Monday, April 30, 2007

What we did this week...

we...cheated. Well, it was desperate times and all that, people! Chowder's uncle died and we had to make a roadtrip to Evansville, IN. We are not strong enough people to do a roadtrip without the blessing of the portable dvd player. So, we put in a new Bugs Bunny video and made it there and back in one piece.

and Chowder turned 37. I was sitting next to him outside and just admiring him. (He's so darn cute.) and I noticed some grey in his temples. It filled me with such love and happiness at the luck of getting to share all of this life with him. cheesy? I know. but, I don't care. It's true. and eventhough it seems so unhip these days to be happily married or at least to talk about it, Chowder and I are. This fall we will have been friends for 20 years. That's alot of life together. Yay me!

Here are some new pics while I write my May charity post and my book review post. I'm ridiculously back-logged on everything and fighting the temptation to crawl back into my hole and know, from the laundry. Thank God this Friday is my girl's night out. This mama needs some wine and a really really good laugh. The kind only your oldest girlfriends can provide.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

See you all next week...

This week is National Screen Turnoff Week. So, here at the Cakes house we are turning off our screens until next Sunday. phew. That's a long time. I'm pretty excited about it. and scared, too. I admit to using the tv or computer games to gain a little peace and quiet. and probably too much, too. ok. ok. definitely too much.

The Meatball is going to wig out.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Pledging myself to the walls...

I finally finished Where God Happens by Rowan Williams. I've been reading this book for eight months, now. It is not a particularly long book (121 pages), but it is a particularly dense book. I found myself reading a few pages and then having to put the book down to stew about it for awhile. As a matter of fact, I could really stand to read it again. There is just that much in it. It is a study of the desert mothers and fathers (I know. I'm throwing a crazy amount of links at you.) and how their teachings still apply to our world experiences today. One of things that really spoke to me about this book, is Williams's continual reference to our own self-dramas. He talks about starring in the dramas that we conduct in our heads and how this comes between us and God. so true. drama queen, here.

He breaks the book into 4 parts. But, it's the third and mostly the fourth part that have effected me so much the last couple of days. The third part is titled Fleeing:

Our Christian speaking, then arises out of "fleeing," running from what makes us feel smug and in control, what gratifies our longing for approval and respect.

What you are ultimately "running" from is your compulsions, and in the desert fathers' sense, in "fleeing" you are making a break for freedom. So it isn't a matter of trying to run away from yourself but running away to yourself, to the identity you are not allowed to recognize or nurture or grow so long as you are stuck in the habits of anxious comparison, status seeking, and chatter.

So, yeah. I got alot of this stuff going on. Especially the self-starring dramas and the chatter. Sure. sure. We know this stuff, right? It's a good reminder and maybe a bit more specific than frankly I would like. But, then the question becomes, "I know what I should flee, but then where am I supposed to stay?"

That's the fourth part Staying. Williams illustrates this teaching with the story of two monks, an elder and a brother struggling with temptation. The elder's advice was this,

"Go. Sit in your cell and give your body in pledge to the walls."

I love this.

First off, the monastic cell is not the same as a jail cell. It is a place of contemplation and deep prayer. But, it was also their "place." their reality. And this is what the elder was advising the struggling brother. To pledge himself to the reality of his life, not the unreality. not the fantasy world. not the dreaded "if onlies." If only we made more money, if only my children went to this school, if only my husband did more around the house, if only. or the equally destructive "what ifs." What if my child got cancer, what if my husband was unfaithful, what if we were hit by a tornado, what if my family was in a car accident. what if. This is not our reality. This is not the life God gave us to live. This is some "magic" world that doesn't really exist. Williams talks about committing ourselves to our real lives and our churches the way a spouse commits themselves in marriage. This does not mean you can't try to improve yourself or should give way to apathy. Absolutely not. That is not the way we commit to each other in marriage. But, we agree to live with each other and to work with each other and to be God's love in the world.

Well, all of this got me thinking about Chowder's and my situation. We've been stuck in the "if only" and "what if" mode. If only this church would do this, if only Chowder went to another church, if only we were paid more, if only. Then, we would be happy and satisfied. We always seem to be looking to move on to the next thing. The next job, the next house, the next baby. Once we have all that, then our life will start. our faith will become real. our bad habits will be lost. our ideal selves will come to the front. Perhaps, what Chowder and I really need to do is pledge ourselves to the walls around us. Work within the reality of the life God gave us. Pledge ourselves to live this life. now. And we began to talk about this possibility. this promising of ourselves. And we decided to pray and think on it and wait for God but wait for God within our walls.

I began to re-examine our budget. I decided, "Of course we don't need more money. I just need to be more intentional about what we have to spend." So, I carefully rationed out our week's worth of money. We were paid on Wednesday and by Wednesday evening everything was allocated and I was feeling quite proud of myself because I had covered our usual expenses and yet still had money for Kiva loans and to buy the kids some needed Spring clothes and shoes. I was feeling very much in control and thinking, "Yes. We just need to commit ourselves to our walls. our reality. We have alot of work to do around here. now."

Thursday morning we found this.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What I've been up to on the internet...

First, if you have noticed the two banners on my page toward the bottom, they are for Kiva loan applicants. I love love love the whole premise behind Kiva. Go check it out NOW! I have decided to make a loan every week. The beautiful thing about this program is that once your loan is repaid, you can turn around and re-lend it to someone else. So, your money just keeps working. I'm like my own little Gates Foundation. Check out my lending page.

And second, I have become an addict. I am having to carefully pace myself. I have been watching from afar and have finally taken the plunge into swapping. When I put together my first two packages to send out to other people I was so excited! But then I received my first two packages in the mail of cool stuff from all over the world, I was hooked. So, if you want (but I have warned you) go check out Swap-bot. Here is my member page. I signed up for a fun swap of a letter describing 24 hours in your life. Sounds so cool! and then there was the one where you just put a little box of joy together for someone... and then someone put together a swap honoring Kurt Vonnegut (one of my favorite authors) using one of my all time favorite quotes! What am I supposed to do? I signed up!

A little warning, it can seem a bit intimidating when you are new because there seems to be a general lack of trust of newbies. But, that comes from a lot of people flaking out and not sending anything to their partners. So, you have to "prove" yourself first. Just ignore all that and do the swapping. You'll have fun!

Monday, April 16, 2007

I love when that happens!

Yesterday, we went to Chowder's sister's house. The Meatball, Jellybean, and Porkchop all got their first taste of Bugs Bunny.
This morning's conversation...

The Meatball: Bugs Bunny is sooooo funny. What was that black duck's name again?
Chowder: Daffy Duck.
The Meatball: oh, Right. Daffy Duck. He is so funny.
(much giggling)
Chowder: You liked it, huh?
The Meatball: Yeah, it was so funny my whole body was laughing.
Chowder: Wow! That is funny!
The Meatball:Yeah. Even my hands. my hands were laughing!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

In case I haven't shown you this picture, yet...

Here is my ridiculously adorable daughter.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Wonder Woman, where are you?

I am so tired of all the princess crap. I really, really am. I have never been a princess-type and have grudgingly but freely allowed and participated in the princess thing for Jellybean. But, as I was perusing the toy aisle for one little toy to toss in the Easter baskets, I saw them. The 3-pack of classic Justice League superheroes. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Now, I was a Wonder Woman-type of girl. Not the Linda Carter Wonder Woman. The full on comic book heroine, Wonder Woman.

I have to confess to a love of old comic books. Not the new perverted written for creepy middle-aged men comic books of today, but the good old written for kids comic books of my childhood and before. I come by it honestly. My grandfather was a Vice President of World Color Press, the inventor of the comic book. I had the coolest Grandpa of all-time. He would give us literally boxes full of comic books. Wonder Woman, Thor, Archie, Richie Rich, Ghost Rider, Superman, Spiderman, Katy Keene and on and on. I loved them. I love comic book heroes. I do not, however, like movies based on comic book heroes. The color drawings were awesome of course, but the language. The written words of the classic superhero comic were beyond marvelous. They have really dumbed them down (I know.) in recent years, but when I was a kid the melodrama was everything a little girl or boy could dream of. I know. You don't believe me. but see for yourself...

Here is a copy of my all-time favorite comic book. It is Wonder Woman vs. The Leviathan. In it she is fighting against the Nazis. Lucky for me, I was a child of the 70's. Wonder Woman had gotten her powers back and was put back in WWII. She was strong yet, fair. I loved the connection to mythology through Paradise Island. It probably didn't hurt that when we took various personality tests in high school, one of them was the Jungian based Goddess Archetype test. (No, this is not some sort of newage pagan thing, it is a psychological theory.) After taking this test I scored very high into the Diana/Artemis type. Strong, outdoors, protector of women and children, good friends with the love of my life (and if you recall the story, highly competitive. maybe to a fault. ok, yes, to a fault.) And of course, Wonder Woman is also Princess Diana, Queen Hippolyte's daughter, aka. Lt. Diana Prince.

So, all this is tell you this. What happened to Wonder Woman? Jellybean was immediately enamoured of her new action figure, though she couldn't understand why someone would want to fight bad guys wearing only their underwear. (hmmm...fine point. to which I could only answer, "That a man drew her.") But, she didn't know what Wonder Woman did. What were her powers? What was her story? What was she like in action?

I pulled out my beloved copy of Wonder Woman and sat down and read through it with her. She couldn't get enough. This was a character that made sense to her. She's a princess but doesn't need saving! She's a beautiful woman who is fighting bad guys. She is doing the saving. Finally, it clicked for my rambunctious daughter. She had a game she could play with the boys! My house has been The Hall of Justice all week. But, I love my copy of Wonder Woman #233. love it. I don't want it hurt. So, I thought I'd just go buy a copy of a new Wonder Woman comic. Silly me.

This is what I found.

I can't tell you how much this hurt my heart. I mean, What the hell?! This isn't Princess Diana. Sure, she used to be dressed in her underwear. And yes, people have questioned the imagery of the Lasso of Truth. But, she didn't rely on her sexuality to fight evil. She wasn't Wonder Dominatrix! This isn't the woman I want my daughter to emulate as a superhero. I'm devastated. I know I sound like, "Back in my day," but back in my day, Wonder Woman was, well...wonderful. So, tomorrow I'm heading out to the comic store in the hopes of finding some 1970's Wonder Woman comics and I'll be perusing my movie store for Super Friends.

Why do all things for girls have to become so...naughty?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What exactly is inflation...

if it's not the cost of everything in my life going up but not Chowder's paycheck? Now, I'm not looking for some in depth economic's lesson or even talk of this or that presidential administration and what they caused or didn't cause. I don't care. I'm talking about real time nuts and bolts trying to get by in the American economy right now.

and right now, it's really really tough.

I was talking with some other large families about my trip to the grocery the other day and leaving dazed and empty-handed because I needed to replan my entire week. And this has all come about so abruptly. In January a gallon of whole milk was $2.80. Today it is $3.25! A dozen eggs went from $.79 a dozen to almost $1.50! Shortages in various agriculture has left me with an empty pocketbook! and it's just going to get worse after the big freeze we had last week. All the price increases are on things that I won't cut back on. Milk/dairy and fresh produce. I already don't buy prepared/convenience foods. We make pretty much everything. It didn't use to be cheaper, but I didn't like all the preservatives. Now, with a loaf of whole grain bread on sale for 2 for $5, it is cheaper. And coupons don't really work for us because they are usually for foods we don't buy. I do use them when I can.

But as I was looking at our budget, trying to see where we would rearrange, I was at a loss. Our utilities almost doubled this year, a gallon of gas has gone up around a dollar a gallon. Everything is costing us more. And all of a sudden. There has been no steady increasing over time. It was just WHAM! But, Chowder's church is having to pay the same bills. Their heating bill was around $2,000 a month. Did you read that? $2,000! a month! They can't afford to give us a raise.

Now, I'm not one to blog politics amongst friends, but looking at the Presidential candidates and gauging from Guiliani's mess up this week, they have no clue what the day to day issues are that face the citizens of this country. I mean really, when do you think was the last time Hillary filled up her own tank of gas, or paid her own electric bill. (I at least appreciate that Obama just paid off his student loan.) Even if any of them did, they wouldn't feel the sickening panic that we are beginning to feel every month.

And no, this is not because I have 5 children. We were doing just fine and quite comfortably up until about 6 months ago. I'm just wondering when somebody is going to notice...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Charity of the Month: April

Ugh! I have so much to tell you all about! But, I need to get my April Charity up. So, tomorrow I will tell you all about my dear Granny and her Easter visit.

As a part of my Charity of the Month campaign, my April Charity is Women for Women International. It was given 5 stars by Charity Navigator and is giving me a lovely opportunity to be hands on with my dedication to supporting women and mothers around the world.

The beauty of this charity is that it is a relationship. One of the main things that has always frustrates Chowder and I when it comes to mission work and giving, is this feeling of superiority that comes with it. You, as the giver, end up on a higher ground than the receiver. It becomes a one way road that leaves both parties spiritually bereft. The donor must not assume that they cannot learn or receive something from their receiver. When both parties become givers and receivers, then the act of charity can empower us all.

So, I have signed up to be a sponsor for $27 a month. But, along with my money every month, I will also send a letter of support and encouragement. Depending on the situation of my sister, I will also get the benefit or receiving letters from her. What a great way to open my heart to women around the world! I have not been matched, yet. (It takes up to 12 weeks.) I put my first choice as Afghanistan, my second as Sudan, and my third open to greatest need. I am very excited about this journey. I will keep you posted!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

from my prayer journal dated 3/27...

You have been reading my struggles the last few months.
struggling with faith.
struggling with hope.
with trust.
with peace.

And tonight, I saw a glimpse. It shook me to my very soul. The Holy Spirit flew through and and opened my heart for a brief moment to let God's word in. I was praying tonight, and decided to pray as if I really believed it. Kind of faking it. (the way Chowder & I do sometimes when we are out of sync. or the way I do with the children sometimes when I'm just not feeling like being a mother that day.)

So, I started with beginning scripture verses and prayed them as if I believed,

O Sovereign Lord, you are my God! Your works are true and you have promised good things to your servant. (2Sam 7:28)

and then

You O Lord, are the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2Cor 3:17)

Well, that's a nice way to start off. And as I prayed those two verses my heart began to stir. And then I moved on to Jeremiah 31:33-34...

I will be your God and you will be my people.

sure sure. done it....But then what stopped me, what cracked my heart open was the next verse, because you shall know me. Oh you guys! How do I explain this feeling? God flashed before my eyes the laughter of my children, the passion of my marriage, the hug of my parents, the moonrise over the Atlantic Ocean, the silence of 30 degrees below zero, my friends, the gardens, my favorite meal of Tenderloin Mudega with a glass of Chianti. I do know God. All this time of fear and anxiety! All I needed was to look around me and see God. I know God because I know his works. I can trust God because I can look around and see that God is a God of blessings and joy and love and riotous color and quietest intimacy.

God chuckled softly to me and said, " silly, silly, silly, thing. You do know me.

and all of this followed with,
God of Hope, you will fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in you, so that I may overflow with hope by the power of your Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13)

overflow indeed.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hey there!!

How is everyone? I hope you had a great couple of weeks. Though I have to admit I cheated a couple of times on my internet ban, it was only briefly so I have alot catching up to do with all my blogger friends. But, I must maintain some self-control.

First...Ambien CR Rocks my world! Love love love this stuff. seriously. I'm like a new woman now that I am actually sleeping. This has also cut down on my mega-crabbiness (as you might imagine) as well as my anxiety. Yay!

Second...I got a new camera. It has been awhile since my previous camera met it's untimely demise, but since it is digital camera clearance season and I couldn't care less about the latest gadgets, I got myself a pretty nice buy. I bought the Kodak Z650. (I think. nice.)

Third...didn't get as much Spring CLeaning done as I would have liked, but Spring seems to have deserted us. I did, however, get back to my base level which has made managing everything much easier.

So, I will be blogging more in depth in the evenings now, but couldn't wait to jump in and say hi!

I'll leave you with my favorite new pics of the kids...