Monday, May 18, 2009

Nagging in my Gut

You know those nagging feelings you get down deep in your gut. It's funny because when I get one of those, I typically ignore it thinking it will eventually subside. Maybe it will, but much like a wretched kidney stone, it's going to get worse before it gets better. This is how I've been feeling for the last few weeks about our price increase for camp. With the economy the way it is (even given the fact that I think it's a bit over exagerated), I just kept feeling like we shouldn't do it. Of course I ignored my feelings. It's just fear, the fear that some people wouldn't register if camp costs $25 more. Fear or no fear, that pesky feeling just wouldn't go away. So on Saturday, a day after the hike went into effect, I called Michelle. Turns out she's been feeling the same way. Funny how that works, huh? We tabled the discussion until Sunday when we could talk face to face (and not over screaming kids in the background). I prayed all the way to church on Sunday, asking for wisdom and direction. Guess what happened? That nagging feeling grew into a nagging voice in my head. That's it...we must rescind it.

It's not that we think it's wrong. Eventually we're going to need to stick with it, but, for this year, we've hired our staff based on our specialties and still have some spaces. We'd like to fill those spaces and we don't want a little thing like money to deter people from signing up (especially since we are so new to the scene). I don't know what God is going to do now, but I know it's going to the be great. Seriously, when does he do something that isn't? And as for those gut feelings...maybe I won't be so quick to dismiss them as "cold feet."

Our official statement is below. Let me know what you think.

Not Registered Yet? Read This!

We have some very good news. We’ve decided to rescind our price increase from May 15th. Why, you ask? We’ve hired our staff and still have some extra spots for campers. Given the status of the current economy, we didn’t want to discourage anyone from coming to camp. So our prices will remain at $200 a week for regular camp, and $100 for SIT camp and Taste of Camp. We hope that this will give you a little more time to find out whether Grace Adventures Day Camp is the place for you for the Summer of 2009. Remember that we also offer Sibling Discounts up to 7.5% of the total cost of camp and Bring a Friend discounts of $10 per registration for both you and your friend.

If money is still an object, let us know. We can work with you to provide payment plans or scholarship assistance if needed. If you’re still working out the kinks in your summer schedule, don’t worry about it. As long as there is space, we will continue to take registrations. However, our limits are now set and we can no longer guarantee space, especially in Junior Camp or specific specialty areas.

Not sure whether a full day of camp will work for your children, try the Taste of Camp (June 29th- July 3rd). This camp was specifically designed to give kids the full experience of camp in half the time. They’ll enjoy an introduction to sports, creative play, drama, creeking, fort building, and water play, as well as Bible time and all camp assemblies. By the end of the week, we promise, they’ll be begging for more.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I know, I know...three posts in one night. Crazy, isn't it? So many times I get these ideas in my head about different posts I want to do, but I rarely get to do them all. Since writing is so therapeutic for me, I thought it only appropriate to write about whatever floats my boat as part of my Sabbath. I don't exactly get a whole lot of chill time, so this is my excuse to sit back, kick up my feet, and go for it. So I hope you get a chance to read the other two entries from tonight. I'd really like to do one more, but I'm not sure my eyes will stay open long enough.

So fluff? What is fluff? Well, to be honest, it's a low calorie bowl of yumminess. Jen turned me onto it when I was visiting in San Antonio a couple years back. Okay, fine, I'll give you the recipe at the end. It's a perfect snack, especially for those times when I'm eating because I'm frustrated or bored.

My boys love fluff, and from what she's tasted, so does Madison. Sometimes, I'll dish out a bowl for their afternoon snacktime, and watch them go to town. I just have to tell you about today's fluff experience. It's not exactly a clean food. In fact, it's down right messy. Blake woke up first from naptime, so I dipped out a bowl, and put him in his seat with a large bib. This is what he looked like after a couple bites.

Then he says, "All done, Mommy." Yes, my boy is speaking in semi-full sentences. He gets down leaving almost an entire bowl of fluff behind. Man, I remember when that boy wouldn't stop eating.

A few minutes later, Owen arose a cranky mess. He didn't want to put on pants for church, so I said, "fine, then you don't get to eat the Fluff that is sitting on the table as we speak." Before I finished that statement, he was dressed and sitting at the table with spoon in hand. "Don't get any on you. Fluff can be quite messy." "Fluff is messy, Mommy?" I nodded my head and went back to what I was doing. Before I knew it, Owen had grabbed a bib and climbed up into Blake's seat.

Needless to say, there is never a dull moment at the Pennington's. These boys keep me busy, and most of the time, exhausted.

Fluff (1 pt per cup)

1 can crushed pineapple

2 boxes of Sugar Free, Fat Free Cheesecake Pudding (or Vanilla)

Mix these two together, then add:

1 can Mandarin Oranges

1 32 oz. container of Fat Free Vanilla Yogurt

Fold in:

1 8 oz container of Cool Whip Free

Voila...Fluff, my guiltless pleasure & a constant source of hilarity with my boys. Enjoy.

"I DO"

Seriously (Thank you Grey's Anatomy for increasing my vocabulary), it's wedding mania. I thought I was long past this stage of life, but seemingly it's back...and at a time when I need a much deserved break from baby showers and birthing stories. (Oh & I get to wear a totally cute $4 dress that shows off my butt-kicking weight loss).

Clare's getting married and I have the pleasure of being her Matron of Honor. Yay, how fun, but her wedding isn't until September, right? Doesn't matter, there is lots to plan and four months is going to fly by. So while we're in the midst of that, Joyce's daughter gets married (this past Saturday). Totally surreal moment for me. Why, you ask? Because I'm a friend of the Bride's mother. See what I mean. But it was a beautiful wedding, and I felt blessed to be able to be there for Clare and I picked up tons of fun tips and ideas for her own wedding. Thanks Kristin (& Congrats). Did I mention that Kristin and her new hubby live in Warner Robins, GA. I KNOW, right (spoken like a true Monica from Friends)? For such a small town in Georgia, I have way too many random connections to it, the main one being my grandparents (though they are not at all random).

So it doesn't end there. This Friday, Joyce and Tim get married. How fun is that? At first they were going to do a small ceremony in the back of TJ's (our pastor) yard with no guests. Appalled that I wouldn't be invited, I simply made the point that I'd crash the wedding and hide in the bushes (not that TJ has any) and Twitpic the entire thing. Clare quickly jumped on board with my plan, and then voila, we were all invited. But of course I could not accept the invitation because I'd already gotten so hyped up about the whole mission impossible theme. So now there are going to be a few guests and two crazy ladies hiding in the bushes.

To keep in sync with our fun plan, Carly (TJ's daughter) and her friend Audrey decided to sell tickets in the blessed event at Fusion tonight. Deck tickets went for $2 a piece and were gone in a jiffy. "Nose bleed" roof seats were $.50 but you had to bring your own ladder. Mat, our roommate & Clare's fiance, bought the bridesmaid ticket for $3, and Mandy became the groomsman. Clare and I opted for Tree #1 & #4. I was able to negotiate the tickets down to $.24 a ticket, but was upset to find that they didn't have change for my quarter. TJ came by and decided that in order to help out with his daughter's college fund, he'd auction off his position as minister for a whopping $100. Sold to Jeremy Smith, a philanthropist with a soft spot for Cupid's finest. All in all, the girls made off with $112.43. Joyce & Tim attempted to lay claim to the proceeds, but Carly & Audrey were long gone, half way to Mexico by now.

The thing is that it will be a beautiful ceremony because it involved two of my favorite people. And oh do they have such an amazing story to tell. I'd spill it to you, but it's not mine to tell (and I don't have a box of tissue beside me). Let's just say it's a story of redemption & faith, heart break and healing, love and grace. I'm honored, truly freaking honored, to be part of that day, whether it's from behind a tree or in a seat. Congratulations Tim & Joyce. You've earned it!

"You Have a a bar."

If you know me at all, you know that the title of this her blog entry is from my absolute favorite movie, Sweet Home Alabama. I can't tell you how many times in the last 4 years I've said those very words to myself (or heard someone else say them to me) as I've sipped on a margarita during Happy Hour. Well, this past Friday was no different, but I wasn't exactly chillin' with my BFF's this time...I was at a political rally of sorts, meeting with candidates and fellow "right" thinking peeps. Admittingly, I was a little intimidated as I walked in. I half expected it to be 2 or 3 old timers sippin on a jack and coke spouting off about the good ole days of Reagan and "cold" wars. But as I rounded the corner of Dimitri's bar, I found a hopping crowd of mixed ages, genders and drinks. I gracefully moved through the crowd. Okay, maybe graceful is the wrong word considering I'm lugging Madison around in her car seat bumping the elbows and knees of everyone I passed. I begin to focus in on familiar faces and navigate toward them. Within minutes Dave (campaign treasurer for the Madron team) had a beer in my hand and began to introduce me to the unknown faces in the crowd. I finally had the chance to meet DJ Madron, the guy I was telling you about who is running for the state legislature in our district. He's young, but what he lacks in experience, he gains in vigor. He's fed up and ready to take on Annapolis, and that's a golden quality in any republican these days. I also ran into Al Nalley, the other guy running for one of the two choice seats in the district. Al's a bit older and has been through this all before, but you wouldn't know it just by looking at him. He's just as fired up as Madron and has proved that he has what it takes to keep fighting.

I also learned a lesson in "Small Worldville." Almost immediately, I met a young couple, Jimmie & Kathleen, who just happened to be from Georgia (or at least she was). We grew up a few miles from each other and now live within minutes, each with three kids. Instant connection! Yay, I love those. I'm sure, as we get to know each other better, we'll realize that we have at least one friend of a friend of a friend in common. Man, it makes me wish I could make our local club meetings, but they always fall on Thursday nights. Do you think I could fake sick and go to the meeting, while they have Bible Study at my house? I could easily put pillows in the bed like I did when I was a teenager and climb out the window (might suck with I hit the ground and break my leg, but at least I'd get to go hear all these amazing speakers.)

In the next couple days, I hope to post a blog of Speed Cameras. We're passing petitions around in the hopes of pushing this stupid idea into referendum. Seriously, speed cameras? It's one thing to put a cop out there and play a little game of cat & mouse. It's another thing to entrap people with inaccurate technology that works more like a tax than a penalty. Oh how I love our system. Wow, now that my blood is boiling, I should really get on to my next topic or bed...haven't decided yet.

I took some pics from the event, but Neil left the camera card in the car, so I'll have to post them tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I am a Good Mom, Dammit!

Since this whole blog entry is about judgment, you can judge me later for using the word, "dammit." For now, it seemed appropriate.

So we've all done it, made a snap judgment about someone without knowing the person or the situation. Whether it's about the way they look, or act, or parent, we're all guilty. I get that, but most of the time, we keep our judgments to ourselves, right? Okay, maybe not completely to ourselves Yeah. we might gossip a little here and there with our buddies. The point is that you don't walk up to the mom in Walmart who's dealing with a melt down child and tell her she's a bad parent. You judge her in your mind, say a quick "that will never be me" in your head, and move on.

Well today I became a victim of someone else's snap judgments. We're at Chick-Fil-A after Connections. There were four of us moms and 7 children between us. For the most part the moms were congregating outside the play area chatting up a storm while the kids played. However, Amy was going in and out as to give more supervision for her daughter. So Anne and I are conversing when this other mom comes up to me with paper towels in her hand and says, "your son just spilled tea all over the place and I had to clean it up." First of all, why did she feel the need to clean up after my son. She obviously knew he belonged to me. Could she not just tell me what had happened? Did she not think I was capable of cleaning up a little spilled tea? But at this point I was gracious. "Oh, I'm sorry. You didn't have to clean up after him. If you'd have told me, I would have come in there."

"Well, he shouldn't have had tea in there to begin with," says the lady with a more than a little disdain. This is the moment it becomes apparent to me why she felt the need to clean up the tea. Obviously she feels like I'm an unfit mom. Obviously I gave Owen the cup of tea and sent him in there to frolic and spill as he sees fit. Oh the nerve of some people. "Actually I really had no idea he had taken his tea in there. I'll have a talk with him."

"I don't understand why you'd let your child run around in there without supervision." Okay, now you're just being cruel woman. I said I was sorry. Are you wanting me to bow down at your feet and crown you mother of the year. It's clear that your child has never done anything without your knowledge. Notice the lack of quotation marks. This is not what I said, but if you know me, you know I didn't let things go that easily. "I'm sorry that I make mistakes. I'm obviously not as perfect as you." Again she says, "well, I just don't understand why you wouldn't watch your child." First of all, it's not one child, it's THREE children. Second of all, check out the plank in your own eye before you nit pick at the speck (or sometimes a plank) in my eye. Third, seriously, you don't have to parent my children. I am a good mom, dammit.

She storms off the bathroom to clean herself up from her heroic act. I, in turn, go in to the play are to find Owen, and we have a long talk about taking tea into the kid's area. Really, he knows better. I told him that his consequence was that he would be all done playing and have to apologize to and thank the lady that had cleaned up his mess. I might not like how she judged me but the lesson was more important than my bruised pride. As the lady came back from the bathroom, I stopped her. "My son has something he needs to say to you." At first, she starts back into her bad parenting speech, but I stopped her. "Regardless of what you think of me. I teach my children to take responsibility for their actions. Would it be okay for him to apologize to you as well as thank you for cleaning up his mess?"

She seriously looked dumb founded, like I just pissed in her higher than mighty bowl of wheaties. Owen, with all the sincerity of a three year old, looked at her (as I've always tried to teach him) and said "I'm sorry I took my tea into the play area (insert a little prompting) and thank you for cleaning it up." She said, "That's okay," and walked away without so much as another word to me.

She made a snap judgment about me, and really all us moms there. She equated our lack of presence in the play area with a lack of ability to parent. Okay God lesson learned. I too judge, and I need to take a breather and think about the fact that I'm probably wrong. I have no idea what goes on in people's lives on a day to day basis. Heck, if I looked at a snapshot of my own life, there are times I'd call DFACS on myself. Sometimes, I lack patience. Sometimes, I zone out or make a decision without thinking it through. Sometimes, I make the wrong decision. Sometimes, I'm lazy or lack the energy to be consistent. I am by no means the perfect mom or even a suitable role model for other moms, but I'm a good mom, dammit.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Beginning Young

So Owen comes up to me and says, "Mommy, Madison wants to play ball with us." I come out side to find Madison sporting a couple balls. Of course it didn't end here. Blake and Owen continued to pile on the balls until she was completely covered. Oh the joys of motherhood. The thing is, she barely even flinched. I think she must have been born with thick skin. God knew she would endure torture at the hands of her aggressively loving brothers. Yes, she was born with thick skin. Lord help the boys who want to date her.
Can you imagine it? Her date arrives to meet Neil at the front door with Owen & Blake standing close behind. The dude doesn't stand a chance. Poor, poor Madison.

Oh Happy Day

When I was a child I thought it was the coolest thing to have my birthday near Mother's Day. It seemed appropriate to me that I got presents around the same time as my mom. I don't think it's so cool anymore. It just seems too easy to blur the two into one indistinct holiday. However, seeing as my birthday fell on Mother's Day this year, it was still a pretty wonderful day.

Lyle sent out a tweet yesterday that said if it weren't for the father's, Mother's Day would be just another day. How true that is, and Neil had a double whammy since it was my birthday as well. I have to say that he and the boys get mad props for making the entire weekend as special as it could possibly be. First, at dinner on Friday, Neil told me he wanted to buy me camcorder for my birthday. Sweet! Now you might be wondering why Neil would just tell me instead of buying it, wrapping it, and handing it to me on my actual birthday. Now this actually speaks to how well the man knows me. He wanted to give me the option of being surprised or letting me assist in finding the best deal (thrift guru emerges). Isn't that just the sweetest thing? I, surprisingly, opted to be surprised, but did offer up a few deal seeking tips. When it comes to electronics, I get more lost in the sheer multitude of options. So, yay, I should have a camcorder soon to catch those momentous occasions with my fabulous family (and camp as well).

Then, on Sunday morning, Neil made breakfast for the whole family, which is saying a lot because he feels insecure in his ability to cook grits. They were yummy, and he did an excellent job. Of course the kitchen looked like it had been attacked by an army of 5 year olds, but it's the thought that counts.

The rest of the day worked a bit like the any other day, minus the intermittent phone calls from family and friends (and those fun facebook wall posts). I debated whether to call mom to wish her a "Happy Mother's Day" or wait for her to call and wish me a "Happy Birthday." I ended up calling I get the brownie points, right? We left a little early for church so we could stop off at the park and let the boys play for a bit. Since I had decided to look cute for church, I had Neil snap a few pics of me and the kids. Aren't they the cutest ever? I can't wait to get our new camera so I can take better quality pics.

Church was bare bones. I guess everybody was off visiting the 'rents. Afterwards we met up with Joyce, her daughter Kristin, Tim, Lyle, Rebecca & their kids at Red Robin for a birthday celebration. Granted Red Robin doesn't exactly fit into my Weight Watchers plan, but I planned for it and thought I did fairly well...considering.

So I didn't tell you about my birthday present to myself. Saturday I went ot my WW meeting, weighed in, and hit my 10% goal. Since joining weight watchers, I've lost 18 pounds (over 10% of my initial weight). I even got a funky little key chain to commemorate the occasion. I can't tell you how great that felt. The 10% also signifies the half way point for me, half way to my ultimate goal. There is light at the end of the table. Happy Birthday to me!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Always Amazed by the Amazing

I'm just going to call this "Camp Week." We're jam packed with activities all week, from counselor interviews to our Chick-Fil-A fundraiser for camp scholarships (which was tonight). Tomorrow is all about planning for staff training, and Thursday is a day long seminar on state licensing. You envy me, don't you? Well, with the exception of the state stuff, you should. It's in the details of camp that God meets me and blows me out of the water. Seriously! I guess that's how it should be, right?

Let's start with Monday night. We held our first ever group interview. This is an interview unlike any other. We play games, sing songs, and act like a bunch of kids, but really, it's appropriate considering we're hiring camp counselors. Last year, we had just enough applications for the number of positions we had available. Thankfully, God provided fully for our every need and we had a kickin' staff. This year we actually had more applicants, especially girls, than we could hire. How awesome is that? Of course that means we have to make decisions, and sometimes that means choosing the best over the great. I'm not going to get into the details. I just have to say that in this process, God has shown up. It's amazes me to see how he meets our specific needs, for skill sets, age groups, and spirituality. We're blessed, and I don't mean that in the cliche way. We're seriously blessed to have the absolute cream of the crop at Grace Adventures Day Camp.

And then there was tonight. When we first thought about doing a fundraiser night at Chick-Fil-A, I have to admit I was skeptical. How much money could we really raise? Would it be truly successful? Well, let's just say I'm currently eating my own skepticism, and it sucks because I'm already full of yummy chicken. I can't tell you how many people came, but I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of their customers were there for us. Can you feel the love? I know I can. I should know soon what the total number is, but the people are what ultimately encouraged me. We had staff, campers, Grace church goers, random friends of friends of friends. Heck, our middle school group opted for chicken nuggets over their usual pizza just so they could contribute as well (Thank Shaun & Light Company). We gained a friend on our Vision Team, gave out a few "bumper magnets" and even gathered a couple registrations. This was a key moment for me, encouraging and uplifting. For me, when the going gets rough, I'll be able to look back to this night as a reminder of our vision lived out. We're building bridges, people. They may be small bridges right now, barely covering the creek in the backyard, but it's still a bridge.

It's in the small moments such as these that I stand amazed by the "amazing." And I'm glad that I get to see God in the details, no matter how small they are.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Inching Right

If you know me at all, then I'm sure you're fully aware of where I stand politically...right of center. Now, how far right of center I am, seems to be in direct correlation to how far left the Left moves. Lately I find myself inching further and further right, and as I look around me, I'm noticing a heck of a lot more everyday Americans right there with me (who weren't necessarily there before). The recent tea parties are a case in point. Granted, CNN, Nancy Pelosi, and every left of center liberal out there mocked the hundreds of thousands of people (maybe even millions) who, for the first time in their lives, cared enough to protest. But that's not the point.

So what is my point, you ask? After the election, I tried desperately to put on my blinders and pretend that this was not My America, that what was happening was not actually happening. But really, how long can you keep your head in the sand without suffocating (or getting sand in places you really don't want it)?

Okay, so I pull my head out of the sand. What now? What can I do, especially when it seems that people are euphorically blind to the deterioration of the American Dream that is happening right in front of their eyes. Seriously, is there even a such thing anymore? Naive me thought it was all about the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, but that doesn't seem to matter anymore. The very core of America is under attack, and it's so subtle that we don't even notice it. One day we'll wake up and wonder where these chains came from. We'll wonder what happened to our unalienable rights; our right to speak freely, our right to assemble peacefully, our right to bear arms, our right to express ourselves. Heck, sometimes I wonder if it's all a hoax. Maybe we don't have rights anymore, just the illusion or faint shadow of what once was. People look to the government to meet their needs. Personal responsibility is a four letter word. Empowerment is unattainable. And blame is the name of the game. Is this the new definition of hope?

I live in a state dominated by leftist liberalism, the ultimate blue state. Literally, I am surrounded by libs. You would think in a state so happily left of center that the people would be happy, crime low, and poverty almost non-existent. It should be the ideal society, right? Yet, it's so far from it. The poor keep getting poorer, more dependent than ever on the government, that is so poor itself, it can barely support them. And yet, our mighty Governor feels the solution is simple...raise taxes and increase spending. Wait a second, didn't he just do that? Wasn't there something about the largest tax increase in recent history? Yeah, I vaguely remember that, especially when I'm standing in the checkout lane on payday. No, no, no...slots! Slots will save us. If only the gambling addicts could somehow dig us out of this hole we've dug (and by we, I am not referring to myself).

Friday, I took Owen to preregister for pre-K. The chances of him getting in are slim to none, but I thought we'd try. You see, we're not considered poor and Owen isn't delayed, so we don't exactly meet the criteria for automatic enrollment. Yet, my property taxes pay for the program. Ironic, isn't it?

Last week, I was invited to the Patapsco Valley Republican Club's executive board meeting. And since it didn't fall on a Thursday night, (like their normal club meetings) I was able to go. It was enlightening to say the least. Honestly, I think it was just enough to send me over the edge. If I was sitting on a fence before, I am no longer. I've decided to focus on the grass roots movements within my own community. In order to make a difference on the national level, we have to start at home. I dream of a red city, and then a red county, and then a red state (but only if that red is represented by true conservatives).

And now a message for our Republican leadership. Right now, you are the lesser of two evils. You lack leadership, courage, and spunk. You're so afraid of losing your status that you refuse to take a stand for true conservatism, and you've fallen down on the job. You're not representing us, but rather looking out for yourselves. Go home. Talk to the people in your districts, and not just those that agree with you. Listen. Find out who they are and what they need. Meet people where they are, and take them one step further. You have to give people a reason to believe in you, to stand behind you. Empower us. Inspire us. Move us. Stop focusing on the other side, and spend some much needed time educating your constituents about who you are & what you believe in as a conservative, a Republican. Debunk the lies that we're a party of rich, white racists. But most of all, trust us, "we the people..."

I've added a couple links on the right. One is to the Patapsco Valley Republican Club. I encourage those of you who are with me, right of center, to get involved in your local clubs and organizations. You don't have to go door to door or make random calls. There are a million way to be part of the grass roots movement. The other link is to a young guy running for a State legislature seat in my district. His name is DJ Madron. I've yet to meet him, but from what I've read, I like what he has to say. Maybe a little youth around here will be nice and refreshing, like a stick of Stride gum.