Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I Submit that "Runner's High" is a Myth

I mean, for real.
A tidbit about me:  I hate exercise.  I hate it so.  Very.   Much.

So much.

But I go to the YMCA on a regular basis.  As a matter of fact, I am so much better about working out than I used to be.  At one point, B.K. (before kid), the hubs and I were paying nearly $100 per month for a Y membership that we never, ever used.  This went on for the better part of a year before we finally admitted to ourselves that we are not "worker-outters." ...I think that's what they're called.

Oh, "athletes," you say?

Hmm...I'll take your word for it.

Anywho, finally finally, last year on Labor Day weekend we took a tour of our other local YMCA and decided that we needed to make a fundamental change in lifestyle and, I have to say, I have been pretty good about working out.  I have finally come around to making it a part of my schedule.  But, as much as I work on working on it, I cannot ever see myself becoming someone who enjoys exercise.  You know what I do enjoy?  Free childcare.  And if I have to hang out at your facility next to your kickass pool sipping your free coffee to get it, well, just twist my arm already.  Well played, YMCA.  Oh, and what's that over there? Treadmill, huh? Well, I guess I could take a walk for 10 minutes or so and...BOOM. Now I own spandex and a little armband-thingy for holding my sweet tunes while I sweat to the Oldies, or whatever. 

Speaking of sweet tunes, let me share a little PSA with my fellow gym-goers:  While "Beats by Dr. Dre" is definitely an expensive, quality product, wearing giant turquoise headphones while working out MAKES YOU LOOK SILLY, beefy-dude-with-a-beefy-noggin.  I do understand the importance (?) of drowning out the sounds of treadmills and clanking weights, but my teeny earbuds in my teeny ears truly do the trick.

However, if your goal is to look like a villainous teen in a John Hughes flick, by all means, do carry on.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Some people may know this, but I'm really into sewing. More specifically, I'm really into re-creating period garments down to the last detail. This is an expensive hobby/profession. Not only because the materials can cost approximately one metric butt-ton of money (especially if you are really into details), but because it takes A LOT of time to get all of those details right and accurate. I do bunches of reading and research to find out how to get the right look for the right time period. Wouldn't you know it, but there isn't a great deal of information on how to make a woman's oversleeve on a Tudor dress or exactly how far down a man's regency jacket is supposed to hang. I mean, really!

I love doing costume research, though. It's pretty much just looking at pictures. Loads and loads of pictures. When I worked at Performing Arts Supply, I could easily justify sitting in front of the computer nearly all day looking at pictures and drawings of pretty clothes from eras gone by.

Like any girl, though, I'm more into ladies' clothes than men's. My favorite time periods are (in no particular order) Tudor Renaissance, 1830's, 1870's, Medieval, and 1930's although I am a fan of anything before 1980. I am fascinated by dressmaking and hatmaking techniques before modern technology. So much more time was spent on little things like pleating and hand-stitching, before mass-production was introduced. Purchasing clothes back then was a BIG deal because they weren't cheap.

I'm hoping to be able to get paid eventually for doing what I love. I've got an Etsy store that I hope to fill with beautiful reproductions in the not-too-distant future. I'm currently saving money from a sewing project I've been paid to do for Annunciation Orthodox School. They are performing St. George and the Dragon in May and I've been asked to build 2 capes, 4 medieval peasant kirtles and surcotes, a Princess dress (pictured) and 4 or so peasant caps. I'll have pics of those soon on the PatternReview widget.

Meanwhile, if anyone knows of anyone that needs a period repro garment and has money to spend, let's talk!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Back for Now

So, let's's been 2 1/2 years since I last posted...

What has happened since then? Well, some major milestones. I finally finished "Prince Caspian."

...What? It started moving really slow about three-quarters of the way through!

We bought our first house in a nice little neighborhood in July 2009. That was pretty super until our nice, family-of-four neighbors across the street moved to Cinco Ranch and a guy and his girlfriend moved in, subsequently broke up, she moved out and now his garage and driveway is the premier hangout for 16- to 24-year-old street racing amateur mechanics that apparently subsist on carbon monoxide gas fumes and pot smoke...Just to sum up.

Oh, and we had a BABY. Sweet baby James, the cutest kid I've ever seen...and it's not because I'm biased because he's mine. He really is the cutest baby ever. Really!

I quit working full time at Performing Arts and now I only work 1 day a's a pretty great deal. I get to keep it on my resume` and work mostly from home doing contract sewing jobs and take care of James (since, honestly, I didn't make enough to pay for childcare anyway--it's actually cheaper for me not to work).

LOST ended. Major fail.

JT lost his job at Copperfield Church, and now we have started a new church in Northwest Houston--Storyline Fellowship! Our first meeting is going to be on Sunday, May 1st at 6:30 PM at the home of Mark and Irma Davis.

Four people in our (then) Small Group had baby boys in the span of 2 1/2 months in 2009--the Louckses, the Mengers, the Greenes, and the Neilsons (not in that order). As of today, the Mengers just had their second baby, a girl named Emily June. The Yaws had twin girls in November 2010.

Jenny and Dylan made a temporary move to Mt. Pleasant, TX--a stopover on the way to a move to Houston and be a part of Storyline!

I now sleep on a KING SIZED bed...thank you 1st-time home buyer credit.

So much more than I can list! Hopefully I can start blogging "regularly" again, even though blogs are SO 2006. We'll see. I seem to be busier now than ever, though, so it seems it might be a pipe dream.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


You know, it’s really a popular thing to buy stuff in America. Something that has been brought to my attention recently is fair trade. From Disney to Target to Gap to Wal-Mart, how can we be sure that what we’re buying is not created by the back-breaking sweatshop labor of little children and pregnant women? I guess the answer is: we can’t. There is a YouTube video called Digital Cemeteries that has pretty much ensured that I will never again purchase another cell phone until I absolutely have to, maybe ever. What is the real cost of buying stuff in America? The turnaround on electronics is such that we have tons and tons of electronic waste every month. As soon as the next generation of iPods is available, the one you had last week is just another valueless piece of beryllium and lead. The truth is the internal parts do have value to poor people in China who (toxically) take them apart for the minute amounts of gold contained within.

What about coffee and chocolate? What about clothing? Are the people that grow the beans being paid fairly for their time and land? Is that shirt you’re wearing being manufactured by the slave labor of a 13-year-old locked in a sweltering workroom while their passport has been stolen by their manager, ensuring that they won’t try to leave? I know it sounds terribly “activist,” but I don’t think I can push it to the back of my mind anymore.

The places in China, where our toxic electronic junk is dumped, are absolute wastelands. Children play in radioactive waste, and women are 6 times more likely to have miscarriages. We are selling out the children of God because we have to have toys. It disgusts me.

There’s a new conglomerate of companies that have banded together to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. They’re marketing a line of products called (Red). Have you heard of it? It’s a really great cause, but here’s the thing: they’re SELLING you STUFF. Why not just band together because it’s right? While many of the companies like GAP are proudly fair trade, some of the products are electronic gadgets that will eventually end up somewhere around the world, poisoning someone. Sure, you too can be an AIDS activist if you buy, buy, buy these things.

Last night, we watched a documentary called “What Would Jesus Buy?” It’s a great flick to start off your holiday season. It’ll make you think twice before starting your Christmas shopping. I’m actually not asking for anything for Christmas this year. Let me rephrase that. I’m actually asking to not be given anything for Christmas this year. I think instead that I’m going to try to volunteer somewhere and make it a new Christmas tradition. It truly is better to give than receive.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Is this Schadenfreude?

This is a "Kitler."

I can't decide if it's funny because it makes Hitler look stupid, or if it's sad because the cats are bred to look that way.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Corona Kids

When I was in the third grade, my Dad had me tested for placement in a gifted and talented social studies class called “Corona.” All of my friends were in it from the class I had been in the previous year but due to the brilliance of standardized testing and my innate inability to perform at an average level in mathematics, I was placed in the “second-smartest” class while my previous classmates were put in the “smartest” and, therefore, automatically enrolled in Corona. My dad happened to be friends with the teacher and her husband, so he had me tested. I passed and was placed in Mrs. Herndon’s GT Corona class—a class that would last through my 8th grade year.

Every day during social studies time, I was released from Mrs. Smesny’s classroom and walked over to Mrs. Herndon’s classroom. Mrs. Herndon’s room was vastly different from Mrs. Smesny’s room. Mrs. Smesny’s room was your typical-looking third-grade classroom with brightly colored borders surrounding calico-covered bulletin boards displaying outstanding work on math and science tests. There was a quilt hanging from the back wall on which someone had cleverly quilted the fifty nifty United States and from which I learned the states, their capitals, and how to spell them. The desks were arranged in the “table” style where you and 3 or 5 other students were grouped together with your desks facing each other. I got to sit across from my then-best-friend Meredith (being best friends with her probably had something to do with the fact that we faced each other for about half of the school day).

Mrs. Herndon’s room was much darker—not only physically, but atmospherically. It was filled with curios of all types, not least of which was a giant wooden cabinet with glass doors at the back of the room containing sundry jars with preserved and pickled things, including a pig fetus. Also residing therein were squirrel skeletons, dried plants, and fossils large and small. It reminds me now of some type of wizard’s office or witch doctor’s place of business. Instead of desks, we sat at long tables set together in a “U” shape, with the teacher’s desk closing in the top of the “U” so she could stand inside the circle to teach us and monitor our work. I can still remember where everyone in the class sat for those three years that we were in that classroom. Even though we changed grades, we never changed seats in Corona.
Mrs. Herndon’s bulletin boards were unceremonious, containing pictures of cuneiform tablets and maps of the Gobi desert. A giant vase of peacock plumes sat on her desk. She had a thing for archaeology, and specifically for Roy Chapman Andrews. In the fourth grade, we had a precious little event called “Night of the Notables” in which each child at the school in 3rd through 5th grades chose a different famous person throughout history and presented him or her, in full costume, to our parents and invited guests, replete with informational triptych and “personal effects” of the person. You had to stand there and provide facts about “yourself” while each adult came to your station in the cafeteria and tried to guess who you were. I portrayed Amelia Earhart. People repeatedly asked me if I was the Red Baron. Mrs. Herndon was the only cross-dressed character since she came as—who else?—Roy Chapman Andrews. She was obsessed.
Mrs. Herndon’s non-archaeological, regular workaday-attire was generally a blouse and long skirt accompanied by, almost without fail, a neck scarf with a bejeweled clasp and always—always—a large gift-wrap-style bow tucked at the back of her coiled, long gray hair. She wore bright pink lipstick and the kind of eyeglasses that have gigantic bifocal lenses and low-set earpieces. She was from “Nohth Caolahna” and spoke with that distinctive drawl that is simultaneously east-coast and southern. She had high expectations of her students. Under the tutelage of Sarah Herndon, I and my classmates effectively studied, beginning in grade 3, ancient Mesopotamia, the hanging gardens of Babylon, ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, Russian history, and American and Texas histories in junior high school to fulfill district educational requirements. She had us define words like “hieroglyphics,” “cuneiform,” and “sarcophagi” at a time when I barely knew what the word “define” meant. To define words was a really big deal to me. I hadn’t heard that word used before. I soon learned that it really meant “copy the definition from the dictionary.” Suddenly, it wasn’t so glamorous. We also began making bibliography cards at an early age to go with our reports. The woman was relentless about works cited. I can still hear her voice and see her writing book citation examples on the chalkboard, “Last Name COMMA, First Name PERIOD, name of book UNDERLINED, city COLON…” She always wrote over and over the punctuation in chalk for extra emphasis.
The first big project that I had after I first joined the class was making a mummy. We had to find a 12” Barbie doll and wrap her in toilet paper or gauze and find a way to squeeze her into an 11” shoebox sarcophagus that we were to cover with Egyptian artwork. We were to write our names and a great saying about ourselves on the top in hieroglyphics enclosed in a cartouche.
Corona had the best field trips, too. We made numerous visits to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston to witness exhibits like Pompeii and the Russian crown jewels. The worst field trip, though, was to the Reliant Energy building. It was during a study of Thomas Edison and within reasonable proximity to the Reliant Energy building there was a small Thomas Edison museum. The museum, however, only contained enough artifacts and memorabilia to fill a thirty-minute tour. In order to justify the more-than-hour-long bus ride to Beaumont, Mrs. Herndon had to fill up the rest of our day with field trip activities. So, after visiting the tiny Edison museum and seeing cool early electrical contraptions, including an original still-burning light filament incased in an inch-thick glass bulb, we were carted off to the Reliant building where we were given a thorough and thoroughly tedious tour of the inner-workings of the electric company. I’m not sure how long we were in there because all I can remember is that we were walking, standing, walking, standing for an interminable amount of time, our feet hurt, and all we wanted to do was sit down. We all agreed that it was the worst field trip EVER.
When we changed schools in Junior High, we began meeting in the Library because Mrs. Herndon didn’t have a room of her own. She was one of the only teachers in the district that “floated” between schools instead of just classrooms. I guess it was justified since she was only at our school for two hours a day in the first place. I sat at a table with three of my good friends, one of whom I still am friends with to this day. Mrs. Herndon made us sit at the corners of the six-seat table so that we couldn’t copy off of each other. Although I don’t recall cheating as being something I did, in retrospect I couldn’t be offended because I do recall practicing writing her initials in case I needed to pass off a half-finished paper when she asked to see our work. My friends and I agreed that I had gotten pretty good at it. I don’t think I ever really used my talent, though, and even if I had, I doubt it would have worked. The dratted woman could always recognize her own handwriting.
My friends and I agreed that Mrs. Herndon’s handwriting was cool. She didn’t have typical teacher handwriting that was all cursive. It was a script-y mixture of print and cursive and she always signed her name to form letters and parents’ letters with her middle initial: “Sarah R. Herndon.”
When 8th grade was over and it was time for us to move on to High School where Corona would be replaced with AP Classes, SAT tests, and jam-packed schedules, our class had a small ceremony on the last day of school. That day we were planning to have a class party with snacks, so we decided that it would be apropos to do it then. We played “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men as each of the 12 of us filed into the Library carrying a single rose. We filled a vase that we placed on her table and then took our regular seats. She was visibly touched by the sentiment and we could see her eyes glass with tears. That was the first time in six years that any one of us had seen her show that much emotion. She had been a hard teacher but a good teacher and I still use the things I learned from her.
My brother, who was three grades behind me, was also in Corona. After his class graduated Junior High School, Mrs. Herndon decided that it was time to retire. I think that she had classes that were her favorites and that mine and his were a couple of them. Halfway through my senior year and his freshman year and before her retirement lunch, Mrs. Herndon suffered a stroke. My friend Megan and I went to her retirement luncheon to see her since it had been about 3 years and we wanted to wish her well. When we greeted her, she was unable to speak, but I could see the recognition in her eyes when she saw us. We said hello and that it was nice to see her and then quickly exited the reception line. When we were out of sight and earshot, I couldn’t hold it together anymore. I hated barely recognizing her and seeing her in that state broke my heart. That was the last time I saw her.
Mrs. Herndon passed away while I was at college. My Mom told me that there were a lot of Corona alumni at her funeral, which was held at the Methodist church. I had heard that she had died, but no one told me when the funeral was until it was already over. Not attending is something I regret to this day.
She once told me, “You like history, and it shows.” I never really knew what that meant until a few years ago. At the time I thought that I was just doing the work because it was assigned to me. I later realized that I do like history and it is evidenced in the books I read and the programming I watch and listen to. I think, though, that I like history because she made it likable. Not until college was I able to experience another teacher who was as profoundly passionate about her students and the subject matter as Sarah R. Herndon was about her Corona Kids.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Reading Rainbow

That's actually a picture of my "finished" stack next to my bed --->

So, I'm not sure if anyone has noticed, but on my side bar over there I've been reading books like mad--like MAD...and I'm not even just changing out the titles to make it seem like I'm a totally voracious reader. I really am reading--and finishing, I might add--all of those books. Wow! Are you not impressed by how super-smart I am?

I have to make a confession, though. I'm cheating. While I am reading (and finishing!) all of those books I've been listing, all of them are books I had half-read already and then put down because I have the attention span of a grasshopper sometimes. I have instituted a new reading plan for myself. I call it the "If-it's-listed-on-my-blog-then-I-must-finish-it-before-picking-up-another-book Reading Plan."

It's working out great! So far I've read (finished reading--whatever) three whole (half--whatever) books! I also am feeling very smart and accomplished. Me am such a well-read person!

Anyway, I just wanted to put that little disclaimer out there so as not to lead anyone, mostly myself, into any delusions of grandeur. I like to put humility out there, you know, so everyone can see how self-deprecating I am.