Monday, January 31

Bloggers' Night Out!


My sweet friend Kelcie recently asked me to do a "Bloggers' Night Out" for her and some of her friends who are new to the blogosphere.

I was delighted, and terrified, to have been asked. I am still learning the ropes myself. But I was down for the challenge. Plus, I take any opportunity I can for a fun night with the girls!

I worked up a little presentation then spent a few hours learning how to work prezi.com.



So, tonight's the night! I hope they learn something, and that I don't scar them for (blogging)life.



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Friday, January 28

Little Rock Family- They gave me a whole page!

I've been writing the Community page for Little Rock Family magazine for a few months, and I absolutely love the job. I have been able to connect with our town in a way I hadn't done in the almost-six years that I've lived here.

For February's edition I interviewed a dear sweet friend of mine and her husband. Heather (who is a dedicated blogger over at Life at Sonic Speed) and Todd allowed me to write about their struggle with secondary infertility. I was so honored they agreed to the interview.
Their daughter, Avery Kate, is very special to me... I prayed for her parents for months while they tried to get pregnant, then I prayed for AK the whole time she was a'cookin. I may or may not have dissolved into a puddle of tears the first time I got to hold her.


Family Chatter is online, too!

I'm also really excited because I got to write this month's Family Chatter- the backpage personal essay column in Little Rock Family. Hannah Alexander is the illustrator (and, truthfully? one of the main reasons I wanted to do the Family Chatter piece), and she consistently knocks it out of the park with her artwork.



You can pick up a copy of Little Rock Family at newsstands all over central Arkansas or check out the web version here.
Oh! Don't forget to become a fan of Little Rock Family on facebook, and follow the fun on twitter at @LRFamily. They're always doing great giveaways and are a fantastic idea resource for local family fun.



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Thursday, January 27

Word-less Wednesday: Powder Puff Girl

Yes, I realize this is Thursday. (It is Thursday, isn't it?) We've had a long short off week.




The official story is that The Girl was carrying a (large, opened) bottle of Johnson & Johnson's, and The Baby ran smack dab into her. Poof. The most delicious smelling mushroom cloud ever.

The more likely story? I left the bathroom door open (again) and The Baby got powder-happy.



It's called the Shark Cordless Pet Perfect Hand Vac, but I call it Powder (and Cheerio, and Dorito and that dadgum dehydrated intant mashed potato flake stuff Jeremy buys) Purgatory.





*ed note. This post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Shark clean-up products. But, you know, I'm open to ideas. Reviews. Test products. Whathaveyou. Lord knows that thing can't hold out long against my brood. Also, this post isn't sponsored by Johnson's, either. Although, come to think of it, it would be nice to affiliate myself with them. Seeing as how we're fresh out of Calming Lavender and Chamomile Baby Powder.

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Wednesday, January 19

Southern Girl Academy



What started as a joke among friends ("You've never seen Steel Magnolias? You've never tailgated at Ol' Miss? You've never had a mint julep and watched the Kentucky Derby? You don't know how to make cornbread? You need an education!") has turned into a real, live months-in-the-making blog.

My beautiful friend Kerri and I, along with a whole host of other fabulous and equally pretty ladies, have teamed up to give the world some proper learnin' about what it means to be a good Southern Girl.

Every Wednesday a new Academy board member will be announced and her lesson will post. You never know who might show up, or what we'll teach you next. The Academy opened its doors two weeks ago and, after the initial Orientation, we've had classes on Football and Food (both of which might just rival religion in terms of importance to Southern Girls).

This week it's my turn. My post is all about how sweetly Southern talk falls on the ear.


The Southern Girl Academy aims to be a fun new blog that will teach natives and Northerners alike how to be a proper lady. Menfolk might even learn a thing or two, too.







You can also follow along with all the fun on the twitters @SoGirlAcademy, and if you like us on Facebook, we'll like you right back, darlin'.











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Tuesday, January 18

Indescribably Undomestic: A Conversation


As I was getting ready for work yesterday afternoon, I overheard The Boy and his daddy talking.


The Boy: Daddy, is it true that a man's heart is in his stomach?

Daddy: Where did you hear that?

Boy: The Penguins of Madagascar.

Daddy: It's just a saying. People say that the way to a man's heart is to feed him good food.

Boy: Is that true?

Daddy: Well, son. Your momma can't cook but I love her anyway.










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Monday, January 17

My Name Is You: lessons from Sesame Street on MLK Day

Today, all across our nation, people remember one of our greatest heroes, Martin Luther King. Today, in my house, I'll remind the Bees of love and commitment and service and Dr. King's legacy.
Thousands of people will gather for marches and will give speeches. I will read this book to my kids and we'll talk about hard things.


Martin Luther King's words and actions mirrored those of Jesus, because he was a man who loved Jesus. Every night at bedtime, we pray with the kids that we will be more like Jesus and shine his light a little brighter the next day.

Recently, words like "tolerance" and "acceptance" have turned into something ugly, something to fight over. The only thing Jesus taught was love. I try to make it clear to the Bees that if they love, they will live. If you love, you are obedient. If you love, you will serve. If you love, you do not hurt others. If you are filled with love, there is no room for hate.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Despite our differences, at the core of every human heart is the need for love. To be accepted, to be acknowledged, to be a part and not apart.

..........................

This morning we were watching Sesame Street. With its monsters and muppets and music, the show teaches kids so much more than their ABC's. Through song and dance and play, the 'Street subtly incorporates themes of love and community and, yes, acceptance.




We all sing with the same voice, and we sing in harmony.


Though it's geared toward the preschool set, I think there are plenty of adults who could learn something from "the fabulous Keb' Mo'" and these fuzzy monsters and googly-eyed muppets.





Everybody's got a look
Everybody's got a style
Everybody's gotta try to make everybody feel worthwhile


Everybody's got a voice
Of their very own

And when everybody sings, nobody's gotta sing alone






....................


"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.




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Thursday, January 13

Throwing the lights on


I’m writing a book. A book that used to be a novel. I’ve been writing this novel for three years, and am just crossing the halfway point. And now I have to rewrite it.
When I started writing this book, my goal was to see it on a shelf at Barnes & Noble. My goal now is to tell the story with as much honesty, grace and humor as I can muster.

When l last left my writing, there were twenty-something thousand words and I hated all of them. I struggled with the story. I had loud and angry and despondent voices in my head arguing against each other.
“It’s perfect chick-lit!” shouted a voice, the one hanging out beside the Jennifer Weiner and Lauren Weisberger stacks.
“No, it’s obviously YA, the protag is so young!” hurled another voice, hiding behind the John Green and Stephanie Perkins display.
“Can’t you plainly see this is a Christian fiction work?” squeaked a meek but endearing voice near the shelf filled with Charles Martin and Karen Kingsbury.
“It would be a great series of essays, if you could just get your crap together already,” offered an almost-snarky voice next to a collection of Nora Ephron and Jen Lancaster.
"Why isn't it meaningful literary fiction?" whined another voice. (Who let the Jonathan Franzen apologists in here?)
“SHUT UP, ALL OF YOU! IT WON’T BE ANY ANYTHING IF YOU DON’T ALL SHUT UP!” yelled the most familiar voice.
And then I heard one beautiful, clear voice above the rest:
"Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you're conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader." ~Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
I finally got so twirled up in what my book should be- what goals it should accomplish, what audience it would reach- that I stopped writing it altogether.

And then I prayed. Because when I can’t come up with an answer on my own, I go back to the One with all the answers. The One I should’ve consulted to begin with. The One who never yells at me.
“DearsweetholyGodinheaven, I want to write this book. I want to tell this story, but I don’t know how. I want to do it to Your honor and glory and I want it to be so so so good. HALP.”
And then… I got nothing. No answer. No inspiration. No sign on the side of the road saying, “TURN HERE.” Not a word. For months.

The file sat on my computer’s desktop unopened. The cute little robot-shaped flashdrive went unupdated. The printed-out version stayed unedited. My red pen was totally unused. And I was miserable every day of it.



Until.
Three days ago, having pushed the book as far away from me as physically and mentally possible, I heard another voice. I was in the shower, thinking of absolutely nothing other than how sweet my shampoo smelled, I heard it.
“It’s a memoir.”
“Uh, no it’s not.”
“It’s a memoir.”
“No, really, you must be mistaken. Just tell me, is it a Christian YA novel? Is it chick-lit? You know I love chick-lit. In the most non-demeaning, super-empowering sense of the word. Is it chick-lit?”
“It’s a memoir.”
"Fine."

I don't play lightly with the words "I heard from God." But I do feel strongly that the Holy Spirit still moves in and through people. There have been only two other times in my twenty-seven years that I have literally felt the Spirit write words on my heart, and I am not one to argue when the most mysterious one-third of the Trinity tells me what to do.


It is my story, it is my truth. It is a fall from grace, a redemption, an example of true love, and True Love. It is a mystery, a thriller, a romance, a coming-of-age story, a comedy, a tragedy, a love letter and a remarkable journey. So I will write it as its bare-bones truth: my story.
I will change the names to protect the innocent and the so-guilty-you-won’t-believe-it. I will pour out the whole of my overflowing heart. I will try my hardest to stay in one tense. I will get frustrated and walk away, only to walk back and do more work. I will write a whole bunch of crap and maybe a little bit of something good. I will throw the lights on.






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Thursday, January 6

It was our secret

Last night while the rest of my family was in the throes of Kinect-madness, The Baby and I had some fun of our own.

Technically, I was looking for her because, technically, she snuck off with a cup full of water. Which, any parent of any two-year old will tell you, is a dangerous thing.

I found her sitting on the (newly-new-carpeted) floor of my closet. She was happily pouring water from one cup to another, ignorant of the rest of the world (and of the high-tech entertainment going on in the next room).
Instead of getting on to her and breaking her little proud heart, I chose to take time to sit down on the floor next to her and ask her to play with me. She, of course, obliged.

We poured water back and forth in the cups, we blew air at each other from the straw, we cracked up at how silly we were. Occasionally I just sat and watched her work so hard at holding the cups the right way so as not to spill any liquid.
The whole thing reminded me of way back when I was an aide at a school for kids with developmental delays and disabilities. I loved working with the physical, occupational, and speech therapists. I loved seeing the kids have a breakthrough, after 99 attempts to do something so many people take for granted, and finally achieving their goal on the 100th try. So many kids love the tactile sensation therapy from sand and water tables, and The Baby is no different.

Together we came up with new ways to play with two cups, a straw, and a few ounces of water. We spent time together, away from her sibings, away from the tv, away from virtually all other stimuli, when I could have easily been doing 14 other things. Yes, I know she is just barely two, and yes I know she won't remember the time her crazy mother played with her under a tapestry of blue jeans and sweaters, but I'll remember it.

And when we spilled all of the some water on the brand new carpet? It was our secret.


Well, until her daddy stepped on it in his besocked feet. Then we were busted.


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Wednesday, January 5

Husband Hump Day

Now, before you go thinking this is one of those kinds of blogs (really, are there those kinds of blogs out there? nevermind. don't answer), rest assured this is a just a new feature here at chasing my Bees. Somehow, I managed to sweet-talk my husband into his first guest post ever! Fingers-crossed, every first Wednesday of the month from now on will be a new post from JB. Stay tuned, because there is no telling what he'll come up with.

On a side note- Southern Girl Academy is live today with our first lesson. Scoot on over there after you leave cmB!

Without further interruption, we bring you:

Husband Hump Day
..................................


con•nect•ed (k -n k t d)
adj.
-Joined or fastened together.
-Related by family.
-Associated with or related to others, especially to influential or important people.

If you think about it, the world would be a lonely place without connections. They can be as simple as connecting to the internet, or as complex as being connected on Capitol Hill. Without the mass network of people we connect to in a lifetime, we would just float through life on clouds of hope and sorrow. Think back on a time when you needed a helping hand, and a friend or connection (I say connection, because not everyone is a friend) came to the rescue. Without that help you would have been between the proverbial rock and hard place. True, we can be self-sufficient but in the ever-changing age of politics and technology, what’s a little helping hand in a time of need?

Right now you are connected to the internet, a vast wealth of knowledge and endless entertainment. Start typing any letter and instantly get results; that is high-speed connection. Try that anywhere else and the results aren’t quite the same. It takes some people years of establishing relationships, “rubbing elbows” and “pounding the pavement” to get well connected. One can even be married into or related to the connected individual. You can be either the connector or the connect-ee, but the benefits are seemingly endless.

Hailing from a small town I have seen, used, and been utilized on said connections. I am most proud that I have been of use as a connection. This is the rewarding one. It means that you have something, know someone who has something, or know someone who knows someone who has something (it can get complicated quickly). I have been able to help people with my limited knowledge of things (I don’t know a lot about any one thing, but I know a little about a lot of things). I have been able to help people out in times of need. I have been in a position to ask someone for help on behalf of the person needing aid. Without the connections in life, it would be a lonely existence.

We long to be connected. I say “we” as a general rule. Humans need to be loved and needed. The worst feeling is not being needed, that you are so worthless if you were gone no one would even notice. Just ask George Bailey if you disagree. I am not a psychologist or even claim to be intelligent in the ways of the world, but I do know what makes me tick. Being connected to others, and providing help to others still, is what makes my world go round.

So, to all of you who have helped us or we have had the chance to help, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Never miss an opportunity to help someone connect because you may never know how valuable that connection is.

 
 
.........
 
Jeremy B is a former marine and current father of three, which means his head 'bout near explodes regularly on account of the mess in his house. He enjoys working in the yard, making and fixing things, and spending time with his outrageously gorgeous wife. He also forgot to write his own bio. So someone else had to.
 
 
 
 
 
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Saturday, January 1

New (better) Year, New (better) List

Happy 2011, everybody!

I spent the last couple of days of 2010 laid up in bed, battling a major fever. Fun, yes? In any case, it afforded me lots of nap time time to reflect on the last year, and time to ponder the new one.

So I rehashed. I edited the original Life List (because, really, is it my dream-above-all-dreams to meet Snoop Dogg?) to be more streamlined. Not necessarily more realistic (a dream is a dream is a dream), but more attainable, more workable.

I want to spend 2011 working toward goals, instead of just working. I want to use my time to better myself, better serve my family, better entertain my friends, and better know the Lord.

Did I just give myself a buzzword? Is better my key word for this new year?

I kind of like it.
It is not seeking perfection, it is not "best."
It merely seeks to step up. Step up my game, step up my happy.
Better is contentment where I am, while constantly trying to make the world around me, well, better.

This will be the year of working towards better. This will be the year I start crossing the immediate things off my list, and dedicate myself to the long-term goals (um, #41, anyone?).


2010 was a really good year. 2011 will be better.

  1. Capture my husband's true smile in a photograph
  2. Spend a week at Disney world with my family
  3. Spend a week in NYC with my husband
  4. Spend a week in Montreat, NC by myself
  5. Spend a week road tripping to east Tennessee with my brother
  6. Start writing a novel
  7. Finish writing a novel-- I'll do it this year, I swear!
  8. Publish a novel
  9. Publish a children’s book
  10. Own a ridiculous pair of stilettos
  11. Bet on George Strait’s racehorse
  12. Tour a secret part of the Smithsonian
  13. Read 100 books aloud to my kids-- We're working on it. List to come.
  14. Read 100 classic novels
  15. Watch all of AFI’s top 100 movies
  16. Dance at a Dave Matthews concert
  17. Help build 50 Habitat for Humanity houses
  18. Buy an Ark from Heifer International-- I started with some bees.
  19. Coach my best friend through labor and delivery
  20. Graduate from college
  21. Watch my children graduate from college
  22. Tour the Holy Land
  23. Convince my brother to record an album
  24. Adopt a child
  25. Work for CASA
  26. Trace my family’s genealogy as far back as possible
  27. Drink a pint in a pub. In Ireland.
  28. Drink a cappuccino in a café. In Paris.
  29. Drink a bottle of wine in a piazza. In Tuscany.
  30. Drink a shot of tequila on a beach. In Mexico.
  31. Walk across Abbey Road
  32. Handwrite a long thank you note to my mother
  33. Buy my husband a just-for-fun Jeep
  34. Pay a disgusting amount of money for an original piece of artwork
  35. Convince a woman to rethink abortion
  36. Make regular mission trips to Guatemala and Nicaragua
  37. Build a house in the country
  38. Give away a car
  39. Donate a thousand books to a rural school library
  40. Memorize an e.e. cummings poem
  41. Renew my wedding vows on our 25th anniversary, and then again on our 50th
  42. Bake a perfect batch of my grandmother’s cookies
  43. Grow enough vegetables to feed my family for a summer
  44. Be able to speak fluent sign language
  45. Join a book club
  46. Learn to fight well, without fighting dirty
  47. Fight for someone who can’t fight on their own
  48. Laugh inappropriately loud at the most inappropriate time
  49. Watch every Friends episode in order-- Season one, in the books!
  50. Karaoke “Summer Lovin’” with my husband
  51. Anonymously pay for someone’s drive-thru coffee
  52. Dance in the rain without an umbrella
  53. Whisper a secret to my daughters right before their daddy gives them away
  54. Wear a funny hat at the Kentucky Derby
  55. Attend a conference on my own-- April 2011!
  56. Read every word of the Bible- with help
  57. Stand where Jimi stood at Woodstock
  58. Initiate a no-holds-barred food fight
  59. Write a check, buy a home for someone I love
  60. Gallop a horse on the beach
  61. Make dinner from scratch for my family for seven consecutive nights
  62. Stumble into a really good concert in Austin That's a whole 'nother blog post!
  63. Wear one fabulous red dress, with confidence
  64. Wear fabulous red lipstick, with confidence
  65. Learn to be myself, with confidence
  66. Launch  a new blog with my friends
  67. Add one to-do each time I cross one off


Y'all see number 66 up there? It'l be crossed off by this time next week!!




Happy 2011, friends!