Wednesday, February 27, 2008


We had a whirlwind trip to Houston this past weekend with a group of junior high/high school girls and four other adults from our church. We went to Revolve, which is the Women of Faith conference for teen girls. We had GREAT seats -- fourth and fifth rows from the stage on the floor -- so we got to see Hawk Nelson, KJ-52, Natalie Grant, Max & Jenna Lucado and others SUPER UP CLOSE. I had only vaguely heard of Hawk Nelson before. Turns out they are a high-energy band that is extremely popular with teenage girls. (And I really mean high-energy -- the lead singer acts like he gives himself regular caffeine injections.) KJ-52 was completely new to me. He's a skinny little white rapper dude who completely ROCKED THE HOUSE. Then there were all the other singers and speakers who all had powerful messages. It was an amazing event and the girls are already asking about going back next year.

Chad, Julia and Jenna also made the trip and hung out with my parents. The girls even got new Build-a-Bears. (In our house, Build-a-Bear is reserved for very special occasions, such as graduating from diapers into panties. At my parents' house, all you apparently have to do to get a Build-a-Bear is just show up.)

For some reason, I always forget how horrendous Houston's traffic is until I make a return visit. I did get a kick out of hearing my friend Julie, who grew up in England, comment on Houston's traffic in her lovely British accent. ("It's OH-ful! Just OH-ful!")

Two books I'm reading right now:

I mentioned A.J. Jacobs, the author of "The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible" back in September at the very end of this post. Now I've got the book he wrote about his experience. Jew by birth and agnostic by personal philosophy, Jacobs spent a year attempting to follow every single law in the Bible. I'm only a couple of chapters into it, but I have to say I really admire the guy for taking this on. So far, he has had his wardrobe checked for mixed fibers (outlawed in Deuteronomy 22:11) and refused to discuss the U.S. Open with his wife for fear she may mention Venus Williams (Exodus 23:13 forbids even mentioning the names of other gods.) The book is funny, but it's also interesting to see how an outsider interprets and attempts to live by the Bible. This is the kind of book I could finish in a day, but I've had to hold it at bay since I've got a heavy workload this week.

Last week at the library, I scored Eric Clapton's auto-bio. He's had an interesting life (beyond the music, he survived a monstrous drug addiction, as well as the tragic death of his young son) and I look forward to reading it.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Jenna au naturel

The other night at house church, Jenna -- for no apparent reason -- decided to walk into the living room, grab the bottom of her nightgown and yank it up over her head to show everyone what she was wearing underneath... which was absolutely nothing. So I snatched her up and relocated her to her room, where I attempted to have a stern talk with her about keeping her private parts to herself. But it's hard to have a stern talking-to with your child when you keep cracking up, which is what I was doing. So now she thinks the whole thing is a joke and is undoubtedly planning more revelations in the near future. She does have some jammies -- the kind with feet in the them -- that zip from the feet up to her neck. That may have to become her house church uniform.

I blogged about this amazing book a while back. (You can read my previous post here.) The author, Christina Katz, teaches a series of writing classes online, and I'm into week two of "Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff." It's been great so far. My classmates are women from all over the country with a broad range of experience. For class homework, I've already submitted a couple of blurbs to a major national magazine. We'll see what happens! Go here to read more about Christina's classes.

I'm really pumped about going to the Revolve Tour in Houston this weekend. We're taking a group of teen girls plus several moms. Since my parents live in Houston, Chad and our girls are going to hang out with them. Maybe we can buy Jenna clothes that stay on.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Some Valentine's Day haiku...

...that has nothing to do with Valentine's Day.

Fifty percent off
At Target's Global Bazaar
This vase is now mine.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why We Can't Spell

Recently, Wade reminded me of the tragic epidemic of apostrophe abuse in our country. And walking through Target yesterday, I was reminded of another tragedy. Americans are forgetting how to spell.

(Oh! That reminds me! Global Bazaar has gone 30 percent off!)

Anyway, I think the fault partially lies in marketing. Let's make a cute little play on words and misspell a word on purpose to sell our product. But the problem is that these misspellings creep into our subconscious. Suddenly, we can't spell.

One example is the Stephen King classic, "Pet Sematary." Ever since this book came out over 20 years ago, no one can spell "cemetery." A-ha! You thought it had an "a", right? Nope. It never has. But don't feel bad. You've fallen victim to subliminal spelling disorder. It's not your fault.

Those of us who have read the book (or suffered through the gosh-awful movie), know the book's title is spelled that way because the sign at the pet cemetery in the book was made by children, who spelled it "sematary." But because the word was emblazoned across the front of a best-selling book and on display in bookstores across the nation during the mid-'80s, we are a nation forever confused about the spelling of "cemetery." Even people in the funeral home and cemetery business struggle with this. My dad works for a large funeral home in Houston, and he can't tell you how many times a memo or some letterhead has crossed his desk -- from higher-up, important, corporate-type people -- with "cemetary" printed on it.

So am I blaming Stephen King, a celebrated American author, for ruining the word "cemetery" for generations of Americans?

Of course I am.

And now, my beloved Target. I've been a little annoyed when I've gone in there lately. It's because the word "Goodbuy" is hanging all over the place. I know, I know -- it's part of their "Hello Goodbuy" marketing campaign. Another cute little play on words so we will buy stuff. But I know what's going to happen. All those "Goodbuy" signs are going to creep into our subconscious, and next time we go to write the word "goodbye," the "goodbuy" version is going to pop into our brains and try to tell us that's the right way to spell it. Our Target also has "Fabuless" signs hanging all over the place. Yet one more marketing ploy that will chip away at what's left of our literacy as a nation.

Of course I'll keep buying stuff at Target. The day Global Bazaar hits 75 percent off, you'd better get out of my way. But I think those of us who care about preserving the English language should send a message to corporate America, and that message is this: Literacy sells.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Take Your Daughter to Vote Day

I'm about to pull Julia out of school and take her with me to vote. Happy Super Fat Tuesday!

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Fed up

I've been having lunch with Julia at school once a week since she was in kindergarten and I've about HAD IT with something. Not the kids -- they are lots of fun. Not the food -- I bring my own. It's the teachers on cafeteria duty.

Every single time I've been there, these women are on the verge of having coronaries over the noise in the lunchroom. They walk up and down the aisles yelling at kids to be quiet. When that doesn't work, they turn off the lights and put all the kids on "silence." (Fun way to spend lunch with your child.) They have also had all the kids sit on one side of the table to cut down on noise. But none of these things seem to work. Do you know why? Because when you pack a not-huge room full of kids, there will be noise. But the teachers don't get it. So they just keep yelling.

When I was there last week, a sweet little guy in Julia's class got in trouble for trying to help Jenna figure out her Burger King Kid's Meal toy. That same day, I saw a girl sitting alone at a table as I was leaving. She was in Julia's class last year. She's really sweet, too -- a Katrina refugee who never got to go home. I spoke to her and mentioned I had seen her picture in the paper a few days earlier from when she marched in the local MLK Day parade. She just smiled and nodded, and I realized I wasn't supposed to be talking to her. She was sitting alone because she was in trouble for talking too loud.

It was bad in Baytown, too. This one lunchroom lady was always screaming at the bilingual kids in Spanish to shut up. (I lived in New Mexico as a kid long enough to pick up a few words.) This was when Jenna was a newborn, and the woman would come over to us and make a fuss about how cute Jenna was. Then she would turn back around and scream at the Hispanic kids to shut up again. She was so excited about her retirement at the end of that year. So were we.

I just think our kids work hard in school and shouldn't have to be constantly berated during lunchtime. I wouldn't want to spend my lunch hour like that every day.

Sort-of a sidenote: The other day, Julia's class had read a paragraph about how to make fruit kabobs (spearing fruit on a toothpick to serve at parties). Julia thought it was a neat idea. So at lunch, she took her Capri Sun straw and stuck it through the mango slices I had packed in her lunch. She got in trouble with a teacher in the cafeteria for "playing with her food." Hey, at least she was being quiet.

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