Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.12

These are a few of my favorite vacation spots
Disney World - I don't care how old I am, I will always want to go to Disney World whenever given the chance. Yes it is CRAZY expensive (which is why we probably won't be going back until we have kids) but it's so much fun! And it's always changing, so there's always new things to see. I definitely prefer it during the "off" season because it's not as crowded and hot.

Savannah - I love all the natural beauty and history of Savannah. It's full of good food, fun people to watch, and Southern hospitality. You can spend your days doing absolutely nothing at all and have a blast doing it! It's also close enough to lots of little island communities that day trips are the perfect mini-adventure.

Gulf Shores/Orange Beach - Even as pale as I am, I love going to the beach. I love watching the birds and the waves and eating yummy food. Again, a great place to do nothing. (Do you see a recurring theme in my vacations?)

Washington, DC - Yes, I'm a dork. I love DC. I love the museums and the history. I especially love Arlington. As strange as it sounds I could spend all day wandering around the cemetery. It's a place that can be full of people and still be peaceful. It's lovely. Plus, it's super cheap (if not free) to do just about everything. And the public transportation is quite good.

Discovery Cove - This is probably the ideal vacation for me and Jeff right now. We really enjoyed it the first time, but last time with the private cabana just put it over the top. I finally understand why people would go and NOT swim with the dolphins. It is fun, don't get me wrong. I loved doing it and would probably love to do it again, but once you've done it you can go and enjoy everything without having to plan your whole day around your swim time. And even if you don't swim with the dolphins you get all the perks of the park and your week pass to Sea World (which translates to a FANTASTIC deal on theme park tickets when it's all said and done!) Even when it's packed to capacity, you'd never know it. FABULOUS!

Cruising - I really didn't know what I would think of going on a cruise, but I ended up loving it. It's a good thing I do because Jeff's family also loves it. I've only ever been to Mexico, and it was nice. But I would really love to go other places. I don't really care where we go if I've never been because I know that no matter what I really won't have to worry about language, I know exactly where I'll be staying, and know there will be plenty of food that I'll eat! And although there is plenty for you to do, it's the perfect place to again, do nothing! My favorite is the days at sea when I can find a big window (because it's quieter inside than on the big decks up top) and curl up with a book and watch the ocean.

I absolutely love going new places. I want to visit all 50 states at some point (preferably before I'm 50, but we'll see how that works out!) So where are some of your favorite places to get away?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Forgotten Cookies

I'm still working on remembering to take "start to finish" pictures of recipes. I remembered about halfway through this one.

Forgotten cookies are one that my mom used to make and I loved. I still love them, but have never made them before. I am not entirely sure why. Anywho, I decided our open house was the perfect chance to make them.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Just let it go and heat.

Beat 2 XL egg whites (or 3 med to large) until stiff. Then beat in 3/4 cup sugar and 1/8 tsp salt and 1 Tbsp vanilla. Make sure it's very well mixed. Then FOLD in about half a package of chocolate chips and 3/4 cup chopped pecans (you can leave these out and just use the whole pack of chocolate chips if you want or mix in anything else you might like)

This is what it looks when it's all mixed together.

Now, drop spoon fulls onto two parchment lined cookie sheets. See?
Now, this step is very important - TURN THE OVEN OFF!

Put your cookie sheets into the oven and walk away. Don't peek, don't turn the oven back on, just walk away.

Leave the cookies in the oven until it's completely cold. Overnight is best. The cookies shouldn't be brown, and really shouldn't look that different than when you put them in, but they are cooked, I promise. This is what the finished cookies look like.

The are light and sweet and fabulous. Go ahead and have one for breakfast. You deserve a reward for being so patient!

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I have always loved roses. They are absolutely beautiful and smell great and have a special place in my heart. And not necessarily roses in a vase or an arrangement (although I do like those too!) but rose bushes. Although my dad always had a vegetable garden growing up, we never had flower gardens. When Jeff was getting the house all ready he spent a lot of time and money on flowers for the front - geraniums in hanging baskets for the front porch, boxwood and variegated ivy for pots by the front steps, and impatients around the mailbox to name a few. He has always said he hated dealing with roses, so I was really shocked when he came home with two dormant rose plants.

I was more than a little irritated when he planted my herb garden without any input or help from me and wasn't shy about letting him know this. I appreciated his buying me herbs and wanting to help me get them planted, but that was supposed to be mine. So being the kind and loving husband he is, he agreed to let me help pot the roses. They are easier to manage in pots rather than in the ground, so we put them in a couple of really large (32 qt) pots.

I don't have pictures of this step by step because I was up to my elbows in dirt and it really wasn't all that exciting anyway.

First thing we did was put about 2-3 inches of pine mulch in the bottom of the pot and shake it a little to distribute it evenly (using lightweight pots makes this much easier!)

The pine mulch was topped by a layer of somewhat sandy "organic" soil (translation - containing compost). Not a solid layer, just 2 or 3 good handfuls sprinkled around.

Then dump in a few inches of soil. We used miracle grow flower and vegetable soil, but potting soil would also work well. Mix the sandy stuff into the miracle grow, then dump in a lot more soil. You don't want the pot totally full, just leave about 6 inches below the rim of the pot. Give it a shake to get it approximately even.

Now, make sure your rose plant is pulled from the package. There should be some good, moist soil that falls off as you remove the plastic. This is good because it means the soil is moist and fabulous, not all caked together and petrified. Try not to waste any of that good soil, get it into the pot too!

Dig a hole almost as tall as the root ball and stick it on in there, being careful of the thorns. Pack the dirt down around it so it's very secure. You should need to add some more dirt and pack that down too. Just make sure to watch out for the little place where the plant meets the root. That is your landmark - make sure you can always see that part! It needs to be able to get air. If you got the dirt too high, don't despair, just move it a little.

Now that your soil is all in there and packed down, top it with a bit more pine mulch, particularly around the edge of the pot and then gently spread it inwards. This will help absorb and hold moisture while protecting the dirt from baking in the sun.

Now, move your pot to a place where it can get the recommended amount of sun. Just look on the tag of the plant you bought! Be careful if you put your pot on grass instead of concrete - the root can grow through the bottom of the pot!

Once ours are no longer dormant and we have some pretty flowers, I'll post pictures!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What are we teaching?

I generally try to keep quiet about politics. Nobody wins when it is discussed. I have my opinions, but I keep them to myself because I recognize what is right for me may not be right for others.

That being said, the experiences of the past days and weeks have really made me think. Not about politics, not about health care, not about racism or classism or any other "ism" (although I could go on about all of these things). But it did make me think about morality and what we are teaching, not just to our children but to everyone we meet.

There is so much hatred in the world that is absolutely toxic right now. It is pollution of the worst kind. It makes me truly want to sob and the absolutely hate-filled things coming from people I love. But I think that deep down all the anger and hatred is ultimately motivated by fear, just as it has been for thousands of years. We are afraid of what we do not know and have not experienced and cannot imagine. Or worse, we can imagine it and it isn't what we want for ourselves and our lives and it requires sacrifice. We don't like sacrifice. We don't like discomfort. Because, after all, isn't everything about making the world a better place for ME? (The correct answer to that question is a big, fat "NO!")

Fear is a natural human emotion. Everyone is scared. We are taught from birth to, at the very least, be cautious. And caution is good. And fear is even good. But we have to own that as our emotion. We have to name and claim that part of the human experience, rather than burying it and denying it and allowing it to explode all over everyone in a gross, angry, hate-filled mess. The process of naming and claiming fear is itself scary. But what if we were to simply confront that fear and slowly develop a space in the world that is not judgmental or critical of those experiences, but supportive of the one sharing that experience?

What kind of country and what kind of world would we live in if, rather than teaching children to pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth, we taught them to pledge allegiance to their fellow citizens of humanity. I'll even leave out the Christian bent of "loving your neighbor" and just pose this as a purely moral/ethical position.

What if we taught a deep conviction about caring for those whose lives impact ours? What if we modeled a lifestyle of showing dedication to those with whom we have no choice but to breathe the same air and drink the same water and walk the same streets? What would it be like to promise from an early age to ensure the basic rights of existence for everyone, including a promise that at times we must agree to disagree? What if we taught respect rather than simple obedience? And most importantly, what if we taught this all by example?

This is my goal - to model all of these things every day. I fail constantly, but I keep striving for it and moving a little closer each and every day. I still get hurt. I still get angry. I still get scared. All occasionally it takes me a while to be able to name them. But I am very blessed that, even if I never say it out loud to anyone else, I can name those emotions in my own life and experience. Others may not be able to do that just yet and require more support. But what would happen if this experience trickled down bit by bit?

We are all students of experience. We cannot help but be influenced by every person we encounter, either positively or negatively. But just as we are influenced, we also influence others. What if we also name and claim that responsibility? What if we are intentional about teaching the positive as opposed to simply worrying about what we learn and experience?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Countdown

Here is approximately what is happening into my mind and my home in this week leading up to our Open House.

Monday - Can't even think about it yet. Not in a "party" frame of mind, especially since I have other stuff to do on the personal and professional front before I can get to the "fun" stuff of entertaining.

Tuesday - Realize I'm now less than a week away, the weekend is behind me, I've already slacked off on one day I could be working (Monday) and I need to get my rear in gear. This is also my volunteer day at the hospital so household chores like laundry commence upon my return home. This includes a frantic search through the kitchen towels for a "presentable" dish cloth that matches the kitchen, and putting out matching towels in the master bathroom (which would never normally match!)

Wednesday - Start seriously thinking about the food stuffs of entertaining. We need finger foods and wine and sodas. I really wish I had one of those cute lemonade dispensers but don't have the money to spend on something like that. I suppose I could pull out the punch bowl I insisted on keeping in the move... Anyway, back on track. I think I gave away all the cute plates leftover from the wedding so I'll need to get more. A trip to the store is definitely in order! Jeff did most of the serious outside work today so we have flowers and an herb garden and a few tomato plants. I attempted to be productive and got all my dolls into the case.

Thursday - Today is errand day. We'll have to get some dirt to go into the raised garden beds out back. We have to go get the new porch swing and get it hung. Now that I have a menu in hand I have a grocery list and I can go to the store. I'll probably make a last ditch effort to get a few more things unpacked from the basement but I figure that will pass after a couple of hours! Dusting and cleaning the bathrooms are also on the agenda.

Friday - I doubt I'll get out of my pajamas all day. This is a serious prep day. Last minute cleaning of windows, cabinets, and other places that probably won't get noticed; getting all the food as ready as it can be; rearranging the stuff. Before I go to bed there will be at the very least a diagram of what goes where on the island tomorrow and everything else will be absolutely ready (except for the fact that my clothes will be laid out and the bed obviously won't be made)

Saturday - I'm in full-on freak out mode. Normally I would enjoy sleeping until about 9 and then acting like a crazy person but I have double booked my day because, well, I am a crazy person. I have a brunch meeting at 9:30 (which means leaving the house by 8:30) and I WILL be leaving by 11:30 so I can get home. I want to stop and get some fresh flowers but it probably won't happen. Inevitably someone will be early (I'm guessing my in-laws!) but all the food should be ready to simply be put out and Jeff can handle that! Hopefully I won't be too frazzled when I come in!

When it's all said and done I'm absolutely exhausted, but loved every minute of it and can't wait to do it again!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.11

Because I love to cook, here are a few of my favorite things to make. I apologize for not having pictures of everything, but alas I'm not there yet. Perhaps someday soon...

Roast Chicken - It's simple and delicious. I love the subtle flavor and the contrast between the juicy meat and crispy skin.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes - I admit, I will sometimes cheat and use the Country Crock pre-made mashed potatoes, but heat them up with little extras like sour cream, roasted garlic, and a little bacon. It's pure, creamy amazingness.

Grilled Cheese - Simple? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely! Healthy? Not a chance.

Pancakes - I don't know why I get such a thrill out of making pancakes, but I do. I can sometimes get lucky and come out with perfectly round, golden, fluffy pancakes. Most of the time they are a little lop-sided. But they still taste good!

Thai Peanut Noodles - I haven't made these in far too long but they are super-easy and very yummy. It's one of my favorite "instant gratification" dishes.

Risotto - I think I love the focus it takes to make good risotto. You can't be distracted by too many other things. It's a nice break from the rest of my life!

Beef Tenderloin - Not that I get to make this very often, but it's awesome when I do. I'd totally re-invent this as our new family holiday tradition if given the chance!

Cornbread - I don't make it all that often, but I should. I think I love having an excuse to use my grandmother's old cast iron skillet. The end result is pretty darn tasty. Not as good as Jeff's grandmother, but not too shabby if I do say so myself!

Bacon - Yup, I do indeed love frying bacon. I don't love smelling like it for two days after, but otherwise there's something about it that I enjoy. Perhaps it is the challenge of frying it up without burning it (or getting popped by the grease!)

Quiche - I really like making quiche. You get the nice pretty result that you would get from baking, but without requiring the same precision. Plus, it can be pretty darn tasty if you do it right. I haven't made one in a long time, but I do enjoy making them. I should do something about that...

So what kinds of things do you enjoy making (even if you don't like eating them!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Comforts of Home

I will be the first to admit that I am rather prissy. I don't like to be too terribly uncomfortable. I know what I like and generally enjoy having access to these things. I am not one to "rough it" in the true sense of the word. I have become almost infamous among my friend for my "Momma Purse", which is ready for any adventure that may be encountered. I try to be prepared for anything without going too overboard.

I also enjoy traveling. Although the actual travel part (particularly driving) often requires some serious advance planning on my part to keep me sane and comfortable, I am no longer the type to want to bring everything I own with me. I am not one to bring half my wardrobe and everything off of my bed at home. I am not terrified of hotel sheets and other people's showers. That is part of the adventure! It's only for a short period of time.

However, I am discovering that I am quite spoiled. My preparedness is slipping. Maybe this is because I no longer travel as often as I once did. Maybe I am letting my guard down and trusting other people a little bit more. I am not entirely sure. But something has changed in my perceptions of the world and my experiences. I still have to decide whether or not I like this shift.

I may just have to start taking my own pillow and an extra pair of sweatpants any time I travel!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.10

These are some of my favorite things, particularly vendors, that I came across in all the wedding planning. They are still fantastic resources and I will almost surely use them again.

Efavormart - I got my organza table overlays from this site. They are fabulous quality and very reasonably priced. I am planning to order some folding chair covers to use at holidays and whatnot and some more tablecloths just to have. They have lots of other great stuff, too!

Reflections utensils - These are fantastic, great quality plastic utensils that are silver. But not like the fake plastic silver. They are shiny silver. They look real. You can't tell they aren't until you touch them (unless you know). So fantastic! Perfect for holiday dining! They used to be hard to find, but in the past year to year and a half I have seen them lots of places (maybe not the exact brand, but the same thing)

Flyboy Naturals - Freeze dried petals. They are real petals (not silk) but not brittle like dried ones and they keep their same great appearance forever and don't wither like fresh ones! Awesome, awesome things. I'm tempted to buy small quantities to use for holiday centerpieces. And they have more than just rose petals in a zillion colors and combinations. Beautiful!

Personalized M&Ms - Who doesn't love M&M's? And the fact that I got some with my name on them just makes them that much more fabulous! The colors were also perfect. There was only one little baggie that survived from the reception and I have it tucked away forever in our wedding box. My kids can throw them out after I'm dead.

VistaPrint - I actually found this site a couple of years ago, but it was very handy to have as a resource for wedding planning. They have fantastic invitations/announcements for almost any occasion (I have gotten business cards from them before and am about to order more) and they have a wonderful feature where you can customize your own designs. I designed our rehearsal dinner invitations and thanks to VistaPrint they looked fantastic and professional. It was wonderful! And best of all, their stuff is VERY affordable and they always have great free offers. And I don't mean free with purchase. I mean FREE. The only "catch" is you pay for your own shipping! It's pretty hard to beat!

Barefoot Pinot Grigio - It's good stuff. I recommend it.

The Tutwiler Hotel - We stayed here for the first time on New Year's Even 2008 and fell in love with it, so we decided it would be the perfect place to spend our wedding night. It really was pretty darn perfect. Although to be perfectly honest, we actually enjoyed the standard room we had the first time just as much as the suite we had on our wedding night. Maybe a little bit more! The rooms are very comfortable, the bed is out of this world, and the service just can't be beat. The fact that you get a free continental breakfast (that is quite nice) just makes it that much better!

I know that not everyone who reads this has planned a wedding or went to mine, so when you comment, just leave some of your favorite things from ANY wedding you have attended or special event you have planned.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Life is a Marathon

I have been thinking a lot lately about my life and missing my identity as a student. I'm closing in on one whole year of having not been a student (particularly a full-time student). I miss being a student. I miss learning things. I miss the different perspectives. I miss the push to do more and be more.

I know it's dorky and almost cliche, but education feeds my soul in a very special way. I feel like I'm a little plant. Education is my water. Books are my sunlight. Without them it doesn't take long for me to start to droop and wither, but it also doesn't take much for me to pop back up, revitalized and sustained for a bit longer. And right now, after almost 4 months without any sort of class to take or papers to write or colleagues to talk to I feel like my brain is withering and I'm going a little bit crazy.

There's a freedom as a student that I don't know if I've ever experienced anywhere else, and that's the freedom to be less-than-perfect. A freedom to not know. You aren't expected to have all the answers. If you did, you wouldn't have to learn! And there is a fantastic, respectful relationship that emerges among students and teachers, especially when those identities are very fluid. Those relationships are SO life-giving to me. I miss them terribly. If given a choice in life where I must decide between 10 colleagues or 1000 books, I would have to choose my colleagues. I am so blessed by the people I have had the chance to know in my short life and don't want to stop knowing people anytime soon!

I'll be superficial (but brutally honest) for a moment - I miss the vacations. I miss that the life of a student is essentially that of a sprinter - you go hard and fast for a short distance and it's over quickly and you can rest. There is always a finish line in sight. But my grown up life is that of a marathon, not a sprint. There is no end in sight. I just have to keep moving forward, refueling on the go with whatever is available, and dealing with whatever unknown might be over the next hill or around the next curve.

Someone once told me to enjoy my semester breaks in Div school, because they would be the last truly stree-free, obligation-free vacations of my life. After graduation, every vacation would be like spring break - you always have something due, something waiting for you and you're never truly free of it all because it'll all be waiting for you when you come back but you take the vacation anyway because if you don't do it now you won't get another chance for a while!

I have not been prepared for the marathon lifestyle. But there are just no training programs for being a grown up. I'm slowly learning and getting better, but for right now it still hurts a whole lot! Is there at least a water stop soon?

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I have been thinking a lot about nicknames lately. Personally, I believe you can tell a lot more about a person by their nicknames than you can by their given name. Often times your name was decided before you were even born, before you had a personality to be known. But nicknames usually come later. And you aren't limited to just one. And if they don't directly speak to who you are, they speak to your relationship with others. They're wonderful things. Here are a few of mine and the stories behind them.

Sandy - it's a nickname. My given name is Sandre. It's pronounced just like "Sandra" but spelled differently because it's a family name. I was nicknamed Sandy so there would be no confusion between me and my grandmother (who was also named Sandre) but somehow Sandy seems to suit me.

Punkin - this was my mom's nickname for me. Nobody else is allowed to use it. I don't exactly know where it came from, but I like it. I will probably use it for one of my kids.

Sandree - I think this one came from my friend Lauren and really sort of stuck during divinity school. It's obviously a play on a frequent mis-pronunciation of my given name. Jeff makes fun of it so he isn't allowed to use this one.

Bodean - This one came from Jeff. He never really gave me a nickname until after we were married. Then as soon as we came home from our honeymoon he decided I needed a nickname and that's what he came up with! It started as "Mrs. Bodean" and "Rev. Bodean", but now it's usually just Bodean. It doesn't sound right coming from anyone else and I don't think I'd let anyone else use it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Knitting 2.0

I have put my craftiness on the back burner for a while. I finally decided to pull it out again. I found a really neat pattern for a patchwork blanket and that seems like something I could actually do (and enjoy doing!) I flipped through a book tonight at Wal-Mart and saw instructions for doing a cable knit stitch on the loom, but promptly forgot it when I got home and couldn't get it to even start the right way so I'll just have to actually buy the pattern for that one!

Anywho, back to my blanket. I have some baby yarn somewhere, but there is no telling where it is at this point. I have a slew of yarn that is thick and perfect for practicing with, but other than making pot holders and dishcloths, it really doesn't work for much else. But since the blanket is made of a bunch of different squares pieced together (and pot holders and dish cloths are square) I figured I could just make a bunch of squares and play around with how I would attach them before I invest in the pretty yarn to make a real blanket.

I settled in with all my stuff and got it all set up and ready to go. I couldn't find my little knitting tool, but I figured it wasn't too big a deal because I had pretty much always done this kind of thing without it. Except there are a few factors that I failed to consider. In my past experiences the pegs were bigger (and usually had a little notch in them to help get under the loops of yarn), the yarn was chunkier and easier to grab, and my fingers were much smaller! In this case, it just wasn't happening.

Fast Forward about 18 hours - I had to run a couple of errands so while I was out I went to Wal-Mart to pick up my little knitting tool. They didn't have any of the little tools sold by themselves. I was figuring on it costing about $3-4 for the tool, so when I saw a tiny loom with the tool and another plastic needle for $5.50 I just snatched it up.

With tool in hand, I tackled a new project on my knitting board. I quickly discovered that it still wasn't going to work well. For one thing, the pegs are much smaller and closer together so it's naturally tighter. For another, the pegs are straight and there is just no good way to get under the loops and flip them. I tried for a little while and it was just frustrating so I pulled it all off. I'm rather disappointed because I really wanted to like my knitting board, but it just doesn't work for me. I prefer the larger pegs on the Knifty Knitter. Fortunately for me, Knifty Knitter makes long looms that are basically the plastic version of my big heavy board, which is nice.

I did try something new on my big round loom (pictured here), and that is making a square. Now you may be asking yourself "how in the heck to do you knit on that thing, and more importantly how do you make a square on a round loom?" Both are quite easy, but are easier to demonstrate than to describe. I may do a step by step one day (after I actually complete something!) Jeff got a nice little tutorial and was asking me all kinds of questions, specifically about making a blanket similar to the one he had as a little boy. I explained how I could do something similar, but that there were differences in crocheting and knitting, specifically loom knitting with my limited knowledge. I discovered that I actually know a little more about this stuff than I thought I did! Now I just have to put it into practice!

I got a fair amount done for today. Now that I have something in progress I think I will be a lot more motivated to work on it! I am going to get some cute yarn next time I have a few dollars and use my new tiny loom to make a cute scarf. The tiny loom also came with a pattern for making cute flowers, so I may try making one of those and putting it on a pin or a clip or something. We'll see how that goes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Domestic Engineering

When I was a senior in high school, one of my teachers did a quick poll to see who was going to college (I think just about everyone) and what we were going to study or what we thought we would do after school. And one of the first questions he asked was "Does anyone want to be a domestic engineer?" I knew exactly what that meant and was tempted to raise my hand, but at the time thought that was mutually exclusive to a career (and in the context of his question, it kind of was) so I didn't vote for that option.

I've started thinking about it and if that was your goal, what would you study in college to achieve that, regardless of whether you're a male or female? Of course, the first thing that came to mind was the repressed home economics teacher from Mona Lisa Smile and her class where they were discussing the finer points of a last-minute dinner party to impress the boss of one's husband. This is clearly not necessarily what the modern domestic engineer would need in terms of basic education, but home economics isn't a bad place to start. The one thing I dislike about the home ec. education of yester-year is the assumption that 1) the student is female 2) she plans to marry 3) she will have children. Because none of these can or should be assumed.

I'm not aware of a degree program that even comes close to what I am envisioning, but if one existed, what would it look like? I think the question is ultimately "what are the skills required to effectively maintain a home that is both comfortable and functional?" Here are some classes I think would be beneficial in creating a well-rounded domestic engineer.

Basic Psychology and Sociology - particularly developmental psychology and/or family systems theory along with general studies on social interaction

Nutrition and/or basic food preparation

Business - particularly basic accounting and/or personal finance

Art and Design - any type of introductory course that deals with the basics of color, light, and composition

Intro to Horticulture

Basic First Aid and CPR

If I were to create this as a degree program (that would obviously be in addition to basic education requirements) one thing I would not require, is childcare or education. As I said before, those are no longer assumptions that can or should be made about the modern domestic engineer. However, electives in things like education and childcare should certainly be available to those interested.

So what have I left out? What should I change?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.9

I'm not a huge "tech" person. I don't usually get really gung-ho about the latest and greatest gadgets. But I'm all for things that make my life easier. So here are a few of my favorite bits of technology.

iPod - I love my iPod. I especially love the fact that I can watch TV shows and movies on it. I have never tried the iPod Touch (like I said, not big on the "latest and greatest") but could see the advantage, especially if you were into the apps (never had occasion to try those either, although I like the idea). I clearly don't keep up with this stuff, but have heard that there is one (or will be soon) with built in speakers. I'm not gonna lie, that's going to be a "must" purchase when we have small kids! Hopefully by then they'll be a little cheaper (and if not I'll just call it an investment in my sanity!)

GPS - If you have ever traveled with me you will know I'm a little directionally challenged. This little wonder is fantastic, because if you miss your turn or go the wrong way, it'll tell you what you did wrong! Plus it will show you where there is stuff nearby. It's fun to just drive around town with it to see what you can find!

Kindle - I love my kindle SOOO much there aren't words. It's instant gratification when it comes to new books, and it is so much more portable. I'm a reader, especially when on vacation or traveling, so I love being able to take lots of books with me. Right now it's full of mindless trash and old classics I should have probably read in high school. And sometimes you can find good stuff for free. In a pinch I can also use it to check my e-mail. It's a magical device. The only thing I refuse to use it for is school or work. I still need to be able to write in the margins for those kinds of things. But for fun reading, it's the best!

Gameboy - I'm talking the old one here. Not the DS or anything like that. The kind with the black and white screen that they don't make anymore. I like the simple games. Tetris and Kirby pinball were my favorites. In fact, I still have them! They weren't long and involved and didn't involve lots of strategy or even much thought, just reaction. It was a nice way to kill a few hours. Still is. (No, this is not a photo of mine, but this is exactly what mine looks like. Yes it is green.)

I don't really have a favorite when it comes to computers. I really have enjoyed my mac over the past two and a half years, but I don't know that I'm a life-long convert. I suppose that will be determined when I need a new computer and whether cost or comfort ultimately wins out! I have looked into the new iPad, and I have to say I'm not terribly impressed. Maybe if I played with it a little more I would change my mind, who knows!

So what are your favorite technological advances? Comment away. I may find a new toy I can't live without.

Monday, March 8, 2010


I have come to the realization that I'm not a great blogger. Not because my content isn't riveting (just play along with this delusion for a while longer, pretty please) but because of cosmetics. It's just kind of boring to look at. I'm not great at including photos in my posts and thus it is just a sea of words.

I was all set to at least throw up a few random photos of our newest "housewarming" gift, a beautiful stained glass light fixture for the foyer from Jeff's grandparents. But alas, the fates are just not wanting to make that an easy thing for me to do. I promise it will happen eventually, but for now just trust me when I say it's beautiful.

Since I couldn't immediately fix the absence of photos I decided to add a little color to my online world through a background. Since I'm not tech-savvy enough to create something like this on my own, I "borrowed" it from a site called Cutest Blog on the Block (see their little tag on the top?) It's very me, don't you think? I actually tried out several and tweaked it quite a bit before I settled on this one but am pretty pleased with the results.

In the meantime I will try to be better about including pictures on more of my posts, especially my favorite things. I've never been one to hunt around online and use other people's picture (or stock photos) but perhaps I should. We'll see what happens there. It'll all depend on getting my memory card reader to cooperate.

Let me know what you think of my new look, and I will see what I can do about posting pretty things to look at.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

You're Invited...

... to an open house!

I don't like the idea of a "house warming" party because it sounds like we're asking for gifts and we just got all kinds of wonderful things for our wedding less than a year ago. Plus, I just can't quite make sense of why someone else would throw you a party to show off your house. Shouldn't that be your thing? I know it's totally "normal" I just can't wrap my little brain around it. So we are having an open house where everyone can come in and see the place all fixed up and not just decorated for Christmas.

The party will be Saturday, March 27th from 1-4 pm. There is talk of going out for Mexican afterwards if anyone would like to join in those festivities as well. This is probably the one and only time you'll ever get permission to open my closets and look in my laundry room. Take advantage of this limited-time offer. There will be food and music and maybe even some wine. It will be a lovely afternoon.

Come on over and bring a friend. If you want a formal invitation or need directions, just let me know!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Processing, Part Two

I covered most of the basics in Part One, so I won't go into a lot of detail about some of the various steps. I will try to avoid using acronyms and "speaking methodist" too much, but I can't promise anything!

I started the process of ordination when I was 17. I knew I was called into ordained ministry and knew the process was rather long and involved so I wanted to get going with it! I couldn't see why waiting would benefit me at all. I got through my first two steps pretty quickly and met with my first DCOM when I was 18, just before I started my second semester at Birmingham-Southern. At that point the districts were a little different than they are today and I was a part of the Decatur district. I was told that, since I was at BSC, they wanted to get me a candidacy mentor in Birmingham, and preferred that it be a female (which I appreciated). Well, unfortunately Birmingham had two whole districts to itself, which meant two other District Superintendents and two other DCOMs. And somewhere in this I got lost in the shuffle. I ceased to exist in this process for a little over two years. I tried asking the people I knew to ask, but nobody seemed to know exactly who was supposed to have my file or be responsible for me.

I knew that once I started divinity school I had to really kick it into high gear. And within the first week or two I wrote a note to the only person I could think of that was relatively neutral and might have an answer for me. She happened to be serving as assistant to the Bishop at that point. And she did indeed have answers and got things moving for me. When I asked her if I should transfer my candidacy to Tennessee since that's where I was in school and since nobody in North Alabama seemed to want to claim me, she immediately responded that I was indeed wanted and North Alabama would be more than happy to claim me. Within 24 hours I had an e-mail from the Bishop himself, and within two weeks I had my candidacy mentor assigned. If I'd known that would work, I would have done that two years earlier!

Things moved relatively smoothly from there. It was slower than we would have liked, but I knew that was pretty much par for the course and continued on. It took a little over a year before I could meet with my DCOM because they only meet and interview once a year and I didn't have all my requirements completed the first time around so I had to wait. (The thing that wasn't done was my psych evaluation which WASN'T my fault!)

I was a certified candidate for two years. I was interviewed after the first year and then told I wasn't expressing my theology clearly enough and that I had to wait another year. I wasn't particularly satisfied with this. Not because I have anything against their reasoning or their decision but because I was offered no more details, constructive criticism, or guidance. I understand why I was deferred, because the theology section of that interview was a disaster. However, I felt as though the interview was not fair, that I was attacked and not able to complete the answer to one question before they were firing three others at me, and that the interview material was all rather arbitrary and not very well organized. That changed in the next year, which I think helped everyone involved!

I was approved by my DCOM in September and submitted my papers in November. I was interviewed by the BoOM on Monday. The interview retreat was an interesting experience. On the one hand it was an absolute nightmare just because (as one spouse put it) it's the biggest interview of our careers. On the other hand it was nice to have so many people to share it with. It was nice to see classmates from BSC and Vanderbilt I hadn't seen or talked to in quite a while. Plus I met several new people and it was nice to make those connections.

I felt like the interview went well, but I also know the Conference is at an odd place that means navigating some new waters. That includes how they handle the interviews and making decisions about who is commissioned and who isn't. Rather than finding out immediately whether or not we would be approved for commissioning, we had to go home and wait four very long days. They seemed to get slower the closer we got to the end of the week and the scheduled time of 8am-12pm Friday.

I got my phone call at about 8:03am. I knew as soon as I answered the phone what it was going to be. My "request for provisional ministry was denied." I'm not surprised. And I actually feel pretty good about it. Amazingly, it was empowering. Because I'm no longer putting my life on hold for this process. I'm not compromising my personal life for my professional life. I've already given up too much of myself.

I have been called by God. I AM a minister. I still respect the process and agree to work within it, but I will not let it limit me and the person I will become. Ministry is more than just a job. It's more than just what I do to make money. But it's not the only thing that defines my identity. And all these other parts will help me be a better minister.

The only place to go from here is forward!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Processing, Part One

I know some that read this are familiar with the process of ordination in the United Methodist Church and may even be going through it. But I know that there are probably more that are not, so I'd like to take a moment to explain a little bit about what is happening in my life and making me a bit on the crazy side lately. This is a general overview of the process. Part Two will contain more information about my personal journey through this process, so if you're only interested in that part come back tomorrow!

Once a person feels that he/she has been called by God into ordained ministry, they enter a stage known as candidacy. The first thing to do is read a short book called "The Christian as Minister" that explains the various ways the church can be served and the role of the ordained minister in it all, as well as a brief history of ordination in the UMC and the various roles that go along with the titles.

After that the candidate has to find a minister as an "unofficial" mentor to help me fill out and work through a rather large spiral bound workbook. Typically this is a minister from their home church. The only requirement is that they have been through the process and be a member of the clergy.

After this was done a paper was submitted to the district committee on ordained ministry (DCOM). The candidate usually has to meet with the DCOM and explain why they feel called to ordained ministry. It was then their responsibility to assign a candidacy mentor to help work through the "dreaded" big blue notebook (which is basically a slightly more detailed version of the purple workbook). This is where I ran into trouble, but I'll explain that later.

After the candidacy mentor is assigned, you work through the notebook, begin (or continue) to fulfill the educational requirements, be approved by the local church's staff-parish relations committee (SPRC), complete a psychological evaluation, and obtain several recommendations, and meet with the district committee once again. I'm sure there are a few other things that got slipped into the stacks of paperwork, but it escapes me at this point.

After all the requirements were met at that stage, you must appear before the DCOM and be interviewed once again. At that point you can be granted the status of "Certified Candidate". You must be a certified candidate for at least one year before the district committee can recommend you to the conference Board of Ordained Ministry (BoOM).

Once you are recommended to the BoOM, you have to write a lot of papers and complete a lot of assignments that cover three major categories - Theology & Doctrine, The Called & Disciplined Life, and The Practice of Ministry. After all this work is submitted (along with other papers including financial disclosure, health forms, and more recommendations) you are called before the BoOM and are interviewed.

If you exhibit appropriate readiness for ministry and are approved by the BoOM you are then commissioned as a Probationary Elder. I know "probationary" isn't the appropriate term anymore, but it's what I'm used to saying. You enter a program of education, supervision, guidance, and support for two to three years that is now known as Resident in Ministry (RIM). The length of time required for this stage depends on the Book of Discipline under which you are commissioned.

As you near the end of the required time for your RIM or probationary period, you must submit more papers in the same basic categories (although they are different questions!) and once again be interviewed by the BoOM. If you are determined to be appropriately effective in your ministry you are the approved for ordination in full connection.

There are two basic paths of ordination - deacon and elder. Deacons are ordained to a ministry of word and service. Their primary task is connecting the church with the world. This is done in a variety of ways. There are so many fantastic deacons working in wonderful ministries I won't even pretend I can even scratch the surface in listing them. Elders are ordained to word, order, service, and sacrament. They are typically your pastors of churches and the ones people think of when they think of a minister. They can officiate over the sacraments (communion and baptism) as well as at weddings and funerals.

I won't lie. This process is very trying at times. There are times when I really dislike it. But I do respect it. I recognize that, for the most part, it works and has continued this way as long as it has because it is important and effective. And much like competing in a marathon, there's a certain level of pride and relief that comes with the completion of such an endeavor!

Stay tuned for Part Two, which will contain some insight into my personal experience in this process.

The R-Word, Part Two

I knew even when I posted about this earlier that I was going to have to come back in and elaborate on some things. I am a bit of a slacker for not remembering this was coming up and writing something eloquent ahead of time and just scheduling it to post this morning. But I did feel that it was too important not to get out there ASAP, which is what I did.

I have done a lot of thinking about this lately, especially as it pertains to "appropriate" use. Mental Retardation is a medical term. It used to be an umbrella term for most all developmental delays. But it is being used less and less, which is probably a good thing. Just as saying "Crippled" was at one time the appropriate term, it is no longer. MR is quickly being replaced, even in the "appropriate" settings, for which I am exceedingly grateful.

For the time being, the noun is appropriate to use. It is a condition.

The adjective is not appropriate. Really, it has never been appropriate, but it's even less ok now than it once was. The only thing it does is apply limitations, particularly to what the individual is expected to be able to contribute to society. It's incredibly unfortunate.

As hurtful as it can be to those who hear the term used inappropriately, I really do feel bad for the people that use it without remorse. Because it usually means a few things. First of all, they have never had anyone around them brave enough to stand up and tell them that what they are doing is inappropriate and hurtful. Second, they have never had the privilege of knowing one of the beautiful wonderful people in this world who have been given this clinical diagnosis but who certainly make the world a better and brighter place for being in it. They really are missing out on some very important experiences in life. I only hope that their ignorance is a temporary state. In the meantime, I will continue my crusade to try and fix this.

Here is your little ministerial moment - Remember the directive to "love your neighbor as yourself"? Well, some people seem to have a really hard time with that one, for a variety of reasons (that I will probably address in the future). So when it comes to this, let's take it one step further. Try to love your neighbor as you would your own sibling or spouse or child. You may realize a few things about yourself and others!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.8

Here are a few of my CURRENT favorite movies. They change frequently

Hannibal - I love Anthony Hopkins, I love Italy, and I love the music. It's just fantastic. I could have done without a good portion of the gore, but still a great movie.

National Treasure - I don't care how many times I've seen it, I love it. I love fun history! Plus it was fun trying to figure out the puzzles. Even though I know the whole thing now, I always discover some new little something every time I see it.

The Trouble with Angels - A favorite from childhood. It's fantastic. Haley Mills is wonderful. And I do love the way it ends. Perhaps it had an impact on me. I'll let you watch it, find out how it ends, and see what you think!

The DaVinci Code - I love Tom Hanks, and overall I was very happy with the way this was done. I wasn't quite as initially impressed with Angels and Demons, but it's since grown on me and I love it, too!

Rent - I'm normally a musical theater snob but I haven't seen the actual musical of Rent, so I still love the movie. And I love that it's mostly the original cast. I love Idina Menzel and Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp. I just do.

Enchanted - It's a great story, very entertaining, and has some very yummy Patrick Dempsey. I could watch this every single day. Apparently I'm six.

Delta Farce - Yup, it's absolutely stupid. I happen to enjoy laughing at stupid entertainment from time to time.

So what are your favorite movies? I'm always looking for new entertainment!

The R-Word

Today is the national "spread the word to end the word" campaign.

The R-word is often used in very thoughtlessly to refer to those persons who had intellectual disabilities. It is derogatory. It is mean. Meanness is one of my biggest pet peeves in the world. No matter what, everything in life boils down to three simple words - Don't be mean.

Some of the sweetest, most beautiful people I have ever met have been people with intellectual disabilities. This word hurts them. It hurts the people that love them. And I am honestly amazed that there are people who can still use this word given the number of people who have touched my life and I know there have to be that many others who have touched the lives of others.

To say "I didn't mean anything by it" does not help and isn't an appropriate defense. If you do use this word thoughtlessly, there is only one appropriate way to respond - to say "I'm sorry" and to do your darndest not to do it again!

This campaign had gained some national attention thanks to actor John C. McGinley, whose son has an intellectual disability. I continue to thank God for people like him who are able to use their notoriety to share very intimate things about themselves in an attempt to make the world a better place for everyone.

For more information, go to this website. Please!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Baby Talk

Jeff and I finally sat down and had "the" baby talk the other day - more specifically, how many kids would we want. There really wasn't much heated debate. I think we're pretty much on the same page with everything. This is perhaps why we never had "the talk" before. We knew we had similar ideas about family and what we wanted out of life.

We agreed that we want several children. Having an only child just wasn't an option for either of us, but I think it was even more important to Jeff than to me.

We agreed we want to adopt. I want to adopt sooner, Jeff wants to do it later. We may compromise and adopt somewhere in the middle! We aren't totally set on how we want to adopt, but I think it would probably be an international adoption and probably not an infant. We'll just have to wait and see!

We agreed that our final total should be 3 to 4 kids. I think right now we're both leaning more towards the three, but we'll have to wait and see what happens!

We really haven't discussed how far apart they should be. I'm leaning towards 2-3 years between each pregnancy. That way I won't have more than one in diapers at a time, which I think is actually a very good thing. I really admire the moms who can have lots of kids very close together. I think it would drive me up a wall. I know just enough from babysitting and school to be dangerous. I know that the influence of one's peers is huge! Every stage is different, but there need to be certain demarkations. And although the "in" thing is to just let children be themselves and do what they want whenever they want to do it, when they are small they need the help of adults to draw these boundaries and understand what is going on in their life. While I don't encourage the harsh training and forcing of "milestones" just to match what's in some book or trying to make something happen that isn't realistic given a child's development, I do think it's important to know how and when to make some distinctions. The best way to avoid a negative influence (or the temptation to get lax and deal with multiple ones at once) is to try and make sure the different kids are at different developmental stages.

We have thought about and talked about how I will handle working and having kids. Although I've always thought I wanted to be a stay at home mom if I could, I really don't think that is right for me. I guess that's what happens when you have a calling that's more than just a job! I don't think we've come to any long-term conclusions, but I know that I love the idea of working, at least part time! This church has in some ways spoiled me, and in others really inspired me. If I could have a small church like this, I think I could really handle the demands of several children and serving a congregation at the same time. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait and see whether that will be an option for me.

In the meantime I will continue to look forward to growing our family when the time is right. Originally we had talked about waiting until all my provisional ministry stuff is finished before we start trying to have kids so that I don't have to worry about maternity leave interfering. Now we're starting to back off on that timeline just a little. If I get commissioned this year I may continue to consider that because the rule is you have to serve full time for at least 2 years (24 months). And although there is vacation time, if I try to take a full 8-12 weeks of maternity leave, that would clearly not complete that requirement and in turn push me back a whole year. We're still not sure what we're going to do long term, but right now we're open to the possibilities.

I know for sure that we aren't going to start trying until at least 2011. And we have agreed that once we "start trying" it won't be a deliberate thing of counting days and ovulation tests and all that, but we won't be actively trying to prevent it anymore. Then we will just have faith that it will happen when it's supposed to happen!