Wednesday, July 28, 2010

God likes Craigslist

Yes, you read the title correctly. Actually, I am not sure he approves of all the happenings on Craigslist, but I am completely confident that He uses it for good. Seriously.

I've been familiar with the concept for quite awhile now, but have honestly only used it a handful of times. I've heard all the horror stories of the unsavory incidents related to the site, but I have only ever had good luck. And recent events in my life had led me back to the Craigslist world once again.

My Craigslist adventure begins with a search for dressers for my children. My daughter's dresser, while newer, had just about had it. It was made of particle board and cardboard. Of course, to the untrained eye, it looks like wood, but I knew the truth. And over time, the truth became more and more evident. Eventually, the drawers started falling apart. I tried repairing them many times, but it would only get worse. We had come to the conclusion that my daughter needed a new dresser.

My son needed a dresser as well, and had been using the wardrobe we bought for Rylee when she was an infant. It is white and brown and has a mirror on the door. There are pink flowers and fancy knobs.  He was getting to that age where things like that started to matter, not to mention the fact that his clothes never seemed to stay on the shelves. It was time to get him an actual dresser.

While searching the Craigslist classifieds, I had located a dresser for my daughter. The location was near by and it was just what I was looking for. I coaxed my husband to call the girl listed in the ad because I get anxious about such things. While he was dialing, I made the comment that I thought it would be funny if it was the Katie we knew from church. I knew she was getting ready to move. My husband grinned while he was talking to the woman on the other end of the phone. He said that it was the Katie we knew and handed me the phone. We not only found our daughter a reasonable dresser, it was from someone we knew and trust. And she had another dresser for us too. Two birds with one very lucky stone. I suppose that it was more like God has led us to that ad as apposed to luck. And for that, I am very grateful to him.

In an earlier blog post I had mentioned my husband's misfortune with my grandmother's table. To make a long story short, we needed a new one. Unfortunately, we just can't run to the furniture store every time something breaks, so again we hit up Craigslist. For awhile we had wanted to get an entire dining room set, complete with buffet table and china hutch. We just figured it would have to wait. And again, God seemed to lead us right to not only what we needed, but what I had wanted. We made the trip to Yarmouthport and picked up our "new" table, complete with matching buffet table and china hutch. They matched our existing chairs, which made me happy that I can use my grandmother's chairs for that much longer. The set was from the 50s and looks beautiful in my dining room. I couldn't be happier!

Our most recent experience with Craigslist is one of my favorites. For a very long time now, I had wanted to buy a piano. New, pianos can be very expensive. We are talking thousands of dollars. Even the used pianos on Craigslist seemed out of my price range. Every now and then I would check back to see if anyone had posted something new. I had even found a really nice electric substitute that I was contemplating buying off of a friend. I even prayed about a piano. And yesterday, much to my surprise and delight, I discovered a new ad for a free piano. The piano was just a town over and completely free to anyone willing to come and haul it away. A free piano.  Amazing. It just needs to be cleaned up and touched up in a few places, but it is beautiful. We plan on hiring a piano tuner in the near future, and it seems like a small price to pay for such a wonderful blessing. I owe my best friends the McCabes so much for being willing to help us move the piano.

I have so much to be thankful for. God has showered me with blessings. I am just in awe that he takes so much interest in my life to take the time to give me a piano.  It wasn't even a need. It was a want. And He wanted me to have it. Funny how He can use things like Craigslist to give one of his daughter's a present. Thank you, Abba.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Gazillion Things to be Thankful For

So lately I have been preoccupied with wanting things that I don't have. These are good things that I want, but the trouble is, I get so wrapped up in wanting them that I forget to be thankful for the things that I have and be content with the life that God has blessed me with. Today at church I was reminded to be thankful. More than once, actually. Sometimes its nice to get smacked off the side of the head with a good dose of reality.

I love worship services at our church. We don't have a drummer or a piano, but we have some really awesome guitar and bass players, not to mention our saxophone/flutist. :) Oh, and we have lots of singers. Some of us even harmonize. Our worship leader Norm will sometimes explain a song before we sing it. And sometimes he will share something related to the theme. Today we sang a song of thankfulness to God, but before we sang it Norm took a few moments to talk about it. He explained that sometimes we can have attitudes and focus on things or circumstances we aren't happy with rather than focusing on the things that God has blessed us with.

Oftentimes our worship service corresponds with Pastor Glen's message. This never seems to be on purpose either. At least from our own understanding. Sometimes God has a really cool way of tying things together. Pastor Glen's sermon today was also on being thankful. He talked about how thankful and joyful David was. He told the story of how he took off his royal clothes and danced and sang praise to God in the streets with the servants. He talked of how David's wife chastised him for looking foolish and how David said that he'd rather look foolish worshipping God than not.

I started thinking of my own life and how my attitude lately has been one of discontent. I began to realize that rather than wishing for things that just can't or won't happen now, I should stand back and look at all the wonderful things God has done for me in my life already. So, here we go. I am going to list a whole mess of things that I am thankful for and that God has done for me.

Being born. It doesn't stop here. The circumstances that surround my birth are dramatic, full of heartache, love, and redemption. That being said, I am also thankful for loving parents. My mother for choosing life and being brave and loving. My father for choosing to be my father when my biological father couldn't. And both of them for raising me to know God.

I am thankful for my siblings. I find it funny how even though there are five of us, we are all very different, and in some ways, extremely similar. My childhood was full of laughter and the closest friends a girl could have. I might have been somewhat of an enigma in my own home, but they loved and accepted me for who I am anyway. That's what families do.

New Hampshire. I love New Hampshire. Not only am I thankful that I got to grow up here, I am thankful for the beauty that is NH. We had it all. Seacoast, mountain, forest, four seasons, and we were close to pretty much every other New England state. I have so many memories wrapped up in beach trips, camping, hiking, and even the occasional trips to Maine or Boston. I also love that Vermont looks like NH standing on its head. I just plain love NH.

Growing up in the same house my whole childhood. It might have been small, but it was ours. We didn't have to move ever. My dad still has the same job he did when I was growing up. We might not have had tons of money, but I am thankful for the stability we had.

Sometimes we were poor. True story. Sometimes we didn't have a lot of money and wore hand-me-downs or had to rely of the food pantry. I know I've mentioned this before, but here it is. In those rough times of uncertainty, we learned that we can trust God to provide. He always did, and to this day, he still does. Whenever I find myself doubting, I remind myself of the many times we almost went hungry and how he somehow provided us with just the thing we needed: Milk, grocery cards, bread, etc. So, I'm thankful for those poor times. And for God's provision.

Education. I've seen it all: public school, private school, home school. Each experience I had was a chance for growth and learning. I learned to appreciate family, education, and yet again, God's provision of these things. My parents couldn't afford to send us to private school, and yet, somehow I had the opportunity to attend Jesse Remington High School- which is not your typical high school. I was allowed to be myself there and explore my creativity and love of literature and history. I am so blessed to have been able to go there.

ZBI. Yea, I am even thankful for that time in my life. That tough identity crisis I hate everyone period that I went through. It was ugly. I didn't last at that school for long, but I did learn a lot about myself back then. I don't regret going. I don't regret leaving. I don't even regret my immaturity. I learned so much from that experience and from the mistakes I made.

Marriage and Seth. I am thankful for this more than I can even really express. I married young. I married a man that had little in common with me other than our love for history and writing and our belief in God. Many people thought we wouldn't make it or that we weren't a good match. I love that Seth and I are very different. We might not always agree on everything, but I think that's just fine. I believe our differences balance our relationship. He keeps my feet on the ground and I allow him to dream. Things are always interesting in our home and there are always a wide variety of things to do or get interested in. Our differences have become our greatest strengths in our relationship. And even when things got hard and we were thinking of calling it quits, we didn't. We looked to God and to each other. We worked hard and have grown that much stronger as a result. Seth is my best friend, my companion, and my love.

My children. Rylee and Samuel are my miracles. They are constantly showing me how to laugh and imagine and play. They give me a fresh perspective on the world around us. They are always learning new things and are amazed at so many things that most people take for granted.

This great big wide world. Its just plain amazing. I stand in awe of God's creativity. I love that everything is so detailed and how everything seems to be connected to everything else. I am thankful that I get to live here and enjoy the beauty of this world.

The senses. I love that I can see- not just see, but see in vivid and beautiful colors!! I love that I can feel the warmth of the sunshine or the splash of a raindrop. I love that I can taste so many different flavors and that I can smell so many things like how the air in NH smells so full of plants and flowers and the air here on the cape is salty and fresh. I love that I can hear the beauty in laughter, birdsong, and music. So many many things to be thankful for just by existing.

The Military. Yup, the military. I am not thankful at all for war, however, I am very thankful for our Country's military. First of all, it is because of the military that we live in a free country. Secondly, my husband is employed in one of the military branches: The US Coast Guard. (just a bunny trail here, but check out German Coast Guard on YouTube. Its hilarious.) I am thankful for this in so many ways. My husband had to fight to even get into the CG, but it was worth the effort. He has job security, health care- not just for him, but for all of us, and housing. And in today's economy, that is nothing to shake a stick at. We haven't always loved every place we've been stationed at, but with each base we have learned lessons, made friends, and had a safe place to sleep. We are currently at our favorite place thus far, which brings me to the next thing....

Cape Cod. I am thankful for this place as it is the official place Seth and I struck out on our own as a young family with our first baby, Rylee. We have so many wonderful friends here and a super awesome church to be a part of. The base Seth is stationed at is awesome, as are the people he works with. He rescues people and is still home every day. We live in the middle of a vacation destination and would not likely be able to live here if it weren't for the Coast Guard. The beaches are beautiful. The parks are beautiful. The people are friendly and welcoming. I love living on Cape Cod. I love base housing. I love that we have access to a very nice pool (and its free!) We are privy to free-view previews at the base theatre. Our friends love and accept our quirkiness- because, well, let's face it, they are quirky too.

This list can go on forever, so I will just end this blog post with the following:

reading, writing, art, photography, flowers, clouds, birds, air conditioning, game nights, Writer's Group, Sundays, ice cream, COFFEE, eccentrics, hippies, nature, the ocean, sand, swimming, sandcastles, video games, sketching, friends, goulash, Europe, Canada, musical theatre, Shakespeare, literature, museums, outdoor theatre, Portsmouth, vacations, staycations, family days, quality time, ancestors, history, books, libraries, schools, dancing, jazz, technology, dragonflies, myths and legends, silk, RenFaires, science fiction, psychological thrillers, extended family, heroes, kittens, puppies, bunnies, dandelions, clovers, being barefoot, grass, bike rides, straw hats, Pie in the Sky, memories, Chinese food, figure skating, cobblestone, opera houses, massage therapists, nail polish, glitter, ribbons, crystals, candles............What are you thankful for?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

There is nothing like a good book

So here I am, yet again, writing a sporadic blog post. I've been pondering what to write for a week or so and finally just decided to write. Life has a funny way of making itself busy whether I planned it that way or not. So, what is it that has been keeping me occupied this last week or so?
For starters, we have been spending time at the base pool. The kids love it. We are so blessed to be living on a base that offers pool access.
We made an appearance at park day, which generally consists of homeschooling families. This makes us the oddballs as I don't home school my children currently. The homeschoolers don't seem to mind, which I think is pretty cool. I've been polling the home school moms to find out what their primary reasons for homeschooling is, and I think its very cool to hear all the many reasons people have chosen this mode of education for their children. And you know what I find refreshing? Many of the reasons I am getting from other home school moms go way above and beyond the stereotypical religion answer. Makes a girl think.
What else have I been doing? Reading. Its been a long time since I have sat down and actually read an entire book. It seems that most days I get busy with life and there are too many interruptions. So what book caught my attention long enough for me to read the whole thing? Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos. This book was recommended by my good friend Lori, who read and reviewed the book prior to recommending it for the summer book club. I love this book. Matt has an abstract way of writing which creates a very unique story full of truth. This definitely brought me face to face with some Imaginary Jesus' in my own life. I laughed, I cried. Awesome book.
Yesterday an iconic movie was released to the theatres. Ramona and Beezus. Yes, that's right. Iconic. Anyone who has read the Ramona books by Ms. Cleary knows that this movie is a MUST see. So, I decided to make this a mother/daughter date and bring Rylee. We of course loved the movie. I cannot wait to buy this movie when it is out on DVD and I think my daughter is finally old enough to start reading the brilliance that is Ramona Quimby. As we arrived home from our afternoon of girl time, I was greeted by an anxious husband that asked if I had checked my facebook yet. I said I had not, suspiciously looking at him. Something was off in the room but I had not yet put my finger on it. I checked my facebook page. Nothing. I checked Seth's page. And then I saw it. The picture of my grandmother's table in a gazillion pieces on the back lawn. My dining room table. Broken. I seriously can't leave the boys alone for a minute... When I asked what happened, my husband admitted to trying to use the table as a stool for his surround sound project. It was an abysmal failure. I have no more table. I did not quite know how to feel and informed my husband that I would likely find it funnier in the morning. Here it is, the next day, I still don't know if I think it is funny. However, my husband promised me we can get a new table, so that has cheered me up a little bit. While he is off to the base dump, I think I will read that last chapter in Imaginary Jesus before I get started on today in search for a new book to read and a new table to eat at.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

That Mountain I thought I climbed was just a Molehill? Well, now, that's humbling.

I think this planet is pretty amazing. For as long as I can remember, this world astounded me. Everything is just too detailed and beautiful to have been some cosmic accident. I adore that even though everything can be so vastly different, it is all connected. There is a balance in nature. There should be a balance in humanity as well, but because we are flawed, often we fall short of this. That doesn't mean we can't try to get along. I think humans can be narrow minded and stubborn. I know I am. I try not to be, but sometimes I am too busy being right that I forget to be a little more open minded. The trouble that I tend to find myself in is that I pride myself in that I am openminded and accepting of others so often that I tend to judge the people around me that I feel is not doing the same thing. If I am so openminded, then I should probably just leave them alone to their opinions and beliefs and accept them too, right? I suppose the real problem here is that I am looking at other people and what their beliefs and standards are. I really should be foccussing on my own life and living up to my own standards. Mother Theresa said it perfectly. "If you judge people, then you have no time to love them." She was pretty wise. She exhibited what so many people who claim to be Christian have yet to even come close: compassion. She was not out to reform people. She was out to love them. She knew what this life was about and lived her life with that mission: to make this world a better place. She served God by serving others. She gave up earthly things and went places that most women would be scared to death to go to. And she made a difference. A huge difference. The Catholics should have canonized her a saint before she even died, but I doubt that would have pleased her. She was not in it for the glory. She was in it for God. Sometimes I wish I could be that openminded. It is hard for me. I am stubborn. I hate being wrong. I hate when I think others are being wrong, when really its just a matter of a difference of opinion. But, sometimes I think this life isn't about the mistakes we make, or who is making them. The real purpose here is to rise above that and learn from those mistakes. The real purpose is to live our lives as Jesus did. And you know what gets me? All those angelic images we see of Jesus in his perfect white and blue robes surrounded by beautiful clean people in pretty gardens. When I think of Jesus, I think he lived his life more like Mother Teresa. He was surrounded by people that most people would have sat back and judged as not socially acceptable. They were "common" and "sinful." Then I think, aren't we all? Jesus even loved those hoity toity Pharisees that were constantly berating him for hanging with tax collectors and harlets. Seriously. He loved them all, and even though they turned their backs on him and played the "holier than thou" card all too often, he still died for their redemption. For my redemption. Now that I think about it, all too often I am sitting there judging people because they are not up to what I think God's standards are, and it hit me... I am more like those Pharisees than those people I am judging. I don't judge those people that most Christians judge. I have a tattoo. I don't have a problem with people who like wine with dinner or the occassional beer. I never really thought of myself as judgemental. In fact, the people I focus my monacle on are those people I used to see as the Pharisees. But, those people I disapprove of are no better or worse off than I am. So, why do I sit here and decide what it is they are doing wrong and what their fate should be. I hate legalism in the church. I hate it. I feel there is no room for legalism in a community that should love. But, by pointing out all those people I deem legalistic, I am judging them. I am placing myself above them. I am becoming the very thing I hate most. Thank goodness there is a God that loves me anyway. Maybe I should stop focussing on everyone else so much and start working on me. How can I make this world better? I can start by accepting those people around me. I can start by accepting that I am not perfect, no one is. Will I ever make as much of a dent in this world as Mother Teresa? Probably not. But even she said that if you cannot find a thousand hungry people, then feed the one you do find.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Everybody has a "thing"; here are 10 of mine...

Everyone has their own tailored set of pet peeves and secret (and not so secret) fears. Some people hate rush hour traffic with a passion and others are afraid of heights. So, this got me thinking... My pet peeves and fears range from normal and rational all the way to the bizarre. Here is a list I compiled of these things and the reasons why they are on my list in the first place- in no particular order.

1. E.T. Yes, that cute little pop culture alien that won over the hearts of millions back in the early 80s. I can't stand that little bugger. And no, he is not a pet peeve. He is just plain creepy. I can't sit through that movie without getting the willies. I can't really explain this one beyond what I have already said, but Seth enjoys torturing me with the fact that I loath the creepy little cutie. He has even changed the sounds on the computer to freak me out. (I.E. when I log onto the desktop it used to say, "Elliot" and when I logged off it would say, "Phone Home". That was mean, Seth!!! MEAN!)

2. Fish. I don't like them. I'd love to say that this is simple. In my mind it is rational, but in the rest of the world's mind, I'm totally loony. That's OK. I can be loony about a few things now and then. There are several levels to this one, and it has amused my friends and family and baffled my acquaintances. Id like to start by saying that by "fish" I mean both the aquarium occupants and the thing served poached with lemon and butter. I used to love ordering the battered fried haddock at Friendly's when I was a kid. Fish sticks were a favorite. I loved watching my pretty little tetras and zebra fish in our little aquarium at home. I never connected the two. Until we added some tiger barbs to our little tank and they decided to eat all the cute little fish and leave the dead half eaten on the bottom of the tank. Even thinking about this as I write is making me squeamish. Eventually, the only fish that remained was the lord of the tiger barbs. He was mean and he ate his aquarium mates- which, by the way, the kid in the pet store positively assured us, they would all get along! HA! (A side note to you pet shop employees: know your fish before you send home mortal enemies doomed to the same tank. It could scar a person for life. Trust me.) It doesn't end here. Nothing would kill this fish. (PETA, calm down, I was just a kid.) We didn't feed it for days and it lived. Eventually it died of a complete accident. But, boy were we all relieved. I wanted to put the fish massacres behind me. Unfortunately, I had to relive the horror when our two cats, Dandy(lion) and Rose discovered that they could catch the neighbors Koi from his pond and bring home their own dinner. It wouldn't have bothered me so much, but they would bring home these fish still alive. Scales would get everywhere. And my brother used to find it amusing to put the remains in the dog food bag knowing it was my job to feed the dog. Thanks, Josh. I suppose that was some sort of Karma payback for me and Jessica forcing him to wear a dress when we were all younger..... I don't know. Childhood is all about who pranked who, Even Stevens, and tag teaming. Anyway, back to the fish... These images are forever ingrained in my memory. I have such trouble with fish. Especially dead ones. You will never see me in a sea food restaurant if I can help it. I don't mind the Boston Aquarium at all, and I love taking the kids to see the Lobsters in the grocery store. But I don't think I will ever keep a 10 gallon tank with the pretty little tetras again. And then, here is where people scratch their heads.... We have a 65 gallon tank with the biggest ugliest pond fish a person could have: an oscar. Yes, the fish was my idea. And yes, he started in a 10 gallon tank. He was a birthday present for Seth about five years ago. He loves fish. And this was the one he liked. It was ugly and it had personality. We had to move Oscar the oscar to a bigger tank and he is now huge. He survived 2 moves, although this last one almost killed him. While he is a big creepy looking thing, he is the only exception to my fish rule. He's an aquatic puppy. I know. I don't make sense sometimes. But its true. I love the reactions people give when they see him for the first time. It's pretty amusing. When he's gone, I think his tank may be converted into a terrarium, however. Like I said, he is my only exception to the fish rule. When he's gone, there will be no more fish. Right, Seth? Right?! You know its bad when your worst dreams involve fish floating through the air sans water or fish tank... And, no I don't think there is anything Freudian about it.

3. The purple pizza monster from Chuck E. Cheese. OK, so he doesn't scare me now. But when I was a kid, he used to freak me the heck out. I'm sorry, but whoever thought a purple monster with huge teeth that wants to steal birthday pizza from a bunch of kids was a great character for a children's theme restaurant should immediately be fired from marketing. And while he is packing his desk, perhaps they should find out who invented that giant animatronic lion dressed as Elvis that was also a part of the same restaurant and fire him as well. Seriously. He used to freak me out too. I get that they thought it was "clever" that the King of the Forest was dressed as the King of Rock and Roll. Very cute. Except that, whoever thought of the term "king of the forest" to describe a lion should also be fired. Lions live on the plains of Africa. Not in forests.

4. Motorcycles. I like these actually, but you would NEVER catch me riding on one. I know way too many paramedics that scrape operators of such modes of transportation off the pavement to want to ride one. However, why I am listing this here, is because, while I am not afraid of the vehicle itself, I am deathly afraid of hitting one in case I don't see it in my blind spot. So afraid of this, in fact, that Seth has pointed out that I will always be aware of them and not hit them. This might be true, but it still scares me.

5.  Lightning. Many of my friends love watching lightning. I actually like watching it too, but it makes me VERY nervous. To be honest, I think most people are not afraid of the lightning itself, but the startling noise it makes: thunder. Not me. Thunder can't hurt me. But if I was struck by a kajillion bolts of static electricity, Id be a goner. I don't like or trust lightning. Although, I might stand on my front porch and attempt to take cool pictures of it- if its far enough away.

6. Being "left behind." This one might perplex some of you readers of a different faith. That's OK. Chalk this one up to the whole "fear of death" or "afterlife" thing. In my faith, a big debate that plagues churches everywhere is the "rapture" debate. While the specific word is never used in Revelation, the last book in the Bible, it is a word we use for an event that we believe is supposed to happen sometime around the end of time. The argument is generally when and who. I grew up in a very paranoid time in the church and this was often used as scare tactic for Sunday School children to behave. It worked, but sometimes I think it was a poorly chosen method to keep us out of trouble. The idea of a tribulation where the world will hunt down and kill Christians for simply believing in God scares the tar out of me. If a rapture is supposed to happen, I'd like to be included in it... Although, the idea of floating to heaven after a whole mess of undead Christians frightens me a little too... I don't entirely discount the idea of a rapture, or that I will take part in it. These are just the things that concern me. I've seriously had nightmares centered around this.

7. Coyotes. When I was a child I was afraid of coyotes, lions- mountain or otherwise, and jaguars. I used to think they would hide under the back deck and eat me when I headed out to feed the dog at night. Although, in my mind, the coyotes were generally an aqua or green color with yellow or orange polka dots. Like in some kind of Southwest painting. I had dreams centered around this. My parents used to assure me that there were no such creatures in rural NH. I am now an adult and know that there are. They might not be technicolored and resemble more of a mangy wolf-like creature, but they do exist in the great Northeast. In fact, they are even more common on Cape Cod than in my home town in NH. Ive seen them cross through my yard a few times last summer. I no longer fear them like I did when I was a kid, but I wouldn't invite their presence either.

8. Aliens. OK, so I'm not one of those UFO nuts (my apologies to my friends that are...) that believe in conspiracy theories or government cover ups, but I have seen my share of alien movies. And in pretty much all of them (with the exception of Disney's The Navigator- I loved that movie.) freaked me out. Let's face it. If there really were some intelligent life out there, why would they be interested in us? Our planet, maybe. But us? As humans, we pretty much suck a lot of the time. We fight. We don't like change. We always fight with one another. We are selfish a lot of the time. I think if an extra terrestrial race ever came here looking for first contact, even on friendly grounds, we'd try to blow them up. We are afraid of things we don't understand. And to be completely honest, we wouldn't have a chance against an alien, unless he had some bizarre weakness- like water (Signs) or malware (Independence Day.) Here's why I think so: 1- if they had the technology to visit us, they are more advanced than us. We haven't even walked on Mars yet. We try to blow them up, chances are they have a laser that can destroy us.... Not to mention, we already pretty much have the technology to destroy ourselves.... We might just beat the aliens to the punch. 2- if they had some kind of weakness- such as a severe allergy to water Ala the Wicked Witch of the West, then why would they come to a planet covered in it and people and creatures that are made up of it. Just wondering. 3- while I think destroying alien enemies with malware is super geeky cool, I must refer to #1 and that if they have the technology to come here in the first place, it would be pretty hard to hack their systems.... Just saying. An alien visitation can't be a good thing- whether the visitors think it might or not. It will end disastrously.

9. Peeing my pants on stage. Oh, I know. I'm a total nutcase. But, still. I am afraid of this. This can be categorized with "forgetting my lines" or "forgetting the lyrics to that solo I'm singing" or "burping into the microphone". I have actually forgotten the lyrics to a song once, but people thought it was a technical issue (until now... Thanks for being my scapegoat, Sound guy!) so I was pretty safe. I've never burped into a microphone that I can remember and I am pretty familiar and comfortable around the stage. I don't know why this particular fear haunts me, but it does. So, whenever I know I am on stage to sing or act, just like before a long car ride, I make sure I go.

and *drum roll*

10.  Finding a worm or bug in my food. Chalk this one up to experience. All too often I have discovered little nasties in my food from various places. This is worse than hair- human or otherwise. I'm talking about worms or bugs. One time my sister and were eating macaroni and cheese when we were kids, and we each found a piece of the same worm on our plates.... It was a long time before either of us would touch macaroni and cheese again. Or then there is the time we made and canned our own salsa from the vegetables in our garden. The stuff was pretty amazing until we discovered somehow a tomato worm got past us and into one of the jars. That was the grossest thing I have found in my food thus far.

There are many things in this world that scare and frighten people, and many of us share the more rational ones (like losing a loved one, or even, dare I mention it, the dark. Yeah, I know I am not the only one.) This was my more lighthearted list of things that bug me. I realize I just opened a whole can of worms (not to be confused with #10....) and will probably be made fun of mercilessly for the things I wrote here, but be careful. I have a blog. I can put your irrational fears here. ;-)

Friday, July 9, 2010

I'm might be Wrong. You're just not Right.

Everybody has an opinion. Opinions are not necessarily based on fact or fiction. Opinions are based on a person's perspective. Opinions are not always right or wrong, either. And everybody has one. It seems these days people hold to their opinions adamantly. People are agreeing to disagree less and less. If one person hates being judged and then voices their opinions about judgmental people, then they are too being judgmental. It's sort of a paradox to have an opinion these days. Because people feel so strongly about their opinions and are offended so quickly when others don't agree with them, more often than not, I find that people are either afraid to share their opinions or are chastised for doing so. This leaves me wondering at humanity. What of the old song "Let's call the whole thing off"? Sometimes it is OK to disagree. Sometimes it is OK to step back and let other people think independently rather than forcing one's own thoughts on them. Sometimes this is a very hard thing to do. Do I keep my mouth shut? Do I speak up? If I speak up, will I be interpreted as narrow minded and judgmental? I have been those, and I have been misunderstood as those. Should that scare me into being quiet? I don't know. Probably not. I dislike offending others. I dislike people making nasty comments in a futile effort to defend their position when the only thing that is accomplished is hurting everyone's feelings. I also loath ignorance. Yes. Ignorance. The world doesn't revolve around any specific individual. So, why so many people marching around thinking that it does and that they are that individual? And how come, many times, do I find myself doing the very same thing? I guess it is because I am human. As humans, we tend to do that kind of thing a lot. I notice this kind of thing a lot on News paper web pages. After the article, many times there is a place to comment. These threads often become nasty and insulting, and by the time a person is done reading, the topic has drastically strayed from the original content of the initial article. Some of these articles I have recently read have been topics that plague the religious communities. I don't know why I torture myself by reading these articles, but the topics always interest me. One article was about a radical church group that protest military funerals and teach their children to hate. They claim to be Christian, but any of the Christians I know (myself included) have a VERY hard time accepting that as a valid claim to commit hate crimes. Another recently perused article I read flaunted a flag that had an alleged "Face of Jesus" emblazoned on it. They even got a local priest to come investigate. I, myself, am a skeptic. Some of the comments after the article amused me. Some were poignant. Some were downright vicious. Do people really have nothing better to do than go on the Internet trolling web pages? These things are just the tip of a very large iceberg. Let me talk about Christianity for a few moments. For a faith based on love, many times outsiders (or "non-Christians" as we Christians tend to label them) feel judged and hated on, and many times find somewhere else where they can be loved and accepted. Want to know why I think that is? Because there are so many Christians that can't get along with other Christians, that it is hard to even begin to relate to people out in that big wide world of ours. There are so many different sects of Christianity, it makes me a bit sad. While I love that there is a church for every personality, it makes me sad when people view their church as their exclusive little club and everyone that doesn't believe the doctrines taught at that church will go to hell. Since when? I understand that there are different churches. I understand that there are different doctrines taught at each one. But, what I don't understand is, why so many people are caught up in their "denomination" as if its the only church out there. What ever happened to community? What ever happened to believing in one common thing? Why can't Catholics and Charismatics get along? Being Christians means we are all part of the same big family, doesn't it? So why all this dissension? So what if some of us say "tomato" and some of us say "tomahhhhto"? There are lots of reasons I think churches are flawed. First of all, we are people. None of us are perfect and none of us are exactly the same. Therefore so many flawed independently thinking people are touting ideals that they come up with, rather than following Jesus and loving mankind. Case in point? OK, since when does it say in the Bible a person can't have a glass of wine with dinner? I know I made some of my readers shudder right there. Calm down. Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine and kept the party going. Don't believe me? Read your Bible. Perhaps we might have better luck at reaching the world if we can get our own house in order first. Get along. Agree to disagree. If someone is being blatantly wrong, call them on it. (Like stealing or cheating on a loved one.... not something stupid like "your shoes are like those of the whore of Babylon". Please.) Ready for a shocker? Baptists are not perfect. Neither are Assemblies of God, Congregationalists, or Catholics- or really any sect of Christianity. Of course there are reasons a person feels called to be a part of a church family, and don't discount that. But, don't put anyone or any church on a pedestal either. Its a long fall from up there and people get hurt when things fall on their heads. Only thing that should be high enough to look up to is God himself, and he loves everyone and everything on this planet. It even says in Matthew that he loves the little sparrows- so how much more does he love each one of us? And perhaps with that in mind, rather than smacking each other in the face with frivolous ideals, perhaps we should work together at being better at humanity. Like I said- this is just the tip of a very large iceberg.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heat Wave on Cape Cod

My Son Samuel soaking up the sun.
Hannah's daughter investigating some Seaweed
Hannah's son wading in the ocean.

Today was yet another beautiful hot summer day on Cape Cod. One of my closest friends and I decided to seize the day and take our respective children to the beach. We packed excited children in the van, along with gear and ample water and sunscreen, and headed out on our summer adventure. Beaches on Cape Cod are beautiful, but are oftentimes overrun in the summertime by eager tourists vacationing here. Knowing this, we picked up a parking pass from the MWR on base for one of the less popular beaches in the area. Hannah remembered a particular location another friend had taken her once, so we headed there. It has now become our new secret summer haven.
My daughter Rylee gives me a wave before she explores the beach some more.
Sand Dunes
Three of them playing in the water.

Aside from hitting the beach, we have taken to visiting the base pool as well as hiding in our air conditioned homes. It might be rediculously hot out there, but we are living it up. :)
Me and Samuel in the base pool.
Rylee, my happy fish.
Brother and Sister

We also like going out on walks when the heat isn't so oppressive.
Sammy likes being the leader.
Seth walking our sweet Molly.
Flag at Otis Memorial Park
Rylee and Sammy racing at Otis Memorial Park.
Flag and Fountain
Molly was VERY thirsty after that adventure.
Murphy just slept the whole time.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Death to Social Networkings Sites

I discovered the wonderful world of Facebook roughly 3 years ago when some of my friends mentioned their pages. So I created one myself, in spite of feeling skeptical. I was comfortable with Myspace. I could decorate my page, I knew how to write code for my layouts, and had a ton of glittery pictures and icons. Facebook was not nearly as shiny. However, I began to notice that it had more of my adult friends than Myspace. Then I realized something. Facebook was a grown up version of myspace. We had Flair. Flair is so much cooler than Icons. Anyone who has seen Office Space knows this. So I made the move to Facebook and my visits to Myspace became less frequent, ultimately ending when a few friendships ended. This opened a whole new can of worms. As I soon learned, anyone can post their opinions on their page leaving them susceptable to other people's counter opinions. There is no way to approve comments on Facebook. This is something I frequently miss about Myspace. I have come to understand, however, that Facebook etiquette dictates that if one does not agree with another person's post and feels the need to comment, then one must send a private message, so as not to start Facebook wars. Not everyone follows this protocol. That sort of pisses me off. I don't mind good spirited debates, I just dislike when my opinions and beliefs are trampled all over on my page. Then my husband pointed out that I should never post something I don't want someone to argue with me about. That annoyed me too, but he is right. Something is always lost in the translation when it is written down on a Facebook status update, or someone's discussion thread. Some people can be blunt- in person and online. Sometimes when a person reads what someone else is written, it can be interpreted incorrectly. This has happened to me numerous times. Many times it has led to serious private conversations, just to make sure each other understands what the other person has said and that there are no hard feelings. (I tend to be sensitive.) A few times I have even requested to speak with the offending friend on the phone, and only have been denied this one time with the comment that I should consider our friendship over. To this day I have been reassured that I was not the one who did wrong, but it always bothered me. So then I thought, wouldn't it be better if we didn't have social networking sites altogether? I have such a hard time with being general on my facebook page. I will always express my opinions, and likely always have issues when other people misunderstand me or judge me for my views. (I am working on this.) I try to keep an open mind and respect other people's views on their pages and rarely send them messages when I disagree. (True story.) I have many friends from all kinds of different backgrounds and belief systems. That is one of the things I love about this world- its diversity. But I think that gets lost somehow on social networking sites. Don't even get me started on formspring- that is just another place where teens can trash each other and hurt feelings totally anonymously. I see no point in formspring and think it is the lowest form of social networking sites out there. If I feel so strongly about social networking, then why do I have my facebook, twitter, and myspace? Well, as for my myspace page, I'm too lazy to delete it. Plain and simple. I log on from time to time to snatch an old photo I don't have saved to my current laptop. That's all. Facebook and I have a love hate relationship. I hate it for all the reasons I wrote here, but keep it simply because I can stay connected to all my friends that live everywhere. It is a much easier forum to stay in touch than calling 300 people every day. It is nice to be able to see what my friends are doing and where they are now. Perhaps someday I will muscle up and  get rid of the page altogether, but for now, facebook status misunderstandings are worth keeping in touch with my friends.  Sometimes I just need to remind myself that people who are disagreeing with me are not trying to hurt my feelings, but just sharing their opinion, no matter how blunt....As for Twitter? I don't know why I have one. It seems to be the fastest way to keep people posted about when I have to pee and when I am screening telemarketer calls or when I am grocery shopping. No one can misunderstand a tweet. At least, not my tweets. I am still trying to understand the importance of this medium, but I am not sure I will ever get it. That's OK. No one yells at me on Twitter. ;) :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Independence Day, The Heart of Summer

We have officially arrived at the heart and soul of summertime. Independence Day. The Fourth of July. Hard to believe it is here already. It is sad to think that the kids have only been out of school just a mere couple of weeks. And now we are on the verge of celebrating the birthday of our country with cookouts, beach trips, fireworks, parades, and the colors of our nation's flag.

I love family traditions. So many memories are wrapped in the traditions and yearly rituals surrounding our favorite holidays and family birthdays. As I look back over the years, I find it interesting that these traditions that I am so fond of have changed, and finally morphed into something entirely new for my family. I guess that is the beauty of growing up. I learned the beauty of family, have some awesome memories, and can now create new ones with my own kids.

When I was a kid, my favorite way to celebrate the Fourth of July by actually starting the family revelries on the Third of July. We would drive to my Grandparents' house in Chelmsford, Ma. We would then venture to the center of town where the Chelmsford town fair was held. I loved when we parked in the bank parking lot (the Lowell 5, I think?) and walking to the "fair grounds". We would always pass by the Hot Air Balloon first. There were always giving rides, but we never got one. Secretly, I always sort of hoped we could. We would wander about the fair grounds and always make a visit to the Town Hall where my Grandmother was always entered in the art fair. She won ribbons multiple times, but I cannot remember for which paintings and what the honor was. I just remember that she won, and it made me proud. Usually after a day of wandering, listening to the bands play, and even dancing in the center of town (this is where my love for the Glenn Miller Band was born...) we would then retreat to my Grandparents' place and play with sparklers until we were tired and piled onto the pull out couch in front of Nick at Nite for some I Love Lucy, or some other classic wonder of television.

The Fourth of July always found us at the parade in Chelmsford. Although there was always so many people we had to park a few miles (or what seemed like a few miles) away from the parade route, we always loved the walk to find a place along the road. I don't know how, but we always managed to find a place right on the edge of the road, close enough that we could both see the huge clown on the tiny motorcycle and be in the direct line of candy projectiles. Awesome. The parades in Raymond never seemed to compare.

I am not quite sure when these traditions changed into new ones. I would like to say it happened when my Grandparent's moved into their beautiful new place, but I think it was some time before then. Somehow, over the years, we stopped all gathering in once place. Each of us moved on with your lives as we grew up. I got married and had children. So did one of my sisters. One of my brothers eventually got married and moved far away with his new wife. With each of us living new lives, it became harder and harder to get together, so we all began to start our own new traditions.

For our family, it has become a new tradition for us to spend the Fourth of July on one of the beaches near our house. You can see Martha's Vineyard in the distance from the beach. The kids love playing in the sand and blowing bubbles until it grows dark and the fireworks begin. We don't go to any parades around here, because we live in a tourist destination and the streets become nearly impossible to travel. So, we have made Independence day something to be celebrated al fresco with a beautiful view. As my children get older, they look forward to our very special beach day that is topped with musical fireworks.

As we celebrate this day that is the crown of Summertime, it is important to remember what this day represents. Independence Day marks the day our nation finally earned and won our independence as a nation. It is a day that honors those who fought for our freedoms. So here's to another year of picnics, parades, fireworks, and flags. Thanks to all of those who have gone before us and won our rights to be free. Thanks for all the traditions and memories.