Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sports Movies
Jacob and I saw We Are Marshall today. It was awesome. The thing I keep thinking about is how perfectly cast it was. Every person was absolutely perfect for each part. Matthew McConaughey (which I almost spelled correctly without looking--and that's not easy) creates the perfect aura that brings the actors in this movie together. Here's a good review of the film. I definitely give it a thumbs up.

So then Jacob and I got to talking about other sports movies over burgers at Steak and Shake (our favorite heart-attack-inducing joint). Here are the results:

Basketball - Hoosiers and Glory Road
Baseball - Gotta be The Rookie
Hockey - Miracle
More football - I like Rudy, although as I recall, the father is pretty abusive to Rudy and that makes it tough to watch and not so family friendly

From there the pickings get slim. I'm not a huge fan of Field of Dreams or the romantic comedies that are sports-ish (like Fever Pitch). I like the movies that are about the sports and team. Oh, and Jacob tells me I have to put in Bad News Bears--although when I saw the old version of this (and the new version ain't any better), I was shocked at the bad language and the drunk coach who is not exactly a good role model.

Then we were pondering why some sports haven't been made into movies:

Ultimate Frisbee
Dodgeball (oh yeah, there was that dumb one)
Track (besides Chariots of Fire)

Why not
Golfing? (okay, there are a couple of those...)

We did think of Cool Runnings, which is that funky movie about the Jamaican bobsled team that went to the Olympics

Anyway, those are my sports movies thoughts tonight.
Favorite Movies of 2006
Some years we add our favorites of the year to our Christmas letter, but this year we didn't quite get around to that. So here are my movie favorites (just in case you're interested). I'll do the books (which are much harder to choose from) tomorrow:

New Release Movies I liked (not in any particular order):
Walk the Line
Pride and Prejudice
Akeelah and the Bee
Lady in the Water
The Navity Story
The Great Raid
Cinderella Man

Older Movies I liked:
Apollo 13
Saving Private Ryan
To Kill a Mockingbird

Biggest disappointments:
Harry Potter: The Goblet of Fire (all I can say after seeing that is yuck)
Eight Below (way too sad; just can't handle doggie movies)
Dukes of Hazzard (I'm embarrassed that I even watched it)

Friday, December 29, 2006

Bats in Your Belfry?
Today I have more fun bat facts for you. But first, let's consider a little more about bats in general. I am kind of creeped out by bats, and here's why:

This is my cute cat Penny:

This is not so cute:

This is my cute dog Lucy:

Not so cute:

Now this one could ALMOST be considered cute:

But not really when you compare it to:

So I guess you could say that some mammals are simply cuter than others. And bats do not rank up there too high for me. Nevertheless, they do serve their purpose. They eat bugs, which is good. I like bugs less than I like bats. They also pollenate plants. I also generally like nocturnal animals.

But what if you have bats in your belfry that you want to get rid of? Well, my husband jokingly says to confirm them because if they're anything like youth, once they get confirmed, you never see them again.

But seriously, here is how you get rid of bats in your house, belfry, or other unwanted place.

Step 1 - Find out where your bats are entering the building. You might need a friend to help you figure this out. Bats go out to eat around dusk, so wait until it's almost dark (but only during the warm months when they are not hibernating) and look for bats flying around.

Step 2 - Once you have found the spot where the bats enter and exit, place a bat house close to the opening.

Step 3 - Wait a few days and make sure the bats are taking residence in the bat house.

Step 4 - After the bats are used to the bat house, wait until dusk one night. After the bats have left the building and/or bat house for their evening meal, place a covering like wire netting over the opening to the building.

Voila! No more bats.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Fun Bat Facts
So, one of my Christmas gifts was a bat house. Yes, a bat house. What, you ask, is a bat house? Well, it is a house where bats live. And why, you ask, would I want a bat house? Why, to bring bats into the back yard to eat mosquitoes of course. (This looks like an interesting website about bat houses.)

Plus, I do love nocturnal animals--well, I should say the thought of nocturnal animals since I rarely see them, being diurnal myself. I did see a raccoon last night, though. So, anyway, along with my bat house, I got a booklet about bats, and here are some fun facts.

- Bats hibernate from April to Oct. They have to find a place where they will be undisturbed. They usually wake up 3-4 times per winter to change position. But if they are disturbed more than those 3 or 4 times, they use up too much energy and may starve. That's why they like caves and mines for hibernation.

- Bats do not carry rabies more than any other mammal.

- Bats use echolocation to move around. They can sense the soundwaves bouncing off something as small as a piece of hair and move around it. That's how they can eat find and eat so many bugs.

- They eat as much as they weigh every day.

That's as much as I can remember tonight. It was actually a pretty interesting booklet. I've been trying to think of the right verb to describe how bats move. Flitter flutter seems to work, I think. Any other ideas?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Pencils so sharp they could impale someone!
My mom and dad gave me an electric pencil sharpener for Christmas, and man, is it awesome. I recently realized how much I like the old-fashioned wooden type pencils, but they have to be super sharp. So, I added a pencil sharpener to my Christmas list, and my parents very kindly got me a wonderful sharpener. If any of you live in Fort Wayne and you need a really sharp pencil, you may come over to use my pencil sharpener any day, but we will all try to refrain from impaling.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

My New Favorite Kind of Tea
Just in case you were new favorite is decaf mandarin orange green tea made by Celestial Seasonings. I toured Celestial Seasonings with my mom and Jacob a few years ago. The factory is in Boulder, Colo. It was delicious to go into a room filled with bags of mint tea leaves.

I have come to love coffee, but tea is always my afternoon and evening favorite. In 1999, Scott and I went to England when he was considering a call to a church in London. We were exhausted, overwhelmed by the possibility of moving overseas, and I distinctly remember two cups of tea. One was made by the ladies after church. Wow, that was awesome. The other was at the Jensens' house. They were hosting us for the weekend, and we came into their very typical London house (like a rowhouse), warmed up by their fireplace to fight off the damp chill, and had a lovely cup of tea. Lovely is the only word for it. . Milky sweet tea is a great comfort. The Brits definitely got that right.
Debating with myself
So, I've lately been debating with myself about whether or not to post poems I have written. On the one hand, forcing myself to have an audience for my poetry might be helpful. But on the other hand, I am resisting making public something which is not ready to be seen.

This makes me think about the writing process. I have learned, slowly but surely, that I need to protect my fledgling ideas. I am way too susceptible to a lukewarm reaction if I mention something specific. I don't mean talking generally about "someday" projects. But when I have a specific idea in mind, and it is starting to take shape, I try to keep it unseen and untold until I have proceeded through a certain number of drafts of the manuscript. It's the way I seem to work best. But that said, fairly early in the process, I show my manuscripts to people I trust who help guide me through the revision process.

But in spite of myself, I have decided to post this poem I wrote last night. I've taken liberties with details, but the essence of the sentiment is intact. Also, it's actually an epiphany poem, but looks back to Christmas. In our family, we celebrate all twelve days of Christmas, leaving up our decorations until Jan. 6, Epiphany.


I clear away the wreckage of boxes and wrapping paper,
fold new sweaters, shelving them in closets,
coil strands of sparkly lights, tucking them away,
vacuum pine needles from the carpet.

In the thick darkness of midwinter,
I am left
with the echo of a D-major chord ringing in the nave,
the whiff of frankincense,
words lingering in my ears
all was still and it was midnight
they were sore afraid
the great wonder she carried
The Word Became Flesh

I am left
with treasures rich as the magi's
as I step into Epiphany

Monday, December 25, 2006

On the Nativity of Our Lord
"How unobtrusively and simply do those events take place on earth that are so heralded in heaven! On earth it happened in this wise: There was a poor young wife, Mary of Nazareth, among the meanest dwellers of the town, so little esteemed that none noticed the great wonder that she carried. She was silent, did not vaunt herself, but served her husband, who had no man or maid. They simply left the house. Perhaps they had a donkey for Mary to ride upon, though the Gospels say nothing about it and we may well believe that she went on foot. Think how she was treated in the inns on the way, she who might well have been taken in a golden carriage, with gorgeous equipage! How many great ladies and their daughters there were at that time, living in luxury, while the mother of God, on foot, in midwinter trudged her weight across the fields! How unequal it all was!

"Let us, then, meditate upon the Nativity just as we see it happening in our own babies. I would not have you contemplate the deity of Christ, the majesty of Christ, but rather his flesh. Look upon the baby Jesus. Divinity may terrify man. Inexpressible majesty will crush him. That is why Christ took on our humanity, save for sin, that he should not terrify us but rather that with love and favor he should console and confirm.

"Now is overcome the power of sin, death, hell, conscience, and guilt, if you come to judge this gurgling Babe and believe that he is come, not to judge you, but to save."

- From Martin Luther's Christmas Book, edited by Roland Bainton, pp. 30-32.

One reason why I keep coming back to this book every Advent/Christmas is because I love Luther's writing. I wish I could read his works in German, but I'll have to trust the English translation. He has these wonderfully poetic turns of phrase that help to illuminate the Word of God and make it understandable.

Blessed Christmastide to you all!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas
I'm feeling a bit nostalgic this afternoon, realizing we are creating all new traditions this year post-move to Fort Wayne. I am looking forward to the Christmas Eve services tonight. Jacob is singing in the "children's" service at St. Paul's, and then later, I'm singing in the choir at Redeemer Lutheran. We're doing some pretty ambitious pieces for a church choir, but there are excellent singers in the choir.

I'm also listening to Mindy Smith, who I can never get enough of. She has a new album, which isn't quite as strong as her first. But I still like it.

I'm reading Martin Luther's Christmas Book edited by Roland Bainton, Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, and Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon by Leonard S. Marcus (yes, I regularly read multiple books at the same time--not literally of course).

Here's a link to my husband's blog, which shows Concordia Luth. in Pittsburgh all decked out for Christmas. We miss you all!

Last, I just want to say a thank you to everyone who has kept in touch with us from Pittsburgh over the last few months. We miss all of you so much! I'm sorry our Christmas cards are so late. You all should be getting them soon. Much love to all of our friends and family scattered all over the country. Thank you also to all our new friends here in Fort Wayne who have embraced us and made us feel so welcome. Merry Christmas all!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Two really dumb links that I absolutely adore

We like the moon song
I guess you sort of have to have a Napoleon Dynamite sense of humor to like this. But I can't ever stop laughing at it when I see it.

Penguin game. Thank you to Schnigglefritz for this one. My high score is 303. Jacob's is 317. Todd Peperkorn's high score is 321.

Boy, I'm getting a lot done today.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Sad Thing and Ponderings on Favorites
Here's the sad thing: Jacob was so sick this past Sunday that he (and I) had to miss the Christmas Pageant at our new church, Redeemer Lutheran. I was so bummed that Jacob even said told me that I could go if I wanted and he'd be fine on his own. He had a fever, felt dizzy whenever he stood up, had a terrible cough, etc. The good news is that he's feeling better now, and that his asthma medicines really did the trick so he missed only one day of school. The bad news is that we had to miss the Christmas pageant, which really stunk.

Now, onto ponderings on favorites. Yesterday, I realized (yes, I know this is going to sound strange) that my new favorite color is pink. I don't know why. I always used to like blue. But now I like pink.

I also realized recently that I am totally in love with grapefruits. Again, I don't know why, but I could eat grapefruits all day long. Why is it that we like certain things and not others--particularly when it really seems to make no difference in the grand scheme of things? I mean, who cares that I prefer pink. Does it impact the world in any way? Does it make my life better? Does it end world hunger?

I thought about this in a related topic when I was trying to decide on a one-syllable girl's name for a story I have been working on this fall. As I came up with all sorts of different names: Ann, Lynn, Kay, Kate, etc., each one had a different "flavor." I realized a lot of that was wrapped up in who I knew in my life with those names. I'll always love the name Fiona, not only because it's a beautiful word, but also because I had a great friend in high school named Fiona. But I am not in love with other names because I have some bad memory associated with them.

I read this review of a children's book yesterday on Amazon, and the reader actually criticized the author of the book very strongly for using the name Madison instead of Madeline. It was the dumbest thing I'd ever seen. Why not use a classic name that will last instead of a trendy name like Madison, the reader said. It befuddled me. Can't the author choose whatever stinkin' name she wants to? Apparently not.

So, why do you think we like certain things and not others? Why do I like grapefruit but can barely tolerate bananas? Why has pink become my favorite color? Why did I settle on the name Grace for my character?
Pre-Christmas Shopping
Here's the interesting thing about living in Fort Wayne vs. a bigger city like Pittsburgh. Granted, Pittsburgh is no L.A. or New York, but still...the pre-Christmas shopping crowds were so much worse in Pittsburgh than here. Yesterday, I actually went shopping and stopped in several stores. It was December 19, and it wasn't even all that crowded. Whoa! That was weird. In Pittsburgh, I swore off mall and/or Wal-mart shopping for at least the entire month of December just because it was so crowded and I ALWAYS stood in line for at least 20 minutes. Here, it's definitely different.

So, that's my random observation for the morning.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Now What I Am Doing
-Baking 6 loaves of Banana Nut Bread
-Finishing up my Christmas letter
-Ignoring the messy house
-Trying to take baby steps (check out Flylady if you've never heard of her) with cleaning up my messy house
-Thinking about what Emmanuel -- "God with us" means (with help from Pr. Beisel)

Friday, December 15, 2006

What I Should Be Doing
Christmas shopping
Wrapping presents
Baking cookies
Taking my dog for a walk
Cleaning the house
Writing Sunday school lessons
Addressing Christmas cards

What I'm Doing Instead
None of that
Too tired

Monday, December 11, 2006

Quotes from the Weekend

Quote #1: "Tracing paper has changed my life."
This was spoken by Jacob after we tracked down tracing paper at Hobby Lobby on Saturday. He has been really interested in drawing cars lately, and finally realized that tracing paper would help him get the shape of the cars right. We also made major progress and found the light box which I borrowed from my mom about a million years ago. We couldn't remember where we'd shoved that after the move. Ah, the joys of moving...

Quote #2: "The only reason you're still conscious is so I don't have to carry you."
This is classic Jack Bauer. We rented season 5 of 24 this weekend. We are in 24 la-la land.

Quote #3: "......"
These were the non-spoken utterances of Scott as he was still recuperating from the plague which he's had for the last 3 weeks. Thankfully, he's feeling better now.

Quote #4: "Oh no, not again."
This was a quote from me yesterday when I saw my grinning, goofy dog covered in mud and some sort of stinky mud-type stuff (which we all know was not really mud). That led to me donning a shower cap and bathing suit to give Lucy a bath. Seriously. She smelled really gross. But now she smells like a fresh spring morning.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Books and Such
I got a box of author copies of my newest book, Things I See at Baptism yesterday. The "church book" series has been so much fun for me, and hopefully a help to parents and teachers. I wrote the first, Things I See in Church when my son Jacob was two years old. He is now 11, which seems impossible, but true. I knew that even as a two-year old, he'd be able to understand the church service better if I could "translate" what was happening for him. So, that's what I attempted to do. Now there are several titles in the board book series, and it's been great fun and a great blessing.

I talked to a fourth-year student here at the seminary, Charles Lehmann this morning who told me his new book called God Made It for You is now out too. So, congrats, Charles! I look forward to reading this one. The artwork on the cover looks fantastic. I hope it does well!

God Made It for You
By Charles Lehmann

Concordia Publishing House continues to publish wonderful resources for children, and I'm thankful for that!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's Saint Nicholas Day!
I almost forgot to post about today, December 6, being Saint Nicholas Day. So happy St. Nicholas Day to you all! Last night, we had Jacob put his shoes out for "St. Nicholas" to fill with goodies, which came in the form of a new basketball and football this year. Normally, I remember to get gold coins to celebrate the day, but with a sick husband, a big workload and a recent move, I'm afraid we'll be chocolate-coin-less this year. (But we do have M&M's which always work in a pinch.)

Anyway, here is the link to my website with the info about my St. Nicholas book. I heard from Jacob's teacher today that they read the book in class, which was such a nice idea. Thank you, Mrs. Muehl!

And while I'm at the shameless self-promotion, here's a link to my first-ever article in Lutheran Witness (p. 14), which appears in the Dec. 06 edition.

Here's a nice website with lots of info on Saint Nicholas.
Pilates and On My Thyme
Yesterday I went to my Pilates class at the Y, and dang, was that hard. I feel like a contortionist when I'm in class, and I'm sure I look like a total weirdo. Pilates is all about strengthening the core muscles of the body. We do a lot of things that force us to balance, using those post-baby tummy muscles. It's awesome, but really hard. There is one woman in the class who is so flexible that when she bends over to touch her toes, she can actually put the knuckles of her hands on the floor. Something about that just isn't right.

Then, last night, I was invited to join some new and very sweet friends at On My Thyme, where I prepared 12 meals in a snap. It is awesome. The concept is to go to one of these meal prep centers, and they give you all the ingredients chopped up and ready to go. We rolled up burritos, assembled pork dishes, etc., with their (mostly healthy) ingredients. Then we packed the entrees in tins to freeze. So, I am set for awhile for dinner as far as meal preparation goes, through the rest of the month, with the occasional frozen pizza and/or grilled cheese thrown in.

So, all in all, it was an awesome day. (But now I need to get back to my writing projects.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Another Fun Link (Thank you Carol!)
When Jacob and I were in Pittsburgh, we stayed with my dear friend Carol, and to entertain him, she showed him the diet Coke and mentos video as well as this one, which shows a really cool juggling act. Check it out!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Crisp, Clear Night
The moon is nearly full, and I stepped outside just now to look at it. It's uncommon to have such a beautiful clear sky here in Indiana, but we have that tonight. I wish I knew more constellations. I can pick out Orion's Belt, I can sometimes find the seven sisters, Big Dipper, Little Dipper, etc. There is something about the leafless trees silhouetted in the velvet sky that makes me love nighttime in the winter.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Most Popular Blog Post EVER!!
Yes, I am now revealing the long-awaited secret.

My most popular blog post is not some fabulous poem I wrote or some shameless self-promotion of one of my books. It's not even the funny stories I tell about my dog. No. The most popular blog post ever was a link to a silly game.

So, here it is for all of those who have requested it. Enjoy!