Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Day I Threw it All (well, most...ok, some...FINE! A LITTLE!) Away

Today we engaged in epic, monumental, extreme housecleaning.

It wasn't pretty.

From the tops of the ceiling fans to the baseboards, everything that  had a surface was dusted, vacuumed, wiped, or otherwise decluttered and made almost-new again.

It was such a monumental task because we haven't tackled that kind of deep cleaning in at least a WEEK.

Or truth be told, because I don't think my mom reads my blog, a year or so (hey, she's seen what lurks under my couch....she knows...).

Anyway, in the course of the super clean I decided it was time to tackle the stuff I've saved since the boys started preschool.

There was  A LOT of it.

Now I've got nothing on Hoarders (because I've been in one of those houses and...shudder...shudder...and shudder again...) but I did tend to be a *bit* of a pack rat when it comes to every bit of precious, brilliant work my children have EVER done **snickers at myself**

So I dug in:

It was a bit overwhelming.

And HUGELY fun.

Because I got to take a trip down memory lane and remember the handprints from preschool, the first attempts at writing, their early finger paintings and so much more.

I found the Mother's Day card Curt made me (traced, lol!) in preschool. 

I sifted though meaningless coloring sheets and found Luke's "Disguise the Turkey" project from preschool. He was given a white, photocopied turkey and had to DISGUISE him somehow so the hunters couldn't find him before Thanksgiving.

No, this is NOT turkey roadkill. Luke LOVED (and still loves) cars, so we turned his turkey into a three dimensional race car. The hunters were fooled!

I threw away a TON of stuff.

Trash bag ONE of THREE

But I saved important stuff too. Anything with a handprint, footprint or picture was an automatic keeper. Curt preserved his footprint in plaster at vacation Bible school a few years ago.

He also decorated the envelope for his second grade report card. Don't worry, I saved the report card, too. ;-)

Luke had quite the penchant for drawing, painting and coloring rainbows, although I'm not sure I realized it until I saw them all in one place this afternoon:

Early signs Curt wanted to be a builder!

And of course, his maps!

I liked this one from Luke's first grade year because he loved his class betta fish, Ranger, so much! (RIP, Ranger!)

A lot of the worksheets I'd saved from Luke's first two years in elementary school were more interesting from what he'd drawn on the BACK of the work then the alphabet or math facts on the front.

Finally, after over an hour of sorting and saving (and three trips to the outside trash can). I finished.

And was quite proud of myself for my success. ;-)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Caller Of the Day, July 26, 2011

It MUST be a full moon because the CrAzIeS are coming out of the woodwork!

Case in point, Caller of the Day, July 26 edition.

I hadn't had a crazy Caller of the Day in a LOOOONNNGGG time. I think the last one was a prisoner marriage proposal, always great for a laugh.

So when one of our ad executives transferred a call to me with THE LOOK in her eyes, I knew it was coming.

I just didn't know how good it would be.

The caller, a male, launched right into his plea, without even telling me  his name. He was calling to tell me about THE STORY OF A LIFETIME. I had to write it IMMEDIATELY.

You see, his best friend, a 75-year-old Tylerite, had quite the history.

He was born "deaf and dumb."

His parents gave him away to his grandparents when he was three years old.

When he was four years old, he left his grandparents house and began living in the woods, hunting wild game with his bow and arrow for food.

When he was six years old, a Japanese man, who was walking from California to Mexico to escape internment camps, happened up the child and taught him all there was to know about martial arts.

The little boy never went to school, he was always working.

When he was 8, he got really sick in the woods with a parasite.

An old Indian gave him a warm glass of milk and  he "crapped that parasite right out."

He lived on the border of Texas and Mexico when he was 12 and bought 70 acres of property for $12,000.

He went to doctors who "split is tongue in two" so he could talk. 

He made a good living catching gophers and selling them to a millionaire for $15 to $20 a piece.

After that, he killed golden eagles for their beaks and claws and sold those as well.

When he was 13, a lady named Drusilla pulled up and recruited him to work in Childress on her farm, collecting eggs.

"Then she started having sex with him because her husband died in the war and she was lonely."

He somehow ended up in Tyler (I wasn't quite clear on that part) and "took down" 50 police officers with his martial arts skills (yet, when questioned, the man wasn't running afoul of the law and had no criminal history...)

Oh, and he also wrote country music for Kris Kristofferson and speaks four different languages.

Now who WOULDN'T want to read that story???

Matthew 6:5-12

Matthew 6:5-12
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. "This, then, is how you should pray: "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Adventures in Cooking: Really Quick, Really Easy Weeknight Turkey Wraps

If you're like me, you want something quick and easy on a weeknight, especially a  Monday, when you come home from work exhausted and the kids are clamoring for attention, you have to do laundry, make lunches for the next day and get a meal on the table.

I think I got this recipe from my mom years ago, although I'm not sure it was ever written down, just kind of made up as we went along. Try as I might, my boys won't eat these wraps with the caramelized onions, so I just leave that ingredient off of theirs (even though they impart a silky sweetness that balances out the saltiness of the bacon.) *sigh...I'll keep trying...

This recipe is really easy to adapt to an intimate group or a small crowd. 

Really Quick, Really Easy Weeknight Turkey Wraps

Serves 4

4 10-inch tortillas (if you use whole wheat, they're healthier.)
8 slices bacon (I use turkey bacon, which is sacrilege to bacon purists, but my family  happens to like it)
1 8 ounce container cream cheese with onion, garlic and chives. (You can get fat free and add your own herbs in to your liking)
12 ounces deli turkey or chicken (if you're concerned about nitrates or sodium, buy a white meat breast and have it sliced at the deli counter)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 T extra virgin olive oil

Swirl extra virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the olive oil becomes fragrant, add your thinly sliced onion to the pan and stir to coat. Caramelization takes some time. Do. Not. Rush. It. (says the very impatient Me!) During caramelization, the sugars in the onions break down and become a gorgeous golden brown. There's something about the ratio of glucose to sucrose, but hey, I majored in Journalism and English..."golden brown color" works for me.

This process can take up to 30 minutes (Do. Not. Rush. It) so get ready to baby your onions into a sweet, sticky state.

In the meantime, cook your bacon. I don't care what method you use. Some swear by a cast-iron skillet. Some swear by baking it. I used a combination method this time because I'd never baked bacon. So I baked half the bacon and cooked the other half on the as-seen-on-TV 'Makin' Bacon' contraption for the microwave. As far as turkey bacon goes, there was NO discernible difference between the two. The baked method took about 30 minutes at 350; the Makin' Bacon took 5 minutes in the microwave.

While the onions are caramelizing and bacon cooking, soften your cream cheese (and be on the lookout for the definitive cream cheese cookbook I plan to write someday!).

Spread it thinly across the entire tortilla.

Top with 3 ounces turkey, also covering the whole tortilla. Place about 1/4 cup caramelized onion (you can do this step, along with cooking the bacon, well in advance so it's cooled) down the center of the turkey, top with two strips bacon.

Roll up, cut in  half, serve! Yum!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Favorite Verse Lately

1 Corinthians 13:7

New Living Translation (NLT)
7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Where Did the Baby Go?

A friend commented today on a picture in a Facebook album from 2008 so I clicked on the picture and embarked on a journey down memory lane.

How QUICKLY our kids grow up! It just seems like yesterday that they were babies...or toddlers...and it seems like suddenly they're growing faster and faster and faster.

I loved looking at all the pics and I wanted to share a few here (didn't like seeing how much thinner I was then...sigh...)

All of these are from 2008, which seems like just a blink of an eye ago...

Christmas 2008...picking out a Christmas tree in Tyler with Daddy although the boys and I had to drive back to Sour Lake right after that.

Curt and his AWESOME kindergarten teacher.

Lukers in the backyard of our Sour Lake house.

Luke at his preschool Art Show.

Me (with really bad roots) and Luke at his preschool field day.

Curt and Luke at Luke's Art Show.

Finding a friend in the backyard at "307."

Halloween 2008. Ms Julie's class!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Every Once In Awhile...

...I have a moment when I realize I'm not parenting all that badly.

Today, I really needed that reminder.

We were at the pool. And at the pool, Curt can be...well, let's just say...a beast. He generally spends the time crying, sulking, harassing Luke or fussing at me.

Today was no different.

Then, when a friend pointed out to me that Curt having a bad self image might be a direct reflection on my example to him, I FELT EVEN WORSE.

Then, Luke was going off the sliding board, with his "best friend" Michael. Luke spotted what he thought was a dollar bill at the bottom of the deep end, the 14 feet. He asked "Mr. Michael" to go down and get it for him. Michael did, but didn't come up with a dollar bill.

He emerged from the depths of the deep end with a $100 dollar bill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They immediately brought it up to the pool owner, who was manning the snack bar at the time. She looked a little taken aback that a little boy (and a big boy) were turning in $100.

She asked Luke if he'd like a piece of free candy for his honesty.

His first response was "Can I have a piece for my brother, too."

My heart melted.


Aside from the fact that he demonstrated wholehearted honesty, he thought about his brother, too.

Even though I'd been feeling like a big, huge, fat (or was that "buoyant"???) parenting fail up until then, I felt pure joy at that moment at the knowledge I've been doing *something* right.

Let Sleeping Boys Lie

This is usually what I see when I come out of the bathroom after getting ready each morning.

Two little angels snuggled in my bed.

Sometimes they don't hear my alarm go off, their signal to abandon their own beds and burrow into the warmth of mine.

So I'll go gently wake them after I get dressed, and leave them the remaining time it takes me to get ready to sleep in Mommy's bed.

Luke usually comes in fully dressed for the day. Curt has to be pried out of bed to get ready to go to day camp.

They both fall back soundly asleep when their little angel heads hit my pillows.

I kiss them goodbye before I leave. They're usually awake by that time.

But on this particular day, they were both snoring.

I decided to let sleeping boys lie.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Adventures in Cooking: THE PROJECT

Today it begins.

The brainchild of two uber-creative and symbiotic people who love to cook. And love to design. (and EAT!)

I can't wait.

The project we've talked about for months on end.

Starts today. Watch for updates.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sometimes God Works In Not-So-Mysterious-Ways

We've all  heard that "God works in mysterious ways."

But sometimes He works in the kind of way that hits you over the head with a 2x4.

I got WHACKED recently. In the head with that 2x4.

An acquaintance of mine, a woman whom I'd met on the playground of Rice Elementary while we were waiting to pick up our children every afternoon, suggested a story idea to me for IN Magazine.

She told me about this new place in East Texas, a refuge for girls who are SURVIVORS of sex trafficking.

Hmmmmm....I thought...Isn't that a problem in places like Thailand? Or Cambodia? Or Brazil?

No, it's not.

Did you know that Atlanta, yes, the one in Georgia, is the world's No. 1 destination for sex trafficking?

Nope, me either.

And I didn't even know that until yesterday.

But several months ago, I assigned a GREAT writer to a story on the Refuge of Light organization, a long-term safe home for girls who have survived sex trafficking. These are girls who haven't been imported from Asia, or the former Eastern Block countries; these are girls who have been captured into sex slavery right in our own backyard.

Guess where the No. 2  sex trafficking in the US is?

Yep, Houston.

I'm not sure how God was working here.

As the editor of IN Magazine, I promote AMAZING community causes in EVERY issue.







But if I were to volunteer with each organization I'm so enthralled with, I'd need at least 17,893 hours in the week to give everyone my best effort.

When that AWESOME writer, Cathy Primer Krafve, turned in her story, I was intrigued.

There's a certain journalistic distance from the things we write about.

But not this one.

Something was needling me.


And so I was on my way to Newk's, to have lunch with a girlfriend, and I had the OVERWHELMING NEED to message MISSY ZIVNEY, the assistant director of Refuge of Light, and tell her I'd like to do MORE.

She readily accepted anything my skill set and talents could contribute.

Then, that week, I had lunch with one of my dearest friends (even though I thought she hated me for about a year). Leslie Sanford had just returned from the CATALYST conference in Dallas. 

The two major issues that the church outreach discussed were sex trafficking and clean water initiatives.


Leslie and I had lunch at Wasabi, our favorite place. She told me all about Catalyst, and it touched my heart.

Leslie, I said,  did you know we have local initiatives in  both of those areas?

Leslie, the volunteer coordinator for WIRED, a singles ministry of GREEN ACRES BAPTIST CHURCH, did not.

So I filled her in.

And all  her volunteers are on board.

And YESTERDAY we had a meeting for Refuge of Light. Missy reports that 5 people were at the first meeting. I'd estimate almost 20 were at yesterday's meeting. So many of us came to Missy in unusual ways.

Rock on.

Sex trafficking and the exploitation of children isn't only a third world issue. It's right here.

So I'm giving my time and talent to Refuge of Light.

And so should you.

Friday, July 15, 2011


A few of my favorite things today.

1. Sushi.

2. Miniature gardenias

3. Swimming at Apple pool

3. Magazines and magazine design

5. Summertime!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I really think that Heaven is a beach.

Because where else is there complete happiness and serenity? For me, at least.

Last weekend my BFF, Silvia, and I went down to Crystal Beach, across the bay from Galveston, for the day.


May I repeat:


Don't get me wrong: I love my kids more than life itself and we have a blast at the beach together.

But when Silvia looked over at me and said, "I don't think I've been to the beach without kids since...." and her voice faded...because she couldn't remember, I started to try to remember the last time I'd been to the beach alone (ie, without kids). I couldn't remember either. So with 15 years or more since her last solo beach experience and at least 15 since mine, we set out to enjoy the day to its fullest.

We spread out the towels, set up the chairs,

and the umbrella (which blew away moments later) and sat.

Just sat.

And talked.

And sat enjoying the waves, the cerulean blue sky, the beautiful dives of the pelicans as they fished and, of course, each other.

We talked and talked.

Then we floated. Lazed along, carried by the currents, in total relaxation. My float kept losing air. I wonder what it was trying to tell me??

We people-watched. The beach is one of the BEST places for people watching.

This guy kept us entertained for quite some time. After crusing the beach probably a dozen times with his Mexican and Playboy Bunny flags flying, bass thumping, he got stuck in the sand. Oops. It took three big men to finally get him out.

We ate ICE COLD watermelon that Silvia had sliced and packed in a cooler full of ice.

I enjoyed the way the sand gets all ripply right where the waves wash in.

(Darn, this is NOT a good picture of the beautiful patterns in the sand!)

I also love the shells. I've always wanted to find a shark's tooth. I never have.

I also love watching Crystal Beach being rebuilt after Hurricane Ike decimated the coastal town in 2009.

The first time I visited after the storm, the beachfront was a barren wasteland. Now there are houses and businesses springing back up!

I loved it all that day, but the VERY best part was spending time with one of the BEST friends a girl could ask for.