11 September 2011

Words from Sarah

It’s no secret that my entire family finds our ‘baby’ utterly hilarious. Here is a sampling of some of her choicest moments.
Her ideas on how to care for aging parents: “Mommy, I will always buy you toys, take you to the doctor, and take you to the playground.”
How to learn a foreign language: “I can speak Chinese! Because I’m wearing Chinese clothes!”
Upon waking up in the morning: “I don’t want kisses, I want my breakfast!”  
Upon seeing Joel and Ashley walk down the aisle as flower girl and ring bearer in a wedding: “Oh no, Joel and Ashley got married! Now I have to marry Elliot!”
Her stance on the blueberry debate: “I do believe in blueberries! I do! I do!”
On a Skype call: “Where’s my favorite man? Tell Angel we need more candy. Especially the sugar kind.”
When Mom quoted the verse, “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” Sarah immediately piped up, “I did!” Mom said, “Oh really? What did you give Him?” Sarah said, “A cake. And He ate it!”
Sarah sings “This little light of mine,” including the verse “Don’t let Satan blow it out” and then asks, “Satan is bad, right?”
While an elder sibling is reciting 1 Peter 1:16, “because it is written ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy,’” Sarah interrupts “No, I am holy!”
Wise words on how to keep your job: “If you go to the movies during work, you’ll get fired; not the kind of fired where you get burned up but the kind where you don’t have a job.”
Advice to Rachel during a Skype call: “This is very important. Don’t eat wasabi!”
Her take on corporal punishment: "Daddy, if you spank me too much, your hearts will compete."

Ten Years Ago Today

This morning as I was listening to the radio, I heard the song “That September Day” by Alan Jackson, and I was inspired to look back and try to remember what my experience of that day was like.
Ten years ago, I was ten years old. Ten years ago today, my Grandma called my Mom to tell her what had happened in New York. My parents immediately signed up for cable television, so we could see the news and find out what was happening. I remember sitting on the floor in front of the television, seeing the footage of the burning towers. I remember for days afterwards, hearing the stories of survivors and hearing about the families who had lost loved ones. I remember crying. I probably wasn’t old enough at the time to understand everything that was going on, and a lot of my memories of that day and the days that came after that are a little foggy. I wrote in my diary back then that I was angry and sad, and that I hoped there wouldn’t be a war.


Every day, I reflect on all the different kinds of pests that can invade houses:
Rats. Now these are just terrifying. Last time I came across one of these in someone’s house, I jumped sky high and screamed so loud that I got scolded!
Mice. They are not nearly as scary as rats, because of their smaller size. But they can be terribly annoying. Earlier this year, we were having a lot of trouble with mice in our kitchen. They ate into my 25 lb. bag of rice, so I had to get a metal canister—they couldn’t get through that! They even attempted to infiltrate our jar of peanut butter by chewing their way all around the lid. They didn’t get in, but in the morning we found a jar of peanut butter with a mauled lid and countless tiny pieces of chewed plastic inside the cupboard. Our mouse troubles were over, however, after we invested in a few mousetraps and caught 3 mice in the space of two weeks.
Cockroaches. I’ve already written about some of my adventures with these little guys. My main problem with cockroaches is that not only are they insects, and not only are they black insects, but they are also quite large. That’s just not a good combination for any house pest.
Ants. The problem with ants is the sheer number of them. I remember birthday parties where we had to set out the food just before the guests came and clean it up the very minute people were done eating in a futile hope that we could prevent the ants from descending upon us in droves. They came anyways, for the stray crumbs that escaped our brooms.
Rainbugs. Oh…these guys are pretty horrible. I honestly do not know what they are called in standard language. My family always called them rainbugs. Once a year, or maybe a few times a year, during a cool evening, these insects would come flying into our house through every nook and cranny they could find. We would frantically stuff towels in the crack between the door and the floor, but it was always too late. Within minutes, our house would be full of these flying creatures, and there was usually nothing left to do but to go to bed. When your eyes were closed, you could pretend that your room was not full of small insects flitting around erratically. In the morning we would always wake up to find that all the rainbugs were dead and wingless. Dead insects and wings would be scattered all over the floor and we had to sweep them up. We were glad that this only happened once or twice a year.
Box Elder Bugs. This spring, our house was infested with these black and orange little guys. Again, the sheer numbers made these bugs intimidating. Relatively few actually made it into the house, but outdoors, Angel and I found them constantly clustered in large groups on the yellow siding of our house. Maybe they were attracted to the color, I don’t know. It’s more likely that they just wanted to pester us, I think.
I embark on this daily exercise of thought because my home has recently been invaded by an uncommonly large number of crickets. Angel has killed quite a few, but their continued presence is undeniable. Crickets are neither terrifying nor very intimidating. In fact, I distinctly remember reading several children’s books that had a cricket as a protagonist. I don’t really like them in my house, but I would prefer cricket invaders to all the other invaders that I listed above. This is precisely why I think about all the other pests I’ve had experience with over the years. Yes, it can be irritating when at six in the morning an invisible cricket begins chirping incessantly, but that’s livable. When I think about rats, cockroaches, and rainbugs, I’m so grateful for my crickets.
05 September 2011

Eternal Investing

This phrase has been on my mind a lot lately, and I can’t take credit for coming up with it. When I was growing up, my Mom often challenged me and my siblings to invest—time, money, and emotions—into things that are eternal, rather than those things that are only going to last as long as this world does.
Like I said, I was told about eternal investing while I was growing up, and it has always been in the back of my mind. The concept has definitely influenced the way I live—but I am beginning to think that I have not yet let it influence my lifestyle to the extent that it should. The reasoning behind eternal investing is that, throughout our lives, we are constantly investing our time, money, and emotions into various things. Some people invest a lot of time into work and accumulating money. This is not a strong pull in my life, as my greatest ambition is to never have a steady job, or make any money worth speaking of. Others invest their time into various hobbies. Currently, my favorite hobbies are scrapbooking, making jewelry, and working on my dollhouse. These hobbies take a lot of time and they definitely cost money. In fact, I even invest my emotions into these hobbies: I feel very passionately about my precious dollhouse.
But the fact is, a job, even one that you love, isn’t going to last forever. Someday, my dollhouse is going to fall apart, and the other crafts that I spend so much time on really are not going to last that long either. When you spend time watching television—no matter how much you cheer for your favorite team—you don’t get an eternal return on that investment of your time.
So what can we invest in that is eternal? We really don’t have a lot of choices here. When we start looking at what is really going to last in this world, I can only think of two categories of eternal significance: your relationship with God, and every human on the planet. These things are eternal, and I am convinced of the necessity of investing more of my own time, money, and emotions into these things.
When I need to decide between calling a friend or catching up on my scrapbooking, I need to choose the eternal. When I need to choose between going to a family function or hitting up a good sale at JCPenney’s, I need to invest my time into what is eternal: blessing my relatives and encouraging them. Doing the most mundane chores, I believe, can be investing into something eternal. When I make a delicious supper for my husband, I am investing into his life by meeting his need for food and showing him that he is loved and cared for by his wife. Chores as simple as cooking and cleaning can be an eternal investment, under the right circumstances! I want to start intentionally investing in the lives of my family and friends, and investing in my personal relationship with God, rather than letting those investments happen accidentally in the midst of my busy life.
It’s just something to think about…where are you investing?

A Fashion Statement

It seems that many people write and read about fashion—there are fashion blogs, fashion magazines, and books on how to be fashionable on a budget. Some people who know me slightly may mistake me for one who is interested in fashion. In fact, various relatives of mine occasionally ask me for advice on whether a certain article of clothing is cool or fashionable. I fear that they have found me to be largely useless for the purpose of a fashion advisor, however. There are a few fashion faux pas that I strongly advise against, including the athletic shoes with skinny jeans combo, and sweatpants for any situation other than sleeping. But for the most part, my only response to questions of fashion is, “Do you like it? If you like it, and enjoy wearing it, then it’s fashionable for you!” Another question never to ask me is, “Does this *article of clothing* match with this *article of clothing*?” In my view, if you believe that your outfit matches, that’s all you need. As you can tell, I am a proponent of individual fashion—letting each person create their own unique style which is not dictated to by the “rules” of fashion.

I think the reason that people mistake me for someone interested in fashion is because I really do like clothing. However, compared to true fashionistas—I do not know a single name of a clothing designer, I don’t own an accessory or an article of clothing worth more than $150 (and that one’s my wedding dress!), and I have been known to wear suspenders and Dorothy-esque pink Converse to school (“There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!”)
Many people recognize that I have a style all my own. My husband says that pretty much the first thing he noticed about me was that I “dressed really weird.” He says he figured that either meant I was too dumb to know what normal people dress like, or else I was really smart and expressed it in eccentric clothing choices. I find that amusing because for years I have decided upon a strategy of using my colorful outfits to trick other people into thinking that I am not a brainiac. I guess it sort of worked on Angel. I have named my everyday style “Rachel,” and just in case anyone wants to dress up as me for Halloween, here’s a few characteristics of this style:
                Unexpectedness is a key term in this style. I have been known to wear a Japanese kimono to college, randomly. It is considered unexpected to wear an elegant white dress with dark purple leggings. My most used colors are black, white, magenta, turquoise, dark purple and denim. I typically mix elements of different styles. I might mix punk with ultra-feminine by wearing a flowery sundress and loading up on the black leather armbands with metal studs (yes, I own approximately 6 of those, maybe more). I’ll wear a traditional long tunic from Bangladesh with skinny jeans and cowboy boots. That particular outfit was titled “Cowboys and Indians.” Another important characteristic is that most of my daily outfits have titles; one of my favorites is “Captain Jack.” I don’t like scarves, the colors yellow and orange, or sandals. Nothing International Development Major-ish. For imitating this style, the details are important. I only tolerate purses because of the necessity of keeping my wallet close at hand, so an old, ratty purse with no fashion value with quite acceptable. Varicolored fingernails are important, and so are sparkly things hung on necks, ears, and wrists. Temporary hair color, usually with some sort of reddish tint, is a good addition.
Just in case anyone was interested, here are the only fashion/shopping tips I am qualified to offer:
1.       1. If you’re not in love with it, don’t buy it. This may not work for everyone, because I recognize that not everyone falls in love with their clothes. However, with me it’s usually love at first sight. If I don’t love something, I won’t buy it, because I know that I will never grow to love it. When I do immediately love an article of clothing at the store, and choose not to buy it for financial reasons, I know from experience that the article of clothing will haunt me for years to come. For this reason I have taught my heart to only love affordable clothes—it usually obeys.
1.       2. You don’t have to wear something just because it’s fashionable. Different fashions suit different people. Some fashions do not suit my body type, and some do not suit my opinions. I hated—and I mean despised—skinny jeans for probably the first three years that they were popular. I eventually changed my mind and decided that I liked skinny jeans, but as long as I disliked them, I refused to buy them and totally ignored the fashion among girls my age. Someday, I’ll hate skinny jeans again, most likely, and I’ll be buying bootcut jeans again.
1.      3.  Don’t buy practical clothes. Practical clothes are needed for many things, but they will always come to you. It’s an unusual situation when you need to spend money to get them. Use ill-fitting handmedowns as your scrub the bathtub clothes. When I want to ruin a shirt, I just wear one of my dad’s or Angel’s, and go paint the ceiling. When a well-meaning relative gives you an outfit that you just don’t like—go ahead and use it for pajamas, or go clean the basement in it. See what I mean? It seems that “practical” or grubby clothing always in good supply, so don’t buy something just because it’s cheap and would be great to work in.
1.      4.  Last thing. Try, if at all possible, to have fun getting dressed every day! When I’ve put together an outfit that I really like, I look in the mirror and yell “Genius!!” in triumph. Usually, I also do a victory dance. I hope that people around the world feel the same way when they get dressed. If you don’t, try yelling, “I’m a genius!!” every day after you get ready—if it doesn’t make you feel better, it’ll at least make other members of your family laugh at you—and you love bringing joy to your family, don’t you?
 (The pictures I just added for fun--they are some of my favorite outfits caught on film over the years. Many of you may remember some of these events. And yes, I am using licorice sticks as a hair accessory in the "red" themed outfit. I just realized I missed out on another favorite, the outfit entitled: "Purple-haired Backwards Guitar Playing Rocker Cowgirl" I don't know where the picture is!)