters in the 'hood

Julia was trying to work on something the other day and Jenna kept bugging her. As I walked past the room they were in, I heard Julia say this:

"Jenna, quit gettin' all up in my business!"

Oh, for the record, the building in the picture is a Civil War-era remnant we ran across in our travels over the weekend. No, PATRICK PARTIN, it is not our house in Arkansas.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter and the Ozarks

Here are Julia and Jenna post-egg hunt in our front yard today. (I also wanted to show off my daffodils. They've survived two snows and two hailstorms and still look lovely.)

I have a feeling Julia's going to start thinking she's too old for this in a few years, but I'm glad she's not there yet.

Jenna was apparently pretty excited to get this chocolate bunny.

If you're wondering why our yard isn't green yet, that's because two weeks ago, it looked like this:

Earlier this weekend, we took my mom up into the Ozarks for a little Arkansas sightseeing. Friday, we stayed in a cabin near Jasper that belongs to some friends of ours. The cabin's property is right on the edge of Buffalo National Park, and the scenery there is beautiful.

The girls loved playing in the creek...

...and in the hammock just down the hill from the cabin.

We took the scenic route home, winding our way through the Ozarks and stopping at a triple waterfall and some Civil-War era building remnants. When we got back into civilization, we stopped in Conway at the Marketplace Grill and made complete pigs of ourselves. Julia proclaimed it as her new favorite restaurant. I'm kind of glad there's not one in Little Rock -- we'd be in big trouble!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Year of Living Biblically

When I was younger, I used to wonder this: If some guy who had never had human contact was left on a deserted island with a Bible and studied it diligently on his own, free of outside influences, would he come to the same conclusions that were being taught to me by my church, which claimed to be Christianity in its purist form? I especially wondered if said man on said island would deduce that instrumental music was forbidden in worship by the New Testament. Because I had trouble getting that from the New Testament, and I wanted to know if it was just me.

Anyway, a resident of New York City, A.J. Jacobs hardly lives on a deserted island. But he took on the task of studying the Bible (and I mean seriously studying) and attempting to live by every single one of its commands for one year. The result is the book "The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible."

As an agnostic Jew (which makes sense, if you read the book), Jacobs was not free from outside influences going into this project. But he embraces this unique mission with a balance of humor and earnest sincerity. And, oh my goodness, did he do his research. I've been in church my whole life and I kept finding myself learning new stuff about the Bible from this guy. In addition to seriously studying every word of Scripture, he also frequently consulted religious leaders from all kinds of backgrounds--including his ex-uncle, a former cult leader.

Much of this book is funny. For example, Jacobs' wife's frustration at the OT laws regarding her menstrual cycle. For one week out of every month, Jacobs could have no physical contact whatsoever with his wife. He couldn't even sit on anything she had sat on during her time of "uncleanness," according to Jewish law. (One day, his wife sat on everything in their apartment so he would have no place to sit when he got home.) Jacobs also attempts to stone an adulterer at one point, which almost gets him beaten up.

But the book is also surprisingly moving. We see Jacobs develop a respect for people whose views he previously rejected as silly and uneducated. (Creationists, for example.) He takes a trip to Jerusalem, during which he is awed by the history and devout fervor of so many different religious groups. Through a string of experiences he encounters during this year of biblical living, Jacobs begins to view birth, life and death with a new perspective. One of my favorite parts of the book was Jacobs' twin sons' circumcision ceremony, during which he begins to realize the significance of his Jewish ancestry.

As a believer, I wanted Jacobs' year-long journey to end with a belief in God. He may not quite get there, but where he does wind up is inspiring. He makes me want to have a healthier respect for others' beliefs. I think that's something just about everyone could use.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Yesterday on the way to the playground:

Jenna: Underpants! (giggles) Underpants! (more giggles)

Me: Hey, Jenna...when we get to the playground, let's not talk about underpants.

Jenna: What can we talk about?

Me: How about rainbows and butterflies?

Jenna: But underpants are funny.

Well, she has a point. Underpants ARE funny.

Anyway, I finished the books I was reading and I'm working on a review of the A.J. Jacobs book, "The Year of Living Biblically." For now, I'm consumed with articles I'm actually getting paid to write. At least you know where my priorities are.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Snow Day in March

Pure, unadulterated joy abounded in our house this morning. That's because we woke up to this:

Even more important, we also woke up to this announcement on TV: "BRYANT SCHOOL DISTRICT -- CLOSED." (When these words scrolled across the screen, Julia and I hugged each other and jumped up and down and screamed.)

So we dug out whatever snow clothes we could find and got busy having fun in the front yard.

Julia loves a good snowball fight.

Jenna loves catching it on her tongue. (It was still coming down pretty hard while we were out there.)

Snow angel by Julia. Pretty good, huh?

The four of us had constructed this little guy by 8 a.m. (He has banana chips for eyes.) By that time, the wind had picked up and we were pretty cold. "There's a reason I moved away from Alaska," Chad said as we headed inside.

UPDATE: The snowman at 2:30 p.m. Sorry, buddy. Life is short.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Katie Elizabeth!

Katie Elizabeth is here! Well, not here. In a hospital in Waco. Her proud parents are Patrick and Carol. (Carol is my BFF.) Katie was scheduled for arrival tomorrow, but she apparently took matters into her own hands. Now that's something I admire -- a girl who thinks for herself!

For a little more about Patrick and Carol, click on "Love of My Life #4" over there in the right-hand column.

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