Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Skin Color Does Matter...

This Christmas we got the kids the new video ipods - when they opened them there wasn't a lot of excitement (they had asked for Disney's Mix Match - which is essentially Disney's version of an MP3 player - which I refused to buy). Thus, the ipods sat on the floor, lost amidst what looked like a battlefield scattered with half-opened toys, bows, boxes, and shredded wrapping paper.
Mid-day I remembered that I had ordered skins for the ipods so that we could distinguish between the two. The cool thing about skins is that you can get them in whatever design you fancy. I ordered HS Musical for Amelle and Dolphins for Avery.
I was a little leary about plastering a $150 electronic device with a giant sticker, but then I talked myself into it by rationalizing that a lot of people must do it because the skin business was seemingly booming (according to my google search results). Anyway, about 3.2 seconds after I stuck the skins on them, the ipods became the greatest gift of all times. The kids stuck the earplugs in and I haven't heard from them since (mind you, Christmas was yesterday).
Lesson learned: creative packaging is everything.
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Monday, December 24, 2007

Even the Grinch figured it out....

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

-Dr. Seuss

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

The White Stuff

It's been a long time, but I think we'll finally be having a white Christmas. In fact, we're actually having a white December. I think we've had four separate snow storms so far this month, I have honestly lost count. It has been incredible!

This photo was taken last week during a Nor'easter...

This one was taken today (Amelle is a true Mainer - no jacket - and yes, it is cold out today)

Notice the mailbox:

Entry is not possible via the front door. Stairs? What stairs?

I didn't realize that there hadn't been any snow in PA until I spoke to Sylvia this week - who knew that this was "a Maine thing"?
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Friday, December 21, 2007

Bye Bye Binkie

After two years of faithful service, we finally laid the binkie to rest. Tuesday will mark two-weeks that Amaya has been clean and binkie-free. It hasn't always been easy, but her perseverance has been inspirational.

Hats off to you Amaya; for we all know that habits are hard to break.
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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Human Resources....Amelle's version

On Tuesday, my mom and Amelle got into a conversation about "work":

Amelle: Do you know what my mom does for work?

My Mom: Yes, Human Resources

Amelle: No, she fires people.

It's funny when you look at things from a child's perspective. Amelle is going to work with me tomorrow, I'll be sure to remind her to pack an extinguisher so that we can "put people out" after we "fire" them.

Hee hee.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Gettin' Our Praise On...

It has been snowing since I woke up this morning at 4:40am (thanks Amaya). In the throws of a major Nor’easter, we didn’t leave the house today – no church. However, I would like to submit that we didn’t miss an opportunity for some serious praise and worship. This morning, the Holy Spirit was overflowing out of our kitchen as Jermaine and I entertained the kids with our singing and dancing praises to the Lord, thanks to the amazingly gifted Fred Hammond.

Lord, your grace…
Covering me like a soft summer shower - raining down on me
Goodness & mercy
Loving me daily
Forgiving me freely

As I look back over all the years that I made it through
I can’t imagine where I’d be now if it wasn’t for you
How your favor rests upon me I can never explain
But I’m so glad that I am saved!

Yahoo! God is so awesome!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Not a true story, but will make my mom smile...

A man from Topeka, Kansas, decided to write an article about churches around the country. He started by flying to San Francisco and worked his way east from there.

Going to a very large church, he began taking photographs and making notes. He spotted a golden telephone on the vestibule wall and was intrigued by the sign on it, which read: "Calls: $10,000 a minute."
Seeking out the pastor, he asked about the phone and the sign. The pastor answered that the golden phone was, in fact, a direct line to heaven and that if he paid the price he could actually talk directly to God. The man thanked the pastor and continued on his way.

As he continued to visit churches in Seattle, Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and around the United States, he found more phones, with the same sign, and on asking about them, he always received the same answer from each pastor.

Finally he arrived in Massachusetts. Upon entering a church in Boston, behold--he saw the usual golden telephone. But this time the sign read: "Calls: 35 cents."

Fascinated, he asked to talk to the pastor, "Reverend, I have been in cities all across the country, and in each church I have found this golden telephone and have been told it is a direct line to heaven on which I could talk to God. But in the other churches the cost was $10,000 a minute. Your sign indicates that it is only 35 cents a call. Why is that?" The pastor, smiling benignly, replied, "Son, you're in Boston, Massachusetts, now--home of the Boston Red Sox, the Patriots, and the Celtics. You're in God's Country. It's a local call."
Dirt forwarded this on to me today, I thought it was worth posting, mom - this blog is dedicated to you!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mark this day!

Today is a special day for me because I finished writing my book. I just finished the last chapter, just a few minutes ago! I'm so excited, this has been a life goal ever since I can remember. I haven't told many people, but in August I began writing a children's book. It was all really a ploy to get Avery to read something, I figured that if I wrote a book for him, he'd be obligated to read it. So as of this minute, it's done (except for the tons of editing and revising that I will need to do). 98 pages (my goal was 100). Here's a sneak peek from chapter 2. If you know Avery, you may recognize that there are some parallels between him and the main character of my book, Pilot. (I apologize in advance that the formatting is all off)

“Let’s make a deal, you can go grocery shopping with your mom and pick out one green thing every week that you’ll at least try to eat”, said Dr. Todd as he held out his hand, looking for a handshake. All because Pilot’s mom had snitched on him and told Dr. Todd that her son refused to eat vegetables.

“He’ll eat lettuce, but only if it’s in a sub or a taco” his mom said, shaking her head. “I’ve tried everything, I just don’t know what to do” she shrugged her shoulders and then tucked the strands of blonde hair that had fallen out of her ponytail, back behind her ears.

“Have you tried explaining to him that if he doesn’t eat vegetables, then his insides won’t be healthy?” Dr. Todd asked Pilot’s mom who was frowning. The two of them were carrying on a conversation about him as though he wasn’t there. This was probably because Pilot appeared to be focused intently on the etch-a-sketch that he was moving and shaking around, even though he was listening to every word of their conversation.

“Oh yes, he understands the food pyramid, he tells me when I’m not eating healthy! Last week, as his father was preparing his morning coffee, Pilot told him that he should use sugar sparingly. I just seems as if knowing and doing are two separate things.” Pilot’s mom said as she crossed her arms. She glanced over at Pilot, who, upon feeling her stare, began intently twisted the white knobs of the children’s toy, as though he were engineering important architectural plans.

“Let’s see...”, Dr. Todd slowly rubbed his chin with his long first finger, “have you tried insisting that he eat a vegetable before being excused from dinner?” Dr. Todd was trying to be helpful, but obviously he didn’t know Pilot very well.

Pilot’s mom began nodding her head before Dr. Todd finished his sentence. “Oh yes”, she quickly replied, “last summer he spent the night at the kitchen table. He woke up with summer squash stuck to his forehead, but it never did make it in his mouth”. It was true, Pilot could outlast any vegetable.

“How about forcing him to eat it, not physically, of course, but…hmmm…let’s say, not making it an option?” Dr. Todd slowly asked.

“Yup, gone that route too”, his mom explained, “I once told him to eat a piece a broccoli or else he’d be punished for the rest of his childhood, I gave him 30 seconds to put it in his mouth and swallow. He actually did better than that, he put it in his mouth, swallowed it and threw it back up along with the rest of his dinner within 30 seconds”.

Friday, December 07, 2007

17 Degrees

As I drive through the streets of New England (which given my commute, I do a lot of), I take note of two, no, three main things. They are (in random order):

1) Vanity plates

2) The beauty of God's creation around me (snow on miles and miles of pine trees, rivers with steam rising off them with the silhouette of a lobster boat in the distance - both of which I've seen this past week)

3) People inappropriately dressed for the weather

So, this week I saw a guy walking down the street (casually, I might mention, he wasn't jogging, or even walking fast) in shorts. I immediately checked the temperature displayed in my car and it said "17 degrees".

That's just insane. My personal challenge this winter is to beat that temperature, by running across (not over) someone who is wearing shorts in a temperature below 17 degrees. It's early in the season and I'm up for the challenge.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Last Time I Get cc'd....

I just received this e-mail from Jermaine (who cc'd me on a note he was sending to his BFFs Nyam, Jeff, & Chris) - I'm sure it'll be the last e-mail that I get copied on, seeing how I'm recklessly blogging it without permission, but what the heck. I haven't blogged in what feels like weeks and I'm desperate for material...

As I was driving on the way to work today, and remembered an incident that happened to me as I was preparing to move to Maine. I don't remember if I shared this with you at the time, but I got such a kick out of thinking about it this morning that I decided to write you guys and share. It is a small thing, but here is what happened.

Last year, as we were preparing to relocate to Maine, I spent a lot of time going back and forth to Maine to handle all the business that needed to be tended to. There were so many things that were up in the air. We needed to sell our house in PA and close on the house in Maine. All the while, I didn't have a job yet in Maine and I knew that needed to be taken care of before we finally moved up. Anyway, we were scheduled to close on our new house in April. During that time, my company sent me to Irvine, CA for a few days to visit the company office and attend a job fair. BTW - California is nice. So very nice. Since the family was on a tight schedule, the plan was for me to fly back to Philadelphia from California and jump right on a flight to Manchester, NH. Erin and the kids drove up earlier in the day so they would pick me up at the airport in NH. Everything was going according to plan. I had a few hours between flights, so I decided to walk around the airport. I found a video store and bought "The Big Lebowski" dvd to watch on my laptop to kill some time. That movie is funny! I boarded the plane and it was packed. I was tired and hoping that this flight would be smooth and quick. I was in the back of the plane in the middle seat. I had a young guy on my left listening to his iPod, but the window seat next to me was empty. I am thanking the Lord because as soon as the plane takes off, I am moving to the window seat. The space I would enjoy would be priceless. I am thinking to myself "please hurry up and get this plane going". As soon as I felt confident that I was going to make it, I see a looming shadow coming through the door at the front of the plane.

My mind started to race. I am thinking "what could that be?". Then I see him. All 300+ pounds of him making his way down the aisle. He is inching along for what seemed like an hour. The whole time I am saying "Lord, please make him stop. There has to be another seat other than my window seat available". He didn't stop. He kept coming and coming. Finally, he stopped at my row, looked up at the row number, looked at me, and pointed to the window seat. This is not happening! I got up and out of the seat to let him through. While he was squeezing through the row to get in his seat, I started shaking my head as I happened to catch a glimpse of his big butt that in just a few short seconds would be rubbing up against me. Maybe I can get a later flight. Is it too late to rent a car? That's it! I will fake a cardiac arrest and get the heck out of here. But it was not to be. There was no escape.

I sat down. It was tight. The whole one side of my body felt constricted. My personal space was under constant assault. It was a no win situation. It was kind of like how Jeff and Chris must feel when they play me in pool, or Nyam when he plays me in anything.

The bright side is that it was a short flight. So I decide to grin and bear it. I put in the movie I just purchased and started to watch it. The big guy happens to see what I was watching and said that it was one of his favorite movies. We spark a conversation and wouldn't you know it, he was a recruiter like myself. I explained to him that I was in the process of relocating my family to Maine. He said he was in the process of trying to sell his house as well. He asked if I found employment, I said not yet, but still looking. He gave me his card and said that he would keep an eye open for me. As a side note, he told me about a New England HR website that has some good opportunities listed. He wrote the site address on the back of his card. I tucked it away in my computer bag and thanked him for the insight. After all that, he turned out to be a great guy with a lot of great advice.

Now this is the best part. The site that he gave me listed a recruiter opportunity that I applied for and ultimately accepted. It was because of this seemingly random encounter that I was given access to a resource that I would have never known otherwise. That job was key in helping us with the transition to Maine.

So what is my point? One, I thought you would get a kick out of hearing this. Two, we always hear that God is in the details. This little testimony confirms that for me. There is no such thing as a coincidence in a believer's life. This happens all the time. What ultimately prompted me to think about this was a study in Romans that I heard while driving home yesterday. The key verse for me was this:

Romans 8:31-32 - What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

What a powerful passage. The God of the universe is for me. The Creator of all things is on my side and has my best interests in mind. Not only that, He has the power to do anything he wants. He is sovereign. In even the small things, He can make His presence felt.

Do not get me wrong. The christian walk is not primarily about receiving blessings, but when they do happen, it is comforting. Sometimes, we need these little experiences to prepare us for the bigger storms that life brings. He is there...for me.