Tuesday, November 25, 2008


It's the holidays again! Time for spending time with friends, baking holiday treats, and rolling our eyes at the collectible crap in the latest Hallmark catalog.

Let's see what our friendly neighborhood Hallmark store has to offer this season:

The utter creepiness of Precious Moments. Can someone tell me why these children are getting married?

The sheer weirdness of Willow Tree. Nope, she doesn't have a face. But she does have a pineapple! And wings!

The delightful yumminess of Yankee candles. (OK, I do like the Yankee candles.)

Now for some ornaments:

A Barbie dressed in tin foil...

A tiger that appears to have been skewered...

...and this guy. Hey, I'm just as much of a Star Wars fan as anyone else. But do I really want Emperor Palpatine on my Christmas tree? I'm thinking not.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Betting on Alice and the freedom of the press

Yes, the long-awaited Twilight movie opens tonight. I'm hoping to go Sunday afternoon with friends from church. Yes, it will probably be cheesy. But we're going, anyway. And we're gonna like it.

Over the weekend, I traveled to Austin for Patsy Partin's memorial service. It was very nice and I got to see some old friends. Here I am with Patrick, Patsy's youngest, and Robert Duren. I went to junior high and high school with both those guys and then Patrick and I went to the same college. I thought so much of Patrick that I found him a wife. I guess I thought he couldn't do it on his own. Anyway, Patsy would have loved that her service brought together so many people who hadn't seen each other in a long time. It was especially great seeing Patrick's wife, my bff Carol, for the first time in three years.

Now on to our latest adventures with Jenna. Last Monday, she got our church office staff thrown out of a bar. Really. One of our ministers (WHO SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS) is a barbecue fan and makes a hobby of seeking out hole-in-the-wall BBQ joints in search of great barbecue. Being from Texas, I get this. Sometimes the best BBQ you will ever eat is sold in establishments you might otherwise want to avoid. Like the Rib Cage in Baytown.

(For those of you tracking my vegetarian progress, don't panic. I was going along with everyone on Monday to seek out some potato salad. I've been meat-free for over two years now.)

Anyway, Mr. Nameless Minister thought we should try a certain "restaurant" out here in Saline County. I felt a little funny about going to this place, because I thought it was a bar. But the sign said barbecue, and Rev. Nameless was paying, so who was I to complain? Anyway, we go in there and sit down -- with 4-year-old Jenna -- and the waitress comes up and says, "I'm sorry, but according to Arkansas law, no one under 21 can be in here." Why? Because it's a BAR. So we all left.

For those of you who live around here, it was "The Pit" by the race track. The race track where the hillbillies race their hillbilly cars every Saturday night. Yes, I took my child in there.

The whole thing reminded me of Reese Witherspoon's line in "Sweet Home Alabama": "You have a baby! a bar!"

Then this morning, Jenna kept yelling "MOVE, LADY!" at the woman giving the forecast on the Weather Channel. Apparently the poor woman was blocking Jenna's view of the U.S. map. I guess we need to work on Jenna's manners. Keeping her out of bars might be a good place to start.

Finally, I'm so, SO proud of the staff of the Optimist, ACU's campus newspaper. (Where I was managing editor for one year and senior staff writer for two years in college.) They made a candidate endorsement that they had to know would not be well-received in the ACU/Abilene community, but stood by it anyway. They have taken all kinds of flak as a result, which was to be expected. I just remember making a difficult endorsement while on the Optimist staff (for student body executive offices, that time) and going to press knowing we were going to make a lot of people unhappy, but knowing we had to stick by our convictions. (And one of the guys we weren't endorsing was Chad's friend and scheduled to be in our wedding that summer. Ugh -- still not fun to think about. He got elected, anyway.) That was rough at the time, and I can only imagine what the current situation is like for the Optimist staff, especially since this controversy has made news beyond the campus. Part of learning to be a journalist is accepting the fact that in doing your job, you will make people upset. I think this experience will serve to prepare the current staff for their future jobs, and I also chalk it up to a victory for freedom of the press.

Here's an article about the controversy in the Abilene Reporter-News, and another article at the College Media Matters web site.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back to Texas

This past Sunday, my BFF's mother-in-law Patsy passed away in Texas. (Patsy was also the mother of this guy.) Patsy and her husband Benny were all set to enjoy retirement, grandkids and a brand new house when she was diagnosed with a very advanced form of cancer this past June. She fought a brief and courageous battle with the disease and kept up an unbelievably positive attitude the whole way through. I'll be traveling to Austin this weekend for her memorial service. I hate the circumstances that resulted in my making this trip, but I am looking forward to seeing lots of old friends -- including Carol, who I haven't seen since we evacuated to their house during Hurricane Rita in 2005.

This also means I am leaving Chad alone with the girls for the weekend. So everyone please be extra nice to him.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Puppy toilet paper

Sunday, while putting up stuff from my store run, I plunked a package of Cottonelle toilet paper on the counter in the girls' bathroom. Later, when Jenna went in there to "do her business," I heard, "Mom! This stuff is for dogs!" Because there's a dog on the package, she thought we had been using toilet paper for dogs. You never know -- there could be a market for that. I do remember that when I was growing up, my dog didn't need toilet paper. Because we had carpet. Ewww.

The toilet paper was part of this week's adventure with The Grocery Game. This was my best week so far. I was thinking back to my pre-Grocery Game couponing days. I would cut coupons every Sunday and save a couple of bucks a week. Which I thought wasn't so bad, because if you add that up over the course of a year, that would come out to just over a hundred dollars. Well, I'm never going back to that way of couponing again. At Walgreens this past Sunday, I paid $7 for about $50 worth of stuff. Which is pretty easy when you're paying 50 cents for a package of razors that normally cost $8.29. Or getting free teabags that usually cost $3.29. (However, my gleeful shopping experience at Walgreens was marred Sunday when Jenna pulled down a display of skin care stuff right by the checkout. Luckily, the GLASS SHELF that slid to the floor and landed on her feet didn't shatter. The Walgreens people felt really bad and said the shelf wasn't balanced right. Aside from being scared half out of her mind, Jenna was fine.)

Then on to Kroger, where my original total was $116. After all the coupons, it was $71. So for less than $90 for the week, I was able to get everything we needed plus some stuff for my stockpile, which is growing. We're going to have to donate some of our bars of soap because we really have a ridiculous amount right now. But I keep getting it so cheap!

And yes, I voted today. We made it a family event. Chad held our place in line while the girls and I went on a doughnut run. I wanted to make sure Julia was standing next to me while I voted so she could witness something that wasn't even close to happening 100 years ago. 1) A woman voting, and 2) a woman voting for either a black presidential candidate or a female vice presidential candidate. (So HA! You still don't know who I voted for.) Just thinking about all the sacrifices that were made by so many people through history so I could do that today is mind-boggling. Julia's already saying she can't wait to turn 18 so she can vote. Pretty cool, huh?

I've been getting quite a bit of ink lately. You can go here to read my Arkansas Life (Nov.)article about specialty food shops in Arkansas, and here to see my feature on the historic Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs (Oct.) I'm also writing for the next two issues of Arkansas Life, and hopefully beyond.

And at your local Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Hastings or other major national book retailer, you'll find my byline on p. 72 of Success for Women (look for Maria Shriver). I'm also working on several things for the next issue of ACU Today. So if you're ever wondering what I do while my kids are in school, there's your answer. (Although I've also been known to fold laundry while watching The Hills.)

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