Friday, July 25, 2008

In-Flight Entertainment

We catch a flight tomorrow morning for the California city which can make 8 days living with the In-Laws, not only bearable, but pleasantly anticipated! San we come!

These flights to CA take 4-6 hours, depending on our route, stops, changes and layovers, plus we have to arrive at the airport AT LEAST 2 hours before our flight. So each of us takes a bag full of activities to occupy ourselves along the way. Can you guess whose bag is whose?

Bag #1:
1) Playing cards
2) Harry Potter VI ( reverse order)
3) Mini DVD player
4) Waterhorse
5) Harry Potter IV (movie)

Bag #2:
1) Moneyball
2) The World is Flat
3) Basic Economics
4) The Outline of Sanity
5) i-Pod - Gillian Welch, Miles Davis, The Wailin' Jennys

Bag #3:
1) WCA Offensive Playbook
2) MO Driver's Handbook
3) Nicholas Nickelby
4) Clif Bars
5) i-Pod: Coldplay, Gaelic Storm, Relient K

Bag #4:
1) We Were One: The Battle for Fallujah
2) My Grandfather's Son
3) Free Adult-Beverage Coupons
4) Beef Jerky
5) i-Pod: Jimmy Buffet, Commander Cody, Meatloaf

Guesses, anyone? Whad'ya mean it's kinda obvious?! So, what do our choices reveal about us? Anyone care to psychoanalyze?

I won't be blogging this week...not that that's anything NEW! But I don't think I'll have access to the internet, so entertain yourselves elsewhere!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One Year & Still Talking

I began blogging last July. I know...congratulations to me. To celebrate the one year anniversary of this attention-seeking endeavor, I decided to re-view some of my previous posts, as well as some of the hard "data" from my site, and to evaluate why it is that I do this thing (when I do it, that is!).

Previous Posts:

If I've learned anything from the blogging experience, it's a lesson with which the media has long been familiar. People want sensational and controversial stories. Why do I say that? Because the 2 posts that have received BY FAR the greatest number of hits are the story of Harold Wayne Nichols, and my slightly sarcastic response to one Christian's objections to Harry Potter.

Both posts stirred up a least some measure of trouble. My first offense? The one about Nichols was percieved by Karen's sister as disrespectful to her family...certainly an unforeseen and unintended consequence, which I regretted. Then, my poor pastor was lambasted by the editor of Metro Voice for the indiscretion of his parishioner, who used her "aptly-named blog" to argue against one of their articles. The problem? I was not acquainted with the character and faithful service of the woman whose arguments I sought to demolish. All I can say is: "... remember that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass." (Wm. Shakespeare)

The post, other than those mentioned above, which received comments from the greatest number of people - which is actually a very small number of people - was this silly response to a couple surveys I had taken. Go never know what will draw people into conversation.

My favorite attempt at humor would be this post which reveals a side of me that many never see...and it's best that way, trust me! My best effort at seriousness (when I wasn't just quoting someone else!): this post written after we returned from our missions trip to New Orleans.

Site Data:

My top 3 referrers are Pastor Jeff Meyers, Annie Barlow, and Pastor Mark Horne, in that order. Whoa...I'm suddenly overcome with the feeling that I have just made myself "anathema!" That is an incriminating duo indeed. (Not you, Annie,...not you.) But the association is worth it, because anytime those two troublemakers link to my site, my readership climbs by about 70% for a week or so. I'll trade a good reputation for a little tiny bit of notoriety...sure.

This web-page has been hit nearly 8,000 times and from 2 dozen countries. My highest readership occurred in May 2008, with nearly 1,000 hits. How's that for good it up then quit Real smart. My average daily visits have declined from 28 in May to 15 in July! Fortunately, the desire for fame is not one of my reasons for blogging!


So why do I do this blogging thing anyway? After being ridiiculed for wasting my time at it, I asked myself this question until I contrived a satisfactory answer (satisfactory for myself, that is).

Back before I blogged, I had always engaged in either a creative or intellectual outlet (i.e. sewing/scrapbooking/cooking/home decor, teaching Sunday school/learning Latin/writing Literature guides, etc.). I have learned that participation in at least one of these two pursuits is absolutely necessary for retaining my mental health, and when I stumbled upon blogging, I found it the perfect venue for combining both, and I was ready for a break from my usual outlets.

Not only has it provided a creative/intellectual enterprise for me, it offers a release for the constant dialogue that plays in my head. No matter what I'm doing, my brain is constantly spinning...I may be formulating a literary review, debating some theological fine-point, creating a new Thai dish, designing a quilt pattern, lecturing my child, writing a letter, planning a fun girls' get-away, talking with an old friend, replaying and sometimes reformulating conversations that have already taken place, or several of these all at once. Yes, it's a virtual party inside this head...24/7. My husband once asked why I don't just talk about these things...why blog about it? The problem is that most of what plays in there are not topics I would approach in real life - I mean, who wants to strike up a conversation about figures of description, or my philosophy of teaching spelling, or the latest book I'm reading - but the blog provides a dumping ground for de-cluttering my brain without boring and alienating all my friends.

You see, it's a relatively risk-free place to front my ideas. I don't see your reactions, so I can sit and contentedly pretend that you find me amusing, highly entertaining and surprisingly intelligent for a woman. No matter if you find me ignorant, insane or surprisingly daft...I'll never know. And please, don't consider this an invitation to tell me. I'm quite happy in my sequestered utopia, thank you very much. You see, if you read 2 sentences and click over to another blog...I'll never know. But if we speak face-to-face and you walk away after 2 sentences, I have every reason to be crushed and am then compelled to psychoanalyze every detail of our brief conversation as well as our relationship.

Lastly, I've recently discovered that I really do love to write. Fine-tuning and organizing ideas...choosing the best word...carefully crafting a phrase. What better way to spend my time...other than cooking and cleaning and doing laundry and driving carpool and shopping and...well, you know...all those duties which I have successfully neglected during the 3 hours it took me to construct this self-absorbed, self-promoting, sorry-excuse-for-a-post!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Perms, Pedicures and The Glory of Man

Woman is The Glory of Man.

Has sort of a lovely ring to it, don't you think?

Every time our pastor reminds us that we women are the crown of creation, the beautified version of humanity, The Glory of Man...for one intoxicating moment I feel the weight of my own glory. I am lovely! I am appealing! I am beautiful! I am Woman!

Unfortunately, this altogether-too-brief moment is dispelled as reality barges its way into my imagination, reminding me how bloody hard I had to work to conjure up even this paltry semblance of glory! The culinary deprivation, the physical exertion, the scraping, peeling, shaving, coloring, cutting, painting, moisturizing, spraying, soaking, and every other laborious and expensive enterprise man has invented for our preservation!

Whatever glory I possessed in my youth, has slowly succumbed to the forces of gravity, whose cruel jokes cannot be entirely reversed. Well...maybe they can be! So far, I've stopped short of surgical intervention...but there's still time! I'm only 43. If genetics hold true, I could easily have another 60 years to maintain this "glorious" mortal frame. Botox, tummy tuck, laser hair removal, subcutaneous fat extraction...I hear you calling my name.

If there's an up side to this frenetic glory-making (or shall we say glory-faking), I suppose it's that as our glory resists intervention and fades, so does our men's eyesight. Chances are, they still think we're glorious. The work of an Ingenious Creator, no doubt.

Disclaimer: This article itended for recreational use only. Not recommended for theological consumption.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My Baby is 12!

12 years ago today, Eric Thomas Shaffer entered this world as a content, cheerful baby. From the beginning, he was easy. He was never a demanding baby or toddler, and has been eager to please us from a very early age. His conscience is tender, and to this day, he can't stand it if he has lied or deceived's not long before he is confessing (you may remember the "I smell smoke" story).

Because he doesn't get a "real" party this year (we only give friend-parties every other year), I have no celebration pictures to show. Instead, I'll show you the latest expression of his creativity. The following project was his from beginning to end. The idea, the materials, the creative process, the work, etc. All his. He only solicited our help in finding the tools and materials he needed to complete it.

He began with a huge dowel rod that he found in the garage.

He whittled and sanded until he achieved the desired shape and size.

Next, he stained it, then wrapped the handle in suede with leather strapping. Cool.

His motivation came from a Harry Potter catalog he received in the mail and which was selling replicas of each character's wand. Being the intelligent, frugal child of his mother, he wasn't about to pay $150 for one! Instead of regretting that he couldn't have it, he set out to create his own. That's my boy. I'm proud of him and I'm SO glad he was born!!

Happy Birthday, Buddy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Because I Know You Care

So...I turned 43 a few days ago. Birthdays are not a really big deal to me...never have been. But it was kinda fun being spoiled this year by people I love and who apparently love me.
My long time faithful friend, whose greatest gift is sticking with me for the past 15 years, took me to one of my favorite breakfast spots where I had a Bacado Omelet and the perfect cup of coffee.
And her daughter handmade this keychain for me which all the really cool/stylish moms have. What was she thinking? She's just trying to help me move in the cool direction. Lord have's gonna take a lot more than a stylin' keychain. But it IS a start, right?! I love it. It's nice and big and I have a bit of a reputation for losing my keys...daily. Maybe this will help (?).

Other gifts I received from friends and family:
A good bottle of Cabernet
A "message fan" which flashes several versions of "Go Cardinals" while simultaneously protecting me from the St. Louis heat and humidity

My very own - keep your grubby little paws OFF - frosty Cardinal mug

A B&N giftcard to purchase these two books:

But here's where the REALLY spoiled part comes in. My husband, whom I recently and publicly denounced as a man who never surprises me.....very secretly and successfully orchestrated a fun weekend away with another couple. Here's what we did:
Sat in the Green Seats for the rubber game of the Cards/Cubs series! This of course, means a gourmet buffet followed by unlimited food and drink throughout the game:

Since we couples bowl together regularly - and actually enjoy it - we decided to try out the swanky new bowling alley in the Loft District of Washington Avenue. Whoa. Very cool. The owners renovated an old building, adding 8 lanes over which are mounted 4 very large TV's, showing sports and old movies.  They also have an upscale food and drink menu, including a fabulous chocolate martini!
Our new bowling motto: Know when to stop before you start.

Then we walked back to the Ballpark Hilton for the 4 hours we had left to sleep until check-out time!

Growing old isn't so bad afterall.