Saturday, October 30, 2010

What I loved about Philly

Things I loved about Philadelphia:

#7 - Alone time

A lot of people asked me what I was going to do all day while Eric was in meetings. I basically said "oh, don't worry about me." Sit me in a dark corner all by myself in complete silence and I would be happy. I'm pretty good at entertaining myself these days.  I crave being alone.  I read a few books, did some shopping, hung out at Borders with books and my laptop, spent some time alone with my thoughts and the Lord praying about life....pure bliss.

#6 - A Renewed Romance

This was as close as I could come to a "romantic" husband wasn't so cooperative taking pictures

#5 - The opportunities

The minute to win it auditions were in our hotel!  I was so excited but by the time we got a chance to go the room was totally cleared out...not even one person to beg for an audition.  No 15 minutes of fame this time.

#4 - The Shopping

H & M is my favorite store to shop while in the big city
Bought a pair of painted on skinny jeans...never say never.
More on fashion in Philly later...

#3 - The History

Took a walking tour around the city - love the outfits!

Couldn't help but think my dad would have totally loved to do this! We got to see where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Betsy Ross lived. And lots of cool things in between that my inner nerd enjoyed! 

#2 - Bruce Jenner

We got to hear a motivational speech by Bruce Jenner as part of the conference.  After he won the decathlon in the 1976 Olympics, he became known as the world's greatest athlete. I have to admit I didn't know who he was until a couple of years ago when I was watching Keeping up with the Kardashians at home and my dad walked by and said "hey that's Bruce Jenner!" I was a little skeptical coming in because when it came to Bruce all I had to go off of was Keeping up with the Kardashians. In what I've seen of that show, he is steamrolled - to say the least - by his wife and daughters, kind of leaving him as this fragment of a man. A man who is given no respect and is left out of major family decisions. 

But from the moment he opened his mouth I was captivated. He gave an account of his track career leading up to the Olympics and used this quote as the basis for his entire speech:

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." 
~ Theodore Roosevelt 

His work ethic and sheer determination to succeed was mind blowing. I found myself wondering if his wife and daughters have ever heard him speak. I'd venture to say that there wasn't 1 person in the room full of 500 that didn't leave that place feeling the utmost respect for Bruce Jenner and what he's accomplished in his life.

We were supposed to apply this determination to the business of Pharmacy :).

#1 - Why....the Philly cheese steak of course!

This was the place to go to get the best Philly cheese steak ever.  We waited in line an hour but it was oh so worth it. One of my sister's friends used to live in Philadelphia and he said to say "wit" when we went in to Jim's. When I questioned what exactly "wit" meant. He said they are going to ask if you want your Philly "wit or witout" cheez whiz so be sure to say "wit."  I said "wit"..... and now you know the secret to the best Philly cheese steak in town!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The City of Brotherly Love

Eric had a business conference in downtown Philadelphia last week. So, being the supportive business wife that I am, it was absolutely necessary for me to go along. (I only had to ask him once if I could come along and thank God he said yes). We dropped the kids off at my mom and dad's and didn't look back.

Today I'll tell you about a few unpleasant things about the City of Brotherly Love but I promise to tell you what I loved about it in the next few days.

My first couple days in Philly I totally feared for my life.
The plane ride - cake.
The taxi ride to the hotel - a near death experience.  Unpleasantry #1.

Who knew you could pay by credit card for a taxi ride these days?  Poor Dave Ramsey - he's fighting a losing battle!

Unpleasantry #2.
We walked around downtown on the first night we got to Philly. I was totally unprepared for the amount of homeless people begging for handouts.  This kind of thing always freaks me out.  I felt like any moment someone was going to pull a gun on me if I didn't give them my spare change. One guy with crazy eyes (pretty sure he was higher than the clouds) asked us for $2.80 to get home.  Hmmm...$2.80 to get home?  The cab fares must be cheap around here.  After we passed him up on his request he followed us down the street with an impressive string of four letter words. I almost peed my pants.  I think I've been in small town America too long - either that or I've watched one too many crime dramas.

During our whole trip these people were on my heart.  I hated how everyone just walked by them and seemed completely nonchalant about their hopelessness as if they were just a part of the scenery. I was torn between wanting to give them my spare change but also knowing how it was going to be used. I couldn't help but think that we have present day beggars and I have not a clue how to deal with them. We really felt the need to help them in some way, so we talked about whether we should just give them some change or bring them some food.

"Don't give them money" the locals would say, "they just want drugs." The downtown business employees often watch out their windows when tourists give the homeless people food and when the "do gooder" disappears the food gets thrown in the garbage. They explained that some of the "homeless" even have homes in the suburbs and just come to see how much money they can get from the tourists. After hearing this, we decided not to do anything.  But that lasted about as long as walking by the next "homeless" person we saw.  How can you walk by a beggar and not have your soul bleed a little bit?  Eric and I just made the decision to give them our change and if they chose to use it in a destructive matter then that's out of our hands. Don't know if this is a right or wrong approach...and I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject!

Unpleasantry #3
The dining out is something I always look forward to in a new city.  Not so much here. We went to the Hard Rock Cafe first.  Check out the menu. 

This was my first experience with calories printed right on the menus.
My opinion - ignorance is most definitely bliss!
There were only 2 entrees with 800 calories, the rest were well above 1000.
Every restaurant was like this, even the fast food.  But, I will say, I didn't regret ANY of the 1000 calorie meals I consumed.

As if this promise to clog your arteries wasn't enough to ruin my dinner experience at Hard Rock, look at the company that surrounded us.  Yes, they are ALL kids. The place was packed with 100+ kids on a field trip.

At one point they got up and sang the YMCA song at the highest of decibels. This was closely followed by the bunny hop - complete with holding onto each others waists and circling around all the tables while singing Will Smith's "Gettin Giggy with it". The old Tami reemerged - the one who hates kids. I found out that when I'm on break from my kids, I want to be on a break from ALL kids. As they were bunny hopping by our table the thought crossed my mind to trip the front kid in the line and watch the domino effect but, you'll be happy to know, I have grown up since college.

I promise a tomorrow full of pleasantries!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ode to Naptime

After patience has run out
And all I can do is shout
Thank God for naptime

After a morning full of business
Keeping up with the craziness
Thank God for naptime

After all the questions and demands
And all the touching little hands
Thank God for naptime

An ode for time to regroup
An ode for not thinking about poop
An ode for naptime

After that last door shuts
I put my feet up
Thank God for naptime

After I hear no more cries
I can rest my eyes
Thank God for naptime

After I have time for myself
I can again deal with what life has dealt
Thank God for naptime

An ode to freedom
An ode to get my read on

An ode to quiet
An ode for time to obliterate my diet
An ode to naptime

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Does This Make Me Crazy?

I was watching Oprah last night and there were people on the show that do weird things and they were wondering if there are others out there that do the same things. For example, there was a married couple who sleeps in separate beds because "it works for them." I so don't agree with this logic, but there was a lady on the show I could totally relate to - the naked cleaner. Before you freak out, I don't clean naked. But I totally get why she does. As she does laundry she takes off the outfit she has on and puts it in the wash so she doesn't have one dirty outfit in the house and then she cleans the whole house while naked. I get it. A perfectly cleaned house with every stitch of your laundry done up. There is no better feeling.

You see I'm very much a perfectionist who likes things done a certain way and done right - borderline OCD you could probably say. I have my days planned out. I always know what to expect, what comes next. This is how I plan out my house keeping schedule...because you don't even want to know how detailed I run the rest of my life:

Sunday - plan my meals for the week and write out my grocery list

Monday - grocery shop and recover the house from having hubs home on the weekend :)

Tuesday - laundry: sheets and towels

Wednesday - laundry: Eric's and my clothes

Thursday - laundry: girl's clothes and bedding; clean bathrooms, swiffer my floors

Friday - clean rest of house and vacuum (about every other week I clean the basement and I deep clean the whole house: dusting and scrubbing things till they shine)

Don't worry if you come for a visit during the day my house isn't spotless, but if you come at night...yep.  I can't go to bed without my house picked up. Meanwhile, throughout the week, I keep lists of what I need. We are never out of things. I have back up's for my back up's.

When I explained my weirdness to my mom a few years back she said, "them kids will take that right outta ya" as she pointed to my 2 year old and sleeping infant.  (My mom is's a territorial thing.)  But they haven't...if anything, they make me crazier. Cleaning and picking up after "them kids" is a full time job. I guess I've been able to let go of keeping my house constantly picked up - but it makes me feel a little crazy to have toys everywhere and I mean everywhere.

I don't think I will turn into the naked cleaner, but just don't come by on Fridays to be safe.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Old Friend

It has been cold and rainy for the past 2 days here. I was inside all day yesterday so an old friend came to visit me.  His name was Boredom.  He invited his friends - Restlessness, Unmotivation, Sadness, and Envy.  We had a great time during their visit - they pretty much stayed all day long.

"Hey Boredom, how are you? Haven't seen you since last February," I said.
"I'm bored," he replied with a yawn.
Then Boredom told me that playing with my children inside is a drag. 
He said, "why are you always Ken, it's so boring, can't you be Barbie every once in a while?" and "seriously, another puppet show - kill me now."
I fought against him saying "I should want to play with my kids. This time is short...soon they won't want anything to do with me." 
Then he said, "but you hate to play, always have, always will." 
"Touche," I agreed.

Restlessness joined in saying, "let's get out of here! Let's go do something, anything! We could walk around Alco again."
"No, I need to stay here for once.  I'm always dragging my kids places to get out of the house."
"Why don't you just get a real job?" Restlessness taunted.
"But I love being home with my kids."
"Do you?"
"I don't know. the summer."
"But the winter is brutal, look what you have ahead of you - painfully long days, darkness,  loneliness. Your kids would probably be happier playing with other kids at daycare - you don't do anything compared to other stay at home moms have no special hobbies, talents, or creative genes to pass on to your children."
"You're right." He had made a good point.

"What are you doing, don't get up - just sit on the couch!" Unmotivation chimed in.
"But I should really make some cookies for Gladys, her husband just passed away and she's lonely," I said.
"There's always tomorrow."
"What about the laundry and, oh, the basement needs a deep clean in the worst way."
"Okay," I said.

Then Sadness crept in the house without me even knowing. "Why don't you feel sorry for yourself today?" she asked.
"Why?" I replied.
"Because you used to be important, now you play Barbies for a living."
"So true," I said as I contemplated letting myself have a good cry.

"You should cry because you used to be important, but now your husband is," agreed Envy.
"But Envy, I chose to stay at home with my kids, I'm so thankful to have the opportunity to do that."
"Maybe if you lived in the city like your sisters you would have more to do. You would have play gyms and all sorts of opportunities for your children - your sisters have a better life than you do," he pushed.
"I like this town and I like my life here," I pushed back.
"The country then," he said, "you've always wanted to live there. What's holding you back?  Look at the peaceful, nice houses out in the country. There is so much more for your girls to do out there."
I surrendered, "Oh, you're so right, how I long for wide open spaces again."

As I was listening to Boredom, Restlessness, Unmotivation, Sadness, and Envy, I thought I heard someone else trying to speak. I listened closely but I could barely hear His voice, the other voices were drowning it out. I think He said,

"Be still and know that I am God."

But I couldn't be sure....

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Finding the Funny

I was reading an article about Marlo Thomas the other day.  I don't really know why because I don't know who she is, but she said something so interesting to me: "There are three kinds of people. Those who see the funny right away, those who see it after they reflect and those who never see it."  I'm realizing this is so true as I think about some of the people in my life.

I would definitely classify myself as someone who sees the funny right away.  I love when people fall down, mix up their words, or do something ridiculous. I love it even more when they can laugh at themselves, because it just is awkward if you're the only one laughing at them. I have a hard time understanding serious people...I sometimes wonder if life's circumstances have brought them to a place where they can't see the funny at all.  But often times I just want to say something like, "it's not traumatic that you passed out at the's freaking hilarious!"

I laugh at weird times and about weird things. Sometimes I lay in bed at night and start giggling about something someone said or did years ago.  Eric just says "what now?" Then I burst out laughing and try to retell the story...he never finds it quite as funny as I do but he usually gives me a courtesy laugh. Like that time when all of us college athletes were in the gym filling out our physical forms and one of the guys yelled out "how do you spell syphilis?" Gets me every time. I giggle when I'm getting adjusted at the chiropractor mainly because it's so awkward. There's just something funny about being cracked by someone you barely know. I wiped out on my kitchen floor last week....hilarious.

I find myself being very drawn to people who are funny.  If I go to a get together of any kind I veer straight to the people who will make me laugh.  Probably because I grew up in a family who likes to joke about everything. We make fun of each other unmercifully and I love every minute of it. If this gives you any idea, my nickname growing up was "birdbrain." My sisters still love to call me this.  Now that I think of it...maybe some of my self esteem issues derived from that.  I see therapy in my future.  It's always the parents fault.

Friday, October 8, 2010

She Waits (Part 1)

Jerod and Natalie holding Austyn in the hospital

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalms 130:5

This is my best friend Natalie. We are soul sistas. She gets me and I get her. We've been mistaken for sisters based on our looks many times but I think we are really almost one and the same person. We could be real life sisters. I met Nat for the first time on the basketball court our freshman year of college. We were instant friends. She took notes for me in Sociology while I nodded off, I helped her weed the junior high clothes out of her college wardrobe, we cried over boys and basketball, we laughed about everything. We still cry and laugh together, but sometimes I long for the carefree life of college days. Little did we know what different roads our lives would take us on. It's the not knowing that gets you through.

When I asked her if I could write about her she told me to stay away from 2 subjects: "my hair and the 2 guys I dated named Ernest". All I have to say to that is: I would never touch the hair does a person date 1 guy named Ernest let alone 2?

Behind this beautiful smile has been much pain. (Well, literally, a few years back a dentist damaged a nerve and she sometimes has shooting pain when she smiles and kisses her husband :).)  When I first met Natalie she was hurting. Her dad passed away just a year earlier - when she was a junior in high school.  Despite this suffering, she was probably the happiest person I had ever met. I love this joy about her. Shortly after her father was gone, a friend had invited her to a church service and she was saved. She was new to her faith but it was strong and she saw hope and happiness through the pain. From the time we first met to now, her joy has continued to be tested.

After college she fell in love with and married Jerod, the perfect guy for her, and a year later they began to dream of starting a family. Five years later that dream is still on hold as she struggles down the long road of infertility. As she goes to doctor after doctor she never, in a million years, thought this would be her life. But despite all the heartbreak and the pain...she waits.

She listens to well meaning advice from friends and family. She's done all she can do physically to prepare her body for a baby. She watches everyone around her have babies of their own. But she waits.

As her friend, I have had to tell her twice I will be living her dream. She's watched me have two babies and couldn't be happier for me. She's never once tried to take my joy away with her pain. Did she go home and cry after I told her my news or after she visited me in the hospital when I had each of my girls?  Maybe...probably.  She cries over the death of her dream, but she is content, she finds joy amidst the pain.  Mine is the soul that is toubled. How can this be? There is no one who would be a better mom than Natalie. How many hours have I spent on my knees asking the Lord to bless her with a baby of her own? How many hours has she? She waits. She prays, she smiles, she cries and she waits.

Five years she has waited. What is she waiting for? Why doesn't she just adopt? Foster? Why doesn't she do in vitro? These are the questions everyone asks her...asks me. The answer is simple yet the most difficult thing to do in this fast paced, answers-now world we live in. She's waiting on the Lord. She knows every option available to her but she is waiting on the Lord's voice. Not opinions, not feelings, not impulses...His voice.  And when she hears it she will know, but until then...she waits.

I am in awe of my friend. I'm so proud and blessed to call her my friend. This story is titled (Part 1) for a reason. There will be a part 2 and it will be amazing because she waits.

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7

Happy Birthday Nat!  I wish everyone could have a friend like you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Quick Fix

The other day I needed some junk food and I searched high and low in my cupboards for something to satisfy my craving. I don't keep a whole lot of junk around because I normally can't be stopped once I get started on something. Well, I found nothing - not even stale potato chips - so I had to go to my last resort for a quick fix....chocolate chips from the freezer.

I was talking to my friend Jen about this and she said her last resort junk food is a scoop of peanut butter with semi-sweet chocolate chips on the top.  Why didn't I think of that!  I've just got to know what else I'm missing out on.  What am I not thinking of in times of bare cupboards? What is your quick fix?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sins of the Father

About a week ago I met the most annoying person I've ever met.  Sorry, not gonna sugarcoat it.  There are no other words.  I've never met anyone that can talk so much and also so loudly. I couldn't really escape it so I just sat there thinking things like "her poor mother" and "she's got issues" and "would you please shut up for one minute, one second!".  She was a foster kid I found out later.  So then my thoughts went to "she can't help it she's just dying for attention" - as if I'm a licensed therapist - and the old saying "sins of the father pass down to the sons" came to mind.  That saying didn't come to mind because she was sinning necessarily, just that she was the way she was because of life's circumstances.

Then literally the next day I read Ezekiel 18, "the soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him....for I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord, Repent and live!".

I just lived under the assumption that we are somehow guilty for the sins of our ancestors. It never really occured to me that, while we may live under the consequences of their guilt, we are not guilty of the sins they committed.  We will not be punished for someone else's sin, though we may be punished for our own. Our lives will throw us a few curve balls, but sometimes there is no explanation for trials except to give us the opportunity to bring glory to God.  I often think of the blind man in Mark 9 who was blinded "that the work of God may be displayed in his life" - he was not blind because of his own sin or parents sin.  What a difficult life he must have lived, but his life was for an awesome purpose and he is remembered to this day.

The Soveriegn Lord gives everyone their own chance to repent and live. We are our own person. We can choose to break free of a lifestyle (righteous or unrighteous) or choose to go down the same road of our parents before us.  I don't know her story but, most likely, this foster girl is living under the consequences of her parents guilt. They made sinful, selfish choices that directly affected her quality of life. She is not guilty of her parents sin, she can break free of a sinful past and "repent and live."  And maybe she has. Her life could be an awesome testimony.  I guess "annoying" is not a sin but it should be....clearly I don't have anything to work on. :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Fun Day

We took a visit to the Tanganyika zoo for Austyn's 2nd birthday on Saturday.  We had never been there and I must say...what a fun place!  We got to get so close to the animals and they had so many we had never seen before. Like these lemurs...

Zookeepers walked around carrying all sorts of different small animals for us to pet and see up close...

What is a petting zoo without goats to love on?

Feeding the bunnies...

and the turtles...

and the kangaroos...this one had a baby in it's pouch.

and the birds...

this was kind of an eerie feeling...

We finished off with a dinner at Red Robin - gotta love this place!  Doesn't matter how loud your kids are...they will be drown out by someone else's loud kids. Doesn't everyone just look happy?  No idea who that guy is.

Happy Birthday to my little girl...can't believe she's already 2!
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