Friday, July 24, 2009

arrogance and authority

1 Samuel 15:23 ~ For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

My Mom liked to quote this verse a lot growing up. Now that I'm older and watching events unfold in our country, I'm beginning to understand how vital the Judea-Christian concepts of authority and respect for God-given authority are to the well-being of a democracy. Leaders do have high standards of conduct to which they should adhere. And when they don't adhere to those standards they should be held accountable. (The above reference is actually the prophet Samuel talking to Saul, and the remainder of the verse tells him he is losing the right to be King.)
Abuse of authority is a terrible thing.
Yet too many times I see people rebelling to authority, or being stubborn about submitting to requests. I agree that there are policemen in our country who have not lived in accordance with the law and abused the authority they have. But I don't think that gives us citizens a right to rebel and be stubborn against reasonable demands and requests. Doing so not only undermines a policeman's authority, but it is blatantly rude and disrespectful.
For all the people who claim the role of victim to police power abuse, I would love to know how many of those rebelled against simple commands or requests. I can certainly understand why a person would request to see verification of a policeman's badge, but to demand to see a badge and name so you can report them to their superiors is an insult, not a right. If a policemen walked up to my house and asked me to step outside, I would be nervous and concerned, but that's not an unreasonable request.
Maybe it all goes back to Philippians 4:8 and discerning what is right and true, but if we showed the authority the respect they deserved, then they might not abuse the power they have.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

3 days and counting

Sunday afternoon we will load up and head out on a grand adventure for our 10th anniversary...WE'RE GOING TO WASHINGTON, DC!!! Bobby's actually been twice before and has toured the White House and seen a few other historic things, but he's never done it with me. :O) I'm excited about going. Thanks to Senator Burr's helpful staff, we have a scheduled tour of the Capitol Building and as of Tuesday, have been worked into a group touring the White House. I am so excited!!! There's a whole list of things we hope to do, but the only thing requiring a reserved time slot/ticket that we don't have yet is for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Once your representative's office has given out their share, everyone else must stand in line at the ticket counter (which opens 8am) for a ticket for that day only. I've seen in some tour books that tickets for the day are usually all given out by 10am. But we'll give it a try on Tuesday and Wednesday, and if it doesn't work, then it's just not meant to be. Now if I can just get all the clothes washed and ready!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

from fun to chores

Where is it along life's path that we cross the unseen line where fun activities become chores?
For example, as a small child there was nothing I liked better than to help my grandmother with the dishes. To move up from drying and putting away to the rinsing station was quite the achievement. Yet by the time I reached washing status and it became chore at home to be done three times a week, suddenly there was little about washing the dishes I liked.
There are other things I wished for and longed to to growing up, but when the time arrived, I found it wasn't as wonderful as I had thought. The activity hadn't changed, but my perception of it certainly did!
The grown-up part of me says it's because my values of time changed as well as an increase in responsibilities, but sometimes I wonder. Could it be the repetition of the task, or realization it was "work" instead of a privilege?
Which leads me to ponder whether or not we truly understand what a privilege is. Take washing dishes, again. I don't have to boil my water. I simply open the tap and out comes clean, usable, hot water. And to top it off, it goes into a sink, not a portable tub that must be hauled from place to place. Not only that, but I also have dish soap that actually bubbles and helps clean. I don't have to use just water and elbow grease. How spoiled can I be?
I'm not exactly sure why washing dishes stopped being a status to attain, but I'm thinking perhaps I need to regain that child-like mentality and get on with it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


My dearest darling received the following at work several months ago and sent it to me, wanting to know if I had written it. It does sound like me, but unfortunately I can't claim credit.

Today at my physical I inquired about some myths I've heard. And here's what the doctor had to say:
Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain...Good!
Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!! .... Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?
Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.
Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: Are you crazy? HELLO Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

a week in review

When your 5 year old niece holds your camera, you will get: self-portraits
unflattering pictures of Aunt Monica attempting to replace batteries
and pictures of her feet because "it's funny".
When your 9 yr old nephew takes pictures with your camera, you get:self-portraits pictures of his now irritated sister (but I don't WANT you to take my picture!)

and his thumb because "that's cool".

And then Aunt Monica takes the camera because we've FINALLY arrived at Hidden Valley Wonders, where I had my days mixed up and we came on the WRONG DAY, but Mrs. Dottie and her girls graciously give us the tour anway, we get the following pictures:
everybody with their favorite animals

the bunny

everyone's favorite activity (until Nicole introduced them to the spinning swing)

and one of the few games played outside of hide and seek with Uncle Bobby and foosball with Aunt Monica

and the not so loveable bunny that's been eating the cabbage in my garden...sigh

Friday, July 17, 2009

nature 2 Monica 0

My day is not going as planned.
I had some outdoor projects and yard work I needed to tackle and hoped to finish at 10:30am.
It's now 10:00am and I am on my second "break" and have been stymied TWICE.

After a minor discussion of exactly WHERE the new chicken pen is going to go, I finished placing the boards and began spray painting the lines (this was step one). I'm 3/4 finished when I look up and see a branch stuck in the upper window of the chicken house. I took one step closer and it wiggled. I scream loud and long and repetitively for Bobby, who has gone back inside to do his job's work. He doesn't hear me. I run inside and yell for him. He finally comes out, and by this time the snake is no longer in the window. I'm not adventurous enough to lift the roof side near the nesting boxes where he was, so we open the nesting pole side, and see the snake on the opposing side nestled up in the far corner. It's a young black snake (also known as rat snakes or farmer's snakes because they eat mice and other small crop predators), about 24" long and about a dime's width in diameter. Bobby thinks I should just reach in and grab him out since he's harmless, but I poke him with the hoe handle through the open roof. He slithers out the edge of the nesting box (that's how I know how long he was) and drops into a hole...UNDER THE CHICKEN HOUSE!!!! I lock the dogs up, turn the chickens out, move both house and pen, and discover this snake has a tunnel (I'm assuming). There's the hole inside, two small holes outside in the pen, and a smaller hole outside of everything.
Step two of this project is to plow the lines up (the fence has to go underground due to predators). That means at some point I have to plow across the tunnel; this does not appeal to me at all!
SO, I do what I do best. I start another project! I grabbed the hoe and started tackling weeds among the flowers and the little shed. After the second or third whack, I start hearing a buzzing, just like I did in the garden. I change locations, having had unpleasant reactions to stings before, and the noise only gets louder. I put the hoe down in hopes of spotting where the buzzing sounds originates. The noise almost immediately stops. I pick the hoe up, and nothing. I start to hoe, and it becomes even louder. I throw the hoe down, and spot two holes at various points in the handle. We most likely have carpenter bees. When I told Bobby we needed a new hoe, he told me to take it to the pond and submerge it. It should then work just fine.
For now the hoe is still on the ground in front of the shed. I might tackle the tilling next.
I won't go to the gym today.
I've had enough cardio, I think.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

the aging process

This week I had the wonderful opportunity of having my little sister and her family stay with us for most of the week. Watching my youngest niece is like pulling into the vaults of my memory and seeing glimpses of my grandmother's personality and character traits and body structure of my eldest niece, who is now in high school. We will miss her kisses, hugs, smile and questions. Another highlight from this week was getting to know my nephew's personality a little better. One of our fun activities was letting them design t-shirts for an iron-on transfer. He continuously amazed me with his sense of layout and design. Wouldn't it be cool if twenty years down the road the two of us could have our own graphic design company?
Other events from this week:
  • countless games of "chase" with Uncle Bobby
  • Carly's Toy Store
  • table football
  • Hidden Valley Wonders
  • fishing
  • the geese/dog/chicken conversations and chore time
  • meals
  • water balloons & more
  • our brief shopping trip
I don't envy their drive on the long road home, though my heart yearns to connect all those dots with each year that passes. Yes, Sweet Home Alabama wouldn't be so sweet without the many faces that make it so dear.

Monday, July 13, 2009

the fork fuss

We've traveled on an airline since 9/11 and never had a problem with Bobby's fork. (It's bent and in a special strap of velcro, leather, and/or plastic so his hand can hold it.) Yet for some reason, security at the Wake County Courthouse demands that either
a) he take it out of his pouch and leave it in his van or office, which can be an ordeal
b) they confiscate it and trash it
You know, Bobby's such a threat with a metal fork he could stab somebody or release a handcuffed prisoner or something...anyway....
While reading through security regulations for the US Capitol building, they recommend you wear/take little or no metal. Something in the guidelines from the Senator's office prompted me to respond and ask the question about whether or not he would be allowed to take his fork. She laughed and said "Yes. Is it metal?" When I responded in the affirmative, she gave me the phone number for security to call and ask them. The lady I talked to didn't know, but she patched me through to someone's voice mail. He called back, told me the Federal Courthouse wouldn't allow it, but the Capitol Building would. He laughed and said that they even allow the Congressmen to eat with silverware. BUT he did give me his personal cell phone number just in case the security guards have a problem, and we can give them the number to call him directly. He said that should get us straight through, and if not, he'll take care of it. I thought that was so cool!
And all this fuss over a Wal-mart fork that bends very easily...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I am my mother's child

My mother has a problem with cleaning. By this I mean she cleans constantly. In that regard, I take after my Dad. But there is one area of cleaning in which I take after Mom, and that is in regards to HOW we clean.

I have family coming in this week. That means the empty bedrooms which I use as "put places" are often uninhabitable prior to company coming. Or in the words of my 2nd grade niece, "Hmm, these rooms are quite messy." And so they are. Now I could easily pick stuff up, stuff stuff under the beds and into drawers, vacuum and be done. But there's something within me that rebels at that thought, because that means I will have to come back later and sort through it all, which means cleaning the room AGAIN. So I began tackling the guest bedroom last night, which I use as my sewing room. Now, keep in mind that from April-May I have frantically been quilting. Bobby stopped in a few minutes ago to see how progress was coming. When I joyfully exclaimed, "See how much I've got done" he responded with raised eyebrows "You've certainly pulled a lot of stuff out." But I can see 3/4 of the bed and floor now, and everything that's been moved is in its place, so this room will definitely be ready before bedtime tonight. The "toy room" as kids call it (Mikalai and Aleh's bedroom) won't take long to ready, and hopefully that'll be done tonight as well. The killer room is my art room. At some point within the next four years I'd love to totally overhaul that room into a studio, but for now it still has bedroom furniture crammed (and I do mean crammed) with all kinds of art supplies, Christmas decorations, portfolio pieces, etc and so on. If it weren't for the fact that my 13 yr old niece will be here with my 9 yr old nephew and 5 yr old niece, that room would have been packed up first. Yet I don't think they'll paint the walls or themselves with Ellen around, and they might actually enjoy helping pack that room up. (yeah, right!)

But seeing as they won't arrive until lunchtime tomorrow...there's still hope. Provided I don't decide to tackle the kitchen next.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Today at the church we had a tub of legos for the boys to play with. Even though this was a different set of boys from church, I was again amazed that they didn't tump the tub over so they could see all the pieces, but searched through the tub to find what they wanted. I wonder if it's simply a difference in how boys and girls play, though Bobby says most kids probably aren't as messy I was as a child.

On the way from the church to Family Fun Fest, I saw the police and thought that road was blocked so I went to the next entrance and saw it WAS blocked. So I turned on the road to the right to circle back around. The boys wanted to know what was going on, so I told them I missed the turn and we were going to circle back around. Hudson thought that was the funniest thing. He thought I should miss my turn again and turn around and again, and again, and again so we could just keep driving. He thought that would be fun. I told him it wouldn't.

After we got back to the church, the older boys (who had ridden with Bobby) told me how much they liked our van. I knew they were going to mention "the elevator" as all kids call it, and they did, but then they cracked me up by telling me how "comfy" the seats were. And after riding in Bobby's previous van that had bench seats, I agree with them.

We got lunch for everyone and headed back to the church, only to return and find it empty! The girls and their "watchers" had left! So we had 9 hot dogs & chips for 7 people, one of whom had brought a lunch. It turned out to be a good thing as one of our skinny little munchkins put away three hot dogs!!!! Bobby was teasing him that he was going to pop, and shook his head and informed us that his mother's hot dogs, which he REALLY liked, he would eat four. He then proceeded to tell us about this show he watched with his dad and how people ate four hot dogs at a time and one person ate a total of 45. He seemed to think that was pretty cool, even though it made them sick. So I told them about the Krispy Kreme run in Raleigh where students run from NC State to Krispy Kreme, eat a box of donuts, then run back. All the boys were shocked that anyone would eat a whole box of donuts, though I think the thought intrigued and horrified them as well.

It was a fun day, even if they did make Mr. Bobby tired. He should sleep well tonight.

Friday, July 10, 2009


What do you do with 12 children for 7 hours when you're not accustomed to running a daycare?

I spent an hour at the library choosing books this afternoon, I've pulled DVDs from the shelf, have the lego bin on the table ready to load, and we bought Kool-Aid Jammers and a few snacks on the way home tonight. I know the church has crayons and papers and some toys in the nursery, plus each child will be away at the Family Fun Fest for 1.5 hours, but the logistics of it all still boggle my mind a little bit. I do well with small numbers at home, but put me in a different environment with a lot of children and it makes me a little nervous. And of course, everyone has a different idea of how things should be done, which doesn't make things any easier.

Either way, Family Fun Fest 2009 we come!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

strange sounds & things

One of the hardest things about quitting my job was having to tell the people I've enjoyed working with the last three years. Had it not been the absolute peace and certainty that this was in the best of interest of our family, I don't think I could have gone through with it. And God has blessed me with great friends who have prayed with me for this last year (even though I didn't tell them what they were praying for!) that God would give me direction. A part of me dreads tomorrow as I say good-bye and pack up my office. And the craziest thing of all, is the things I thought about today that I'll miss.
  • clocking in and out - Now, I won't miss seeing how early/late I am, but MBC has a really cool machine that stamps your timecard and it makes the coolest sound. Plus I just find it gratifying to hear that "ca-chunk" every morning and afternoon. It's like a piece of you (or your time) is being encapsulated in ink and is there to be seen.
  • the large format printer - Several people have commented lately that the ink smell of the large printer bothers them. It always takes me by surprise. I seldom smell it. I don't know if I've just grown accustomed to its wet ink/new plastic smell, or if my sniffer just doesn't work right. But I will miss it's quiet hum as it kicks into gear moving the paper and then it's "eeeeeerrrrrrrr" as it scans across the roll. It's like listening to a non-deafening airplane take off.
  • Duplexed card-stock on the color printer...Can you tell I like rhythmic things? There's something satisfying about hearing the "thunk, thunk" of the paper as it changes roller to roller and then to the catch tray. Maybe I like it because another project is close to be highlighted on my to do list. Either way, this is one of my favorite parts about a project...the almost finished project!
  • Linda coworker is the prototype for the energizer bunny. She exhales often, and sometimes I can almost see her letting off steam like the locomotive she imitates.
  • Keith singing his wacky songs while he cleans.

I'm sure there's many other things I'll miss as the days go on, but these are the sounds I seem to hear the most often. Yet as much as I like and will miss them, I don't think I'll take a tape recorder to work tomorrow.

Monday, July 6, 2009

points to ponder

If you walk .6 of a mile on slow speed on a treadmill you will burn off 1/2 of chocolate chip cookie.
If you exercise at a very slow pace for 40 minutes you will be VERY tired and go home and take a nap.
If you drink a 20oz Dr. Pepper at the beginning of your work day the caffeine (or is it the carbon or the acid?) will make your tongue tingle and give your day a temporary boost. Or at least make your hands a little shaky.
If you try out this elipta-something machine (think a mutation of a treadmill, a stairclimber, and a bicycle), your heart will elevate nicely and after 3 minutes your leg muscles will burn.
If I ever get in shape and lose my weight I might also lose some of my sanity and walk an extra mile or two like my mother-in-law and sister-in-law just so I can eat some chocolate. (yes, I'm smirking as I type that)
If I make it to the gym BEFORE work tomorrow, will my muscles get my up the parking lot hill at work and into my office?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

the big day

The 4th of July is one of those holidays when the Guyton clan assembles for food and fun. The men grill outside while the ladies prepare foods inside. The few times when relatives had a pond or lived on the lake, we always congregated there for swimming, one hour after you eat, of course.

When I was about five or six my Dad bought an electric ice cream maker. (Home made ice-cream was always the late afternoon treat.) I remember that summer specifically, as Uncle Tom has his hand crank machine. My cousin Niki, who is my age, stood in front of her Dad and I stood in front of my Dad and we cheered for our Dad's machines like there was no tomorrow. Uncle Tom was determined that "new-fangled" machine wasn't going to beat him and worked up quite a sweat (which he would have done anyway as hot as it was). The electric machine quit first, but Uncle Tom stopped right afterwards, and his ice cream was done, too! It's strange the things we got fired up about as children. (Bobby claims that's cheating. If you don't get at least one blister making home-made ice cream then it doesn't count as home-made!)

One of the hardest things I had to adjust to in NC was the lack of fireworks here. Our family always set off fireworks for the 4th. That tradition died off somewhat after Uncle Tom died, but I miss it. I guess that's one of the reasons I enjoy all the towns around here setting off fireworks. I'm too old for sparklers, was never overly crazy about battle rockets, but I do miss getting to examine the remains of blown up fire-ant mounds (courtesy of my brother and cousin's escapades with a long string of firecrackers). I guess that part of me hasn't grown up.

In honor of Bobby's family traditions we had hot dogs with NC chili and made slaw for his hot dog. I won't make home-made ice cream though. Even with an electric machine, it still seems like a lot of work for just two people. I guess that's how traditions die or change.

Friday, July 3, 2009

clothes, or lack thereof

Today I foraged my way into a section of Target I have never been before: the rows of exercise clothes. I was in search of a simple pair of loose-fitting shorts and a loose fitting t-shirt. Yoga-style pants would have been fine. I wasn't overly surprised to find most aisles had nothing in my size. That's not uncommon. What did shock me was the one style of pants/capris that had my size was labeled: FITTED. Below the waist, figure hugging, form fitting. Um, did ANYONE at that manufacturing company stop to think what someone my size would look like wearing that?! Granted, I didn't bother looking at the sizes on all the short shorts because you wouldn't catch me dead wearing a pair of those. I never did as a child, and I'm certainly not about to know.

If I were interested in starting a business, I would go into the business of sports/fitness clothes for fat people. Think about it...if anybody needs to exercise or lose weight, it's people like me. But everything you read tells you to wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothes. Um...I hate to tell the creators of all those exercise videos and such, but such a thing doesn't exist for fat people. All these cutesie fitness tops with the cropped sleeves are a nightmare for people with big arms. And what person in their right mind would wear one of those slanky outfits that consists of a tank top and tube pants when they're overweight?

So I looked around, and then returned to gathering the items I was there to get. Maybe I'll have time to visit Sears, but I'm not holding my breath for better results.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

circling questions

Last night in our mid-week Bible study Pastor Mike used a reference verse that always bugged me when I was a child. The verse goes something like "Honor your father and mother and you'll live a long time." (yes, I know that's a far cry from a direct quote, but that's the gist of the passage.)

That verse always put me in a quandary. I wanted to honor my parents and follow God's command, but I did NOT want to live a long time. Our church was blessed by a multitude of old people, and a good chunk of the visiting we did was to elderly widows whose children lived far away. Living to be old never appealed to me in the least. I always debated whether or not I should disobey Mom and Dad every once in a while so my life wouldn't be as long as I feared it might be.

After church I was sharing those thoughts with someone who has also wondered about those verses, and they came to this conclusion: to not want to live a long time is to essentially tell God we neither appreciate nor care about the very life he has given us. I had never thought about it in those terms. When I think of old age I think of limited mobility, loneliness, pain, lack of independence, sadness, confusion, entrapment, and fear. In my depraved mind, I don't think of old age as glorious or wonderful or as a gift. And yet, isn't that what it is? Or is it? I think old age in its original form might not be so bad, but in our broken world it seems harsh. And yet there are young people who have a harsh life.

sigh...the breath of sounds like circular reasoning to say it is a gift, and you want to obey God to make the gift last longer, but you also won't the gift to end so you can be reunited with its this what James is talking about when he says a double minded man is unstable in all his ways?