Monday, November 29, 2010

Two Words You May Never Mention in My Presence Again


I’m done in.

Tapped out.

Exhausted.

Depleted.

Weary.

And I blame Black Friday. For all of it.

Black Friday is a sham. A hoax. A trick to get you into stores to buy things you don’t really need. It’s a waste of precious time and even more precious energy.

Black Friday has ruined me.

I just wanted to spend time with my girls. Bonding, if you will. They were up for the adventure, and I’m always up for an adventure, so we set out to find . . . adventure. Who knew we’d find it in the parking lot?

On our way to the mall, I commented on the lack of traffic, which, in the Chicago area, is rare. We shrugged our shoulders and figured that everyone was probably sleeping in, leaving all the good deals for us.

Even the roads leading to the mall were pretty bare. I expected a lot more congestion.

We hit the parking garage at 9:45. So did the rest of Chicagoland.

Somewhere around 10:06 I dropped my older two at the Nordstrom door. I’m nothing if not particular about where I park, and it must be near Nordstrom. Otherwise I’d lose my car. (I learned this trick from my mom—she always parked by Marshall Field’s. My husband swears that you can learn a lot about someone by where they park at the mall. Whatever that means.)

Anyway, another 15 minutes later (that’s 36 minutes of driving around, just in case you weren’t paying attention) I was in tears saying, “How come everyone else keeps getting a parking place and I don’t?” There may have been some foot stomping involved. And all the while Maggie was rubbing my shoulder saying, “It’s O.K., Mom. Somebody will leave eventually.”

Eventually somebody did, and eventually I did get to park my car near Nordstrom. (Just for the record, I did try other areas of the mall, but everything was filled.)

But my day was ruined, and every other Black Friday heretofore has been ruined for me.

I did try to make the best of it, but once inside the mall things didn’t get any better. After a couple of hours of getting pushed, shoved, and generally jostled I had had it. Maggie and I waved the white flag of defeat and headed to . . . where else? . . . the Nordstrom cafĂ© for a nice, quiet lunch among the placid Nordstrom shoppers.

I got a white blouse out of the deal, and Maggie got a new pair of jeans. Not a single Christmas gift was bought on Black Friday. My brain was too addled to even think about buying gifts for anyone.

My older two? I think they’re still somewhere in the mall, probably being harassed by evil old women with really big purses. We got separated at the beginning of the day, and didn’t get all caught up until the end.

So much for girly bonding time.

Black Friday? Please don’t ever mention those two words in the same sentence to me. I really don’t know what I was thinking, venturing out into that scene, but one thing I do know, I won’t be in a hurry to do THAT again.

Until maybe next year.

Shelly

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's the Small Things


Yesterday my daughter emptied the dishwasher. Not once, but twice.

You'd think this wouldn't be such a big deal--kids should empty the dishwasher. Isn't that why we had them?

But the big deal is that both times she did it without my asking. That makes a mama's heart smile. Especially a mama whose love language is acts of service. She has no idea what that small thing meant to me.

Another "small thing" in my life occurs almost every morning around 5:30 when B leaves for work. (He usually works out at the gym at his office in order to avoid traffic, which is why the 5:30 a.m. thing comes into play.) After he's collected all of this things and is just about ready to walk out the door, he walks over to my side of the bed and kisses me on the forehead.

He thinks I'm sleeping.

Sometimes I'll mumble "I love you. Have a good day," under my very tired breath. But usually I just savor the moment.

I don't know when this little habit of his began--I think it was a few years ago--but now it's a habit, and I love it. B's tender way of saying good-bye each morning is a small thing, for sure, but it's huge to me. It's his little reminder to both himself and to me that he loves his wife. And his wife loves him.

Today I'm thankful for the small things in my life.

How about you? What small things are you thankful for?


Shelly

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Monday!

My kids think I'm weird.

I can't help it, but every time that Black Eyed Peas song "I've Got a Feeling" comes on the radio, I just start bopping. And singing. And smiling!

I KNOW! Weird, right?

I don't know why, but that song makes me happy.

So, in an effort to share the love, and to help make your Monday a little happier too, I'm sharing this video. The crew of the Today Show it together, and Emily at "Chatting at the Sky" shared it over the weekend. I thought it was cute.

Weird, huh?



Happy Monday, everyone!

Shelly

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Good Reads

It's been a while since I've shared some favorite posts, so today's your lucky day. Enjoy these as you prepare your pies or your turkey or your yummy appetizers.

Great post at Resurgence about raising daughters, written by a dad. I think my hubby might have a thing or two to say about that topic. (Hey! I feel a guest post coming on!)

And one more from Resurgence (it's a new blog to me, and I love it). Jani Ortlund has written a beautiful piece on "Missional Mothering." It's the piece I wish I had read when my babies were young.

Oh, parental regret. I've got a load of it. Mary DeMuth puts wonderful words to what I feel sometimes.

If you're a blogger looking for inspiration, I thought this post was really helpful. "10 Ways to Find Fast Inspiration for your Next Post."

And finally, just in case you haven't been overloaded with Thanksgiving recipes, I thought these looked delish.

Happy weekend, everyone!


Shelly

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fabulous Friday Food - Holiday Appetizers

When I first started giving you all a recipe once a week, I just thought of the title “Fabulous Friday Food” off the top of my head. I know you're shocked. Titles are NOT my forte, that’s for sure.

Today, though, I discovered where I got it, at least subliminally. This afternoon I was watching Ina Garten and, honestly, I think she used the word “fabulous” at least five times in one sentence.

So when I chose “Fabulous Friday Food” I think I was channeling Ina Garten in some strange way. She is, after all, my favorite person on the Food Network. She’s one classy lady who is crazy about her husband (just like me!), she cooks amazing food (just like me!), AND she’s got a gorgeous house that I would love to live in. In the Hamptons.

Oh well. Two out of three isn't bad.

Alright. Back to reality. And food.

I know that many of you, especially if your last name is Target or WalMart, would like to skip right over Thanksgiving and move right on to Christmas. But not me. I love Thanksgiving. I would love for the spirit of Thanksgiving to live on all year long. Because, you know what? Thanksgiving is about nothing but being thankful.

It’s not about ghouls and ghosts and graveyards. It’s not about plastic eggs and chocolate bunnys. It’s not about tinsel or trees or trinkets. (I know the other holidays aren't about those things either. Just play along, will you?)

It’s just about being thankful to God who has blessed us all abundantly. Even if we’re struggling right now, we can surely think of one or two ways that God has blessed us.

So for that reason alone I love Thanksgiving, but there’s also the food. Oh my goodness, the Thanksgiving food. I love it so much. And I miss it. Because . . . here’s a little secret . . . I haven’t cooked it in years.

This makes me sad. (But I’ll get over it.)

For the past few years it has only been my little, beloved family of five celebrating Thanksgiving together, so, rather than waste all that time and energy cooking a complete Thanksgiving meal just for us, we’ve been going out.

We’ve even stayed in Chicago a couple of times on Wednesday and Thursday, heading out before the throngs of shoppers descend on the city on Friday. Do you know how cheap hotel rooms are on Thanksgiving night?! It’s been fun, and we’ve created lots of wonderful memories this way.

But it’s not your normal Thanksgiving.

This year we’re not staying in the city, but we are going “OUT! to eat!”. (Quick! What movie is that from?) We’ve discovered that Maggianno’s has a fabulous (channeling Ina again) Thanksgiving meal, so we’re headed there. I know it sounds strange, but they do a great job.

So where am I going with all this talk about Ina and food and fabulous holidays? I’m not really sure. But I do have a couple of fabulous recipes for you.

Just in case you need to take an appetizer to your Thanksgiving celebration (hopefully yours is way less pathetic than ours, full of family—cousins and grandparents and your great-uncle Louie who smells), here are a couple of my fabulous favorites.

The first is Hot Crab Dip which I originally found on Allrecipes.com but, of course, tweaked just a bit.

Take two blocks of cream cheese. Make sure they're room temperature.


Add some other stuff to it: mayo, crab meat (duh!), lemon juice, hot sauce (which I didn't have, so I just substituted a couple of sprinkles of Cayenne pepper), and Worcestershire.



Take two cups of shredded cheddar cheese and mix that into the bunch.




Save a little cheese to sprinkle on top.



Bake it for a while and voila! Hot crab dip. Serve with crackers because if you just dug in with a big ol' spoon, while it might be awfully tasty, it would look weird.



And here's a bonus recipe that I think I've featured on my blog somewhere over the years, but thought, since it's one of my favorites, I'd just give it to you again.

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Three ingredients, that's it. Bacon, of course, and dates, of course, and blue cheese. Of course.



Take the pit out of the date (get the good ones) by slitting it open on one side and pulling out the pit. Replace the pit with a nice chunk of delicious blue cheese. Mmmmm.

Wrap these in bacon and dip into a little brown sugar and hold the whole thing together with a toothpick that you've soaked in water for a few minutes. Line those babies up on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake.



These won't last long. Especially if I'm around. I think I could make myself sick on these little mounds of deliciousness.



So there you go--two recipes for the price of one. Take these to your fabulous Thanksgiving feast and think of me. Or not. Just take them and enjoy!

Hot Crab Dip

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 (6 ounce) cans crabmeat
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Cheddar cheese, crabmeat, lemon juice, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Transfer to a shallow baking dish. Top with a little more cheddar cheese.

3. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.


Bacon Wrapped Dates

12 slices bacon, cut in half
24 pitted Medjool dataes
Blue cheese
light-brown sugar (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

2. Soak 24 toothpicks in water for 15 minutes. Stuff each date with blue cheese, then wrap with bacon. Secure bacon with toothpick. Roll in brown sugar, if desired.

3. Place dates seam-sides down on baking sheet. Bake until tops are well-browned, about 6 minutes. Turn and bake another 2 to 4 minutes more, or until evenly browned.

4. Drain on paper towels. Let cool slightly before serving.


Soak toothpicks in water for several minutes to prevent burning.




Shelly

Grandma Nell


Isn’t she cute? This is my grandma who is 99 ½ years old. Next May she will turn 100, Lordwilling.

A couple of weekends ago I was in Florida with some friends, and I took a Sunday afternoon to go visit her. She lives just five minutes away from where we were staying, so I went.

That last paragraph sounds so magnanimous, but I’m ashamed to admit that I almost didn’t go. I mean, I’m not a huge fan of nursing homes. They make me super-uncomfortable, and when I get super-uncomfortable I start to giggle or cry or, worse yet, giggle-cry at the same time.

So I try to avoid those uncomfortable situations as much as I can. Kind of like those buffet-line restaurants. Those places make me uncomfortable too, what with all the sharing of utensils and germs and such. I’m afraid I’ll break out in a giggle-cry when I’m in there, so I avoid those places too.

At all costs.

But my dear friend and college roommate, Jennifer, the girl who once broke her “Who” album right in front of me, convinced me to put on my big girl panties and go visit my grandma. See, Jennifer is a palliative care doctor. Fancy, huh? (I had to Google it, but those docs help people with end-of-life issues. Not fun.)

I’m so glad there are people like Jennifer out there though. You know, the sensitive types who will hold someone’s hand and help them through the greatest crises of their lives.

Kind of like when B and I were dating in college and in one of our famous fights when Jennifer turned to me and said something like, “Geesh, Shelly, either date him or don’t. I don’t care.” She was famous for her sensitivity.

I think she’s turned a corner these days, though, because when she visited me at Homecoming this fall and I told her I was going to be in Florida, she said, “So, are you going to visit your grandma?”

I had thought about it, but wasn’t so sure I wanted to put myself into the super-uncomfortable situation of having to visit a nursing home, so I said, “Oh, I don’t know yet.”

“You should go see her,” Jen said. “She’s 99 years old. If she dies, you’ll feel terrible that you were right there in the same town and didn’t go see her.”

See what I mean? Sensitivity is her middle name.

I hate to admit it, but Jennifer was right. I called my uncle, who also lives in that town, and asked if he would take me over to visit Grandma. We spent two lovely hours together, walking Grandma around outside (she was in a wheelchair, of course—I pushed. You didn’t expect a 99-year-old woman to walk herself, did you?), and visiting together.

Amazingly, Grandma seemed to recognize me and understand that I had come to see her. She grasped my hand and didn’t let it go for much of our visit. She rubbed the back of my hand against her cheek and kissed it several times. A few times she gave me a really huge smile and just shook all over. Like she was so excited that I was there.

For me, though, the best part of the visit came when it was time to leave. (Wait. That didn’t come out right.) I sat on her couch and got very near her face to say good-bye. I stroked her cheek one last time and told her that I loved her.

And then my grandma, who had barely said a word during my visit, looked deeply into my eyes and said so clearly, “I love you.”

That was it. I left. And obviously I wonder if that might have been my last visit with my grandma on this side of Heaven.

If she makes it to 100, I’ll be back in Florida next May. If not, I may be back sooner.

But no matter when I see her again, I’m glad I had this visit.

Thanks, Jen.


Shelly

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Honesty. It's So Overrated.


So my friend just told me a story about taking her daughter to the mall in her husband’s new car. Two hours later they came out of the mall, but my friend couldn’t find her keys. She worried that she had locked the keys in her car, but she shouldn’t have worried . . . .

Because when she came out of the mall she found her keys inside the unlocked car.

THAT SHE HAD LEFT RUNNING!!!

She might as well have put a sign on the brand new car that said, “TAKE ME!”

Do you think she should have told her husband?

This has been a big topic of conversation around our house . . . not my friend leaving her husband’s brand new car running in the parking lot of a mall for two hours (seriously, it gives me a new sense of hope in humanity, that story) . . . but how much we should tell our spouses.

Here’s why . . .

It was just a lemon drop.

A simple little lemon drop sitting on the tray between the two front seats of my car. There were more, but a few lemon drops had spilled out of the package and B grabbed one. He popped it into his mouth, and I sat silently, watching.

Should I say something? Or should I just let it go?

It was already too late, so I decided to just let it go. The drop was already in his mouth. It wouldn’t kill him, I reasoned.

Two days later, B came into the house. “So, where did the lemon drops go?”

“Oh,” I said, ever-so-casually, “I decided it was time to clean off the tray in the car, so I threw them away.”

“Really?” says he, also-so-casually. “Why would you do that? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that THE DOG LICKED THE LEMON DROPS, would it?”

Busted. I was seriously busted.

Turns out, B was driving Maggie over to school and he had a sudden hankerin’ for a lemon drop, but they were gone. Disposed of, if you will. So he asked Maggie where they went.

Her reply? “Oh, Mom probably threw those out because Thunder licked them.”

*gulp*

“When did Thunder lick them?”

“Oh, a couple of weeks ago when we went to the vet.”

True confessions time. Yes, I took my dog to the vet. Yes, the dog licked the lemon drops. And yes, even worse, I didn’t get them cleaned up for . . . oh . . . a while.

But everyone who usually (Note the use of the word “usually” here. B doesn’t usually drive my car. It was a very unusual week.) rides in my car knew not to touch the lemon drops. I mean, why would you? The dog licked them.

But B didn’t know that. I had every intention of cleaning them up, I just didn’t get around to it before he got in my car and suddenly started craving lemon drops. And popping them into his mouth before I could stop him. Seriously, does a guy have to eat everything in sight?

Such was my quandry at that moment. Do I tell? Or don’t I?

So I ask you . . . when I saw him pop that drop, should I have said something? What would you do?

Oh, and if you left your husband’s car running for two hours in the parking lot of a mall, would you mention it? I know I wouldn’t!

Shelly

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Morning Mayhem

I kind of liked that title from last week (or was it two weeks ago?) so I though I’d use it again. So creative, aren’t I?

So much to tell you. Keep reading to the end because I have some exciting news for you!

First, I want to thank those of you who took time to pray for me on Saturday. The women’s retreat went well, and I know it was because I was bathed in prayer. I could not have done it without all of you pray-ers out there, so thank you.

Cool God story. Before the retreat, I had planned out my morning in my mind, and part of my plan just might have involved Starbucks and a steaming hot cup of really good coffee to get my day going. So I drove through the Starbucks near my house, shaking slightly from the nerves and adrenalin that were starting to build up in my body.

When I got to the window to pay for my coffee, the girl who worked there said to me, “Um, you know what? . . .”

I was ready to get more money out. I honestly thought she had told me the wrong amount through the little squawk box and that I needed to give her a few pennies more.

Instead she said, “You know what? The lady in the car ahead of you just paid for your drink.”

I cannot tell you what that meant to me. Immediately I started to cry. The girl at the window probably thought I was nuts, but I thought it was just amazing that God had used that little thing—a woman paying it forward—to show me that He was with me. I had never, ever, in my entire life had something like that happen to me. Never. And it really felt like confirmation from God that my day would be O.K.

And it was. I had so much fun getting to know the ladies from Our Savior’s. They were so sweet, so genuine, and so warm. I really enjoyed being with them.

So now we’re on to a new week. One more week of school before two of my girls are off for a week. Woo hoo! Back in the day, the hard days when the girls were really little, I thought I’d dread school holidays because, well, the kids would be home. But now that our lives are so full (read: “busy”) I really look forward to their breaks when we can be home together and put our feet up and get away from the routine for a while.

Plus, I love Thanksgiving. Even though the retailers get nothing out of the holiday and they seem to feel like they can just skip right over it, Thanksgiving just makes me happy. So I’m looking forward to next week. A lot.

What else? Last night we had a bunch of Kate’s college friends over for pizza. It may not be that much fun for them (although the free pizza probably isn’t a bad deal), but it sure is fun for the P’s. We love having those kids around. Always good for a laugh. Plus, one of the guys who was here, we discovered last night, now lives in the same room that B lived in his Sophomore year. Pretty small world, huh?



O.K. . . . here’s the exciting news. I’ve got a new monthly writing gig over at the MODsquad blog. I’m especially excited about it because MOD stands for Mothers Of Daughters, which, as you know, I am one. And if you know me at all, you know I’m pretty passionate about raising girls. I guess they wanted the voice of an “older” mom, or maybe a mom of “older” girls, I don’t know, but I guess I fit the bill. I’m older, and I have older girls, so there.

Not sure if I should be flattered or run away. Oh well. I think I’m in now, and I’ll be writing every month over there.

In fact, my first post is up and running over there today (it might look vaguely familiar, but that’s O.K.). Head over to the MODsquad blog and check it out!

Now tell me, how was your weekend? Anything amazing or crazy happen to you this weekend?

Shelly

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Taking a Break

Here's what I have going on this week:

- Taking Maggie to the orthodontist for the first time today. This could be interesting.
- Grocery shopping. We have no fruit in this house.
- Buying dog food. We have no dog food in this house either.
- Taking part of Thursday off to go shopping with my husband who is off. Bankers never work, do they?
- Watching Maggie perform in her school play tonight and Thursday.
- Buying mascara for Maggie who needs it for the play. Could take a while.
- Peeling. I got a little sun last weekend.

But mainly I'm practicing, focusing, and preparing for the women's retreat where I'll be speaking on Saturday. Please pray for me--I'm speaking twice on Saturday. And please pray for the women of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Naperville, that God would speak to their hearts and help them to find their identity in Him alone.

With all that mascara and dog food buying going on, I've decided to take a break from the blog this week. I'll miss you, but make sure you come back on Monday when I'll be back to talking about all the nonsense in my life.

I'd love to know . . . what do YOU have going on this week? Do you ever take a bloggy break?

Shelly

Friday, November 5, 2010

More Than Enough

Hello there! I'm out of town this weekend (yes, again!) so I thought I would re-post this post from August of this year. It's something that's been on my mind lately as I prepare for a women's retreat next weekend. I kind of liked this one, and I hope you like it too.

Have a great weekend!


* * * * *



I’m kind of consumed with the start of school this week.

Office Depot loves me. And tonight, Famous Footwear is going to love me too.

Don’t even get me started about Target--we’re BFFs these days.

But amidst all the rushing around, buying new clothes, making sure we have all the necessary school supplies, there’s a certain bit of angst in our house these days. It’s called middle school.

Maybe it’s called junior high where you are. I grew up going to junior high, but my kids have gone to a middle school; I have yet to understand the difference. Different curriculum? Different set up of classes? What is it? Personally, I think the phrase “middle school” kind of softens the blow somehow. Makes it seem like a natural progression to the next phase of life rather than a waiting-for-high-school kind of thing.

Maybe that’s just me. It probably is.

One thing I do know, however, is that middle school or junior high or whatever you want to call it, is just about one of the toughest times for a girl. (I can’t speak about boys here because I don’t have one. Feel free to comment away about the boy-aspect of middle school.) I cannot tell you how many people I’ve talked to who have said that their junior high experience was so terrible that it’s the reason they chose to work with junior high students at church. Or others who said it affected their future career choice. Or others who just stay away from middle schoolers at all costs.

Seriously, it’s a rough go.

I’m currently going through middle school for the third time with my own girls, and each one has handled it differently. One seemed to breeze through middle school, only to tell me later that she hated every minute of it. Who knew?! Certainly not me. Another withdrew a bit, probably trying to ward off every cruel thing another person had said to her. Self-preservation becomes an art in middle school.

This time around is different still. We’re more concerned with our appearance. We’re straightening our hair and buying clothes in new and different stores. We’re much more concerned with the opinions of others.

And it’s this last aspect that had me on my knees today. Or walking, which is my preferred prayer stance.

I have always told my girls that I don’t want them to be known as the “smart girl” or the “athlete” or the “musician” or fill-in-the-blank. I would be much happier if the other kids at school think of them first as “the kind girl” or the “friendly girl” or, best of all, “the girl who really loves Jesus.”

The outward stuff just isn’t important. It’s the inward stuff that will shine through in the end.

But, you know what? You really can’t tell that to a junior high girl. Oh, you can tell her, and the sounds you are coming from your lips might reverberate around in her head a little bit, but there’s something that just makes them not hear it. Really hear it.

And so you have to come up with lots of different ways to say the same thing which is, “Just be yourself. Be the kind and loving person I know you are, and other people (the right people) will be drawn to you.”

Unfortunately in middle school, that just doesn’t register a whole lot. And so this morning I was praying for my girls, especially that sweet middle schooler with a whole bunch of angst about stuff that really doesn’t matter, and God somehow broke in through my mumbling and had me pray this:

“God, please help her to see that you are enough.” Just that. Enough.

Today I want my precious girl (all of them, really) to know more than anything that her clothes, her hair (as gorgeous as it is), her outgoing personality, even her talents in the classroom . . . none of it will ever be enough. Because there will always be someone to come knock her down a peg, or someone who feels like it’s their business to put her in her place, or someone who just gets a kick out of being cruel. All of the outward stuff will never be enough to make her feel good about herself.

But Jesus will.

Today I am thankful for a God who knows my daughters.
A God who knows when they sit down or stand up.
A God who knows their thoughts.
A God who knows when they go out and when they lie down.
A God who is familiar with all their ways.

These verses are loosely paraphrased from Psalm 139, and they bring me a lot of comfort. As a parent, it’s great to know that this God knows my daughters better than I do. He knows what’s best for them, and He even knows their mistakes. He still cares for them, watches over them, and loves them deeply.

Later, the Psalm goes on to talk about how God’s works are wonderful—that means you, junior high girl! About how God knew each and every day of our lives before we were even born and how He planned them all. And about how precious is each and every thought God has about us.

That part amazes me. Every thought God has about us is precious!

So on those days when it seems like we need the opinions of others to make us feel good about ourselves (Who are we kidding here? I have days like that too.), we can remember that God thinks highly of us. And that is enough.

He is enough for junior high. He is enough for high school. He is enough for college. And beyond.

More than enough.

Shelly

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Magnet Street Christmas Cards (and a Discount for YOU!)

Sooooo (she says, kicking nonchalantly at the ground with the toe of her shoe) . . . got your Christmas cards ordered yet?

No?

Good! Me neither.

But mine will be ordered soon. Just as soon as I can find any picture on my computer that doesn’t involve food or my dog or an event I’ve been to recently. (Basically, all of the photos on my computer are blog-related, not family-related.)

And since this year has been completely insane what with our taking separate Spring Break vacations, and one child spending an entire 8-week summer at camp, and another going off to college this fall, well, we don’t have any photos of our entire family together.

Yet.

Hopefully the stars will align and we will all be in the same place at once and we will be able to take a picture together. It may be a terrible picture, and it may be Photoshopped, but there will be a picture of five Wildpeople all in one place at one time if it kills me.

*deep breath*

I’m fine. I really am.

In fact, I’m better than fine because even though we may not have a photo . . . yet . . . at least I know what Christmas card I’ll be getting this year. It’s this one.



Isn’t it cute? Obviously the family on the card will have to go.

On second thought, they are much younger and much cuter than our family, so maybe we’ll give them one square. I’ll have to think about that.

Anyway, I want to introduce you to Magnet Street Christmas cards. These are so cute, both classic and contemporary at the same time.

Here are a few of my favorites.






Magnet Street is a great company which is owned by a great family. And they are also the world’s leading supplier of save-the-date wedding magnets.



(Get this, their website offers over 2,000 different styles of save-the-date cards and magnets! That's a lot to choose from!)

But they do so much more than that. They offer wedding invitations. (I think this letterpress design is beautiful and elegant.)



They also do baby announcements and business stationery, too.

But I really like their Christmas cards. You can even get a magnetic Christmas card—isn’t that cool?



I messed around on their website for a while and found it really easy to navigate. Plus, here's another great feature--you can totally customize your Christmas cards by changing the colors or the fonts or the text. Even with hundreds of great designs, your card can be uniquely your own.

Today, just because they love me and I love them, Magnet Street is offering my readers (that would be YOU!) at 15% discount on your Christmas card order. Just enter the promo code EFFA373Z7E at checkout.

Head on over there now and check out all of their great designs--anything from magnetic Christmas cards, 4 x 9 Christmas cards, and two sizes of folded cards--they've got it all. And don't forget your 15% discount!

Merry Christmas!

Now tell me . . . when do you like to get your Christmas cards out? Are you a before-Thanksgiving person? Or a sometime-in-January person? Or do you get them delivered on time?

Disclaimer: Magnet Street is giving me some free Christmas cards in exchange for this post. Thank you. And have a nice day.

Shelly

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In Which I Apologize to my Dad

Photo Credit: deere.com

Have I ever mentioned that I grew up on a farm? I should have. It was a big part of my growing up.

I guess I don’t talk about the farm much because I don’t really know what to say about it. And because not many people can relate to it. In my life right here (my real life, not my bloggy life and not the lives of people who don’t live here in the suburbs with me) I can’t think of a single other person besides me who grew up on a farm. It was a strange and solitary existence, which could probably explain a bit of my introversion problem.

But growing up on a farm was mostly good. Aside from the allergy situation. I was a farm kid with allergies and asthma, and every year at this time the situation became pretty unbearable.

Of course, I couldn’t complain because my dad was a farmer with hay fever. Which is worse, I think. Much worse. Poor guy would sit for hours on a tractor just sneezing and blowing his nose. He’d come in from the field late at night with bloodshot eyes and a huge red nose. This would go on for weeks, until the time of the first frost when he’d start to feel a little better.

At this time every year I really miss the farm. I loved Fall on the farm, especially the smells of harvest. All of that dust being blown through the air. All of those diesel fuel fumes. It was great.

Some of my favorite memories of the farm involve harvest time, when my dad would climb up on the combine and sit there for hours on end, probably for days and weeks on end without a break, until the job was done. Talk about a solitary existence. Just Dad and his radio buddy, Orien Samuelson who brought the farm report on WGN . . . .

. . . until we brought him dinner out in the field late at night, with only the big light from the top of the combine to give us a sense of where he might be in the vastness that was harvest. Dad would drive over to where we were waiting with his semi-warm dinner, hop down off of the tractor and give us all big, dusty hugs. He’d take his cap off of his head and we’d see the distinct line of dirt across his face where the cap had protected his forehead.

And so it was with such memories—the sights and smells of harvest—in my head that I sighed as we drove to Springfield for a quick weekend getaway earlier this fall. As we drove, we watched the busy farmers harvesting corn in the fields with their huge combines when all of a sudden Maggie asked, “Mom, what does a combine do?”

I nearly had a stroke right there in the car when I heard it! Seriously? What does a combine do? She was joking, right? After all, her grandpa had been a farmer. He had ridden a combine every harvest season for the better part of 35 years. And she really didn’t know what a combine did?

B and I just looked at each other in the way that parents of troubled teenagers look at one another. You know, the look that says, “Where did we go wrong?”

So I took a deep breath, tried to remain calm, and patiently explained to Maggie that a combine was a harvesting tractor that gobbles up the corn stalks on one end, strips all the unnecessary parts off and spits them out the back onto the field. The only part that was kept were the corn kernels which were then used to make things like corn oil, corn syrup, and feed for cattle.

And, really, Maggie, HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT A COMBINE IS???

When all of a sudden it hit me. Maggie didn’t know what a combine was because I hadn’t taught her. Her grandparents had retired from farming when she was about three years old, and then they moved away, so Maggie had never really had the experiences that her sisters had had on the farm. Her sisters remembered riding tractors with Grandpa and walking through tall cornfields and climbing on the combine, but Maggie didn’t.

Maggie had no recollection of farm life because I had neglected to instill in her a sense of her heritage. I just assumed she would know what farming was all about.

And, Dad, for this I am truly sorry. Well, that, and the fact that your granddaughter doesn’t know what a combine is.

As we drove down the highway toward Springfield, I had another realization. If my daughter, who is just one generation removed from an actual farmer, doesn’t know much about farming, how quickly could our Christian faith be lost if we don’t pass it on to future generations?

More than anything, this thought scared me. And it made me realize the importance of being intentional about passing on our faith to my daughters, and also, someday, to my grandchildren. How quickly, how easily, can our heritage be lost if we don’t do anything to make sure it is preserved?

Yes, it’s important to me that my daughters understand the farming culture which is a part of them, but it is much more important to me that my daughters understand the Christian faith which has sustained my family and my husband’s family for generations.

“Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Shelly

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Morning Mayhem


Don't you just love that Allstate commercial that's on right now? That guy who plays Mayhem and drives all over town creating a ruckus? Those commercials just make me laugh. Which is why I chose the word "Mayhem" for my title.

And also because that word pretty much signifies my life right now.

Of course I could have titled this post "Monday Morning Mundane" because one woman's mayhem is another woman's mundane. But who would click on that link and actually want to read it? I'll tell you who . . . NOBODY! Which I why I opted for mayhem over mundane.

And I realized as I was thinking (for all of 10 seconds) about this post that I very rarely let you glimpse into all of the mundane mayhem that is my life, so today's your day.

Aren't you so glad you clicked over?

Let's start with last Thursday, when B and I attended a public policy debate titled "Does Capitalism Have a Soul?" I'll save you the brain cells . . . it doesn't. Anyway, we really enjoyed the debate (if you can call it that--it was more like a discussion) and created a little mayhem of our own as B pumped his fist every time he got an answer right. Which means that Arthur Brooks, the conservative on the panel, said something B already had already whispered in my ear. He's so competitive, that boy.

Friday's mayhem involved taking Maggie to see "Great Expectations" over at the college. Her friend, B, who is also Amy's daughter, played young Estella . . . . Marvelously, I might add. The mayhem part was trying to get Maggie away from B after the play was over . . . at 11:00 P.M.! My head was spinning I was so tired and hot because the theater was very small and very warm.

Saturday was a bit of a relief from the mayhem. After a relaxing morning in a beautiful home honoring a wonderful girl with a baby shower, I came home and relaxed for most of the afternoon. And then relaxed some more that night as Maggie and I watched "Julie and Julia" together. (It was on sale at Target for $10 last week, and I couldn't resist that bargain.)

Sunday's mayhem started out with a cute joke by our pastor. He said that even though the passage we were about to study was a bit "tricky," when taken in its proper biblical context it would prove to be a "treat." I think I was the only one who got his slight nod to Halloween as I loudly guffawed and everyone turned to stare at me. Believe me, this happens more than one would hope it would. Am I the only one who gets British humor?

And then there was last night . . . true mayhem as 20 college students descended on my home. They ate. And ate. And ate some more, but we did have plenty of food (thank goodness!). We watched the Giants pretty much crumble the Rangers underneath their thumbs. And B and I finally got to meet and spend time with some of Kate's friends. It was a great night.

So there. Mayhem? Yes. Busy? Always. Mundane? I don't think so.

This is my life. And I love it.

How about you? What do you love about your life? Is it full of mayhem too? Tell me about it!

Shelly


P.S. Why not create a little mayhem of your own? Be sure to go VOTE tomorrow!