Monday, April 28, 2008

Merely an Observation

I have an observation to make about Oprah. But first let me say that there are two main reasons for this post. 1) I think it's important that women out there that seem to think this particular talk show host has all the answers or is wise beyond her years, or is the end all be all to life advice and direction, also see and are exposed to/reminded of the fact that she has weaknesses and problems and struggles, just like the rest of us. This point is especially important to me because I believe in this society and culture, we can be strongly influenced, and even set up idols for ourselves without even realizing it. There are women out there who depend on the word of Oprah more than the word of God. As ridiculous as that sounds, in reality, it's true. Oprah's law and beliefs are not God's, and her truth is most certainly not absolute truth. 2) The observation I have made is slightly amusing to me. Not in a cruel, bwuh-hah-hah kind of way, but in an ironic, somewhat "point proven" type way. I think you'll see what I mean when I explain.

My observation is this: When Ms. Winfrey is thin and exercising and taking good care of herself, she speaks to her audience constantly about the importance of overcoming food addiction, emotional eating, comfort foods, etc., and how her on-going battle with all of this is a continuing process, but that she basically has it all figured out. She freely, openly, and continuously offers advice to others about this particular subject (when she's thin and lookin' good).

However, when she packs on the pounds, has to bump her wardrobe up a few sizes, and begins to have bags and circles under her eyes, the talk about healthy lifestyles, healthy eating, overcoming emotional eating, weight gain/loss, etc., disappear. And oddly enough, this "honest and frank" talk show host, says nothing about her continued weight gain or the possible issues behind it, although she presents herself as a wise woman who has the answers for just about everything, and someone who knows how to overcome all obstacles in life.

I'm not saying that her issues are any of my business, and frankly, it doesn't matter to me, except that on one side of the coin, she presents herself as this spiritual, emotional, and physical mentor and prophet of sorts, when she clearly has problems that she's not in control of. She talks about issues and events in life as if she has all of the answers. But she's made it clear that losing weight, being thinner and healthier, and looking good are important to her and she wants all women to enjoy it. If this is the case and she has all of the answers, why the substantial weight gain? And why the avoidance of the subject if she's truly the advocate for supporting women with troubles and her goal is healing and helping?

This may seem like a trivial post to most of you. For those of you who have already understood that Oprah is turning a page in the influence she has on our country and that it is not a positive one, good for you. I'm not writing this to poke fun or speak meanly about Oprah. And as I said before, she can lose 5 lbs. or gain 50 - whatever, I don't care. What I am saying is that this woman is nobody's savior, and she certainly doesn't have all the answers (I don't think she has very many of them at all, actually). A lot of what she does/says is a perversion of the truth, and recognizing this in the little inconsistencies is important. It's important that we keep our minds sharp and are able to label things that don't quite make sense or that we know to have falsehood in them. The weight gain is not meant to be a criticism or a jab - just an inconsistency in her "ministry" to others, one of many these days...I just think it's so important to know what we stand for and what we are supporting, whether it be through the TV shows we watch, the books we read, the money we spend, etc.

Thanks for giving me a minute to observe,

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pictures of my Favorite Friday Favorite

Okay, my little Benito is (obviously) one of my very favorite favorites, and I'm WAAAY behind on pictures, so humor me this week...I'm posting a TON of pics of my little buddy. Some people say, "Oh, I know I'm boring everybody with pictures of my kid or that you just need to indulge me this time," but actually, I really do love looking at pictures of other peoples' kids, babies, vacations, etc. Pictures say so much more than words. So I'm taking for granted that all of you people out there feel the same way! :) hee.


M is for Monkey, B is for Bennett :)

Bennett and Sage

G.C. and Bennett at the zoo.
They roared and laughed at
the white tiger for a while. :)

Bennett and Sydney

Playing ball with the neighbors.


He's busted his face or lip
THREE times this week.
(please ignore the snot)

What happens when I allow
him to get his own snack.

How Bennett likes to
"clean up" his snack.


He was playing so quietly it was
making me nervous. When I went
to check, this is what I found.

Lining his blocks up all in a row. :)

And that should just about do it for pictures of my favorite favorite for a while. Have a fabulous weekend, my friends!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Friday Favorites on Sunday

Yes, I'm late. So sorry, friends. Here they are, at Kristen's request, some music favorites. Don't be surprised if they are quite ordinary. I believe music is orchestrated in our very spirits from the time we are conceived. It's a part of who we are. I believe music is very personal and precious to God and that He has instilled that love in all of us to some degree. That's why (in my opinion) truly beautiful songs are beautiful and touching to just about everyone. This is why the music soundtracks behind the movie are what truly make us cry. It's not the drama of the scene as much as it is the combination of the events with inspiring music. There is a part of the soul that is touched deeply with music like nothing else. Or at least, that's what I think :) Obviously, by my blog title and what I'm saying here, music is a great love and passion of mine, and I am so very thankful that I'm able to use it as an instrument to glorify our heavenly Father. It is a blessing and an outlet and a gift to give. So without further adeu...

1. ARTISTS/GROUPS -- across the times and genres and in no particular order, here are some of my very favorite artists whose songs blow me away, inspire me, make me cry, make me think, make me smile, or are just absolutely brilliant:
James Taylor, Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Sheryl Crow, Chris Tomlin, Natalie Grant, Third Day, Sonicflood, Norah Jones, Kelley Clarkson, Mark Schultz, Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Nat King Cole, Jewel, Alicia Keys, Queen, The Beatles, U2, James Blunt

2. FAVORITE SONGS -- this list could be a mile long, so for now I'll keep it to songs that mean a lot to me right now in my life, are gorgeous, or are just kick-butt great:
*Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin
*Everlasting God by Chris Tomlin
*Praise You in this Storm by Casting Crowns
*Held by Natalie Grant
*Never Alone by BarlowGirl
*Anyway by Martina McBride
*God Will Lift up Your Head by Jars of Clay
*Your Grace is Enough (artist??)
*Fallin' by Alicia Keys
*You're Beautiful by James Blunt
*Kiss This by Aaron Tippin
*The Devil Went Down to Georgia by Charlie Daniels Band
*I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
*Always Gotta Steal my Kisses from You (artist??)
*Burn for You by Toby Mac

So there you are, friends. Most of these songs were taken from my scrolling through my iPod. I don't download all of my music on it - only my favorites. I know this list of artists and songs is TOTALLY random. I just listed them as they came to me. The upbeat ones are typically what I listen to when I work out. i-Tunes is a blessed creation because you can download one or two of your favorite songs from one artist and put them straight on your iPod or burn them to a CD or whatever. If any of these songs look good or interesting to you, you can check them out and listen to a sample of the song on i-Tunes before you buy it.

Music is emotion mixed with mathematics, which is a pretty heady combo. I'd love to hear what all of your favorite artists/songs/genres are.

Next up: Pictures of my little buddy. We've had an adventurous week...stay tuned.

Peace out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Kudos to the Mormons

Yes, you read me right. And here's why:

While some big parts of their doctrine are off, they are amazing at leading by example where evangelism is concerned. The Mormon religion is growing at a rapid rate, while Christianity is declining at a break-neck pace. Where is all of this coming from? you ask. I'll tell you.

My mom and I took my little buddy to the park last week, and were met about a minute later by a dude on a bike wearing a tie, white dress shirt, and black pants and shoes. The bike was a dead giveaway. You guessed it - the Mormons had invaded our park for the afternoon and it looked as though they had no plans for leaving any time soon. My mom, being the sweet, non-confrontational woman she is, proceeded to interact with the guy as he talked about the pretty day and a few other small-talk subjects. As she stood there listening, I walked off with Bennett a little ways and proceeded to get my feathers ruffled and think to myself, "The nerve of these guys (there was another guy talking to another woman a few yards away) invading the space of people who just want to get out and enjoy the sunshine and play with their kids! What an inconvenient and ridiculous time to have a discussion or debate about their beliefs!" I proceeded to eavesdrop on the conversation my mom and dude were having, and continued feeling more and more uptight about it. I had several things I wanted to say about his doctrine, about the Book of Mormon, about Joseph Smith, etc. I was fairly annoyed and wound up when their conversation wrapped up about 10 minutes later.

Then my mom and I started talking about it, and I watched these two guys for a while. People were talking to them, interacting with them, flipping through the pages of the Bible with them. And there was no rush or inconvenience to these guys because that's all they do for two years! It's their job and commitment to talk with and listen to other people. It's their job to talk about God. I was amazed at the direction my thoughts began to take. The fact is, these guys have committed TWO YEARS of their lives to doing this: evangelizing with the purpose and intent of saving the lost and teaching them about God and about what they believe. The fact is, they humble themselves and make themselves completely identifiable, making certain there is no doubt what they believe and what their purpose is: to bring their good news to others. The fact is, never have I made such a commitment or been so passionate and obedient to my calling for the Lord, which I am ashamed to say.

And so, instead of being defensive or judgmental or annoyed by these people, I'd really like to say that we as Christians could learn so very much from them about how to serve the kingdom of our Lord. They're getting it done, they're wrestling down to the mat, and they're putting their backs into what they believe. When was the last time I really did that? Ouch. We Christians are pretty big weenies when it comes to evangelizing and bringing the good news to the masses. We're cowardly and afraid of what others might think or say (this of course is a generalization - I'm fully aware that some of you out there are evangelical powerhouses, and I applaud you for doing kingdom business as we all should!) and too comfortable on our cushy behinds (maybe those behinds wouldn't be so cushy if we rode our bikes more like the Mormons do! :) ).

So though we don't agree on several key issues and that is definitely important, I still say Kudos to the Mormons because they are doing what I should be doing, at least symbolically.

Side note: I CAN NOT get any of the videos I've taken of Bennett to upload. ALL of them are too big *sigh* so the next time I take a video, I'll make it short and sweet so I can post it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Favorites

Here they are, and random like last week:

1. MY JOB -- I LOVE it. I teach 4 year olds two days a week and I'm only there for 6 hours. It gives me a chance to stretch my teaching/professional muscle, while still essentially being a stay at home mom. The extra cash ain't too shabby neither :) I think I'm a better, healthier mommy because I get a small break from my Benito, and then get to love on him extra hard the other 5 days a week. With the way I'm wired, it's nice to do something that makes me feel professional and successful in and of myself, apart from mommyhood. The Lord completely dropped this opportunity in my lap last spring, and I am SO thankful He did! My kiddos are great and my teaching partner is absolutely amazing. I've been so blessed with this opportunity! And I'm SUPER excited about Lori joining the team next year! :)

2. SWIMMING -- I'll tell you, I'm not diggin' on the way I look in a bathing suit, but I LOVE the water and I love to swim. I have ever since I can remember. I also bought a one piece that has a little skirt that I am SO comfortable in (never in my life have I experienced comfort in the revealing spandex that is a bathing suit), so I'm not too worried about scaring small children. I'm seriously considering getting a season pass to the water park since Bennett would be free this summer. Has anyone done this before? Do you recommend it? Either way, I'm lucky because my parents have a pool (ah, yes friends...many many swimming playdates to come!) and my little buddy LOVES the water, too. I imagine we'll be spending a chunk of almost every day out there this summer. Maybe I'll actually get a TAN!! That would be awesome, cause everybody knows tan fat looks better than pasty pale fat, unless you are still clinging to the principles of appearance based on the 1800s era (I would've been one HOT babe back then). So anyway, making like a fish is on the agenda for the summer.

3. A CLEAN HOUSE -- several posts back I asked for advice about cleaning supplies and a bunch of you gave me some FANTASTIC ideas! I still haven't committed to a set regime of cleaning products, but I'm trying some things out.
Here's the span of my investments thus far: this AMAZING microfiber duster from BBB. It's got little finger looking things that sweep up and lock onto the dust. It comes in cool colors: blue, lime green, and pink, which makes me WANT to dust. The coolest part is that the microfiber fingers part comes right off the handle and you THROW IT IN THE WASHING MACHINE when it gets dusty, and then start all over again! I just think that's cool. I've always hated dusting, but I actually don't mind anymore - wow, that's heavy stuff. I'm also trying the new green works by Clorox, made from all natural ingredients that's better for the environment. What I really like about this product is that it's for multiple surfaces and can be used in both the kitchen and bathroom. In general, I'm trying to be more environment friendly, from the foods and packaging I purchase, to the cleaning products I use. I'm also trying to simplify and cut back on the number of products I use. I'll let you know how it works. I also plan on investing in a Swiffer vacuum - was that your suggestion, Lori? I haven't actually gotten or used it yet, but I have high hopes and expectations, and I believe it will deliver. I'll let you know on this one as well.
The truth is, house cleaning is a lot like exercising for me. I really can't stand it while I'm doing it, but it makes me feel SO good and productive and healthy afterwards, it's totally worth it (of course, I still don't do either one NEARLY as often as I should).

That's it for Friday Favorites. Here are some future posts coming up:

1. Video of Bennett reading (I know I've been promising this for FOREVER - it's downloaded to my computer and I've actually tried posting it 3-4 times, but it never uploads all the way. I think the file is too big. Does anyone know how to make it smaller or how I can post it anyway?)

2. Kudos to Mormons (I will definitely explain this one more fully) is planned for this Wed.

3. Recent pics of my little tow-headed buddy.

4. Observation about Oprah (yes, Oprah again)

5. A picture of me lounging on my new couch, as requested, so you can REALLY picture it, instead of settling for the creepy, over-excited blond in the previous post :)

Peace out.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday Favorites

If you are a "poop story" friend, make sure you scroll down to read yesterday's entry (amazing - two blogs in two days!) before you dive into this week's Friday Favorites.

So here they are, with no theme, rhyme, or reason this week. Pretty much the favorites this time around are based on things I've encountered recently.

1. SPACE BAGS -- yes friends, they REALLY work! I'm doing lots of spring cleaning and organizing, including packing up my winter clothes, which I've never actually done before (the packing winter clothes, not the spring cleaning). We've all seen the infomercials about space bags and how you can suck out all the air and pack down your stuff and store it away. Well, I went to BBB and bought a pack for $15 (using a coupon - aren't you proud, Kristen?), which includes two large bags, one jumbo bag, and one travel size bag. The large bags fit 12 sweaters each, which is pretty awesome. The jumbo bag fits TWO comforters and four pillows (or a ton of other stuff that would equal that kind of bulk). So now my closet is roomy and spacious, and I feel like the queen bee of organization. Go, Jennifer!! So anyway, if you've ever wondered if they really work, the answer is yes. You stuff the bag, zip it up, and vacuum out the air with your attachment tube thingy. The sweet thing is, they're reusable, so this was pretty much a one time purchase for storing winter stuff. I love starting something new that declutters and simplifies my life :)

2. HUGE TUBS -- I am providing a picture of this one because I'm not positive I'll do a great job of describing it. I went to Garden Ridge months and months ago when Bennett was starting to get a lot more toys and found these gigantic tubs in all kinds of cool colors and I bought a green one. It has thick white rope handles, and stores pretty much all of Bennett's larger toys, like his bag of blocks, his Little People Noah's Ark, his tool box, stacking cups, piano/xylophone, and tons more. It's SO easy to use to store his stuff because when he's done playing, we just dump it all back in the one big tub (note: I'm about to have to purchase another one for his bedroom). You can also find these tubs at Wal-mart, but I think they only come in dark blue (which is the picture I'm including here). I don't know if Garden Ridge still carries them, but it's a pretty basic storage item (I paid $6 for mine) and is totally worth looking into.
**just kidding, can't find the tubs online, so I'll have to take a picture of my own and post it on this blog later.

3. NEW FURNITURE -- Seriously, is there anything cooler than getting new furniture??
Because Michael did something amazing for me. He bought new couches for our house, something I'd been wanting since we moved to Texas almost 4 years ago. This was totally amazing and unexpected. We're also buying a new area rug (once we pick one out). Now, we don't make a lot of big purchases. We use things until they totally wear out, but our living room was in need of an overhaul. We were still using my parents' 15 year old couches that were pretty rough. I have to admit it's totally awesome changing up the main room of our house and making it feel so nice. So even though I wouldn't consider myself to be materialistic, I confess it is super nice to get new things (especially big new things) from time to time. I've also included a picture of what our new couches look like (don't be fooled - that's not me lounging, and that's not our actual living room). They were bought at Ashley Furniture and they rock. I'm looking at a super-fly rug from, but it makes me nervous since I can't feel it and see it in person first, so we'll see.

P.S. Thanks to all of you sweet, supportive people who cheered me up and made me feel less slumpish last week. I'm feeling more like my old self again, which I consider to be a good thing :) A special shout out to Haley, who actually took over my Friday Favorites for herself last week to help me avoid possible retribution from my readers. I'm so glad God invented friends.

P.S.S. I know I've been AWFUL at kicking off "Kudos to You." I think it will help to bump it back to Wednesdays instead of Tuesdays. I'll try to remember to actually do it this week.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

For my poop story friends...

Okay, so my mom keeps my little buddy two days a week while I teach, and today she had a super funny story. It's actually the first funny story about Bennett that seemed blog-worthy (rather than just mom sappyness or ridiculousness).

First, allow me to say that Bennett cannot STAND getting his diaper changed. He hates staying still for longer than 2 seconds, so lying on the floor on his back while someone changes him is something akin to torture. I often resort to pinning him down under my leg to hold him down long enough to wrap a new diaper around him so we can avoid a naked wonder running around the house :)

That being said, today my mom was attempting to change his diaper, clearly not making use of the leg-pinning method. She managed to get his diaper off and get him all cleaned up, but he escaped and ran out of the room (yes, ran) and down the hall as she was getting a new diaper and disposing of the old one. No big deal and no need to fear an accident because she'd just gotten rid of a really wet diaper, right? less than a minute passes while she's straightening up when she hears little whimpers and distressed noises coming from the kitchen. My mom heads in there and sees a dark blob on the floor. She has no idea what it is, but as she moves in closer, she realizes it's a perfect little turd. My son is clearly a super-human speed pooper. Fantastic.

As my mom is telling this part, I'm actually thinking, Sweet! Bennett was upset because he pottied on the floor! (thinking this because I've heard this is a good motivator for potty-training and a good sign that the kid cares enough to try not to do it -- not planning on beginnging that little adventure for another year at least, but still seemed like a good sign to me)...But alas, she finishes the story by saying she realized that my precious, adorable son had pooped on the floor, and then proceeded to step in it. OH MY GROSS. (and a bit disappointing/alarming for the foreshadowing of future endeavors of potty training, since it seemed clear that the act of pooping on the floor was not distressing to him at all - only his stepping in it...lovely).

Needless to say, my potty-training aspirations for the future were taken down a notch today, my little Benito received more than one bath, and the leg-pinning maneuver has been firmly reinstated.

So there's my poop story contribution, to all of you out there whom I know from experience enjoy them quite a bit (you know who you are :) ), and I fully expect you to blog stalk rather than comment, because otherwise you might give yourselves away. It's okay, I won't be offended :)