Monday, November 24, 2008

I Need Africa More Than Africa Needs Me

I was recently asked by Mocha Club to take part in a project that they have coming up on December 1, 2008 called, "I Need Africa More Than Africa Needs Me". My first thought was, "Really? I'm not sure what that means." Then, I remembered.

There was a time when I was sure I would be heading to another country as a missionary after I was finished with college. I had heard from so many of my peers who had traveled around the world how horrifying the poverty was in Africa, in particular. They would go hoping to change the world one village at a time. They would return completely changed instead.

Though I was willing in those days to go and try to make a difference with people living in poverty, I was never called to go.

Fast forward about twelve years and I'm pretty comfortable in my own bubble here at home. I'm reading about a group of bloggers traveling to Africa with Compassion International and I read every word they shared about their experiences. Through their experiences, my heart was changed and reminiscent about the experiences I was sure I'd one day have.

I haven't been able to get my mind off the pictures that were shared and the stories that were brought back. There are times when I've asked myself the tough questions about my willingness to step so far out of my comfort zone to help people who define poverty in a way that I can't even fathom. If I'm being completely honest, most of the time the answer is a sad testament of my own selfishness.

This glance into my own heart in recent weeks has shown me that the statement, "I need Africa more than Africa needs me" is so very true. I need a willing heart. I need a desire to serve others. I need to see that the world is bigger than what I can see on a daily basis. I need to understand that the love of God only extend to those in my house, on my street, at my church or in my country. I need Africa.

I invite you to share what this statement means to you. Do you even agree that it's true? I'll be back with more details about this project on December 1 and I hope you'll join me. I pray that you won't be able to get this statement out of your mind until then.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Can't Believe I Never Told You Guys About This

Shortly before Brother was to turn two, we decided to give him a big party and invite all of our family and close friends from out of town since we hadn't seen them in a while. We were all so excited as the date approached and I was in a frenzy getting things ready.

The night before the big party, I had all of our guests tucked into their air mattresses and was about to crash for the night. After I took out my contacts and washed my face, I looked into the mirror and realized that I'd forgotten one very important step in the "getting ready for the big party" process.

Waxing.


I looked like Burt from Sesame Street, so thick was my uni-brow.


I was way past the point where tweezing would make a difference unless I wanted to skip sleep and stay up all night plucking. I glanced around the bathroom, looking for something, anything, to help me.


That's when I saw it.



Big Daddy's trimmer. Trimmer of what, I'm not exactly sure. I didn't actually care at the time. I decided that it was just what I needed to go from Burt to Perfectly Arched in time to get a good night's rest.
I did a quick clean up and went to bed, satisfied that I'd done a good enough job to get me through the weekend.
The next morning, I hummed "Happy Birthday" as I applied my makeup. Picking up my mascara, I carefully applied it to my right eyelashes. Perfect, if I do say so myself. Moving on to the left eye. What the heck is wrong with this mascara brush? Dang it, I think I must have broken it when I dipped it back into the tube just now.
No, wait a second. MY EYELASHES. WHERE ARE MY EYELASHES?
Yes, friends, I accidentally shaved off half of my eyelashes while trimming up my brows before bed the night before. Apparently, the blade on that itty bitty trimmer isn't as itty bitty as I thought.
I combed my bangs down over that eye and tried to cover up as much as I could with mascara on the nubs I had left. I decided that it would be my secret.
The problem with keeping my own secrets is that I just can't. I don't know if you've noticed but I tend to over-share. While setting out the food, I thought I caught my friend looking at me a little funny. I was sure she'd noticed so I decided to confess to everyone right then and there. They all got a good laugh and came over to inspect the nubs a little closer.
Turns out my friend was just admiring my new bangs.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pointing You to Others Who Can Help

So, hey there. We're sick AGAIN...or still, depending on how you look at it. Since I'm finding it difficult to type out something that makes sense in the midst of the coughing fits and feeling sorry for myself, I'm here to show you other people who are doing really cool stuff that you should totally know about.

First, my favorite girls over at Mom Generations have launched their "12 Days of Must-Have Holiday Gifts" and you don't want to miss it. They are showing you the best of the best gifts for kids, moms and everyone on your list. Even better? They are giving you all the chance to win the gifts they are telling you about! Today's gifts are for kids and the prize package is worth almost $300! Seriously, check it out by clicking the button below and don't forget to tell them how beautiful they are because, seriously? Those ladies are the bees knees. I have no idea what that phrase means but they are awesome and I've always wanted to use it so...just check them out!

I can't tell you how many people ask me about my blog designs both here and over at From Grey to Green. Beth from Ruby & Roja is this amazing woman who can do everything. She is seriously the best designer out there and just started a photography business, too. She's amazing. She's also doing an amazing giveaway right now that you won't want to miss if you have a blog. The 2 winners will receive a holiday blog makeover AND a whole year's worth of blog designing for free. This is an awesome giveaway and you don't want to miss it!

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Constant Motion

If you are the person who swiped the remote control in charge of the speed of life, would you kindly remove your finger from the fast forward button?

Lately, it seems that life is just flying by. It must have been just yesterday I was saying that I couldn't believe it was October. And, now? I have no idea where October went. My sister called this weekend to ask if we knew what our Thanksgiving plans were and I laughed.

"You know we don't plan that far ahead!"

"Um...Heather? It's less than three weeks away."

WHAT?

Every Sunday night, I take pause to look at the calendar for the week ahead of me. Each time I look, I realize that the week will go by in a flurry of carpool lines, doctor appointments and grocery store visits and before I know what's hit me, it will be Friday.

I daydream of having slow, lazy days to play board games and puzzles with the kids. Of course, in those dreams, the pantry is always full, the house is always clean and the laundry is all caught up. Alas, this just isn't the way life works.

I'm trying to be more deliberate lately in slowing down and enjoying the small moments with my family. The moments that allow us to laugh and form memories that will stick in our hearts forever.

It's amazing that I have such a longing within me to do this yet, I find it so difficult to let go of the things that won't matter ten years from now. Will my children really remember if the floors were mopped and the toilets clean? Or, will they remember that their Mom used to always sit down on the floor and play Candyland while sharing stories from her own childhood?

Balance is the key to life and I'm in a constant search for it these days. Until I find it, I'm hoping to press the button for Slow Motion so I can savor the moments between now and the day I get it all figured out.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Minivan Holdout

I'm one of the last of a dying breed. The Minivan Holdout. Most of my sweet friends now drive one and they have tried for a couple of years to convert me. There have been times I've actually allowed the possibility to play out in my mind but suddenly, I'm brought back to reality by the soothing sound of my husband's adamant pleas. He's a Holdout, as well.

I'll admit that the thought of automatic doors is alluring. Heck, the idea that the kids could even walk to their seats without kicking, blocking and fighting with each other in the small space afforded us in our current vehicle is almost enough to turn me from Holdout to Convert. Then I realize that my kids are almost old enough to open their own doors and they will find a way to fight no matter how large the space between them.

A year ago, I had a few more Holdouts on my speed dial. One of them caved and now is the proud owner of a Honda Odyssey. The other moved all the way to Japan and didn't even get to take a car with her. She's now traveling by boat and bus and going on the most amazing adventures. The other was my neighbor. I just knew she'd be with me to the end. Then, she had her second baby two months ago. Now she tells me that they are thinking about crossing over to the dark side of minivan driving. I begged and pleaded with her but I don't think she's listening.

To matters worse, her husband reminded both of us that we are in our 30's with two kids each and no matter what we drive, we bid goodbye to cool cars long ago.

Thanks for that.

If we do have another baby, we can always just cram them in like sardines. I'll claim it's to promote a type of sibling bond that can only be achieved with close proximity. Then, I'll lose my ever loving mind on each road trip we take from here on out.

At least when my kids are tending to me in my incapacitated mental state, they will be able to agree on which home to send me to...you know, since they are so close and all.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A House Divided

It's hard not to talk to your kids about politics when you have an election like we just had. Early on, we explained the process in a way we thought our kids would be able to understand at their ages. Once the two candidates were chosen, we explained that one of these two men would be the next President. We also told them that the beauty of America is that everyone gets to vote for the person they want to win. We tried hard not to tell them who we were voting for until they asked and not to bash either candidate.

Right away, our kids picked sides. If they'd picked the same side, it would have been easier for us.

Sister said she would vote for Barack Obama because he looked better.

Brother said he'd vote for John McCain because he liked him more.

Over the past few months, they have often bantered back and forth about their respective candidates and did a little preschool-esque trash talking.

I just have to mention here that the whole political discussion and choosing a candidate for my kids wasn't really that much different than what I've seen amongst my peers.

Moving on.

After the realization that Barack Obama would be our next President last night, Big Daddy and I went to bed with a heavy heart. Not for the reason you may think. We knew that when we woke up, we'd have to break the news to Brother that his guy didn't win. He's our more sensitive and emotional kid so we knew this wouldn't be easy news to share and that it wouldn't be readily accepted.

We went in to wake him this morning and broke the news gently. He cried a little about it and then said, "It's not fair! I wanted John McCain to win!" He then declared that he didn't care what we said, John McCain did win. We were then asked to leave his room because he needed some more time to rest.

When we went in to Sister, we told her that we had a new President and that it was Barack Obama. She was thrilled and her grin lit up the room. We congratulated her. She then wanted to know if we'd told Brother yet. Knowing her the way I do, I explained that she was not to gloat to her Brother about the election. We told her that we'd already told him and that he was upset and that she should show some grace in this situation.

All went well for the morning. This evening while I was making dinner, I heard them arguing about it. Brother then came in crying because Sister scratched him in their heated exchange and told him that she was glad John McCain lost. He was more devastated over the latter.

We again had a talk about how we are a family and we are to show grace and love to each other rather than fighting and gloating. We talked about the good news of being in a country where we have the ability to vote and how we can pray for both President Elect Obama and Senator McCain. I told them that even if your candidate didn't win, you should still be supportive and kind to the one who did and to those who voted for him because this is a very important job and it is certainly not an easy one.

Seriously, y'all? Does this not sound like a discussion we should have been having all along with each other as adults? Grace and love from both sides. Sounds like a good lesson to me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The White House

We are currently in Washington, D.C. for a few days. Technically, we are in a suburb just outside of the city and we've been here for a few days already and are probably leaving today.

Man, I just can't get away with telling half the truth with you guys, can I?

We spent Saturday night in the city and spent all day Sunday touring with the kids. Big Daddy has had a conference here yesterday and today so we all tagged along to make it a family trip. (Don't worry, we are absentee voters so we voted weeks ago!)

Our first stop on Sunday was the White House.

Can I just say that there are a lot of white buildings in the District? I know this because our kids take THE White House to mean A white house. Every building we passed that was white, we heard, "There it is! Wait, is that it? That is a white house."

Kids and their literal interpretations.

Our kids know that President Bush lives in the White House but that in January he will move out and the new President will move in. I'll fill you in later about how we've had to tell our kids to stop talking politics with people because we actually thought it was a good idea to talk to them about the election process.

When we arrived at the White House, Sister pointed out that the flowers on the Rose Garden side were very beautiful. "Did President Bush plant all of those all by himself?"

I assured her that he did not plant the flowers there. She was confused because if it's his house, then it should be his responsibility to tend the garden.

Then, Brother had a burning question after we told them that the White House doesn't actually belong to the President but they are allowed to live there until they are done with the job. We told him that the they all have their own houses that they can go back to and yes, they still have a place to live when their term is over.

(As an aside, can't you just see the wheels turning with that kid? He was surely imagining President Bush sleeping on a bench in the park come January...because, yes, we had to also explain homelessness on this trip.)

Where was I? Oh yes, Brother's burning questions.

"Why can't they just stay in their own house while they are President?"

We give some sort of explanation. I'm sure it was accurate and intelligent.

"Well, while they are away and living in the White House, what if people go into their house?"

We tell him that they probably lock the door.

"Even the back door?"

I'm not sure if he has a future in security or as a burglar but the boy does have interesting questions.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Magazines

I have a deep love for a good magazine. I realize that the term “good magazine” is relative and the publications that I enjoy may not be one you’d pick out of the stack.

I’ve told you about my love/hate relationship with Parents magazine. (I’m still contemplating that break up, by the way.)

But I wanted to share my other favorites with you and beg ask you to share yours with me. Partly because I just want to get to know you a little better and partly because I’m always looking for a new magazine to add to my long list of loves (Let’s keep that little secret between you and me, ok? No need getting Big Daddy all panicked because I’m about to subscribe to another magazine! Thanks!)

*Our State: This is a magazine all about my home state, North Carolina. I’m in love with it. I scour the articles looking for familiar faces & places and learning about a few new ones along the way. I love reading the articles written about the fabulous locals. I can’t get enough of it. I don’t subscribe but more often than not, I pick it up from Barnes & Noble every time I see a new one out. My dream job would be to write for this magazine and travel throughout my beloved state meeting these interesting people and finding these wonderful places.

*Paula Deen: Oh boy, my love for Paula runs deep. Her magazine is a treasure and I’ve never (EVER!) gotten rid of a single edition. I keep them. I re-read them. I drool over the food. This is probably the only magazine that I willingly will re-read. By willingly, I mean that it doesn’t go in the bathroom and I don’t pick it up just because I’m in there for a while and bored. Ahem.

*Southern Living: I’m seeing a theme in my magazine love list. I’m a southern girl who loves food and apparently, my reading selection reflects that.

*People: Hi, my name is Heather and I am a celebrity gossip-aholic. Of course, I will only partake in the classier version of gossip so I’m devoted to People and despise Perez Hilton. I can tell you either think less of me or just shouted a hearty, “AMEN!” at your screen. Continue.

*Self & Shape: I like these because I read them, see all the finely chiseled bodies and think, “I can totally do that!” because they make it all sound so simple. I mean, they do feature real people and their stories of how they got to their hotness. Then, I usually put it down and head to the kitchen for a pumpkin muffin that I made from a recipe in Southern Living and decide to promptly start my road to hotness in the morning. Again with the patterns.

Real Simple: Oh, to be as organized as they make me think I can be. I love you, Real Simple.


Share with me, are you a magazine junky or can you live without them? What are your favorites? I also want you to head over to my other blog and tell me what you do with your magazines once you're done reading them.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Recap

We had a block party with our neighbors tonight before we went trick or treating. In the past few months, we have gotten around eight new neighbors. Welcome to life on a military base, huh? It was great to meet everyone and just spend time chatting and complaining about our houses falling apart checking out the cute costumes.

The kids had a blast trick or treating and we ended up with way more candy than I know what to do with. Not to mention we had a basket full left over that we didn't give out. We live on the end of the last block of base housing before the office buildings start so very few kids make it down as far as our house. Knowing this, I still buy enough to feed three elementary schools.

If you need me, I'll be the one kneeling in the corner all hopped up on Twix.