Some Warmed-Up Leftovers for Those of You Stuck in Winter

I’ve been thinking a lot about my friends on the mainland who are experiencing a whole lot of winter this year.  People who don’t really know the South personally don’t understand our reaction to winter weather.

Look, we know it seems ridiculous to those of you who are used to white winters. We have no problems laughing at ourselves. We get a kick out of the cartoons and the YouTube videos, just like the rest of you. This is one of my favorites:

But sometimes people in states where it habitually snows seem to be a little smug and condescending to their brothers and sisters below the Mason Dixon line. As my friends are preparing for another round of winter, I was reminded me of a post I wrote back in 2010 (during one of the rare but occasional and short-lived periods of times I actually blogged consistently).  I wrote a letter with my friend Tiffani trying to explain why we do the things we do when The Weather Channel even hints that something less solid than rain may fall from the sky. This is the letter I wrote to those of you who don’t understand the panic happening in the southern states this week:

Dear Snow State People,

You know who you are. You were the ones who rolled your eyes at the Great Potential Winter Weather Emergency of 2010. You laughed when our school systems cancelled school before nary an ice crystal touched the ground. You snickered as we packed Walmart to buy provisions in a way that retail stores haven’t seen since the big Y2K preparations. You make fun of us when we speak in wind chill temperatures when your actual air temperatures are even lower. Sometimes you border state dwellers even report your temps to us in Celsius so we’ll know you’re so far north you’re almost in another country, eh? Well, while you’re laughing at us from your states that come fully equipped with snow plows and sand trucks and seat warmers in your car, we want you to think about something…

We don’t have all that stuff.

See,  we may be from the South, but Whimzie lived in New England twice. She’s on to you and knows your snow secrets. We don’t have any fancy scraper things that attach to our pickup trucks. We don’t have snow blowers. Most of us don’t even have snow boots. You know what we have? We have those plastic bags that the newspaper comes in on rainy days. We put those on over our socks with a couple of rubberbands and wear our tennis shoes to play in the snow on the rare times that we get it. If we can’t find the mittens we bought five years ago during the Great Almost Blizzard of 2005, we just might wear mismatched socks on our hands. We scrape the ice off our car windshields with the spatulas from our kitchen drawers and the driver’s licenses from our wallets. We don’t know how to drive in snow, or walk in it for that matter. We freak out and wreck and fall. Most of us haven’t had enough practice. And while we know that your children’s safety isn’t compromised because your school bus drivers could drive their buses over Mt. Everest with ease, ours, however have had no such training. We aren’t willing to put our children in harm’s way while Edgar the Bus Driver white knuckles the wheel because he doesn’t know what “turn in to the spin” means. All we’ve been told and know for sure is that we’re supposed to go get milk, bread, and toilet paper. We’re not even sure why we do it but it’s been passed on to us just the same as which college football team we’re going to cheer for on Saturdays every fall was.

And before you get cocky about just how much better you all handle the snow and frigid temperatures than we do, we’d like to issue a little challenge……

We double dog dare you to survive a summer day in August here in the deep South. We bet you wouldn’t make it past 10 a.m. Yes, 10 a.m., because it’s not uncommon to wake up to a higher temperature here than you’ll see all summer. You haven’t really lived until you get ready for the day–hair, makeup, freshly ironed outfit–only to have your face melt off and fall in your lap when you get in your car to go to work. You don’t know summer until you’ve suffered second degree burns on the backs of your thighs when you sat down on boiling hot vinyl car seats. When you’ve kept your arms at 90 degree angles from your body so that your deodorant would dry and not superglue your arms to your sides, then you can talk about who knows how to handle weather. Talk to me with a mouth full of gnats and mosquito bites the size of a saucer up and down your extremities or have a swatting battle with a ginormous, winged unidentifiable bug, then you might have an eaten-up leg to stand on.

I’ve heard you gripe about humidity in the summer. People, please. When it’s summer in the South, we can chew our air it’s so humid.  Breathing in August air is like trying to breathe a brick through your nose it’s so heavy.  When you can wring water out of your clothes and you haven’t been anywhere near water, you can talk to me about humidity.

So, we’ll see your winter and we’ll raise you a summer.

Any takers?

With all the love and southern hospitality we have to bless your little hearts,

Tiffani of Bears and Belles and Whimzie

So, stay warm my friends!

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Full

1374120_10152009744160769_1554700844_nI’m full.

My calendar is full. I knew October was going to busy, but I had no idea it was going to try to kill me. Just when I think we can’t add one more thing, somehow we do. And so far, it hasn’t tipped us over into 2014. No matter how much white space I fill in on my calendar, the days still come one at a time, in pockets of twenty-four hours. No more, no less.

The good thing is that my schedule is full of sweet and wonderful things. We just had a wonderful visit with friends who feel like family. I’ll see them off at the airport and then make my way from the departure gate to the arrival gate to greet Susan and her family as they begin their visit. Both grandmothers will follow so they can celebrate my daughter’s first musical performance. Kelly’s mom will be with us on opening night and my mom will be with us for the musical’s closing. In between and simultaneously, we have practices and performances and the beginning of our family’s “birthday season.” In  the rush of all that’s happening around me, I’m trying to slow myself down to enjoy each and every one of these precious moments with people I love.

My stomach is full. The best thing about having company is introducing them to our favorite places to eat. The worst thing is trying to fit into the clothes that fit just fine before our visitors arrived. But it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

My brain is full. I’m thinking and processing and evaluating and figuring. I just wish I had more extra time to move a lot of these “thinkings” to some place other than my head. They’re taking up a lot of valuable real estate.

My heart is full. This has been a month to celebrate friendships. I’ve been thinking about how blessed I am to have people who love my family enough to shoulder the time and expense and effort to travel across an ocean to spend time with us. I’ve watched my daughter and her very best friend reconnect and I’ve been taking friendship lessons from  a newly and almost 10-year-old. I’ve relaxed in the company of friends who know me and love me anyway. They’ve spoken truth into my life and I’ve found refreshment in their company.

But today’s a perfect picture of a pretty consistent theme in my life. Aloha can mean hello, but it can also mean goodbye. Just a few minutes before I get to hug on people I love and haven’t seen in awhile, I have to say “see you later” to friends I love and don’t know when I’ll see again. And I have to do it again next week. And again after that. And again after that. That’s why I love that “aloha” also can mean “I love you.” I like that meaning best.

I hope your October has been full of good things, too. IMG_8245

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Oops! I Just Accidentally Ran 26.2 Miles!

Did you hear about the Canadian who accidentally ran a marathon?

Yeah, you heard me. Meredith Fitzmaurice of Ottawa decided to run a half marathon last weekend as training for her upcoming first marathon in October. But somehow she missed her turn and ended up on the marathon route instead. By the time she realized what she’d done, she was making such good time she decided to finish the race. Not only did she finish the race, she was the first woman finisher of the race. And she qualified for the Boston Marathon.

Seriously?

How does that even happen?

Look, I’ve accidentally done plenty of things, but my accidents don’t usually lead to winning anything. Like Kelly said when I was reading him the article about Meredith, “When I accidentally do something, it usually leads to something getting broken, dented, or burnt.”

I’ve accidentally totaled enough cars that at one point State Farm cancelled my family’s insurance for a time. My parents should be canonized.

The other night I meant to be on Pinterest just long enough to look up a recipe I needed for dinner and accidentally ended up on the computer for 1 1/2 hours.

I accidentally fell back to sleep a few mornings ago and set all kinds of records for getting my family out the door to make it to our appointment on time. My heart was racing so fast I counted it as my cardio for the day   week   month season.

Like Meredith, I’ve even accidentally missed my turn before. In fact, I did that very thing this morning on the way home from a field trip. But my mistake didn’t win me any marathons. In fact, it took me through a construction zone where I had to make another detour, costing me about thirty extra minutes of driving time.  And another rapid pulse which I am totally logging as more cardio, thereby meeting my quota for the season year. I checked the machine when I got home to see if the Boston Marathon people had called and I’d qualified for something, but so far, nothing.

Yeah, I’ve unintentionally done many things, but I can promise you I have never in my forty-three years ever accidentally run anywhere.

I could easily own this t-shirt:

Skreened t-shirts

Skreened t-shirts

That’s one of the pins I accidentally found looking for that recipe. Score!

And I found this one completely unintentionally as well:

4c2db5e3ca21f8013e6b0f1984f0f095It’s not just because I run like Phoebe:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HuqNdQJSTY

It’s mostly because I don’t want to run. Oh, I want to want to run, but I don’t. I don’t like it. I like my lungs to not feel so, what’s the word? Burny.

I have plenty of friends who run and they say they love it. I don’t think they’re liars. I just think they’re…what’s the word? Weird.

But Meredith Fitzmaurice runs. And sometimes when she does she accidentally runs and wins marathons. I kind of feel sorry for her friends. Well, maybe not all of them because she probably has plenty of runner friends who accidentally run places all the time. But I’ll bet she has at least one friend like me.

Can’t you imagine that Monday morning phone call?

“Girl, you are not going to believe this! It’s the craziest thing! Well, you know how I’m always getting lost? Even with my GPS? Well, somehow I took a wrong turn on the race and instead of running the half, I ran the whole thing! And I won! And I qualified for the Boston Marathon! I am SUCH a goofball! So what did you guys do this weekend?”

Have mercy.

Well, I don’t know about Meredith, but I’m going to continue my streak and not run anywhere accidentally or on purpose this weekend unless it’s to Target to see what’s on sale.  I hope you all have a great weekend and if you make any mistakes, may they all be marathon winning ones!

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My Daughter, The Word Problem Critic

I’ve noticed a trend on my daughter’s math worksheets.

Lately, she’s decided to add her own commentary to her word problems. This is the first one I noticed.

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Never mind I was more concerned she misspelled “really” than whether she had answered the question correctly. Actually, I have to agree with her on this one. Either Sam has some sort of passive aggressive feud going on with his mailman and is trying to make his job more difficult, or Sam just doesn’t get a lot of mail. Who plants a garden around a mailbox?

This was yesterday’s worksheet.

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I guess since her first offering wasn’t rebuffed, she decided to go for a two-fer.

I will be reminding her she said 27 minutes was a little long for a person to be on the phone when she’s a teenager and I’m paying for her cell phone minutes.

Checking her math worksheets is starting to become my favorite part of the school day.

Who says word problems can’t be fun?

May all your word problems have insightful and entertaining commentary today.

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Rest

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Like the brightly colored leaves that indicate the arrival of fall (in places where leaves change colors, that is), the stacks of papers and book on every flat surface in my house are harbingers that school is in full swing at our house.

This will be my second year to teach the kids at home. Last year was a learning experience for all of us. I don’t think anyone became dumber as a result of my teaching, but let’s just say I probably won’t be invited to deliver the key note address at any homeschooling conventions in the near or even distant future. But that’s okay. Believe me, I have no desire to be a mascot for homeschooling. But I’ve learned from myself and I’m trying to do some things a little differently this year.

I love the beginning of the school year. I love organizing the school supplies and  filling the notebooks with clean, blank paper. The first day of school feels a lot like January 1. It’s a fresh start. A blank slate with no mistakes. A new beginning.

Every January, many of my friends choose a word to be their “theme word” for the year.  I’ve never had  a “theme word,” but over the summer, as I was thinking and preparing for this new school year, I kept running into the word “rest.” I don’t mean “rest” in the sense of lounging in a hammock in the backyard with a tall glass of iced tea and a good book, although I could fully support that habit. I am talking about a rest that comes from  releasing all of my anxiety and angst by fully trusting and relying on God’s strength instead of my own.

I’ve never considered myself a worrier, but parenting can bring out the Nervous Nelly in anyone. Each stage of my children’s lives I’ve exchanged old worries for new ones. I don’t sit by my babies’ beds to make sure they’re still breathing like I did those first anxious nights, but I have a long list of other worries I didn’t even know to think about when I was a brand new mom.

Often my anxiety comes when I compare myself to all the other mothers out there. I see the way they parent and wonder if I’m shortchanging my kids somehow. I can always find someone who seems to have her act much more together than I do. I wonder if I’m doing everything I need to do to prepare my kids for the world. I second guess parenting decisions I’ve made. I berate myself for losing my cool and not being patient. I say things I wish I could take back and wonder if those are the words my children are going to remember for their rest of their lives.

Another stressor can be the lack of white space on the calendar that seems to come with every new school year, whether we’re homeschooling or not. We earnestly try to limit our extracurricular activities, but even so, by this time of year the lazy, hazy days of summer feel like a far away memory.

Without intervention, I can easily find myself stressed out and wrapped all the way around the axle. I feel like a jack-in-the-box who is  one crank of “Pop Goes the Weasel” away from exploding. God knows me so well. I believe that’s why he kept leading me to lessons about resting in Him this summer. And He knew the challenges I would face this fall that weren’t even a blip on my radar in June.He gave me the material I needed in order to study for the pop quiz I had coming.

One of the lessons the taught me about resting came an interview I heard with Andrew Kern, a Christian educator. He was talking about Martha and Mary and how Martha was “anxious and worried about many things.”  I can relate. He encouraged us at those times to always go back to our center, which should be Jesus. I can rest in the knowledge that He loves my children even more than I do. When I focus on the most important thing, which is my relationship and utter dependence on Him, I can rest even in the middle of chaos.

I’ve had more pop quizzes than I’d anticipated this fall. I’ve had plenty of opportunity to test the “word for the year” I’ve been given. Many times, a simple test of perspective is all I need to get back on track. If I just stop and ask myself, “In light of eternity, is this worth the angst I’m feeling at this moment?” Usually it isn’t.

Other times, a little gratitude will make a world of difference in my attitude. Especially if I’m pitching a little hissy fit because life isn’t going my way. When I stop to remember all my blessings, I remember how much God loves me. He does not withhold His best from His children. Often what I think I want is far less than what would be His best for me.

I can be a very stubborn girl. I think I can go a long way in my own strength. And God lets me try. But time and time again, I find myself at the very end of myself with nothing to say but, “I can not.” I am utterly and helplessly dependent on God to do the next thing, especially when I don’t even know what the next thing should be.

I recently heard the missionary Hudson Taylor’s favorite hymn, “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting,” Although this wasn’t a hymn I remember singing when I was growing up, I’ve learned to love its message.

 

As we start another week full of unforeseen challenges, I hope you will find your rest in Him, too.

Happy First Fall Monday!

 

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My New Favorite Music

A lot of people, maybe even some of you, think that since I live in Hawaii, every day finds me lounging on a beach, looking at the waves, with sweet island breezes blowing through my hair. The reality? I am searching through my brain to try to remember the last time I was at the beach. I need to remedy that soon and very soon!

Living in Hawaii is not a perpetual vacation. There’s no life like island life, but even on my tropical island, I have do do laundry, buy groceries, and figure out what is making the refrigerator smell like chilled death. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. The view on the drive to the grocery store is breathtaking and every day I pinch myself to make sure I really and truly get to live in this beautiful state.

But today? I’m cleaning house.

I’m having an Origami Owl party at my house tomorrow (You’re all invited, by the way!) and this week has been too full for too much in the way of daily home maintenance. So today I’m dusting and sweeping and putting things back in order.

To keep me motivated, I decided to turn on some music and what I’m listening to is too good not to share. So good, in fact, that I had to put down my broom and run upstairs to the computer to tell you all about it. You know I can’t keep good stuff to myself!!

Let me preface this by saying, I love my church. It isn’t a perfect church, but neither am I, and it’s my church. I love my pastor. He isn’t perfect, but neither am I, and he’s my pastor. One of the biggest reasons we wanted to come back to Hawaii was this church.  My church just released a worship CD and I can’t tell you how much I love it.

The name of the CD is “Hope is Alive” and it’s available on iTunes.

We’ve been listening to it in the car (our home away from home) and you know what makes my heart happy? Hearing my children sing snippets of the songs as we go about our day.

All of the songs are my favorite, but let me link you to a couple of songs I especially love. The first one is called “Angels Sing.”

This one gives me chills every single time I hear it. It begins with a man’s voice praying the Lord’s Prayer in Hawaii and it ends with the singers singing the Doxology in Hawaiian. It embodies what I love about living here. I can’t explain why, it just does.

This one is the title track and it’s become my church’s theme song of late.

And here’s a great acoustic version of the same song.

That will preach, people.

As much as I’d love to sit and watch videos with you all afternoon, this house won’t clean itself. Even in Hawaii.

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If you get it, let me know which song is your favorite!

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Happy Laboring or Lack Thereof

Happy Day After the Holiday Whose Meaning is Unclear to Me But I Welcome Because It Provides a Long Weekend For Which I Am Always Grateful!

Since I’m never sure whether you are supposed to labor or abstain from labor on this holiday, I did a little of both this weekend. I caught up on some projects I’ve had dry rotting on my To Do list and I also spent some time reading and sleeping. The last few weeks have been out of control and I had built up quite a sleep debt. I still don’t think my sleep tank is full, but at least I’m not running on fumes any more.

So last time we talked, I was telling you about Siri and how she refuses to learn to speak Hawaiian. You may remember me giving a little bit of grief to her friend, the GPS. Well, funny story: Not long after I wrote Siri the letter, the fam and I were running some errands and needed the GPS to help us navigate to our destination. When I tried to type in the address, the whole unit froze. I couldn’t finish the address, couldn’t delete what I’d typed, couldn’t return to the main menu, nothing. We couldn’t even turn the thing off. We decided to unplug the whole unit and hope all would be well after the battery ran all the way down.I realized then and there Siri had sold me out. She must have told the GPS we make fun of the way it slaughters all of the street names and so now we were going to get the silent treatment.

Luckily, we know our way around to most places we need to go so I gave the GPS a few days to cool its jets. The next time I needed its services, I plugged it up and was pleased to see it eagerly pulled up the address I had requested, but I noticed something odd. The GPS had stopped saying the street names. Instead of saying, “Turn left on Ulupalakua Street,” the GPS voice just said, “Turn left in 1.5 miles.”  Oh, my stars, we shamed the GPS so much it won’t even attempt to speak Hawaiian anymore!!

Of course, eventually my youngest son ‘fessed up. Seems he was trying to change the voice to the one who only speaks Mandarin and I almost caught him in the act so he had to stop before he was finished. Apparently there’s a setting that doesn’t speak the street names. But I’m still not totally convinced the GPS didn’t just give up on trying to say street names correctly.

Since today is kind of like our Monday and it’s already shaping up to be a full week, I need to cut this short and go slay some dragons. But I’m curious….does your family labor or abstain from labor during Labor Day weekend? Also, do any of you actually know what we are supposed to  be celebrating/commemorating/honoring on this “Official End of Labor” holiday? (And don’t you dare leave me a link to the Wikipedia article about Labor Day. I did not find it to be particularly helpful.)

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