Monday, December 31, 2007

With or Without a Burka

As many of you know (most of all my husband) when there is an event looming in my future, my most favorite pastime is planning. He says I like to plan and plan and plan, then when the situation shifts, no big deal, it’s more reason for me to re-plan. It’s true. I do love to plan. And I would have to agree that among activities I would list as hobbies, planning tops the list as my favorite. Not only do I like it, I think I’m good at it.

By the way, WHAT did we do before the internet?

But I digress. In the near future we are taking a trip to India to visit Conrad’s family. This keeps me busy with packing lists and visa paperwork alone. BUT we are planning on stopping in the United Arab Emirates to visit my brother-in-law for a couple of days and that planning is also very fun!

So I have spent quite a bit of time researching things we might want to do in Dubai. If you ever watch the Travel Channel, you know that Dubai has become one of the premiere vacation destination in the world. And they have everything from unprecedented indoor skiing, huge malls (no taxes in UAE), 7 star hotels, and Bedouins.

So, I have narrowed down a list of things I’d like to do while in Dubai. (Isabelle, my mom, and I stopped in Dubai last fall, during Ramadan, to visit Alfred, but we only stayed a few hours and it was overnight! We saw a lot of the city and city life because it was so alive due to the holiday, but still there is so much more!)
•Visit Bedouin village/market etc. It seems like Middle Eastern culture at it’s purist. Can we find such a place? I dunno. Am I the only person who thinks even “Bedouin” is an intriguing word?
•Eat Middle Eastern Food (what is this? Like Lebanese food? I am feeling profoundly ignorant in the area of international cuisine)
•Take home something purely Arabian….that’s not a carpet….or a burka.
•Ski/snowboard/toboggin at the indoor ski mountain. Come one…where else can I snow the middle east??
•Stay at a NICE hotel and get a massage. Oh ya…enough said.
•Visit the man made island of the Palm Jimira. This has been called the 7th wonder of the world, can be seen from space, and the mass amounts of real estate on this property sold out within 72 hours of opening sales! Seriously!

Now, my remaining thoughts are, how do I fit all of this into two days? How do I prioritize? And of course, how do we pay for all of my grand plans? If you were going with us, what would you want to do?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Someone Famous Read My Blog?!

I was so excited to get an email back today from Lisa McKay, the author of the book I mentioned a week or so ago, My Hands Came Away Red. And I thought I'd post her note (I hope you are okay with this Lisa, if you are continuing to read!) But I was just super excited.

Dear Danielle,

Thank you so much for writing to me. Sorry for the delay in reply - I've been away and am just now catching up on email before leaving again on Saturday, then to Australia in Jan for almost a month (hooray!!!). It's so much fun to get glimpses into the fact that people are reading Hands and liking it. I had never written to an author just to say that I liked their book before I published this one (I will now though) and so hadn't really thought that I'd hear from people. It's been an unexpected joy, and helps inspire me to keep working away on book number two (which I've just started).

My hands came away red has just gone to reprint too, which makes my editor very happy (since he took a bit of a risk with this book I think, since it's not exactly typical faith fiction). And since I'd made the decision before I even got a publishing contract to give all my author royalties from the sale of this book away, the charities I'm donating too are pretty happy too. And me, I'm thrilled people love the story that is so close to my heart and my life.

So thanks again for writing. I’m SO glad you enjoyed the book, and hope you’re having a good week. Do keep writing. It took years and years for Hands to crystallize for me, but the journey was part of the fun.


PS. Thanks also for mentioning Hands on your blog! That's fabulous!

I actaully heard Lisa on a Moody Radio Talk Show, which was what sparked my interest in the book, and I know she Australian, but in my head she sounds just like my South African Friend, Heather :)

And, of course, I had to add a picture of Isabelle with her new toy, which she LOVES, from Aunt Jona and Uncle Eric. By the way, that "backpack" is actually one of those toddler harnesses. The bear's "tail" is a leash. Put it on the list of things I said I'd never do, put my kid on a leash.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Excitement

Christmas was a whirlwind this year…but great! It started off Saturday with Christmas at my Dad’s side of the family. This is our first Christmas without Papaw, but in spite of that, it was good. As everyone was asking me what to get Isabelle this year I said books books books and boy did she get books! She would open up one and she wanted to sit and read it and didn’t want anything else to do with another gift!

On Sunday we went to church with my parents, then out for brunch. Then we took a LONG nap and went over to my aunts for cookie baking. My Aunt Becky and Uncle Mike from California just came in so we wanted to spend some time with them (in actuality, I didn’t bake one cookie!) Then we sent Isabelle home with my mom and dad and Conrad and I went to a movie! I can’t remember the last time we did that!

On Monday we lounged around all day long doing nothing in particular before we went back to Brenda’s for the Christmas Eve party with my Mom’s side of the family. My Uncle Thornton has 10 or so grandkids so the house was packed with kids running in circles just biding their time until present time. Isabelle joined the gang and I’m sure she ran a full two miles that night! Some of the older boys were looking glum as presents were passed out and they didn’t seem to be making out like everyone else. I think the let down was part of the plan. Pretty soon Grandpa Thornton took them out to the garage where there where big shiny bikes waiting for them! They were pretty excited!

Isabelle’s presents were stacked up over her head! Again, the first present was a book from Aunt Sheila and I couldn’t get her to open up anything else! Eventually she did and we had fun with all of the books, toys, and clothes…boy did this girl get clothes! Thank goodness because she seems to grow out of stuff so fast

Christmas day we opened presents around noon when my sister and her husband arrived. Again, Isabelle made out like a bandit! Then everyone came over at 2ish for Christmas dinner. It was good and we are officially sick of eating today!! It was nice to see Terry…who is a regular blog visitor and who we don’t get to see regularly!

We got to talk to most of Conrad’s family and we can’t wait to see them in January! I wanted to get some pictures posted so everyone in India could see Isabelle! Merry Christmas friends and family

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Queen Christmas

Okay, everyone must be busy with the Christmas season, or everyone is wearying of checking my blog when I NEVER update anymore because I’m not feeling the love here. I’m trying…really, I am. I’m still a little shaky, but mentally gearing up for the family Christmas marathon that starts on Saturday. And we must be feeling better because we are brining THE entertainment, the person FOR whom Christmas trees were put up for and presents were wrapped for, and stockings were hung for. Me? Ha! THE grandchild.

Each and every year my sister and I would argue over when we were going to open Christmas presents with our immediate family. I would fight for Christmas Eve night so we could then sleep in the next morning…ever pragmatic. My sister, wanting to hold on to the joy of Christmas morning as a child, fought equally hard for opening presents Christmas morning. Eventually, my dad would dub one of us “Queen Christmas” that year and we would get to decide when we opened the gifts. Of course, the problem came when we could never remember who was Queen Christmas last year and who gets it this year? Like usual, I’m sure Jona got her way most years!

All of that to say, I hope Isabelle enjoys being the undisputed Queen of Christmas this year. Too bad she is too young to enjoy the power.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Hands Came Away Red

I just finished this great book called “My Hands Came Away Red.” If you are in the market for a great novel, I would suggest this one. In fact, I even found the author’s website and sent her an email telling her how much I enjoyed her book and how she has inspired me to write more.

I guess it wasn’t just that the book was sooo soak-in-a-hot-bubble-bath-and-read-for-two-hours great (although it was) but that the author was really speaking from a perspective that was so similar to my own. The book is about a group of teens who go on a short term missions trip to Indonesia and end up in the middle of a war between Muslim and Christian villages. They are cut off from everyone, and trekking through the jungle for weeks trying to get home. It’s heart wrenching, mostly because it’s based on some very real facts.

I loved the fact that the narrative voice was a 17 year old girl, but I didn’t walk away feeling like she was a 17 year old. She felt much older. I loved that after I read the book it made me want to write! It made me want to write books about adventures in missions. It gave me an idea of HOW to write this kind of book….to inspire, without coming off preachy. Can it be done…twice? One never knows…one never knows.

So, if you were going to write a book about something…what would you write about?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Back from the Abyss

I know I have been very absent from blog world for the past week or so. I have a good excuse..the flu…or some other undetermined winter sickness, from which I will graciously spare you the details. Sufficed to say, I am feeling somewhat better after a few days of antibiotics. I have been sick and usless for the last week. Today I am at work, feeling about 50% better.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much to write about except the enormous amounts of stupid television I watched over the past few days. It seems like my daughter and husband have escaped the sick train, but Isabelle has something else going on with a heavy cough. She continues to run in circles at about 12 miles an hour, so I guess she’s not feeling too badly!

On a happier note, we went to the mall this weekend. I was still not feeling well, but sooo tired of being sick and laying down. The mall was fine. Since the weather was not great, it wasn’t as packed as it would have been. My sole goal at the mall was to find a Christmas outfit for Isabelle. I was a little surprised that all of the kid’s Christmas clothes were cleared out already. Luckily I found a little something I liked at Gymboree. And Isabelle looks cute in anything! So…she’ll he wearing this little dress to all of our family Christmas parties. So, if you, family, are reading this…don’t feed the kid anything messy. This one outfit has to last! Not that I can’t wash it…but we do have one party right after another after another!

Here’s a picture of Isabelle last Christmas in the outfit that her Opa bought her for Christmas. Hmmm…trying to stay away from the red polyester santa suit this year, tho.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Close to Home

Yesterday an unknown shooter opened fire in a YWAM base in Colorado killing 2 and wounding 2 more young missionaries in training. Later on Sunday, right after the morning service, a shooter opened fire in New Life Church in Colorado Springs, right near where parents were picking their children up from Sunday School. He killed several people there before a security guard killed him.

In our little community of friends and family, MANY of them are YWAMer’s or were YWAMer’s. And I have many many friends who go to New Life and are even on staff there. I have no idea how everyone is.
Pray for these folks today.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Merry Tossmass

This month my section at work is hosting our bureau’s retreat. We have several educational speakers surrounded by a lot of fluff…you know food, gift exchanges, and ice breakers (can’t you hear the employees shiver when they hear that breaker? Or is it just us from Teen Mania Land who shutter? Better yet…try “team building” and watch the nervous twitch in my eye.)

Anyway, as we threw around themes for our “Winter Retreat” We unanimously decided on a “Vegas” theme. But that took all of 2 minutes to be shot down. Later we decided that we would make it a western theme, focusing on the finer points of HATS to avoid the offense, side story of cowboys and Indians (or native Americans, as we call them these days). We were calling it our Holiday Ho Ho Ho Down. But it was shot down because “Ho” could be construed as too close to a certain holiday that begins with C (or offensive to a morally loose woman).

Everything we did was methodically picked through by the management team to decide what would and would not be offensive…and systematically thrown out! Now, I want to add that we don’t have one Jew or Muslim in our entire bureau. Most are committed or nominal Christians. Several agnostics, and a bunch that don’t give a rip. I have a lot of upfront time at this particular bureau retreat. I’ve decided to have a shirt made that say’s “Go ahead, wish me a Merry Christmas!” …or “Merry Tossmass.”

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Five Love Languages

I was reading my friend, Beth’s blog about how her and her husband Dave do Christmas gifts. I thought this was hilarious! And it got me thinking about Love Lanuages. You guys have probably read the book that states that each of us speaks a primary “love language”. And when we show people that we love them, we speak to them in our love language..when actually we should be speaking to them in thiers!

For example, my mom is Acts of Service. When she wants to show you she loves you she’ll come and clean your house, make special meals that you like, or baby sit your child. My sister Jona is Giving & Receiving Gifts. She will buy you lavish and thoughtful presents and sends cards with genuine expressions of love hand written in them. My dad, my husband, and I are all Quality Time. We would rather spend time together than just about anything. The author of the book talks about how relationship problems always occur when you try to fill up your spouse’s (or other family member) “love tank” using your love language and not theirs.

Now this brings us back to Christmas…in the U.S…we all start speaking the love language of Giving & Receiving Gifts. In India, you really don’t buy gifts for people for birthdays or for Christmas. So since we’ve been married, I have tried to indoctrinate my husband into the season of this particular love language. I have been none too successful.

Of course, I have always been in the same mindset of Beth, there really is no need to make your husband buy you a “thoughtful” gift. This is a really rather difficult task for a husband. I think if we, as women, are going to be picky about our gifts, then we should be also be helpful…so for the love, don’t make it a federal case…by your own dang Christmas present, wrap it up yourself, or at the very least, give him the exact link to the website and item you want on the web. Have you EVER met a man who’s love language is Gift Giving??

So Honey, when you read this today, I want like this, or this, or this always fit’s just right! Better yet, I’ll get it myself at the mall tomorrow! Love you!

RETRACTION: “Anonymous” from yesterday’s post also apologized for the snippy comment made a couple of months ago. Apology accepted “Anonymous.” Besides, she/he was apparently talking in jest..I just didn’t get it! By the way, who are you????

Monday, December 03, 2007

Mall Rats

We had a rather exciting weekend this weekend. Okay, rather exciting FOR US. A few months back I had posted, asking my faithful readers to please comment on my posts, and some “Anonymous “ commented, “We would if anything significant every happened in your life.” Now that was uncalled for. I never claimed to be anything but a Mommy Blogger.

As I was saying, exciting FOR US. Saturday we took Isabelle for her first overpriced haircut. That was exciting, as the salon had a slide and looked way more like Chuckie Cheese than a hair salon. Isabelle sat in the little fire engine and watched her first Barnie movie. And the salon lady snipped one or two little curls off, advised me on whether or not we should go with bangs for Isabelle (she said no, because she already has a small forehead) and tried to sell me “product.”

We then ventured to the mall. I love taking Isabelle to the mall…on two conditions. One: Conrad is with me. We definitely need to two on one her. Two: I have no tasks to accomplish. Because I am sure to be disappointed with my lack of accomplishment, if I go with a list. Those conditions being met, we had a good time at the mall.

We went into Macy’s and wondered around looking at the sales. Isabelle was mildly amused with all of the people, but as we reached the big doors going into the mall, she began to run. All of the sudden, she stopped at the entrance and just starred out, mouth open. She was in awe of the lights, decorations, and bustle. We tried to steer her back to a sales rack, but she would have none of it. And really, having no solid agenda, we were more interested in her reactions than the $9.99 shirts, so out we went.

We even went to the play area so Isabelle could play with all of the little Indian kids. By the way, have you ever noticed that there are always lots of Indians at the mall, all of the time? On a side note, Conrad and I have talked about it and decided that it’s because Indians are accustomed to lots of people around all of the time and comfortable at malls. It’s warm, safe, and lot’s of people. After a while, Malls drive me nuts! The crowds, the noise….ick. But my husband and daughter…true Indians! They love the mall!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cookbook Classics

My Grandma Margie is an amazing cook. Over Thanksgiving I got the privilege of making her FAMOUS thanksgiving rolls. Well…actually, I just followed her step by step verbal instructions as she told me what to do. She even had to step in a few times to save the mess I’d made. BUT…MY VERY hands created the family favorite.

As I begin the baking process, she pulled out the faithful old cookbook she got the recipe from. It was a well worn copy of Holiday Favorites of the Assemblies of God Women, 1969. As I perused the cookbook, it was stocked full of wonderful recipes and “Menu’s “ for events such as “Youth Night” at church to “Election Night Dinners” Classic!

Decided that I had to have a copy of this old cookbook, I looked in the back of the book, and it had an order form and a request for $3, which included shipping and handling. Thinking that the AOG probably didn’t have a stockpile of these books in a backroom somewhere, I went to good ole’ google.

And I am happy to announce that I found a copy on ebay for $3.50 plus S&H! Whoo hoo! Maybe one day I’ll be a Grandma making legendary dishes for my offspring from this very book!...actually if I make too many of these dishes, I may not make it to grandma status!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cranky Water Bug

Last night was Isabelle’s third swimming class. I should note that Isabelle has been cutting some serious teeth for the past two weeks. From what we can assess, she is cutting four molars at one time! This would explain the weepy cryie cranky clingy child we have had for 14 days. And on these days I wonder HOW mom’s stay home with their kids all day when they are like this?? I know it’s horrible to say, but my nice quiet cubicle at work, with it’s soothing lights from the computer monitor and comfy office chair is a nice repast.

Anyway, she cried all Sunday night, on and off. She woke up on Monday with one of her loud screams and yelled and squealed till we dropped her at daycare. We picked her up, and the moment she saw us she started whining again and didn’t stop till her little body hit the water at swimming class at 7:05pm. Then she was happy child again.

She is getting good at swimming. She spashed and kicked and went under water and jumped from the wall and “swam” almost all by herself. She loved swimming and is fearless…mores so than even the weeks before! I had such a good time with her too! I was amazed at what she’s learned and retained!

Then the last drop of water was dried from her arms and legs, she started whining and kicking and crying again. Apparently, happy baby only exists at the YMCA.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Traditions

I have been reading my friend’s blogs about the huge thanksgiving meals they lovingly prepared for their family and guests. That is so special. But, me? I am SOOO thankful that I am three generations down on the thanksgiving pecking order in my family. Meaning, my Grandma still cooks, my mom and aunts still help. I show up, bring the grandchild, and complain about the eight hours of football watching. That’s my job. I didn’t even make a pie this year. Priceless.

On another note, we got our Christmas decorations up. We started a Christmas tradition when we got married. We started collecting ornaments and things for the tree that mark important events or tell a story. For example, our star on the top of our tree we got on our honeymoon. We also have a cheesy statue of liberty bulb that I bought at the gift shop at the Statue…where Conrad proposed to me! And if you open up the box it’s stored in, the ticket stub from the first movie he ever took me to is in there also.

And from Isabelle’s first Christmas, we started a collection for her. We’ll start keeping them in a separate box and her job each year will be to carefully place her ornaments on the tree (or soundly avoid the whole event as she gets older…whatever the case may be!!) and when she gets older and starts her own family and her own tree, she can take her ornaments with her to start her own tree and traditions!

We turned on Christmas music and slowly assembled our fake evergreen. The bigger it got, the more excited Isabelle started to get. She could hardly contain her excitement as the lights when on and she ran from room to room saying “Ohhhhhhuuuuu.” As we put the bulbs on the tree we told her each and every story that went with each and every ornament, even though she was WAY more interested in swiping shinny gold globes and hiding them behind furniture. Every morning she runs from the bedroom to see if the tree is still there. Baring any more teething, I think this will be the best Christmas yet!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Foodie Event

I have always thought that foodies were a little weird. You know, those people who are constantly talking about the newest kitchen gadget or yapping about this great recipe or that one. But, it has come to my attention that I have become a foodie, and in fact, coming from a full blooded Virginian family, I am, at my core, a foodie. Hello. I’m Danielle. And I am a foodie.

That being said, some of you may not know that Milan, Ohio, population 600 and my home town, has one of the top 10 culinary schools in the world! Seriously! It’s called the Culinary Vegetable Institute. They have so many cool things going on, including Veggie U where they teach kids about eating healthy.

Knowing that my Grandma Margie is one of the south’s most original foodies, we got together and bought her a Cooking Class for her birthday, which naturally included a class for each of us. So Monday night my Aunt Beverly, Grandma, my mom, and my Aunt Brenda, and I experienced our first CVI cooking class.

Now, to clarify, this is a sit at a nice table and watch the chef cook your meal kind of class. There were probably almost 200 people there and the menu included Olivada Crostini, Bourbon Roasted Wild Turkey, and Pecan Pumpkin Cheesecake among many many other dishes. We had a great time and we even had a visit from Farmer Jones, the owner and operator who always wears signature blue overalls and red bow tie. And just for good measure, her is a picture of my own little Farmer Jones

Maybe next year we’ll get tickets to Paula Dean’s cooking class at VCI. One can only dream…

Monday, November 19, 2007

And They Lived Happily Ever After

Last week my best friend, Rachel, and her family came to visit us. Rachel and I have known each other since we were 17. We met through a mutual friend at a “Maniac’s Only” Retreat out in Oklahoma (I wonder if Rachel even remembers this??). Two kids from different sides of the country!

Later, we went on to the TM internship and then to ORU together. We have been best friends for over 13 years! And I guarantee that you will never meet two more opposite people in your whole life. God really did arrange our friendship to be an iron sharpens iron type of relationship.

Once we were walking around on campus and I was arguing some minute point (because that’s what Payne’s do for fun: argue) and Rachel stopped and yelled, “Are you going to die on EVERY hill? So, after much deep thought, I decided that Rachel was definitely right and tried from that point on (sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much), to choose my battles in relationships. So I credit any kind of discernment in that area of my life to Rachel, and my husband thanks her daily.

I don’t think this a few paragraphs in this blog will ever adequately describe my friend and how I feel about Rachel. She has always been that friend who sticks closer than a brother. We spent years laughing, crying, studying, praying, fighting, and ministering together. And through many moves, many states, and many countries, we have remained close friends. I had the privilege of bringing a “toast” at her wedding and I joked that when Rachel first met Mark and she introduced him to me, she called me after the meeting to ask me how “we” felt about Mark. Before we both married, “we” meant Rach and I!

In 2004, Rachel was working in Indonesia and we met in Bali to vacation for a week. Later that year, I met Conrad, and by the end of the next year we were both married! It continuously amazes me how much change a couple of years can bring..and now we are six!

It was always difficult to think about giving your best friend to another ‘best friend.’ But we knew it was God’s plan for our lives and such a joy! And luckily we married within months of each other, and even had kids not far apart. We have already started grooming Isabelle and Abraham for an arranged marriage. Yesterday Rachel was telling them a “story” about their future courtship as they “listened” intently and “lived happily ever after”.

Rachel married a wonderful husband, Mark, who adores her, and takes good care of her and Abraham. We asked Rachel and Mark to be Isabelle’s Godparents, because we know that no one will be more diligent in covering Isabelle in prayer than her future in-laws *wink* And we were honored that they asked us to be Abrahams last weekend too!
We love little Abraham. He’s already in our hearts. We prayed for him in church on Sunday, but Isabelle was crying, so our prayers were cut short. So I would like to pray a little blessing over Abe in our Blog:

Father, we pray that your Holy Spirit is in Abe’s life continuously. We ask that his ears always be open to your voice that speaks softly sometimes. That his eyes are always open to see the path that You have for him. That he leans on your Word to light that path.

We bless him with favor and ask that people be drawn to him, because they sense that he is, as his namesake was, “A friend of God.” We bless him with a heart of excellence, like Daniel. We bless him with wisdom, like Solomon. And a heart of boldness, like Paul.

Let this little life always be lived whole-heartedly for You.

Friday, November 16, 2007

15 Month Check Up

To give my child the benefit of the doubt, I should say, that Isabelle’s screaming and tandrem’s could be somewhat brought on by the fact that she got a fresh round of immunizations on Monday. I forgot to mention that, didn’t I?

Luckily, she didn’t remember the doctor’s office, and didn’t know what was coming, so it was somewhat uneventful until the actual deed. Dr. D had a nurse practioneer in training that day, so he took a little extra time to poke and prod my child and make notes about her to the student, while I stood by helplessly and Isabelle had enough sense to scream at the obvious feelings of being violated! I can’t say that I blame her for that one.

So, currently she is still just over 20 pounds (I was so sure she was safely in that front facing car seat!). 20 pounds and 11 ounces. She is 10th percentile on weight. And 30 inches long, which is 50th percentile on height. Tall and skinny…I’m guessing that that one may not stick with her lineage. Here’s hoping, for her sake, tho!

By the way, thanks for all of the great eating out advice! We will make sure to use all of your hard won wisdom! And I have been a little slow on the posting because our computer is currently slammed with spyware that basically froze the entire thing posting at home (wtih pictures!) has been a challenge!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Parental Hazing, Part 2

I believe we have officially entered The Toddler Years. And some friends have assured me that the Terrible starts before 2. I would like to go on record as saying, “I agree.” Last night, Isabelle and I dropped my best friend Rachel, her husband Mark, and son, Abraham off at the airport (We’ll talk more about that visit tomorrow).

On the way there, Isabelle had been working on perfecting her scream. You know the one. It’s where she opens her mouth and there are two seconds of nothing before the extremely loud and high pitched sound exits her mouth. I think the first two seconds are at a decibel only dogs can hear.

After she fitfully fell asleep and the airport drop was completed, we went downtown to meet Conrad and get some dinner. We have one of those great entertainment books where you “buy one, get one free” at half of the restaurants in town. We used to go out to eat and share a meal, now we each get our own, spend the same amount of money, and now eat twice as much. Good times.

So, we choose a trendy little Scottish bar type restaurant in the Short North area. Our thought was people drinking beer are loud. So they won’t be so sensitive to a toddler’s babble? I mean, come on, people drinking martini’s are quiet, not beer. Right?

So, with our logic firmly in place, we woke Isabelle up and took her in. But, as soon as we put her in the highchair, she let out one of those (now famous) high pitched screams. The music stopped. The forks went down. The talking stopped. And everyone looked in our direction, rolled their eyes, and thought, “Great, there goes my nice dinner. Why do people take children like that out in public?”

Before I go on, I should admit. I have been one of those people. I have thought those thoughts. I have rolled my eyes and wondered the same thing. What goes around, truly does come around….

Now, I calmly pick up my back-arched-mad-about-God-only-knows-what child and head out side. Now I am standing on the street in the Short North, as people pass by me, thinking the same things. And I, modern American parent, am in a dilemma. I cannot spank my child, someone is likely to call children’s services and take her away from us! I cannot let her throw a fit, NO one wants that. I can’t even go to the car with her, because it’s around the corner in a dark alley, and the keys are back in the restaurant.

So I have a stern chat with her (which goes completely over her head), praying under my breath for some kind of wisdom beyond my years, and she slowly calms down. I take her back in, where we quickly finish our meal, and determine to stick to suburban kid friendly (a.k.a LOUD) restaurants or HOME until WE learn to control our child.

All in a days work for parenting, I suppose…

Friday, November 09, 2007

Isabelle's Progress Report

Isabelle has several new “things” that she has learned. From watching her in the nursery at church with several other babies her age. I have concluded a few things. Physically she is not quite as mature as babies her age. Verbally, she’s way ahead. One little girl named Hannah, who easily has 10 pounds on Isabelle, will barrel over and take whatever she wants from Isabelle, sure on her feet, and with fine precision in her little fingers. Isabelle lacks some of the precision of these little tykes.

But the other babies Isabelle’s age seem to be saying, “Ba, ba, ma, blah, goo.” Isabelle says:
• Hi
• Bye
• Mama
• Dada
• Opa (Grandpa for my dad)
• Oma (Grandma for my mom)
• Papaw
• Ta Ta (Grandfather in Tamil)
• Amamamama (Amama is grandma in tamil)
• Woof Woof
• Meow
• One, two, three
• Uhhh ohhh
• Bible
• Jesus

Keep in mind, I’m not bragging (is that possible?) But I’m just reporting so that her grandparents and aunts and uncles can keep up!

She loves to sing and dance and does her own little motions to Jesus Loves Me, including hugging herself for “loves me” and clasping her hands together for “the bible tells me so.” They sing this every morning at daycare before they pray and take their bibles out to talk about Jesus.

Have I told you lately how much we love this kid?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Chickens & Candy

I realize that no respectable Christian would acknowledge Halloween, but some of my best memories as a child were trudging through crisp leaves to the neighbors house to trick or treat, dressing up in some creative homemade costume that my mom came up with (my favorite was a ballerina, while my sister was a housewife complete with pink housecoat, curlers, and a mud mask), and carving pumpkins. When I asked my parents why they let us celebrate Halloween when we were little, they answered that they didn’t know any better.

Even in India, they have some kind of similar Hindu celebration. When Isabelle and I were carving up our pumpkin last weekend, Conrad just sighed and said, “I can’t believe a child of mine is celebrating the devil’s birthday.” What? The devil’s birthday? I really have to research what that celebration in India is.

On Halloween night I was WAY excited to dress Isabelle up in a costume and take her out. Surely more excited than she was, because let’s face it, she just didn’t know what was going on. But when the kids started coming to the door in their costumes, she perked right up and got involved. She was a little upset about us giving, what she perceived as her candy, away. But she got over it, as soon as she got a little stash of her own.

Our neighborhood is unique in that all of the houses are close to the road with big front porches, well lit streets, and no cars parked on the street. It’s a lovely little place for children. It’s a quiet little street, until Halloween. About ten minutes till six you can see all of the neighbors sticking their heads out of their doors looking for the kids. By 6:30 you have a steady flow of kids and, if the weather is decent, everybody is sitting on their front porches handing out candy. Some people fully decorate their front porches, complete with spider webs and a fog machine. It is the one time a year that everyone get’s neighborly. It’s odd, I know…but fun!

I had a great time taking Isabelle door to door, we just did about half a street, went to visit a co-worker who lives a few houses down, and came back. Mommy was tuckered out from all of that trick or treating!

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Domestic Streak Continues

The part of my personality that I affectionately refer to as focused, others have been known to call “Obsessive” (We’ll leave compulsive component for another post) . Just like with the scrapbooking, I get on kicks and need to keep doing stuff, usually along the same vein, until it kind of works out of my system.

A few months ago it was scrapbooking. I work it all out of my system, then I need another “project.” Lately it’s been cooking. Spurred on by the massive influx of information on organic eating, and inspired by Emily’s canning experiences I have felt the need to take cooking at home to a new level.

So, in order to save you the anguishing experience of reading a drawn out post on my past week’s experience, I have put it in bullet points, the things that I have been up too over the past several days.
• Bought a bushel of apples
• Borrowed my mom’s corer/slicer/peeler (LOVE IT!)
• Bought canning jars
• Cored/Sliced/Peeled half a bushel of apples
• Make applesauce
• Made pie filling
• Made apple butter
• Made nifty labels to go on my jars
• Made homemade cinnamon raisin wheat bread
• Made spreadsheet of future canning projects and when the prospective fruit/vegitable will be harvested and where said fruit/vegitable can be obtained.
• Talked my dad into planting a huge garden next summer so I can can everything and save…ahhhh what $30??
• Googled great recipes for canning things that every family needs tons of, like Carmel Spice Pear Butter.
•Am currently letting juice drain from cheesecloth full of reduced blackberries to make my grandmother’s famous Seedless Blackberry jelly (hated by some and beloved by others!)
•Came up with an amazing recipe for deep fried apple rings for potential side business at local fairs and festivals.
Churned homemade butter to go with homemade bread and apple butter

Yes, I spent my entire weekend doing this. But no, it didn’t take the time you would think. On that note, I would like to thank some handy dandy kitchen gadgets that just don’t get the appreciation or attention that they really deserve. So thank you:
• Crockpot for that wonderful apple butter
• Food processer for taking the hours and hours out of churning butter
• Hand held blender for making pureeing stuff so easy, and
• Breadmaker for doing all the work for me!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Whistler

The other day I noted that whenever one of Conrad’s brothers talks to Isabelle on the phone, they whistle at her. I asked Conrad why this was. He said, “All Indian men whistle at babies.” Then I remembered that whenever we are at the Indian Grocery store the men there always stop and smile and whistle at her too. Consequently, I find Indian men much more friendly towards kids than American men.

As a matter a fact, they are much more family oriented than the American males. There is no “peter pan” mentality in India. You know, the “I wanna be a kid forever”mentality. And their permissive mama’s just cluck and say, “Well, boys will be boys.”

Actually there is a song in a Hindi movie (that’s in English, called “Bride & Prejudice”…I highly recommend!) that goes “No Life Without Wife.” And the moral of the song is that you really don’t have a life until you get a wife. This is why I recommend a good solid Christian Indian man to all of my single girlfriends. And good luck with that.

Back to my story, tho. When I was chatting with my husband about this observation, he said, “But Indian women do not whistle.” He noted that back when his family was visiting us I was walking around the house whistling and my sister-in-law, Sudha, and his mom stopped and looked at each other. I asked him what it means when a woman whistles and the best I could get out of him was something along the lines of it means you are a loose moraled woman. Oh no.

I kept thinking back to my two trips to India, all of the time Conrad’s family was here, and all of the time I probably whistled. I whistle a lot, I think. Oh no. And then I started to think what whistling means in American culture. The best I could come up with is that it indicates that you are care-free, or light hearted. What do you think? Do you whistle too?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fall Fun @ the Michaels

The Great Pumpkin Showdown

We traveled south to Circleville, Ohio a couple of weekends ago to attend the annual great Pumpkin Show. And, besides who doesn’t love a 1500 pound pumpkin? Not to mention pumpkin flavored….everything. Of which, we partook of the pumpkin mini donuts (please temporarily disregard yesterday’s post about eating healthy).

The place was packed and it took us two hours to get there, where it usually takes us about 30 minutes! Isabelle loves anywhere were there are people, so she had a good time, but really had no tolerance for the 25 minute wait for the donuts. Her motto in life is “keep it moving!” I wonder where she came across that trait?

An interesting thing happened while we were in line waiting for the donuts. All of the sudden we heard this high pitched screaming. Everyone stopped talking to look around and see what it was. And right behind the donut trailer/stand was a big group of what had to be junior high girls (at the oldest, junior high) screaming at each other, posturing, and swearing.

I didn’t see any physical fighting and honestly, I was disappointed. What trip to a small town is complete without the occasional red neck display (You see, I can say this because I’m from a small town). We all watched until eventually, half of the group merged away from the fight with everyone following the lead girl like a flock of Canadian Geese as she swore loudly, and made threatening promises to the other half of the group.

We all rolled our eyes, wondering where these children’s parents were and what the world is coming to. Some of us prayed desperately that whatever these imagined parents lacked, we would have the insight to HAVE when it came to raising our children. Personally, I think it’s the hormones our milk and chicken. :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tree Hugging

Since I have been working in public health, and had a baby, some topics have come to the forefront of my attention. Namely, nutrition. I am very aware that we Americans do not know how to eat well. Of which I am a chief sinner. So I began praying about eating healthy (please ignore the cupcake post from yesterday) and how to begin instilling some kind of healthy eating habits in Isabelle.

I guess we, her parental units, have to eat healthy first (namely her mommy, since her daddy already eats healthy unless influenced negatively by her mommy). So I started researching this and that…by the way, it’s SOOO confusing! There is just too much information out there and pretty much everything causes cancer from milk, plastic, pesticidy fruits and vegetables, hormone injected meat, toys from China…the list is really endless. So what is a parent to do?

I found a book I would like to recommend you read, if you are a parent. But read it with a grain of salt. It’s called Lunch Lessons and it comes complete with healthy recipes. I walked away with a couple of “Change items” for our family:

1.Eat organic dairy. Seriously, they link 40% of all cancer to the hormones they inject into cows to increase milk production (don’t take my statistics at face value, I’m the daughter of a preacher, you’d better google them yourself). And it’s then complicated by the antibiotics they increase in the cows because hormones cause increased disease. Scary stuff. The author says, if you do nothing else, go organic for your dairy products. Down side to cancer free milk products? $7 a gallon for milk. Bummer.
2.Eat organic chicken. Do you know the average chicken raised in the U.S. goes from hatched to fully mature in 6 weeks? Natural? Nope, hormones strike again. With the amount of chicken we eat, no wonder we see so many girls fully developed at 10 years old or overweight boys with man-boobs (can I say that here?? I don’t think so. Sorry)
3.And run from trans-fats like the plague. Scary scary posion lurking in our food. Which is basically many pre-prepared baked goods (which I love!)

Other items that I will take as perimeter changes because it was all so overwhelming that I had to pair it down to a few small changes: Fast food is really gross, so don’t eat it, soda is bad for you, so don’t drink it, remove all artificial sweeteners from your child’s diet (I drink a strong one diet soda a day, but Isabelle always wants a drink, so that alone has reduced my addiction AND I come from a family of diabetics, so for me, the risk of whatever Splenda could possibly be doing to me, verses “the sugar”…I’ll take the first.), recycle, and garden with your children(organically, of course with your own homemade compost pile).

Okay, now you don’t need to read the book, you’ve read my book report. In conclusion, HELP! Do you have any books that I need to read on the subject of nutrition/organic eating and children??

Look for Summer 2008 Post: The Michael’s Backyard Compost Heap. Geeze, the next thing you know I’ll be hugging trees and doing childbirth "naturally."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Just Call Me Martha

Some days I just feel the need to create. When I was young I just had to draw when this urge would strike. Now that I’m a bit older it manifests itself in scrapbooking (which I OD’d on several weeks ago and can’t seem to get that inspiration back!), blogging, or baking.

I belong to one of those cookbook clubs, so I get lots of cookbook catalogues. Although I don’t actually BUY many cookbooks, I get great ideas on books to check out at the local library! So one ice cream book, Slow cooker book, and Cupcake book later, I had a slew of recipes and a loooong list for the grocery store. Much to Conrad’s dismay. He always guesses how much I’ll spend based on the length of my list…and he’s usually pretty accurate!

So I would like to review a couple of recipes. First there is Easy Chicken Pot Pie (pictured here). Really good, and as it states…easy! Conrad and Isabelle both like it and it usually lasts us one dinner and at least two lunches. I love leftovers! So I’ll score it a solid 9 out of 10.

And also, Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes. Pretty (pictured here) with butterfly wings and lemon filling. Not easy, many many steps and dishes, (we all know I rate a recipe on how many dirty dishes I have at the end!) and half a dozen eggs later, I had 10 over-caloried pretty cupcakes that tasted..well…mediocre. But Conrad liked them, so I’ll score them a shaky 7 out of 10.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Imagination of a Child

Who needs Leap Frog and Baby Einstein when you have this?

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Love You Through and Through

I know this will be no surprise to you veteran parents, but it still continues to surprise me, the Rookie Parent Extraordinaire: Isabelle is learning and growing so fast! Shocking, I know. For example. We read a lot. She's not quite to the TV-holds-my-interest stage, and I'm a reader, soooo I hope it's a forgone conclusion. Anyway, we have books that we read over and over with her.

There is a book called I Love You Through and Through. It says, “I love your top side, and your bottom side. I love your inside…” and goes on to do fingers, toes, ears, eyes, hair etc. And when we come to a body part, we point to it, and say “Point to Isabelle’s (insert appropriate body part here)” Then, “Point to Mommy’s (insert appropriate body part here).” She had never really been into this. Once in a while, she would throw us a bone for all of our exuberance, and point to a nose or an ear. So we just assumed she wasn’t really getting it. Soon she tired of the book and we stopped reading it as much.

Well last weekend I pulled it out again, and started reading it. She jumped up and pointed to ALL of the correct parts right on cue: Finger, toes, top side, bottom side, ears, eyes , nose, and hair. We were shocked! She really is learning, she just refuses to be a circus monkey and perform for the joy of entertaining us.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Jennifer Aniston's Mom??

As I was scanning old family pictures I ran across this old picture of my dad going to some highschool dance. Does anyone else think his date looks like Jennifer Aniston??

Friday, October 19, 2007

Southern Gospel Boogie

While we were at my parents house a couple of weeks ago we took Isabelle for her first Pumpkin Patch experience. The local apple farm have a big “Fall Festival” and for such a small town (even for a big town) it is JAM PACKED. You have to park across the street and down the road to go.

Grandma, Jona, and Eric went with us for this little excursion. For some reason it just didn’t feel like Autumn tho! Maybe it was the fact that it was 90 degrees out! But we did have fun. We got some cider…some of the best cider in the country, by the way. Again, instead of hot cider in donuts, they were selling cider slushies and donuts. Now, granted, the cider slushie was yummy, but really it was a very odd feeling, coming from northern Ohio in October.

And I thought I would add this little clip of pure entertainment. My Great Uncle Lenard and Great Aunt Testaview sing southern gospel music. They are just about the sweetest people in the world, and while I have a tolerance for good blue grass, I really do not care for southern gospel music. Anyway, they gave us one of their CD’s they made. So we put it in, and Isabelle (who was modeling her Halloween Chicken costume) was mesmerized….and unashamedly involved!

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