Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thanksgiving Wrap Up

Now a week past the big turkey day, I ate the last of the sweet potato casserole tonight with a leftover pork chop (topped with a yummy red wine-cranberry sauce). There's only one piece of pumpkin pie left in the fridge, tabbed for tonight. Then, all that will remain is a lingering pound (or two) that I need to deal with.

We did two Thanksgiving meals this year--Oy! We started in Titusville Wednesday night with D's family--parents, sisters, cousins--and coconut cream pie for D's sister's birthday. YUM! They are big game players so we pulled out Catchphrase which we hadn't played in a few months. That game is a guaranteed laugh producer--especially when you play with, well, the senior group. They don't move the fastest and they are sometimes technologically challenged. Poor D had both his parents on his team. On sugar highs and late at night, we were rolling. The next day was cooking and eating. The cousins played together the whole day; I barely saw R. And there were two aunts and a grandma for B.

My parents drove down from SC on Thursday and we started all over again. Mom (with a little assistance from me) made four pies and the sweet potatoes. Her crusts are perfect and the pies were beautiful. Saturday we drove to Winter Haven to spend the afternoon with my grandparents and my dad's siblings. It was a bittersweet day as this will be my grandfather's last Thanksgiving. The food was great, everyone behaved themselves, the Gators won (and UCF, too!), and we all got through the day. It was good to be together.

Mom and Dad have stuck around a bit this week. Mom and I ventured out to the new Ikea store, took the kids to Crane's Roost, put the house back in order, patched a wall, did some Christmas shopping, drank some good wine, and ate pie. I'm feeling a bit tired but tomorrow I'm onto the Christmas decorations and Advent!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Book travel

If you could travel into any book, what would it be?

This question was posed to us during our discussion of The Eyre Affair, where the heroine Thursday Next (and other characters) travels into Jane Eyre. There is even a book tourism business.

I immediately thought of the Little House books. As a kid, I wanted to be Laura Ingalls, despite the lack of modern conveniences like plumbing and electricity. (Which is strange since I don't even camp without a bathroom and shower, and even then, I don't really like it.) I was enamored with all things calico and covered wagon. Part of it was the storytelling of the books that draws you and my romanticized version of pioneer life. I think part of it, too, was the strong female characters of tomboy Laura, noble mother Caroline, saintly Mary (though I side with Laura and she was a bit annoying at times in all her goodness). And, of course, there's Pa. The writer in me, sparked in the 3rd grade, also admired Laura Ingalls' ability and talent. Most of my "geek-heroes" were writers--Nellie Bly, Louisa May Alcott.

The other book world was, conventionally, Austen's Georgian England. The dresses, the dances, the conversation, Darcy, Mr. Knightly. I'm not sure why given the relative poverty of most of her heroines and again, no plumbing, but the air of formality and decorum is lacking in our modern casual culture and I think many of us long for that--to some degree. The way manners and politeness rule as moral code is not altogether an awful idea.

Any book tourism spots you would want to visit?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More Madness

Back in March, I posted a diatribe about D's NCAA tournament madness. Now, I should have known better, but I didn't think the madness would affect other sports as well. Silly me.

First, baseball, an accountant's dream sport with the endless statistics and averages and scoring quirks. During a graduate class project last year, D came up with the "FlemStat," a truer reflection of a player's batting performance than the standard percentages and averages. For example, it does not take into consideration RBI's since that is dependent upon other players' batting. He downloaded years of statistics to determine who, according to the FlemStat, was the greatest hitter ever. (I think he said the Babe.) And now he uses it to predict who should get MVP awards at the end of the season.

This year, with the crazy college football season, he has made his own statistical ranking of all 130 NCAA Div I football teams. His version awards wins and losses point values and he tracks the rankings of each team in a team's schedule. For all 130 teams. Every week. Then he analyzes his Top 25 ranking against the AP, Coaches', and BCS polls. He's trying to figure out the bias in those polls and is convinced that his is the only truly mathematical, non biased ranking.

I told him to write a letter to someone.

A Random Act of Kindness

As we neared the Maitland exit yesterday afternoon, I decided I needed a latte. We'd been out since 8:30 when we drove to Winter Haven to see my grandfather who's been in the hospital for the past two weeks. He's not doing well and my mood and energy had ebbed.

I took the kids out of their car seats for the quick run into Starbucks. The barista behind the counter had a funny smile on her face as I approached. "Today is your lucky day," she said. My first thought--what gimmick will she try to sell me? And, it really hasn't been.

"One of our customers just had a baby and as a random act of kindness she wanted the next person who came in with a baby to have this gift card."

So instead of dashing in and out, the kids and I sat down and shared a piece of pumpkin bread, R drank that really good chocolate milk, and I sipped my latte slowly. This had still been a rough day but that act of unmerited generosity reminded me of God's grace and lifted me up a bit.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Book Club Field Trip

Lauren Winner, author of Girl Meets God, Real Sex, and Mudhouse Sabbath, spoke at RTS yesterday as part of their One Book, One School reading initiative. I read Girl Meets God a few years back as a book club read and thoroughly enjoyed her writing and her heart. I read Real Sex not too long after that and Mudhouse Sabbath this year. RTS brought her in to speak after the school read Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity. So most of the women from our book club made it over there to hear her speak. She has great rhinestone cat-eyed glasses and looks like a cool professor/academic. And she speaks like she writes, engaging and real and with some major vocab too.

She didn't speak for too long before stopping to address questions but she did an excellent job. The highlights for me (paraphrased, I didn't take notes!).
  • The need for the church to approach the sex topic completely differently than it usually does. First, by not looking at the "No's" of sexual behavior but to God's "Yes" in how to conduct our bodies in a way that conforms more and more to the Gospel. Second, but not isolating sexual behavior as separate from any other sin or other spiritual disciplines. So that sex isn't just a six week Sunday school course or one sermon series, but contextualized in the greater discussion of our behavior and discipline and relationship to God and neighbor. And to not hold sexual behavior greater than other sins. Her example, a pastor who won't marry a couple who's engaging in premarital sex. What about a couple who is not tithing?
  • The community aspect of the discourse on sex was, for Winner, the predominant theme. Sex matters because in joining one's body to the Body of Christ means what one does with that body is important to the Body. Sex is not an individual right.
  • Only through community will the Church be able to hold better conversations about sex. But, underlying this, the Church must address the root restlessness in our society where we change job/neighborhood/church/state/etc. every three years or so. There's very little possibility for true, deep community in that kind of transient living.

I was surprised at the small numbers, I thought, for a nationally known author and speaker, but I was very glad to see some of our pastors and the youth ministry leadership there. And also nice to share the afternoon with wonderful women. I was actually away from my children from 9:00 until 4:30, thanks to my dear husband and gracious mother-in-law who was supposed to be on jury duty until the case was dismissed at 10:00 that morning. Providence.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Happy Fall Y'All

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Here's a few pictures of our fall activities from the past week or so. Or at least an attempt at something fall-like in 80+ degrees. The Fall Festival at church was a success though it's always seems crazy and chaotic from my end. The pictures of R and B at the picture station were the only ones I got that day! But I'm sure R will model her princess dress again for me. My attempt at making B's costume went unfinished. He was sick for part of the week and I never fully executed my vision. Maybe next year.