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Month: April 2009

Conspiracy Theory

Conspiracy Theory

I’m not sure who shot J.R.

I don’t know all the “grassy knoll” theories.

I don’t understand many of Oliver Stone’s conspiracy theories.

But I do think the 2nd grade teachers at Savannah’s school are out to get me.

In the fall they wanted pictures of Savannah throughout her life for a “time line” project they were doing. I had no time, much less desire to pour through the boxes of photos I amassed before going digital (which, by the way, is SO MUCH EASIER!!) so I went around the house taking pictures of her out of frames. Just because she was the only kid with mostly 5 by 7 photos didn’t bother me in the least.

Then came the macaroni penguin…which you know I was rescued from doing.

Then the Bugz Life play and my job of taping hundreds of little bugs onto the windows of the cafeteria.

And not 24 hours after the play wrapped?!?

I got an email requesting 4 to 5 photos of me and Savannah together for a mothers day project they are working on at school.

Now that’s mighty sweet of them and all, but I just checked and I have exactly zero pictures with just Savannah and I that have been taken digitally. Lots of group shots but they don’t want those.

And I still don’t want to plow through those old photo boxes. I am considering paying Caroline to scan in all my old photos this summer. But that is this summer and this is now.

I guess we will spend this afternoon changing clothes and hairstyles in an attempt to take four pictures that don’t look like they were all taken on the same day just in time for the project.

Except that they were.

And now I think I’m starting to hear little voices in my head too.

Turning on a dime

Turning on a dime

When I was growing up, I used to LOVE snow days. They were rare, but every year or two there would be enough ice and snow to get us out of school for a few days..and once when Little Rock received 7 inches we were out of school for close to a week.

For our children it’s different. Especially this year. First we were out for seven days due to Hurricane Ike. Today we were out due to a stationary rain storm that literally parked over our area dropping 9 to 11 inches in a very short period of time. Way too much water for our sea level city to absorb.

And lots of my friends had homes which flooded. Water over a foot deep. Cars flooded. Savannah’s classroom flooded.

And yes, we were out of school for the day and the kids loved that, but it caused you to realize how quickly everything can change. We weren’t expecting a storm of that magnitude. And let me tell you…the thunder was loud, the lightening bright and the water rose very, very quickly.

We were up for half the night listening to the storm and wondering how high the water would rise. It came up about 1/2 way into the yard before it stopped and began receding. Too close for comfort, that’s for sure.

One of the biggest lessons I learned during Hurricane Ike was how quickly a disaster can level the playing field. People with Mercedes and mansions stood in line for ice and water with people who had walked to the Red Cross station because they didn’t own a car. Money couldn’t buy electricity during those long, dark and hot days. Money couldn’t buy you groceries that were not on shelves. Money couldn’t buy gas that was nowhere to be found. You had to use what you had and hope against hope that help was on the way.

And now, not even 8 months later, Houston is cleaning up again. Not as bad as the hurricane, but exhausting and overwhelming for those with still fresh memories of our post hurricane days.

Many of my friends flooded because a company the city contracted to fix the drains in their neighborhood had the drains covered by boards during the storm. As soon as they moved the boards….the water began to lower.

One friend, who had just completed a remodel that included wood floors throughout her house, had a foot of water flowing through her house this morning.

One lady is missing…just blocks from our house…because she accidently turned into a drainage ditch believing it to be a parking lot. She was escaping the 10 foot plus water that had accumulated under the Katy Freeway.

There is lots of clean up to do. School starts again in the morning and the state wide testing that was postponed today will occur. Many classrooms in our school don’t have air conditioning due to the storm. Hopefully by tomorrow they will.

None of us went to bed thinking we’d awaken in the middle of the night to rivers flowing down our streets. But things can change very quickly. And I feel so badly for those who were reminded of that the hard way last night.

Most everyone has flood insurance. They will get new carpet, new floors, new cars. But there are some in our world whose circumstances seem to stay the same, no matter what. They are born into poverty and despair. And they don’t have a rolodex of contacts they can call to make everything right again.

There is a group of people in Calcutta, India this week who went with Compassion International to see first hand the plight that most of us have only read about in books or seen on the nightly news. One of them is Beth Moore’s daughter Amanda.The last two days she has so vivdly described the situation in India and is inspiring people to adopt a child through Compassion’s ministry. If you’d like to read more, click here.

I learned during Ike what it felt like to be helpless. I learned during Ike what it was like to have one of your children cry after school because she is hungry because the school lunches aren’t back to normal yet. And I knew I was fortunate because she wasn’t hungry for long and I could go get her food. But many kids don’t have that luxury.

And I guess seeing all the carpet piled on the side of the road today and all the friends who are cleaning up again, reminded me that I promised myself I would never, ever forget what it felt like to feel helpless or what it felt like to have a hungry child and it reminded me that I said I would never, ever pass up an opportunity to help another mom who wants to feed her kids too.

And their situations might not turn on a dime, but hopefully they’ll turn.

God willing, for the better.

Brittany’s Flipping Out…

Brittany’s Flipping Out…

From the time Brittany was very young, she has been doing flips. I signed her up at her preschool for an after school gymnastics program. She spent hour after hour coming home and practicing her head stands. After her first year, her instructor suggested we find her a “more challenging” gym as he felt like she was naturally talented in the tumbling area and may need more instruction than he could give her.

So we moved her to our current gym. After a few classes there they determined that she could skip a few classes and the next thing we knew Brittany was spending a good deal of time at the gym. It’s really kind of her second home and, other than our backyard trampoline, there’s really no place I think she’d rather spend her free time.

You see, no matter where we are, she’s flipping.

At the park…

On the beach…

Even on balance beams, while doing the splits…

I just kind of thought this was particularly impressive.

And I’m quite sure that, as her coaches see me trip on my way out of the gym, they wonder if she just might be adopted.

Because I can’t do the splits like this…

or like this…

and I most certainly have never had my picture taken with a bunch of medals around my neck like this:

So when Brittany recently took Second Place in the floor event at the Houston area Gymnastics meet…

Well, we were all quite proud of her.

And my heart did a little flip as she climbed the podium…

which is something my body has never been able to do!

Good job BABS!!!

Pride cometh before a lunch…

Pride cometh before a lunch…

I’ve been trying to stay on top of my game these days. You know…things like returning all the kids school library books so the school will stop sending home long lists of Baerg family overdue books, recording all the party information in my calendar so I don’t show up at someones house right on time for a party when it’s actually at Laser Quest which is another fifteen minutes away, and putting up the laundry before someone moves it from the couch to the floor where the dog then lays on it and it becomess dirty again.

Just stuff like that.

And this weekend I was particularly impressed with myself.

It lasted all of about 15 seconds.

You see, I had the whole weekend mapped out. Caroline had a party to attend Friday night. Not a problem…I had the time and location neatly written in my calendar and got her there without a hitch.

Saturday morning she was going with the church youth group to a ranch to spend the day. Again…checked the calendar. And there I had written everything she needed. “Sweet to share, Bible, Pen, and Grocery Sack”.

I had no idea what the grocery sack was for, but was oh so proud of myself that I had written it down and remembered to give it to Caroline. So proud that I even attempted to call one of my friends who was going as a chaperone to say…”Bet you were impressed that I remembered the grocery sack.”

Because she knows me well enough to know that I’m usually the one who says … “anybody got an extra grocery sack?!” at events such as this.

And so off I sent Caroline and Bill to go meet the group. They even had a little extra time to stop and get her a bagel on the way. Because, as you know, good parents feed their children 3 square meals a day. Or something like that.

Bill pulled up to the church parking lot right on time. Kids were lining up getting ready to get in the cars. And Bill asked where to put her “sweet to share”. And they said…”Right over there with their lunches.”


Bill asked rather tentatively….”uhm, were they supposed to have a lunch?”

And the leader said…”Uhm, yeah”. (Probably while thinking…did you NOT read the memo?”)

Now the really good thing is that we live a whopping minute or less from the church. The bad news is that the group was ready to go.

So Bill called me and said…”Did you know Caroline was supposed to have a lunch?”

And I said…”LUNCH?!?!” Lunch was not on my list! How could lunch not be on my list?!? How did I miss the whole “pack a lunch” part of the memo?!?!

I mean seriously. Sometimes I wonder about Bill and I’s capabilities to parent 4 kids. Or maybe just my capabilty.

I packed that lunch at lightening speed!! Threw it at Bill and he literally rounded the corner into the church parking lot just as the last 3 cars were pulling out. And Caroline rolled down the back window, stuck her hand out for the sack and gave Bill a look that said…”who are you and why are you calling me your child.”

And now you wanna know what I think?

Remember the grocery sack that I was so proud I remembered even though I didn’t know why she needed to bring it?

I think that might have been for her lunch.

Darla Stories…9-1-1 Edition, Nashville

Darla Stories…9-1-1 Edition, Nashville

After 3 years of good times in Dallas, Bill up and decided he wanted to go to graduate school. (It was actually kind of always in the plan, but it sounded better to say “up and decided”.)

He chose Vanderbilt University as the place to get his MBA and before I knew it we had rented a townhouse within walking distance of the university. It was two-story, but quite small. So small in fact that…I kid you not…once, when we got our new puppy Looper, we had a friend of Bill’s come stay with us. He slept on our pull out couch downstairs. Looper was fenced into our tiny, tiny kitchen. The dog barked and cried the ENTIRE night. So I had to keep getting up and taking the dog out. Problem was, when the couch was pulled out, it reached from one wall to the other. So I had to keep climbing across the bed to get to the dog. I felt awful about it. Over and over it was “excuse me…excuse me.” “I’m so sorry….so very, very, sorry.”

Now if we’d been thinking better, Bill and I would have just traded and given him our bed upstairs and slept on the pull out couch near the dog. Apparently though common sense isn’t something they can teach you – even in the fanciest of business schools.

And come morning…well our visitor was gone. Left in the middle of the night to travel home. Said he wasn’t sleeping anyway. And come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him again. I’m still just so sorry about that.

But back to the 9-1-1 Nashville episode.

And I should say up front that it really did sound like we were getting bombed by the Iraqis. It really, really did.

And this was 1993 so we weren’t too far past the Gulf War and I guess I was still a little jumpy.

Bill was away at a study group and I was home by myself. It had been sleeting and snow was predicted. The ice started piling up on the electrical lines and pretty soon transformers began blowing all over the city.

Now I had never, ever heard a transformer blow before and had no idea that it could sound like a bomb exploding. And it was happening over and over and over again. And the sky would light up each time.

So I called 9-1-1.

And told them I thought we were being bombed.

By the Iraqis.

And Bill just dies that I ever could have possibly thought that the Iraqis had somehow managed to get all the way to middle America without being picked up on radar, shot down by our military, etc.

And I tell him I did not have time to worry about all those details.

The nice folks at 9-1-1 assured me we weren’t being bombed. And when they tried to tell me it might be transformers blowing, I told them it sounded more like a bomb…even though, AS I MENTIONED, I had never heard a transformer blow before.

And in my defense, on the news it said “loud explosions were being reported” – I guess they had heard I’d called.

It wasn’t long though before our own power went out.

And it was out for five of the LONGEST, COLDEST, DARKEST nights of my life.

I nearly froze to death.

Felt like Laura Ingalls except there was no fire for Pa to stoke.

And I probably would have considered calling 9-1-1 to tell them I thought frostbite was setting in, but we needed electricity for the phone to work.

And that might have been the only time I ever thought about calling 9-1-1 and didn’t.

A Bugz Life and Real Life

A Bugz Life and Real Life

Tonight was the big Rummel Creek Elementary 2nd Grade performance of “A Bugz Life”. All the kids had really cute costumes….Savannah was a monarch butterfly.

You will not be surprised to learn that I had absolutely nothing to do with the making of these costumes. When they asked for volunteers for that job … well, I just lowered my head and intently stared at the floor until they had enough people to do it.

I did volunteer to help teach the dances to the students…in fact I accidentally hit “reply all” in response to the email asking for volunteers stating that I’d be happy to help because “I like to move it, move it.” I’m still living that one down. And not surprisingly they never called me for that. I heard nothing until I got the…”think you can tape some bugs onto the cafeteria windows?” call. And that job was really more my speed anyway.

All the kids did a great job! Aside from Savannah losing one of the balls off her antennae right as the show opened, her role was flawless. She even had a “featured” part where she and a few other bugs sang at the microphone. They sang “Firefly, Firefly” with the choir and the fireflys danced in the background with little flashlights. It was pure sweetness.

There were army ants and ladybugs and love bugs…oh my!

And there was a little mishap with a bumble bee when their antennae got tangled:

But it was actually the bumble bees that had my favorite line of the night when they exclaimed… “it don’t mean a thang it you ain’t got that stang.” Total cuteness.

But the real bug drama we saved for the ride home. We were in Bill’s car and Caroline, Jacob and Savannah were in the back seat. As we were driving through the neighborhood by the school, somehow a REAL live bee flew in the car. Now I should just tell you here that Bill has, for all intents and purposes, banned our family from ever going camping. And it has everything to do with our children’s complete intolerance for flying bugs that sting.

And when Savannah told Caroline the bee had landed on her head? Well, katie bar the door. Or something like that. Because the shrieking and screaming that ensued was enough to draw people out onto their front lawns. Before I even knew what was happening ALL three kids jumped out of the car and went yelling through someones yard. All I could think about was the fact that we looked like a crazy clown car where kids just kept piling out and screaming.

I think we scared the bee worse than the bee scared us and he took off. The kids piled back in the car and we were off. And I don’t really get embarrassed that easily, but taking that drive of shame down that street politely nodding and waving at people who were clearly confused by what they had seen?

Well, that did embarrass me a little bit.

Heard at Chick-fil-A’s everywhere…and sometimes around here.

Heard at Chick-fil-A’s everywhere…and sometimes around here.

It’s no secret that Chick-fil-A is one of my favorite restaurants. It has been since I was a little girl and went to Jonesboro, GA to attend Vacation Bible School with my cousin. The owner of Chick-fil-A went to my cousin’s church and they served chicken sandwiches at one of the VBS events.

It was love at first bite.

I would have joined the church if I could. Didn’t matter about the preachin’ or the music…they served Chick-fil-A and that was good enough for me.

And when Chick-fil-A came to Little Rock, it was more than worth a trip to the mall to partake of my favorite fast food. And those waffle fries and “ice dream” cones. I just didn’t think it could get much better than that.

Bringing me great joy and happiness is the fact that Chick-fil-A is no longer just in the mall. There are two stand alone restaurants not too far from my house. For years I’d take our children there during the day…good food, clean playland, free refills of my Diet Coke.

And here’s the thing about Chick-fil-A. They have never, I repeat never, given me my order without saying “My Pleasure” when they hand it to me. And when I get my refill, or in some cases when I was particularly tired and needed a caffeine jolt- my third refill…again they would say “my pleasure.”

I loved hearing them say it so much. As a mom of small children you do a lot of serving other people and when someone acts like they are happy to serve you…well, it just does a moms heart good.

And then, the more I thought about it, I realized…you know what – it wouldn’t hurt things at all if I adopted the “my pleasure” attitude towards those that I serve.

Because truth be told, those Chick-fil-A employees surely don’t always feel like saying it. I’m sure they have days that exhaust them and customers that exasperate them. But still, they put on a smile. And no matter how repetitive or mundane the job of passing out chicken nuggets might be, they look at their customers and smile and say “my pleasure.”

Believe me, there are plenty of times I get exasperated with my peeps and we all know how repetitive and mundane it can be to mop the kitchen floor. But thinking about how it was truly “my pleasure” to serve my family really made a difference in my attitude.

And every now and then I like to toss the phrase around…really freak my family out.

Like when Bill thanks me for getting his dry cleaning? Telling him “it was my pleasure”. Or when a friend thanks me for keeping her kids…instead of “no big deal”, saying “it was my pleasure.”

And as I’ve said before, it’s not because I “have to”, but because I “get to.”

Don’t misunderstand, I don’t say it all the time and I certainly don’t even act like it all the time, but every time I pull in for my Chick-fil-A fix, I am again reminded of the “my pleasure” to serve you attitude.

I’m reminded that my husband and children really are gifts from God and that it is my pleasure to serve them. Colossians 3:17 says “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not just for everyone else.” And whatever means whatever. Not just the fun stuff or the things I like and enjoy doing…but whatever.

And the best part? The verse goes on to say when you serve others, you are serving the Lord.

And that truly is my pleasure.

For the love of books…

For the love of books…

I love to read.

Always have.

And one thing I’ve always wanted to have was an answer to the question “What is your favorite book?”

Now I have lots of books that I have enjoyed and some books that I LOVED. I’ve read books that I couldn’t put down and books that I thought were thought provoking or funny or insightful. But I never really had an absolute favorite.

Until now.

My answer for that question now is a true story called “Same Kind of Different as Me.” I thought it was an amazing account of a friendship that was both moving and inspirational. I laughed and I cried and the second I finished reading it I wanted to pick it up and start all over again.

Amazon described the book this way:

A dangerous, homeless drifter who grew up picking cotton in virtual slavery.

An upscale art dealer accustomed to the world of Armani and Chanel.

A gutsy woman with a stubborn dream.

A story so incredible no novelist would dare dream it.

It begins outside a burning plantation hut in Louisiana . . . and an East Texas honky-tonk . . . and, without a doubt, in the heart of God. It unfolds in a Hollywood hacienda . . . an upscale New York gallery . . . a downtown dumpster . . . a Texas ranch.

Gritty with pain and betrayal and brutality, this true story also shines with an unexpected, life-changing love.

I’d love to be able to tell you all the ways the book changed me or the parts I found fascinating or humbling or compelling. I even put little sticky note markers throughout the entire book to remind me of particularly striking parts that I thought I could share.

But looking back through them, I have realized that they are all parts of a whole and without the perspective of the entire book, they don’t mean as much. Maybe it’s just because I can’t express in words what all those various parts meant to me. Maybe it’s just that I don’t want to steal any of the books “moments” from you if you choose to read it too.

One reader wrote of the book:

It is a great reminder of the amazing way that our creator God can bring lives and events together in such a way that only He can receive the credit and the glory. He knows, cares for, and loves every individual. Life is not easy, but if we are willing to look for Him and give Him praise, He will show us His very hand at work in our lives.

I would just say that if you haven’t read it, you should.

It will stay with you a long time, maybe forever.

And if you are anything like me, after reading “Same Kind of Different as Me”, you won’t be the same as you were before.