I don't even like Oreos.

Oreos are completely ordinary. Sorry people, but I put them right up there with Thin Mints. Not impressed.

I can locate and have an Oreo anytime I want. They are just not my thing. Which makes it particularly bizarre to me that I find myself obsessing over them.

Case in point number one - I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to Oreo recipes.

Two - Tonight, I have devoted time, money and energy into making miniature Oreo cheesecakes when I could be doing any number of things.

I am not a mathematician, but I would say I have noticed a direct correlation between Nate having left for college and the number of baked goods I am preparing. Nope, I'm not sending him care packages. I'm emotionally baking.

Nate is going to school nearby, and usually comes home sometime during the weekend, is very busy with activities, and leaves to go back to school early afternoon on Sundays. That's when it begins. One Sunday, after he left, I went to Target. Harmless enough. Eight baking mixes later, I was home again. I justified it to myself that Target had started carrying a new product and we should try them all. Try them all we have.

Don't worry. I haven't completely wrecked my diet. I'm still right where I need to be. I'm being kind to myself for one more month, until I finish my master's degree, and then I need to crack down on some healthier habits. Until then, here I am. Did you know Oreos are vegan? That's got to count for something.

Gotta go. The oven timer is going off.


Fox in Socks

After what must have been about the millionth discussion we've had about matching socks,

I was inclined to put on some lingerie, march back into the room where my husband was and ask him

"Which would you rather have, a wife who dresses like this, or a wife that matches socks?"

But I already knew the answer.


bird of a different feather

"I was broken when I met you."

That's what he told me.

No. He was more like this magnificent, rare orange bird I found thrifting. Turned on it's side, under a bunch of junk and just odd enough that it hadn't attracted any attention on the shelf yet.

I grabbed it as soon as I saw it. Something that didn't belong just anywhere. Fragile. It looked like the sort of thing that should be in a pair, but I searched the whole store and couldn't find a mate.

I carefully checked it over, looking for flaws. I found the teeniest place where a fleck of gold was gone, missing a bit of luster and brightness, but other than that, perfect. Not broken at all.


you'll never know, but Nate might

Me: I wish I could write about that but I can't.

Pastor: Yes you can.

Me: That's the trouble. The really good stuff - the stuff you say - I can't write about it.

Pastor: Yes you can. You can write about it. You just can't write about it. You could write about it but not do anything with it.

Me: You mean like leave it in my journal, or on my computer?

Pastor: Yes.

Me: For Nate to find someday? That's the memory you want to leave him with?


hopeless chest

I used to have this picture in our house. The Pastor hated it. He hates most knick knack paddywacks and anything that involves people (me) spending money (his) to acquire things.

Its not like I thought it was some great picture or it went with our decor (believe me, there's no rhyme or reason there).

I just liked the quote.

I thought by owning the picture and seeing the words I would actually have hope.

We also used to have a fancy dining room set. It was the first furniture the Pastor and I shopped for together. It was purchased back in the days when I still had hope. Hope that we were going to have a certain kind of life. Hope that we were fancy people who had a fancy life and darling children. A life that involved sitting in pretty chairs around a pretty table, probably eating some kind of cake. I was in denial about what our life was really like.

But then something happened. There was a shift. I can't explain it. I don't know why or how or when. It just happened.

I gave the dining room set away. I didn't literally give it away, but someone got a heck of a deal on Craigslist. I had grown to detest the furniture I had wanted and loved so much. Love had turned into hate. I can't tell you how anxious that furniture had made me. Who was going to put a glass on it without a coaster? Who was going to do their homework on it, digging through the notebook paper with their pencil and making hieroglyphics in the table top? I was sick and tired of cleaning the cream colored microfiber seats. I was on the verge of pulling a Betty Draper.

I got rid of the china cabinet and the chairs and the table and the protective table pad I hated. I only had one brief moment afterwards, when I thought "what have I done?" But that moment was quickly alleviated when I witnessed the 16 year old child, trying to "eat" a frozen Capri-Sun straight from the freezer (no thaw time) with a fork and knife, on the table surface of the remaining small table in our home.

I knew I had made the right decision.

It was liberating.

In fact it felt so good to get rid of the dining room furniture, I started getting rid of all excess furniture. I defined excess as anything that didn't have an occupant in the chair as I walked past it. I got rid of a recliner. Then another one. Then a love seat.

I moved on to smaller items. In this house, I'd never hung up the hope picture. Sometime between our last move and now, 15 months, I had shoved hope in a closet. I no longer wanted to look at it or be reminded that I was supposed to have it, but I wasn't quite ready to get rid of it.

But then I was.

At first I thought I should still get something out of having hope. I thought I'd list it on Craigslist. But it didn't take me very long. Sometime between snapping a pic and writing the ad, I gave up. I was done with hope. I put it in my trunk and immediately took it to Goodwill. I figured if anyone could use hope, it was them.

When I have had my fill of watching the inhabitants of this house destroy things, I go to a small office space I have been renting where no one can touch my things. Two weeks ago, I went to go have a productive day. I walked in the door and there was a black snake in the middle of the floor.

What else could I expect in a place I had decorated with owls, the messengers of death in Native American tales?

The snake did it for me. Today I packed up everything that was at my office. I don't think I can work there anymore. I feel like I will always be on edge. That I won't be able to listen to music that would drown out snake sounds or walk around barefoot and certainly not take a nap on the floor.

My office space is gone and I'm working on my house becoming an empty shell where a whole lot of furniture used to be. I have a "new" table, free, salvaged from a college science building. It has a hole in the middle where you put your bunsen burner. We surrounded this table with folding chairs, which one of the teenagers couldn't stand, so he took it upon himself to find different chairs. Fine by me! Now we have our meals sitting on indestructible seafoam green chairs that came from an elementary school in Aline, Oklahoma. I couldn't be happier. I figure if thousands of schoolchildren couldn't destroy these chairs, they should be safe in our house for a day or two.

I don't have hope anymore. I have something else. I'm not sure what it is. That's probably why it took me months to write the words "giving up hope" on a piece of paper. Hope feels like anticipation, like being excited. I don't know what's going to happen. I'd sit around and think about it, but I got rid of the chairs. And really, I'm ok with whatever the future holds, as long as there aren't any snakes involved.


You wouldn't pay $5 for a bar of soap, would you? Yep, that's what I thought.

Do you possess the caustic materials necessary to make your own soap? You know, soap. That stuff you can buy bars of at the Dollar Tree for $1. Or if you are super fancy, at Target you can get a big 'ol multi-pack of the stuff for an Abe Lincoln.

I guess I decided life wasn't complicated enough. Why else would a person in this day and age decide to make her own bars of soap?

These are the kinds of things that start happening when you don't have television and you begin to think, through boredom, it is a good idea to pay attention to random people on the World Wide Web. It's not like there are any crazies out there!

It started last week, when the Pastor sent me an ad he had found on Craigslist for a soap-making class (or murder entrapment scenario) in some guy's garage, $50. I thought the Pastor was suggesting we make a date out of it, $100. No, he said. We don't both need to go, just one of us. I guess neither of us felt comfortable with the soap maker/serial killer, and in the end, neither of us went. $0.

About a week later I saw something Pinteresting - a crackpot who had made soap in her crockpot. Perhaps this was a solution. We could learn to make soap while decreasing the odds that we would end up in the crawl space of someone's garage while doing it.

Seemed easy enough. I already had a crockpot. In fact, I have five crockpots. I could make a lot of soap if I wanted.

The necessary ingredients were procured, mixed, heated, poured and molded. No super fancy soap molds here, just Rubbermaid containers.

I'm not going to lye to you. Ha ha, see what I did there? It was fun. It is bizarre that something is drain cleaner one minute, and then magically transformed into something safe enough to use even on your most special places. If you are just buying your soap at the Dollar Tree, you are missing out on this mystical experience even if you are having another mystical experience entirely by witnessing the other people who shop there.

In the end the soap making venture cost $75 which came out to $5 per bar. If you are keeping track, that is 75 items at the Dollar Tree.

Unlike other projects I've done lately (making my own laundry detergent) this one was definitely not a cost-saving measure. As an added bonus, the equipment needed included a food scale. Nine years in Weight Watchers yet I had never before purchased a food scale. This explains so much. Did I mention I'm spending $13 a week to go to Weight Watchers? That's a lot of bars of soap.

Early testing has revealed the soap smells good, gets sudsy and cleans your body.

I know what you must be wondering now. Robyn, are you going to go to the crafty store to purchase soap molds, essential oils and embellishments? Will you form your own wildly successful soap making business with the Pastor? Or perhaps turn into one of those lucrative bloggers with fancy photos, a professional looking website, ad space and eventually a book deal?


But at least I will be clean, one way or another. Plus it turns out the Pastor finds the whole pioneer spirit of a woman who makes her own soap while wearing high-heeled, knee-length boots and false eyelashes with her apron and rubber gloves to be incredibly sexy.

And now you are caught up with what's been going on in the Parsonage - just good, clean fun.



In perhaps the greatest marital compromise of all time, I am allowing a single appliance to be kept on our kitchen counter.

I'm a big fan of a house that looks like people don't actually live there. A side effect of this is not wanting a single item on my kitchen counter. (Or any counter for that matter.)

Recently, unhappiness was expressed about the only toaster we have ever owned: my Hello Kitty toaster, which the Pastor purchased for me pre-marriage. The Pastor stated he did not like the HK toaster, because the outline of HK prevents the bread from actually being toasted in parts. And having your bread toasted by the toaster is something people prefer. Ummmmmm, so? With the HK toaster, you get really cute toast, and she is happy to be tucked away in a cabinet when her work is done. Apparently, with Miss Kitty, you have to toast and then flip the bread around and toast again to get it toasted on both sides. We are not the kind of people who are patient enough for one toasting cycle, much less two. Please understand all of these toast reports have come to me second-hand as toast is yet another thing that I have to deal with, but don't actually eat.

As an act of kindness and love, I went to Target loaded down with coupons. I saved $55 in coupons, almost enough to offset the price of the new toaster. By the way, have you priced toasters lately? When did there come into existence such a thing as toasters that costs more than a new oven? I was sure to narrow down the search for a new toaster to those that could toast more than two slices at a time. Not only do we like our toast, we like lots of it.

I'm sure this new appliance will make all the difference in bringing harmony to our house. If not, perhaps I would be willing to try moving it to another counter. Say the one in the bathroom, precariously close to the tub.


Laundry List

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Where has the time gone? I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted to this blog.

Here'a a quick catch up.

I wrote a book. I'm not sure what to do with it now, but I wrote it.

The Pastor wrote a book too. He knows what he's doing with it. I'll tell you about it as soon as I've read it. Don't tell the Pastor I haven't finished reading it yet.

We moved.

We went to Waco. And Houston. And Cancun. And Galveston. And New Orleans. And Dallas. And Broken Arrow. I'd post pictures, but once I got home I started doing laundry and I don't think I stopped since. It never stops.

Nate went on his first college tour. I began the first in what will no doubt be a series of extended panic attacks about my baby going off to college.

And since this is summer, I have a house full of teenagers and a husband at home, thanks to his college professor job. They seem to all be skilled at simultaneously keeping me from actually accomplishing anything, while at the same time not really spending any time with me. I'm not sure how it works exactly. It's like some mathematical equation I can't solve. I do know that everyone changes clothes a lot, and they want to eat all the time. All. The. Time. And no one sleeps. And you'd think I was a Rap Mogul the way these people ask me for cash. Yes, I'm ready for school to start.

I also discovered Pinterest. What did I do before Pinterst? I guess I blogged. Pinterest is like my private, magical, special world where everything is perfect. Now I spend my days baking tasty treats which are devoured by the teenagers and making my own laundry detergent, evidence of such craziness can be seen in the photo above. I think it's a stretch to say "I made my own laundry detergent" because I didn't harvest animal fat to make lye soap, or however done. I didn't mine baking soda. I don't even know where baking soda comes from. I took ingredients and I assembled them into laundry detergent. I'm not sure exactly what my parents think I'm doing, but my Dad's response? I guess you want your clothes to stink! My Mom's response? I hope you guys don't start getting rashes.

The Pastor is "Filling a Pulpit" at a church an hour and a half away. It's a great church. Every Sunday, someone is clamoring to take us to lunch after church. How could I be unhappy about that?

And today is special. Today marks day 11 of my latest bout with "seasonal allergies." When is it a season and when is it an actual lifestyle? Let's just say it is probably for the best that I haven't been posting under the influence of Benadryl. The Benadryl has helped to dull the pain of the "fun summer" I am having.

I've also been on a diet. I lost 6.6 pounds and how I've gained 1.2 back. I blame the teenagers, the pre-college experience, and most of all Pinterest.

There. You are caught up. I wish I was caught up on anything - especially the laundry.


you can't judge a book by its cover

But you can totally judge it by its dedication page. More on that in just a minute.

We have been in the process of moving and when I say "we" I really mean "I" because it's my job alone to hide everything in the house in such a way that no one else can find anything. This is the reason for five moves in seven years. Whenever anyone gives off a hint that they actually know where anything is, it's time to move again.

As if I have nothing better to do but to hide everything from everyone! As if I enjoy being needed, that no one is able to function without me in this or whatever house we might be living in.

All this to say, I had what I consider as a wife, a mother, and a writer, to be a perfectly normal thought last week. I was holding a giant roll of bubble wrap and I thought this about my husband: I could kill him. I could kill him right now. Somehow, I could kill him with this bubble wrap.

Normally, I enjoy bubble wrap. I think bubble wrap is fun. I can say it's the first time I've ever held bubble wrap and thought evil thoughts.

In addition to moving, we did just have the perfect storm occurring within a three week period: our anniversary, my birthday and mother's day. I was out of town on our anniversary which automatically makes it null and void, there were tears on both the other days and I got the same Happy Birthday message he sends to everyone on Facebook.

The combination would have been too great for any man, but for a man with a few Master's Degrees and a doctorate, and it was just too much.

The Pastor crawled into bed last night at some ungodly time proclaiming he had just finished his second book. When I got up this morning I opened up what he had sent me.

I made it as far as the dedication page.

I saw his parent's names.

I saw pastor's names from when he was growing up.

I saw our kid's names.

Yep, you guessed it.

He couldn't have picked a worse week to not dedicate a book to me.

There's about a thousand things I could be writing right now, but I'm too distracted. I had to spend the morning mentally re-writing his dedication page for him.
I understand the logic of why he did what he did. His book is about the next generation of faith embodied in children. He chose to dedicate his book to the people who influenced him growing up, and to our children who he hopes to influence even though one of those children just told us about plans to get a tattoo from the Book of "Philippines."

But still. He couldn't do one of these numbers?


And finally, to Robyn, the love of my life, without you none of this would be possible.




for Robyn

Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun--all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.


Ironically, his book is entitled "The Greatest Commandment." I would have an even greater commandment for him.

And to think, I had just started speaking to him again yesterday.

I completely understand why he wouldn't dedicate the book to me. Right now, we're not on the same page. We're not in the same book located on the same shelf in the same bookstore on the same planet in the same universe.

It's perfectly fine.

Maybe this book is a throw-away.

Let him dedicate this one to the parents and kids.

Maybe he knows on some level the next book will be huge. That's the one! And he's saving that one to dedicate to me and to only me. It will be more special that way. Why should I have to share star billing with anyone? That book will be huge and he'll be able to make up to me the mother's days, the birthdays, and the anniversaries. Volkswagen Bug huge.

At that point I'll settle for a simple dedication,

to Robyn,
thanks for allowing me to live

Until then, I have some more things to hide.

if you want to read more about our move you can go to:



Erma made it ok

When I was a little girl, sure I wanted to grow up to be a ballerina or a princess. Deep down, I knew what I really wanted to be.

I wanted to be a mom.

Also, I was one of those kids who read everything I could get my hands on. At some point I must have finished all of my Nancy Drew books and I started reading my Mom's Erma Bombeck books.

I remember reading one of Erma's stories. I learned there are two kinds of moms in the world: the kind who washes a measuring cup out with soap after she'd only used it to measure water, and the kind who doesn't.

This was my takeaway: Erma was funny, and I wanted to be the kind of mom who washes the measuring cup out with soap.

As hard as I tried, I probably only had fleeting moments of being that kind of mom. Even if I managed to wash my measuring cup out with soap, I was the kind of mom who had a job. I was the mom who got divorced. I was a single mom. I was the mom who didn't have to wash her measuring cups, because it was easier to just go out to eat.

Then I got married to the Pastor and I was the kind of mom with a step in front of it, raising preacher's kids alongside my own.

While Erma never had to worry about being a pastor's wife or a step-mom, we had one thing in common - living with people who gave us plenty of writing material. I didn't just want to be a mom anymore; I wanted to be a writer.

A couple of years ago I went through the worst kind of writer's block a humor writer could have.

I was sad.

I know why I got stuck. I had spent two years of my life trying to get pregnant, having a baby that died, trying some more, failing and letting go. Nothing had worked out the way I thought it would; nothing was funny. I had all the time in the world to wash measuring cups out with soap, but no baby.

I had this need with my writing to make everything funny. There wasn't anything funny about miscarriage or infertility. Was there? Granted I was 40. I was living with three teenagers. I was not that many years away from having an empty nest. Wanting another baby? I must have had some kind of mental condition. There had to be something funny about all of it.

About the only thing I could come up with was that my body and baby did not get along because my baby didn’t like Mexican food and we just couldn’t come to an agreement. Or the baby was just as ungrateful as our other kids: I carried that baby all over Europe and then he just took off after the vacation.

I had the hardest time writing but I kept reading. Once again I found myself out of books and at Goodwill searching for more. That's when I stumbled across a collection of just about every single one of Erma's books.

I read Erma's A Marriage Made in Heaven...or Too Tired for an Affair. I realized Erma didn’t just write about the funny stuff. Erma wrote about everything, good and bad. This book? It was exactly what I needed.

I learned something about Erma I never knew. Erma had struggled with infertility. Erma had been 40 and pregnant too. I started the chapter about Erma's pregnancy at age 40 with renewed hope. Erma was a huge success! Maybe this was a good omen. Here I was struggling to write and struggling to get pregnant. Maybe Erma had all the answers.

Turns out, Erma and I had something else in common. Erma's baby died too.

Erma wrote about it.

Erma wrote about not wanting to deal with the inevitable. Wanting to wait just a little bit longer. Not wanting to let go. Maybe it would turn out ok. About having to give a child back.

And you know what? It wasn't funny.

But it was ok.

My whole life I had admired Erma for her successes.

But now I also admire Erma for her failures.

Sure, there was the successful Erma Bombeck. But, there was another Erma I could and should relate to. The Erma who had her share of failures.

Erma had survived, and she went on to write about it. I knew I could too, whether it was funny or not. The material is still out there, whether you can see it or not. Whether you can process it or not. But you never will if you don't write it. You have to write. You have to make your way through it, and at some point you will be on the other side and things will be funny again.

Eventually I was ok. Eventually I picked up keyboard again. Eventually I got un-stuck.

And I no longer care if the measuring cups get washed out with soap. I have more important things to do, and to write about.

Thanks, Erma.


Special K

I have just returned from attending the Erma Bombeck Writing Workshop in Dayton, OH.

While I was gone, the Pastor and I "celebrated" our seventh anniversary. Because I was out of town, the Pastor thought there was some sort of loophole in which an anniversary no longer happened.

He asked me the night before our anniversary if I needed him to do anything. I was having a wonderful time at my conference. We had spent money on that. I was happy. I was content. I told him the truth: I don't need anything. Plus I had the memory/pain of the previous week when we had to give Uncle Sam so. much. money.

But now I know what I should have asked for.

I got up the morning of our anniversary and sent the Pastor a text:

Why couldn't he just have responded with an "I love you." Or an "ILY2." Even "ok" would have preferable.

But K? That just set me off.

This is a man who sends me hundreds of emails, all with the subject line "here" that he expects me to have total recall about at a moment's notice. This is the man who fills up my voice mail with voluminous messages about stuff I don't care about. This is a man who has written a dissertation.

But after seven years? I get a single letter.

I flew home today. I had in the corner of my mind, maybe, just maybe the Pastor knew how much he had screwed up, not by not doing something, but by doing the wrong something. Maybe he would try to redeem himself. I envisioned him greeting me at the airport with flowers in hand. The good kind of flowers, you know, the ones he never buys because they are not on the brink of death. Or cookies. Or a mini bundt cake. Not because we had an anniversary, but because he was glad I was home.

Nope, it was just him, empty-handed. Well... not completely empty-handed. He did have his cell phone with him, you know,in case he wanted to send any more texts. Wouldn't want anyone to miss out on those!

I kept the thoughts in the back of my mind. Maybe there are cookies waiting for me in the fridge! Maybe there is a house full of flowers!

He stopped at 7-Eleven on the way home. He came back out to the car with a present for me. A cupcake from 7-Eleven.

It was like he had purchased fuel for the fire. The cupcake was awful. I ate the top of it. I only ate what I did because I was angry, and I took my anger out on the cupcake because that's what I do.

Clearly I did not stay gone long enough.

Now I know. Now I know that I don't only have to hold his hand, make a list, put things on his calendar that he won't look at. I don't just have to tell him what to do, I also have to specify what not to do: don't be an idiot.

I thought at least if he didn't want to celebrate our anniversary, that maybe he had missed me.


Exhibit A: No flowers. No cookies in the fridge. In fact, nothing in the fridge. You wouldn't want me to miss out on getting to go to the grocery store right away, would you?

Exhibit B: He removed ALL of the pillows off our bed except for his. He shoved them into my closet, reminding me that in his ideal world (bachelor pad), a pillow-free existence is preferable.

Exhibit C: He removed our bedspread and replaced it with what I refer to as a "horse blanket" because it has the look and feel of something you would put on a horse.

I get it. Men don't understand the need to have a lot of pillows. Some day they will figure out we need plenty around in case we decide to smother them, like when they do something stupid. Men shouldn't just appreciate the pillows, they should fear them.

The only thing I can figure is that maybe he really wanted to give me some new writing material.

My birthday is in 13 days and Mother's Day is soon after. Perhaps I should keep holding on and trick myself into believing this is all a big ruse to distract me from the magnificent diamond and/or automobile combo gift he's waiting to give me. I can pass the time between now and then by going to the bakery, rearranging the throw pillows on our bed and contacting our cell phone provider to remove text messaging from our plan.


Where's the syrup?

I've left the Pastor and children at home to fend for themselves while I attend the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop in Dayton, Ohio.

As I drove through downtown Cincinnati in rush hour traffic this morning to get here, my phone rang. The Pastor was calling to ask me where he could find the syrup. That was it. No "how are you" or "where are you," just syrup.

Now we know I'm easily replaced with Aunt Jemima. In fact, the only difference between us is that Aunt Jemima (wisely) doesn't have a cell phone. Well, she's probably sweeter than me too.

Later the Pastor texted me a photo of his dinner. It was an Indian Taco. He captioned the picture, wanting to make sure I knew that he has not gotten to eat an Indian Taco since we got married.

Yes, somehow our union has prevented him from going to the Indian Taco stand less than a mile from our home for the past seven years. What was I thinking all those nights I cooked dinner? I have clearly been holding him back.

If you happen to be in the neighborhood, feel free to drop off a casserole.


welcome to the jungle

I just welcomed the Pastor home from a stint teaching in the jungle.

He entered the house with a resounding "this place smells funny."

Of course it does. We have our own version of the jungle here - the climate is unpredictable and it includes three teenagers, one who had made garlic omelets that morning.

More under the category of "unpredictable." It seems as though every time the Pastor and I have any sort of discussion, he seems to like to use the word "emotional." As in "you are being emotional." I don't know about you, and I'm not a trained professional, but something about his use of that word/phrase is becoming a trigger for me, and makes me want to karate chop him in the throat. Of course that may just be the emotions talking.

What is wrong with being emotional? Let's face it. What he's really saying is you're being a woman. Or hormonal. What I'm really saying is that he's being an idiot.

There are many wonderful emotions - appreciation, amusement, excitement, joy, sexiness - I could go on and on. Why doesn't he say I'm being "emotional" when I'm showing any of these emotions?

That's ok. Every once in a while, when they are not making the house stink of b.o. and garlic eggs, having these teenagers around does come in handy. If there was ever anyone who could show the Pastor what it's really like to demonstrate (emphasis on the "demon" part of the word demonstrate) being emotional, it's the species known as the teenage girl.

Bottom line - I didn't know if we needed to get her Midol or an exorcism. She made me look as undemonstrative and inexpressive as a man.

I'll express some appreciation for that. Now maybe the Pastor will think twice the next time he tries to throw down the emo card. If not, you'll be able to tell by any conspicuous bruising around his neck area.


natural peanut butter and sprouted bread

It's been 7 years today since the Pastor got down on his knees (on a pillow of course) and popped the question in a very Prince Charming way presenting me with a big diamond ring and proposing we spend the rest of our lives together. A proposal that included me giving up my cute condo and even cuter dog to take on him and his two kids.

Sometimes I stand back in amazement that we've made it this far. Had I known then what I know now, that diamond should have been even bigger. Much, much bigger.

That engagement day started with the Pastor coming to pick us up to make the four hour drive to Medieval Times, and I was running late. That did not make for a good start to the day.

I had packed a picnic lunch of natural peanut butter on sprouted whole-grain bread and carrot sticks.

I now know I would have had a more favorable reaction from the Pastor and his kids had I packed donuts covered in powdered sugar and arsenic.

You would have thought I was trying to poison people with healthy food.

The Pastor stopped along the way and bought nachos for everyone. The whole reason I had packed a picnic was to avoid stopping and spending money on junk food. I felt unappreciated.

Nate felt like the Pastor stole his thunder of getting to go to Medieval Times by proposing to me.

Everything about this experience tells you everything you could possibly want to know about us. We are the same people now we were 7 years ago, just older and more used to each other's annoyances.

I'm still tardy and I still buy the natural peanut butter and the sprouted bread. I still don't buy Jif and Wonder Bread.

The kids still complain. And act like I'm trying to poison them with healthy things.

And the Pastor still acts as the peacekeeper with Mexican food.

Maybe we'll have nachos for dinner tonight. Melted cheese - the bond that made our family stick together.


We've come a long way.

We've come a long way since the first Valentine's Day the Pastor and I had together. That year, 2005, the Pastor's Valentine to me was an email.

He emailed me a picture of a Hello Kitty toaster he had given me a few weeks earlier. The subject line of the message said "here." There was no text in the body of the email, just the attached picture.

I'm still not sure why I didn't break up with him then. In my defense, I was a very busy woman working a kajillion hours a week. Too busy to kill him or dump him, so he got lucky.

The Pastor took me out this past weekend for our belated Valentine's Day celebration.

We stayed in our city but went downtown. Isn't everything better downtown?

The day started off with the Pastor taking me for coffee and a pedicure.

I hadn't had a pedicure in two months. I've been a DIY gal lately. Getting pampered was heaven. The Pastor sat in a massage chair next to me and did his own version of pampering - he read Hebrew. To each his own.

I wore a sexy blue dress - not a Goodwill find but a bargain. I picked up the $128 dress for $19.00. Somehow, I managed to not get a picture of me wearing the thing. I can only assume the Pastor didn't want too many people to see how good I looked for fear that a picture like that could only go viral on the internet.

Here's our lovely hotel room:

My only complaint about the whole weekend would be that I don't like King beds. They are too big, allowing the Pastor to escape from my schooching.

I gave the Pastor his Valentine:

What can I say? When he's not sewing, he loves his silicone kitchen gadgets. This one was purchased in the post-Valentine clearance at Target. That's the bonus of celebrating holidays late - half off!

We watched movies on the laptop:

His picks, rented from the library, included one about monks who all get killed and a silent movie. I thought my Redbox movies would prove to be superior, but they really weren't.

We went out to dinner at our favorite restaurant:

In the pic it looks like we were super classy people who didn't eat the last bite of ice cream, but I can assure you after the picture was taken we did.

The fun continued the next morning. My Prince Charming took me to see an exhibit at the art museum:

And of course there was more coffee:

It was a lovely weekend. The Pastor said he hoped I enjoyed it, he probably wouldn't be free again until June.

I'll take what I can get - as long as it's not another picture of a toaster. He knows better now. If he tries a stunt like that again, he'll be toast for sure.


Sew In Love

The Pastor has many spiritual gifts. One would be that he is the worst gift giver, ever. Along those lines, when purchasing flowers, he gets the flowers so close to death I'm surprised the store is still selling them. Either that, or he has a secret flower dumpster. These flowers end up having the opposite affect on me. Instead of being happy he bought me flowers, it makes me seethe with rage. Is this what he wants? Are these flowers a secret metaphor for our relationship? Then I have to keep the dying flowers around for days to continue to rot. And I never feel like I can say it's sweet that you buy me flowers but please please please buy me some that are still alive and smell like flowers and not decay.

Sigh. At least he tries.

One year for our anniversary, the Pastor gave me a ring. A yellow gold ring (ick) featuring a belt buckle (ick). The accompanying note read "thanks for buckling up and joining our lives."

Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick.

Nothing says "romance" quite like a belt buckle and tolerance.

This past Christmas I didn't get a present. Not even a sketchy bouquet. I realized he had been swamped, so I cut him some slack (my gift to him). Typically, we've not done Christmas on Christmas. He has given me gifts in January when the Wise Men came to visit the baby Jesus, and coincidentally when everything is on sale and our property taxes have been paid.

This year Christmas came and went. Then the Magis came and went and I still didn't get squat. I was beginning to feel like he was going to try to pull a fast one on me and do the dreaded combo Christmas/Valentine gift.

I wasn't going to let that happen so I told him flat out what I wanted. I wanted MAC makeup brushes. In my mind (which was formed watching Disney Princess movies) they would be carried in by cartoon birds and be presented to me arranged like a bouquet tied with ribbon, but at this point I'd take whatever I could get.

Deep in my heart I knew it would be too much for him to handle, after all he has a Ph.D. Also I'm fairly certain he's never seen a Disney Princess movie. So I decided to cut him some slack and made a very specific list, complete with instructions, turn-by-turn directions, how many steps from the entrance of the store to the makeup counter, salesperson names, brush names and numbers, and alternately a website where they could be purchased with free shipping. It was the most effort I could make to get my present without actually buying it myself.

Fast forward to my husband becoming completely obsessed with the idea of us (ME) needing a sewing machine. Having lost our dear sweet lady who did mending for us, we were left with a hole in our lives that couldn't be darned.

Much like a bouquet of dead flowers, it seemed to disappoint the Pastor greatly that I couldn't and had no desire whatsoever to sew. I let this make me feel bad for about two seconds until I remembered the Pastor doesn't like sports, so if he can be a guy who doesn't like sports I can be a girl who doesn't want a sewing machine. Besides, in my Universe, things are sewed by talking cartoon animals and fairy godmothers.

Imagine my surprise when he brought home a sewing machine and told me Merry Christmas.

I thought I might lose it. I reminded him yet again that I DIDN'T. WANT. A. SEWING. MACHINE. I briefly toyed with the idea of maybe keeping the sewing machine, and exactly WHAT I COULD SEW TOGETHER ON IT.

Finally, he opened the sewing machine box. Turns out he had bought the sewing machine, taken it out of the box, and wisely replaced the contents with this:

I'm pretty sure I saw a couple of cartoon birds fly out of that box too.

In the end, the Pastor taught himself to sew, and he's quite the little Seamster. As for me, while he's sewing, I'm painting my face.

It's February 20, and I still haven't gotten my Valentine, but he's promised it is coming this weekend. I can't wait to see what he's whipped up for me on his sewing machine.


I'm on to you, Pastor!

The Mystery of the Missing Socks? The Clue on the Dryer? The Case of the Foiled Footwear?

I'm playing around with what my Nancy Drew book titles for this one would be.

Seems like the Pastor has a dirty little secret. Technically I guess it would be a clean little secret, but I've got him all figured out, and I didn't need my bobby pins or flashlight to solve this one.

The Pastor went out of town this week and while he was gone, I went a sleuthin' and found this, dun dun dun:

He could have done a better job of hiding it from me. I suppose he thought if he left the bag in a safe place, a place he thought I'd never look with him out of town (on top of the dryer), it would be safe.

You see, the Pastor thinks he has finally figured out some way, some sort of system while doing laundry, to isolate the mismatched socks. He thinks if he separated out this batch of lonely socks from the last bout of laundry-doing, he'd be able to make it make sense. That his little system of putting them in a bag will somehow make us be able to find the sock-mates.

When I found the bag of lonely socks? I couldn't have laughed harder. It was almost as though he had given me a Valentine. Almost.

I don't have a Ph.D. Or a few Master's Degrees. But this I know for sure, you will never figure it out.

It is un-understandable.

The socks will never make sense.

We will always and forever have a pile of mismatched socks.

This is just how the Universe works. Socks just disappear.

And on top of the Universe's natural order of things for socks, we have kids that go back-and-forth between different houses. They do not come to our house with matched socks on. Just like everything else in our house, even our socks are divorced and remarried to other socks. Then when the kids leave again, they leave with one of those pairs of preciously matched socks, and they disappear into another kind of black hole entirely.

It'll be fun though. To watch the Pastor after the next go-round of laundry, dumping out all the socks and enlisting the help of the kids to match them - you know, those kids who are not wearing matched socks in the first place. You will be able to see his blood pressure rise with each stray sock.

Maybe I'd care more about this if I even wore socks, but I don't and I never will. I won't wear anything that means I'll just have that much more laundry to do. I've got plenty of other cases to solve without spending any more time on socks again, ever.

And that, my little sleuths, is no mystery.


Comme on fait son lit, on le trouve!

I got so much done today.

I cleaned out the fridge. I sorted through all my nail polishes. I gathered up 16 dressy dresses and donated them to charity. I went through my shoes and my jewelry. I purchased supplies for someone's art project. I gave myself a manicure and a pedicure. I ran errands. I did dishes. I microdermed. I researched. I cooked. I facebooked. I took a bubble bath. I worked. I read. I had time for an arty crafty project. I wrote. I hunted down bargains. I drank all the water I'm supposed to drink in a day. I translated things.

How did I accomplish all this in a day? It might have something to do with rising at 4:30 and having 7 shots of espresso. But I'm going to go with what's behind door number two. The reason I got up at 4:30 a.m.? To take the Pastor to the airport.

I worked really hard, but without my wifely chores, I'm practically on a vacation with loads of spare time.

And without him being around to supervise the bed getting made, I'm saving even more valuable minutes.

But I miss him. : (


Slayed by the Sunday Supper

Happy Sabbath?

After a mere 5 hours in the kitchen, I'm finally able to sit down.

This is what my manicure looked like before I started cooking and cleaning:

This one is my own fault:

The cake, made-from-scratch, is the result of my watching the Food Network and Miss Paula Deen. I'm going to cancel cable television.

I also made my family roast beast, carrots and mashed potatoes. To say that I used every dish in the kitchen is not an exaggeration:

The good news? I don't have to cook the rest of the week:

The bad news? After all those dishes, now my nails look like this:


free association with 2011

Idaho. Idaho State Capitol. Cabin in the woods. Road trip with Dad. Mourned the loss of Borders Bookstore. Arizona. Pastor's Mom's 70th and Grandma's 90th birthdays. Rubio's and In-N-Out Burger. Princess Diana exhibit. Six year anniversary. Royal Wedding. Fortieth birthday party with cupcakes, candy necklaces and cotton candy. Colorado. Another cabin in the woods. The Pastor left for a three-month fellowship. Parent's 45th anniversary. Working on the rent houses. Thailand via Japan to see the Pastor. Rat in the bathroom. Date with the Pastor on the rooftop where Hangover 2 was filmed. Rode in a Tuk Tuk. Stayed in a hotel room that was worse than camping. Floating city. James Bond Island. Canoe Ride. Phuket. Cleaned and organized the garage. Graffiti vigilante. Nate: permit, driver's license, braces off, #1 in his class of 415. Idaho again. Cabin in the woods - again. Painted pottery. Four wheelers. Made Thanksgiving all by myself. San Francisco. Walked across the Golden Gate Bridge and back. Monterrey-by-the-Sea and Carmel. Sea otters and sea horses. Pebble Beach. Alcatraz. Haight Asbury. Redwood trees. Sierra National Forrest. More In-N-Out Burger. Ikea. Yosemite. Camping, bear-free. Goodbye red Honda and flat-iron. Goodwill obsessed - especially vintage clothes and especially especially vintage nightgowns. Stopped buying ziploc bags and renewing my magazine subscriptions. Couldn't get pregnant. Juice fasted and liver cleansed but also ate lots of donuts, mexican food and cookies. Five pieces published. Discovered false eyelashes. Did a whole bunch of different stuff to my hair and wore a lot of shoes.

Goodbye 2011.


date night/everything tight/check fright/strawberry cake just right

I refuse to say I am fat.

While typing this, I am wearing a size small shirt and jeans that are in the single digits. I refuse to beat myself up. In part, because that would be exercise.

I will, however, say that my clothes are skinny.

I had a date with the Pastor last night, and I was trying to psych myself up. It's not that I didn't want to go out with him, it's just that I seem to be in a post-Christmas funk. Not getting any presents (except from Moms) will do that to you.

I put on my false eyelashes. I hated all my clothes and thought it might cheer me up if I got something new to wear. Besides, I've been really good lately waiting for Santa to come (yet I still got the shaft) and I knew the Pastor wouldn't say anything if I went shopping.

We have a new outlet mall. I want it to do good. I want to like it. I really like a couple of the stores, but I kind of hate going there. It seems like everyone who shops there? Is incredibly stupid. This coming from a woman who routinely shops at Goodwill. I think it says a lot that the people at Goodwill annoy me less than the people at the outlet mall.

I wanted some fabulous retro circle skirted 1950's cocktail dress. You know, the 1950's, when women still had hips. Needless to say, the outlet mall didn't have the look I wanted. Why is everything made for stick straight people? Am I the only curvy girl out there? The Kardashian's are everywhere - and those girls have booties! How is it possible that they can be on the cover of every magazine, yet not have made an impact on the design of clothes? This would mean the Kardashian's have really served no purpose.

I gave up on the mall and went home where I proceeded to have the parade of the closet. I was too embarrassed to even photograph my looks and send them to any friends. The first look I tried on included a floral bubble skirt, a silver sequined tank and a purple cardi with silver trim. I looked like a bag lady who had raided a dumpster behind The Loft, or to give you an even better visual - imagine what the librarian at a LGBT library would wear.

The next look included a short black full skirt and a black sequined top. I looked like a sad, old ice dancer.

I gave up and put on a sweater dress. I was glad the Pastor wasn't home to see me pull my boots over my calves. If you ever want to question the size of your calves, go buy a pair of boots. I have never thought "I have abnormally large calves." I don't believe I do. But there is nothing like putting on boots that will make you think "what is wrong with my hideous, mishapen legs?"

We had a nice dinner out. We went to a restaurant we'd not been to before. The Pastor ordered a special.

Here's the thing about the specials at a fancy restaurant. They don't tell you how much they cost, and you don't ask because you are at a fancy restaurant. His special involved steak and shrimp. Once the check came and for once the Pastor's meal cost more than mine, I knew the date was over. Then I got to listen to how much food costs and how hard the Pastor works (he does) and the value of a dollar and how he would have been just as happy with a $5 hamburger. It went from hot date to conversation with a depression-era grandpa, just like that. This turn of events made me glad I hadn't added to the expense of the date with fashion.

Oh and by the way, I didn't care about my skinny clothes, that I had thought that maybe I should wear tights and spanx (sexy date undergarment combo), or how much it cost. I thought about having fun - and fun for me meant getting the strawberry cake.

It was delicious. I expect me and that cake will have another date soon, whether I find that perfect cocktail dress or not. As for the Pastor, you'll probably find him wherever $5 hamburgers are sold.


Christmas Card

Every year it’s the same.

Some people fear getting trampled to death while Black Friday shopping.

Others stress about not finding whatever version of Elmo it is you are supposed to buy.

But my greatest holiday fear?

The Christmas card.

I’m not talking about the boxes of Christmas cards you can go to any store and buy. That’s easy. You just decide if you want to be religious – Mary/Joseph/baby Jesus on front, or cute – a dog wearing reindeer antlers, or nothing with a generic “Happy Holidays.”

I’m talking about the elusive photo Christmas card.

You see, before you have the photo Christmas card, you have to have the photo. The perfect family Christmas photo.

I figure I must be missing something. People must have better lives, better children, or better abilities at Photoshop.

I’ve been trying to get “the perfect Christmas card” for 6 years now.

When you live in the reality that is divorce and remarriage with kids, first you have to find a time when all of you are together.

This magical thing happened, when the planets aligned – not only were we all together, we were all in Church clothes. Of course, none of us matched in the slightest. I was wearing plaid. The teenage boy was sporting a retro cardigan. One girl was wearing a cherry print, and the other, floral. The Pastor was in his clerical collar. I figured at best our photo would come off as a nice minister who had stopped to help out a rag-tag bunch.

Thankfully, I had not allowed the youngest girl to wear what she wanted to wear that morning. Her idea of proper church attire? Leather shorts. Leg warmers. Long, feather earrings. And I quote her: “I can rock this look.” No, dear. I’m pretty sure you can only “rock that look” if you are streetwalking. If you are a 12 year old girl, you cannot rock that look. At least not under my watch!

I had the realization that we were not only altogether, but half-way decently dressed, driving down the road. I told the Pastor we had to act fast. What happened next I’m sure was like having to race to get on the last helicopter out of Saigon. The Pastor pulled into a parking lot, screeched to a halt and we all ran to take pictures outside. It was even a decent day weather-wise. With this series of events happening, we were either going to get the perfect family picture or the world was about to end. I checked my phone to see if this was one of those dates predicted for the rapture.

The Pastor hurriedly set up his tripod – yes he carries it in his backpack all the time. We turned the timer on and just took shot after shot with the theory being we might get one decent picture.

Sure the 12 year old had some moments when she completely forgot how to smile and was making weird looking faces. And the 14 year old panicked at how to stand in front of the camera. And between each exposure, the Pastor and I were yelling at them, telling them to move here and there – screaming as though they might not make it aboard the helicopter and out of the war-torn country.

It doesn’t end with the picture. Once you get that, you have to attempt to order the cards. Here’s how that works. You go to various websites and look at design, after design, after design. There is an infinite number of possibilities. Cards range in price from roughly $0.01 - $15.00 per card. Inevitably, the ones you will like will be the $15.00 per card card. Once you find a card in your price range, it will need a vertical picture, and you will only have a good horizontal one. Or it is a card that will hold 4 pictures, and you need five.

Once you have managed to find the 1 card out of 27,382 that has the layout and number of pictures you need, and doesn’t say Happy Hannukuh (for a moment you will contemplate converting to Judaism, for it will make ordering cards easier) you will begin the process of dropping your pictures into the layout.

First you kiss your husband goodnight and grab an energy drink because you are in for an all-nighter. After you somehow manage to get the right pictures in the right slots you have to put a message or your names in a text box. Whatever you want to say, or however many names you have, it will be too many letters. You will all of a sudden give one kid a nickname they’ve never had, because it will fit on the card. Don’t even think about trying to change the font, you will want to get at least 30 minutes sleep.

I’m not bragging here. I’ve got a college degree. I went to vo-tech for a year. I’ve given birth to a child. I’ve held professional jobs, including one that required me to manage and be responsible for a number of employees. Why is it so hard to order a Merry freakin’ Christmas card?

You’ve managed to order the cards. Once they come in, you will be faced with the arduous task of addressing the envelopes. Your husband will ask you approximately every 30 minutes if “you’ve gotten the Christmas cards done.” You know, in all your spare time.

You finally finish. Then comes the stamping, the return address labels and the trip to the post office. Then over the next series of weeks, you will receive at least one returned in the mail every day because as it turns out you don’t actually know where anyone lives.

But I did it. You’d think for this, and for making the delicious Thanksgiving meal (all by myself) and wrapping the gifts and the shopping I’d deserve something extra special in my stocking this year. I know I'm not going to get any presents, so I’ll just settle for never, ever having to see the 12 year old wear leather booty shorts and leg warmers. Thanks, Santa.