Thursday, January 28, 2010

Good morning from Las Vegas!

We arrived yesterday morning. The city hadn't woken up yet. We walked into our hotel, The Rivera, and all the signs at Check-In were turned to Check Out, since nobody checks into a hotel at ten o'clock in the morning. We'd been up since 4:40 a.m. and were pretty tired but had had enough coffee over the course of the morning to keep us from sleeping. So we went to our room, ready to drop our stuff and head back out for a bit. I love hotels. They have king-sized beds and fluffy pillows and cable TV. I was psyched to find out where we'd be staying for the next four nights...

The room was AWFUL. I won't even go into detail (because I don't want to remember it), but I'll say: I cried. Yes, I cried. I didn't want to stay there AND be missing my baby for five days. No way. I asked C if he'd call the front desk and ask how canceling a reservation works (how much money we'd lose). I really wanted to go somewhere else.

He was kind enough to call and ask, and the woman on the phone told him, he hung up, then she called right back and said, Why don't you come downstairs and talk to Vera. I'm sure there's something we can do to make you a little happier.

My spirits perked. I was feeling a little guilty for not liking our room. Surely I could just ask for a few extra pillows and more bed sheets and deal. How snobby am I?! But still, I was so happy...though hesitant to believe the rooms in the hotel could get much better.

Long story semi-short, they did. Vera was as kind as can be and got us a new (recently remodeled) room for the same price, and when we arrived in the room, she called immediately and asked how we were or if they needed to upgrade us even more. I said no. "Thank you so much. This is marvelous." And it is. Snooty, spoiled Meghan got her fluffy king-sized bed with fluffy pillows and a flat-screen TV, AND a view of Trump Tower and the mountains. (Don't really care about the TT bit.)

So we settled in and went downstairs to find something to eat. We ended up playing our first slot machine together and won zero monies (but only put in one dollar). Then we went outside, where it was raining, walked across the street, and went to Circus Circus. We're in the "old" part of the strip; just down the street are the bigger, newer hotels. I'd always wanted to go into CC when I was a kid, but my parents said no, so I thought: let's do it now. It's probably just as grossish as our hotel, and we'll probably not go back again, so let's go have lunch at Circus Circus. And we did. And it was gross. :) But we'd eaten at a decent price and were ready to go back to our hotel and have a nap.

Of course, by that point I'd already called my folks to check on Drue at least three times. She's doing great, btw. Loving spending time with her grandparents. They have such a cozy home; I can't imagine her NOT enjoying herself tremendously there, even at eight months.

After a quick nap, we played a game of Arkham Horror in our room then decided to hit the town!

I would like to take a break here and note that pictures are forthcoming. They won't send from my phone to my email currently, but as soon as they do, they'll be posted! Not that they're much to look at.

As we were walking down the strip and were thankful we were wearing our tennis shoes, we talked about C.S. Lewis and his idea about hell being (to those of you who know all about this and realize I'm communicating it incorrectly, please give me a little grace here) noise...or that noise is something that works to keep us from God. We realized that we were in the midst of a lot of noise, nothing but noise. C brought up the scene in Never Ending Story (is that the right movie?) where the kid (girl?) is in a trash heap, and the witch is trying to distract her with noise. "Here, look your dolly. Oooooh, look at pretty such and such," etc. Man, I remember being scared so badly by that scene, and so I was scared when - and honestly a little peeved that - he brought it up. (I got over it.) It was a good conversation. And nice to be alone together, though I miss Drue something fierce. All this to say, I'm glad we're just visiting.

We went to the Bellagio and to Caesar's Palace, which is crazy cool (and Bette Midler is performing her last week of shows there, so all the older folks were out in droves to see her and wearing black and fur). We spent way to much money on two drinks each then made our way back to the Riviera, where we decided to eat something. So we went to the best restaurant in the hotel and ordered spinach and artichoke dip. We couldn't wait to devour it. Then it arrived, and it was this: whipped heavy whipping cream with a few vegetables. Three bites of that would've been enough for anyone, so no real dinner for us. But lots of CREAM.

This morning C's at his conference, so I just buffeted alone and am waiting a bit for the city to wake up so I can go shopping (and not buy anything). It's sunny today with a high of 59. Very nice. For breakfast I drank lots of coffee and ate: two mini waffles, eggs with peppers and ham, one biscuit and gravy, a slice of honeydew melon, and a few bites of "Mexican breakfast" (steak, potatoes, and corned beef hash). I am stuffed to the gills, but we're running low on funds, and so I know I probably won't eat again until dinner; that is, of course, unless I win big on video poker. Nickel slots, here I come!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tales from the Kitchen

I attempted Kirsten's Beef Burgundy last week, and it was a hit, though better three days after the fact. Things I learned:

1) cook the bacon until it is ALL crispy
2) salt the beef a little more
3) maybe use a touch more soy sauce

I would include a picture, but the only one I snapped didn't turn out well. My favorite part about cooking lately is cooking with wine. It makes everything taste so good and rich. I have a recipe to try later this week that involves white wine. And the best part is, you buy the cheap stuff!

I've also been enjoying my Flat Belly Diet cookbook of late. I'm not following the diet, and I'm not technically on a diet, though I pretty much always count my calories, but that's another story. Most recently C and I have come to enjoy: Chick Pea Curry with Cashews. Ooooooh, man.

Throw a dollop of Greek yogurt on a bowl full of THAT, and I'm a happy camper.

Tonight I baked homemade pizza for the first time. It was a recipe from Cooking Light, and in true Becky fashion (she's really inspired me), I modified the recipe. Instead of cumin and paprika, I used half curry/half chili powder and three quarters paprika/one quarter ground red pepper. Then, for the dough, I used mostly wheat flour and separated it into seven yummy personal pizzas instead of eight. The dough is INCREDIBLE. I also used Mozzarella instead of some other crazy cheese, though I'm sure the crazy cheese was better; I just didn't have time to get to Forward Foods.

Next time I'll probably process the diced tomatoes before simmering them. That or I'll find a way to crimp the sides of the dough so that the saucy part of the sauce doesn't fall off the pizza. Maybe corn starch? Anyway, here they are!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Cutest Baby in the World, Subjectively Speaking

I'm getting ahead at work since we're heading out of town at the end of this month. I've been too busy to blog, but here are a few recent photos of the Drueb and updates:

1) Drue is CRAWLING!
2) And I'm pretty sure she said the word cat.
3) I am loving the Efficency Fitness workout.
4) A FAVORITE Tate author is now on Twitter, per my advice. Go, Heath!
5) We are driving to Dallas tomorrow to see Bruce.

I shall post a more meaningful something soon (something regarding our favorite new meal and my most recent go at "high cooking"). In the meantime, check out these very meaningful pictures.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Sound of Nostalgia

We were given a 40th Anniversary Sound of Music DVD for Christmas. The gift was for Drue, but I've been enjoying it. The Sound of Music was the first movie my dad ever recorded on TV, and so I watched it all the time. The thing about The Sound of Music is that seemingly everyone loves it, and if they don't: they at least have a story about it. My story is that my dad recorded it first and so I watched it. My story might also be that it was the first kiss I ever saw on television, maybe ever in my life (that I noticed). Oh, and I might also note that "Climb Every Mountain" was my favorite song for a time. I'm interested to know your Sound of Music story.

I only realized when watching this time around that the TV version I'd always watched was missing a lot. (Thank goodness they edited out a lot of the original Police Academy; I would have been scarred for life had they not, but that's a different story.) Anyway, I'm just rambling. So now, for your viewing pleasure...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I always thought the game Peek-a-Boo was boring. Why do people do that with their children? I thought, judging them mercilessly.

Well, I get it.

I get the reason for it. I get why it is fun. I do it all the time. I even have a peek-a-boo book that I like to read with Drue.

It takes actually being a parent to get a lot of the things I didn't get before.

Thank you, God, for this beautiful, learning little creature...

PEEK-A-BOO! (That's Uncle Michael.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Oscar the Calf

I'm editing a book this morning that is a study of the book of Malachi. The author has used passages in Malachi to address certain issues that the larger church doesn't seem to be getting today. It's written by a reformed minister and deals with such issues as (surprise!) predestination, marriage, and now idolatry.

So I'm thinking, regarding yesterday's post: Do I throw around the word idol too loosely? Idols are something that should be put to death. They are scary. In yesterday's post I wrote about an idol of mine, but I didn't make it clear how much I desire to put that idol to death. So I'm saying it now...and continuing to think about idols.

Do we have a healthy enough fear of the idols in our lives, or do we easily forget what a big deal they are and just say, "I have this or that idol" as if it's nothing? I fear I'm in the latter category, heading toward the former...

I find it interesting that Webster's defines the word idol as: "anything on which we set our affections: That to which we indulge in excessive and sinful attachment."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

To be liked or not to be liked: that is the idol.

I have an idol. I have more than one idol, but the idol I'm thinking about right now involves whether everyone on the face of the planet likes me.

Now, I care about this less than I once did. I recently advised a friend not to worry whether the man she's interested in's ex-girlfriend likes her. Who cares? I said while flicking my hand. You're not obligated to be friends with her; she's not obligated to like you.


Today when my husband said, "Not everyone is going to like you," I was faced with the tough reminder that: 1) this is true; and 2) I do still care - because I got sick to my stomach.

Let me say: I'm not delusional. I know that not EVERYONE is going to like me all the time. That's impossible. I don't even like me all the time. What bothered me about what he said is that he was referring to people whom I know and with whom I am friends.

Do people I know not like me? I thought. Probably. Ouch. Do they like me in general but sometimes not? Surely. Still ouch. But this is a truth that I need to get used to, just as I've gotten used to the fact that it's okay that my husband sometimes doesn't like me. Because he always loves me. I can't find my rest in whether so-and-so likes me. I can only find rest in the one who gives me true peace and rest.

My husband.

I'M KIDDING! To all of you who just gasped and had already opened a new window to compose an email that communicates to me just why that is so very wrong.

I still want everyone to like me...all the time. But hopefully this "need" will lessen now that I'm made even more aware of it. I suppose I can get used to my best friends not liking me now and then. After all, this has always been the case; I just hadn't thought about it much before.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Story

Little girls with names like Amity and Hailey and Reagan are sinners. And they don’t know that their names, which afford them instant popularity so long as they’re not fat, add to a level of inherent evilness. How can a name like Bunny not flip a little girl’s evil switch?

I don’t have one of these names. I have a name like Sarah or Lisa or Lenora. And I also didn’t have Guess jeans with a zipper running down the ankle or a ten-speed bicycle. I had a banana-seat bicycle with pictures of bananas on it—bananas and apples and oranges. It was blue. The bike had shiny silver handles that started at seat level and rose up about a foot before curving out into very wide grippers. “Here I come on my nerdy bicycle!” they proclaimed. Only I’d gone one step further and attached streamers to the handles, which made me even more of a target to the Peppers of the elementary school social sphere.

At the time, I’d already had my shoes removed from my feet and thrown into the muddy sinkhole on the playground. I’d already been embarrassed to tears by Jenny, who took my arm and strutted me past Jason, my heartthrob, while batting her eyes at him and then me and chanting, “Guess who has a crush on you?” I’d already been called out for cheating on a test that I wasn’t cheating on—Cherry was. So should I have known better when two of the most popular girls in my class came up to me one day and said they wanted to ride bikes home with me after school? Maybe. Instead, my heart pounded and I said excitedly, “Sure!”

I was finally going to fit in.

“Great! We’ll meet you at the bike rack after school,” they said.


It was all I could do not to run to the bike rack after school. And there they were, their bouncing curls bouncier than ever, their smiling faces smiling at me sinisterly, and maybe part of me knew it. But more likely than not, that’s just hindsight bias. We only made it halfway down the fence that bordered the school play yard before they looked at each other and took off, leaving me alone on my banana seat. At first I pedaled as fast I could to catch up. I thought it was a game. Then I knew. It wasn’t a game. I was a loser. A chubby, nerdy loser, who was never going to fit in and was never going to have the things the other girls had so that she could fit in. I road home crying.

Mom wasn’t yet working in those days, and so when I got home, she was in the backyard in the strawberry patch picking strawberries. I remember wanting to make sure I was crying when I got to her. I was going to make myself cry if I had to; I needed someone’s affection that badly. But it wasn’t difficult. I bawled before I got one word out. And Mom was sad for me, I think. I don’t remember what she said. But I do remember her wondering why I wanted to play with those girls days after they’d done that to me. She let me go but didn’t understand.

The thing is: I always come back to this story. Every time I sit down to write about my past, this is the story I start with. It’s like I can’t get past it. Every time I think about being hurt as a girl, this is the story I remember first. I’m realizing how utterly heartbreaking this was for me. I wonder what it means, if anything. I wonder where those girls are now. I wonder if they have little girls. I bet they’re sinners. That’s a joke. I know they are, because I am too, and so is my daughter. But I pray that she never treats another peer that way. I pray that she loves her neighbor as well as her enemy, and that she talks to me when she’s hurting. I don’t look forward to her crying. I don’t like it now. But crying is good…