Thursday, August 26, 2010

Honey vs Vinegar

The old adage "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar", has been proven false.

Earlier this summer, we had the misfortune of some fruit going bad.  Before we realized that it was a problem, it attracted a much more annoying problem: fruit flies.  Disgusted at the flies, we went on a search to see why they were here, and that was when we found that the fruit was rotten.

After throwing it away, we assumed that the fruit flies would go away as well; but it would seem that once here, they did not want to leave.  Throughout the summer we have battled them, trying to keep up with the fruit and washing dishes.  But if ever we slipped and left the dishes or missed a peach gone bad, there they were again.

Finally, the problem reached a peak this last weekend and we could not stand it.  My nephew suggested leaving out some honey.  I thought this a good idea, after all, they say you can catch more that way, right?  Wrong.

I kid you not, there was not a single fly on that plate of honey.  Not one.  There were more flies on my poor plant in the kitchen than on that plate of honey.

So we did what any normal person would do--looked it up on the internet.  We found a site that had many suggestions for getting rid of the pesky creatures, one of which was to put some apple cider vinegar in a bowl, then cover it with saran wrap and poke a few holes in it with a fork.  The tiny flies will get in the holes, but will not be able to fly back out (provided the holes aren't too large).  I decided to try it--and it worked!  I couldn't believe it--we had actually caught more flies with vinegar than with honey!

I guess it just goes to show you can't always believe everything you hear.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Top Ten x Two and a Half

Now that I've given my bad movie list, it's time for the good ones!  These are some of my favorites.  I tried to put them in some sort of order, but after the first six, it gets really hard to decide.  And, yes, it is a very long list, but I really couldn't whittle it down any more.

1.  It's A Wonderful Life
I love this movie because of George Bailey, the main character.  I love that he sacrifices his own dreams to do the right thing and to help other people.  In this day and age, the message is usually, "Do what makes you happy."  I think there is something to be said for making a personal sacrifice that will help make a difference in other people's lives.  And, of course, in the nd, he sees that his sacrifices have affected the entire town he lives in, and even beyond.

2.  The Princess Bride
I shouldn't even have to explain why this is a favorite.  It has so many great and quotable lines, and is just a lot of fun.

3.  Empire Records
I can't explain why I like this movie, I just do.

4.  The Matrix
Aside from this just being a great movie, I love the parallels to the Christian life that are in it.

5.  Braveheart
If anyone doesn't like this movie, I would say that either they're head is on backwards, or they're Amish.  There just is no other reasonable explanation.

6.  Tombstone
This is a family favorite.  Whenever we all get together, we're quoting it left and right.  Doc Holiday is probably the best movie character of all time.

7.  Pride and Prejudice (the old version)
So many good things to say!  Yes, the actors are not as beautiful as the new version, but that is totally made up for in other ways.  This version has all the good parts in it, Colin Firth is an excellent Mr. Darcy, and Elizabeth isn't so...twitchy.

8.  The Mirror Has Two Faces
This movie is a bit of a backward love story since the couple gets married first and then falls in love.  I like it because of the process they go through.  The husband is a man who has a problem with women.  He dates women he is sexually attracted to, but has no other connection with them, even though connection is what he longs for.  Meanwhile, the wife has gone through life overshadowed by the beauty of her mother and sister and only gets dates with men she's not really interested in.  When the two finally meet, it's because the man has decided to marry someone he isn't physically attracted to, certain that is the only way he will find true companionship.  What's wonderful is watching him fall in love with who she is, and how it makes her attractive to him in a way that goes beyond mere physical appearances.

9.  Good Will Hunting
In spite of having A LOT of bad language, this is just a really good movie.

10. Oceans 11 & 12
These movies are just a lot of fun.  I love all the different characters with all their own little quirks and specialties.

11.  The Man Who Knew Too Little
I find the idea of a man doing secret agent stuff without knowing what he's doing to be hilarious.  It's ridiculous, but great.

12.  Rat Race
So funny!  In this movie, twelve (?) people at a casino win coins which enter them in a race for a million dollars that can be found in a locker at a train station in Silver City, New Mexico.  It seems fairly simple, but the actual getting there for all of them takes some pretty hilarious turns. 

13.  Much Ado About Nothing
This is a very wordy movie, but if you can follow along, it's very funny. 

14.  Inception
I just saw this movie, and it was great!  Some people have said it was confusing, but if you pay attention and follow along, it is phenominal.  I love the idea of the dream world and the layers of the dream.  And then the ending...but I don't want to give anything away.

15.  While You Were Sleeping
This is just an all around great movie.  When it comes to romantic comedies, this is probably the best of them all.  I first saw this movie in the theater with my mom when I was eleven.  I wasn't thrilled about it because I was young enough that I wanted to see a kid movie, not a "mom" movie.  Reluctantly, I agreed, and I am so glad!  My mom and I both loved it and have watched it many times since.  So this movie has more attached to it for me than just being a good movie.  It is something I shared with my mom, and since we live in different states now, it just makes it more special.

16.  Quigley Down Under
If you like westerns, this is a must see.  Even if you don't really like westerns, you will probably like this one.  It takes place in Australia, is very unique, and has some really great lines.

17.  Signs
If you're looking for a typical alien movie, go rent something else.  What I like about this is the story of a man who loses his faith, and then gets it back through very unusual circumstances.  And I love the dry humor throughout the film.

18.  Dan in Real Life
I've already written an entire blog about this movie, so I don't feel the need to say more.

19.  Elizabethtown
This is a very random movie, but I really like it because of that.  Not to mention, the music in it is really good.

20.  Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Epic movie.  What more can I say, except this: the extended version is actually way better than the theatrical version.

21.  Gladiator
Just an all around good movie.  You love the good guy, you hate the bad guy, and have a good time watching along the way.

22.  10 Things I Hate About You
When I was a teenager, my friends and I would watch this movie almost every time we spent the night at each others' houses.  There is something about this movie that is just really great.  My mom even likes it!

23.  The Painted Veil
I love this movie.  It is about a man and woman who get married for different reasons.  He loves her, but she just wants to escape the life she had.  Things take an unexpected turn when her doctor husband takes her to China with him.  While there, she has an affair with another man, and as a result, her husband taskes her deep into China to a small village where he works in a hospital tryign to stem a cholera epidemic.  Away from everything she has known and loved, she is forced to see things differently, including her husband, and she comes to fall in love with him.  It's beautiful to see a marriage that was dead come to life.

24.  Catch Me If You Can
This is just a great movie.  Leonardo DiCaprio is so good in this.

25.  Jerry Maguire
Are you seeing a pattern here?  I like movies where married people fall in love!  It is the saddest thing to me when a marriage falls apart.  It truly grieves my heart.  So I love to watch a movie where a marriage comes together instead, like this one.  Also, I love Cuba Gooding Jr. in this movie!  He adds a lot of life to it.

Well, if you have managed to stick with me all the way to the end of this list, I commend you!  It was a long list, and I apologize.  I honestly tried to shorten it, and I just couldn't.  While I was writing this I thought of several other movies I also love, but I mercifully didn't add them:)  Hopefully you enjoyed reading about some of my favorites.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bottom 10

A friend of mine seems to think I like every movie I see, so I have been inspired to compile a list of the ones I don't like and why.  Keep in mind these are just my opinions....

1.  Seven
Usually, for me, a movie with Brad Pitt is a good thing, but this movie about a serial killer was too graphic and gruesome for me.  It's number one on the list on purpose because I don't ever want to see it again.

2.  You Don't Mess With the Zohan
I didn't even have to watch the entire movie to know how horrible it was.  The whole thing was just really offensive and stupid.

3.  Anchorman
My apologies to those who love this movie, but I actually thought it was pretty stupid.  I wouldn't have even watched the entire movie except we were with some friends who loved it and I didn't want to hurt their feelings.

4.  Pride and Prejudice (with Keira Knightly)
I'm just partial to the old version.  This version felt too fast paced, it was missing some of my favorite parts, I didn't really like Keira Knighlty as Elizabeth Bennett, except for her looks, and the guy playing Mr. Darcy was a stick in the mud compared to Colin Firth.  I give it points for good cinematography and better looking actors, but even so, I like the old version better.

5.  Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
This was one of those movie where all the good parts were in the previews and the actual movie fell flat.  Blah.

6.  Catch and Release
I tried to like it because of Jennifer Garner, but I just couldn't.  It's one of those movies that I would watch if I turned on the TV and it happened to be on, but I definitely wouldn't buy it or rent it or even get it from the library.

7.  Losers
Didn't even make it through the whole movie.  It was a little too overdone.

8.  Scream, Scream 2, and Scream 3
For whatever reason, most likely pure curiosity, I watched all three of the Scream movies.  And I distinctly remember after every one thinking, "Why did I just watch that?"

9.  Jersey Girl
I'm sure it sounded good at the time, but it wasn't.

10.  The Hangover
This movie is a perfect example of why it may seem that I like every movie.  I know that a lot of people liked this movie.  A lot of people thought it was hilarious, the most hilarious movie they've ever seen.  Admittedly, there were some very funny parts to this movie, and I didn't hate it.  I might even watch it again someday.  But I didn't love it.  If I'm talking to someone that is enthusiastic about it, I'm not going to go out of my way to say I didn't like it that much.  They think it's funny, I thought it was funny, we can agree on that.  Sometimes it is just not worth hurting someone's feelings or getting into a debate over.  But the truth is, this movie is (obviously) not on my favorite list.

11. War of the Worlds
Nothing against Tom Cruise or Dakota Fanning, I just didn't like it.

12.  The Happening
Usually I am a huge M. Night Shyamalan fan, but not this time.  I thought it was a ridiculous idea, and I didn't enjoy sitting through two hours of people freakishly committing suicide.

13.  Planet of the Apes
The old version of this movie just really creeps me out.  When I think about it, I kind of have to shudder.  Comparatively, the new version at least isn't so creepy.  But I don't really like either one.

14.  Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
I really liked the first movie The Curse of the Black Pearl, but the second one started to go down hill, and the third was just hanging on to the other two, without any real value of it's own.

15.  Star Wars: Episode II
Episode I and Episode III were not that great either, but I particularly disliked this one.  There were some parts in this one that were truly outstanding in the "cheesy" department.

I think that should be enough for now.  I've seen a lot of movies in my lifetime because I'm a movie person and my family growing up was a movie family.  Some of those movies were great movies, some were just okay, and some I didn't like at all.  I could probably sit here all night trying to remember all the movies I've seen and all the ones I disliked, but honestly, some of them are not even worth remembering.    

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Cleaning Lady

Somewhere deep inside, there is a woman who loves to clean: a woman who delights in washing dishes, who craves carpet cleaning, desires dusting, loves laundry, and is satisfied when scrubbing.  I would like to get in touch with this woman. 

Unfortunately, I think she is buried under a veritable mountain of clutter.  That's not even the worst part.  It wouldn't be so hard to liberate her, if only she could do it.  She has the motivation for it. 

Sadly, she must depend upon the whims of the woman who is not deep inside, but living quite autonomously; the one who doesn't like dishes or laundry or any of that.  That woman has no pity for the cleaner buried under the clutter: she hasn't much unction to free her. 

Occasionally, I am told, she will let the cleaning lady out, but only when absolutely necessary.  More often than not, you would see her piling more junk on top of Cleaning Lady rather than attempting to free her with the removal of it.  It is a tragic situation, and one I am sure most people are unaware of. 

Cleaning Lady is allowed out of her prison of clutter just often enough to appear as though she is indeed free.  Usually, just as Cleaning Lady is feeling secure in her freedom and enjoying spic-and-span feelings, she finds that a whole new load of junk has been dumped upon her, and she is once again buried. 

I really don't know how she survives this way, but I must commend her on never giving up.  Well, now that I've written this tribute to her, I suppose I ought to release her....

But just long enough to do the vacuuming.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Yellow Tray Toe

Yesterday was Sunday, and I suppose that it ought to have been very tranquil.  However, I found myself unfortunately far from being tranquil right as we were about to leave for church. 

We were running late, as usual, but only by a tiny bit.  It takes us maybe two minutes to drive to church, so I had high hopes that we wouldn't miss very much.  Everyone was dressed and ready to go, but we developed one significant problem: we could not find Malachi's shoes. 

We looked high and low, inside and outside, in the house and in the van, and there was not one pair of shoes to be found.  We found shoes that were too small for him, and we found one shoe out of a pair that weren't too small.  But of the three pairs he has right now that fit him well; his sandals, his sneakers and his "blue suede shoes"; they were nowhere to be found.  I found myself growing angrier as the minutes ticked by us.  It was clear we would not be finding his shoes in time.  He would have to go barefoot. 

Aaron was making one last round upstairs when my anger got the better of me and I kicked a plastic yellow kid tray that was on the floor.  I kicked it hard.  I kicked it wearing flip flops.  Flip flops are not made for kicking plastic trays across the room, and therefore, this foolish action resulted in tearing part of my toenail.  It didn't come off, but it was definitely bleeding.  I just have to add here, that if anyone thinks that having a nail break isn't that bad, I submit to you that in some places they torture people by ripping off their fingernails, and there are times when breaking a nail isn't too much different.  This, of course, just made me more upset. 

I was angry that were late, I was mad at myself for being stupid and ripping my toenail, and I was not too happy with Malachi for losing his shoes.  I really wanted to go to Zoe's, which is our church's off site campus/coffee shop, but by the time we gave up the search for the shoes, it was a good fifteen minutes after church had started, and I was very depressed.  Fortunately, the main church starts fifteen minutes later and is even closer to our house than Zoe's.  I ought to have been happy about that, but at the time, of course, I wasn't.  Aaron suggested going there, and I grudgingly agreed.

Once we got there and got all the children put in their respective classes, I felt myself settling down some.  Drinking three cups of water and admitting my tray-kicking folly to Aaron also helped my anger to subside, and I had to laugh at myself. 

I find it very ironic that as a mother I am always trying to get my boys to control their temper, and then I go and kick a tray because I can't find shoes.  I guess I'm not as grown-up as I might have thought.  I probably should have given myself a time-out.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Malachi's Turn

I was thinking yesterday after I wrote about Izzy, and I realized that I rarely write about Malachi.  I think this is partly because he is older now and isn't saying as many funny things.  I know he did say funny things when he was younger though, and I just happened not to have a blog that I was writing then.  So, I decided to look in my journal from when he was smaller and see if I had written anything down that he said.  Here are a few that I found from when Malachi was around two and a half years old....   

When he would swing on the swings, he would say, "Yook Mommy, I finging!"

When someone would knock on the front door, he would say, "Who's dat body?"

Once when I was making him pancakes he told me, "Mommy, you're perfect."  Before I could fully bask in the compliment though, he followed up with, "Mommy,  you're crazy."

Once he had a cup of milk and was looking in it saying "Dad?"  I asked him if he was looking for Aaron and he said, pointing to his milk, "Yeh, I yookin fo Daddy.  Is he in 'ere?"

Aaron taught Malachi to clink glasses and say "Salute!"  Instead, Malachi would say "Sanoot!"

Once when Aaron had to take his work truck to the mechanic, Malachi said, "Daddy take the big white truck to the doctor."  As a mother, I find myself repeating what they say in the form of a question quite a lot.  "He took it to the doctor?" I asked.  "He took it to the Doctor Seuss," he told me. 

He used to call the movie The Fox and the Hound, "Fox and the Shoes".

Once he told my sister when she was visiting that "The chicken melts in the water." 

Pictures of Malachi at 2 and 1/2

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pancakes are Fruits

I haven't written about Izzy for a while, so here are some his funny sayings I've been stockpiling....

"What's this?" I said to Izzy, trying to poke his bellybutton.  He had his shirt off, so it was an easy target.  "Don't touch it it's lhuchky," he told me.  "It's yucky?" I asked, attempting to clarify.  "No!" he told me, "I didn't tell you that word because I'm shy!"

Putting Izzy to bed one day, I told him, "I'll see you tomorrow Izzy."  As I closed the door to his room, he called out, "How 'bout Saturday?  How 'bout Someday, Mom?"

One night we were at a park and I got some slurpees from 7-11.  Izzy was drinking a blue raspberry flavored one and he came up to me smiling a blue smile and said, "It tastes like strawberry cocanilla!"

A while ago we took the boys to the fairgrounds to see all the animals.  
"What is this place?" Chi asked when we pulled into the parking lot. 
"It's a miracle!" Izzy answered him.

Regarding a cup of soda, Izzy told Chi, "You can't have too much or you'll get a tummy egg."

Izzy has been saying "hink" instead of "think".  For example, today Izzy was giving me advice about what we should eat.  "I 'hink we should have pancakes and popsicles," he suggested.  "Pancakes are fruits." 


If we could only see the end result of the things we are doing right now--not just the result, but the direct cause and effect.  What would we do differently?

There is no way for us to know that, but God does know.  We can only rely on Him and trust him to reveal the things that need to change.  More than that, we must rely on Him for that change to come about.  We cannot change our own hearts.  Only the Holy Spirit can change a heart. 

It is the great miracle of salvation--the greatest miracle of all.  It is a thing which cannot be accomplished by human effort.  We can change our actions, but what good is that if our hearts are unchanged?  Does God look at only our actions, or at our hearts?  If we look good on the outside, is that enough for Him?  No.

We will never change ourselves, but God will change us.  We have no power to alter our course.  We have only the power to trust, to believe.  And we have the power to surrender.  The power to surrender!  How amazing is God that He is willing to do all the work?!  He knows we can't do it.  He always knew.  He took on all the responsibility--for paying for our sin, for changing our hearts, for everything.  The only thing we are capable of is giving ourselves to Him, surrendering to Him, being willing to change...or at least, being willing to be made willing.

How weak, how frail we are!  We think we're capable and strong, but in reality, we are only dust.  And what can dust do?  Nothing at all!  Not on it's own, anyway.  But in the right hands--the Right Hands--dust comes alive.  It lives.  It breathes.  It becomes a thing of beauty. 

Oh, how our very lives are a miracle and we don't even see it!  How arrogant we are to think we hold any power of our own!  All we have is that which has been given to us.  We are dust.  We are only dust.  He is the life, and only He can make us alive.

Whatever we become, whatever legacy we leave behind, will be only by the grace of God and proportional to our surrender to Him.  We are nothing.  He is God.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Give Him Some Credit

There have been things in my life that God has asked me to do, and I've done them, only to wonder "why?" later.  I would wonder why He would ask me to do something, knowing how ill-equipped I was.  "Shouldn't You have picked someone else?" I would repeatedly say to Him.  Lately, I've begun to realize that He picked me exactly because I'm ill-equipped.  If I were perfectly able to do the task on my own, I could take credit for myself.  I'd probably end up feeling very proud and thinking how wonderful I am for my accomplishments. 

My whole life, I've heard the answer to the question, "Why are we here?" as "To bring God glory."  I don't think I ever really understood what that meant until now.  I used to mentally shrug at that answer, not certain of how that applied to my life.  It seemed such a vague statement.  I think if you exchange the word "glory" for the word "value", though, it makes more sense.  It's not that we can somehow cause God to have more value, but we can cause people to see His value, the value that is already there.

If I were entirely able to do what God asked on my own, how would that show anyone God's value?  My accomplishments would be credited only to me.  But when I find myself in a place of reliance on Him, the results belong entirely to Him, not me.

I've mentioned this in other blogs, but I go back to it because it is one of those memories that I always return to, "threading the beads of detail into an eternal loop, a rosary to be fingered for a lifetime" (from the book Atonement by Ian McEwen--I love that quote). 

It was my Senior year of High School, and up until that point I had always gone to a Christian school.  That year, however, I believed God was telling me to go to public school instead.  I had grand aspirations to tell everyone about Jesus, be a friend to the friendless, sit with the kid who was all alone at the lunch table, and just generally "be a light", to use a familiar "Christianese" term.  It all sounded really good beforehand.  Actually being there turned out to be very different from what I expected. 

I've always been a quiet person, but in Junior High and High School, I was dreadfully shy.  It was very hard for me to talk to new people.  The first half of that year, I literally dreaded going to school.  I don't think I had any conversations about Jesus.  I was happy if I could just have a conversation at all, about anything, without feeling horribly nervous. 

I would walk to the library after school to wait for my mom, and I would have conversations with God that went something like, "What were You thinking, asking me to come here?  It makes no sense.  You know how bad I am at this."  I felt pretty much like a failure.  Not just while I was there, but for a long time after I had graduated, I would still look back and wonder why I was there.

I am seeing now that my inadequacies, failures, and weaknesses all served a purpose: to give God the credit.  If there is even one person who came to Christ because of me being there, I can say with all certainty that it wasn't because of anything I said or did.  It was all God.  I was there and I was willing...and that's about it. 

This all relates directly to where I am right now in my life.  I am a mother.  It sounds so simple.  Especially to people who have no children.  To those people, I am "just a mother."  Instead of "doing something with my life" I "just" got married and had kids.  What a waste, right?  It's the kind of thing people shake their heads over.  "She's already got three kids, and she's only 26."  And I want to have more.  This is what God asked me to do.  So I'm doing it.  

But it's anything but simple.  I had beautiful pictures painted in my head of how wonderful it was going to be, and how I was going to "raise up a Godly generation".  Well, now that I'm here, I can honestly say that most of the time I don't know what the hell I'm doing.  I'm pretty sure that's exactly where God wants me, that place where I realize I'm not going to even make it through the day if He doesn't help me, let alone, "raise up a Godly generation" all on my own. 

At this point, all I can do is be here, and be willing.  If these boys turn out well, you better believe that I'm giving God all the credit!  And that is exactly what He wants.