Friday, June 27, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
$4 for a gallon of milk.
Over $4 for a gallon of gasoline.
A loaf of bread has doubled in price from a year ago.
Iowa, our country's No. 1 state for corn production, has lost 2 million acres of soybeans and 1. 3 million acres of corn due to the recent floods. Sixteen percent of the state's tillable farmland is underwater.
Clearly, things are going to get worse, before they get better.
And while our family has felt a slight squeeze on the pocket book, we're still more than getting by.
That's not the case for other people around the world.
We're in the midst of a Global Food Crisis.
The increased price of food has left many people starving. Other people rioting.
People who are surviving on $1 a day (that's about half of the world's population, by the way) are being forced to spend nearly 80% of that $1 on food. Imagine spending 80% of your paycheck on groceries. That leaves little for anything else. As food prices continue to rise, more and more people will be affected (some reports have predicted up to 1 billion people).
Compassion International has started a Global Food Crisis Fund to aid those most adversely affected by rising food costs. But, perhaps even more importantly, they have set aside tomorrow, June 25th, as a day of prayer and fasting to honor and pray for victims of this crisis.
Not everyone will be able to offer up funds, but most everyone can offer up a prayer.
Please consider doing what you can to help.
It was years ago, in the beginning of our marriage. My husband was transfered to England for work. It allowed us to do a lot of traveling. We visited nine countries in Europe and Asia within a year.
My pictures from those trips, I'm ashamed to say, probably total about 40. Most were taken by my husband, who feels a snapshot is not worth its salt if it doesn't have a smiling person in it.
Looking back, I could kick myself at the missed photographic opportunities. But, at that point in my life, photography just didn't really appeal to me. I was always forgetting the camera or forgetting to get the film developed. Not to mention, film developing is expensive and, with photographic skills like mine, I could only be guaranteed one or two good shots out of a roll of 36.
But then two random events came together and changed my perspective. First, I had a baby. A subject to photograph! Someone who would look adorable, no matter what kind of picture I snapped. Then, there was the advent of the digital camera, which meant I could take as many pictures as I wanted and only develop the best of them.
So for my birthday six years ago, I got my first point and shoot digital camera. Since then, I've taken hundreds, probably thousands, of pictures. It's been a good little camera, my Canon Powershot. But recently, I discovered that I've reached a point where I need a better camera. One with faster shutter speed (don't I sound like an expert all of a sudden?).
This year for my birthday, I got a Canon Rebel Digital SLR.
It is fancy.
I'm sure if I hit just the right buttons, it would prepare a delicious dinner for me.
Or it would self destruct.
One or the other.
So, I keep the dial safely on the "auto" setting.
But, I do need to get out there and practice with it.
Lori over at Just Pure Lovely is encouraging everyone to pick up their cameras and do just that. Lori's pictures are amazing. This week, she's offering up a few photography tips for us beginners, starting with "take a lot of pictures." The more pictures we snap, the more likely we are to capture that perfect moment on film. On Friday, Lori will post a Mr. Linky so everyone can show off the best photos they took this week.
I'm going to play along. You know, give it a shot.
Or several hundred.
Whatever the case may be.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
I've also just finished reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I've got to tell y'all, I couldn't put it down. If you're at all into Gothic fiction (think Jane Eyre and Rebecca), this one really is a must read. It starts off a little slowly, but picks up quickly and holds you in its grip right to the end. The writing is beautiful and the plot is well thought out. I was so sad to see it end.
But, I needn't be sad for long because my reading pile continues to grow. This week I actually won TWO books! Can you believe it? I never win anything! First, I won a copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil from Domestic Spaz. The book and movie are legendary, and I've read/seen neither. It's been years since I've visited Savannah. This book might be just the inspiration I need.
Then, over at Jo-Lynne's review site, I won a copy of Practically Posh: The Smart Girls' Guide to a Glam Life. It's all about living the high life on a budget. I am going to be fancy, folks! Move over Posh Spice, there's a new sista in town.
The name's "Practically Posh."
You can call me "P.P." for short.
Um, on second thought, maybe not.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I was not born in the South.
Despite the fact I've lived in the South for nearly 10 years, I'm a transplant. A visitor. A Yankee. And, I'll be the first one to admit, when I moved down here there were some things I just didn't get.
The slower pace of life.
Up north, we drink our iced tea unsweet. It's socially acceptable to stir in an occassional sugar packet. But, we generally stop at one.
They don't do that in these here parts.
For the first few years down here, I continued to drink my tea sans the sugar. Then I got pregnant with my daughter and was hit with a horrific case of morning sickness. I'd drag myself to work each morning and spend the first half of it sprawled across my desk praying for mercy. I tried lemon drops. I tried ginger. I tried eating something. I tried eating nothing. The results were always the same: I felt like I was going to die.
One morning a co-worker, who also happened to be an Atlanta native, shared that when she battled morning sickness, she found a nice tall glass of sweet tea always did the trick. After all, in the immortal words of Truvy in Steel Magnolias, sweet tea is "the table wine of the South."
Seeing as how real alcohol was off limits, I peeled myself off the desk and stumbled into the cafeteria. I was desperate. I poured myself a glass.
Amazingly, it worked.
And so began my love affair with sweet tea.
Now before you attack me in the comments -- yes, I drank caffeine while pregnant. I didn't go crazy, but with my first child it was either drink caffeine and join the Land of the Living or skip it and feel like ick. (As a side note, with subsequent pregnancies, I also drank sweet tea/caffeine. Because, I needed to be awake at three o'clock in the afternoon. It was a child safety issue.)
One morning, I recall asking the cafeteria lady if she would mind making the sweet tea a little earlier than usual, as I was feeling particularly green. I
laid sat down at a nearby table and watched as she happily set to brewing the tea. Then she rolled out a cart with the biggest tub of sugar I have ever seen and dumped it all in. There were pounds of it, I tell you.
No wonder I liked it so much.
Now that I'm an official convert, I happily preach the "There is nothing that a big ol' glass of sweet tea can't fix" gospel to anyone who will listen.
Kids wore you out?
Come on in. Pull up a chair and let me get you a nice big glass of sweet tea. You'll be feeling better before you know it.
After all, it isn't called the Table Wine of the South for nothing.
(If you're interested in reading what other people are thankful for, head on over and check out Fussy's new Thursday feature!)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Well, I try to avoid scary moments as much as possible. I'm no thrill seeker (I leave that to my husband), I don't thrive off adrenaline, I tend to avoid making rash decisions. I try always to err on the side of caution (sometimes to a fault). In short, I'm a pretty level-headed gal.
But, at the tender age of 15, when faced with taking the long route or a short cut, I took the short cut and got burned. What happened turned out to be pretty darn scary, indeed.
School had ended for the day. I was waiting around for cheerleading practice to start and found myself a little hungry. A fellow teammate and I decided we would make a quick run to Wendy's, which was across the street from the high school. (Don't you miss the days when a frosty and fries could be considered a guilt-free afternoon snack?)
It was fall and a little on the cool side. I was dressed in an oversized sweater (gotta love those old fashion trends), a pair of black Bermuda shorts and black dress flats. I hadn't brought a coat that day. We walked outside and headed toward the street. It was cold. I hate being cold. As we walked across the parking lot, I noticed that really it was a much more direct route to Wendy's if we skipped the crosswalk and just headed across the street. Because, after all, using the crosswalk would have added an extra 15 minutes to this little trip -- and that would mean an extra 15 minutes of being cold.
Now, the friend I was with, we'll call her Stacy, was also a very level-headed girl. She pointed out that it was a four-lane road, with a turn lane in the middle. Perhaps we ought to use the crosswalk. No, I assured her. I had done this a few times with friends. We'll cross the first two lanes, wait in the turn lane and then cross the other two lanes. Stacy wasn't sure, but after some more gentle peer pressure, she agreed.
So, there we were. At the edge of the road. There was a lot of traffic, but we found an easy opening and crossed the first two lanes with no problem. As we were waiting in the turn lane to cross the second half of the road, a steady stream of cars continued to whizz by. That was when it crossed my young pubescent mind that maybe this wasn't the best idea. I kept looking for an opening to cross and didn't see one. I started to panic. And then -- Halleujah! -- I saw a car put its right turn signal on. It was going to turn in to one of the restaurants before Wendy's. I saw my shot and took it.
Stacy tried to grab my sweater to pull me back. She realized the car wasn't going to turn where I thought it was going to turn. And, after running a few feet, I realized the same thing. I tried to stop, but those darned dress flats...
That's when I slipped.
My legs caught under the front left tire. The car skidded to a stop pushing me down the road in the process. I remember distinctly thinking, "Oh my gosh -- someone please STOP the car." And poor Stacy, the one who wanted to use the crosswalk, had a front row seat so she could watch the whole thing. I still feel horrible about that to this very day.
Everything after that moment is fuzzy -- some of it has been completely erased from my memory (they say that's a coping mechanism). I remember the car coming to a stop. I remember the older woman who was driving the car stepping out and putting her hands to her face. I remember the ambulance arriving. Most of all, I remember the strongest urge I had to just stand up, brush myself off, apologize and walk away. I was going to be late for practice. I remember even telling the paramedic, "I'm fine really. I'm sorry to have caused all this trouble. I'm okay. I'm just going to get up."
And then I saw my legs (remember, I was wearing shorts?). I wasn't going anywhere.
I'll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say, I suffered burns on my shins and knees. My right ankle needed to be skin grafted. The skin had been burned away completely.
The policeman who had arrived on the scene, later told my mom that I was incredibly lucky. The car that hit me was a Cadillac. If I had flipped over a car that big, I probably wouldn't have survived. The fact that the driver had the presence of mind to step on the brakes (thus locking the wheels) prevented the car from rolling over me. Today, you can still see the four inch scar on my ankle, but the others that ran up my legs have faded. Thankfully, I have no lasting problems.
And I consider that nothing short of a miracle.
Part of this meme includes tagging five people to write about their scariest moments. So, I tag:
Kendra at A Superhero, Princess & Monkey
Tracey at Just Another Mommy Blog
Rachel at A Southern Fairytale
Kristen at We are THAT Family
And...if anyone else wants to play along, please do! Just let me know in the comments so I can read your scary story.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I've mentioned before that Sister Honey Bunch helped me find a swimsuit this year. Because of this Fight the Frump post I was able to find the perfect suit for me.
Let me say that again. I actually found a swimsuit that I like. On me.
Finding a bathing suit that actually fits all of my criteria is akin to me winning the lottery. Back in the days of my youth, I wasn't so picky. But, then I went and had three kids.
That changes things.
A lot of things, if you get my drift.
I need a swimsuit that makes "The Girls" look like they haven't nursed three babies. I need tummy coverage. I need a suit that affords me freedom of movement, because very often I'm picking up toys, bending over to pick up children, etc. I can't have things riding up and/or falling down. So, this suit is a winner on all accounts. Here it is in all its glory:
Because it is so hard to find a bathing suit that I feel comfortable in, and because bathing suits cost a small fortune, I'd like this one to last
1. Rinse the swimsuit with tap water after swimming and hand wash with a mild detergent in cold or warm water after every wear. (Just rinsing your suit will not remove all the chlorine and/or salt.)
2. After washing, roll the swimsuit in a towel to absorb extra water. Then lay it flat to air dry indoors. Laying your suit out to dry in the sun with discolor and toughen the fabric. Never wring it out or put it in the dryer. Never.
3. Only store your suit when it is completely dry (storing it slightly damp will affect the color).
4. Skip the hot tub. Chemicals and high water temps will do your suit no favors long term.
5. Take care with tanning oils and sunscreens. Some of them can stain. Others can deteriorate the elastic in your swimsuit. To prevent this, be sure to wash your swimsuit in warm water with a mild detergent.
6. You can machine wash your suit on a gentle cycle after every three or four wears. This will help remove a lot more of the chlorine, sand, salt and sweat than can be removed by hand washing. Just be sure to put your swimsuit in a mesh lingerie bag while laundering.
7. Before storing your swimsuit for next season, wash it in a washing machine as outlined above. Residual chlorine and/or salt can deteriorate the suit over time.
8. Try to always place a towel beneath you if you're going to sit on the side of the pool. Rough surfaces can snag, pull or tear the fabric.
9. Consider buying two suits if you're planning on being in the water frequently, as it will take a bathing suit a good day to completely dry and return to it's original shape after washing.
10. I don't really have a tenth tip. It just seemed weird to only have a list with nine. :)
For more Frump Fighting Tips, head on over to Fussy's Place!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
1 (24-count) package ice cream sandwiches
When they run to the closet and emerge with this picture book, I begin shifting around nervously. I look at my watch. Wow, is it really that late? Wouldn't you rather hear Meet Strawberry Shortcake again? How about Good Night Moon? In my head, I'm begging. I'm pleading. Anything, but that book. You see, I can't get through that book without collapsing into a bawling, emotional mess.
When I first read Love You Forever, I was pregnant with my first. My sister-in-law sent it as an early baby gift. She enclosed no word of warning. No box of tissues. And so, in my hormonal pregnant state, I cheerily sat down and started to read. By the last page, I was so distraught my husband thought something truly terrible had happened.
Love You Forever is the story of a mother who loves her little boy through the many stages of his life. He never grows too old for her to rock him and sing:
I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be.That's touching enough, but here's the real clincher: eventually the mother gets old and the boy does the rocking and singing. Then he drives home and sings to his own baby.
Oh, I'm tearing up right now just thinking of it!
After my initial reading, I
But, by page eight, my voice began trembling.
By page 12, the floodgates had opened. Again.
I'm not the weepy type. I pride myself on never crying during movies. But I am powerless in the presence of this book. And while my summary makes it sound a little cheese ball, I'm telling you, this book can make even a grown man weak in the knees.
Case in point:
A few weeks ago, my husband came into the kitchen after tucking my son into bed.
"Thanks for the warning," he said.
"What are you talking about?"
"The book. You could have warned me about that book. I was crying like a baby."
No futher explanation needed. I knew exactly what book he was referring to.
I was just glad to know that I wasn't the only one.
Monday, June 2, 2008
When it comes to the everyday grind, I'm a task-driven kind of girl. I love a schedule and I love keeping life predictable. I can be perfectionistic at times. I've got control issues. I tend to worry. On the continuum of temperaments, I tend toward the "tightly wound'' end.
I have a very good friend who is my polar opposite. She rarely follows a schedule. She nurses her baby on demand, whenever and wherever. She might be 30 minutes late picking up the kids for carpool because her son didn't feel like finishing his breakfast or brushing his teeth. Her feathers rarely get ruffled. She's a master at "winging it." And while I'm not sure I could ever relax my grip on life to that extent, there's a part of me that would clearly enjoy the peace that comes from easing up a bit.
Enjoying the moment, instead of moving on to the next thing on my to do list is a constant struggle for me. Anna Quinlan says it best:
Summer, with its longer days and relaxed schedule, has encouraged me to ease up a little and experience life with my children as it happens. I'm trying to "be" in the moment just a little more, instead of tirelessly working toward the next meal, the next appointment, the next load of laundry or the next bedtime. I'm taking time to revel in the silliness. To enjoy the sticky kisses. To chase lightning bugs in the backyard.
Because the to do list will always be there tomorrow.
The moments with my kids, unfortunately, won't.