Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What I Learned This Week #7

  • My husband and I have learned that spending an hour on Saturday mornings after breakfast cleaning the house makes us happy. And I do mean us--it was his idea! For the past few weeks, we've had company over on Saturdays, so we had to clean everything, including sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming. Then the house was at least presentable for the rest of the weekend, even with the toys that inevitably get scattered around. I was doing all of those things (most weeks!) but rarely all on the same day so the house never seemed clean and now it does. We also enlist the kids in the cleaning up so they learn that cleaning up is a FAMILY responsibility and not a MOM job (that's my motive, anyway!) I'm having a garage sale this weekend, so we won't be doing it on Saturday but that's okay. It's nice to have some help.
  • Until we took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, we never had a budget. Mainly because I didn't know how to do one--I am NOT a math person and also, I didn't understand that the amount you budget for each category can change every month. (Yes, I graduated with honors--but not in finance!) I now know that having a budget--and sticking to it--is life-changing. Using a budgeting program that does all the math for me makes it super-easy. Now that I know exactly how much we're spending, it no longer terrifies me to look at our balance online. Gone are the days when I used to wonder whether I could afford something or not--now I know exactly how much I have to spend on extras. Rather than feeling deprived (which I always thought I would if I used a budget), I now feel empowered because I never freak out thinking the bank MUST have made an error because there's no way we spent that much--and yet we had. As Dave says, it's telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. In this economy, financial peace is hard to come by, so it's comforting to know we can make wise decisions to help us weather the storm.
For more lessons learned, check out the What I Learned This Week carnival at Musings of a Housewife.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Special Delivery

I'm going to try getting this up earlier on Fridays since I don't get much response when I post after noon on Fridays. Let's see what the next question is.

If you could receive one small package at this very moment, who would it be from and what would be in it?

How small? If it's "small enough to fit in my lap," then a brand-new Mac laptop. And I don't care who it's from as long as it's free. I'll even review it on my blog if Apple wants to send me one.

If it has to be smaller, then a Nordstrom gift card.

Yeah, I'm not materialistic at all, huh? (Well, you can't have world peace delivered to your house.) What say you?


Thursday, March 26, 2009

I did it

Thanks to all of you for your input on Facebook. I went ahead and signed up and so far I'm having fun with it. I've caught up with several friends whom I haven't seen in ages. It's especially fun to see pictures of their kids.

If you are on Facebook and would like to friend me, email me at hairlinefracture at gmail and we'll exchange information. Also, I'm keeping this blog separate from my Facebook account. Since I'm a pastor's kid, in the past some people would read my blog posts and if I vented, they would email them to my dad. Blogstalking + tattletaling! SO mature. That's actually why I stopped blogging on Xanga and started using Blogger. A lot of the same people (not to mention family) are on Facebook, which is fine for casual updates but this blog is where I share my deeper thoughts and feelings.

*tearing up* Did you know, dear readers, that you complete me?

That was me being silly. But I do need to write and this has become my place to do most of my writing. I have learned to edit what I write (even here! because I don't want to afflict you with TMI) and that doesn't mean I am not being myself. At the time of the above incident, I was in therapy, learning about who I really was and how to be that person. I was tired of pretending to be perfect and I was excited to say what I thought and felt, whenever I wanted to. Plus I didn't really understand that the Internet is a public place, and anyone can read your words unless you prevent them from doing so. I AM myself here, and on Facebook, just different layers of me.

I'm like an onion. I have layers.

What is with me and the silly references to movies?

Anyway, blogging is my first love and I'll never abandon it for Facebook. I may have a stalker here; I wouldn't know. I guess I just prefer my blog to be stalked by total strangers than by judgmental acquaintances. Lots of love and y'all have a lovely day.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What I Learned This Week #6

  • I learned that my husband is capable of eating chicken fried steak twice in one day--and not remembering it until he ordered the second one. He still enjoyed it, too.
  • For the past week or so, I've noticed that many of my pants aren't fitting comfortably, making me want to wear my comfy workout pants all the time. I figured I needed to lose weight--something I'm not very good at. So I watched what I ate all weekend, asked a friend to loan me her Weight Watchers stuff, went to the gym and weighed myself--and found out that I weigh the same amount I did the last time I weighed, at least three weeks ago. It was a relief to find out that my goal isn't that far off, but it still doesn't solve the mystery of why I have a tummy pooch even if I supposedly weigh the same amount. However, I've decided to go ahead and tweak my eating habits anyway, as well as get back to exercising regularly. News flash to Ali: being healthy actually does make you feel better!
  • Apparently I am not as interested in a book about the manhunt for John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated Lincoln as I thought I'd be. There's nothing wrong with the book: it's well-written, but is just not keeping my interest. Still, I continue to slog through it--why, I don't know. I usually don't have any problem abandoning books. Thank goodness I'm going to the library today. Like Rain Man, I can't be bookless.
Have a great day and check out the What I Learned This Week carnival for more life lessons!


Monday, March 23, 2009


Are you ready for one of my posts in which I try to decide what to do about something, listing every pro and con, and over-analyzing all of them? OF COURSE YOU ARE. Don't back away slowly like that!

It's such a minor question, really. Something I ought to know my own mind about. Yet I can't stop thinking about it.

Should I get a Facebook page or not?

So here are the pros and cons, as I see them.

1. It's a great way to stay in touch with people I hardly ever have contact with anymore, like my cousins and other friends who live all over the country.

2. My DAD is on Facebook, for crying out loud.

3. At this point, I feel like I'm holding out pointlessly, like the last few people who refused to get cell phones. I've done this before--hold out against a trend, finally succumb, and then feel like even more of a mindless lemming.

4. I'm curious. Plus I hear you can play Scrabble there. I'm getting tired of playing against my computer.

1. Like I need another way to waste time online! I'm afraid I'll spend WAY too much time on there. When my kids are looking for me, they already know to look in front of the computer.

2a. Do I really want to reconnect with people I didn't like that much to begin with? Or even if I liked them, will it just be high school all over again?

2b. THREE of my ex-boyfriends have friended my dad and written messages to him. Do I even need to explain my misgivings about this?

3. I'm already on Twitter, which I hear is threatening Facebook as the cool new networking site.
(You can follow me here.)

So tell me your Facebook stories and if I decide to do it, I want all of you Facebook users to friend me so I don't feel like I'm a big ol' loser.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Choosing a Famous Parent

This week's question: If one of your parents was to be a famous person from any time in history, who would you want them to be?

The problem for me is that many famous people were so focused on their goals that I'm not sure they were very good parents. (I'm sure there are some; maybe you can enlighten me.) Abigail Adams is my choice. She was a devoted wife to John Adams and mother to their children, but she also had ideas of her own in politics and religion; she wanted more rights for women and also opposed slavery. And plus, when I read her letters, I just like her.

What about you? Which famous person would you choose as a parent?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pasty White Chicks of the World Unite!

Recently I read a post in which Jo-Lynne of "Musings of a Housewife" had the opportunity to consult a makeup artist. He used a shade of powder called "China Doll" which he said he'd wanted to call "Pasty White Chick" but the company wouldn't let him. I and several other commenters said we'd totally buy a makeup called "Pasty White Chick" because--well, that's what we are. It would take all the guesswork out of the decision.

I've always been fair-skinned but when I was a child, I was outdoors so much that I did turn a pretty, light golden color in the summer. I think the last tan I had was when I was ten years old. After that my sedentary, indoor-loving personality took over and I didn't spend much time outside. As a teenager, I could never stand to "lay out" and tan. First of all, we didn't have a pool, so I couldn't cool off when I got too hot lying in the broiling Texas sun on our driveway. Second, I did get hot. Very hot. And bored. I didn't even have a Walkman to listen to as I lay there baking. (Note to anyone under thirty: Walkmans were radios and/or tape players with headphones. That was what we had before iPods. And now I have just admitted to being old enough to remember having no portable music at all. Oh, the shame.)

Third and most important, it was useless for me to lay out because I don't tan. I don't. I burn, peel, and then maybe, if I have done enough damage to the subcutaneous layer of my skin, there might be a tan under there--a very light, barely noticeable tan. But only if the burn was really painful and destined to increase my risk of melanoma years later.

I don't actually know what subcutaneous means or if I used it correctly in that sentence, but I do know what melanoma means. And that pasty white people are at a greater risk for it than people with more melanin in their skin. Fortunately I decided at a young age that being tan wasn't worth painful sunburns and yucky peeling. I was wise beyond my years, people. I didn't even try tanning beds when they became popular. I have reddish-brown hair, and I wondered if I would look all reddish-brown if I tanned my face. Plus I heard the story of the girl who liquefied her internal organs by tanning too much, and it doesn't matter if the story is true or not because it kept me out of the tanning bed. I did try self-tanners back in the day when they were...not as good as they are today and I was as orange as a traffic cone for a few days. Not a good look for me. Or anyone, really.

So I decided to embrace my whiteness. It's been around fifteen years since I tried to change the color of my skin much. I did discover the Aveeno lotion with a hint of color and it does even out the skin tone on my legs (white legs are one thing; white blue-veined legs are another). And if I were going on a vacation in which I would appear in pictures wearing a bathing suit (gack!) I'd probably try a Mystic tan. But other than that--it is what it is. I have my paternal grandmother's skin, and the plus side of protecting your skin is that you look younger when you're in your eighties. So as you can imagine, I'm looking forward to that decade of my life.

Other women I know don't feel the same way at all. Two acquaintances recently told me that they just can't stand to go bare-legged unless they've tanned. Their "pale" is probably as dark as I'd ever get, so I asked them if they ever worried about the effects of tanning and both of them said they'd rather be tan and wrinkly. (Tactfully, I didn't bring up skin cancer.) I've also had people tell me, "I think other people can look good without a tan. You look fine pale! But I need a tan." I don't know if they're just being nice or if they have something like body dysmorphic disorder in which they think everyone else looks fine but they are just not pretty when they're white.

What about y'all? Do you tan easily, with or without trying? Do you wear sunscreen? Do you already proudly embrace your identity as a Pasty White Chick?


Monday, March 16, 2009

What I Learned This Week #5

  • I now enjoy having people over, especially since we got the playroom. I used to shy away from inviting more than a couple of friends over at a time, since the house seemed overcrowded to me with larger groups. We have a smaller house than many of the people we know, so I guess I was comparing my house to theirs. Silly, I know. Then a few years ago we had home friendship groups and had people over around once a month, so I got used to welcoming people into our home. But I still didn't really like having parties here. Now we've had a birthday party and a baby shower in the last three weeks, and are having people over for breakfast next Saturday. It's a bit of work to get ready for company, but as I've said before, it motivates me to get the house clean and then I always enjoy the company!
  • I was wondering the other day what Miss Pink does to make the bottoms of her socks so filthy. Then I looked at the bottom of my socks. Oh.
  • It is useful to have two TVs since one kid wants to watch "Lots and Lots of Monster Trucks" over and over, and the other one...doesn't.
  • This week, I'm letting the kids watch more TV than usual. Before I had kids, I was sure that the TV would remain off the vast majority of the time. Then I had kids and needed to be able to take a shower now and then. I still try to limit their screen time, but hey...it's spring break, and if Mama's going to have any kind of break, there's gonna be some TV for the kids.
  • Speaking of TV, we have the Boomerang channel now, and Miss Pink is loving all the older cartoons like "Tom and Jerry" and "The Pink Panther" (whose musical theme is still VERY cool). Some cartoons have stood the test of time for me, while "The Smurfs" isn't really my cup of tea anymore (it would be odd if I still liked it, actually.)
That's all I've got! Check out the What I Learned This Week carnival if you're so inclined!


There Goes My Self-Esteem

There is an elderly woman at our church who just seems to have the gift of tactlessness (well, actually there are several, but this one's comments are the funniest.) Yesterday she was watching Miss Pink and said to me, "How did you and Justin have such a beautiful child?"

You know, 'cause we're so hideous.

I gulped and said, "Thanks!" with an ironic undertone which was completely lost on her. I never can think of what to say to her when she smacks me with a left-handed compliment.

Then later Justin said to Mr. Blue, "Isn't your mommy pretty?"

And my son said in his husky voice, "No."

Well, alrighty then. So much for the special bond between little boys and their mommies!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Where to Go From Here?

In a previous post, I reflected on the path of academia which I didn't take, and wondered if I've missed out. Obviously, I've been questioning what to do with my life--specifically, wondering if I am still being called to be a SAHM, or if I should be considering other options.

I've ruled out working full-time because I don't feel that being a full-time employee, especially after having been home for so long, would be good for my family right now (unless, of course, there was no other option financially.) But a part-time tutoring job using my teaching skills would be doable, and the extra money would be helpful. I've been thinking about it too much, especially since I wouldn't start working until the next school year starts. I'm trying to make myself wait until it's time to apply before I start trying to line up childcare and so forth. I can't help it--I'm a control freak planner!

I just want to make sure that if I get a job, I'm doing it for the right reasons. When Miss Pink was around two, my husband's business was in trouble and I wanted to go back to work. He refused--and that is saying a lot since he's always been supportive of my choices. But she is his daughter too and I felt I couldn't put her in day care against his wishes--not to mention the damage it would cause to our marriage if I steamrolled over him. The money problems worked out and later I came to realize that he had actually been against it because I wanted to work for the wrong reasons. I wanted to work because I was angry at him for not providing enough (real nice, right?) and I wanted to be the savior of the situation. I'm sure that every time I had a bad day, I would have held it over his head: "Well, I wouldn't feel so terrible if I DIDN'T HAVE TO WORK AND IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT GAH!"

I've grown up a lot since then. And learned to appreciate my husband more. This time, Justin is fine with me working part-time if the right job opens up, especially since the kids are older. I guess I'm just questioning whether I'm falling into the trap that I need to be making money to be "worth something" to society.

This post by Jennifer of Conversion Diary has fueled my soul-searching. (Seriously, click over and read it--she is such an awesome writer.) If I am called to stay home at this point of my life, I need to accept that calling and stop fighting against God's will for me. Then and only then will I find peace. On the other hand, if the restlessness I'm feeling is a sign that I need to explore another path, then that's where I need to go. It's possible that I just need to wait, as I originally intended, until Mr. Blue is in kindergarten.

Sigh. I guess I have my direction: to wait until I find out whether the job would work with our schedule. I just wish I knew in advance what to do! But I was never promised a guarantee for next year, or even tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What I Learned This Week, #4

  • My husband is not allowed to fast two meals in a row now, on my orders. Our church is asking us to fast on Wednesdays, and on his way home, he had a fender-bender because he was too light-headed to concentrate. He's always been this way when he doesn't eat--at one point he was tested for hypoglycemia, but he doesn't have that. Just a high metabolism that needs calories. (We should all be so lucky, right?) He's going to give up TV instead. I don't think he'll have a wreck from going without TV!
  • My children have tiny feet. Miss Pink, who's 6, is still technically in a toddler size. I bought her two pairs of sandals at a giant resale event, and they are both too big. I only paid $11 for the two but I thought I had that base covered and now we have to find some more. I'll have to save these and hope she can wear them later. As for Mr. Blue, he hasn't grown out of his shoes in months, but I know we're going to wake up one morning and none of his shoes will fit. Probably on Easter morning. And did you know they don't make many choices for little boys' dress shoes? Unless you want to pay more than I do for my shoes, which I don't want to do!
  • I bought a Swiffer and it worked pretty well on my hardwood floors. It doesn't pick up all the bigger pieces of food my animals children drop under the table, but using it during the week was easier than getting out the broom, and kept the floor looking better until I did sweep and mop. I realize this is not exactly a new product, but I'm glad I got one.
  • I'm getting better at remembering to let Mr. Blue do things for himself, whether it's snapping his jeans or getting a waffle out and toasting it. I sit on my hands (almost literally) and talk him through whatever he's trying to do, maybe pointing what he needs to grab. It works much better. Of course, he still screams the house down sometimes when I forget, or if he wanted to do something but didn't TELL me he wanted to. That's when I repeat under my breath, "It's only a phase, it's only a phase..."
To find out what some others learned, visit the What I Learned This Week carnival.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wanted: Parent

I don't usually post email forwards, but I thought this one was funny--and true! It's a classified ad for a parent.

Mom, Mommy, Mama, Ma
Dad, Daddy, Dada, Pa, Pop

Long term, team players needed, for challenging, permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24-hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities! Travel expenses not reimbursed.
Extensive courier duties also required.

The rest of your life.
Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5.
Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly.
Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.
Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.
Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.
Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.
Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, and an embarrassment the next.
Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices.
Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.
Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you

None required (unfortunately).
On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

Get this! You pay them, offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered, this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth, unconditional love, free hugs and kisses for life, a jewel in your crown when you reach heaven....and grandchildren, if you play your cards right.

Blessings on all mommies and daddies!


Friday, March 6, 2009


Okay, so not many of you were interested in last week's question about books. And I just vetoed the next question in the book, which was, "If you could ask the current pope one question, what would it be?"

Meh. I'd have a conversation with the Pope, if the opportunity arose, but I can't think of one particular question I'd like to ask him.

So instead, I'd like to know: If you could have one person from history live his or her full life over again, starting now, who would you pick?

I'll be honest--my first thought was Jesus, because I think we can always use some more Jesus. (Can I get a witness?) After saying last week that I'd want the Bible on my island, though, I think I'm giving the impression that I'm a super-spiritual Christian who prays three hours a day or something. Which is not the case. But I do wonder how today's world would respond to Jesus. The media reactions alone would be riveting. However, I don't think much would change if he came back to live on earth again. Some would follow him, some would dismiss him and some would try to destroy him, just like the first time around.

My other thought: I'd like to have one of the founding fathers come back and clear up all the confusion about the Constitution. "No, that is NOT what we meant," he could say. But wouldn't it be cruel to show him how messed-up things have gotten?


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Road Not Taken

Today I found a journal I kept during my last year and a half of college. It describes the most painful breakup I ever had, my subsequent crush on a guy who is now my pastor (I swear it's not weird now), and finally the Happy Ending in which I meet the love of my life--and he was available, not to mention interested in me! But before I met Justin, I was kind of a mess.

When I wasn't moping about my chaotic love life, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for a career. I may have mentioned that I was a little compulsive overconscientious about studying in college? I was a TOTAL nerd who actually made outlines from the lecture notes AND the textbook. I was very good at school. And school was about to be over, and I would have to get a real job, and who would hire me? What type of job should I even apply for? Memorizing lecture notes and filling out scan-trons are not job skills!


My professors encouraged me to go to grad school. I was planning to apply, but then I panicked some more about leaving home (I stayed in my home town for college) and I wasn't sure I would be good enough in the Big Leagues. I was writing an application paper that could have been a master's thesis instead of just picking a paper I'd gotten an A on and sending it in. Pretty soon I'd freaked myself out so badly that I stopped sleeping for days. It only ended when I called my dad at three a.m. and said tearfully, "Dad? I don't want to go to grad school."

My half-asleep dad, who had never said I had to go to grad school, said, "Okay." I don't know if I slept that night, but I felt better. Until I realized I had to get a job.

But then I taught high school in a private school, met Justin and got married, and the rest is history.

But it might not have happened the way it did. Reading that journal today, when I got to the parts about what I was studying and writing, the thought popped into my head, "I should have been a professor." I've known for a long time that my brain is suited for academia. That doesn't mean that's all my brain can do, of course--just that it's one option I could have taken, and didn't. I did eventually go to grad school for a year and a half before I had Miss Pink. I'm glad I went, because at least I know exactly what I didn't choose, and I almost never regret it. It takes a long time to get a Ph.D. and then I'd have to publish or perish (figuratively--it means that you have to publish articles and books in your field if you want job security), and by then I would've had kids anyway. And lots of good things have happened to me because I didn't stay in that world--starting with Miss Pink and Mr. Blue.

But I wish I was certain of my goal in life. Besides raising my children to be awesome people, of course.

And I think that is part of the problem. Every so often, I want to be something other--something supposedly more than--a stay-at-home mom. Deep down, for some reason, I believe that being a wife and mother is not enough as a life goal. At the same time, I don't want to go back to teaching school full-time unless I have to! It must be a case of "the grass is always greener." Maybe I'm dissatisfied with being a SAHM or a teacher because I've already done those things and I crave more recognition. So that makes me wish I could be a scholar or a novelist. Neither of those paths is closed to me, but they're not exactly things I can start doing tomorrow. And I suspect that if I was able to step into that life, I would find that it isn't all that, either.

I have some thoughts about what I can do to overcome my discontent, but I'll save them for another post.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What I Learned This Week #3

This is not the third week of the What I Learned This Week Carnival, but the third time I've participated. (Apparently I didn't learn anything the week before last!) Last week was VERY busy: I did the volunteer tutoring twice and helped out at the book fair, and made preparations for Mr. Blue's birthday party. Well, actually, I waited until Saturday morning to clean the house, because then Justin would be there to help me. But everything went smoothly, so I guess I learned that sometimes it's fine to procrastinate.

My belief that toddler birthday parties should be low-key (and inexpensive!) was reaffirmed. Some of the guests couldn't make it, but Mr. Blue never noticed. The kids played, we had cake, they played some more, he opened presents, they played some more, we handed out goody bags, and a couple of families stayed later so the kids could keep playing. It was great!

There was one minor problem when Mr. Blue couldn't get the candles blown out and my dad helped him--and then everyone cheered loudly and the birthday boy burst into tears. Oddly enough, I had been reading a book called Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy (love that title) which stated that the new three-year-old will often feel overwhelmed at his or her birthday party and have a meltdown. I remembered then that Miss Pink cried at her third party too. Back then, as a new parent trying to make the party run smoothly, I got irritated at her. This time, I knew I shouldn't blame him. Luckily, a do-over with the candles and a piece of cake dried Mr. Blue's tears.

I also learned that little boys like to own every kind of toy vehicle available in stores. And that my son will try to take most of them to bed with him.

Finally, I found out that my daughter is braver than I thought she was! She had the nurse pull her first loose tooth at school yesterday. Unlike her recent behavior in the morning, she woke up bright and early this morning to find that the tooth fairy had left three dollars and a note. (The Tooth Fairy did not know that pink glitter, aka fairy dust, is the thing right now. Next time!)

Right here would be a good place for a picture of Miss Pink showing her new gappy smile, but I don't have a picture yet. I'll take one soon!