el's rabbit trails, family life, Homemaking stuff, just for fun, wife stuff

Friday Frivolities 13: Random moments from the sahm scene.

File this one under “things that made me go hmmm”.

The last ironer in America?

Last week the kids and I were running late getting to “school” so I picked out a no-iron skirt, tank top, and fitted cardigan. Specifically because I didn’t have time to iron. Every where I turned, someone would compliment me, “You look pretty today.” I suspect it’s because the skirt was red. Kinda hard not to notice.

As a few of us were in the kitchen getting coffee (the school building is so quite cold), a few more mothers complimented me, so I said, “And I just grabbed the first thing I could find that I didn’t need to iron.” From there we were off to the races:

“You iron? I can’t remember the last time I ironed!” “I didn’t know anyone ironed anymore!” Several other women shared with me their tips for doing laundry in a way that keeps them from ever having to iron.

Thing is, I iron almost every day, because my husband’s shirts need to look more professional than they can from dryer heat. But my girls all iron their colthes every day -or every other day- also. It left me wondering: “Are we the last ironers in America?” Please, say it ain’t so.

Even with 4 “chefs” in the house, I still cook.

At church one night this week (it was a night the ministry we volunteer in meets to do our work), a woman asked me a question: “I heard your girls can cook. Since they are still at home, that means you hardly ever have to cook, right?’

“Well”, I told her, “not exactly. I actually still cook quite a bit. I get a couple of nights a week off, but I still cook 4-5 days a week. My husband will eat their cooking (he even likes it most of the time), but he prefers mine, and he doesn’t think it’s a good idea for me to get out of practice.”

She actually concurred with that line of thought, unlike many other women would. But then, she was older. Which brings me to my last unimportant but tangentially related point.

Culinary discretion

Yesterday morning when SAM was leaving for work, he opened his bag, tossed a container with a piece of cake in it on the counter and said to me:

“Toss that out, will you? I keep telling them I don’t eat just anybody’s cooking and they still insist on bringing stuff in for me to taste. I didn’t have time to go through the spiel yesterday, so I just took the cake from her. I guess they figure if they keep trying, I’ll eventually eat something.”

My husband is pickier than most about his food, but he’s not the only person I’ve encountered who is wary of taking food from just anybody. I know a woman who decided from a person’s cleanliness habits at work that she would likely never eat anything she brings in.

I’m wondering what others’ thoughts are on that.

Have a great weekend.

 

 

 

 

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Beauty, el's rabbit trails, just for fun

Friday Frivolities 10: Fashion Stuff

I’m fairly certain that fashion -in the traditional sense- isn’t really frivolous. It has always been that how we present ourselves to others sends a message, else Paul wouldn’t have bothered to address women directly about the way we present ourselves to the world. Additionally, we all understand intuitively the power of dressing for the job we want, the respect we want, the mate we want, etc.

In the grand scheme of  things however, and given the bleak state of the world and culture we live in, fashion conversation may seem frivolous. That is, until we stop to consider that life goes on and we still have to go out into the world and do the day to day things we need to in order to meet the needs of our families. My man has strong opinions about m appearance as well. To that end then, a frivolous fashion post!

~Our kids started school* this week. It isn’t school in the traditional sense, since we are still at home, homeschooling three full days a week, but it was certainly  new experience for them. One of the novelties was having to abide by a fairly strict dress code, one which I am certain I’d have trouble filling for them if they were at school five days a week. It is a good thing, however, when I contrast it to the lax standards we’ve expereinced in other supplental homeschool settings. It is as follows:

  • Shoulders covered, no tank tops. or sundresses without cardigans.
  • No shorts for anyone middle school and up and for elementary school students, they must be at least knee length.
  • All dresses and skirts must cover the knees when seated
  • No cleavage visible when females bend over
  • All boys shorts must have collars
  • Jeans -if worn at all-must be neat, with no frays or rips, and worn with a belt.
  • Parents are subject to the same dress code as students when on campus.

Our 9-year-old, being elementary aged, has more freedom than the 11-year-old, who complained at first. When you spend most of your time in a relaxed, casual home atrmosphere, your definiton of comfortable clothes is the standard fare (particularly in Florida): Shorts, tank tops, jeans, t-shirts, sandals. They enjoy the educational experience so much however,  that they are less bothered about having to get dressed on a day besides Sunday.

~Hearth shared a really great article with me about fashion color choices for women of darker hues. It’s no secret that black/brown women have a lot more leeway with regard to the colors we look good in, but it doesn’t mean that we look good in every color and a few tweaks here and can make a big difference.

I was fairly unfamiliar with the idea of deeper value and contrast, so I learn a lot about fashion and color from my interactions with Hearth. Have I ever mentioned here that she has written a book on the subject of women’s fashion and how to do it right? Well, she has, and you can find access to it here on the review I wrote for it when she published last year.

~One of my fashion challenges is variety. Generally, I wear almost any color that strikes my fancy, but when I know I look good in a particular color, I can overwork that color in my wardrobe. A couple of years ago, it was deep orange. I still wear that on occasion, but more recently, I’ve heavily leaned on navy blues.

*With this dress, which one of our daughters gave me as a gift from Unique Vintage, I added red accents (shoes as well as the cami) to cover the base of the very low neckline.My makeup looks like it’s melting because it was nearly 100 degrees that day, two weeks ago. It’s just one in a long line of pieces purchased in various shades of navy blue. It doesn’t hurt that my husband really likes me in the color as well, but I need to mix it up. My wardrobe is starting to bore me.

~Lastly, I stumbled on a product that has caused me -yet again- to change my favorite hair product line. Given that this especially marketed to those of us with thick, curly hair, it’s not for everybody. It’s relatively expensive also, but I have a permission, a directive even, to spend a few extra bucks if needed to look good. I also like their mimosa hair honey hair for the scent as much as the shine effect.

*There will no doubt be plenty of classical education and literature comentary at The Reading Room. I am learning as much as our kids, and loving every word of it!

.

 

black in a multi-culti world, How to pick a guy, Humility is important, just for fun, real living in a virtual world

Friday Frivolities 8 : Slow to speak edition

I haven’t offered a lot of commentary lately as I’m making a point of listening more than “speaking”. Besides reading a lot of books on various topics, I’ve also listened to some interesting talks from those with much more flare and articulation than I can muster. I thought I’d share a few for my Friday Frivolities post.

Our girls are not terribly active on social media, but they do follow young Christian women who, like them, are bucking the cultural trend by saving sex for marriage and chronicling the challenges that come with it. In this TED talk Yvonne Orji, a successful actress and 33-year-old Christian virgin, relates her journey:

 

Next up, John Crist offers a very funny stand up act about kids these days:

This one sparked lots of thoughts about the difference in how kids are raised with each successive generation. When I was a kid, if we did our chores and homework, we basically ran wild until the street lights came on. Besides dinner conversation, Sundays at Ponderosa, and the occasional day trip to local attractions, our parents felt little compulsion to spend oodles of time watching over and playing with us.

With our older kids,  other neighborhood kids were there to run around with after school. There was a homeschool family whose house was at the corner of our block, and nearly every afternoon around 1 PM, little Luke would knock on our door and ask, “Can the girls come out?” and I would remind him that because they went to school, they wouldn’t be home until 3. After homework, they ran around with those kids as well as other kids from the neighborhood. I spent most of my quality time with them either reading to them or in the kitchen. They played more with their dad, but most of their play time was with other kids.

We still have two younger children and live in the same house as we did with the older three. If Halloween is any indication, there are still plenty of children in this neighborhood. However, if it’s not Halloween, you don’t them. This has increased the burden on parents to provide entertainment and/or play dates.  I think this makes for a generation of less adaptable kids from what I can tell, and that includes mine, despite the fact that they were born to two tough as nails, passionate, opinionated parents.  Moving on…

Pick  all the nits with me in this next one, LOL I may offer my thoughts in the comments but I’d rather first hear what you guys take away from this:

 

This next one is a TED talk by Sarah Knight that I have wrestled with sharing because she uses less than ladylike language. Very less in fact, but when a friend shared it with me it was a light bulb moment, and here’s why.

One of things that hinders us -or me at least- attending with intention to the things that we truly DO care about, is the fact that we offer too much of our time, energy, and in many cases money, to things that, if we stop to think about them, don’t matter to us in the grand scheme of things.

Some people avoid doing the wrong things by focusing hard on the right things. I wish I was one of those people. I need to first take inventory of what to discard, and with the newly cleared space (mental and emotional as well as physical), the things I want to give full intention to have room to flourish and I have fertile soil in which to grow. In other words, when I wasn’t giving my intention to the wrong things, my mind was free to focus on the true, the lovely, the noble, and things of good report.

Anyway, here’s the TED talk, but be warned that she uses the f-word, and repeatedly so. If you’re inclined to clutch your pearls, please just skip it:

*I know ZERO about Sarah Knight or hew views on anything other than this video, nor do I particularly care.

In the spirit of Sarah Knight’s talk, I also saw this post from a fellow bibliophile about the hazards of conflating social media acquaintance with real connections:

The Only People Who Care About You are Your Family- and if you’re lucky- a Friend or Two.

When I lost my father 18 months ago, two Internet friends whom I’ve never met -possibly three in fact as one was anonymous- sent flowers. That meant a great deal, so I won’t summarily dismiss every virtual acquaintance out of hand. However, I would dismiss the lion’s share and Major Styles hits some major points here worth considering. I think it’s something millennials in particular should be wary of.

Edited to add: I forgot to add this video Hearth made me aware of about the decline of religion in the modern West, and why its comeback is a long shot at best. As much as it pains me, I actually agree with this man. I don’t think the Bible’s prophetic trajectory offers a lot of hope for mass genuine revival in the West or anywhere else for that matter. We are to be about reaching souls, not salvaging a culture:

Lastly, but certainly not least by any stretch, is this sermon from Voddie Baucham. In it he reminds us of something powerful about the story of Noah and the Flood and it’s this:

In the flood (an awful display of God’s wrath, quiet as that’s kept), we tend to see ourselves from the perspective of Noah and his family. Bro. Baucham wonders if it occurs to any that plenty -most even!- of the people who drowned in that terrific judgement were not murderers, drunkards, or adulteresses. They were people like you and me, living normal lives and committing “run of the mill” sins.

I love Voddie Baucham’s sermons because they offer me the opportunity to express more gratitude for God’s astonishing grace, and a nice strong vaccination against smug self-righteousness.

Y’all really should really give it a listen.   I can’t think of a better way to set our hearts aright as we prepare for the Sabbath day.

Have a great weekend!

el's rabbit trails, just for fun, real living in a virtual world

Internal robo-responses

Respond-with-message-300x233

A running joke started here recently with regard to robo-messages. You know them, the instant message responses on your phone that you send when you can’t answer someone’s call at that moment:

  • Call you back in 15 minutes
  • Can’t talk, text me
  • What’s up?
  • Driving, call you right back
  • In meeting
  • Running late- be there soon
  • Sorry, I’m on a call right now
  • Send me an email

I have two personalized ones on my phone:

  • Homeschool in session, will call back at lunch.
  • In class- teaching

It just occurred to me that it is more distracting and requires more effort to push that message to someone while you’re driving than it would take to just answer the phone. That one is not a good idea. At all.

 

As is often the case when something hits the forefront of my thinking, the running joke has sparked a tip toe through the tulips of random thoughts. Specifically, the things that pop into my head when I get a call or a message from people in particular:

  • Oh, gosh. What’s wrong now?
  • She always makes me laugh
  • Hope my brother’s daily verse is a good one (as if there is a BAD Bible verse)
  • Please Lord, don’t let them have been in an accident
  • I do NOT feel like hearing about her drama of the week.
  • Whatever else this might be, it won’t be boring…
  • She always encourages me
  • Let me get prayed up before I call back.

In other words, I have a real problem with attaching assumptions to people and while I’m blessed that my internal robo message is as likely to be good or neutral as it is bad, I should work on jumping to conclusions.

There have been times when I was dead wrong.

Tell the truth. You have robo-thoughts/messages too. I know you do.

 

Beauty, el's rabbit trails, just for fun, wife stuff

Friday Frivolities 5: A hair raising edition

This is a hair raising edition because I’ve been thinking a lot about my hair this week. It’s not all I’ve been thinking about, of course, but it occupied more mental space than usual.

~It started last weekend when an older male relative asked my husband why- given his relative “youth”- he won’t dye his hair or beard. He has a fair amount of visible gray. He said no. The hair grows back too quickly, making it a frequent endeavor, and a waste of time. Most importantly, he’s fine with his gray hair.

The man countered that it just helps make a guy more attractive, no different from what a woman does when she wears a little blush to spruce up. My husband replied, “That is exactly my point. ” His pithy end of the dialog made me laugh but also made me think.

I’m thinking a bit about my own gray strands, which I usually color every 6-8 weeks for the express purpose of covering the gray strands peeking out in front. I’ve pondered it for a while now, even reviewing a book on the topic. Lately, I’ve been going longer between colorings because it does take time I need to spend on other things.

I almost never get around to coloring without going at least a couple of weeks with my visibly gray strands, which kinds of defeats the point of coloring in the first place, no? That’s an awkward angle, but the point is the gray hairs, not my big eyes. I couldn’t figure out how to do one and not the other without an even weirder picture.

Some days, I don’t mind them. It’s only a little, and only visible when I wear my hair pulled back, such as it is now. Other days it bothers me and it’s those days I find myself getting the color in. It’s funny the things we lament that previous generations of women never thought about. I just don’t want to find myself at 65 or 70 with a full head of black hair thinking I’m fooling anyone. 25 years seems like a long time from now but time passes quickly.

~This next bit is about growth of another sort: Veggies! I may not the worst gardener who ever planted a bed, but I am no doubt in the lower 50th percentile. Nevertheless, and with a lot of helpful tips and reminders from the man, I have been able to grow and harvest some good looking vegetables so far this summer. Here is yesterday’s take:

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Two eggplants, and three tomatoes. I didn’t have eggplant Parmesan on my menu for this week, but I may have to consider a menu change.

~My word for the summer is “productive”. As much as we’re told about wife and motherhood being hard jobs, for me the reality is that a plan and a some focus can do wonders.

**Caveat: I am NOT referring to mothers of babies and preschoolers here. My “baby” is 9.**

The challenge, or at least my challenge, has been to resist the temptation to coast, doing what I need to get by (“good enough is good enough”) without stretching myself in ways that will force me to grow.

With that as my focus, it’s been remarkable that I have done twice as much around the house and errands, taken naps and walks when I need them, did some things to stretch and challenge myself and still indulge in occasional 30-45 minute time “wasters” such as writing this post*. It’s been a good season.

~Lastly, I mentioned a while ago that I was reading up on how to start my own SCOBY to make kombucha at home. It turns out that this was not as easy as The Kitchn made it appear to be. The main problem was finding a pure, unflavored bottle of kombucha to use as a starter. I went to every natural food market I could think of in our area and not one had a kombucha that was unflavored.

Fortunately for me, I have the hookup with good friends who are into this kind of thing and one of them gave me a SCOBY, which has brewed enough kombucha to make another SCOBY. So I have the makings of a SCOBY hotel on my hands. Problem is, everyone in my house thinks it looks disgusting:

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The brew still tastes good, and it’s good for me, too.

Have a great weekend!

*I don’t really believe that writing this post was a waste of time.
cultural absurdity, just for fun, Living with other believers, real living in a virtual world

The bliss of ignorance in a world of pots projecting and kettles kvetching.

This is a reboot of the conversation on faith that wrestles. The first post is here.

Projection is as much a part of being human as breathing. We all do it, since we cannot help viewing things through the lens of our experiences. However, as we grow up, and particularly as we grow spiritually the desire, followed by the skill to temper that impulse, should grow as well.

This culture however, offers us every opportunity to spend our entire lives projecting our issues onto other people, judging, and engaging in smug, self-righteous finger pointing while neglecting to confront sin in our own lives. The Internet exacerbates this tendency for obvious reasons. I don’t want to park here yet, although I will return to this point. When our older girls were young I told them often:

“Respect others’ right to be different from you.”

General principles of right and wrong are one thing. Expecting that to translate into the same look for others as it does for you means you’ve overstepped your boundaries. To the extent that you need to pick someone apart over the insignificant, it reveals discomfort with yourself, your choices, and your life, regardless of claims to the contrary..

With our younger children I find a different lesson emerging more often and it’s very helpful that it can be quoted verbatim from the pages of Scripture. Paul admonishes those who judge others for the very things that they themselves do:

in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.  And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things.  But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?

To use a well known colloquialism: The pot calling the kettle black may annoy me, but more than that, it annoys God.

I also recently reminded them how strongly God hates our complaining, using Numbers 21 as an example. We err when we presume upon the grace we have been freely given and use it as an excuse to live a life without intention, ignoring the “minute” sins we engage in daily. Sins which we condemn in others and yet excuse in ourselves. Everywhere you look, listen and read, our culture is full of this. Complaining is the most ubiquitous.

Women complain about men complaining about women. Men complain about women who complain about men. Whites complain about blacks who complain about whites while both complain about Hispanics. Democrats complain about Republicans complaining about Democrats. Communists and Alternative Righters complain about them both. News articles and programs are speculation masquerading as facts. OpEds are mistaken for news, and we are constantly invited to point and stare at personal train wrecks made news which in years’ past we were able to live blissfully unaware.

Whole forums and platforms are chiefly dedicated to picking apart and condemning others for their views, lifestyles and choices. On and on they go. The most ironic and catchy title is one called ‘Get Off My Internets.” Christians, who should know better, have increasingly joined the fray.

I’ve made a pretty big push over the last couple of months to eliminate these kinds of things from my life, but as I noted before, old habits die hard, and it’s very hard to un-know something once you know it. None of this is to say that it is wrong to commiserate online or offer commentary on controversial topics. I have no intention of fully withdrawing.

It is, however, becoming increasingly obvious to me how much happier are the people who live blissfully ignorant; not only of news which they can do nothing about, but without a care in the world with regard to anyone but Christ’s opinion -along with those they are truly accountable to- about what they do, what they think, and how or whether they express it.

It’s one thing to understand clearly and without wavering that stealing is wrong, that lying is wrong, that divorce is bad, or that murder is evil. It’s also wise to be willing to acknowledge that not all choices are equal regardless of circumstance. These are things that we should encourage one another in so that we all come to a fuller measure of faith. Too often however, we use the worldly maxim “public knowledge means fair game” to allow ourselves a wide berth in condemning others without ever once stopping to consider how we might feel if we were in their shoes.

All of this points to something we neglect to consider. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so too do our spirits. Absent the spiritual sustenance we need to think on the Beautiful, the intellectual stimulation we need to think on the True, and physical challenge required to keep us actively productive, we’re left with nothing more than spiritual death, mental junk, and physical atrophy.

This approach to life outside of eternal matters and minding our own business is greatly underrated:

don't know don't care

 

Beauty, black in a multi-culti world, Homemaking stuff, just for fun

Friday Frivolities 4: Fashion, funnies, and furniture notes.

It’s been a very rainy week and as such we’ve been indoors a lot, with exceptions for a couple of trips to our local library which has amazing activities, events, and classes to beat the dog days of summer doldrums in our city. Even if it wasn’t raining all week, it would be a sweltering sauna all day, followed by a hand swatting mosquito farm at night. Such as summertime in a tropical climate. We’ve made good use of the time though.

The life changing magic of tidying up rather than reorganizing old, useless stuff:

We’re doing some much needed redecorating and painting of the interior of several room in our house which offered the perfect opportunity for some much needed purging.  I have been following along as Annasach documents her adventures in minimizing her spaces, and I found it rather inspiring as well.

Our children have faced this purging of their things with mixed results, but when their room is restocked, it should be much easier for them to keep clean when there is less junk in there to contend with.

They don’t make things like they used to:

The man and I recently shopped for living room furniture. After visiting every major store in our area, I narrowed down what I liked best; a sectional which easily seats the seven of us plus one more person and an oversized matching ottoman.

Before finalizing the order and ponying up the cash, we did some research: reviews, etc. We couldn’t find anything about the particular furniture I’d chosen, (new release), but we found plenty of negative reviews about the company I’d chosen to buy the furniture from.

Before I panicked and headed back to the drawing board -since I really liked what I’d chosen- we decided to check consumer websites for reviews of every major furniture store in our metro area. After all, people usually on put their thoughts on record when they are disgruntled  rather than pleased and the company I was ordering from is pretty big.

I included stores known for producing high quality furniture as well, since I was prepared to get what I paid for and shell out more cash for better pieces which will last many years. I am glad I decided to do that, because the results were telling.

Even among companies such as Ethan Allen and Thomasville furnishings, it was easy to find numerous complaints of workmanship, service, delivery times, etc. While that was a little bit discouraging, it did settle me down about the choice of furniture I had settled on since there was clearly no guarantee that going with another company, and buying something I didn’t like as much (I’d already been to all of them anyway) was necessarily going to yield better results. Bottom line is that they just don’t make things like they used to and all the stuff is probably being made by the same company anyway. Just another one of those little things that you miss from yesteryear.

Feminine fashion and perception:

Every couple of months or so I click over and see what interesting stuff has been presented at the website Beyond Black and White. I have a whole lot of opinions and thoughts about their overall agenda (some favorable, some not), but one thing I appreciate is the blog hostess’ push to encourage black women to embrace a more feminine attitude and persona.

Recently she discovered the lure of the pinup girl look after seeing a lot of women dressed in vintage wear while on vacation. She decided to try the look and was amazed at the reaction she got from people. People were suddenly drawn to her, and she the only thing she’d done differently was girl up her look. A lot.

I liked the post because we have known about models like Angelique Noire, the black pinup for a few years, and I wrote before that one of our daughters is very drawn to the highly feminine vintage clothing look.

In reality, it’s not just black women who could use some girlying up. Women as a whole have lost touch with the innate desire to embrace and be beautiful, but black women do have a steeper curve when it comes to the perception of femininity, which is one of the things I do agree with Mrs. Karazin about.

Friday funnies:

I am not, I repeat NOT like the parody Kyle Exum masterfully presents here in his “Mom Rap”. However, our 10-year-old says that there are a few lines in this funny video that for sure remind her of me. It is very funny, so enjoy, the Mom Rap:

 

And enjoy your weekend!