Monday, September 25, 2006

Double Standards and a First Friend

They say your kids will do what you do, not what you say. This is true for us.

We constantly tell Meredith to NOT write in daddy’s school textbooks. This is one of her favorite pastimes lately.

The problem is she sees daddy making notes with a pencil in his textbooks every day.

So, if daddy can do it, why can’t she?

Needless to say, Kevin has many beautiful pencil drawings in his textbooks, done by none other than artist Meredith.

Meredith has made her first “friend.”

Until last night all other children in her life were referred to as “baby.” But, now, she calls another little girl at church by her first name, “Becca.” And she says Becca’s name with such excitement and joy, too.

This morning we asked Meredith if she had fun with Becca last night. When she recognized the name, her eyes lit up and she started chuckling.

It makes me so happy to see my daughter make a little friend.

Progressive Dinner

It’s really hard to avoid the sin of gluttony at a progressive dinner! We had a great time Saturday evening, starting with appetizers at our house, and then moving on for three other courses at other various homes.

The morning of the party I decided to make flowers out of some radishes. I had never done that before. I enjoyed the attempt at being creative and artistic. It’s good to indulge the right side of my brain now and then.

Oh, and by the way, the circus was amazing! My favorite parts were the acrobats and elephants. And what mother in her right mind would ever allow her son to be a tiger tamer?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Random Things

I have a child who hates the computer. Or, better put, hates it when I’m on the computer more than I have to be to get my daily work done. Therefore, I don’t blog as much as I used to.

Aunt Shannon has her right now, actually. They went to run some errands together. And tonight, when they get back, the three of us are going to the circus!

I’ve been on the Ringling Bros. website umpteen times to look at the clowns, lion tamers, and the people who get shot out of cannons. I’m SO excited.

Recently overheard from Kevin: “I really don’t like traditional law school. I thought I would but I don’t.”

He tells me that the Socratic method is “overrated.” (This is something he was looking forward to but, after experiencing it, he thinks is dumb.) He tells me that it’s nothing like standing in front of a judge in open court. Basically, he says, it’s all about the professor trying to prove his point, ignoring any legitimate argument the student may have, and trying to make the student look stupid. He said he learned a lot more about how to be a good lawyer by bantering back and forth with his boss Jim Mason at HSLDA.

My last MOPS class featured an interior designer who said something I disagreed with at the very beginning. Therefore, I found myself tuning her out for the rest of the class. This is bad, I know.

Last night we got a call from Kevin’s parents and then met up for ice cream. And on Tuesday night we had his grandparents over at our house for dinner. These are things that we couldn’t do in Sacramento. It’s nice to be able to do more “family” things.

It’s been really cool and crisp here lately, definitely evoking a fall feeling. I have a pumpkin sitting outside our door and that has helped me to get into the fall mood.

It’s been a while since I’ve experienced this type of fall weather, encompassing certain sights, smells, and feelings. It’s been since 2002, to be precise. That’s when Kevin and I were first married and living in Virginia.

Because I haven’t experienced this “fall feeling” since I lived in the Old Dominion, lately I’ve been flooded with memories from that time and place in my life.

I love Virginia and always will. But I think part of me probably romanticizes it a little too much. Those years were very good.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tailoring God

I found the article below to be highly intriguing. I thought about cutting a few paragraphs to paste here but, in the end, decided that the entire thing is interesting, and I couldn't butcher it.

Where do people come up with their view of God? Have they been taught? Have they researched it on their own (using the bible or who knows what else)? Or have they just pulled a few fanciful ideas out of a hat, based on what sounds right to them?

Your God is likely supremely different from anyone else's God

by Jerry Large

Some folks like to say everyone worships the same God. But we know that isn't exactly so, and now we have a description of how American conceptions of God differ.

The Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion and the Gallup organization recently finished a study that went beyond the usual questions — "Do you believe in God?" and "Do you go to church?" They tried to dig more deeply and find out how people see God, how they see themselves in relation to God and how that affects their ideas and behavior. What they found is that when Americans say "God," they are not necessarily talking about the same deity.

The researchers asked 29 questions about God's character and behavior, sifted through the answers they got from 1,721 participants and identified "two clear and distinct dimensions" to people's ideas about God.

Those are God's level of engagement and God's level of anger at human sins. People see God as engaged or not, angry or not. The four combinations of those two traits yield more information about the believer than the usual denominational labels.

Americans see God as engaged and angry (a god who is involved in world and individual affairs and who metes out punishment for bad behavior); engaged but not angry (involved in individual lives and the world, but behaving benevolently without anger); disengaged and angry (withdrawn from intervening in human affairs, but unhappy with the state of the world and likely to punish bad deeds in the afterlife; or disengaged and not angry (a god who set things in motion, then went fishing).

Basically what we have are lightning-bolt God, smiley-face God, bummed-out God and whatever, dude God. The researchers assigned them letters: A (authoritarian), B (benevolent), C (critical) and D (distant).

The combination you choose says more about you than about God.

The researchers found "a clear disconnect between how the media and academics identify American believers and how they identify themselves."

Few people use the term "evangelical," for instance, even when they belong to churches that have "evangelical" in their name. But when the data are organized by type of God, it's clear which groups people belong to.

Only evangelical Protestants showed consistency in their political views. "They agree with conservative agenda items and disagree with liberal ones." They tend to believe in an authoritarian God. Other groups crossed political lines depending on the topic.

It didn't matter whether people were Catholic, Protestant or Jewish; what determined their views on a number of topics was the version of God they believed in.

A Catholic who believed in the authoritarian God was as conservative as any evangelical.

They also found that women leaned toward more engaged versions and men toward less engaged. People with lower educations and lower incomes also tended to believe in a more engaged God, who answers prayers. Most black people believed in a more engaged God. Southerners tend toward an authoritarian God, West Coasters are more into a distant God and Midwesterners lean toward the benevolent God.

Interestingly, not a single black person in the survey claimed to be an atheist. Asked whether they believed without any doubt that God exists, black Protestants were the only group in which 100 percent said yes.

Black folks overwhelmingly believe God is not happy with people's sins and will tan hides when necessary in this life or the next.

The survey was full of stuff you might not know: It found that 3.7 percent of the black population is Jewish, compared to 2.6 percent of white Americans.

Everybody's got a model of God to suit who they are. People's religious views reflected their income, education, gender, race and age.

People 18-30 are about three times more likely than people over 65 to have no religious affiliation. Americans are becoming less tied to denomination.

Americans overwhelmingly say they believe in God, it's just that folks have different ideas about who God is and what God wants from us.

The differences have social and political impacts. Who we vote for and which programs we support all affected by the way we see God, including the small portion of the population that filled in "atheist" on the survey.

On abortion, allowing gay people to marry, military spending and social programs, a person's description of God corresponded with his or her political stand.

If the government were going to back a religion, which version of God would it push? Looking at the survey will remind you why separation of church and state makes sense.

People have a bad tendency to talk past one another, using the same words to mean very different things, which leads to misunderstandings and makes it difficult to put conflicts to rest.

This survey gives people a clearer idea of what their neighbors are talking about when they bring God into a conversation.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Wild Beast at Church

We’re working on getting Meredith to sit still and be quiet in church. She’s starting to do better – we’ve gone from one or two minutes to about ten minutes. Then, it’s off-to-nursery time.

We’ve been doing the typical things, like bringing books for her to look at while we’re seated. But now that she’s recognizing more objects and saying what they are, this isn’t working out so well.

Yesterday morning we handed her a book that happened to have a tiger on the first page. She opened the book and said, “Tigah! ROOOAAAAARRRR.” (She actually makes a very scary-sounding roar.)

Needless to say, I don’t think we’ll be bringing that book to church any more.

Just when we were wondering if it was worth it to take her in church for such a short period of time, she started coming to us (at home) and wanting us to sing with her from our church’s Psalter. Often we see her at home, sitting by herself with an open Psalter, softly singing random notes.

This is a good (and cute) reminder to us that our daughter needs to be in the church service – even if it ends up being only a few moments – learning to corporately worship God from an early age.

Incidentally, one of her newest favorite words is “bi-bah” (bible). She picked up on this after watching daddy read his bible in the mornings. The only problem is that she now thinks that EVERY large book that doesn’t have pictures in it is a bible.

Therefore, all of Kevin’s law books are now “bibles” and she happily declares this whenever she sees one! We’ve tried to tell her different but she just won’t have it.

Her other favorite words are “ace you” (thank you) and, just recently, Kevin taught her to say “attaché.”

He taught her this because she was constantly calling his book bag a “purse.” This, of course, was a severe affront to his masculinity.

Meredith’s favorite song right now is Ring-Around-the-Rosie and she often sings “ashes, ashes,” plops herself on the ground, and bursts into giggles. She also loves This Little Piggy and she’ll take her own hand and run it up her body, saying, “Wee, wee, wee.”

Meredith is our little buddy. She’s very playful and makes us laugh all the time. How we love her!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Five O'Clock Dread

For many men and women in the work force, five o’clock is the most anticipated time of their day. It’s when they finally get to leave the office and head home. For stay-at-homers who are responsible for dinner preparations, five o’clock can be the most dreaded time of their day. Especially if they have no clue what is on the evening’s menu.

Many of my female friends – lets admit it, it’s usually the women folk who are responsible to get the grub on the table – have confided to me their five o’clock fears.

So far I’ve been able to stem the five o’clock dread by becoming an avid weekly-menu planner. I’m not very organized in (probably) any other area of my life but I’ve found that planning our menu in advance results in these benefits: 1) we eat better, 2) we save money by eating out less often, 3) we save money by shopping from a list and not buying items that go to waste or are unnecessary, and 4) my days are more sane because I know what to anticipate at five o’clock.

Well, for busy cooks everywhere, I’m happy to report that my favorite recipe website has just come out with a new feature.

The All Recipe’s Cooknik Meal Planner

This is something I’ve long felt has been missing from their site and would be extremely helpful for many people – both stay-at-home cooks and working cooks.

I think this could be a great tool and I’m glad to see that it’s finally being implemented. It’s $15 for six months and, in my opinion, if there are only a few meal ideas I glean every week from it, it would be well worth it. (We have a lot of family favorites so I doubt we would use every idea, in a given week, anyway!)

One attractive thing about this meal planner is that it lists appropriate meals for whatever season it is and encourages the use of seasonal ingredients. Plus, it creates a categorized grocery list for you! Imagine the time this could save …

I wish all of you many happy five o’clocks!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Storm Windows

I can't stand dirty windows, at least not for more than a month or two, can you?

Several weeks ago I took off the storm windows on the front of the house, to be able to wash in between the glass and get the windows clean. They were filthy and I was sick and tired of looking through them!

It took me approximately ten hours (okay, I’m exaggerating a little bit) to do this. The windows were heavy and I wasn’t exactly sure how to use a power drill. [Grin.] Plus, as I was trying to put the windows BACK up, Meredith took my pile of screws and scattered them across the front porch.

All these little delays add up, you know.

Well, anyway, yesterday some repair guys came over to the house to paint something (I’m still not sure exactly what). In order to do this, they took off ALL the storm windows. At the end of the day they weren’t done with their project so they left the windows off.

I figured I would seize this golden opportunity to wash the REST of the windows of the house, but I didn’t count on them coming so early this morning.

Needless to say, this morning I threw on a pair of jeans and ran out of the house like maniac, as soon as I saw their van pull up, so I could wash the rest of the windows.

I am happy to report that I finished in record time!

After I was all done, I turned and saw these guys gawking at me.

“Well, ma’am, you didn’t have to do all that. We were planning on cleaning all the windows when we were done with our job.”

Sigh …

And then, here’s the killer … One guy says:

“Yes, and when the windows are all clean we’ll make sure to put the storm windows back on RIGHT. I don’t know who did the last job but two of the storm windows up in front of the house were put on backwards.”

“Oh my goodness,” I replied. “I can’t believe someone would do something like that. Wow.”

As soon as I said that, I whirled around and went back inside the house.

Why do I try?


Check out this letter from a lawyer to this guy.

The guy's response.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

I’m now done with the first book in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, about a fat woman from Botswana who uses her inheritance to start a detective agency. Mma Ramotswe is endearing, even if she’s not particularly good at sleuthing. She’s very kind and very opinionated – I love her for that.

Let’s just say that I’m hooked. I’ve officially joined the cult following of Alexander McCall Smith and plan to read all his books hereafter. I’ve already requested the next two books in the No. 1 Ladies’ series from my local library.

Lately I’ve been reading some meaty child-rearing books. It was rather nice to throw a “candy” book into the mix.

Although the book was pure fun, it was also full of random philosophical musings. Like these two …

“That is the problem with governments these days. They want to do things all the time; they are always very busy thinking of what things they can do next. That is not what people want. People want to be left alone to look after their cattle.”

“The problem, of course, was that people did not seem to understand the difference between right and wrong. They needed to be reminded about this, because if you left it to them to work out for themselves, they would never bother. They would just find out what was best for them, and then they would call that the right thing. That’s how most people thought.”

One funny story about this book is that I was nearly done with it on my return flight from Los Angeles when, at the climax of the plot, I turned the page and discovered there were eight pages missing!!! (This is the potential problem with library books, I suppose.) I don’t think I’ve ever been so annoyed in all my life. There I was 30,000 feet up in the air – suspended in more than one sense of the word – and with nothing to read! ARGH.

Hitting the Books

Several people have asked about Kevin’s school experiences thus far. Since he barely has time to brush his teeth anymore, let alone blog, I figure I should keep you posted myself.

Yes, he studies pretty much every spare moment. He’s taking 15 credit hours and is working 20 hours. That doesn’t leave much free time.

The nice thing is that when he studies he’s usually at home. It’s not exactly “quality family time” but he is around and I’m glad. (Can you believe he can concentrate with the Meredith-factor? I can’t believe it, but he seems to manage.)

Some classes are interesting, he says, and other classes are painstakingly boring.

He’s mentioned on several occasions that he goes into class thinking that he understands things perfectly and then, after listening to the professor for two hours, ends up being thoroughly confused.

His favorite class is Civil Rights. He likes both the subject matter and the professor. Incidentally, the professor is the head of the Indiana ACLU. Despite opposing views on the constitution, Kevin says that the professor is a good teacher, he’s congenial, and he’s fair.

Today after class, Kevin had an on-campus interview with the Air Force JAG. When he told me he had this interview, you can imagine how thrilled I was. Frankly, I’m tired of moving (four times in four years of marriage) – the last thing I want to think about is being military.

“I’ve always wanted to be able to serve my country,” said Kevin. Apparently on the JAG website it says that you’re a “soldier first and a lawyer second.”

I’m glad he had the interview and wants to serve his country and all but, like I said, I’m really tired of moving.

The end.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I’m Now a MOP

I’m now officially part of MOPS and Meredith is a MOPPET. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect but now, after my first day yesterday, I think I’m going to like it.

The other ladies were very friendly and warm. And, being the food girl, it was good to see that we’ll be having a hot brunch at each meeting.

I was glad to learn that MOPS is very low key. I need that in my life right now. Although I know it’s important to be challenged spiritually and intellectually, honestly, I’m grateful that I’ll be able to have a venue to just “escape.”

And from what I could tell, Meredith enjoyed her experience too.

It’s time for me to take more ownership of my community. I have my church friends, my family-friends, and now I hope to cultivate another circle of friends. It’s all a part of developing roots and making Indianapolis seem more like “home.”

My Team is Ready and Raring to Go!

Watch out folks! Fantasy Football season is here at last!

Kevin got an e-mail from a friend yesterday (a guy friend, of course – who else would keep track of their team and someone else’s team?): “Remind Amy to set her lineup today or tomorrow (before the game). She has all her players on the bench right now!”


Because my priorities are in order, before I even thought about logging onto Blogger today, I went to my Fantasy Football page and selected my starting players for the game tonight.

I was pleased to see that certain players had icons next to their names containing *important* informational items. This was a relief because who has time to research this on their own?!

Apparently one of my running backs, Domanick Davis, “went on injured reserve” thereby “ending the 2006 season.” Bah! Why did he have to go and do this? I’m highly perturbed at him right now. He was probably injured doing something stupid, too.

One of my wide receivers, Joe Horn, will “miss Thursday’s game.” Apparently the coach has decided to “sit him out to make sure he is at full health for the start of the regular season.”

And then I was made aware by the Associate Press that another of my running backs, Edgerrin James, is “expected to see only one or two carries” in tonight’s game. That doesn’t sound very hopeful now, does it? But, on a wing and a prayer, I decided to keep him in the game anyway. It all boils down to this … I believe in my guys!

Go team, go!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fall Teasers

As I walked to the post office the other day, I noticed some dead leaves swirling in the wind. Then, yesterday, as we headed to Turkey Run State Park for the afternoon, I noticed some yellows and a little bit of red in the vegetation.

These have been my first visual reminders that fall is just around the corner.

Ahh, my favorite season. And this year I’ll be in Indiana where I can relish it to the fullest – where the air will be crisp and the leaves will be bright.

I can’t wait.

Post Trip

Some highlights …

I went shopping with Betsy and was educated on the newest shoe craze – it’s all about the wedge shoe, folks. If you don’t have a pair, you’re simply not “in.” (That means that I’m definitely “out.”) I do think they’re cute though – so, I’ll have to keep my eyes out for a deal.

We took Meredith to the beach – the second time for her. Her first time was in Oregon in April. This time, in So. Cal. in August, the temperatures were slightly friendlier. At first she was terrified of the waves and then, just when she started enjoying it, she began to shiver from the cold. (The Pacific is still cold, even in August.) She did really love the sand, though.

I spent most of the time at the beach boogie-boarding with David. He’s my favorite brother in the whole world! I borrowed Melissa’s boogie-board, which was bright pink and had a Barbie theme. I must have been the coolest person on the waves that day.

Christy and I went shopping in the downtown L.A. fashion district. Most of the vendors are wholesalers but there’s an alley with all retailers. I think a lot of it is hype, and overpriced – I wish I could’ve bought some of the clothes the wholesalers were offering, but I just simply didn’t want to buy 10 of one item. At the end of the day, however, I took home a few pieces of jewelry and a teal-colored dress that Christy says looks smashing on me.

My last evening there, I went, as David’s guest, to a roller skating party. His orthodontist who, incidentally, used to be MY orthodontist rented out a roller skating rink and told all his patients they could invite four friends. Since I, apparently, am on David’s A-List I got to go. While I was standing in line to rent my skates, they announced that they ran out of roller blades. So, I ended up with old-fashioned roller skates. It was just like the good ol' days! It was me and approximately ten million kids wearing braces out on the rink. We all had a good time. Oh, yes, and my mom skated too.

I took Meredith with me practically everywhere and whenever she was tired, she’d fall asleep on whomever, or whatever, object, she happened to be resting upon. Here is a picture, below, of her asleep on a bench at the Cheesecake Factory. She slept for two hours like this.

The trip was great – and, as much fun as I had, Meredith had the time of her life being carried around by Aunt Melissa practically every waking moment!