Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Head's Up

Being out of the country for 9 years has enabled us to see the states from a different perspective, I believe. It's a little strange, but interesting at the same time, to see some of the things that have developed over the years, especially in the realms of technology and entertainment.

First of all, who decided to put ads at the bottom of the TV screen? You're watching a program, totally engrossed in the storyline, when an ad pops up and totally pulls you out of the story. Whoever thought of that was greedy and not at all thinking of the viewer. It's rude. We don't like to be interrupted when we pay $7 at a movie theater, why do we allow it at home?

Second and probably last for today is the use of cell phones. We really don't use cell phones much as a family. Instead we just plan what we are going to do, where we are going to meet, etc. It's been amusing watching people use cell phones since we've been here. I pick Timothy up from school, and as I wait in line in the parking lot, I see students emerging from school with their cell phones already attached to their ears. Friends will be walking side by side, talking on cell phones to someone else. Or they will be wandering around the grass or sidewalk, kicking stones, leaning on trees, totally enthralled in conversation.

But students aren't the only ones. Adults are just as bad! Loud phone conversations in restaurants and even Dr's offices are definitely annoying. I really don't want to hear why another person is breaking up with someone else. Even at little league, coaches and parents are on their cell phones, or texting away at a speed I never imagined possible. I think we've discovered a new and improved use for thumbs!

I guess the reason I'm bothered so much by cell phones is the disturbance of the here and now. I don't mean the occasional phone user by any means. Sometimes you just need to make a call, and that's when cell phones are useful. I'm talking about the two friends walking together talking to other people, or the parents at the little league game missing their child's time at bat because they're talking on the phone. Cell phones have become a distraction away from the moments in front of us. The seizable moments, if there is such a word. As parents, we look for teachable moments, or moments just to absorb the joy our children bring. As friends, sometimes it is OK to be lost in the moment of just being with a friend, without having to say a word.

As an outsider looking in, I find our distractedness a little bit sad. We need to be alert in the moment, but instead we're thinking about the two or three steps ahead. Maybe all of the turmoil around us will cause us to look around a bit, and be grateful.

Next time maybe I'll talk about cell phones and driving. But I'll have to tone that one down a bit.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Better Late than Never

Well, I'm a little bit late in my Autumn greetings, so let me start by saying: "Happy Fall, Ya'll!"

How do single parents do it? I'm wondering about that this Fall as I'm a stay-at-home mom with my kiddos. I have three kids on three different campuses (high school, middle school and elementary school) that have to be there within 20 minutes of each other. School buses, you say? Not possible. I live within two miles from each campus, which means it's too close for buses to pick up. Two miles isn't far by car, but it is too far to walk each morning and afternoon. (And NO, I do not want to hear the "barefoot and in the snow" stories right now!) It also sounds like getting the kiddos to each campus is quite do-able since the campuses are so close, but don't be too quick to forget the LINES of cars waiting to do the same thing I'm doing on each of these campuses. The task can be daunting.

BUT....I'm loving it. It's kind of fun being a chauffeur as well as a baseball mom. (soccer. psh. Just kidding Craver) I find that the parents here are very supportive and they let the kids be kids out there. Not too much, though. They also make sure they know their stuff when it comes to baseball. Plus, they start each game in prayer. Now that's Texas for ya!

As for Fall, it always amazes me how quickly things turn from Summer to Fall. It seems like the 22nd there is an actual difference in the shadows and the temperature. If anyone knows this to be a fact, feel free to pass it on. Maybe I'm just anticipating my favorite season too much, but it's there. Add to that the beat of the drums from the football stadium on Friday nights, the pumpkins already on sale, and those caramel apple wraps on display in the stores, and I'm in heaven on earth.

So...Happy Fall, Ya'll! I'll be happy to post any of your favorite Fall pictures and link to your site, if you happen to send any my way!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I haven't been in the states since 9/11 first took place, so I haven't really had the reminders leading up to the day. Now that I'm in the states, I'm seeing news, blogs, and special stories that bring it all to mind, and it has given me time to reflect.

I can remember the day so clearly. We were in Malaysia, and we were packing to get ready to fly back to Thailand the next morning. We had gone out to eat (we had some great Indian food in a local open market) and then split up. T went back to the hotel, and I went out with the kiddos, when T called me up to tell me what he was seeing on CNN. He told of an airliner that hit one of the towers, then he went silent for a moment. He began to describe what he was seeing: another jetliner came into view and it was headed straight for another tower. It hit, and it felt as though time just stood still. We were incredulous. With the first tower, we were theorizing that maybe something went terribly wrong with a flight. But when the second plane came into view, it was clear. This was a terrorist act. I immediately went back to the hotel, and we sat by the TV all night. Those images, sights and sounds, even half a world away, were heart wrenching. It became clear that there was pure evil in the world. We've always known it was there, but this was on national television and the world saw it as well. And for awhile, most of the world grieved with us.

Many don't know this, but the twin towers in Kuala Lampur were also threatened. For that reason, we also didn't fly for the next few days. We stayed at the hotel, and watched closely to all that unfolded before our eyes. All of the planes. The last phone calls from loved ones, saying their good-byes. The walls of pictures of missing loves ones, all in the hopes of finding them alive somewhere. We clung to the stories of rescues, of loved ones reunited against all odds.

I don't want to forget the feelings of that day. We need to make sure that those that come after us don't forget the faces and actions of evil. It's out there, and it is up to good people to stand up and do something about it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Things I'm Re-Learning About Life in the States

There are TONS of magazines. Choose wisely.
Police are everywhere.
So are traffic cameras.
Everything costs money.
Some places don't give change back.
One must drive. Everywhere.
One must not weave through pedestrians in Walmart parking lots. This causes them to give dirty looks.
Stop at stop signs until you roll back.
Middle school boys do not like "Snack Packs" in their lunches. Other middle schoolers laugh.
Football hurts.
Everyone moves fast. All the time.
There are very specific rules during pick up time at various school campuses. Do not break them.
Don't forget to allow for sales tax.
There are no xi tou's.
There are no taxi's.
There are abundantly more food choices. This requires restraint.
There are abundantly more music stations. Few are good.
Bookstores are grand.
So are libraries.
Bookstores and libraries smell wonderful.
I can ask intelligent questions in doctor's offices.
Doctors offer options and information.
New friends are exciting.
Old friends are comfortable.
So are Texas accents and customs, like saying "fixin'", gentlemen opening doors, and talking to strangers.

It's been a sharp learning curve, but I think I'm getting the hang of it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

More Cambodia Pictures

Emily went to Cambodia with my husband, Big Dad, last February. They both came back raving about that place. Em brought her little point and shoot camera, and even though it doesn't offer a lot as far as extras, she did get some great shots. With a little photo manipulation, we think they turned out nicely. Here they are: