Saturday, January 31, 2009

Shamelessly Stealing.

Okay, so I am totally stealing this post from Renee. Just a few days ago, she posted some of her favorite postcards from Post Secret. Here are a few of my favorites. Some of them I relate to, some I just appreciate the sentiment. Either way, they touched my heart.

I can't find a version of this one that's postable, but here's a link. I will never forget waking up one Sunday morning, checking Post Secret, and seeing this post card--I know the person in the picture. He was murdered just a few years ago. It's just so tragic, and such a small world.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Swing and a Miss

So, we actually got our tax return today! YAY! We wanted to get the floors ASAP, but my dad told us that the Costco coupon said that the laminate floors are $8 off a box starting Feb 9. Since we need 18-20 boxes, I think we'll wait. Although, I'm chomping at the bit so much that it's almost worth it just to eat the $150 or so we'd save. Must. Be. Patient.

We DID plan to get the matching loveseat for our couch tonight. However, since we don't have a truck, we proposed to Ryan and Renee that we'd treat them to dinner if after dinner we could borrow Ryan's truck and Ryan's muscles. I'm sure they would have helped even if we hadn't treated to dinner, but we actually have money for once, and it's nice to be able to say thanks. Plus, it was just fun. While at dinner, we ran into Kait's parents! What a small world!

After dinner, Ryan and Justin went to pick up the loveseat. After about an hour, they got home, and Justin realizes that the leather conditioning and cleaning kit wasn't in the package. He calls the store to let them know, while Ryan continues to open the package....only to discover that we have the wrong color loveseat. See, it comes in a light-redish brown (called "Brown") and a dark brown with a red undertone called "Burgandy". Apparently, when the guy was showing them the couches, he got the names of the colors mixed up. So when the boys went to pick up the couch, it was the wrong color. Looks like we'll be taking it back tomorrow. I told Justin that he should ask THEM to come pick up the old one and deliver this one, but hubster was too nice to ask for that. I'm pretty much the one that deals with customer service problems--DECA served me well there.

Anyway....more to come tomorrow.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Never a Victim--Edited

Today at work, I had to listen to the most awful 911 call from an 11 year old girl, who was calling because her mom was being brutally beaten up by her father. I can't even begin to explain how heartbreaking it was to hear this little girl scream like that. Eventually, her dad figured out that she was on the phone with 911, and then came after her, tackled her to the ground, and broke the cell phone. Listening to it, I didn't know whether to cry or throw up. It was terrible. I wish that we could save a copy to play for every parent who says that their children aren't affected by domestic violence in the home. It's always "they were sleeping" or "they were in another room" or "he's never hit me around them." Bottom line--it affects them.

Now, this next subject is going to seem like a big jump from topics, but I'll bring it back around, I promise! Okay, so I LOVE this new season of The Real World. This season is unlike the last few in that it isn't all about drinking, but rather about 8 individuals and the issues that they deal with in life. There's a young veteran from Iraq, a victim of family sex abuse, a transgendered individual, a Mormon who has taken a vow of chastity, etc.

On tonight's episode, one of my favorite individuals, Sarah, starts receiving calls from a person who won't identify himself to her roommates. Eventually, Sarah comes to the phone, and discovers that it's her dad, who was extremely abusive to her growing up, and at one point attempted to sexually abuse her. She hadn't given her father the number to the house, and immediately tells him never to call again. The dad responds in a way that I can only describe as completely asshole-ish. Unfortuantely, I have seen many men respond in EXACTLY the same way that her father does. The father from the 911 call above is one example. They are just completely malicious, in an effort to exert control over their victims again. Sarah wasn't having any of it. At one point, she says "I will NEVER allow him to make me feel like a victim. Because if I become a victim, he wins." She then went on to research organizations that she could help with doing art therapy with victims of abuse.

First and foremost, I was just absolutely DISGUSTED by her father, who was so intentionally malicious. I have an extremely hard time knowing that there are people in this world who operate in that way--who are INENTIONALLY malicious to those around them. But there are. I can only save my own sanity by thinking that those people just must be either evil incarnate and/or extremely mentally ill. But enough about Sarah's father--she's the person that I really want to talk about because I think that the way that she handled the whole situation was just so strong, classy, graceful, and inspiring...even though it was clearly something extremely painful for her. I'm sure that there are COUNTLESS young women who have already been inspired by her after this last episode.

(Watch it here)

Edit--Lisa shot me an email to discuss further, but I wanted to bring up something that she brought up in the email, because I think it may be something that you faithful readers may be thinking as well...

Lisa said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "I think I want her to forgive her father...I want her to be the bigger person."

I agree that I would ultimately like Sarah to forgive her father, but I think that forgiveness doesn't mean that Sarah has to let him back into her life as Chet seemed to suggest in the car. I believe that you can forgive someone, while also making the decision to not have them be a future part of your life. I think that it might be really empowering for Sarah to be able to say to her father, "I am not a victim. I have forgiven you in my heart, but I have chosen that you are not a person that I want in my life."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


They played the oddest game in high school football history last month down in Grapevine, Texas.

It was Grapevine Faith vs. Gainesville State School and everything about it was upside down. For instance, when Gainesville came out to take the field, the Faith fans made a 40-yard spirit line for them to run through.

Did you hear that? The other team's fans?

They even made a banner for players to crash through at the end. It said, "Go Tornadoes!" Which is also weird, because Faith is the Lions.

It was rivers running uphill and cats petting dogs. More than 200 Faith fans sat on the Gainesville side and kept cheering the Gainesville players on—by name.

"I never in my life thought I'd hear people cheering for us to hit their kids," recalls Gainesville's QB and middle linebacker, Isaiah. "I wouldn't expect another parent to tell somebody to hit their kids. But they wanted us to!"

And even though Faith walloped them 33-14, the Gainesville kids were so happy that after the game they gave head coach Mark Williams a sideline squirt-bottle shower like he'd just won state. Gotta be the first Gatorade bath in history for an 0-9 coach.

But then you saw the 12 uniformed officers escorting the 14 Gainesville players off the field and two and two started to make four. They lined the players up in groups of five—handcuffs ready in their back pockets—and marched them to the team bus. That's because Gainesville is a maximum-security correctional facility 75 miles north of Dallas. Every game it plays is on the road.

This all started when Faith's head coach, Kris Hogan, wanted to do something kind for the Gainesville team. Faith had never played Gainesville, but he already knew the score. After all, Faith was 7-2 going into the game, Gainesville 0-8 with 2 TDs all year. Faith has 70 kids, 11 coaches, the latest equipment and involved parents. Gainesville has a lot of kids with convictions for drugs, assault and robbery—many of whose families had disowned them—wearing seven-year-old shoulder pads and ancient helmets.

So Hogan had this idea. What if half of our fans—for one night only—cheered for the other team? He sent out an email asking the Faithful to do just that. "Here's the message I want you to send:" Hogan wrote. "You are just as valuable as any other person on planet Earth."

Some people were naturally confused. One Faith player walked into Hogan's office and asked, "Coach, why are we doing this?"

And Hogan said, "Imagine if you didn't have a home life. Imagine if everybody had pretty much given up on you. Now imagine what it would mean for hundreds of people to suddenly believe in you."

Next thing you know, the Gainesville Tornadoes were turning around on their bench to see something they never had before. Hundreds of fans. And actual cheerleaders!

"I thought maybe they were confused," said Alex, a Gainesville lineman (only first names are released by the prison). "They started yelling 'DEE-fense!' when their team had the ball. I said, 'What? Why they cheerin' for us?'"

It was a strange experience for boys who most people cross the street to avoid. "We can tell people are a little afraid of us when we come to the games," says Gerald, a lineman who will wind up doing more than three years. "You can see it in their eyes. They're lookin' at us like we're criminals. But these people, they were yellin' for us! By our names!"

Maybe it figures that Gainesville played better than it had all season, scoring the game's last two touchdowns. Of course, this might be because Hogan put his third-string nose guard at safety and his third-string cornerback at defensive end. Still.

After the game, both teams gathered in the middle of the field to pray and that's when Isaiah surprised everybody by asking to lead. "We had no idea what the kid was going to say," remembers Coach Hogan. But Isaiah said this: "Lord, I don't know how this happened, so I don't know how to say thank You, but I never would've known there was so many people in the world that cared about us."

And it was a good thing everybody's heads were bowed because they might've seen Hogan wiping away tears.

As the Tornadoes walked back to their bus under guard, they each were handed a bag for the ride home—a burger, some fries, a soda, some candy, a Bible and an encouraging letter from a Faith player.

The Gainesville coach saw Hogan, grabbed him hard by the shoulders and said, "You'll never know what your people did for these kids tonight. You'll never, ever know."

And as the bus pulled away, all the Gainesville players crammed to one side and pressed their hands to the window, staring at these people they'd never met before, watching their waves and smiles disappearing into the night.

Anyway, with the economy six feet under and Christmas running on about three and a half reindeer, it's nice to know that one of the best presents you can give is still absolutely free.


Article from Life of Reilly. I heard on the radio this morning that the coach will be honored by the NFL commissioner, and has been invited to the Superbowl. The coach's response? "I hate it that this thing we did is so rare."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What's My Purpose?

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.

Lately, people have been asking us when we're planning on having kids. We both know that we want them, and a BIG part of me wants to say to heck with it all and start trying now. We've both been praying about it, but to be honest, I'm not sure that I'm feeling led either way.

When I'm faced with a big decision, I DO pray about them, but sometimes I struggle with knowing where to go from there. I don't often feel like I "hear" what God is calling me to do, which is frustrating to me. Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only Christian that doesn't often hear God speaking to them. Sometimes it feels like it.

But then again, as a friend once pointed out to me, God isn't going to buy a billboard that says "MEREDITH, take this job and not that one" or "MEREDITH--now is the time to start having kids!". But in a lot of ways, that's what I want. People have told me that ideas that pop into our heads out of nowhere is actually God speaking to us. Or it's just that "gut feeling" we have and can't necessarily explain.

But what about when the things that I want and the things that God wants are different? Could I really be sure that my "gut feeling" is what God wants and not simply what I want? Could I trust myself to listen to my gut and not find ways to push it aside? It would be so much easier to have a big, clear billboard!

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Few Photos and a Few Randoms

1. Both times I have done serious photo shoots I try to pick out my favorites, edit those, but then also give the person a CD of ALL the shots that I took, even if they're total outtakes. One of the most interesting things (to me) about taking pictures is comparing different people's favorites. Often times, the pictures that aren't MY favorites because the lighting isn't just right, or the focus is just a little off, end up being OTHER people's favorites. I guess for the most part, it isn't necessarily about capturing the perfect picture, but about capturing life. Anyway, here are a couple of pictures that I didn't post before that are some of Renee's favorites (and I love both of these shots too). Check out her blog to see the others she liked (ps- for some reason I can only view her blog in IE and not Mozilla, so if you can't see anything, switch browsers!).

2. After a terribly failed attempt at Smothered Chicken the other night, I decided to make it again last night. Success! Justin ate almost four chicken breasts all by himself, and then started making toast so that he could continue eating the sauce. It's easy peasy--grease a small pan, and lay about 4 chicken breasts in it. In a separate bowl, combine 3/4 Cup BBQ sauce and 3/4 Cup Ranch dressing (I use Fat Free Ranch). Pour sauce over the chicken. Top with a few onions or chives if you want. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Remove, and cut into a piece to make sure there's no pink. Then, add a cup or so of grated cheddar and some bacon pieces to the top and pop back in for another 5 minutes or so. Delish!

3. I have to say that I felt like a stud yesterday. My MOTHER actually called ME for cooking advice. She wanted to make my pulled pork recipe because she loved it, and had questions. She called right after Justin had been flipping out about how good the above recipe was, so it was a MAJOR boost to the cooking ego, which was nice. Justin usually just inhales food and doesn't often make too many comments about whether or not he actually likes it, so it was nice to hear that I make at least TWO dishes well.

4. I have been so good about going to the gym at least three days a week. I don't know that I've actually lost any weight, but I am starting to feel a little better and I might be getting a little more toned. I don't look in the mirror and want to throw up as much. However, Justin and I are both off today, and I think that if I have to do another 35 minutes on a bike, I might scream. So, we might climb the mountain with Renee and her kids today if the weather holds out. Last time I climbed the mountain, it was a NIGHTMARE. See, I'm allergic to almost everything on the mountain, and was having some serious trouble breathing. J and his brother were racing to the top, so it felt like no one was waiting for me and they all just thought I was out of shape. At that time, I was spinning almost every day, so I WAS in shape, I just couldn't breathe. Now that I've been on allergy shots for almost 9 months, I want to try again. And we can't race to the top anyway because of my knee and the kids. Which is really nice! J also wants to take the camera and see if we can get some nice shots.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Song

Today's Sunday song is brought to you by You Tube Phenomenon Marie Digby. I really enjoy a lot of her music, and often like her covers of songs better than the original versions. Not only is the girl gorgeous, but she plays guitar and piano, and often writes her own songs as well.

Today's song is called "Unfold". Although it isn't my favorite one of her songs musically, I can really relate to the lyrics. Ms. Digby says about the song, "This is a song I wrote recently called 'Unfold'.. it's probably the most personal song i've ever written . it came out of my frustration at my tendency to shut people out. Especially in love, i found myself always finding reasons to back away and i couldn't figure out why. This song is literally, my thinking process in trying to understand how i became this person and if i have the power to change it."

The chorus goes:

cause I don't wanna go on living
being so afraid of showing
someone else my.. imperfections
even though my feet are trembling
and every word I say comes stumbling
I will bare it all.. watch me unfold

Saturday, January 24, 2009

R & R- Family Pictures

Today, I had the great opportunity to do some family pictures for Ryan and Renee. After our 65 degree day yesterday, I was hoping for some sunny weather, but unfortunately it just rained, which sent us inside. Shooting inside is always a little tricky, especially with the lighting at our house. I do have one of those pop up circles that's supposed to help with lighting, but J ended up having to work today, so I didn't have anyone to hold it. So, anyway...shooting inside is definitely really difficult for me, but I think I got at least a few good ones!

We also did a whole series of intimate-type pictures. They turned out GREAT--very Calvin Klein Jeans Ad ish, but I'm not sure whether or not Renee would be comfortable with me posting them on the blog...even if they are ART. Anyway...these are some of MY'll have to keep an eye out on Renee's blog over the next few days, and maybe she'll post some of HER faves.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'm an ass.

A Smart Ass, that is. You see, mi hermana purchased this little lovely for my dad for Christmas. We've played it several times, and it really was hilarious. Basically, a person starts reading off clues from a card to help identify a person, place, or thing. The first person to blurt out the answer (you only have one try) wins the round. Most hilarious of all are the answers that some people end up blurting out....

Dad: Michelangelo famously painted this ceiling....
Justin: The Sixteenth Chapel!
Everyone: WHAT?!
Justin: Duh, it's the sixteenth chapel!

Sistine Chapel anyone?
Uncle: This colorfully named country in Europe is known for being extremely cold.

I believe this was Greenland.
Me: After the Wizard of Oz, this actress quickly went downhill
Justin: Dorothy!

Who is Judy Garland.
Grandma: This famous "sir" was known for a speech about never giving in.
Mom: William Churchill!

Winston works too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


1. I made Smothered Chicken last night off of a recipe on I was a little suspicious of the ingredients (who combines Ranch Dressing and Teriyaki?), but due to the hundreds of RAVE reviews, I made it anyway. It was terrible. Way, way, way too salty, even for Justin, which is a feat in and of itself. One reviewer suggested combining Ranch and BBQ sauce instead...I think that sounds MUCH better. Maybe I'll have to try it sometime.

2. Speaking of Teriyaki, I really want to go to this local Japanese restaurant where they cook the cook in front of you. They also have this FANTASTIC Teriyaki chicken, and even more important, Fujiyama Punch, which is this frozen drink with raspberries and rum, which is to die for. Maybe I can convince Justin to take me there on Friday night.

3. I really need to clean the house. Mondays are usually devoted to the purpose, but I wasn't able to clean on Monday since I was stuck at work for half of my day off, and then out with my MIL for the second half.

4. I better get with the house cleaning since I'm doing family pictures for Ryan and Renee on Saturday. I'm incredibly excited, but also a little bit nervous! I'm also hoping that my camera functions properly--I've been getting this "Flash Busy" error message lately. Googling hasn't yielded too many results. Anyone have an idea what that's about?

5. For the last three or four months, I've been sleeping like shit. I'd wake up 9 or 10 times during the night. One of the nights, I noticed that the bedroom seemed really bright, and figured out that it was from the glow of our cell phones (which we use as our alarm clocks). Two nights ago, I flipped my phone over so that the glow faces the nightstand. I've been sleeping like a baby ever since. I hope it continues!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The truth.

Sweet Leah over at marital-bless tagged me with the "Honest Scrap" award. Here's the rules:

The rules are as follows:

1) Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.

2) Show the 7 winners names and links on your blog, and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with "Honest Scrap." Well, there's no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.

3) List at least 10 honest things about yourself.

Well first of all, I breaking rules 1 and 2--I'm not even sure that I have 7 people that (a) read my blog regularly and (b) haven't already been tagged by Leah. I will tag 5 or so. Kait, Renee, Ethan, Chelsie, Lori....that means you people. Really though, if you're reading this you should consider yourselves tagged, because I'd like to hear from all of you!

Okay. Here we go.

1. I absolutely, completely love BBQ sauce. I put it on pretty much everything, including turkey at Thanksgiving. I have seriously contemplated keeping a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's (the sauce is the boss, people) in my purse so that I'll have access at all times.

2. I sometimes post on a message board about decorating and renovating, and while the girls are usually great, sometimes I get frustrated with the emphasis on having things that are in "style" rather than things that the girls love for their space. Just today, I posted about a shag-type rug that I'm thinking about getting as the big area for the living room--I was looking for feedback about how well they hold up. One of the girls responded "Do you want me to tell you they've fallen out of style before you spend your money? Sorry." My response? "Honestly, I don't really care whether or not it's "in style". My goal is not to have a house that's "in style", but rather, a house that's full of things that my husband and I love and feel comfortable in." Drives. Me. Nuts.

3. I still hate getting up at 5:30am to go to the gym. I'm pretty sure it will NEVER get easier as so many people have promised. I just love sleeping much more than I love getting up while it's still dark and cold outside.

4. In high school, I was EXTREMELY politically active. I campaigned, participated in protests, etc. I was extremely well informed and educated about the issues. However, I was also stressed out about politics all the time. Since we've been married, we haven't had any cable at all (not even the basic channels). We haven't had a paper delivered, and I have to say that I'm sort of enjoying not being bombarded with so many things to worry about. Sure, I wish that I were better informed, but a little bit of ignorance really IS bliss.

5. Sometimes I get frustrated by the fact that we don't really have many friends our age. And the friends we do have either don't live here anymore or will be moving away. The hope of meeting other couples our age has motivated me to go to the Bible Study that we've been going to more than anything else.

6. For a brief period of time in high school, I was a cutter. Most of my family and friends have no idea. I was able to pull myself out of it fairly quickly, but when things get stressful, I still sometimes have the urge. Reading the stories on To Write Love On Her Arms helps.

7. I really think that I probably need a new glasses prescription. However, I'd rather go blind than go to the eye doctor again. That's how bad my eye phobia is.

8. I've only been drunk enough to pass out once in my life, and there were mitigating factors involved.

9. It's nice to finally have a last name that people can spell.

10. My grandmother was the youngest nurse in World War 2. She wasn't even 18, and so she had to get special permission from the governor to go sign up. Initially, she was denied because she had a cleft lip, and the hurt men 'deserved something pretty to look at'. At the time, they didn't really do plastic surgery, but a local podiatrist offered to try to fix her cleft lip. She agreed, and he did a fantastic job. And so did she--she went on to head surgery at the hospital for years and years. She recently told me that she wishes she would have taken the GI Bill and actually gone to school for nursing or to become a doctor. She and I never got along when I was growing up, but now that I know a bit more about her history, I have a lot of respect for her.

Monday, January 19, 2009

This time with pictures...

Okay, so first of all, forgive the terrible paintshop rendering of our future layout and the picture quality--these were taken with our old digital, and you can REALLY tell the difference! Now that that's settled, here's what we're thinking for the living room.

Here's what we've got going now. This is the wall with the three bookshelves and the garage door in the above picture. This wall is what you see immediately on walking in. Currently, the layout is nice and open, but almost TOO open. There's no itimacy, and really no seating. We'll be moving the couch to the wall with the window. If we move the bookshelves to this wall, we'd raise the left-most floating shelf, and then put a flat screen TV on top. We could also leave the bookshelves and find something else to put the flat screen TV on.
This wall has already changed since we took the picture. We've moved the bookshelves to make them more centered, eliminated the top picture, raised the bottom picture and added a large silver mirror on each side of the picture.

If we went with the above plan, this wall would basically be empty. Justin would DIE if I let him put the buffet that matches the hutch-I-hate here. But I don't know that I can stand it. I would be way too many wooden things in the living room.
In this picture you can see the stupid half wall that is unfortuantely home to a TON of electric work or I would have sledgehammered it already. In terms of this picture, the window is immediately to the left. So our couch would be in front of the window, and the loveseat would butt up against the half wall. It drives me nuts that it would extend past the wall, but what can you do?
I'm still a little worried about going really dark for the wood flooring because our furniture is already so dark. But I think my mom is right--if we had a lighter area rug under the couches, it would probably be all good!

Things to come...

Well,I've got to say that we've come a long way baby in terms of our house. It's finally starting to come together, even if our garage IS still filled with junk (and there's actually a reason for that, believe it or not). However, we also can't help but think about the exciting things that are to come, due to the First Time Homebuyer Tax credit. In terms of the house, there are several major things that need to be done:

1. New flooring in the living room and bedrooms.
2. All new landscaping outside.
3. Overhang built off of the back patio.

While the last two are certainly important, I feel like it's most important to me to have our living space taken care of before we start working on the outside. So, I think that in terms of the refund, the portion that we've allocated towards the house shall go to that.

First, a quick breakdown of what we're planning to do with our refund, which looks like it will total about $8500.
  • $3000- Directly to savings. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Our savings took a serious hit when we purchased the house and then the camera, and I really feel like we need to beef it up a bit in this economy. Dave Ramsay advocates to have a $1000 emergency fund and then start snowballing debt. However, $3000 is more than two months' mortgage payment, which I feel more comfortable with. Ideally, I'd like to have six months worth of mortgage payments (or more), but I think this is a good start. I should also mention that a portion of this will include paying off our fridge, which is on a no payment no interest for a year plan, so I'd rather be gaining interest on that money, rather than pay it off early, thank you very much.
  • $1500- Debt reduction. This will essentially wipe out our credit card debt, which would be FANTASTIC. We have never carried high balances, but I'd like to wipe it out nonetheless.
  • $3500- We had budgeted this money for house renovations, mostly in terms of floors. Happily, after consulting with contractor dad, it's looking like it will cost $800-$1000 to put in new flooring. Justin and I have allocated another $1000 or so towards buying the loveseat portion of our living room furniture, and probably a flat screen TV. We will also need a light colored area rug, as we'll likely be getting darker hardwood and we already have fairly dark furniture, and we'd like to get a double curtain rod for the living room as well. I will also be scouring Craigslist to see if we can find a futon for the spare bedroom.
  • If there's any money left over, I'd like for us each to get $100 or so as fun money. Obviously, this would be icing on the cake, but I also know that when we get any sort of "windfall", it's hard not to want to buy things for yourself. I find that if we give ourselves a budgeted amount, it's easier to stick to it--AND we're not looking back and saying "what in the WORLD happened to all that money?!" (last year's tax return anyone?).
And that's that. Be on the lookout for a post outlining exactly what we plan to do to the living room over the next few days!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Song

Today's song brings back MANY memories of high school. I would be understating things completely if I said that the high school that I went to was a bit of a hippie school. It was a COMPLETE hippie school. And consequently, aside from the actually superb education that I received, I learned all about peace, love, and rock and roll. I can remember MANY a sunny summer day driving down the streets listening to this song. And then, working for a rafting company, this song was again in heavy rotation. I remember burning this song onto a mixed CD for Justin, and not knowing if he'd like it, because it's a bit of an anti-war sentiment. However, Justin just smiled and said, "I can be supportive of our troops while still wishing that we didn't have wars to begin with." My sentiments exactly.

Anyway, I had a hard time finding a good version of this song on You Tube. Apparently, the band now sings it much more quickly than they do on their CD, which doesn't go with the sunny day vibe I'm trying to recall. And although there are about 2000 versions of other people trying to cover the song...they all pretty much suck. So anyway, the best version of "The General" by Dispatch that I could find...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Weigh In.

Okay all you lurkers....come out of the closet to weight in on this one.

Locally, there's been a big debate about whether or not radio stations should or will play Britney Spear's new song "If You Seek Amy". The reason is the chours, which goes "All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to if you seek Amy." Now, that in and of itself clearly doesn't make much sense. However, as the song is actually sung, it sounds quite a BIT like "All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to F-U-C-K me."

If you haven't heard the song, you could listen to it here. Yes, it's clever. And yes, it would probably be a great song to work out to or dance to in the clubs. However, I'm really not sure that it's appropriate for the radio.

When I was growing up, we OFTEN listened to the Top 40 station in school--in gym class, on the bus, even my parents turned it on when we were out doing errands. It was the one station that was generally upbeat and enjoyed by all. Further, since it was the radio, it was always assumed that it would be edited and appropriate for general consumption. Can you imagine if your 6 or 7 year old daughter came home from school singing the chorus to the above song?

But then again, maybe the radio just isn't what it used to be, and it ISN'T appropriate for general consumption anymore. I mean, just yesterday I turned on the Top 40 radio station and I heard Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" and some other rap song talking about licking someone's lollipop. I certaianly wouldn't want my children singing THOSE songs either.

So weigh you think "If You Seek Amy" should be played on the radio? Why or why not?

Feeeeling Goood.

Well, almost. I'm feeling good enough to look at the rest of the pictures from Monday Night Band Practice anyway. I shot most of these in black and white, and most of them are straight out of the camera. I'm still playing with the filters available for black and white to find which ones I like the best. With film, I could see a huge difference with filters when shooting black and white. With the internal filters, I haven't seen as much difference. Also, did you know that you can still get a "red eye" effect in black and white? I didn't until I shot these.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Well then.

My doctor's appointment went like this:

Dr: So I hear you have a sore throat.
M: Yes, but that's now the least irritating symptom. I have the worst headache, and my neck and my back hurt like nothing I've ever experienced.
Dr: Well, you only have a 99 degree fever--that's not too concerning.
M: That's what you said about my appendix!
Dr: True, true. Let me look at your throat.
{I open my mouth and say ah}
Dr: Well, it doesn't LOOK like raging strep, but it probably is. I'll give you a Z-pack, and if you don't feel better by Monday, give me a call.
{Wondering why he didn't actually do a strep test on me}
M: And strep would make my back and neck hurt like this?
Dr: The last time I had strep, I wondered how my arm suddenly weighed 50 pounds. It's terrible. Take aspirin, advil, NyQuil...whatever works and has something like acetaminophen in it.
M: Okay, will do.

The only good news is that he gave me something new to try for the headaches. I still don't feel any better at all, and my back and neck don't really feel better even when I DO take those meds. There's no way I can go into work today...the only thing that makes a bit of difference is NyQuil, and that just knocks me out. I probably shouldn't anyway because I haven't been on antibiotics for 24 hours yet. Yay.

I tried to eat macaroni and cheese last night. I hadn't eaten all day, but I didn't feel nauseos, so I tried some. BAD IDEA. I think I'm sticking to jello and ginger ale.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A little scared

So, I came home from work today because I wasn't feeling well. Initially, I had a sore throat (felt like I was swallowing razors), and since one of my SIL's recently had strep, I made an appointment for 4:30pm today with my doctor. But since then, I have gotten increasingly worse. At this point, the sore throat is the least of my worries--I have back pain more severe than anything I've ever felt. My neck is stiff, all of my joints ache, and I have a fever of 101. I know that a 101 fever is pretty low for some people, but it's VERY high for me. My normal temp sits right around 97 degrees, so even when I had to get my appendix out, my temp was just barely 99. I am so cold, I'm shaking, and NOTHING warms me up. I got out the heating pad, and it doesn't even feel warm. And I still have the worst migraine in the world, which even my migraine meds haven't touched.

Literally, all I've done since I got home was laid here and cried. Everything hurts. A lot. So, I did the stupid thing and googled my symptoms to try and distract myself for awhile. Bad idea. You know you've done it too. What came up? Other than the flu... Meningitis and Listeria. All three have virtually the same symptoms, so I'm fairly sure that it's probably the flu, and that the doctor isn't likely to even CONSIDER the latter two...which is actually a little scary. This just feels so much worse than the flu has ever felt before...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Good Heart

So J and I have been doing the Love and Respect Bible Study. We're on the second session so far, and the crux is this: women need unconditional love, men need unconditional respect. The idea comes from Ephesians 5:33 "Nevertheless, let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband." It's certainly not politically correct, but it's very interesting. The one thing that really struck me from last night's video was the idea to trust that your spouse is coming from a place of goodness in his or her heart.

I know that sounds so simple, but I honestly don't always do that. Many times, Justin will say something, meaning one thing, and I'll interpret it to mean something else. In fact, this exact situation is what has caused me not to sing anymore. A few years ago, we were listening to a particularly bad recording of a Captive Free team. They just did not sound good at all. I commented to Justin, that sometimes I'm paranoid that I sound like that. Justin responded, "Well, when you're confident, you sound much better. But when you're not confident, you do sound like that." He was coming from a place of goodness in his heart--he was trying to validate me and entice me to be more confident. However, because he didn't express what he had to say in the most eloquent manner, and I didn't recognize that he was saying what he was saying with a good heart, all I honestly heard was sometimes you do sound like that. And since then, I haven't really sung around him at all (which is just a vicious cycle by the way, because after not really singing for over a year, my vocal cords are shot, and now I really DO sound like that).

Now, as someone who has grown up in a very liberal town, I've often heard that the idea that wives must respect their husbands is a way to keep women down--for men to assert a power over them that isn't real, and it's a power that lies at the root of domestic violence, the disparity between men and women's wages, etc. However, what occurred to me last night was that if you have a spouse that is coming to the table with a good heart, as sweet Justin is, I'm not sure that there IS a problem with wives striving to respect their husbands. It's kind of interesting because at first glance, I thought, "Oh, I already do respect Justin." But if you were to ask Justin if he FELT respected, I'm not sure that he'd answer yes. So, it's a really interesting Bible study with a lot of really great people, and I'm whole heartedly enjoying it.

On the other hand, I went to a seminar with Justin tonight at church. I had absolutely no desire to go, but the speaker was a long time friend of Justin's family, and I knew Justin really wanted to go. The topic was "Discovering Your Ministry Potential." I HATED it. First, although Justin's family is good friends with the speaker, he really made a bad first impression on me that I just haven't been able to get over--first of all, immediately upon meeting me, he reached out, grabbed my nose, and wiggled my nose. I have this BIG aversion to people that I don't know touching me, and that totally turned me off. Second, he has the habit of putting people on the spot during his seminars to finish a, "And what did God say to Moses when Moses asked him to send someone else? Meredith?" And usually, I'm the idiot that doesn't know, and it's just uncomfortable. Consequently, because of those two things, I just don't enjoy going to hear these people speak because inevitably, my nose gets wiggled (yep), and I get put on the spot (not tonight, thank goodness!). I know, they probably have a very good message, but I just can't get over my intense discomfort around the guy, and end up disliking everything he says because of it.

I know, I should take my own advice and remember that he's coming with a good heart, but baby steps people! I'm not willing to overlook the nose wiggling just yet.

Ghost Town

After rave reviews from my sister, brother, AND parents, Justin and I bought the movie Ghost Town over the weekend. It's really unusual that both my sister/brother AND parents like the same movies, so I definitely had high expectations for this movie, and it did not disappoint.

Lisa recently discussed her not-so-friendly Norwegian neighbors, and I laughed just thinking about it because the lead in this movie is the EPITOME of an unfriendly neighbor. He's the type of guy who doesn't hold the elevator, steals other people's taxis, and is a dentist so that he doesn't have to hear people talk. On the odd occasion that he attempts to compliment someone, the best he can come up with is, "You have...comfortable shoes."

Anyway, here's the official description: Bertram Pincus is a man whose people skills leave much to be desired. When Pincus dies unexpectedly, but is miraculously revived after seven minutes, he wakes up to discover that he now has the annoying ability to see ghosts. Even worse, they all want something from him, particularly Frank Herlihy who pesters him into breaking up the impending marriage of his widow Gwen. That puts Pincus squarely in the middle of a triangle with spirited result.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

State of The Union

Today, another mill closed. This is the second mill to close in two weeks, and has resulted in over 300 layoffs. For a city our size, that's HUGE.

A friend of the family's, who is a local plumbing inspector, told me on Sunday that he's been given a 20% pay cut and knocked down to part-time. Because of his new part-time status, he now has to pay an additional $200 each month for his insurance.

A school teacher friend and her husband are losing their house because her husband's company gave everyone a $4/hour pay cut. She's also taken a pay cut, and between the two of them, they can no longer afford their mortgage payment.

Justin heard today that a local plumbing supply shop all took a 10% cut in pay. It was that or lay off half the company.

Basically, my point is that it's a scary time in our economy right now, particularly for those of us who work (or whose husbands work) in the trades. Construction is down right now, and consequently EVERYONE involved in manual labor is feeling the burn. And I'm positive that this directly relates to the huge increase in the number of kids being taken into foster care I'm seeing. When I first started my job, about two to four kids came into foster care each week. Now, it's two to four a DAY. I'm seeing a huge increase in substance abuse and domestic violence. I guess it's a scary time to be a kid in this economy too. AND a wife.

Here's the thing...

So I've been going to the gym every morning after I take Justin to work, and I've gotta say that I am NOT liking it. Not only is my sleep-loving butt getting out of bed at 5:30am, but I'm not really seeing or feeling any difference thus far. Instead, I just look...pregnant, which is not acceptable, because as far as I know, I'm not pregnant.

On Sunday I even powered through on the elliptical like normal, which was NOT a good idea. My knee is killing me again. I've also been eating well--mostly black beans, wheat rice, and corn on flour tortillas or spinach salads. I've been drinking water, and not eating junk. But still, I feel tired, lethargic, etc. Literally, all I want to do is sleep.

Particularly after spending almost all of my day off answering work phone calls that were completely unnecessary. Some of these people drive me absolutely nuts with their entitlement bullshit. I'm sorry--you don't always get an answer the minute you want one. It's okay for me not to be reachable at all hours of the day and over the weekend. I don't get paid to answer calls from home or on the weekend--respect the fact that I have given my cell phone for emergencies, and don't effing take advantage of it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tired of this yet?

Let me know if you are...maybe I'll take a cue from Lisa (who was clever enough to disguise her suggestion as if it were my own thought) and start a separate photog blog. But in the's a few from today when Renee and the kids came to visit. For anyone who is interested (cough, Renee, cough). If you click on the picture before doing a "Save As", it will save the full size picture rather than the small size. .

I had a couple of barriers today. First, the light was behind the kids playing, which meant that my metering was a little funny. Second, the kids are just FAST--most of my shots ended up blurry. Third, our carpet is absolutely, utterly disgusting. Consequently, I ended up shooting mostly in black and white...which I think I prefer in under these circumstances anyway. It's a bit more forgiving ;)

Edit: You've probably noticed the new look--I'm thinking it's only temporary. I used Scrapblog to create a new header, and was then planning on adding a new background from Cutest Blog On The Block. However, their site is down. Again. So it's this for now.

More pictures

I played a little more with our camera on Sunday. Here's a few of the things I came up with.
They're nothing special, but man, I can already really tell the difference between my point and shoot and the DSLR. And I'm lovin me some bokeh.

Awww, I miss Felix. Now that I have a camera, maybe I'll return to craving a cat again.

I pink puffy heart black and white photography.

I wanted to do a mini photo shoot with my sis 'cause she looked FANTASTIC in her blue coat. But all she'd give me were silly faces.

Mom and Dad

PS--Have I mentioned that ALL of the pictures I've posted with this camera (i.e. the post below the Sunday song as well) are essentially SOOTC--Straight Out Of The Camera. Not a touch of photoshop thus far. I think I may have removed red eye on the one of Justin and the lights, but that's about all.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Song

Today's song is from one of my favorite bands of all time, Barenaked Ladies. I just thought this particular song was fitting for this week--it's called "Who Needs Sleep?"

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Worth A Thousand Words

In what just may have been our worst monetary decision of 2009, Justin and I decided to get the DSLR camera today. We were going to wait until the end of the month, but Canon is having a manufacturer's special through the 17th that allows for a second lens at a greatly reduced price. We were going to order it off of Costco, but decided that we really wanted to play around with it first. So, we headed off to a local camera shop to test it out. As expected, the camera kit was more expensive at the local shop. However, after spending about a half an hour talking with the guy, we decided to go ahead and purchase it from him. Even though it was slightly more, J and I were able to support a local business, which we both think is really important. Then, after we bought the camera, the guy spent an hour teaching us all kinds of tips and tricks that it probably would have taken me months to figure out from reading the manual...we both left feeling like spending a little more was really worth it in this situation. So without further adieu, here's some of our pics from our first day shooting:

Kait called to tell us that the moon was supposed to be HUGE today. Sho nuf, it was ginormous! We had to pull over and take a shot...

Justin's really excited about the camera too. He snapped this one, which I think is unusual, but kind of neat.

I wanted to experiment with the Christmas lights in the background. J was my test subject. Not too bad for an after-dark shot.

I think I caught Logan by surprise :)

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