Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reflective Tuesday.

I've been holding anger in my heart for a couple of days.

On Saturday, a neighbor of mine told me all about the latest neighborhood scandal, and I listened with horror and disgust.

A grouchy, middle-aged man (we'll call him Pete), who lives a few houses down from me, recently hit and killed another neighbor's dog (we'll call them Adam and Jen). Pete was obviously speeding when he hit the dog, which, I'll grant it, shouldn't have been in the road. The dog flew several yards before hitting the pavement. But his response was appalling. He stopped, got out of the car, and said, "How's the dog?" When Jen answered, frantically, "Not good, I think she's dying," Pete got back in his beat-up car and drove away without another word.

A week or so later, Pete went to Adam and Jen's house and knocked on their door. He told Adam that their dog had caused damage to his headlights, and if they didn't pay the bill, he'd take them to court.

Of course, the neighbors who know about this are outraged, and I admit that I've been outraged, too. I've been putting myself in Adam and Jen's shoes - what if that had been Bo? How could I have kept myself from taking a bat to his car the moment he killed my dog, let alone when he threatened to sue me? And then I put myself in Pete's shoes - what if I had been the one to hit the dog? How could the proper response not be apologies and guilt, even if the dog was in the street where she shouldn't have been?

I'm so much better than him.

Pete's a dog owner, too, I kept thinking. He should have more empathy. And every time I walked by his house, I felt myself seething.

I told this story to my mom yesterday. She, too, was appalled. But then she made a good point.

"How sad," she said. "But you know, we usually feel sorry for a dog who's been beaten or neglected and becomes mean or aggressive. We're much harsher toward the way people act."

She was right, and that stuck with me. Along with the fact that holding pent-up anger in my heart was doing nothing good, I was not thinking like Jesus.

Remember the story of Zacchaeus? (Yes, I totally had to Google how to spell that.) He stole from anyone and everyone. But Jesus had mercy on him.

You might say, "But humans aren't dogs." True, true. But like dogs, we rely on instinct and emotion when we act. Like dogs, we're flawed. We're capable of much greater things... but also capable of much greater evil. We're also, compared to a perfect God, pretty stupid.

Maybe Pete, as a child, was beaten or neglected. Maybe he had to work in a job that stripped him of compassion or empathy. Those things don't excuse his behavior, but they would explain it. And they would give us reason to pity him.

Christ would have compassion on Pete. But I only felt judgment and anger.

My mom's comment really impacted me. People like Pete are often a product of their past. Without the redeeming blood of Christ, how can he overcome it? Truly, there, but for the grace of God, go I.

Things to think about on this Reflective Tuesday.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Three things.

I learned three things about Bo this weekend.

1. I learned that my dog - Brian's "vicious pitbull" - is truly, without a doubt, an absolute wuss.

Bo and I met his arch nemesis on the way home from the lake. Bo is always on the lookout for Big Boy, the neighborhood cat, but rarely does he get an opportunity to meet him face to face. But right then, behind a blue pickup, we could both see Big Boy before the big, black cat spotted us. Bo raced ahead to confront the beast once and for all, and I ran behind him, anxious to see what might happen. I had my doubts about Bo's courage in the face of such danger.

I heard a hissing noise and a loud whimper before I circled the pickup and saw the two pets. Big Boy was massively puffed, a great black furball standing stock still in the grass. Bo was a healthy three or four feet away, tail between his legs, looking sideways at the cat. Bo began running in a jolting circle around Big Boy, who stood his ground, and each time Bo moved, the dog let out a high-pitched, anguished whine.

I was doubled over laughing at my dog. I'd never seen him so frightened in his life, but he couldn't tear himself away from the cat. He maintained his distance, still trying to work up the courage to approach Big Boy, but with each move, he yelped as though he was being beaten. For a few more seconds I stood there in tears, then said, "Come on, Bo. Let's leave Big Boy alone." Bo finally followed me home, but his head hung low and his normally buoyant tail stayed between his legs. He remained so edgy that when I opened the mailbox, he jumped. Once inside, I told Brian about Bo's encounter, and it almost seemed as though our dog knew he should be embarrassed.

(By the way, I don't hate cats. I wouldn't have let Bo near Big Boy if I hadn't known that my dog (who still possesses his testicles, in fact) would have been on the losing end of the encounter.)

2. The next thing I learned about Bo is that he is, contrary to all of my boasting and pride, one of those dogs.

I'm too disappointed for many words right now. If dogs could understand lectures, Bo would have been duly ashamed when we came home from church. As it is, he probably won't understand why he winds up in the basement during our outings. Sigh.

3. Finally, I learned that Bo and I share a longing.

He wants a baby, too.

Or at least, he longs to decorate the nursery of his dreams.


Friday, August 27, 2010


Oh boy, folks.

This is the post you've been waiting for!

As we do every morning before Brian leaves for work, we prayed together on the morning of our fourth anniversary. Brian included the usual requests... and then he said, "And Lord, help our marriage to glorify you, and our family, too, soon."


Now that our fourth anniversary has come and gone, I can say that we're officially in the home stretch before trying for Baby Dubs.

One. More. Year.

It's going to be a good year. We're planning on lots of trips - to the beach, the mountains, to Michigan... and then to Maine.

But I'm also planning on lots of vitamins. Doctors say to start folic acid supplements three months before getting pregnant. Well, HA! is what I say to that. I'm going to give it twelve! Going for a model neural tube here, people.

I'll also be taking plenty of fish oil.

And playing Mozart and Bach to my empty uterus.

Oh, just kidding about that, but do you know what else I'm doing? I'm loading up on DAIRY. Cheese, yogurt, milk... and not just any milk, either. I'm going for the cheap, store-brand milk taken from cows who've been all jacked up on growth hormones for their entire lives. Because according to random Google searches that I'm assuming reference actual scientific studies (but am too lazy to verify), growth hormones in milk can cause hyper-ovulation.

And we all know from health class (riiiiiight?) that hyper-ovulation means twins.

Let's all pause for a collective, dramatic oooooooooooooooh.

I'm serious about it, I really am! My morning coffee, which used to be flavored with a little bit of half & half and sugar, has now become a coffee-flavored mug of milk. I'm really trying. In fact, when I came home from the grocery store last night with a brand of milk I don't normally buy, I was dismayed to see "From cows not treated with rBGH," Come on, people! The only reason I'm drinking this stuff is for the rBGH! I need that synthetically produced bovine hormone! Dairy farmers, please! Unite for the cause of recombinant DNA, genetic modification, and artificially stimulated milk production!

I need it because I want twins! (Sad, frowny, pouty face inserted here.)

Ugh. You folks out there pushing for regulation... trying for all things pure and wholesome... you all are making life reeeaaally difficult for me during my final-year home stretch. And let me tell you what, you'll really pay when I get pregnant with a single baby. If I'm not lucky enough to get two for the price of one, what in the world am I going to be thankful for?


Thursday, August 26, 2010

I now pronouce you married 1,460 days.

Today's my fourth anniversary. Almost fifty months of being married to The Bri! (In terms of months, it doesn't really sound that long, huh?)

A few thoughts on this momentous day:

1. Four years! That's a high school career or a college degree. I have a Bachelor's degree in Brian Management. (Haha! Everyone knows who does the real managing around here. :)

2. Four years! I remember reading that Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey divorced after their third anniversary. That stuck in my head and, for some reason, I thought that when my marriage hit the four-year mark, I'd have really made it, baby. So congratulations to me! I beat Jessica Simpson.

3. Four years! If someone had told me we'd be successful in pregnancy prevention this long, I would have laughed, laughed, laughed. Oh, silly Brian! Babies are for YOUNG people!

4. Four years. Is this the end of newlywed-ness?

5. It doesn't seem like it's been this long. But then again, I guess we've done a lot together during these four years. The amount of time doesn't seem to have been able to fit all the memories we've made. I don't know if this is happy or sad or sobering, and now I think I've confused myself.

6. Four years! I'm so blessed. Every day I realize how blessed I am. I started married life in a dream, thinking Brian was absolutely perfect, obsession-worthy, star-hanging warrior material. Then I discovered he was human, capable of being insensitive or selfish, just like me. But each day I still believe I couldn't be a luckier girl. If there was one word I could use to describe Brian's character, it would be solid. And like anything really solid - a boulder or an oak tree or a mountain - there are flaws, but usually the strength and steadfastness overwhelm them. That's how Brian is. I'm so blessed to have him sticking here beside me. I love him so much.

7. I hope the next four years go by a little more slowly. I hope they're made out of the same stuff these last four have been - smiles, hugs, memories, good food, deer-butchering, tree-planting, morning jogs, evening fires, lake walks with Beau, road trips, friends, family, etc., etc. And I hope for more, too. I hope for healing for Brian's eye, for guidance and direction, for vision and a sense of purpose, and maybe a baby or two. And then four more after that.

Thank you, Lord, for Brian. Thank you for your blessing on our marriage. Let it glorify and bless you continually!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The head tilt.

Completely selfish post. I don't expect you to think my dog is as cute as I think he is.

That would be like asking a nine-year-old to appreciate modern art.

Ha, ha! Only kidding, only kidding.

Anyway, for your consideration, a brief Tuesday Tale:

So I'm standing in the entryway and I look up to see Beau, regal as ever, staring down at me from the top of the stairs.

Fat rolls aplenty.

"Bo," I ask him, "are you hungry?"

Perhaps having not heard me entirely, he descends halfway down the stairs to understand.

"Bo, are you hungry?"

"And after you eat, do you want to go outside?"

"And play with Hannah?"

He carefully considered my proposal, then continued down the stairs for dinner.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Rant! Vent! Anger, Rage! Growl, growl, nag!

Finding pet peeves comes easily to me. Like a hawk who spots a field mouse a mile away, I often notice the negative aspects of life first and can focus on them endlessly.

I realize this isn't a healthy character trait and therefore I am trying to let go of previously prized pet peeves. Do you, elderly gentleman, wish to brake to a crawl on a steeply declining stretch of road, causing me to brake behind you and miss an opportunity to conserve gas? I shall graciously allow it. Do you, surly Walmart cashier, wish to bag each of my 75 grocery items individually, causing me to return home with twelve pounds of plastic to now recycle? Okay, go ahead, I will live. And do you, conservative radio talk show host from whom I would love to learn useful facts and relevant current information, wish to instead focus on the ever-widening media bias by once again comparing the oil spill to Hurricane Katrina? No problem - I will sigh delicately and change the station.

I'm trying to loosen up, to let it go! Life's too short to spend it finding new pet peeves!

Only, I've recently found one.

And I've decided that it's my all-time pettest peeve. It's so pet that I've decided I will give up all the others, in order to keep this peeve and feed it all sorts of good negative energy. Honestly, the fact that this act bothers me so much surprises me, because there are certainly worse things in the world. (Even though really, I've never heard someone say, "Ugh! My biggest pet peeve is manslaughter!" or "I can't stand it when people scam old women!") I'm sure there are worse annoyances out there. In fact, you can share yours with me in the comment section, if you like, and I will see if it's worse than mine.

But I don't think it will be! This thing is so peevish to me, so irritating, so infuriating, so... so... SO mmgph!!! I'm glad I'm writing this blog while Brian's at work, or else otherwise, I'd be getting angry at him for just being in the same room while I write about it! In fact, Bo just left my side and walked to the opposite end of the house!

It's BAD, people!

If I ever saw one of you, my dear readers, do this pet peeve of mine, you can be sure I would instantly and fervently despise you, despite any admiration I'd previously held for your sorry butt. And I'm not sure you could ever win back my coveted approval.

Okay, do you want to know what it is?

HEY, did I put you to sleep? Wake up! I'm trying to tell you what my biggest pet peeve is!!!

Okay, here it is!




(Now, imagine that written down this page a hundred more times and the slight annoyance you'd feel would be nothing compared to the rage that fills me when I see someone




We have a small lake next to our house. It's part of a private park for residents of our subdivision, and many of the residents invite their friends or family to come fish in the lake. Now, this is allowed and it's perfectly fine, and it always makes me kind of happy to see a couple guys standing on the shore, lazily fishing in the summer sun. Reminds me of the old days.

But oh, oh, oh, the furious-ity I feel when I take Bo down for his walk early the next morning and I see their junk strewn across the grass and the picnic tables. Fast food bags and wrappers and cups, fishing lure packages, Gatorade bottles, CapriSun packets, and ants a-covering the trash. This morning it was sodden with rain, and I had to dig Burger King napkins out of the grass while shooing Bo away from a slippery styrofoam cup on the sand.

Seriously, is there anything that says, "ENTITLEMENT!" louder than tossing your refuse onto the grass of a pristine park? These people must literally walk through life thinking that they are KINGS of the EARTH, and therefore it is theirs to trash. For crying out loud, people, it's a privilege to fish here! And there's a trash can twenty yards away!

I've taken to bringing a trash bag with me on my morning walks, but on a recent midday stroll with Bo and the neighbor's son, I realized I'd left it at home. And, of course, there was MORE trash scattered on the sandy beach area. The raucous group of fishing dummies that had left it were, right then!, out in a canoe in the middle of the water.

I resisted the urge to abandon the dogs and the toddler to swim out to the canoe and force feed those fools their litter. Fortunately, however, they'd left their t-shirts on the picnic table bench. In my fierce yet righteous anger, I wrapped their nice, clean shirts around the bulk of their garbage and ground the whole package into the sand.

I was satisfied to see that they hadn't finished the last of their Coke. It seeped from the cans and stained their shirts sticky and brown.

I still had to pick it all up the next morning, but I noticed they'd taken their shirts before re-scattering the trash. Yes, I know that wasn't the High Road, but I'm glad I took it. Yes, I'm glad I took it and I'll take it again, and if I ever see you litter, I'll rain holy hellfire down on you and you'll live to regret it! REGRET IT, I tell you!

Because you'll never get that Coke stain out of your clothes!

Thank you for listening,


Friday, August 20, 2010

Brian and Maegan go vegetarian, and also I think a pig just flew by the window!

We don't spend a lot of money on meat. Brian fills the freezer with venison every fall and sometimes we make it last through the entire year. So besides the occasional chicken dinner or sausage-and-potatoes breakfast, our meat costs are pretty good.

So naturally, instead of saving that money, I spend it on fancy cheese. But I digress.

Still, I think it's good to eat a vegetarian meal every once in a while. It's not so much a matter of the environment (to me), but more about stretching what we've got, broadening our horizons, and eatin' CHEAP.

Hence, here is one of our favorites (from Cooking Light):

Cuban Black Bean Patties with Pineapple Rice


  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) bag boil-in-bag long-grain rice
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 cup diced fresh pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Patties:
  • 2 cups rinsed, drained canned black beans (1 [15-ounce] can), divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream


To prepare rice, cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; place rice in a large bowl. Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pineapple; sauté 4 minutes or just until pineapple begins to brown. Add pineapple mixture, cilantro, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to rice in bowl; cover and keep warm. Wipe pan clean with paper towels.

To prepare patties, place 1 1/2 cups beans, garlic, cumin, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl; partially mash with a fork. Place 1/2 cup remaining beans and egg white in a food processor; process 30 seconds or until well combined. Add bean puree to mashed beans in bowl, and stir until combined. Add cheese and onion to bean mixture; stir until combined. Divide bean mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Place cornmeal in a shallow dish. Dredge both sides of each patty in cornmeal.

Heat pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Spoon about 1/2 cup rice onto each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 patty and 1 tablespoon sour cream.

Now, please understand: this recipe does NOT serve four, in our case. It serves two. Some changes that I make are to use canned pineapple chunks (drained well) instead of fresh, brown rice instead of white, and slightly more cheese (substituting cheddar). I also puree the onion and garlic with the egg white and beans.

Did I mention that this serves two, not four? Okay.

Now, you may be wondering, "How the heck did you get Brian to eat that?" The answer is: I almost didn't, but then I did, and now he loves it. One key was not to tell him that we were having 'black bean patties'. Instead, I announced that we were trying a delicious new recipe that had been developed by Cuban chefs. I'm not sure if that was completely accurate, but it was justified it in my mind, and in this case, the end certainly justified the means.


(Photo credit Cooking Light)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pensive Wednesday.

I have a confession to make.

I desperately want people to like me.

In fact, I want everyone to like me! Everyone! I even have a problem with the idea that the Taliban wouldn't like me. I mean, what if they just got to know me? Wouldn't they like me then?

I guess I have to accept that not everyone is going to like me. They might not like me on first impression. They might not like me when I innocently take the piece of cake that they were eyeballing. Or they might not like me because I sent them fattening cookies that might mess up their diet.

So, stuff like that I can't escape. Not everyone will like me.

But... surely I don't have to SAY anything to anyone that will make them dislike me. Surely I can please everyone with my sweet, genial conversation and nonoffensive commentary.

HA! Despite my best efforts, I'm sure even still that I've driven folks away.

But what do you do when it all comes down to business and you're faced with the predicament of having to either stand up for what you believe... or say nothing (or even say the opposite) so that people will like you?

I think doing the latter is called being spineless.

Ugh. So if I want everyone to like me, and therefore decide never to take a stand on anything, I'm an approval-seeking wimp.

I don't want to be that. No way. But how do I stop? I think I have to stop... caring.

I have to tell the girl I'm mentoring that we're not going to listen to junky music on the radio anymore.

I have to be straightforward about nixing gossip when I hear it... and I have to resist the temptation to participate.

I have to gently refuse to read a book that someone wants me to read, even though I care about that person very much, simply because it stands for things I believe are wrong.

I have to tell people what I believe, even if it sounds crazy. You know what? I know that God created the universe in six days, and I don't have to have a book of facts memorized to scientifically persuade you to believe it too. I believe that abortion is wrong, and I don't have to weaken my argument to sound like I'm not judging anyone. When someone feels threatened by what I believe to be true, I'm going to accept that they just might not ever like me.

I have to be honest with people about why I'm bowing out of an activity instead of taking the easy way out and coming up with an excuse.

I have to be bold about telling others that I'm building my life on the teachings of the Bible - all of them.

I have to be prepared to stand up for the name of Jesus Christ. Because not many people are doing that these days. And because He died for me.

At times, I will have to be obnoxious, ignorant, hate-mongering, judgmental, closed-minded, and unlikeable. ... and whatever other descriptions people may use. But ultimately, I live in an audience of One.

And now, I have to publish this post!



Monday, August 2, 2010


Lately, I can't walk by Bo without stooping down to scratch his head and squeeze his neck rolls. He's so, so, so stinking cute. When I put my palm against his forehead, he presses his face into my hand and the front half of his body collapses onto the floor to be pet. And then nonsense words start pouring out of my mouth, things like "my shnookums-pookums-pudding-pie-dough, you're the cutie-patootiest guy in the world" or "why hello, my sweet little butter lover, Mr. Knees Magee!"

(I had to go pet him just now. I couldn't think of any nonsense words just sitting at my computer. I had to squeeze the neck rolls for some inspiration. And it came flowing out, just like always.)

His facial expressions are so cute and the way he leaps around the house is so cute and the way he jumps into the lake is so cute and the way he chases lizards into the hostas is so STINKING cute. Sometimes when Brian and I are sitting on the couch, watching a movie up in the loft, I'll suddenly miss Bo. Yup, inexplicably, I'll miss him, five feet away on the floor. So I'll climb onto the floor and lay with him and get my fix of neck rolls.

I know this is all foolishness to you, but nevertheless, that's the way it is.

And I say all this because I simply can't believe that I won't feel this way about Bo when we have a baby someday.

Everyone tells me, "Oh, just wait until you have a baby. You get so annoyed with your pets."

That just doesn't seem right. Or fair.

The last time we had our friend J at our house was in 2008, and we were dogless. He and his wife had no kids at the time and they'd just gotten a second dog. J proudly showed Brian a cell phone picture of their new walker hound. "You guys have to get yourselves one of these," he said convincingly. "You gotta get a dog."

And what do you know? Four months later, we had Beauregard.

(And around the same time, J and his wife got pregnant with their baby girl.)

When he visited last weekend, we got to introduce our dog to him for the first time. J rubbed Bo's head enthusiastically, exclaiming what a good boy he was. He looked like he was enjoying petting Bo, so I asked him if he missed his dogs.

He scoffed. "NO. They're so annoying. Now that we have the baby, I can't stand them. There's fur everywhere and every time they're inside, I worry about the baby."

I was so surprised at his reaction. "Are you serious?"

"I mean, I still like them, I guess," he said. "But now we keep them outside in the summer. It is so nice not to have them in the house." Then he added, "Just you wait. You'll feel the same way about Bo."

Bo? My baby, Bo? The one who came to live with us when the baby-waiting had become so frustrating and lonely? The one who made us feel like a family? To heck with those who say that people like me have an unhealthy relationship with their pets. When I wanted a baby so badly, and Brian said no, we got Bo. And all of a sudden, I felt the baby fever easing.

Brian has a hard time, too, with the idea that we won't want Bo around. How could that be?

I hope, hope, hope that's not going to be the case. But I hear so many stories of people who either got rid of their pets after having babies or started seeing them as a mere annoyance. Can anybody tell me otherwise?



We had a friend of Brian's here this past weekend. The two of them used to be thick as thieves whilst they were both single, but not long after we got married and moved here, he and his wife moved hundreds of miles west from our hometown. We're lucky to see them on holidays (and Brian, on the occasional hunting trip).

It was really good for Brian to have a buddy around, because let me tell you, while I love Brian and have fun with him, I don't think I'll ever be able to be his buddy.

And bless his heart, Brian never has a 'guys night' with guys around here. The few he's befriended are pretty much all dads (meaning, busy), and besides, when I ask Brian if he'd want to go out to watch a game with guys from work, he just shrugs and says, "Not really, I'd rather hang out with you." And while some women might not like that, I do. I love it.

Anyway, the two of them spent the entire weekend upstairs with a cloth tape measure and a notepad, scoring all the bucks that Brian's got mounted in the loft. When they wanted to take a break, they popped in a hunting video. The comments I heard floating from the loft made me smile. The things they pointed out to each other with astonishment or laughter were things I would never, in a million years, think remarkable about a hunting video or a whitetail buck. I imagined their conversation sounded to me like a conversation between me and my girlfriends watching TLC's Say 'Yes' to the Dress would sound to Brian .

"Dude, you think that's like one-eighty?"

"No way, man! That thing's a monster! I mean, a monster! Totally more than that."

"Naw, I swear he's just holding the rack a certain way."

"I'm telling you, that buck is exactly like the one that guy from my work saw in his uncle's field. He had trail-cam pictures and everything."

"No way, dude. I might not think that buck's as big as you say but there's no way you'd see something like that in velvet. He'd have to be an absolute pig, like a world record or something."

"I'm not lying, man!"

"Dude," (changing the subject) "you think I should get a new rangefinder?"

"I don't know, man, I think you've been hitting kind of high, you might need a new one, or just memorize your paces a little better."

"Man," (turning attention back to video) "I can't believe I drew for elk this year and I can't wait to go hunt 'em, but man if I could only hunt one animal for the rest of my life, it'd totally be - "

(In unison:) "Whitetails, dude."

"I'm telling you, they have so much more character and variation. Plus, dude, no other animal could live in such high concentration and still be so wary and such a challenge to kill."

"Man, I agree with you. Dall sheep or mountain goats or even elk are a challenge to hunt because of environment, but whitetails are just so wary."

"Totally, man."

... and on it went. A different tongue altogether. (I'm sure if Brian read the above conversation, he'd scoff at my misrepresentation. I'm just doing my best to portray the abstractness of it all.)