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Month: March 2012

30 Days of Bloggity Bloggness: Day 10

Day 10: Something you’re afraid of

I can safely say that the answer to this is spiders.

~le shudder~

Here is a post I put up about it on my Homemaker blog last summer:


I haven’t always been afraid of spiders.  My mother is and always has been, but they never really scared me.  At least, until my senior year of high school, when my friend, Robbie, took me to see the movie Arachnophobia.  That movie scared me. 

Not long after, I was living in St. Augustine, Florida, and a wolf spider was in my bathroom shower.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Florida and seen the wolf spiders.  But, as harmless as they are, they’re BIG.  And scary looking.  I coated that thing with bug spray and it curled up in a ball the size of my fist and fell into the bathtub.  After work that day, I went in to the bathroom to clean it up and it was alive.  Holy cow, that scared me more than the movie did.  

The arachnophobia was starting to cement itself in my heart.  I tried to ignore it, but it was a losing battle.

When Gregg went to Afghanistan in 2002, we were talking on the phone one night and he mentioned something about the cobra that lived under his tent.  After growing up with the movie Rikki Tikki Tavi the thought of a cobra being under his tent was kind of freaky.  I said, “Why don’t you kill it?”  He said, “Because it eats the spiders.”  A cobra was better than a spider?  :::shudder::::

My arachnophobia was kind of solidified at that point.

I fight it.  I lived alone for about three years.  If a spider needed handling, I was the only one to handle it.  I couldn’t give into it.  So, my heart will start pounding and I’ll panic, then I’ll get a grip on the panic and move forward and force myself into action.

Since Gregg has been home, though, it’s like the phobia has taken a firmer root.  The other day, I carried my compost bowl out to the composter, dumped it, and carried it back inside.  As I set it down, a huge scary brown spider crawled out from behind it.  I hadn’t set it down outside, which meant that the spider was on that bowl the whole time I was carrying it.

In a panic, I tossed the bowl into the sink.  It landed upside down in a little bit of water.  The spider scrambled up the bowl and perched on the bottom of the bowl.  For forty-five minutes I skirted that thing.  My heart pounded.  Cold sweat broke out all over my body.  I felt that spider watching me.  Finally, in tears, I called Gregg into the kitchen and asked him to do something with it.

“It’s just a harmless garden spider, honey,” he said, “You should have called me in here.”

I tried to explain that I’d spent that time trying to get up the courage to kill it.  He said, “I’m home.  I’ll handle spiders for you.”

And then there’s my garden.  Not long ago,  I was happily following a vine of cucumbers through my tomato plants, just enjoying picking ripe cucumbers off of the vine, when I accidentally touched what I know of as a banana spider.  A banana spider, in Kentucky?  I knew of them in Florida, but I didn’t know there were any in Kentucky.  I totally panicked and didn’t go back into my garden for several days.

By the time I went back, spiders had totally taken over my tomato plants.  All different breeds and sizes.

Now, I have an organic garden.  Spiders are a good thing.  They eat the bugs that I don’t kill with chemicals.

Telling myself how good they are doesn’t really help me a whole lot.   It is a force of will for me to pick tomatoes at all.

I do it.  I can’t let the produce on forty tomato plants just rot because of a stupid phobia.

But, I’ll tell you what, it’s exhausting for me to go pick my garden.  And, I don’t think I’ve followed that cucumber vine since that day.  Which is fine – I wanted a cucumber for seed, anyway.  Which is my story that I’m sticking to.

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Would You Let Your Teen See The Hunger Games?

Yesterday, on the Focus on the Family blog, the post title was “What Do You Think About The Hunger Games?” It posed the question, “Would you permit your son or daughter to watch if they wanted to? Why – or why not?”

A couple years ago, Kaylee finished reading the Twilight series on the heels of finishing Harry Potter and C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, series. She was looking for something to read. Someone recommended The Hunger Games. When I read what it was about, I hesitated. That seemed a little bit of a dark concept for my tweeny daughter.

However, while visiting my brother and his wife last year, my sister-in-law (an avid reader) was talking to Kaylee about what she’d been reading and HIGHLY recommended The Hunger Games. Knowing she’d read it, and knowing she has high standards and wouldn’t harm Kaylee with a book recommendation, I didn’t protest when she handed Kaylee her copy of the book.

Kaylee LOVED the books. LOVED them.

I have been meaning to read them and simply haven’t had the time to sit down and read anything in the last year. But I listened to Kaylee when she told me about them and I understood the basic plot.

Here’s the basic, basic plot as broken down by Pluggedinonline:

Ever since the rebellion so many years ago, the Capitol has held an annual Reaping in Panem (a totalitarian-ruled country that’s risen out of a civil war). It’s a way to keep the dissidents in line while entertaining the “true” citizens of the Capitol. Each of the 12 districts must choose one boy and one girl “tribute” to represent them in the horrible Hunger Games. It’s a televised twist on The Running Man, Gladiator, Lord of the Flies and The Lottery that the Capitolites can’t get enough of: 24 teens enter a massive “arena”—only one exits.

They must fight to the death. For the cameras. For the country (they’re told). For celebrity. For a lifetime supply of food and privileges.

Kaylee had a birthday a couple of weeks ago, and for her party, she had five friends go with her last Friday to the opening of The Hunger Games. I took them to see it, and decided to stay and see the movie.

Katness, the main character, is a character worthy to be called a hero. She volunteers to be a tribute to save her younger, weaker sister whose name was pulled in the lottery. She has no desire to be there, and no desire to kill anyone. She tries to run, but is forced back into the play. She helps other tributes in the arena. It’s obvious she has a strong moral compass.

My daughter is 15. If she were younger — maybe even 12 — I would probably have had a harder time letting her see it. But, I have no moral dilemma in letting my 15-year-old see it. As I considered the question posed by Focus on the Family, this is what occurred to me: if the Christian community is up in arms about seeing this movie (and it seems to be split as far as I could tell reading the comments to the referenced post), why?

Consider this: If there was the tiniest thread of Christian worldview woven into the fabric of this story — just a tiny bit — something like Katness not being willing to kill another person because it’s against God’s law, or Katness being seen praying before the games begin, or any number of tiny things that would make her into a purposeful Godly character — then Christians would be clamoring to see it, would be announcing it all over the place, and would be writing long expose’s on why it’s such a wonderful moral film to see.

Yet, there is no Christian thread running through the story. However, the main character, Katness, has a strong moral code and doesn’t break it. (spoiler alert) She kills in self defense, and she kills in a mercy killing. But she avoids it at all costs and risks her own life for the sake of others.

Let’s not forget it’s a work of fiction — a story, with fictional characters set in a fictional setting. So, what do we like about stories? What attracts us to stories? First of all, that they have interesting characters in interesting situations that make us think and feel. In that regard, The Hunger Games succeeds. Take away, “should Christians watch it?” as a question and ask yourself, “Is it a good story? Are the thoughts and feeling it evokes worth exploring? When you take away the religious question, period, could this story have a good basis for teaching our children something about the secular world?”

The answer is a resounding yes.

We have very high standards for our entertainment consumption in our family. “Does it glorify God?” -OR – “Does it NOT glorify evil?” If it does not glorify God, or if it does glorify evil (and we measure evil with the Bible’s yardstick: condoning premarital sex and a host of other sexual sins, lying, stealing, murder, disrespecting parents, etc.) we do not allow it into our entertainment.

While The Hunger Games does not glorify God, in absolutely no way does it glorify evil. Quite the opposite. It takes on a voyeuristic society obsessed with a television show (reality TV, anyone — or, better yet [as I type this in Kentucky right before “The Final Four”] college sports?) and an imperialistic evil government filled with “fat cat” entitled people who fence people in “districts” and let people starve so that they’re willing to sell their names for extra chances to be pulled as “tributes” in exchange for food.

The fact is it’s a great story with interesting characters in interesting situations. I not only took my daughter to see it, I’d recommend you take your teenager to see it — and then talk about it. Incorporate YOUR Christian worldview into your conversations with your teenagers about it and use it as a teaching tool to teach Christ-centered philosophies.

I have now placed the set of books on my reading list and am really looking forward to digging into them.

How about you? Would you let your [teenager] see The Hunger Games?
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30 days of Bloggity Bloggness: Days 9

Day 9: A habit you wish you didn’t have

I hate laundry.  Hate it.  Doing it is by sheer force of will.  When I get busy, I’ll wash it, dry it, and not fold it or put it away.  Lately, I’ve been pretty busy.

The worse part is that I get stressed out when my home is not in order, and since laundry is so much on my radar, when it’s undone, I feel like my home is out of order.  SO, not doing the laundry properly causes stress.

I don’t know why I don’t just take the 5 minutes to fold the load that just got out of the dryer.  As it is, as I type this, I have about 8 loads to fold and put away.  Which means that a lot of it will need to be ironed, because they’ve been sitting in baskets all week.
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30 Days of Bloggity Bloggness: Day 8

Day 8: A place to which you’ve traveled

When I read this topic out loud to Gregg, we both immediately said, “Abu Dhabi.”

Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Gregg (who was working in Afghanistan) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  We both flew into Dubai, met at the airport, and drove to Abu Dhabi.

My brother, Jim, and his wife, Alyssa, work there part of the year during the Abu Dhabi film festival.  Gregg and I were trying to figure out where we wanted to meet, and since the festival was wrapping up and the two of them would have a little time on their hands, we thought it would be fun to go see them.

It was a really long trip to get there.  The time in the air was about 24 hours total, plus the down time in the New York and Paris airports.  It was especially long for me because I have a broken tailbone.  Right before this trip, the doctors re-x-rayed it and determined that, despite it being 2½ years since the break, the bone had not healed.  But, I face 24 hours sitting.

You can see in my luggage here that I bought 2 neck pillows.  I basically sat on two neck pillows.  That worked for about an hour at a time.  Then I would stand next to my seat and look like an idiot for about an hour, then sit back down again.  It made for a REALLY long trip.

In the end, though, it was worth it.  It had been too long since I’d last seen Gregg.

Abu Dhabi was an architecture and engineering amazement.  Everywhere you looked, buildings were being built.  Everywhere.  The leaders in the country know that one day, oil money won’t be what it is now, so they’re desperately trying to build a tourist haven so that there will be some worth to their country.  It’s smart, and a “if you build it, they will come” mentality.  Skyscrapers compete with mosques in an old world/new world kind of feel.

Here was the view from our hotel roof:

Two of the main reasons I love the Middle East is: I love coffee and they love coffee.  Coffee is extremely important to them, traditionally, and I love the formality of it.

I love Middle Eastern Food.  It is easily my favorite cuisine.  Food is a major part of their community, and everywhere you go, it’s displayed and presented in mouthwatering ways.  It’s also nice for people like Gregg and me, who follow a Levitical diet and do not eat pork.  The sausages were safe, the meat dishes were safe, and the ingredients were almost always whole and unprocessed.

While we were there, we were able to visit the Emirates Palace Hotel — which is where the film festival occurred.  My brother showed us the theater where they showed many of the films during the festival.  This hotel was absolutely breathtaking.

Gregg and I took a dinner cruise where we were able to see the shore of Abu Dhabi by night.  It was magical.  In one of the pictures you can see an Emirate male in full dress — you aren’t really supposed to take pictures of them (it’s impolite).

We did a lot of walking, eating, and site seeing.  On Thursday, we went to the Evangelical Christian Church (which I did not get a picture of somehow).

I was there for just a short week and had to return.  I would love to go back one day when they’ve finished building up the tourist resort they’re planning.

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30 Days of Bloggity Bloggness: Day 7

Day 7: Your Favorite Movie

It is impossible for me to answer this question with just one movie.  I’ve never been able to pinpoint “just one”.  I love movies.  I love really good movies with really clever dialogue and really great actors.  I love fun action movies.  I love thrillers that make you think.  I love sagas.  I love war movies.

So, here are a few that immediately came to mind and started warring with me as “favorite”:

Band of Brothers

I realize this was a television series.  But, I feel like it needs to be included in movies.  The production was incredible.  When I start watching them, I can’t stop until I’ve seen them all.


This movie superseded just average brilliance.  The acting could not be matched.  I mean, you have Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, AND Sam Elliott on one screen- how could you beat that?  The dialogue never stopped being amazing.  “I’m your Huckleberry,” will forever be recognized as a tagline from that movie.  BRILLIANT movie.  Loved it.

King Arthur

Clive Owen was a great Arthur.  I enjoyed this telling of the legend from beginning to end.  I’ve watched it several times since I saw it in the theater and love it more every time.


Likely my favorite suspense movie.  Silly, I know.  I think it comes from my enjoyment of Bill Paxton and Michael Biehn.

The Book of Eli

Denzel Washington quoting the Bible.  Enough said.

The Gospel of John

The entire book of John, verbatim.  If it’s not in the Bible, it’s not in the movie.  Henry Ian Cusick played a strong Jesus, not a “gentle-Jesus-meek-and-mild.”  The production was awesome.

Die Hard

Bruce Willis blowing up terrorists.  I’m in.

Captain America

I think this was one of the best Marvel productions to date.  I cannot wait for The Avengers to be released.

Batman Begins

Speaking of superheroes…this is my favorite Batman.  I didn’t think anyone could ever replace Michael Keaton, but Christian Bale certainly did.

The Princess Bride

I don’t know that this being included on the list requires any explanation.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

I loved this movie.  Well acted, lots of fun.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Probably my favorite action movie of all time.  Until I start thinking about it, then I think of a dozen more.  Much like what happened when I started writing this list.

Children of Men

Dark, enticing, confusing, WELL acted.  Michael Cain, Clive Owen.  Loved it.


Here’s looking at you, kid.

Did any of your favorite movies make my list?  What kind of movies do you like?
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Sapphire Ice 80% Off for a Limited Time!!!

From now until April 23rd, Sapphire Ice, Book 1 of the Jewel Trilogy, is available to you for the special introductory price of just $0.99!!  That’s 80% off of the full retail price!

On April 23rd, the e-book version will sell for the full retail price of $4.99 and I will release Emerald Fire, Book 2 of the Jewel Trilogy in e-book format.  Sapphire Ice will be available in print mid-April.

Right now you can purchase Sapphire Ice just $0.99 at Smashwords by following this link.

Read a sample of Sapphire Ice by following this link.

You can also get a copy of Sapphire Ice at Amazon by following this link.
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