Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter List!

New season in the church means new list on the blog.

Here's what I want to accomplish before Pentecost - which is June 12th this year, y'all.

clean out my desk - and clear off the top of it too

clean out my craft supplies, particularly fabric
hang up the things we got framed during lent

try four new recipes

finish reading Stuff

update my CDO profile and my resume

decide what color to paint the bedroom

get the rest of our china ordered

finish the painting in our dining room (for real this time)

*Pentecost is also the staff training day for the camp session that Gates and I are directing at Bratton-Green.  We still have spots for kiddos that have completed the third and fourth grades.  Head over to graycenter.org if you know a child that would enjoy summer camp!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Update

So, here's the list I started with for Lent...let's see how I did!

try five new recipes
got this one on lock: spicy orange chicken, chicken fajitas, chicken piccata, 
jerk chicken kebabs, and turkey meatballs and tomato sauce
work on the lentil recipe I have for the crock pot
 done - made that this week, it was much better.

organize the sock drawer
definitely better than on Ash Wednesday....the socks are no longer spilling out and causing issues.  but it probably still needs some work...mainly for sentimental reasons.  Have you ever lost one half of your favorite pair of socks and been unwilling to let the other one go?  I have.
clean out my closets and take things to the salvation army
did this one.  then found out I needed to donate things to another organization in August.  oops.
get the print that we bought in israel framed
get the print that Gates got in south africa framed
check and check
print pictures from the wedding and frame them and display them
if only pictures didn't have that s on the end!  we framed one big group shot.
paint a picture for my goddaughter's door
take the picture to my goddaughter 
yep, for sure. wrote about it here.
take pictures of the things my sister and I have painted and get the etsy store running
didn't do this one.  I think this was just not high enough on my priority list.
I need some outside motivation to get this one done...maybe from my sister.
find abita strawberry, save for easter
whoa.  this turned out to be WAY harder than I expected.
while in New Orleans, dear friends found me a six-pack at Rouses, YAY!
plan a vacation for May
done!  leaving on May 9th, can't wait!
see two live music acts
Kermit Ruffins and Lady Gaga.  awesome.
finish the painting I started in our living room 
I meant the dining room, but that didn't really matter.  I didn't do it.
this has the highest probability of making it on the Great 50 Days of Easter list.
finish reading "the blessing of a skinned knee"
this one took me very little time, because I didn't realize I only had about twenty pages left. love this book!
get a plan together to learn more spanish 
oh dear.  I didn't even remember that this was on the list.
I really really want to learn Spanish.

I am writing a new list for Easter...the season, not the day, which is pretty much over.
The only thing on my to-do list for today is going to sleep.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday Sermon

           Ten years ago, I spent the third weekend in April traveling by myself.  I was studying abroad, and I had decided that there was one more place I needed to see before coming back to America.  I took one overnight train to Prague, and then another overnight train to Krakow, in Poland.  I spent the early morning hours wandering around Krakow, trying my best to figure out signs in Polish, until I found first the bus station and then the bus that I wanted.   It was a local bus, and it would take me to Auschwitz. 
It was a short bus ride before I was dropped off at one of the two centers for visitors.  I picked up a pamphlet and a map in English, then walked out into the former concentration camp.  There were no guided tours.  I was on my own.  Throughout the rest of that day, I saw the original entrance, with the infamous script reading Work Makes One Free in German.  I saw the buildings and remains of buildings where hundreds of prisoners slept.  I saw a display case filled with the hair taken from women, men, and children.  It was ninety-eight feet long.  A third of the length of a football field.   Towards the end of the day, I saw the gas chambers where prisoners were executed.  I wanted to cry, but somehow it wasn’t possible.  I knew how to mourn one person’s death, but how to mourn the deaths of one point one million people? 
As much as I did not want to believe that human beings could be capable of such horrors, I knew that it was all true.  A deep weight settled in on my heart, the weight of knowing what people are capable of doing to each other.   
Over time, that weight lifted, but I feel it again today.  It is impossible for me to hear the story of Jesus being betrayed, judged, beaten, and then crucified without encountering the profound brokenness that will always be a part of our humanity.  
We hear that Jesus was betrayed by someone he considered a friend. We hear that Jesus was not only beaten, but also mocked.  We hear Pilate succumb to peer pressure and hand Jesus over to be executed rather than risk a breach of friendship with the emperor.   And finally, we hear of the crucifixion and death of our Savior. 
Again and again we hear that Jesus is being subjected to emotional and physical pain, and yet we do not hear him object or try to change the course of history.  We can all picture the injuries that Jesus sustained in our minds, we can see the horrible nature of his death, and yet we do not see him rising up against his captors and walking away from humanity.
Instead, we hear that Jesus humbled himself unto death.  He gave himself up willingly to be taken into custody, sentenced, and executed.  He allowed all of this to happen.  He allowed these things because he wanted to save us, he wanted to make sure that we would be able to live as children of the light for generations upon generations. 
Given his personal knowledge of how prone to pettiness, self-absorption, and greed humans can be, it is a wonder that Jesus chose to give up his life for us.  Given his awareness of the multitude of sins that we commit against each other and God, it is unbelievable that he would make that choice. 
And yet, he did.  And today, Good Friday, the church takes a collective deep breath and acknowledges this gift.  This is a difficult day, because in order to acknowledge the enormity of the gift that Jesus has given each and every one of us, we must acknowledge just how much we need it.  We must be willing to admit that we have personally fallen short, and that as a consequence we are in need of the saving power of Christ. 
That is a frightening thing.  Few people enjoy taking stock of their lives to remember the times when they needed the unconditional love and forgiveness of God the most.  Even fewer people would like to take stock of their lives right now, looking for the situations and relationships that need to be turned over to God.  It’s a painful process, one that takes a good bit of time.  It’s the kind of systematic evaluation that cannot be finished in one hour-long church service, the kind that requires true effort and willingness to change one’s life.
Yet, without that process, the meaning of this day, Good Friday, is lost.  If we fast-forward in our minds to Saturday evening, avoiding this day entirely, then what will we give thanks for on Sunday morning?  Without Jesus crucified, the rest of the story does not make sense.    Without Jesus dead and buried, how could he be raised?
And so we sit in this church stripped bare of everything that we are accustomed to seeing.  We sit here and we allow ourselves to feel the burden of our brokenness as a collective people and as individuals.  Soon, we will give thanks and praise, but for now, we wait with heavy hearts.    

Thursday, April 21, 2011

lentils...they're what's for dinner.

Clergy couple + Holy Week = not a lot of time to make dinner.

Monday-Wednesday went pretty well, but we knew heading into this week that Thursday-Saturday were not going to be so great as far as time in the home.

That means ... lentil time!  This recipe for Indian spiced lentils in the crock-pot makes enough for both of us to have dinner tonight and the next two nights.  It's also delicious enough that we want to eat it three nights in a row.  Perfect.  So, I ran home this afternoon between a coffee appointment and the Maundy Thursday prep meeting to throw it together. 

The first time we made the crock-pot lentils, we made a hybrid of that recipe and this one.  It was not nearly spicy enough.  So this time, I just used the first recipe and tripled many of the spices...specifically the coriander, tumeric, mustard, and cumin.  I did not triple the garlic or the parsley.  I added a bit more kosher salt, but not triple.  And an extra can of green chiles.

I didn't add the chicken to the crock-pot, because I couldn't find the chicken in the freezer.  Worked out though, Gates cooked some chicken and brown rice when he got home from the Chapel.

I kinda hate that I forgot to take a picture, but I guess I will have a couple of days to get that photo.  Also, it's not the most photogenic dish in the world.

Here are my favorite new-ish songs right now...

look at me now
by busta rhymes, lil wayne, and chris brown
(not safe for work or kids)
this is technically chris brown's song, but I put the artists in order of my preference

if I die young, the band perry

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

blood donation: FAIL

I got an email today about a baby in town that needed folks to donate blood (actually, platelets).   I was not positive that I was the right blood type, but I was pretty sure there was a good chance I was qualified.  My parents are O and A, so I have to be either O or A, right?  High school biology - anybody remember that?

It's been a while since I was eligible to donate blood - seems like just about the time I become eligible again, I travel to one of the countries that is not approved.  But Israel and Jordan received the all clear from MS Blood Services, so I headed out there.

I made it through the first part of the questioning.   I passed my iron test, which was awesome since I don't eat red meat.  My blood pressure was a little high, but that was probably because someone had explained the process of donating platelets to me (yikes!).

And then the nice nurse took my temperature.  It was 100.5.  She asked if I had been chewing gum or something - nope.  She took it again, on the other side of my mouth.  100.3.  And with that reading, I failed the mini-physical.

Not only could I not give blood today, apparently I am sick. 

This is not ideal.

Side note:  How do people know their blood type?  I called my doctor, and they had never tested it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

ra ra ah ah ah, roma, ro ma ma

You might remember that one the items on my lenten check list was to see two live musical performances.  We knocked both of those out on one trip to New Orleans, seeing Kermit Ruffins at the Rock-n-Bowl on Friday night and Lady Gaga at the arena by the Superdome on Saturday night.

Kermit Ruffins was fun times, though the rock-n-bowl had made the dubious decision to put hula hoops out on the dance floor.  There were a couple of girls that LOVED the hula hoops, and so a huge chunk of the floor was unavailable for the general public.  We did not approve, and eventually took care of the problem via stealthy methods. 

Saturday, though, was a whole other category of fun times.  Gates scored us general admission tickets on eBay to see Gaga, and we got there at a respectably early time, so we were about eight feet from the part of the stage that jutted out into the crowd.  We were just to the right of a guy with a mohawk made of Barbie legs, and just to the left of a girl with a hat made from a rotary phone.  Our outfits were quite tame by comparison - I was wearing a red dress, purple leggings, and yellow jewelry.  I also had my bridal veil on, but sideways for a different effect.  Gates wore normal clothes, but did have a bull-fighter hat. 

I could go on for paragraphs as to Gaga's talents and outfits - she really is an amazing performer, and whoever designs her costumes has quite the imagination.  But the thing that was most striking about the concert for me was the time that she spent talking to the audience.  The first short speech she delivered was about body image.  She talked about being bullied in school, about being consider strange-looking, etc.  And she told everyone that the public didn't get to decide whether or not they are attractive.  Pretty interesting.  The second speech ended up being more of a sermon - she talked about how some people say that Jesus only loves some people, but really Jesus loves everybody.  You could have knocked me over with a feather - I expected the show to be strange, but this was outside of my expectations. 

I was immediately struck by two things:
  • Lady Gaga had a captive audience of about 20,000 for her homily
  • I will probably not preach to 20,000 different people during my entire preaching life
Haven't really completely processed what that means...

It was a great show though.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

love this fabric

Saw this chair on design*sponge, here.  Fell in love with the idea of recovering one of the chairs we have....but can't find the fabric anywhere.  Sadness.

But it sure is beautiful, isn't it?

at least it wasn't black swan

I had my first anxiety dream about breastfeeding last week.  Right now, before anyone gets any ideas, I would like to make it clear that I am definitely not pregnant.  I am 110% sure that it was my anxiety about another topic that caused me to dream about having a baby - a newborn that I had to give formula because breastfeeding was not working.  And I was heartsick about it - partially because I really wanted it to work, and partially because I did not want to tell people that I was giving my baby formula.

That's pretty strange, right?  On the one hand, why would my anxiety be manifested in a dream about something I have never done, instead of the usual math test dream?  On the other hand, breastfeeding - whether or not women are choosing to breastfeed, what they wear while breastfeeding, where they breastfeed, how long they breastfeed, whether or not they give up too soon, how many times they see a lactation consultant, etc.  -  seems like the most judgement-y topic among women my age right now.

I hear about it a whole lot, it seems.  And I get that I don't have the personal experience of you know, having a kiddo, that would give this more credence - but I think that if ever there was a time that a woman would need/want/pray for the support of other women, it would be right after giving birth.   I am sad to know that women feel judged at such a vulnerable time.  

I hope that someday it will work out for me (the benefits are awesome, after all).  I really really hope that this particular dream won't come true.   But I hope even more that if it just isn't working, I will be able to make peace with the situation - and have the support of my friends.

And if anybody needs someone to tell them that sometimes you have to make parenting decisions that you are not thrilled about - and that does not make you a bad mom (or dad) - give me a call.  I will be glad to be that person.

Monday, April 11, 2011

the house, it is not in order

One major side effect of the past three weeks of fun events is a rather unfortunate level of cleanliness in our home.  it's not like there are other living organisms competing for our oxygen, that would be worse, but there is a TON of dirty laundry and the bathtub hasn't been scrubbed in some time.   and...I have an admittedly strange relationship with clutter where it totally doesn't bother me at all and then all of a sudden I must have a clean house, as in NOW.  

Gates and I also haven't quite figured out how to both do chores on a regular basis - I previously used the method of just picking up stuff every few days and cleaning more when company was on the way.  That worked just fine for me when I was by myself, but now that there is a whole other person in the house, it is time to get intentional.  

And that means....a chore chart is in order. I did a good bit of googling earlier today and discovered that the average chore chart :
  •  is for small children  
  • includes things like making the bed (which is not my biggest problem, frankly)  
  • ties chores to specific days (not good when your schedule varies) 
  • requires the use of gold stars or similar stickers.  (Though I wouldn't necessarily mind receiving a gold star for mundane tasks, it somehow seems wrong to award myself one for doing a load of laundry.)
So, I ended up creating my own, which is below.  I am confident that after a few weeks we will need to add some things or change the frequency of the chores.  But at least now we have something we can check off each day that reminds us of what generally needs doing.  Does anyone else have a chore chart?  Is this the saddest thing ever, that two fairly competent adults have to have a list to keep the house clean?
*please note that I am not even trying to pretend that we will do our own yard work.  Every single time I trim things or rake leaves or do anything in the yard, I end up with poison ivy.  And that's after poisoning all the plants I could find.  So I am done.  It wins.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

living on the west side of state

I just found out that we can't watch the stories that we DVR in the living room in our bedroom because...well...we live on the west side of state street.  That option isn't available to us yet. 

back before we got married, when it was just my house, lots of people expressed concern that I had bought a house on the "wrong" side of state.  This was confusing for me.   I live on a quiet street, I have lovely neighbors, it's a shockingly short commute to work, what more could I want?

the first time I tried to order pizza, I got an error message from Papa John's online.  it said that my house was too far away from the local Papa John's branch to get delivery...but I knew that it wasn't really very far, so I called.  Turns out, they don't deliver over here.   I could go pick up the pizza at the store - but I have enough neighborhood pride that I usually just order from Pizza Hut, which is happy to bring pizza to my home.  After all, if papa john's doesn't want me as a customer, then I should not want them as a pizza provider, right?

for a while, I didn't have a security system, but eventually I decided it wouldn't be a bad idea to get one.  The guy who came to install it told me that he thought it was a good idea for a single girl to have a security system, but that I probably didn't need to worry much about theft.....as everyone knew that the houses were nicer on the other side of the street, so most thieves went over there in the hopes of better loot.  This news was strangely comforting. 

and later pepper the beagle and then my husband moved in.  I am not here alone any more - and I rarely think about my safety.   I do religiously set the house alarm and take great pains to hide the things that I would be upset about getting stolen - the things that would not be valuable to anyone else like they are to me....a necklace we got on our honeymoon from a store very much like Anthropologie, if Anthropologie only sold accessories... But that's just common sense, right? 

Or do people really live differently over there, in the land of promise just a two or three blocks east of here?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I forgot to take pictures of the garden today.   Well, technically I did remember, but it was after dark and the pictures are terrible.    

The basil plants are over there to the right....one survived the storm, the other didn't.  Happily, it seems to have been our only casualty so far.   I have no idea when I should next water these plants.  They got swamped by the rain, and still seem rather well-watered. 

In other news, I have been to Louisiana for the past two weekends and will be going back to Louisiana this weekend.  The timing has been strange, but everything has been very fun.

The first weekend, I got to see my sweet god-daughter in Shreveport.  One of my Lenten goals was to paint her a picture and take it to her - because I sent her baby brother a painting for the hospital room's door when he was born. 

(Side note:  I mentioned this hospital door sign concept to a couple of people who are not from MS or northern LA, and they had no idea what I was talking about.  Apparently, that's a local thing.)

Anyway, that goal has been reached - Eleri has a sheep for her door, over on the left.

Eamon's monkey is on the right.  His name was unknown (to me!) before the birth, so his mom filled it in. 

It was a very good visit - including a special dinner at 2Johns.  If you happen to be in the Shreveport area, check it out!  I had the blackened salmon, which was very delicious.  So many things looked good that I had a hard time choosing - next time I will get the runner-up,  snapper over goat cheese mashed potatoes. 

It was sad to leave Shreveport, but the knowledge that I would be heading to new orleans in less than a week was comforting.  more on new orleans soon - after I go back in two days!

Monday, April 4, 2011

container garden!

Yesterday, I planted a bunch of plants in containers:  three 5-gallon buckets, four enameled aluminum bowls, and one actual planter.  The aluminum bowls have been used in my family to shell peas for a long time.  I had to get a fancy drill bit to make the drainage holes in the aluminum bowls.  I had two of the buckets and bought one.  I am not really sure where I got the planter, but it has been hanging out on the top shelf of a closet for a long time. 

It was quite the process, beginning with buying the baby plants in New Orleans at the farmers' market.  For twenty dollars, I became the proud owner of a ton of plants: rosemary, basil, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, serrano peppers, thyme, chives, parsley, and three kinds of mint (mojito, orange, and lemon-lime).  I got a patio tomato plant and another bell pepper plant at the store when I got potting soil. 

I am torn between a great sense of pride that I have actual plants on my actual front porch....and a feeling of dread that they may be dead soon because of the torrential rain and temperature drop that has happened this evening.  Also, I am not known for keeping plants alive.  Bamboo died in my house this year.  That's right, bamboo.  It's hard to kill bamboo.

There will be pictures tomorrow - assuming the plants survive!

And...if you think this whole gardening on your front porch in five gallon buckets thing is just a bit too precious, don't worry, I know.  For real, I know. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

drug tests

dear parents of kids in grades ten through twelve,

You should definitely be drug testing your kids.  Here's why:

One:  Peer pressure is an amazing force of nature.  Kids need a reason why they can't smoke pot.  If you regularly drug test your kids, then they have a reason: you, their totally lame parents. 

Two:   Many kids will smoke pot at some point in high school.  If they have pretty immediate consequences, that will help them figure out that it is a bad idea.

Three:  There's no real down side.  It's pretty easy to do - they sell them online, you mail in a hair and can get the results online in seven-ten business days.  Click here for one option.

Maybe your kids get drug tested at school - that makes this a bit easier.  But make sure you know how often the school tests your kids...every 90 days or so is a good idea, because that's how long a hair test works.

And remember, this has nothing to do with your kid being good or bad or smart or not.  Even the best and smartest kids will make bad decisions from time to time.  If you establish that drug testing is part of your family's plan for the teenage years, then it's not about their new friend that you don't like or whatever.  It's just part of their life.