I had the great pleasure of witnessing my parents’ send-off party from the church where my dad has pastored for the last seven years.   Yes, this congregation was so sweet to honor their pastor…and honor, they did.  The fact that my parents’ service to the church warranted a party speaks volumes about them, but the spirit in which it was carried out speaks volumes about the church.  Both my mom and my dad are so far beyond the spectrum of “good” that they are spectacular.  They are so spectacular that most people cannot identify the magnitude of their worth.

My dad is a scholar.  He does not deliver the kind of sermons that are full of sensationalism where the primary goal is to evoke an emotion.  His messages are reasonable and scripture-based.  Through that reason and scripture, he inspires.  He also requires himself to walk the straight and narrow path.  I never considered the possibility that my dad would reveal poor character;  that wasn’t him.  He conducts himself by a simple code of ethics.  “Rule # 1: Do right—always.  Rule # 2: Don’t do wrong.  By the way, we define Rule # 1 by what God says, not by what people say.”  I remember that when I was a child and a teenager, I believed that he was not getting adequate credit for his intelligence nor his integrity.  As a child, I was frustrated because I lacked the capability of articulating such an oversight.  As a teenager, I took pleasure in poking holes in other teenagers’ unfounded insults (apparently, teenagers are a tough crowd).   There were, however, many teenagers who recognized his scholarship.  One teenager commented, “It’s like he knows the whole Bible!”  Yep.  It’s like that.

My mom is industrious and nurturing.  If there’s a job to be done, she’s the one to spearhead it.  There’s a great likelihood that the task will be accomplished ahead of schedule.  My husband calls her the Energizer Bunny—she keeps going and going and going.  At my wedding rehearsal, the officiates joked, “Well, when I saw a schedule down to the minute, I knew Beverly must have a hand in this.”  My mother does not have a mere area of expertise; she determines to BECOME an expert on whatever is set before her.  Whatever her hand finds to so, she does it with ALL her might (Ecc 9:10).  She also puts her heart into the people in her life.  She generously gives of herself.  I think that these two characteristics make her a fantastic pastor’s wife.  She meets needs.  She fixes what needs to be fixed.  She loves.

Maybe I am partial, but I think they are a dynamic duo.  Until this church where my dad pastored these last few years, I felt that no one seemed to have the wherewithal to recognize their significance.  I am so happy that I have witnessed a church who can see it!  They are gems.  They’re not diamonds in the rough, they’re in plain sight where everyone can see them, but it is a wonderful cluster of people who chose to see them.   It warms my heart.  This church has been such a sweet blessing.

This church had a sweet spirit of comradery and respect.  They have volunteered to minister to the community with a heavenly love.   These people look for ways to minister to the community.

Several years ago, I was disgusted at a different church because they fought my father tooth and nail when he tried to extend a welcome to a different ethnic group than the majority of that church.  He insisted that the Gospel is for everyone and the new group ought to be welcomed into the church with open arms.  However, as soon as he resigned from that vile flock that refused to be led, the church required the new group to leave.   That was NOT the case in the last seven years though.  This church not only accepted diversity, they encouraged it.  They have diligently extended a welcome to varying ethnicities, socio-economic statuses, ages and abilities.  They just love people.  In fact, my mother said that the identifying factor that made her want to be a part of this church was the cohesive love that  every generation showed to the others.

When my mother had a double knee replacement, two of the staff wives came to visit.  I sat there during the visit being so grateful that she had such wonderful women in her life.  Beth and Stacey are such good women.  They are so genuine and beautiful from the inside out.  She had a whole fleet of good women surrounding her in that church.  I’m so glad that she has had virtuous women to breathe strength into her when she felt weak and respect and lift her up when she was strong.

My dad had a strong support system too.  He has relied on his amazing staff and uncommonly capable laity.  As my mother says, “Our people are REALLY GOOD people!”

His youth director, Kevin, was a lay member who became staff.  I’ve known Kevin for more than half of my life because he was my Sunday School teacher when I was a teenager.  He and his lovely wife didn’t even have teenagers back then!  They faithfully took good care of us.  They were unbelievably positive, even though teenagers, as aforementioned, are a tough crowd.  I can say from firsthand experience that the youth department is led with an undying love and faithfulness.  (As an adult, I’ll throw “persistence” into that mix!)

One Sunday, I told the music director, after the frustration of getting three small children ready for church (moms, can I get a witness?!), “You sure know how to put a person in a good mood!”  The call to worship was always a strong, positive force.  Furthermore, there is an uncommonly high ratio of men in the choir.  That speaks to the willingness of the men in the church to do whatever is asked of them.

In fact, there is an uncommonly high ratio of men who are willing to do ANYTHING for the ministry.  Good leaders!  There are women who create cohesive community projects from thin air.  Good spirit.  Good people.  Really good people.  They are truly a BODY of believers.

I owe this church a huge debt of gratitude (first and second hand).  Thank you!  Thank you for being such a wonderful flock.  I am so blessed by your faithfulness and your ability to see the value of the dynamic duo!

Within an hour of posting yesterday that “Damsels in Distress” ought to let men be the knights in shining armor, my car, Harold, had leaked out all of the power steering fluid that I gave him the day before. I checked my voicemail (when I wasn’t turning with two hands). There was a message from my dad. He knows a guy—a guy who can fix my leak. He was calling to schedule delivering the car to the guy.

When he heard that I was driving a particularly grumpy Harold, my dad insisted that I stop, get a ride to work, and let my husband drive the car to him. After all, I might not be able to make the turns. So, I acquiesced, taking my own advice.

However, after work, my husband picked me up (power steering fluid in hand), took me to my car and instructed me to drive his car home. My knight in shining armor had come to rescue me upon his white horse (or…um, brown SUV). He was rescuing me from the perils that might befall me—the perils that my very first knight in shining armor anticipated. In my mind, I had met the “damsel in distress” quota. Apparently not.

When we got to my car, I grabbed the fluid, popped the hood, opened the reservoir, told my husband not to grab my rear end, and poured in the fluid. Not rocket science. My husband unnecessarily put his hand on the hood. He was annoyed. He chuckles when he’s annoyed (That annoys me.). He indicated that I had pushed him out of the way. He said, “Well, I guess I’ll just hold this hood up for you (it stays up on its own) since I don’t have anything else to do.”

Sigh. All this talk about not disrupting the chivalry and I can’t even back out of my own husband’s way.

I must say, though, that I am a very privileged girl to have so many knights to come to my rescue!

I am pleased to announce that chivalry is not dead.

While I advocate that women ought to be as self-sufficient as possible, I firmly believe that women should accept well-intentioned chivalry with gratitude.

My car, Harold (Harold is a ‘93 Grand Marquis who I love dearly, but he sometimes behaves like a grumpy man beyond his prime), has afforded me many opportunities to experience this.  Harold has two minor issues: the power steering is leaking and the wiring to the battery is loose.  So, it is not uncommon for me to have to pop the hood and add power steering fluid (I’m giving up and going to get that fixed by the way) or manipulate the wires long enough to engage the battery so that I can start him.  I can do these things.  So, at least a couple of times on each campus where I work, I’ve popped the hood and fixed the problem at hand.  Usually, a male passerby will ask me if he can help.  It seems to be slightly disturbing to them that there’s a blonde in a skirt hovering over an engine.  Though I’ve usually fixed the problem before they can ask if I need help, they have the same instinctive look in their eyes.  It’s as if they have the inner dialogue, “Me man. Me build things.  Me help untrained lady.” It’s an attitude that is genuine and truly warrants praise.

I am reminded of another instance.  In 2004, four hurricanes ripped through our state.  Hurricane Charlie hit when I was 8 days post-partum.  The day after, we found that our large hickory tree had molted like a sick bird all over the yard (no damage to the house).  My husband and I (my 9 day post-partum self) were dragging branches from the backyard to stacks in the front by the street.  My father in law and two brothers in law came to the house with a truck to cart off the downed branches.  I didn’t feel like I was exerting myself (my midwife disagreed), so I continued to drag branches through the yard.  I was enjoying not being cooped up in bed, but getting to stretch in the warm sunlight.  Then, I noticed that the three men who were not my husband tensed up and slumped their shoulders with a peculiar anxiety.  What’s eating them?  Then I realized that it was me!  I said to my father in law, “Are y’all acting weird like you’re afraid to pick up large things because I’m a girl?”  His eyes lit up as he said, “That’s very intuitive of you.  Maybe you should go inside and tend to the baby.”  They became highly efficient.  I think I might have heard them sing a few verses of Stout-Hearted Men.

Again, it’s not that I think that women should be so unlearned that we have no choice but to be the damsels in distress, but if we absolutely refuse ever to be damsels in distress, we remove from men the ability to fulfill the innate desire to be the champion and receive the gratitude subsequently.  It has been my experience that more productivity takes place if I can just back off and prepare to say thank you.

Let me clarify that women also have instinctive behaviors.  We just call ours “nurturing” instead of “taking care of business.”  For every time that I hear, “are you safe to drive?”, I will say, “may I get you something to eat?”

I will certainly say that it is in my best interest to be a damsel in distress…sometimes.  It should always come with a thank you though.  My sister used to say, “She who does not say thank you for a door opened no longer gets doors opened for her.”

I wanted to take my son out and finish our book.  I grabbed the jeans from 3 years ago (meaning 2 sizes larger)—the ones with the ill-placed pockets.  There was a chill, so I got my cardigan—not a cute one, one that was marketed to an older crowd.  Hair in a quick bun, rimless glasses.  After reading the last chapters of Farmer Boy, I stopped by the bathroom and THERE WAS A MOM IN THE MIRROR!  A MOM I tell you!

I know that I spawned more than seven years ago.  I don’t just mean that I saw a literal mom in the mirror.  I saw a stereotype in the mirror.

I should have seen this coming.  I’ve heard, “You’re such a mom!” and “You hug like a mom.”  (I’m not really sure what that last one means.  I think that both were intended to be compliments.  I think that they can be translated as “You plan/prepare well.” and “Your affection is firm and heartfelt.”)   I define a car’s quality by how many carseats can fit in the backseat.  I feel the urge to remind people to say “please” and “thank you.”  I look for the I-have-to-go-potty facial expressions.  I use the word “potty” even when talking to adults.  Yes, it’s entirely reasonable that there’s a mom in the mirror.

It still weirds me out a little.

Now, to embrace or run from the stereotype?

My husband and my mother each asked me what my New Year’s resolutions are this year.  I hadn’t determined any.  I guess that I just feel that resolutions don’t need to be made on January 1st: they should be made and kept as the need/awareness arises.   I told both, “status quo.”

Maybe I need to elaborate.

Academic goal: audit classes that I passed as an undergrad.  I started that last semester.  The only problem was that the only time slot that I had available, there were two different things vying for my time already.  I was skipping something in order to attend the first hour and I was skipping something else in order to attend the second hour.  This semester, I had decided that I would require myself to attend one hour of lecture a week.  After all, if I don’t have time to do what I want to do because it gets in the way of what I ought to do, I will intend to accomplish it still but in a lesser capacity.  Only one problem remains: there are no classes that I wanted to audit that would fit into my schedule at either college.  I might have to find an online course, set a timer, and do homework problems until the time runs out.  The plan needs a little reworking.

Career goal: consider the possibility of getting a babysitter for Beth when Sarah goes to preschool in the fall so that I may explore the possibility of working full time.  This one is a soft goal. It is not a soft goal because of the working—I’d rather enjoy that, but because I’m not okay with telling my youngest child, “You’re not as worthy as your siblings to have the privilege of my attention at home.”  That may be a little dramatic, but that’s the way that I see that she might perceive it.  Then again, it’s a case by case decision.  I don’t know what kind of alternate care I might be able to find for her.  My son was enriched by his alternate care while I worked.  My husband and my mother have been asking me about that too—when I’m going to go to work full-time.  Sigh.  I have to fight my very nature to become a stay-at-home mom (that is, until I go to work at one of my two jobs, so I’m not really a true stay-at-home mom), then I get flack for that too.  Which is the choice that aids my family the most?  I’ve been straddling the fence of stay-at-home vs. working mom for seven years.  So, I thought the change would be in 2013, but maybe it’s a 2012 change.

Personal goal: read the Harry Potter series.  I’m working every night while my husband reads to my son.  So, they’ve conquered several books together while my son and I are about to finish our first.  My son is at school all day while I’m home and at home while I’m at work.  I always said that I’d read it with my son when he got to this age, but it looks like I don’t get that privilege.  Maybe I’ll read it independently so that I’ll have something to discuss with my son.  Furthermore, I made the decision that I wanted to read it with him (when he was four years old) after reading about all of the biblical parallels in the series.  So, reading the Harry Potter series would be in the vein of the Chronicles of Narnia series.

Personal goal: follow a predetermined Bible reading plan.  I’ve been picking my own passages.  Really, it’s a lazy choice to use a predetermined plan, but I think it might feel like it’s more of an accomplishment to finish someone else’s plan.

Personal goal: either memorize new scripture in NASB or re-memorize old scripture in A-KJV.  I memorized a sizeable chunk (chunks over four years) of scripture in high school.  We used the authorized King James Version because the most conservative opponents couldn’t argue with that choice.  Now I read NASB.  I have a hard time reading from NASB anything that I memorized in KJV.  I need to be able to quote again.  I don’t know if I want to learn new or remember old, but I have a listening buddy if I need to quote.  (Shout out to Leah!)

Fitness goal: now that I’m back to high school weight, get back to college weight.  Hmm.  This one.  This one I can’t really call a goal.  I haven’t really changed anything in more than a decade.  Eat right and exercise?  Did that when I was fat and when I was thin and everywhere in between.  I lost 20lbs after I started dating my husband. Gained 35 after the first kid.  Gained another 10 when the second kid had long, emotional hospital stay.  Then, came the third kid.  I’ve lost 25 since the third kid was born.  What’s the secret?  Apparently not diet and exercise.  I know that those things do have a bearing, but I did them even while I was getting fatter—so the presence of those elements won’t keep me thin or the absence of them won’t make me fat.  The only thing that changed (despite my husband’s mother’s “interesting” guesses) was that I took my herbs and took a nap.  Yep, the only factor that shows any direct relationship is stress/hormones.  In order to lose the first 25, I didn’t make any special “life changes.”  I’ve been consistently doing that since I was an adolescent.  So, this isn’t really a goal…because I feel that it’s so far out of my locus of control (and any “success” cannot be attributed to me), but a hope for a year that is relaxed, comfortable, and prosperous.  Fat chance.

Health goal: make the majority of our dairy products and bread products at home.  I’ve been doing that since before January 1st too.  I made butter last week and yogurt the week before.  I’ve been intending to eliminate wheat products and make what we really will be using.  My area of fault is sandwich bread for my son’s lunches.  Buying it is so much more practical.  I also want to find a raw milk source because making butter is not a useful skill with store-bought cream; it’s just for bragging rights.  With the yogurt, I’m eliminating the garbage thickening agents, but raw would be better.  The goal might be better stated: make sandwich-worthy bread and find a raw milk source.

Health goal: make more plant based dinners for the family creatively.  See above.  Pasta or rice or bread are easy bases for dinners.  Make them out of plants.  Again, this is not a new goal, but a recurring one.

Personal goal: learn to knit.  I crochet.  It’s a creative cousin.

Financial goal: get rid of debt.  I’ve been adamant about not getting the debt since before I was a teenager.  So, this is not a new goal…for me.  But my other (better/nicer) half has finally gotten on the same page with me.  So, I’m finally starting to see some progress!  I’m still listing it as a “goal” because (though it will take me about four years), I’ll still be putting in the efforts that are not new to me.

Creative goal: sew more.  It makes me calm, but it takes so much time.  Maybe if I did it more often, it would take less time and still make me calm.

Financial goal: either coupon again or make more products at home.  I’ve been somewhat of a couponing hypocrite.  I won’t have the patience to accomplish both goals.  I’ll decide later where I want to put my efforts.

Personal goal: take more naps.  While I advocate being super-productive, that super-productivity has its pitfalls.  Building my stress isn’t a worthwhile goal.  So, I’ll take a nap.

Creative goal: when I need inspiration to continue to contribute to the efficiency goals or health goals or creative goals or fitness goals, go to Pinterest, just keep creating.  Feeding off other people’s inspiration is rejuvenating.

Personal goal: make friends at church.  Oh, wait…never mind.  I did that!  They just aren’t the group where I find people with similar interests and similar walks of life.  They’re much cooler than me.  I’m okay with being the oddball of the group.  Again, feeding off other people’s inspiration is rejuvenating.  I think this still counts, right?

In conclusion, these are not really things that I decided to do because of the New Year.  I feel as though if one waits until a specific date to make a change, that waiting kills the spirit of the change.  If something needs to change, change it immediately.  Fix it!  ”Status quo” in this case is a constant state of fixing and changing…regardless of the calendar date.

My son, age 7, has started impressing me in a new way.

As a toddler, he used to impress me with his articulation.  As a kindergartener and a first grader, he impressed me with his ability to consume arithmetic, algebraic, and geometric ideas and respond intelligently.  I am told that he ought to have received more praise for those things, but I apparently didn’t understand the magnitude of his performance because he is a firstborn and I had no other children to compare with except my own childhood.  Having no understanding that I ought to discover a child’s strong suits and cater to those, I catered to my own strong suits that I saw in him.

However, recently, he has been impressing me by exhibiting a maturity beyond his years that he didn’t learn from me.

He had been faithfully attending rehearsals for the church Christmas play since August.  During finals week (where I was giving the final), he had a required rehearsal.  That evening, while I was giving a final and my husband (who has been the one driving him to rehearsals) was required to go back to the school where he works and run the sound for one of their Christmas plays (he had to ask a grandparent to watch our three children during the performance) , my seven-year-old son had no way to get to that rehearsal.

Sunday arrived and a kind person informed me (I had been at work for all of his other rehearsals and was much less equipped than all of the other moms) that I needed to return my son for church no later than 3pm for the last rehearsal for the play at 5:30pm.  Though the other one had been billed as a final rehearsal, this was apparently the FINAL final rehearsal.  We reorganized and spread our family over two counties and three locations to get him there on time.

My son was told that he was not allowed to perform because he had missed the single previous rehearsal.  Certainly the staging that they practiced in that one rehearsal was too hard for him to master in the two and a half hour block.  By the way, his staging consisted of “stand in this one spot.”  A child of 130 IQ might not be able to handle that?  Anyway, I was expecting to have to console him extensively.  He merely remarked that this was disappointing–not shedding a tear.

During the performance, his auntie asked him to sing all the lyrics from his seat so that she “could hear them.”  He, as opposed to the children on stage, didn’t have the benefit of reading the lyrics or watching the instructors, but sang his heart out from his seat.  I didn’t feel the need to have words with the powers that be because my husband and brother-in-law certainly filled that quota.

My son told me later, “I’m sorry that I didn’t get to perform for you.”  I responded, “I am so pleased with the fantastic attitude that you had that I think that I am MORE proud of you for doing a good job from your seat than if you had performed with the group.  This way, I got to see what a wonderful kid you are too.”

On another occasion, I had wound myself up and  as a result, I was spinning like a top through my kitchen.  In the middle of my frustration, my son put his hand on my shoulder and told me, “Mom, I really love you.  I think you’re great.  I just wanted you to know that.”  He has learned how to diffuse my frenzy instantly.  He must have learned that from his father!

Finally, he had very specific ideas about what he wanted for Christmas.  I gave him a budget (his budget was more than his toddler sisters’ combined budget) and took him shopping.  He picked an item, but upon checking the price, he realized that he wasn’t going to be able to afford both of his items and stay within his budget.  He paused for a moment.  He looked kindly into my eyes and said, “That’s okay, Mom.  This is enough.”

He had no idea that I had found the other items on his wish list for a great deal in October!  In a season where I was trying to teach my children about the perils of materialism, his sweet attitude nearly made me break character and raise the ceiling on his budget.  Nearly, but I didn’t want to squander the educational momentum.  He was still pleased on Christmas morning.  I have never enjoyed seeing him light up on Christmas morning like I did this year.

I always knew that my son would impress me, but I assumed that being proud of him for the KIND of person he is would come much later.  I’ve heard of this dance that mothers and sons perform where they are constantly redefining their relationship as the son learns how to be a functional and reasonable person, where who protects whom slowly changes over several years.  While I understand that there is much more morphing and redefining to take place in the next few years, I am astounded that he has enabled me to look into his eyes and see the man he will become in only half the time before I expected to have that revelation.  I am exceedingly grateful for any opportunity he gives me.

When I was a kid, Star Trek: The Next Generation was the Saturday night favorite.  Having not blossomed into a nerd (and having an attention span of a child), I was only mildly interested in what would become my SciFi favorite.  I watched them again after school when I was a teenager and again through the morning sickness with my third child.

Modern entertainment is showing evidence of a post ST:TNG world.  OH, the gadgets!  Getting to see technology gear itself in the direction of the SciFi writers of my childhood is delightful.

There are obvious things like the ideas of virtual reality and Xbox Kinnect are a holodeck in its infancy.  Also, Dr Crusher appears to be using the equivalent of an iPad in sick bay or a version of a nook/fire when she’s directing a play.

But, Oh, My Flippin’ Goodness, I nearly had a conniption when I saw that CVS now sells Neela’s PianoNeela's Piano at CVS from the episode Lessons!


The short version: where can I find washing soda?

The long version: More than three years ago, my friend, Hannah taught me how to coupon.  Initially, it was a solution to a very large problem.  Then, it became a game.  For a while, it became a little bit of an obsession.

In August of 2009, I bought a boatload of dishwasher detergent (I use the term loosely, because I came out $4.11 in my favor to take it).  Then in February of 2010, I got twenty+ bottles of laundry detergent for next to nothing.  I bought dishwasher detergent in September (2011) and laundry detergent in October.  I’ve decided I don’t like this “paying” for things that I’ve enjoyed for free for so long.  Now, I did use coupons, but I didn’t get them for nearly free.

The stockpile of free items has another benefit that I miss—the convenience of not having to go to the store to finish household chores.  “We’re out? No we’re not.  Go get some more out of the storage drawer under the dryer.”

Being a little dramatic, I claim that each time I come back from the store, I am done.  I am done; everything that my family will use for the next week has been purchased.  I have completed the whole shopping event and I AM DONE.  I have accomplished my goals.  ALL HAIL MOM who has returned from the trenches of retail.  Now, I can spend my week focusing on cleaning, working, and paying attention to the toddlers so that they don’t rip the house apart.  I might even sit down with a cup of coffee.

That’s my fantasy, by the way.  I always envision sitting down with a mug and a computer and writing or practicing calculus or trig problems—the way that other people do crossword puzzles.  But my toddlers wake up and stop the fantasy—as they have done twice during the course of writing this paragraph.

But within minutes of coming home, my husband will sweetly say, “You know what I should have asked you to get at the store?…” or I’ll see the one thing that I overlooked on my list.  And a little piece of my morale dies because the end of my to-do list is that much farther out of reach.  I have only found the very end of the to-do list a couple of times in the last decade, but I always really, really believe I will reach it.  When it becomes farther out of my reach, I can hear the really whacked out version of me inside my head weeping.

So, having to GO to the store and BUY things that I have grown accustomed to having at home in my free stuff stockpile makes me feel like I’m hemorrhaging both time and money.

Having now purchased 3 bottles of laundry detergent and 4 packs of dishwasher detergent (yes, we have a LOT of dishes and laundry in this house), I’m debating making these things at home.  I’ve heard of people doing this.  It makes sense.  Making laundry detergent wouldn’t really extend too far out of my realm. I’ve used baking soda for cleaning for 15 years.  I’ve made use of borax in the last year or so.  I apparently need washing soda—which is different from baking soda.  I can’t find it at Target and the space for it at Wal-mart (which also makes me weep a little inside) is empty.  So, before I put any more effort into it, dear internet, where have you successfully found washing soda?

I have a list of things that I am out of and plan on learning to make at home (this week, my homemade goal is yogurt—which is a lofty goal during finals week). While there are many things that I would be willing to make at home (detergents, yogurt, bread, curtains, purses, any cleaners where the homemade version would introduce fewer toxins into my home), there are many things that I cannot imagine making at home–like mascara.  I was out of mascara this week and I bought more with coupons because I don’t have access to bats and can’t fathom making it at home.

Since I’m still going to coupon for things like mascara, shampoo, foaming soap (my homemade version didn’t work out very well), I question the decision to try to make things at home.  So, dear internet, what things have you successfully made at home where the conventional American home would have just gone to the store?

I was sitting at the computer deep in thought, wearing my glasses, unwashed hair, yesterday’s makeup (yeah, don’t ask), slouched, and not feeling great.

Darling Husband: You’re beautiful.
Me (assuming that he was being sarcastic): Whatever, shut up. (not looking up from my computer)
DH: I’m serious.
Me: There is no evidence to support your claim.

DH: You’re beautiful.
Me: That’s getting annoying.
DH: What do you mean? You’re ALWAYS beautiful.
Me: “Always” is much too lofty a claim. You see, you’re a pretty person by nature. You’re pretty about 95% of the time. Your “not beautiful time” is only limited to about 5%. I, on the other hand, could only claim your description 13% of the time. 13% is certainly not “always” and it certainly isn’t now.  In fact, 13% is kind of generous. I’m aware that though I am the girl in this relationship, I’m not the pretty one. I’m okay with that. I’ll stare at you.
DH: You’re …(calculating in his head) 87% a dork. You say that I have rose-colored glasses, but maybe you’re just wearing cloudy shades 5% of the time.
Me: Wow. You’re going to contest the mere 5% instead of accepting the 95%? Your hyper-optimism just killed your argument.

I know that I should just accept the hyper-optimism as a gift, but the lack of reason begs for a rebuttal.


When I was a kid, my parents never doled out money. (I take that back.  I had a $1/wk allowance starting at age 9.  When I was 11, it went up to $2/wk.  It stayed that week until I was eighteen.  A couple of months before I got married, I told them that while I appreciated the gesture, the $2/wk made me feel a little guilty. When we went to a theme park, I had a $5 allowance for the trip.  They did not buy an item, they gave me a budget.)  Even as a child, I understood and appreciated the logic of not succumbing to childish whims as my peers’ parents did. I remember being out with another family and the other child wanted a treat.  She asked her mother for the money and received it.  She asked me why I wasn’t following suit.  After all I had money in my wallet and my mother was available for the asking.  I said, “Nah, it takes too much out of my wallet and it won’t last that long.”  I didn’t even bother asking for it.  That wouldn’t be reasonable.   I’d say that my parents had a great policy.

Now, I have three children and have been married for ten years.  I’m twenty-nine years old.  These days, my mother occasionally says, “Here, put this money in your grocery budget.”  Frankly, I’m baffled each time.  Baffled, but certainly accepting!  I guess the lesson-learning period ended when I was eighteen.

My dad said, “Bring your car to me.  I’m going to have the brakes fixed.  I bought the parts.  Now, here, take my truck.  You can drive it to work.  It needs gas.  Here’s gas money.”  “But, Dad, thanks—but I’d pay for the gas to get to work anyway if I were driving my car.  I can pay for gas.”  “Eh, whatever.  Here take this gas money.”   This is a car that my parents bought a year after my husband and I had made the decision to make it with just one car.

While I find this puzzling (as in “who are these people?  I think I grew up with a different set.”), I am certainly appreciative.  In fact, I think that they raised me to be more appreciative now.  I am glad that my childhood vocabulary included words like frugal and budget while my adulthood vocabulary includes words like philanthropy and generosity.

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