Friday, November 29, 2013

Dear Men, A Note On Living In A House With A Woman

Dear Men,

Come 'ere, let's have a little chat about living in a house with a woman.  You know, that cute, complicated being to whom you committed life and love and square footage.

At any given time, there may be sneakers by the dresser, slippers by the bed, flats on her feet...and more sneakers, slippers, slip-ons, sandals, flats, flip flops, high heels, peep toes, pumps, rain boots, riding boots and high heel boots in the closet.

There will most likely be tearful PMS episodes that you can't fix or explain and neither can she.

There will probably be froo froo decor sitting around that you see zero need for.

There may be times when your sweet comments about her being beautiful just the way she is are met with "mmm okay" and "if you say so", making you want to holler "Why don't you believe me?!"

There will be chick flicks.  They are inescapable.  Sorry.

There will for sure be more booty grabs and hopeful, suggestive comments attempted by you than there are times she takes you up on them.  Then why does she keep wearing those tight workout leggings around the house???  I know, cruel.

There may be chores or projects you take care of that go unnoticed because she's too busy complaining about socks or something.

And she will probably want to take a picture of everything...

Men, how about you cut your women some slack and allow them to be...women.

I don't mean build yourself a literal Man Cave where you must take shelter from a constant stream of tears, nagging, denials and shoe purchases.

What I mean in a house with a woman can be frustrating, annoying and complicated at times.  But you are not living with a robot, programmed to match, mirror and suit your every nuance and need, despite what that Stepford Wives movie may have portrayed.  And you are not living with yourself.  You are living with another human being and that human being is different from you. You committed to share life together, for better or worse, for successful booty grabs or PMS tears.

Men, you live with a woman. Don't be so surprised when she acts like one.  :-)


P.S. Click here for a note to the women on living in a house with a man.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dear Women, A Note On Living In A House With A Man

Dear Women, 

Come 'ere, let's have a little chat about living in a house with a man. You know, that handsome, hairy being to whom you committed life and love and square footage. 

At any given time, there may be a carburetor on the ottoman, a catalytic converter on the dining table or a rifle stock on the nightstand. 

There will most likely be dirty socks in the living room. 

There will probably be whiskers in the bathroom sink.

There may be shoot 'em up video games and intense action movies assaulting your ears.  

There will for sure be more booty grabs and hopeful, suggestive comments than there are times you are in the mood for them.

There will be arguments and spats over important stuff and stupid stuff.

There may be things that you think are the end of the world that he just doesn't seem to care all that much about, which will drive you nuts.

There may be Hawaiian shirts, overalls, and socks with sandals and, if you are really lucky, all of the above at the same time.

Ladies, how about we cut our men some slack and allow them to

I don't mean just throw your hands up and surrender to a fate of picking up laundry that is everywhere but the hamper while said man hones his zombie apocalypse moves on xbox for hours on end.  That's an imbalanced relationship if I ever saw one, and needs some healthy discussion stat.

What I mean in a house with a man can be frustrating, annoying and complicated at times.  But you are not living with a robot, programmed to match, mirror and suit your every need and nuance. And you are not living with yourself.  You are living with another human being and that human being is different from you. You committed to share life together, for better or worse, for clean laundry or stinky socks.

Ladies, you live with a man.  Don't be so surprised when he acts like one.  :-)


P.S. Click here for a note to the fellas on living in a house with a woman...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Takeaways & Tidbits Lately Vol. 2

"The great tragedy of the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor."

The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne


"I used to say "But we tithe, and that money goes to stuff Jesus was all into."  Except many churches use it for marble floors and shiny buildings and cool videos and expensive mailers and pretty landscaping and fancy sound equipment and, in one recent case, an awesome multimillion-dollar jet.  How have we let the church deteriorate like this?  How is this okay?  How can we endorse these expenditures?  When did this become standard protocol for the Bride of Christ?  We've engineered an elaborate two-step to justify this egregious spending on ourselves. We are far from Jesus' original vision; the whole enterprise would be unrecognizable to our early church fathers.  The earth is groaning, and we're putting coffee bars in our thirty-five-million-dollar sanctuaries.  Just because we can have it doesn't mean we should.  I marvel at how out of place simple, humble Jesus would be in today's American churches."

And on a lighter note...

"We brought our bounty home and ate half immediately.  It's peach season in central Texas, reader.  Our Fredericksburg peaches lasted three hours."

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

Represent!  My little hometown grows stellar peaches!


Email from my sister, Sarah, upon procurement of a printing press for the print shop she and a friend are about to open:

 Hello family!  Wanted to share pictures of our new 1,800 pound arrival...Buchanan the Chandler And Price Press.  We rolled it on pipes, Egyption style, about 10 feet and then used a come-along to slowly maneuver it up into the trailer. All involved fingers and toes are intact save one dislocated finger joint. Quite a feat!

Goodness gracious, my family does awesome things...


Beth: Any chance I could convince you two to co-direct Grand Camp 1 this coming summer?
Trent: Oh Beth, you know me.  Small children scare me...
Me: Trent, we can't be scared of small children anymore...our house is about to be consumed by them.
Trent: Ok, small children in large numbers... 

Facebook messages with the Area Youth Minister.  We decided to face Trent's fear and go for it.  Should be a GRAND adventure.


Me: Today I cut my tongue on a lollipop and it was the saddest thing EVER.
Trent: The saddest thing ever?
Me: Yes!  Lollipops are supposed to be only happiness and yay.
Trent: Happiness and yay?
Me: Yes........oh hush.
Trent: I love you.


Email from my mama regarding Christmas plans:

Any ideas about what else to DO? Rock Box? Ice Skate? Hunt? Make sausage?  Watch college football? Stomp Main St & drink lots of coffee? PUT CHRISTMAS PUZZLES TOGETHER AND PLAY SKIP BO!!!!!! Oh what fun it is to ride .... wheeeee!

She gets VERY EXCITED when her chicks visit the nest.  I adore my mother.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

To The Mother I Saw In The Grocery Store

Dear sweet stranger in the grocery store, I just want you to know that I noticed the smile radiating from your pretty pale face mirrored in the sweet dark eyes of the little girl at your side.

I heard her lovingly call you "mama".

I saw her slip her small, chocolate brown hand into your creamy white one.

I could tell there may be more to your family's coming-together story than others'. 

I watched with a smile on my face as you joined her in weighing the options of which chips to purchase, finally making a decision with gravity and glee.

I saw you dance yourselves and the cart down the aisle away from me, your daughter in front of you clinging to the handle, as you both sung a tune. 

I wanted to dance over to the eggs along with you to see what such a sweet pair would do next.

As I exited the store, I want you to know that I saw you there outside the door, full cart of groceries momentarily forgotten, crouched down at your daughter's level, engrossed in an explanation of the dollars and cents on the outdoor items' big price tags.

I couldn't shake you from my heart for the rest of the evening and found myself grinning as I recalled the devotion, sincerity and fun that permeated your interactions with your daughter.

Carry on, sweet family.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Things I've Been Trying To Work On Lately

Buying fresh produce
This is somehow a novelty to me.  Besides peppers, tomatoes, onions and occasional fruits, we are not that accustomed to buying fresh produce. Upside: It can be sooo cheap.  Also the whole good for your body thing. Downside: Turns out these perishable items, well...perish.  I'm learning the hard way to use 'em or lose 'em if I let them sit too long more than a few days.   So far we have ventured into the land of acorn squash, cauliflower, fresh garlic, new potatoes and brussel sprouts (I've never cooked them myself even though we go way back seeing as I'm German and all).  The verdict so far: yum.

Thorough grocery shopping
I recently figured out how to grocery shop.  Please don't laugh.  I don't mean that I didn't grocery shop at all before.  I just mean that I didn't really know where a lot of stuff is, didn't know how to menu plan or make good lists and wasn't actually willing to pay enough per trip to have stuff at home we will actually want to cook and eat.  I'm no longer winging it but rather approaching the store with a plan, regularity and a bigger budget line item.  Results: We are eating out at restaurants wu-hay less, which more than makes up for the bigger grocery spending.

Regular cooking
I already told you, please don't laugh!  We are in a new routine or chapter of our life right now.  The chapter before this called for lots of hurried meals, food on the fly, "we don't really have any food at home because we didn't have time to grocery shop so let's just go get something", and "we've barely seen each other in three days, let's go out to eat for a little date even though we do have food at home."  But now? I get off at 5 and may or may not go to Jazzercise which lasts until 6:30.  Trent gets home at 7:30.  Regular schedule + time in between me getting home and Trent getting home = time for me to make dinner.   Dinner almost ready when Trent comes through the door = no reason to go grab something and spend money.  Win, win, win.

Figuring out what church is
This is an interesting time for me.  For the past few years, church was going, doing, planning, pouring, and following along on our adventures in youth ministry lead by my husband.  But now?  For a short time at least, I need church to be arriving, sitting, soaking up, and leaving.   Amidst this I'm figuring out what church is to me as an individual, instead of me as the youth minister's wife.  I'm learning that my experience of church for the past few years isn't automatically indicative of what it will be from now on. I'm stepping timidly through a time of searching and change.  And I'm blessed to have a husband and a pastor both willing to engage in these conversations with me.

Enjoying this calm season
My routine is pretty stellar right now.   My work hours are regular, aka, only 40 a week.  My only extracurricular activity is Jazzercise, which I love.   I have time to grocery shop and cook as described above.  I have read six books in the past month (which completely boggles my mind).  I know this calm spell is going to fly right out the window the instant we get "the call" for our first foster placement, so I'm trying to really be aware of it and enjoy it while it's still hanging around.  In a way, I'm letting my soul rest up for the road ahead.

What are some things y'all are working on?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Overwhelmed By Generosity aka "I Told You She'd Cry"

Keith:  I told you she'd cry.
Misti: If she didn't cry, I was gonna cry.
Kristin: If she didn't cry now, I'm sure she'd cry later as she's blogging about this.

And so friends, here we are.  It appears I am predictable.  And weepy.

On Friday afternoon, I moseyed across the parking lot with some coworkers for a Starbucks break (well, break for them, I was signed out and headed home early!), where I was handed a white envelope out of the blue.  The contents of said envelope made my hands shake, my voice fail me and my eyes well up with crocodile tears that promptly spilled over.

WHAT?!  Unknown to me, the fine folks at my office pulled together almost $500 for a Target giftcard for us, then stashed it in a personally signed card that we will cherish always.  

Keith: We did a giftcard because we didn't really know what y'all will need.
Me:  We don't know what we will need either! 

This giftcard could be baby bottles and diapers or it could be twin size bed sheets and 1st grade school supplies. 

This could be pretty pink dresses or camo pants. 

This could be onesies for a 6 month old or sneakers for a 6 year old. 

Or...all of the above at the same time.  

We don't know yet what our initial scramble will look like once we get a placement, and that is why this gift is perfect. But you know what truly touches my heart?  The card.  The well wishes, the blessings, the signatures and the love of the many, many people that rallied together to bless us with this gift.  

This card is such an encouragement to us and is hanging out on our organization station in our kitchen...right next to our properly documented and displayed fire escape plan...

And for the record, Kristin, I didn't cry while writing this post.  It's all smiles now.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Novel Idea Of Living Within Your Means

I prepare a lot of tax returns.  It's the bulk of my job description, though Intern Wrangler competes strongly during the spring.  Sometimes doing tax returns is weird because I get to see into the financial lives of people I do not know and learn a whole lot about them just from the pieces of paper they turn over to me.  I see varied income situations, business successes and failures, and very unique dependents' names.  But there is one situation I sadly have seen several times on tax returns and it just blows my mind.  It goes like this:

Taxpayer occupation: doctor, lawyer, fill in the blank professional
Annual income: somewhere between $300,000 and $500,000
     -invoices for sales tax deduction showing brand new luxury car for him/herself and brand new hip car for dependent, with loans taken out for both
     -student loan interest, sometimes for taxpayer him/herself and dependent at the same time (wince)
     -mortgage interest and real estate taxes on vacation home
     -two or sometimes three mortgage interest statements for primary residence
Tax to be paid when tax return filed: around $3,000 since withholding came up a bit short
Taxpayer reaction: shock and inability to pull the amount from anywhere
Result: questions about how to pay their tax bill on a credit card

I, of course, put on my professional hat (you know, the green visor that stereotyped accountants wear in movies...just kidding) and politely inform them that they can indeed pay their tax bill with a credit card, but the IRS charges a fee for doing so, etc, etc.  What I really would like to say is any or all of the following:

Do you realize you make six digits?

Didya really need the newest Mercedes or was your Lexus doin' just fine?

Did your teenage daughter really need a brand spankin' new Mustang?  I mean, I got to school super in an old Corolla named Squirrel.

Why exactly do you have a vacation home when you already have a primary residence on which you have three mortgages, with interest alone totaling more than I make in a year?

And you are currently freaking out because you can't pull $3,000 from anywhere to pay your tax bill?

Did I mention that you make six digits?

Whooosaaaaw, deep breaths.  Considering even a smidgen of these unsolicited comments would be completely unprofessional, I just stick to the calm coaching about which would be worse, credit card fees and interest or IRS late payment penalties and interest.   What a dumb situation to be in when you make almost half a million dollars a year.

DEAR PEOPLE!  I have the secret to happiness for all you middle class folks that are so blessed with a steady, good level of income and yet are so financially stressed and unhappy: try living within your means.   And I don't mean folks making half a million dollars like my client above.  I mean truly middle class families making well under $100,000 a year.  Do you realize how rich you are compared to most of the world?   For goodness sake, let's try to manage it well instead of acting like we are all stressed to death and just don't have enough money.  I'm not talking about getting out of debt here, though that obviously plays a big part in financial stress relief. I'm talking about structuring little daily financial routines all the way up to giant decisions like how much house to buy in such a way that you are not getting in over your head.

Live in a house you can afford, really afford.   Our house cost five digits, contains over 2000 square feet, is almost 70 years old and has not imploded on us yet.  Oh, and our mortgage payment is less than $700. It's a pretty stellar set up.

Drive a car you can afford and pay off.  Then keep that paid off car until it dies or your needs for size or utility change.  And for goodness sake, if you drive a fancy commuter truck that gets 12 mpg and has never nor ever will haul, pull or trailer something, or even as much as have mud boots stuck upside down between the cab and the bed, you should get rid of that truck stat.

Don't buy your teenager a brand new car. Just don't. There are life lessons to be learned here.  My 17 year old sister drives an old, beige, hail pocked Honda Accord that a lot of teenagers wouldn't be caught dead in, but you know how she feels about it?  She's just grateful to have some wheels, calls it the Hondatron, and says the pock marks just add "texture" and give it good aerodynamics like a a golf ball.  That, my friends, is the kind of teenager you want to raise.

As long as student loans are in the picture, give them a higher priority than flashy vacations.

Or just don't take flashy vacations.  I've never been to Disney World and honestly I think my memories of mom + daughters nights watching Cinderella on VHS are much more special.  Not to mention several thousand dollars cheaper.

Folks, I can tell you from firsthand experience that living within your means is da bomb.   It allows you to take care of budgeting and bills in a matter of fact, "no biggee" attitude, then close the laptop or checkbook and not worry further.  For us, it allowed us to exit Trent's entire church job/paycheck for him to go to seminary with no freak outs whatsoever.  Between losing that paycheck and getting raises at our remaining jobs, it was about $15,000 net income gone.  Kablam.  And it was no. big. deal.

People, I want this peace of mind for you. It takes intention and what you perceive at the time as real sacrifice to get there, but let me tell you, once you get there, you can throw financial stress out the window and it is so flippin awesome.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Takeaways And Tidbits Lately

"You know, I think this is what we're supposed to look like when we stand before Jesus.  I don't think we're supposed to show up in glory with time to spare, a fresh manicure, and perfect hair.  I think if we're really living the gospel, we're going to fall at His feet exhausted and messy, with mismatched socks, just plumb worn out from loving people as hard as we can!"

Overextended...And Loving Most Of It: The Unexpected Joy of Being Harried, Heartbroken and Hurling Oneself Off Cliffs by Lisa Harper


"Sometimes obedience isn't for us at all, but for another.  We don't know how God holds the kingdom in balance or why He moves a chess piece at a crucial time; we might never see the results of his sovereignty.  But we can trust Him when he says press on, cling to hope, stay the course.  He is always at work, even if the entire thread is hidden.  I might just be one shade of one color of one strand, but I'm a part of an elaborate tapestry that goes beyond my perception."

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker


"If you need any baby stuff, let me know."
"We're cleaning out the garage and set aside a bunch of kid stuff for you. Come over and take anything you want."
"I have some bags of toddler clothes for you."
"I've got a twin box spring, frame and headboard, just not the mattress. But you are welcome to those things if you want them."

Some of the wonderful people in our life lately


Me: Rachel said we could have one of her cribs.
Trent: Does she want to give away both of her cribs?
Me: Maybe, but we probably don't need two cribs.
Trent: We might need two cribs...
Me: You're right...we might...

Crazy realizations of just what an unknown road we are headed down


Me: I kind of want the little Nook reader...
Trent: Super! Let's do it.
Me: I mean, it's not terribly expensive I guess...
Trent:  Yeah it's not bad, let's do it.
Me: Maybe you could find it cheaper on Ebay...
Trent: Yep look, here's one new for only $40, let's do it.
Me: Oh, it can wait and be on my Christmas list...
Trent:  You never buy anything for yourself, let's get the silly thing!
Me: Ok I'll see if it fits in the budget for this paycheck...

Dynamics of a financial nerd living with a tech nerd

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Home Study Complete, And Now We Wait

Well folks, we have done all that we are supposed to do to become licensed foster-to-adopt parents.  Our home study interviews last Monday were the final step.  And now we wait.  The lady who did our interviews has two weeks to do her giant write up about us, then she'll turn that back over to CPS where a supervisor will review our entire file.  So we're getting really, really close to being licensed.

Let me tell ya, being grilled for 5.5 hours by a stranger about your marriage relationship and hopes for family is a pretty good way to see if you and your spouse are on the same page or not.  Newsflash: we are.   I know the point of the interviews was for this lady to glean information about us, but it was also a really good opportunity for us to glean information about ourselves and bring this whole past year of processing, discussing and learning to a culmination.  The home study visit was exhausting, voice straining and brain smushing, I was pretty useless when I headed back to the office afterwards and I couldn't muster up any energy for Jazzercise that evening.  But, it was worth it.

She asked us what our strengths and weaknesses are as individuals and as a couple.  She asked us how we handle disagreements.  She asked us how we were raised and disciplined, how our relationships with our families are and how each of us gets along with in-laws.  She asked us about our finances, our health, our neighborhood, our friends, our stresses, our outlets for fun, and our love life.  She asked us how we plan to protect, nurture, discipline, teach and love on the kids that would come into our home.  She asked how we feel about birth parents, social workers, lawyers and the CPS system in general.

She asked us "If you could change something about your marriage, what would it be?"  We had to sit for a minute to think about that one and all we could really come up with was maybe that Trent be better about putting his dirty clothes in the hamper...  If dirty clothes are our biggest worry...I think we're in good shape.

And so we wait, for just a few more weeks.   Then it could be "go time" at any moment.