Tuesday, November 29, 2005

My 100 Things List

So, my favorite blogs have made it clear that after you've been blogging a while, it's customary to post a list of 100 things about yourself-- a little bit of random snapshots into your life to give the readers who don't know you in real life the chance to see a bit more of who you are and who you've been.

I've been blogging now for 3 years, and at this particular blog for almost 3 months, so here goes. My list:

1. My greatest strength in life, next to my God, is my family.

2. They are also my greatest joy, and the source of my inspiration.

3. After my family, my next greatest love is education.

4. I rarely ever read fiction, ‘cause non-fiction is so much more fun.

5. I have my belly button pierced.

6. I have a B.A. in Religious Studies.

7. I completed over 30 hours of graduate work in religion, but never finished my M.Div.

8. I have not always been a Christian, and did not grow up in a religious family.

9. I have been a Christian since 1996.

10. I first started attending church in 1995 when I found a church with beautiful stained glass windows while on a jog one day.

11. I attended church for a year without getting involved.

12. I would sit in a different pew every Sunday so that over the months, I could study every window.

13. The year before, I had taken a course and learned how to do stained glass.

14. I don’t know where all my stained glass tools are now, and have no idea where I lost them.

15. One day, when I have a house with a bit more space, I would love to do stained glass again.

16. I also enjoy singing and dancing.

17. My job throughout middle and high school was singing and dancing in country music shows in a coastal tourist town.

18. I miss performing.

19. Every now and then when I can get a babysitter and a party-mate, I like to go sing karaoke.

20. I once met Chubby Checker when he stayed at the hotel I worked at part-time when I was 16.

21. He got me 2 tickets to his concert, and my mom and I went to see him that night.

22. He recognized me from the hotel, and pulled me up on stage to sing “The Twist” with him.

23. Before we knew who he was, my mom and I watched my (soon-to-be) stepdad on “That’s Incredible” catching a bullet in his mouth.

24. I grew up with my mom, my stepdad, and their two children-- a sister and a brother.

25. It was a pretty crazy and unstructured upbringing.

26. Until fall of 2004, I had never lived near my dad, my stepmom, and their son, my brother.

27. I have never had a lot of money.

28. I don’t think anyone ever really taught me how to manage money well.

29. I am trying to learn now.

30. I met my husband while in school working toward my B.A.

31. He is a total cheapskate, and fairly quiet.

32. We balance each other out pretty well, as I am not as much of a cheapskate and way too talkative.

33. I have pretty much always had some major trust issues.

34. My husband broke through all of those with his piercing honesty and gentle spirit.

35. If I could put on a cape and be a superhero, the first people I would beat up and string up are people who abuse children.

36. I don't take myself too seriously; even when I'm on a crazy-woman rant, I am at least aware that I'm on a crazy-woman rant and find myself a little bit amusing.

37. I tend to be a very intense person, no matter the experience. When I’m silly I’m very silly, and when I’m joyful I’m exhilarated; when I’m sad, I’m crushed.

38. For some people, I think I may be an acquired taste.

39. Correction: I’m pretty sure I am.

40. My husband couldn’t even stand me when we first met.

41. He thought I would never shut up.

42. I only kept talking because he rarely said anything.

43. We met as co-founders of a student disability activist and education network on campus at our college.

44. I worked as a behavioral consultant for children with autism for 7 years.

45. My specialty was play therapy, and when I was 20 years old, parents would pay me insanely great money to come teach their children appropriate play skills so that they would have a better chance of being mainstreamed.

46. I spent a lot of time playing tag, cops and robbers, and hot wheels.

47. I also taught language skills to children who had formerly been mute.

48. One of the greatest feelings in my life was being there when a mom heard her 3-year-old say his first word-- “Mom.”

49. Motivated by a spin on a tire swing, you can get a kid to say anything.

50. I loved working with the kids, but burnt out on dealing with whiny parents.

51. At the time I quit in 2000, over half of the children I worked with had been successfully mainstreamed (with appropriate accomodations) into regular education classrooms.

52. I was a total band geek in high school

53. I was even the grand poobah of the band dorks, and spent two years as drum major of my high school marching band.

54. I was a music education major for two years.

55. Unfortunately, I spent most of those two years being an idiot, lost my scholarships, and dropped out of college in 1995.

56. The summer of 1994, I lived in an apartment with two gay guys who adored me and a very large lesbian who thought I was an annoying twit.

57. My heart broke last year when one of my old roommates from that apartment died of AIDS just shy of his 29th birthday.

58. I moved out of that apartment and into a suburban house with an acquaintance who was a single mom.

59. I thought it would be a more functional and normal environment.

60. I later found out she was a call girl and a porn star.

61. I moved out as soon as I could afford the move.

62. Nothing about the 2 months I spent in that house were normal.

63. In 1994, I met a guy.

64. In 1996, he became the father of my first child.

65. Keeping the kid and ditching the guy are two of the best things I’ve ever done.

66. Finding out I was pregnant forced some serious life evaluation.

67. It was the first time I realized how empty my life really was.

68. That was when I quit looking at the windows and started listening to the homilies.

69. Then a nice guy named James invited me to be a youth group sponsor.

70. I was like, “Whoa, dude-- ME! You would actually let ME around your teens?”

71. Volunteering with the youth group taught me more about life, about Christ, and about forgiveness than a lifetime without church.

72. From 1995 until I moved to Florida in 1997, I spent about a week or more out of every month at an Episcopal convent.

73. If I were ever alone and without family obligations again, I could definitely be a nun. I really like monastic life.

74. In the meantime, I’d like to become a social worker.

75. I plan to go back for my M.S.W. in fall semester of 2007.

76. I currently live in a smallish town.

77. It’s nice, but not my ideal.

78. The local college does not offer a M.S.W.

79. We plan to move near Columbia by the time I go back to school so that I can go to the University of South Carolina.

80. That was where I went the first time, when I goofed and dropped out.

81. I will do better this time. :-)

82. I am a very protective mother.

83. I homeschooled my children for several years.

84. I was a stay-at-home mom for a while.

85. I actually loved being a stay-at-home mom.

86. I think that natural attachment parenting is an ideal to follow as much as possible, depending on your family circumstances.

87. Very few ideals work out 100% in real life.

88. My husband and I have had to pick and choose which we can actually implement.

89. From December of 1999 until May of 2003, I was either pregnant, breastfeeding a baby, or both.

90. That’s 3 years and 5 months of wearing modified undergarments and/or toting a breast pump.

91. I was in college in Florida (on my 2nd try) for most of that 3 years and 5 months.

92. Somehow I juggled it all and had maintained a 3.95 GPA upon my graduation in 2002.

93. I thought Florida sucked.

94. I love the Deep South, in spite of its’ checkered history and occasional social shortcomings.

95. I love to write almost as much as I love to talk.

96. Oh yeah-- I also enjoy learning foreign languages and cultures.

97. I studied French for 6 years, German for 2 years, Spanish for 1 year, and took Biblical Hebrew at a synagogue one summer.

98. I cry easily, but hate crying in front of other people.

99. If someone takes the time to get through my tough guy, comedienne, not easily rattled act, they will find that I am a fiercely loyal friend.

100. I have a big heart and a lot of compassion, and care deeply for the people who come into my life, whether it is through work, school, church, my blog, or some other way.

General Silliness in the Blog

Just a little apology out there to those readers who tend to enjoy my thinking posts a good bit better than my silly posts. Have you ever been in one of those situations where everything suddenly gets so intense that you worry that if you allow yourself to get too serious, it may be a very long time before you're able to get back un-serious again? I'm kinda there now. So, goofy posts may be a bit more the norm over the next few weeks; but, for the readers who get into the thinking posts, rest assured one is coming in the next few days. I've been turning Ephesians 6:12 over in my head and heart since Thanksgiving day, when my grandma shared it with me. I just need to let it settle a bit more before trying to write. To those of you who have emailed prayers and loving thoughts to me and my family-- thanks. You are a much greater support than you may realize.

Monday, November 28, 2005

family time, bad dancing, and hair color

So, I been away from the blog a few days. Truthfully, I'm still working through this sickness, and between the sinus pressure and the cold meds, my head is barely clear enough to put together a coherent sentence. In fact, the previous sentence, which I can only assume is grammatically correct, took an extremely long time to write and made my head hurt a little in the process. *FOG*

Anyway, since fluency has been a bit of a challenge lately, I've been focusing my energies on activities that don't require as much clear thinking, speaking, or writing. So, last night, the kids seemed to be desperately seeking some attention, and I've been a bit distant the past few days. Trying to come up with an activity I could mentally hang with, I popped in a dance mix CD I made for a road trip last year-- Moby, Dirrty Vegas, Shakira, Wink, and the like-- and we had a little dance party in my 5 year old daughter's bedroom. Imagine, if you will, 3 beautiful little children (ages 4, 5, and 9 for those of you who don't keep up) crowded around Mommy, ready for her to impart her years of wisdom gleaned from teaching dance, performing in live shows, and generally ruling the dance floor. Anxiously awaiting the first move, they all stared at me intently while Bodyrock blared in the background. The intensity built, the pressure grew, and I knew I better come up with something good. So, I started with the robot. What kid doesn't need to know how to do the robot?

I must mention at this point, just to help you get the complete mental picture in your head, that Daddy-O (who does not dance) was sitting on the daybed, watching the spectacle and trying not to laugh too hard. So, where was I... Oh yeah, the robot. So, we were roboting all over the room, and then I showed them popping (remember that from that slew of really crappy breakdance movies from the 80s?). My kids really liked popping. Then we moved on through the whole slew of cheesy dance moves that I can do oh-so-well: The Running Man, The Roger Rabbit, The MC Hammer, and the "MC Lyte." I don't think it's really called the MC Lyte, but I saw her do this step once where you hold your right foot in your right hand and put your left hand behind your head and then spaz out rythmically, and ever since I have called it the MC Lyte. Sadly, I bet that many of you between the ages of 20 and 40 know exactly which dance move I'm talking about. Anyway... Cold meds... *fog*... Where was I? Oh yes, the MC Lyte. Then, as "Days Go By" blasted from the stereo, I decided to teach my children how to do the worm. Have I ever done the worm? No. But hey, I figured, how hard can it be? Answer: Very. Especially for particularly busty women like myself who have never before done the worm. Ow.

So, then, "Whenever, Wherever" came on, and I decided that some basic bellydance instruction might be in order. So, drawing on what I remember from these belly dance videos I used to have, and many entertaining meals at the Morocco pavilion at Epcot, I began to shimmy and shake and twirl. My 5 year old daughter thought it was DELIGHTFUL and joined right in. My 9 year old son stood in the corner, grimacing at my every move. My 4 year old son, it might be noted, continued to do the same kick-yell-fall down combo that he had been doing for most of our dance party. (He's at the age where kicking followed by yelling followed by falling down is extremely cool and edgy. If I were 4, I might have to agree.)

So, we bellydanced until bathtime. After baths, we turned on the TV to discover that the Celtic Woman concert was on PBS. I might note, at this point, that in spite of my penchant for dance music, rap, and rock, I am a BIG SUCKER for celtic music. So, Daddy-O and I curled up on the couch with three beautiful children smelling of freshly shampooed hair all around us, and enjoyed some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard. It was a perfect end to a perfect evening. Ahhhhhhhh....... I would LOVE to go to that concert, or at least own the CD and DVD. What beautiful voices...

All in all, we had a surprisingly wonderful evening, considering how sick we've been, and I am once again reminded of how precious my family is to me.

Was I going to talk about haircolor? *FOG* Stupid cold meds...

Friday, November 25, 2005


Other than the fact that my entire family, including me, is disgustingly sick with nasty head colds, our Thanksgiving went quite well and was a lot of fun!

One question, though. What do normal people do for Thanksgiving? I really have no idea. Maybe my Thanksgiving experiences are not all that out of the ordinary, but something tells me they are.

It's not that we completely diverge from the traditional celebration at first. I've always started my Thanksgiving Day by watching the parade on TV, after which we always go to some parental house (mine, his, whoever's) to do the feast thing-- turkey, dressing, gravy, sweet potato souffle, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, etc. There is family prayer, and a little catching up if we're with family we don't see very often.

Now, this is where my experiences might start to veer off the path of normalcy.

For most years, I have celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents. Up until last year, they were the ones to whom we lived the closest. My mom, stepdad, and those siblings are all entertainer types. We spent one Thanksgiving Day at Old Town in Orlando making a music video at one of those lip sync video-maker places. Most other Thanksgivings at their home have been spent with one of the siblings showing off the most recently acquired sideshow act paraphernalia. One Thanksgiving involved flaming devil sticks and firebreathing, and at another, somebody made a rabbit turn into a dove. I always assumed it was because my mom's family was so showbiz that holidays were bizarre.

This year, we're closer to my dad, who is listed in the dictionary under the listing for "hard-working, pickup-truck-driving, hard-playing country boy." I figured, hey-- a plain old southern family. This ought to give me some better idea of what normal people do at Thanksgiving.

After careful consideration, I think I still haven't experienced a normal Thanksgiving. Here are some of the events of yesterday's family time together, which start out innocently enough and then get progressively weirder:

1) We enjoyed a fabulous Thanksgiving meal together. The food was wonderful, and I received many compliments on my green bean casserole (I remembered to take this one out of the oven on time, unlike last time). As a side note, homemade whole cranberry sauce is goooooooood.

2) The kids went onto the front porch to battle with toy lightsabers. Having just bought Episode 3 on DVD, our family is still in a Star Wars frenzy.

3) The kids and my 14 year old brother Brave Eagle went into the back yard to play in the five foot deep hole he had been digging over the past few months. I jumped in once, just to make sure it was safe, and was slightly alarmed to find that I was knee-deep in leaves and who knows what else. I quickly jumped back out to save the Emus my sister (who tries, bless her heart, to keep me in style) gave me for my birthday.

4) My brother then showed me the balloon animal kit he bought himself the other day.

5) Finally, we took our mutant balloon creations into the front yard, pinned them to a tree with a pocketknife, broke out a ninja throwing star, and had a little target practice in the front yard. If you think I'm making this up, you can see video here. There is audio, but don't turn your volume up too loud, because some of my easily-excitable hollers are just a wee little bit ear-piercing.

6) Just before leaving, my brother found some grubs in the backyard. Being much less squeamish about wanton destruction of living things than I am (and apparently much less squeamish about food in general), he proceeded to eat two of them. Alive. Nasty. I actually have that on video, too, but decided to spare you the disgusting freak show.

So, what do you think? Do I need to keep looking a bit more for a normal Thanksgiving, or is everyone's family this weird?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Be Very Afraid...

Right on par with the rest of my week, I left my camera at work yesterday. I came by to pick it up (can't go to Thanksgiving dinner at Grandpa's without the camera), and figured I might as well share.

There will be a longer, more complete post about my life through haircolor later, but for now, suffice to say that it has been far too long since I've been a redhead. Watch out, world.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's hoping that somehow (in the middle of all the madness of overeating, watching parades, and dealing with more family than should usually be gathered in one place at one time) you will remember how blessed you truly are, and be thankful.

I am thankful for:
*All God's blessings poured into my life and family;
*My husband, who is my soul mate, perfect match, best friend, confidante, and inspiration;
*My children, whose magic-filled laughter and courageous spirits never fail to amaze me;
*My parents and other family, who have put up with me for 30 years;
*My friends, who are a delightful and diverse bunch;
*All the online pals I've made in recent months, including those who (for some bizarre reason) take the time to read my rants, those whose rants I love to read, and those whose podcasts keep me going at work each day;
*My job, my church, and my children's school;
*The courage and dedication of my ancestors, some of whom helped build this amazing nation, some of whom came here for the hope that it offered, and many of whom served bravely to protect freedom.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Holy carp, people...

... this is freaky.

PETA's new comic about fishing... for kids?!?!?!

I just don't know where to start with this one. Wow. Freaky. Someone actually thinks this is appropriate for kids? Who? Not me.

Let me preface all this by saying-- I am about 95% vegetarian. For starters, my big ol' growing mom-of-three, loves-southern-cooking-a-little-too-much backside don't need any fat-n-gristle encouragement when it comes to exponential enlargement, if you know what I'm sayin'. Secondly, while I'm not a liberal, I am a little squeamish, especially since I watch way too many cutesy-poo animal moves with my kids, like Bambi, Babe, and Gordy. So, while I'm definitely not a member of PETA or anything, I'm not hyper-carnivorous, either.

Now, about this freaky flyer... Let's go through this, one thing at a time.

1) DADS who fish?!?! DADS who fish? Maybe in other parts of the country, it's only the dads who fish, but where I come from, that just isn't the case. I grew up in Myrtle Beach, and when I'd go to the pier as a teen, I remember seeing men, women, and children fishing away. I remember my grandpa taking me fishing as a girl, and while I might not have baited my own hook, I sure as heckfire enjoyed fishing. Now, grown up, I have no desire to fish. But I still know that women do it. For a bunch of liberals, PETA sure missed the feminist angle on this one. I'm a little disappointed.

2) Is it just me, or does it appear that this comic is going to be a bit too graphic and scary for most children? I look at the cover, and I think Hannibal Lecter. I wouldn't let my kids read this comic any more than I'd let them watch Silence of the Lambs. Sorry. Not gonna do it. Now, I can understand the argument that the truth is sometimes graphic and needs to be exposed. But I think that any time that exposure happens in a forum in which children might see it (and particularly when that exposure is targeted at children), restraint is necessary. There are just some realities of the world that kids don't yet need to know, and my position on this isn't just limited to the far left, either. I get just as angry when I can't drive from the grocery store to my house without my children having to deal with protesters holding up huge boards with pictures of fetus parts and dead babies, protesting abortion. How do you explain that to a child? The short answer: you don't. Until they're old enough, that is. I look at the cover of this ridiculous comic, and I think it's reasonable for any sane parent to worry that it would give the kiddies a nightmare or two. Hell, I'm afraid it's going to give me a nightmare.

3) Your Daddy Kills Animals... Ask Your Daddy Why He's Hooked on Killing. Okay, here's where some of you may or may not agree with me. As parents, we all do stupid things. And we all do things that we see as perfectly acceptable, that others may find sinful or repulsive. Me-- I like to have a nice Icehouse or margarita now and then. I almost always limit myself to one, and I haven't been truly tipsy since my bachelorette party 6 years ago. But I don't have a problem with someone who is not an alcoholic enjoying a drink with dinner now and then. If someone felt it was their responsibility to inform my children of their parents' evil deeds drinking the devil juice, I think I'd have to unleash something horrible on them. And then I'd remind them that Jesus didn't really drink grape juice at the last supper, no matter what the Baptists say. Now, telling a child whose father gets drunk and throws saw blades at mommy that daddy's drinking is a problem-- that's one thing. But a perfectly healthy and concerned parent who drinks approximately 3.6 beers per month-- that's not a threat to the child's welfare; turning that child against that parent would be. Similarly, making it seem that daddy's a murderer because he likes fresh bream is a bit mental. Now, if daddy likes to disembowel puppies just for kicks-- that's a problem that might require an outside intervention of some sort. Daddy catching a fish now and then is not, plain and simple. At least from my perspective, for whatever that's worth.

Please, PETA, do us all a favor. You deal with the animals. Let us deal with our children. Not all parents hold the same views, which is part of what makes this country as great as it is, and convincing a child that an otherwise loving parent is dangerous simply because of fishing is just plain silly.

(Credits to Southern Appeal, where I originally found this.)


Imagine all the technical damage I could do with this.

Monday, November 21, 2005

.Mac (aka My Technical Ineptitude, part two)

My email is down. Bummer. I feel fairly disconnected. Oh well, I guess anyone that needs me knows how to call.

Edit 11/22/05:
Email is back up. Unfortunately, I inadvertently deleted the entire contents of my inbox, deleted messages, and sent messages folders while fiddling with Thunderbird to try to get my email yesterday. So, if you sent me critical information in an email, like a phone number, important date, or reminder, please be assured that I did not have the good sense to write it down before demolishing my emails. Send it again, svp.

Some people should not be allowed to have computers. Plain and simple.

Or ovens, for that matter. I was supposed to prepare a casserole for my kids' school's Thanksgiving feast today. I made a phone call, and just lost track of time. My green bean casserole was in the oven for 2 1/2 hours last night. And I'm still going to serve it today, because I'm too frazzled to care. Cheers! :-)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

My kids...

...are absolutely hysterical!

Today, they came to the office with me to do a few things here. In the car on the way, my youngest (age 4) dropped a chicken nugget in the car and started crying, "my poor, poor chicken!"

Once we got to my office (located inside building materials warehouse), they discovered that a small songbird had found its way into the warehouse before the doors were closed to business on Friday. My daughter, who is 5, wanted a drink very badly. However, she was not about to walk through that warehouse to the front office to get her soda. "Mommy, please! There's a bird in there!" No amount of convincing, cajoling, or reason was going to work. Thinking quickly (as I've learned to do after 3 children), I grabbed an empty box that once held small bubble wrap mailers. Picking up my scissors, I poked a few holes in one side of the box, somehow managed to cut out a child-face-sized rectangle on the short side of the box, and dropped it over her head. "There. Now you have a helmet. Let's see what that bird is made of now." From the safety of her cardboard helmet, and much to the embarrassment and dismay of her older brother, my baby girl walked the walk without fear or hesitation.

And then tonight, at rehearsals for our church's Christmas children's play, my nine year old (who has the lead role) was doing awesome. That is, until we looked up and his face and arms were covered in blood. He gets nosebleeds easily, especially when he's upset or sick. With an audible thud, I'm sure, my heart dropped into my stomach. I ran up onto the stage with a wad of tissues, and helped him apply pressure. My hands were shaking and my heart was racing: as a complete and total self-confessed worrier, I was sure that the stress had gotten to him. Doing my best "I'm dying inside but determined to be good mom" routine, I put my arm around him. "Come on, sweetheart. Let's go wash you up." We walked out of the sanctuary and into the vestibule. As I was scrubbing blood off of his arms with a wet paper towel, my boy started to speak. "Mom, I swear I didn't know I would get a nosebleed. I just wanted to see if those two magnets would hold on either side of my nose." "WHAT!?!?!?" I shrieked. Pulling two magnetized pieces of a Magnetix toy (which he received Saturday for his birthday) out of his pocket, my son explained that he had attempted to fasten magnets around his nose during a lull in the rehearsal. Nice. Skills. Mad skills. Most likely inherited from his terribly spastic and goofy mom.

A little sunlight peeking through...

I check my referrals from time to time, just to see who is reading my blog, where they're from, how they got here, and all that. I always find it amusing to see the kinds of internet searches that bring people to my site. In the last few weeks, people have found my site by searching the following terms:

sell + my + trackless + train

sleep + positions

truth + about + puppy + love

racquetball + mishap

confederate + flag

someone + learning + how + to + be + a + southerner

And this morning, the granddaddy of them all, the one that has shot a hysterical beam of sunshine into an otherwise gloomy day:

stubborn + people

Someone did a google search for "stubborn people" and ended up here! Buaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahaa! My husband, who clearly finds this more amusing than anyone, is standing silently nearby while I type this-- a little too scared to say anything about it. He doesn't have to. I know.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


There are some things you share in an unprotected public forum. And then there are things you work through privately, within the safety of your own family. Grief so profound and rage so intense-- there is no appropriate public forum. Only a parent could understand.... It's been a rough 34 hours.

Friday, November 18, 2005

History Podcast

Ladies and gentlemen... my first podcast.

Jason over at History Podcast was nice enough to let me share a little bit about Francis Marion. Go give a listen!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

South Carolina

I recently recorded a guest podcast about Francis Marion, one of South Carolina's greatest heroes of the American Revolution. It got me thinking about my home state and why I'm so in love with everything Carolina. I was born in North Carolina to children from great, big, country families. I was the first on my mom's side to get a college degree; the third on my dad's. I lived with my grandparents for a time as a child. They gardened, built things, sold things, fixed things, and rode motorcycles, all of which made them great fun and makers of mystery for a 4 year old child. I had a go-cart, a zip line that went from the shed up on the hill down to the house, and a red wagon. I'd hike for hours through the clay hills, claiming my own personal mountain on which to build my throne, sliding downhill through my own Indiana Jones adventures, bringing home piles of clay to mold into more pinch pots than anyone could ever need, and finding "pop rocks" to bust open so I could paint on the side porch with the colored dust inside. I had a pellet gun, a climbing tree, and a strawberry patch; and I hated the way okra prickled on my fingers when my Mema would make me pick dinner.

When I was 5, my mom was living in Myrtle Beach and working as a performer at The Lighthouse Christian Theme Park. While working there, she met an entertainer who also worked at the park. They fell in love, and were married four months after my fifth birthday. Since then, South Carolina has always been home. As a kid and teen, all I could see was what was lacking. In high school, I worked hard at losing my southern accent, and was always so pleased when people would say to me, "you're not from around here, are you?" I looked at Myrtle Beach-- South Carolina's most popular vacation destination-- and saw how small it was, and how lacking in real opportunity. I loved Columbia when I moved there for college, but felt that things would somehow be better if I lived somewhere less backwards, with bigger cities, a more sophisticated population, and more non-Southerners. When, as a young, single mother, I was offered a chance to relocate to central Florida to help start a nonprofit organization for children with autism, I jumped at the chance to get out... to try my wings somewhere bigger, somewhere higher.

Seven years later, in 2004, I was growing more and more dissatisfied with the life I had chased down. Florida was beautiful much in the way a brochure of a tropical resort is beautiful-- beautiful oceans, nice sunsets, fancy restaurants, and beautiful people with blonde hair and flawless fashion sense dining on street corners at fancy bistros-- all very two dimensional. I lived in 3 different cities during my time in Florida. Each one had Brady Bunch style buildings, no architecture (only stucco, and lots of it), and more people than not who knew nothing of kindness, compassion, integrity, or courtesy. There were no hills, few (if any) old beat up barns on the sides of the back roads in most parts of the state, and my children never got to see leaves change colors. You can just forget about snow, too. None of that, either. With all due respect to Florida-loving readers, the state of Florida was, to me, like a big, shady go-go dancer. Seductive and larger than life when you're looking from a distance and under the right lighting, but unstable, not-so-beautiful, and gaudy if you get too close.

So, in 2004, when the brunt of Florida's lack of ethics, sanity, and integrity was unleashed upon us full force and the opportunity came to move back to South Carolina, I was ready. I had experienced life outside of the Deep South, gotten it out of my system, and realized that greener grass does not a true home make. My husband, a Florida native who had fallen in love with South Carolina on our many visits here, had his bags packed before I could even ask. It was time, and it never could have been a more perfect time.

Moving back to South Carolina last year, I had an experience that few Carolinians get to have-- discovering the home state you never before appreciated as if for the first time. I'll never forget the way that my husband and I would marvel at every back road. Big, hilly fields of soybeans, or hay, or cotton lined every state road, and old, metal sheds and barns speckled the countryside as if they had fallen out of a painting and into every path that existed between my home and my dad's. The fall leaves were the most amazing thing I had ever seen, up against the backdrop of a cool, foggy morning, and Columbia had never had more character. Every now and then, our first winter back, I would run out the front door in my pajamas in the morning, just so I could really feel 22 degrees on bare feet and crisp cold on my nose. South Carolina's rich heritage, gorgeous old buildings, and peaceful simplicity were just what I needed to rebuild my heart. Together with my family, I had found in the place I once fought to escape so much of what I truly needed in my life. The last year has been a time for healing, and a time for simply appreciating God's perfect plan-- beauty, simplicity, and family. I'm at peace.

Self-reflection tends to be a hobby of mine; I'm well-aware of how much I idealize and romanticize the Deep South. I know its' history well, know its' landscape and people, and know that no matter where I go, I can't escape from myself. But for now, I choose to see where I am as a beautiful place God has prepared for me to rest in for a while, and I am thankful.

The Good, The Bad, and The Very Very Ugly

Every now and then, things just come together to make for a day that leaves you not quite knowing how to feel. Some things are great, some are not great at all, and some are just bizarre; and when all is said and done, you aren't quite sure if you're tired or stressed or happy or slap-happy or just plain fried.

Here is a recap of my last 24 hours, categorized for your convenience.

The Good:
*The disco ball I ordered off of eBay last week came in earlier than expected! Woot! (Why a disco ball? Why not?)
*I got my first love note from one of my music students-- a 6 year old first grader who is the sweeeeeeeeeetest little munchkin in the world (other than my own kids, of course).
*I got ten more knives listed on eBay.

The Bad:
*After working a full day at my regular job, I rushed to church last night to teach a boy-band style hip hop routine to 14 boys (Yes-- me, in a room with 14 boys, chaos, madness, and all) for our church Christmas play.
*After teaching said rowdy boys, I went to teach Daisies, only to learn that all the girls but one were not there. And the one who was there-- let's just say she's one of those 20-kids-in-one kind of girls!
*My cell phone was stolen last night... AT MY CHURCH'S WEDNESDAY NIGHT SERVICE.
*I had to get wheel bearings on my car replaced today to the tune of $273.88. Hence the 10 new knives listed on eBay.

The Very Very Ugly:
*I got totally busted today at a stoplight rocking out to the Offspring. Which is not in and of itself a bad thing, except that I'm a 30 year old mother of 3 who drives a minivan. When I noticed that the lady in the SUV next to me was looking over at my mommymobile, watching me headbang most of my hair right out of my ponytail, I was suddenly very aware of the fact that I'm no longer the same age I was when that song first came out. I was suddenly unsure of how to feel about the fact that I'm 30 and gleefully listening to "Pretty Fly" by the Offspring-- wondering if perhaps I should listen to some Don Henley, or maybe a little Celine Dion. Not that I don't have any Don Henley or Celine Dion in my iTunes, but... The Offpsring? Shouldn't I have outgrown them by now? And if-- no matter how much I may have grown, matured, or settled-- I'm still going to totally dig The Offspring, Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock, and The Clash, then shouldn't I have the good sense to only dance about like a fool in the confines of my own home, when the kids aren't there, with the blinds closed?

I confessed my embarrassment over what a freak I must have seemed to my husband. "I must have looked like a total idiot," I said. "No," he said sweetly. "You just looked like every other 30 year-old minivan-driving mom looks rocking out to thrash while trapped in traffic." Thanks, dear.

I think I'm just going to hide somewhere for a while until my embarrassment subsides. Somewhere with a radio would be nice... and a disco ball.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Do It Yourself = Therapy for Stubborn People

Hi, my name is Christy, and I am a Do-It-Yourself-er. I'll admit it-- few things give me more pleasure than knowing that I have created something with little or no assistance. I once changed all the pipework under the sink in our old house. Sure, I had no idea what I was doing and asked the Home Depot salesperson to assemble all the parts for me before going to the checkout to pay. Sure, I then walked out of the store brandishing a fairly large and unwieldy work of pipes and washers. BUT, nothing compares to knowing that after a week of cursing and mopping failed to fix the kitchen leak, my industriousness (aided by a Home Depot associate who went above and beyond) did.

I think my anti-establishment roots are showing. My inner rebel, stifled too long, is starting to come out in whatever ways it can. I might not quite feel compelled to get multiple body piercings, quit shaving my underarms, or join the next World Naked Bike Ride, but I can find ways, however subtle or small, to buck the system, whatever that system may be.

Exhibit A: I homeschooled my children for the past 6 years. I have no anger against public schools, and will likely be enrolling my three children (who are currently in private school) in the public school system sometime in the next few years. But for a time, and I'd like to think it was during the most important time in their lives, they learned at home and in the community, in a completely contextual and integrated manner. Books about history were joined with field trips, documentaries, and historical fiction books and films. Books about science were paired with science experiments, nature walks, films, and discussions with real scientists. We read tall tales, folk tales, classics, and fantastic fantasies for literature, and learned grammar through the experience of writing our own stories, and telling our own tales. We not only learned about beliefs, society, and God, we learned in a way that more fully demonstrated how our beliefs and society provide the context and method for our learning, and how God is ever present and awesome. It was a wonderful experience, and one, I hope, that my children will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Exhibit B: I have tried, as much as possible and increasing over time, to raise my children in a fairly natural and wholesome way. Beginning with the birth of my second child, without an epidural, I have worked to avoid succumbing to pressure that parents are stupid and always require a doctor/ author/ professional/ psychiatrist/ large corporation/ commercial announcer to tell us how to raise our children. I trust, as much as possible, in the natural processes of becoming and being a parent, and preserve for my children, as much as possible, the natural experience of being a child. I've done midwife care; prepared for a homebirth (that didn't get to happen because my midwife recognized her limitations in an emergency situation); breastfed all my children; ground my own baby food once they were old enough to eat; used natural remedies for situations that didn't require a doctor; avoided junky or overly processed foods for the most part; and taught my children about the intent and underlying messages of commercialism, so that they will hopefully grow into savvy consumers. I'm not a perfect parent, and as much I fantasize about being a granola-crunching, co-housing, organic-gardening hippie, my ideals often tower high above my capabilities and practice. But all in all, my husband and I have done an okay job of raising our children ourselves, and without excessive outside influence.

Exhibit C: I keep trying to sew things, even though I can't read a pattern to save my life. Squares, corners, angles-- these I can do. I have made curtains, pillows, and blankets. I once tried to make pajamas for my son. They were, I regret to admit, pretty pathetic, and would not conform to the body of a child... a human child, anyway. This goes right along with Exhibit D: I wish I were a gardener, and every few years I decide to pretend to be one. About five years ago, I decided we were going to grow a lot of our own food, and ended up at harvest time with 3 jalapeno peppers and a bug-infested tomato. Not pretty. I think that was the same year as Exhibit E: The summer I tried to bake all my family's bread. My oldest son, then 4, finally begged me to buy some honey wheat at Wal-Mart-- anything to stop the flour-dusted madness.

And yet, here I am, still obsessing with the notion that I, the 30 year old daughter raised by a singer/ dancer/ dance studio owner and magician/balloon guy/stunt artist, can build entertainment centers out of scrap wood, and still believing, against all odds, that I will one day learn to change my own oil without the use of any mechanics, auto shops, or tricky camera angles. It will happen. It will.

And web sites-- don't get me started. I'm far too stubborn to enlist intelligent and experienced help before a crisis occurs, which might explain why my sidebar has often appeared somewhere below the footer and I have to reinstall my template every time I try to fix it. I would rather, for some inexplicable and masochistic reason, make things more complicated if it means that, in the end, I can say I did it myself.

So honey, if you're reading, call the auto shop and cancel that brake job we were planning for next week. It's been a tough week, and I think I'm going to need a little more therapy than usual.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

My Technical Ineptitude

Those of you who have read this blog for more than a few weeks are probably aware by now of my severe ineptitude with technical things, particularly web stuff. Don't get me wrong-- I'm a bit more savvy with a computer than, say, my 82 year old grandmother. But my problem is that I try to do things beyond my capabilities. I see a big ol' string of code in my blogger template, and I think, "Ooooooh. I can add a link there." And then crazy things happen.

Sadly, I must inform you that I am working on another top-secret web project that will not be up for a few more weeks. Yet again, I feel the need to subject innocent internet-goers to my skill-lessness.

Luckily for me (but unluckily for him), one of my best friends from when I first went to college 12 years ago is now a computer geek who has done tech support in the past and now does MS network trainings and stuff. (I don't even know what the heck he does, I just know he's the one I call when faced with a computer challenge, even a challenge I have clearly and willingly brought upon myself.)

So, on the phone the other day:
Me: You busy?
M: Not really.
Me: Question. I've just installed postnuke on my new site, and I'm getting administrator error messages.
M: What do they say?
Me: (Reads the messages)
M: Hmmmm... So, how did you install postnuke?
Me: With the instructions?!?!?
M: Oh, great. I've got Seinfeld on the phone.
Me: I'm not being funny, Beavis, I just don't know what you mean.
M: I'm trying to figure out if it's Linux or Windows you put it on.
Me: How would I be able to tell?...

This goes on for about 30 minutes. Then...

Me: Are you starting to get the feeling you're talking to someone who has no business trying to create a website.
M: Something like that.

Anyway, I was using one of the other computers at work last week, and had to use Internet Explorer to check in at my blog. (I use Firefox on my computer, and the blog looks just fine with Firefox.) Lo and behold, the sidebar, which from the lily-white beauty of Firefox had seemed to be fixed, is not. I have failed. So, I will start over, with a new template, and streamline. Fewer links, no google ads, nothing that I'm not absolutely confident I can manage. In the meantime, if the blog looks whacked out, understand that I'm going through a personal, spiritual, and internetual process of change. It will be back, and better, and if it doesn't work, I know who to call.


So, it has been a disturbing week in the news.

First, this.

Then there's this.

There's also this.

And a million other cases reminding us that somehow, as a society, we are failing our children.

I didn't go to church this morning. I called in to let them know I wouldn't be able to teach Sunday School, and then I spent the morning with my husband and kids. All these stories, paired with some things going on in our own lives, pinned me against the wall of my fears, full-force, and reminded me of how fragile and vulnerable childhood really is, and I just wanted to be with my kids.

I watched Born Into Brothels the other night. What a beautiful documentary. It's about a group of children born to prostitutes living and working in a brothel in Calcutta. A photographer shooting the women of the brothel discovered the children's natural curiosity about her camera, and this documentary portrays the photography class she began for the kids, and her efforts to help them attain better lives. These children live in brothels where they have to go play on the roof "when mom has to work in our room," where they hear words thrown about that I didn't even use back in my cuss-like-a-sailor wild child days, and where severe drug abuse is witnessed daily. The boys have nothing in life to look forward to, and the girls are expected to join "the line" once they pass puberty. And they're beautiful, warm, outgoing kids, really, in spite of it all.

It's so easy to see that stuff as so far away, so alien to our culture. We think, "We're Americans. We don't put kids into those situations. We have safeguards in place to protect our children." And then we walk off, smug, as if our Western culture is all the moral compass we need. As far as I'm concerned, we just do a better job of hiding it. The few friends I had growing up who had the healthy dinner-together, talk-about-our-feelings, nobody-has-been-abused, june-and-ward-cleaver kinds of families admitted, with a great deal of awkwardness and isolation, that their families were "functional." Of the 6 closest female friends I've ever had, 4 (that I know of) have been raped, abused, or molested. I teach our Wednesday night kindergarten girls' class at church, and often receive prayer requests that open windows into those girls' lives that, frankly, I'm not sure I want to look through. It is heartbreaking, what we allow our children to experience, and terrifying to the heart of a parent.

I have three of the most beautiful children, so precious, so sweet, and so innocent. To think of someone taking away that innocence, violating their childhood, or exposing them to realities much harsher than I want them aware of at 9, 5, and 4 years old-- well, that just tears apart everything I dream of as a mother. I can't be with them all the time, and I can't protect them from everything the world has to foist upon them. I can't keep them isolated from everyone and everything that could possibly hurt them-- I know this. I don't want to leave them paralyzed by their own fear of the world, but I don't want to leave them clueless, either. Where's the balance?

I'm not naive. I don't believe that we live in the first generation to experience these kinds of horrors. I understand that we are blessed to live in a society that has put into place guidelines, laws, and practices to try to protect children. It's just a shame upon human nature that we even need laws and guidelines to tell us that children are our most precious resource, not to be squandered, abused, or thrown into a sink-or-swim culture too soon, too completely. We have to learn something from all the things that keep happening, and we have to find a way, for our nation and our world, to stop them from happening. No small task....

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sleep Positions and Twisty Spines

Found this at 4haks and thought it was interesting: Sleep Positions Indicate Personality Traits. None of them really describe me. I'm a sprawler. I generally start out laying on my side in the "foetus" position, and then roll over, throw one leg over my husband (who spends all night inching away from me to try to free himself), throw the other leg over the edge of the bed, squeeze my pillow up into a little ball in my arms, and then lay my head, face to either side, onto the bed (no pillow). I'll tell you what that makes me... A chiropractor's nightmare. Between the sprawled out sleeping positions, the occasional racquetball mishap, and sitting at a desk all day every day at work, I think my spine is taking on the shape of the Rockin' Rollercoaster at MGM Studios. I always worry during praise and worship at church that someone will mistake my back-cracking and neck-popping for some kind of awkward attempt at a naughty dance move. So, G. C. C. folks, if you're out there-- be aware: My gyrations are goal-oriented, not demon-inspired. :-) But anyway...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Ooh, ooh! Look, guys!

Saturday, my family went to the zoo with an old college buddy of mine and her family. Fun! For those of you who have no idea what I look like, here's a rather unflattering picture of me being assaulted by a lorikeet that was about to rip my ear off. (There is, as of November 13, a better picture in my profile.)

Anyway, the picture is neither here nor there, just an afterthought, really. The point of the zoo story is my youngest son, who went from exhibit to exhibit in a complete and total state of absolute enthrallment. He'd go up to an exhibit and peer curiously in... As soon as he laid eyes on whatever marvel was there to be seen, he'd burst out into yelling-- "OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH! OOOOOHHH!! Look, guys! Look!"

Today, I was listening to the History Podcast (as I do every time they release a new one), and it was a broadcast of Griddlecakes Radio's latest Griddlesode. All I can say is, "OOOOHHHHHH! OOOHH!! Listen, guys! Listen!"

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Yesterday, while sitting in my car in the Fuji Express drive through waiting on my tofu teriyaki, I was listening to NPR's All Things Considered (one of my favorite shows). This story about a young woman (Laurel Snyder) whose mother named her after the clinic where she almost had her aborted, came on, and spoke to my heart. If you get a chance to listen in, it is well worth the few minutes it will take.

For years, I've had trouble explaining how I feel about unexpected pregnancies and the choices we talk about as if they're political statements, rather than the expression of personal hopes and dreams. For me, the opportunity to make that choice came into my life in 1996.

My first real dating, fall-in-love experience was with a guy a good bit older than I was (16 years). I was in college, already struggling with my grades, my life, and my emotions due to a series of stupid lifestyle choices I was making. Everything in my life felt like it was spinning out of control, and he seemed to stand pretty solid and settled in the midst of everything I felt I was missing in my own life. He was older and "more mature" than most of the guys my age (who were mostly involved in frat parties, stupidity, and their own egos). He had a real career, was a real business guy, yet at the same time was a real southerner. He grew up the son of a country hellfire preacher, and had gone on to Emory to get two bachelors degrees, a masters degree, and was ABD for his PhD. He was good conversation, good fun, and a good friend, or so I thought.

And then came the phone call when he didn't come home from work. I thought I was calling his parents... and everything came crashing in on me, and nothing would ever be the same. After the nightmare began, I went through 4 years of back and forth, more lies, not knowing the truth, being strung along, dropping out of school, and not really knowing what I wanted anymore. And somewhere in the middle of that chaos, my first child was conceived. I was 20.

From the time I learned I was expecting, I was just that-- expecting a baby. It wasn't a medical condition; it was a complete and total changing of my life forever, and I knew from the moment I learned I was pregnant that I wanted this child. I knew, somehow, that this child was special, even though so many of my friends from college thought I was crazy for not getting an abortion.

I spent a lot of time during my pregnancy trying to figure out what I had to do for my child and myself. I spent weeks on end at the Convent of St. Helena, living in the guest house. By day, I tended to daily chores, helped with yard work, took Eucharist, Bible study, and prayed all the daily prayers. Every night, I would curl up on the couch in the guest house with a cup of hot tea and a book from the library-- Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena, Hildegard von Bingen, Thomas Merton-- anything... just something to help me make it through. I remember the curious faces of neighborhood kids sneaking up to the building, hoping to catch a glimpse of a real, live nun, and startling when they saw my growing belly, asking, "where's the nuns?" I wrote letters to my son's dad, to his family, to my family... letters that never were sent... letters to help me heal my heart.

None of it was easy. There were many tears, and many nights where I felt I didn't really want to be a mother yet, that I wasn't ready, or that I didn't have what it takes (emotionally, physically, financially) to provide for a child. I alternately doubted myself, hated myself, comforted myself, encouraged myself, believed in myself, and kicked myself in the ass for ever believing anything my son's dad ever told me. I had volunteered for a couple of years as a telephone counselor for a local suicide hotline; I ended up moving in with another of the phone counselors I had met-- someone who, like me, had been through an unplanned pregnancy as a young, single woman, and who had spent nine months being pummeled with a Bible in a home for unwed mothers. She and her husband offered up their spare bedroom, and I became a part of the family.

Just before my angel was born, I moved into a tiny, one-bedroom apartment, ready for the first time to give it a go on my own. I set up a crib in the livingroom and a bassinet in my bedroom, and thought I was ready.

Somewhere in my eighth month of pregnancy, I was driving home from work in the rain, singing along to some Eric Clapton song that reminded me of my son's dad, when my car was rear ended, thrusting my car into the rear of another car. I went into labor early, and little man was born 5 weeks early. He was a BIG boy to be so early-- 7 pounds 8 ounces-- but group B strep got into his blood, and when he was a few hours old, he quit breathing. At 16 hours old, he was on a ventilator taking 600 breaths per minute, and his tiny blue body was shaking with the force of the machine. He still wasn't getting enough oxygen, though, and we went with a risky (especially at the time) procedure called ECMO, with all its complications and all the fears that went along with them. It was 4 weeks before I got to hold him again, and almost 2 months before I got to bring him home. Only then could we really begin the process of learning to be a family of two.

My son changed my life in ways I couldn't begin to describe. Self-destructive things I used to do when it was only my life I was ruining were no longer options where his life was concerned. Relationships that were not great, but good enough for me, were not good enough for him. I quit thinking about how much better the world would be without me in it-- I now had someone for whom to be strong. I took my life from the hole it had fallen into, and began the long crawl out into becoming a decent human-- a functioning member of society. I moved to where I was more than a one-day drive from my son's dad (to make it easier to get him out of my head), and got back into college. I graduated from college in 2002 with a 3.95 upper level GPA (because I wasn't just going for me; I was also going to make a better life for him). He gave me all the motivation I needed to get my life back on track.

And then there's his life. I don't believe I've ever seen a more intelligent, gentle, sweet-spirited, brilliant, funny, deeply sensitive, beautiful child. He is so compassionate, and so loving; I can't imagine the world without him in it.

I read things sometimes about choice, making abortion more accessible, and the devastation having a child can wreak upon a young woman's aspirations, career, and education, and all I can think about is how little I knew before having my child about what real love was. I think about how unprepared I was for the blessing I was about to receive, and how it wasn't really until he was a few years old that I began to understand how powerfully he had transformed my life. I think of how easy it would have seemed for me to have made a different decision, and how much I would have been missing without ever even knowing it. I think about all the legitimate reasons I could have had to not have my child.

We tell women that as single mothers they will give up their education, give up their careers, and give up the social/dating life that most girls their age have. I imagine that if we supported single mothers, helped them to find ways to go back to school, and worked to create a society in which dating was a more healthy, trust-based process to begin with, that we could reduce the abortion rate without ever marching in the first rally or passing the first law. It never should have been reduced to a mere political issue to begin with. Unplanned pregnancy is a deeply personal situation in which too many women find themselves, and one in which support from family, friends, and caregivers can go a long way towards taking away the fear that often guides women's decisions. A fear-based decision, whatever that decision, is unlikely to be a decision that changes a woman's life for the better, and the decision about whether or not to have a child is far too important to make lightly. You won't know what that child could bring into your life until much later...