Monday, August 31, 2009

Christmas in August: Pandora, Internet Radio

Bear with me. I am not one of those weird people that start listening to Christmas music in the middle of the summer and get happier and happier as the year progresses and fewer people give out startled/dismayed/disgusted looks.

Oh wait. Yes, I am.

But bear with me. I'm not normally this's just that I have a new friend this year: Pandora, Internet Radio. And so instead of having to lug out my hefty collection of Christmas cds, all I have to do is point and click. And when some heavy duty cleaning is necessary, you just can't ask for better accompaniment than Jazz Christmas, or maybe a little "Baby It's Cold Outside."

Speaking of which, I love babies. Especially baby boys. And one in particular that I like to pay homage to, no matter the time of year.

His name is Jesus. No, not that one up there. The one of which I speak. Maybe you know Him, maybe you don't. Maybe you believe in Him, maybe you don't. Come along with me whilst I muse over one of the things I find so touching about Jesus.

Before Jesus came to earth as an infant, He knew it would be hard. He'd never done it before, but He knows everything--He's God. Now what gets me is why Someone who is immortal, all-powerful, and all-knowing would choose to come be a person with bruisable, breakable skin and choose to subject Himself to humiliation, beatings, and ultimately, a hideous death on a cross. Even moreso, why God would choose to send his beloved Son to do this. If you are anything like me, you wince a little when your kid gets a papercut. And even beyond that, can you imagine turning away from your child when he's in pain?

But that's what God chose to do when Jesus died on the cross. Turned away so that death could momentarily overtake Him. And it's the why that gets me every time. Because He loved me. Because He wants us with Him so badly, but there was no way we could be close to Him, we being so ratty and nasty, chock full of mean and rotten thoughts and actions and motivations...and Him being so pure and perfect. So He made a way where there was no way, and sent His precious child to take on the challenge of living the way we live--but not sinning, of giving of Himself His entire life--even when it was hard, and ultimately, of accepting our punishment--which He did nothing to deserve. How sweet that not even death could crush Him, what a wondrous, light-filled, love-drenched moment that must have been for Father and Son when Jesus arose to life again.

It boggles my mind and tenders my heart. As I once asked one of my young friends, How could you not love someone who would do that for you?

John 1:1-5 & 9

The Word Became Flesh
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the dark ness has not understood it. 9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

Light of the world,
You stepped down into darkness.
Opened my eyes, let me see.
Beauty that made this heart adore you
Hope of a life spent with you
And here I am to worship,
here I am to bow down,

here I am to say that you're my God
You're altogether lovely,
altogether worthy,
altogether wonderful to me.

King of all days,
oh, so highly exalted.
Glorious in heaven above.
Humbly you came
to the earth you created
All for love's sake became poor.

And here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that you're my God
You're altogether lovely.
altogether worthy,
altogether wonderful to me.

I'll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross
I'll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross
And I'll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross
No, I'll never know how much it cost

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that you're my God
You're altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And the Grand Prize was...

To all of you who may or may not be dying to know what our Grand Prize was for our House Name winner, I present you with this:

It's not the real one. The real one is rust colored and even cooler than this one. But this is basically it. My fairy godmother picked it up for our winner and Miz Amber was pleased as punch about it.

Now you know.

Monday, August 24, 2009

To Feel like Lavender

When I was 16 years old, my family went on vacation to visit my aunt in Seattle. In her yard she grew lavender, and before we went home, she allowed me to pick as much as I wanted to take back with me. I couldn't take that much, since I'd have to find a way to carry it on board the airplane with me and get it home without crushing it too badly. But I had a small-but-sturdy paper bag from some store we had visited, topped with stiff handles. I cut off what lavender I could, and snuggled it securely down into this bag. Since I was intent on not smashing it, I refused to put it inside anything else, so the smell of it wafted around us--and probably the rest of the plane--and accompanied us on our homeward trip.

The trip to Seattle had been a wonderful, awe-inspiring, tantalizing time for me. We took all sorts of pictures, had all sorts of adventures, laughed and moaned and ate overly-expensive food, and I wrote and wrote and wrote. I really feel like this trip helped me to understand myself better, helped me to start coming into my own. I was without my friends, without a guy to hold my hand, and was able to think and write almost entirely without interruption, since there were few people to distract me. It was magical. To this day, the smell of real lavender does a number on me. It's magical. It somehow represents simultaneous feelings of enthrallment, security, hope, vision, freedom, beauty, and fun.

I have this friend. She makes me feel like lavender.

In the last couple of months, I have been learning a lot about God. I have been learning how much He loves me and that He has some really fun and amazing things that He's going to be calling on me to do. I don't really know what they are, but something amazing has been happening to me: I have started getting happy. A happy that doesn't rely a whole lot on what exactly is going on, a happy that is finally secure because of the love that God has been lavishing on me.

I feel like the last few years--and especially months-- have been this grueling upward climb and finally I've come out on a plateau where I can take a load off and lay in the sunlight and the dappled shade and the fresh breeze. My God has given me these friends that have instilled in me such a refreshment and enjoyment of life. They are very well suited to my personal style of friendship and I am continually amazed that anyone could like me so much.

Isaiah 40:31

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

That verse is such a well-known one, and yet, until recently, I wouldn't have been able to say that I've seen it in action in my own life. But now I've actually been able to watch my life change as God has given me back strength, joy, and vitality that I've been severely lacking. I feel like He's been giving me a boost, holding my hand, leading me on.

Your love is extravagant
Your friendship, it is intimate
I feel like moving to the rhythm of Your grace

Your fragrance is intoxicating in our secret place
Your love is extravagant

Spread wide in the arms of Christ is the love that covers sin
No greater love have I ever known You considered me a friend
Capture my heart again

Spread wide in the arms of Christ is the love that covers sin
No greater love have I ever known; You considered me a friend

Capture my heart again
Your love is extravagant
Your friendship, it is intimate

--Casting Crowns

Friday, August 21, 2009

The #1 Requirement of Being a Superfriend

The Superfriends possess many amazing qualities, but the overriding facet is their ability to love the Floyd children. It is so comforting and encouraging to be around them, because they like our kids as much as we do, and not just when the children are behaving.

If you too would like to join the ranks of Superfriends, you must first pass this test: You must love our children not only when they look like this:

...but also when they look like this:

Now in addition to the upset pictures, you have to imagine lots of whining and angry voices. Still love 'em? Yeah, me too.

Yes, this is a shameless excuse to show off my children.

What of it?

Don't you ever feel lazy on a Friday night?

That's what I thought.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

And The Winners Are...

Edie and my mom win the giveaway prizes. I would say contact me to claim your stuff, but the chances that I'll need to be reminded are slim.

The winner of the House Naming Contest was...

Amber! (we had to slightly modify your name since we're not actually Spanish and don't speak it very well. We inserted "casa" for "camara")

The new name of the Floyd home is La Casa de Muchos Ninos (the House of Many Children).

The runner up was Sasha, with Castillo para el Amor Latino (Castle for Latin Love).

Thank you so much for playing our little contest/giveaway! We had great fun and I hope y'all did, too.

(No, Amber, I do not know what your special prize is yet. But I betcha it'll either be from Target or Treasure Mart. Please stand by.)

In case you're dying to know, my nail polish color is called Sunrise Sunset by Sally Hansen and I love it for both fingers and toes.

Carry on dear ones. I'll be back with a traditional post soon.

Winners Coming Soon

I'll be posting the winners of the contest later today. I've got something very important and fun to do this morning, and much as I love you all and recognize my blog-y duties towards you, sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

I'm goin' to Menards.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

(A quick aside)

As promised, the yellow park pictures:

I don't usually wear yellow, especially not bright yellow. I don't think it does good things for my complexion in most lighting.

But on this day, I threw caution to the wind. After all, it was supposed to be HOT and this is a very lightweight cotton shirt.
And once we were at the park, I noticed that I matched the jungle gym perfectly.

And how was I supposed to resist that? After 10 minutes of self-portraits, I was feeling a little silly and self conscious, especially since I was supposed to be helping watch 6 kids. But sweet Edie, she just said she assumed the camera was pointing the other way and I was taking pictures of the pretty tree just opposite the jungle gym.

And then there's this one. Nadia took this picture of Dawson. I had conceded to her demands to use the camera and zoomed it in reallllly close in hopes that she might get something good. Wowza! This is the one I've been trying to capture since I got the camera. I guess all that matters is that I have it now, right?

Showed up by a four year old.


But is that not the cutest picture you've ever seen?! My children are beautiful little geniuses.

Doin' the happy dance.

I wouldn't have been posting tonight, seeing as how I claimed that I'd be posting the winners of my contest/giveaway tomorrow morning. But I got a very special gift tonight, so in its honor, I will be extending the deadline for the contest/giveaway until Monday at 8pm.

Ummm...that doesn't seem special enough. Okay, I'll extend the deadline AND give away 2 sets of gift tags.

No, that still doesn't seem like enough. Okay. I'll extend the deadline, give away 2 sets of gift tags, and award a special prize to the winner of the house naming contest. No, I don't know what it will be yet, but it'll be special, more special than the gift tags.

Hot diggedy. What more could you want? Tell your friends, people. This will be one for the books.
Three other lucky people will be doin' the happy dance, too.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The post you've all been waiting for.

Yes, that's right; it's contest/giveaway time! I'm sure you've all been waiting in breathless anticipation since Matthew mentioned that he wanted his contest to be better than mine. I mean, since I hadn't even said I was having one yet. I think, when all is said and done, that you'll all agree that mine far surpasses his, because I'm actually giving something away.

The reason I'm calling it a contest/giveaway is because I'm giving something away at random and someone will be winning my contest. Hopefully, that is. Confused enough yet? Excellent. On we go!

The House-Naming Contest/Giveaway Rules:
In order to enter, you must...
1) Leave a comment suggesting a name for our house. We've decided we want to be cool like the Brits, who name houses left and right. We're having trouble picking a good name, though. We need your help.
2) Leave a post on your own blog/facebook account/bulletin board, announcing my contest/giveaway and how to get here.
3) If you'd like an extra entry for the giveaway, be/become a follower.

The winner of the contest gets the joy of naming our house; Matt and I will be picking that one out based on our own preference. Hopefully we can agree on one. Winning this part of the contest is a pride thing, really. Probably this part will be more popular with my male readers, who seem to be slightly more competitive than most women (except my friend A.W.--you know who you are).

The winner of the giveaway part will win by chance. I'll be writing every entry's name down on cute little pieces of torn-up notebook paper and putting them into a teacup, then drawing one out. Remember, if you're a follower, you get two little pieces of paper.

It's possible the same person could win both. If that happens, I promise I didn't rig it, unlike my husband who does that sort of thing unabashedly.

Here's what you win for the giveaway:

They're little labels for gifts. They're really cute, even if you never use them, but merely sit and look at them, like I often do.

These are punch out labels, also suitable for gifts, or possibly labeling your spices. There are a lot of them.

You will probably never run out. I didn't know this when I bought five packages of them on clearance. Realizing that I would never run out, I decided to share my bounty with my darling readers. By the way, those 88 tags are NOT duplicates. Choosing my first tag to use was a really long, delightful business.

Note on Naming the House: Evidently naming your house takes into consideration the type of people who live there, the type of things they do, the personalities of the dwellers: Cozy Cottage, Chaotic Villa, etc. If you've never heard of such a thing, you might peruse this site, bearing in mind that I've seen all the suggestions on that page already and none of those were quite right on their own. If you need inspiration, you might visit: here, here, and here to see the inside of my house. God speed, dear House Namers!

One More Note on Naming the House: Honesty compels me to tell you that Matt did pick a name for our house last weekend, but I had to veto it due to the difficulty in pronouncing it for everyday use. I'm hoping to be able to say "Let's go back to The Winning Name." He picked out: La Casa de la Gente Ridículo Apuesta, which translated via Babel Fish is: "the house of the ridiculously good-looking people." See what I mean? Just not very homey.

I think I'll run this contest/giveaway until late Sunday night and then post the results Monday morning.

Have a great weekend!

p.s.--No, Doug, you cannot just suggest the name "Bob" with any hope of winning.

***Rule Modification:

If you don't have a blog, facebook account, other public outlet, but you really want to play, you may enter if you tell 2 or 3 of your most computer-minded friends about the giveaway and maybe slip them a piece of paper with my blog address written on it. Assure them that it will be worth their time because I'm just so funny, smart, photogenic, or something like that. Encourage them to find the splinter story if they like gore or the Mexican casserole if they like guys who pretend to be hispanic. That'll do.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ella and friends

This is why it's always okay to use a fabulous feather wreath in your decor. Ella Fitzgerald, we tip our hats to you.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

An Experience for Even the Most Discerning

For those of you who either don't know or need to be refreshed, Matt and I are Frasier lovers. We are now the proud and depressed owners of the entire 11 series on dvd. Proud because it's been a long-held dream of ours to be able to watch any episode any time we want to (sad, I know). Depressed because there is no episode that is surprising anymore. The thrill, while not gone, is diminished. We can see the opening scene and instantly play out the rest of that story in our heads. This doesn't bother me as much as it bothers Matt because I love re-watching shows into the ground, while he would prefer to rarely watch anything twice. Nevertheless, there it is. We own them all.

Frasier and Niles (Frasier's brother) do I put it nicely? "Delicate doilies" I believe their father once said. They go to spas, they play squash, they driver expensive cars and own things like matching coffee cup sets from the 17th century. Niles once said,

"I'm learning to be handy. I finally decided I'm too dependent on other people, so I started "doing it myself." And let me tell you, I'm a totally new man. I bought my first work shirt this morning, and tonight I'm tackling the squeaky clasp on my cigar humidor."

Anyway, before I lapse into a big run of Frasier quotes, let me get to the point of this post. Above all, Frasier and Niles love wine. They are part of the Wine Club. They are very hoity-toity. I admit, that like Donna and chocolate, I have always wondered why I don't like wine. It seems like such a very sophisticated, cultured taste to have. I wish I could love wine. Now it's true I've never tried the really expensive stuff, and maybe that makes a difference. But if I have to spend over $100 a bottle to enjoy wine, then obviously this isn't the thing for me anyway. (Yes, I know Niles is holding sherry here, and NOT wine...and now you do, too.)

I received a pair of Italian-styled figurines from my mother-in-law this week, as she was cleaning out her house pending a move. They begged to be put in my already-full kitchen. And they begged for some other Italian-styled items to be placed near them. And when figurines beg, you just can't turn them down. So I picked out a milky white pitcher and decided I would buy some of those crunchy thin Italian-type "breadsticks," which we all know is misnomer since they are not chewy and bread-like at all. But they do give off an Italian vibe, and that's what I wanted. Plus, they're cheaper and longer lasting than fresh flowers unless your husband and children start munching on them. I then thought within my little decorating soul, and decided that I should also buy a cute, but cheap, bottle of wine. Since I could not foresee drinking it, it would be long-lasting too. (My "breadsticks" are not this yummy-looking. Mine really are the crunchy kind, but these looked even prettier.)

So when I was at Meijer, I started perusing the wine section. It's a cute wine section, from a decorator's point of view...although not as amazing as the one directly above. Gosh, I wish I could like drinking wine, but I just like looking at it. Anyhoo, I started at one end--logically--and started reading price tags. When I said I wanted a cheap bottle of wine, I meant like 4 dollars. My budget for frivolous decorating is minuscule this week. All of the bottles at this first end were at least $7 a bottle!! I could've bought an empty wine bottle at Treasure Mart for that much!! So I thought to myself "what the heck kinda wine section am I in, anyway?!" Up above my head, the sign read "Sparkling" and "Italian" and I thought "ahhh, the hoity-toity stuff." I cast my eye down the line and read the following: "French," (no) "Australian," (huh? who would've known there was wine specifically from Australia?) "Import," "Chardonnay," (definitely not) "Merlot," (sounds so elegant) "Pinot Noir," (isn't that French too?) "Pinot Grigio," (ohhh, maybe Italian?) "Domestic," (Niles: Do these chocolate shavings look different to you? ... Well they do to me. I think that they've switiched to an inferior domestic brand. Mm-hm, mmm-hm -- waxy!) and finally..."Economy" (ha ha ha!!! I didn't even know they had an "economy" wine SECTION! But that's what I wanted, all right. Economy wine!) and it got better..."Boxed"(hahahahaha! I don't know why that's so funny to me, except that it was beyond the economy wine. And that boxed White Zinfandel was a frequent wine at my parents' house when I was younger. And view of Frasier and Niles, it just tickled my funny bone. So I had to stop and write them all down so I could tell y'all about it.)

No, I didn't buy any cheap wine today. Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. After adding a few last-minute necessities to my grocery list (and yes, gentlemen who may be reading/scoffing inwardly, face lotion and half and half for my tea may seem silly to you, but are necessary) there was less money for frivolous decorating. So I re-evaluated my tableau and put to work my unopened bottle of Made in Italy Balsamic Vinegar. Ta-da!

A final scene to end our time together:

A couple of weeks ago, I was telling the kids about my aunt Gail, who was flying from Seattle to Indiana for a visit. Chandler looked at me with round and wondering eyes and said, "but Mom, how can she get from Frasier's world to ours?" Poor child. Don't worry, we've cleared that up.

And yes, to answer the question that is aching in the back of all y'alls heads, yes I did try, very hard, to figure out if it was possible to make the opening picture of a wine glass smaller. And it is. But the sad fact is: I just like it big. Don't worry, it was much, much bigger to begin with. Aren't I kind to you?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sunset, sunrise

I'm happy to report that I'm continually gathering the courage to become a hand-raisin' worshiper in a non-hand-raising church. I'm thinking that maybe if just one person did it with some unabashed sincerity and enthusiasm, it might embolden those who also wish they could raise their hands from time to time. And if not, if I happen to be the only one with those tendencies, so be it. Of course, being that I sit in the very back, no one may notice either way...

It is time.

I haven't written anything serious for awhile. It's not as fun. But you know, there are things that have been marinating, and I just can't go much longer without a long, searching glance into the deeper things.

On the way home the other night, I began thinking. I used to think deeply quite often, but I find that I don't have the brain power to spare at this frenzied point in my life. At least, not often. Therefore, I have trouble processing things.

For a little more than two months I've been processing the disintegration of a friendship that was very dear to me. For a long time I was angry and hurt beyond all get-out and disbelieving. Then I became still more surprised and somewhat blank as to feeling. Perhaps that could be termed incredulous. And at some point in this process, I started noticing the other people who came creeping in. No, that's not true. They didn't creep. They bounded
. And I found myself surprised, but in a good, albeit, slightly self-reproachful, way.

You see, I've had these other friends for quite some time. True, they are quiet people who don't like to draw a lot of attention to themselves. But they were very much there, especially if I needed anything at all. They were always my friends. And I have liked them for some long, undetermined time.

The self-reproach comes in when I started realizing that I had let this other friend...let's call her Sue...completely steal the spotlight from my tried and true friends. In as much is possible in a non-sexual relationship, I had become infatuated with her, with my friendship with her. She was insanely warm, energetic, emphatic, enthusiastic, affectionate...and she was mine. She didn't let anyone else in, and I felt privileged. We got along famously, and I let that relationship take full precedence in my life. How wrong is that???

And then, over the small period of a weekend, she was gone. We'd been friends for over a year and then it was over. She and her husband had already been planning on leaving our church and they decided that all contact must cease. Don't ask me why--in a town as small as ours is, it's miraculous that we haven't run in to them. So she took me off facebook, she would not be answering phone calls or emails, and she quit the bible study she was helping me lead. Talk about embarrassing, eh? Since I'm the one who asked her to help me. I would've thought I had more discernment than that. All my stuff that they'd borrowed appeared on a table outside the bible study room at church, and that was it.

For all intents and purposes, she became as if she was dead.

Only with no closure, do you follow? Because it was a sudden, unexpected death, this death of our friendship. And it was by her choice.

It is clear to me now that all of this was part of God's magnificent plan for my life. The friendships I'd neglected have become fiercely important to me, as I finally discern the difference between playing at friendship, and really being friends. What Sue and I had was fun, deliriously fun, but it didn't last. And while my truer friends and I don't exist at frantically high levels of intensity, that's perfectly acceptable to me. Because I know that they're not going to disappear in the night. Because I know that whatever face Sue was giving me, it wasn't completely real, much as I would've liked for it to be. There must've been some other self lurking, for her to able to turn away from me so suddenly and with such decisive measures.

It stings.

And that's my problem. Despite all the amazing good that has come out of this sad, bizarre series of events, I am lacking closure. I never really said goodbye and I am not happy that her last spoken words to me were "You really are a forever kind of friend, not just for a season." How can I get over that?

Well, I'll tell you how.

On my way home the other night, I sat reflecting over the wonderful day I'd had surrounded by my superfriends. And yet, as I thought back further, to Sue, I wondered how I could ever find true closure. Well, silly, if not with her, then with God. Amen? I cannot fully release it yet, but God is the only One who can heal these wounds, baby. He orchestrated it, He let it happen. He brought me through as unscathed as I could expect. He will let it sharpen me and strengthen me and tender me. And then I will be all the better equipped to serve others and glorify Him.

And in these things, I will find my closure, and my comfort.

"The object of our lives is won. Henceforth let us wear it silently. My lips are closed upon the past from this hour."

Psalm 57:2
I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills {his purpose} for me.

Isaiah 43:2
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

**A shout-out to the superfriends, not disincluding those of you who didn't get an official name from Matthew:

"She was truest to them in the season of trial, as all the quietly loyal and good will always be."

I adore y'all. You have been faithful even when I didn't hold up my end. You have been shining examples of Christian love. I owe you my sincerest apologies and my greatest appreciation. I couldn't do it without you.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I know it's ridiculous.

4 posts in one night? I can't help it. I never know when I'll be able to write again, so when it's coming, I just gotta put it down.

I meant to mention this, and I'm so enamored with both my labels for posts section and the link funtion, that I'm thrilled to be able to do so. Stellan's mom, Jennifer (aka MckMama) just posted (7-31-09) a hilarious insight into elevator behaviorism. Check it out here. By the way, Stellan has improved so much that it's wondrous. Praise God!

Now I'm really going, because my baby's awake.

One more just for kicks

My favorite summer shoes (that frequently hurt my feet) and my adorable 99cent Goodwill scarf (that I have no idea what to do with). Good times.

My Latin Lover