It's Fall, Y'all!

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My parents like to go to a local auction on Monday nights. This auction often posts pictures of what they are about to auction off on Facebook. A couple of weeks ago, knowing they were heading over there that night, I took a look at the photos and mentioned I liked this antique St. Louis beer box. It's now sitting on my front porch looking all kinds of awesome, thanks to my mom.

Not only did she obtain said box, but she took my Walmart pumpkin and added some fall flair to it. She also took care of my front doors:

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If it could stay fall all year long, we'd be set. Thanks, Mom!

Houston, we have a problem.

So, about that 1976 mirror removal…

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It came with a strong dose of 1966 wallpaper underneath. That came with a pretty good round of mildew. In other words, Houston, we have a problem.

Whatever we end up doing to this wall, and at this point I still don't really know what we're going to do (all the mirror is officially off now), the texture of the wall does not match the texture of the other three. 

So. Knowing the purpose of this room: homeschool space, and knowing the problem we now face by way of WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH THIS WALL??? What would you do here?

We've thought about bead board, I've considered an enormous amount of chalk board paint, and am also wondering if one of those wall sized world maps might be just the ticket for us.

But I don't know. What would you do here if this were your house and this was your problem?

On China’s One Child Policy

Have you seen this?


My head has been in the sand for far too long. In hunting around for some info on China’s one child policy, I found this report from a Chinese family a year ago.

This Sunday is the 31st anniversary of the implementation of this horrible event. I wrote about it for WORLDMag.com today.

Be sure to check out All Girls Allowed for more info, links, videos, and thoughts on what we can do. But the main thing is…pray.

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This Sunday marks the 31st anniversary of China’s one-child policy. Created for the purpose of improving social, economic, and environmental problems in the country, it was supposed to end in 2010. Instead, believing it has contributed to China’s economic prosperity, the government has decided to keep it in place indefinitely.

Economics aside, the policy, combined with China’s strong preference for sons over daughters, has most definitely contributed to a multitude of horrific practices, leading to the loss of millions of girls through abortion, prenatal sex selection, infanticide, abandonment, and trafficking.

In June 2010, a woman named Chai Ling founded All Girls Allowed, a humanitarian organization devoted to restoring life, value, and dignity to girls and mothers in China.

“As Christians, our only reaction should be deep sadness and outrage that leads to desperate prayer,” says Ling. “We are standing up to a massive communist government and saying that every baby deserves to live. This is God giving us an opportunity to pray more desperately than we ever have before.”

This coming Sunday, on this deadly anniversary, churches around the world will watch a short video produced by All Girls Allowed (see below) and pause to pray for China and the 37 million girls who have been lost since the policy was implemented in 1980.

When asked why this anniversary is so significant, Ling starts with basic math: “You know, the policy was only supposed to last 30 years, and already China says they have ‘prevented’ more than 400 million lives. Many scholars and experts have said that China will fall apart unless the policy is not only abolished, but education and effort is put into reversing some of the effects of the policy, like China’s massive gender imbalance and aging problems.”

But with the anniversary being on a Sunday this year, Ling goes beyond the arithmetic, issuing a call for Christians to take notice and pray more desperately and helplessly than ever before. She reminds us that this is an issue we really can’t do anything about, even if we had billions of dollars or a bill passed. It is going to take prayer to stop China’s one-child policy.

House Help

We are having door issues. Actually, I think we’re having house settling issues, but the one is causing the other. Take a look at the top edge of our front doors:

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It may look like an innocent little difference, but that difference makes it nearly impossible to get the doors to connect. In short, we can’t lock the door. For the past couple of weeks we’ve been able to rig it so that if you push down on the doorknob while locking the deadbolt, you can get it to lock, but that hasn’t been working so well for us the last couple of days. In fact, our new door locking system looks an awful lot like this:

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Yes, I know I need to vacuum. That’s a completely different issue. So you see our fancy door locking mechanism there? It does a decent job except for two major things: 1) It’s hard to do this when leaving the house and 2) It’s really hard to get back in.

“So go through another door,” you might say. To you I reply, “All of our doors are doing this right now.”

Yes, it’s true. We’re having trouble with all of our doors. What? Go through the garage? Good idea, except that we don’t have a working garage door opener. We have come up with a bit of a solution, though. When we need to leave the house, most of my family goes out the normal way through the front door. I then stay inside to set the chair in place. I go through the garage, open the door and wait for it to fully open. After it’s open, I run toward the opening, making sure to hop over the sensor at the bottom so that the door will actually close. It’s a nice little form of exercise and it’s guaranteed to make my kids double over in laughter. I’m all about that.

So nice! We’re now officially locked out of the house. But wait! There’s more! When we come home from wherever we needed to go, we just send Chloe around back. She crawls in through the doggy door and removes the chair from the front door. Presto, the rest of us walk in like normal people.

Except there’s just nothing normal about that at all, is there?

My parents are coming tomorrow and guess what’s number one on my dad’s list of ways he’s preparing to serve us? Door maintenance.

The second thing on his list is mirror removal. Take a look at this:

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I know this is hard to believe, but I didn’t do a single thing to this room before snapping the photo. We’re all friends here, right?

This is our dining room that I was originally planning to use as a, well, dining room. Since the start of school, though, we’ve officially switched gears and decided to make it into a school room that can convert to an overflow dining room if and when that day is needed.

Either way, we don’t need the mirrors. So my dad is going to remove them from this wall and then I’m going to paint the room eggplant purple. I’m thinking about some big bulletin boards and maybe a section of chalkboard paint as well. Darn it, it’s time we had us a real school room!

My mom doesn’t know this yet, but I’m thinking about asking her to figure out how in the world I should organize all the cabinets in the girls’ bathroom. We have two hall closets up there as well that need some attention. I think she might be able to solve those problems for me.

I’m also hoping she just takes over the beautification of my front porch by way of some new fall wreath action.

After my parents are done checking off my to-do list, we plan to go to The Passages and maybe even hit up one of the free museums on Saturday. Ambitious, much?

Regardless of what we actually DO accomplish, it will be nice to have my parents over for a couple of days and here’s hoping we can actually use our keys to lock the front door after tomorrow.

I Heart the Fair!


I was a freshman at Oklahoma State University before I realized that the official state fair of Oklahoma wasn’t really in Tulsa, but was, in fact, in Oklahoma City. My confusion should be understandable. There is a fair every fall in Tulsa called the Tulsa State Fair. I had no idea there was ANOTHER state fair. I mean, why? Why two state fairs? I still don’t know. I do know this: I hadn’t been to a state fair since college, much less the actual Oklahoma State Fair, and I really wanted to go.

I found out that this coming Monday, kids through grade 12 get free admission to the fair, so I had been telling my girls for several days if they could get all of their work for Tuesday done over the weekend, we would take Monday off and go to the fair. They were pumped.

Last night I got a phone call reminding me of an orthodontist appointment we have scheduled for Monday. In Norman. It’s an appointment I scheduled back in July and it is nearly impossible to reschedule. I knew we had to keep it. Going to the fair on Monday was not going to work.

The girls were disappointed and, honestly, I was too. Then Craig and I conferred and decided we could use one of my writing payments from September and take the girls today. They were pumped. So was I.

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I mean, it’s not every day you get to marvel at the likes of Deep Fried Macaroni and Cheese, Deep Fried Mashed Potatoes on a Stick, or Chocolate Covered Corndogs. You name it, they had strung it on a stick, dipped it in batter, and fried it golden crisp. I love going to fairs just for the sake of marveling at the lows we are collectively willing to sink to all in the name of fall fun. Yes, I just lumped myself in with the entire fair demographic. We got one of these:

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It’s our annual shared funnel cake. Woe to the funnel cake stand in which their funnel cake maker was not working. We had to leave them and go to another stand. My kids began squabbling about who got to hold the plate and who was picking off more than someone else and I looked them all squarely in the eyes and told them if I heard another word about it I would eat the entire thing all by myself while they watched. The squabbling stopped.

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We were all surprised to see the St. Louis Arch right there at the State Fair Park. Who knew? It appeared a bit smaller than usual, but it was looking pretty good. There were a bunch of little arches nearby too. I’m still really curious to know what that was all about, but we didn’t take the time to try to figure it out while we were there. We had things to do, places to go, grease to consume. We were off.

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This funny little western show was one of our first experiences. It was a nice way to begin our time at the fair, if not altogether silly. But this is the fair. Silliness is a virtue here, right?

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We saw all the arts and crafts exhibitions and I was taken back to my youth when I’d see all the local kids’ 4-H entries and wish with all my heart I could be in 4-H too. I wanted to bake cookies and get a prize for it. I wanted to submit my own sewing projects and get affirmation that comes by way of a shiny blue ribbon. I just KNEW I could do it.

My kids had that same twinge today when they saw all the interesting and unique things that kids their age had turned in. They wondered how they, too, could participate next year. It’s been some 27 years since I first asked that question and I still don’t know the answer to it.

In other news, isn’t that Oklahoma cake awesome? There were several great cakes on display as well as other baked yumminess. And irony walked by in the form of a 15-year-old girl who sneared at the cases of cookies and fudge as she said, “THAT looks unhealthy.” She then took a big slug of her 32oz Big Gulp of red stickiness. Indeed, sullen teen, indeed.

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There is just something about the fair that makes it okay to yearn for the 1960s. Nobody expects the fair to change from year to year. Walking in today, in 2011, was really no different than the 1994 version I last experienced. And I liked it that way. The buildings just make me want to set up a Brady Bunch house in the parking lot and stuff it with canned goods. Maybe I need help.

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This sign? I sigh with content. I just love it. And I don’t really even know much about The Oklahoman other than that I clip coupons from it on Sunday afternoons, but this sign right there makes me want to be a staff writer. Please, Oklahoman, please?

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There was no way I was going to purchase unlimited ride wristbands for the five of us, so I bought enough tickets for all of us to ride one thing. Maddie and Chloe chose the favorite from my own childhood: The Himalaya. I looked at them wistfully as they stepped in line and then I hopped on the Sky Ride with Katie and Millie. I’m not kidding myself. The Himalaya would have made me violently dizzy and possibly incapable of driving home afterwards. The Sky Ride was PERFECT for feeling like you’ve experienced most of the fair even though you really hung out mostly on one side. It was a little disappointing, though, when we were halfway around and they made us get off. Nobody bothered to tell us our tickets were only good for half of the ride. Boo, Sky Ride, boo!

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The set of tickets I had purchased left us with 8 after the five us of made our selections, so I quickly ran and got 4 more, so the three of us could ride the Sky Ride back down to where the other girls were waiting. Did you follow all the numbers there? Never mind. We still enjoyed the ride even if they did rip us off even more than expected.

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Just as the fun threshold was just about to be reached, we walked into one last building. I really wanted to see the piglets that were born this week. We never saw those, but we did happen upon a really awesome hands-on agricultural display and we ended up staying there for about an hour. We saw baby chicks hatching and butterflies emerging from their cocoons.

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We did see these two little guys who had been heartlessly named Bacon and Sausage. Oink, sniff, oink. (Note: We do love both bacon AND sausage around here, but don’t really care to think about what they looked like when they still had legs.) Moving on then.

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This entire section was a highlight of our fair experience for sure.

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In lieu of $8 corndogs for dinner (each, yes, each), I told the girls we’d just go to Chick-Fil-A on our way home. They all agreed that would be a better deal and were happy to wait. While there, the guy taking our order asked us what we liked best about the fair. I said I really liked the kids’ agriculture exhibit the best and laughed when my girls said they all liked the ride they picked the best. I get that. I’m cool with that.

But I have a few more things I really liked too. I’m a sucker for the exhibit buildings. I know it’s like walking past one commercial after another, but I would have kept doing it if they hadn’t been so stinking crowded and my kids weren’t visibly tired. They did not want to see the knives demo or get another sample of sour candy. They wanted out of there. I obliged. But if I could go again all by myself, I’d definitely hang out in the buildings.

I also liked the funnel cake. A lot. And, no, I don’t think I would have REALLY eaten the entire thing by myself had my kids not stopped squabbling. At least I like to think I wouldn’t have. Sheesh.

But I really did like that kids’ agriculture building a lot too.

All in all, it was a super fun day and we were all glad we went. And I’m making a mental note to myself for next year: No orthodontist appointments on kids’ free admission day.

I remember.

The anniversary of 9/11 probably doesn’t knock the wind out of me like it does for many of you. I don’t know a single person who died that day. I don’t even think I know someone who was devastatingly impacted by what happened that day. If I do, they’ve never mentioned it and that’s a sad story too.

I think if I were to go see the site where it happened, it might knock some sense in me even now. I only say this because I also remember what happened right here in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. On the morning of the Oklahoma City bombing I was having breakfast with my dad at a mom-and-pop diner in Owasso. That was a Wednesday and even now I don’t know what I was doing home that day. It was the middle of the week and I’m guessing I was normally in class at OSU, but for some reason I was home and my dad wasn’t at work and we were having biscuits and gravy and watching Oklahoma fall apart on a grungy small screen with foil-wrapped bunny ears.

I remember both of us not talking that much.

In the days after that I absorbed that news like much of the state, only I didn’t know anyone who died, nor did I know anyone who knew anyone. I got several calls from friends wondering about me and people I know. I was thankful for the concern, but almost felt guilty that my personal life was not impacted by the tragedy.

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Earlier this summer I went to the Oklahoma Bombing Memorial for the first time and I remembered with pain in my heart, mind, and eyes. I remembered.

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I taught my children to remember too.

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The morning of September 11, 2001 was like most of the other mornings of my life with a 2yo, 1yo, and pregnant with a third existence. Most of my mornings from that period of life are a complete blur. I don’t remember right now even why I had our own grungy small screen with foil-wrapped bunny ears television set on. Chances are good I was hunting for Sesame Street. Or maybe Craig called and told me to turn it on. I don’t know. But I did turn it on, and I saw what the rest of you saw and was numb like many of you probably were. And irrationally afraid that maybe NORAD would be a target and darn it if we didn’t live really, really close to Cheyenne Mountain.

I remember watching all day and only being able to think about it because I was alone with my 2yo and 1yo. I remember driving around town by myself after dinner in a complete daze because I needed to get out of the house, get away from the TV, get away from my own reality. I ended up at a large church with a full parking lot. I thought maybe I’d hear something that made that day make sense. I ended up walking in as it was pretty much over and so I found a corner, I knelt, I cried, I prayed.

I drove back home and life went on. Ten years’ worth of life, in fact.

Because I didn’t know anyone involved and because I am physically distant from the location of the devastation, I’ve also become emotionally distant. I don’t know that that’s wrong, but once again, I’m feeling just a bit guilty that my personal life was not impacted by the tragedy.

I don’t want to be paralyzed by a grief that on a personal level isn’t mine to own, but I don’t want to be numb to a grief that is America’s to bear together as a nation.

And so I take this moment in time to pause. To pray. To remember. Life will continue to go on, it always does.

But for now, I remember.

Oklahoma City Septemberfest

OKC Governor's Mansion

Earlier today I called out to the girls, “Hey, you want to do something fun? Get dressed! We’re leaving in ten minutes!”

Basically, there’s this annual tradition of being able to tour the Governor’s Mansion that has morphed into a big ginormous party. There were tons of things to do and, in fact, I just realized we didn’t even know about all the stuff INDOORS inside the Oklahoma History Center. Ah, well, there’s always next year.

In truth, we were there almost four hours and I can tell you, we were ready to leave when we left. But it was awesome and I’m glad we went.

There’s no way I can post all the photos I took or even give a list of everything we did (or wanted to do but didn’t), but I can give you a sampling. One important note is that it was all free! Normally those types of events seem to have a section of cool stuff that you have to pay for. All the cool stuff here was also free. But what that meant was…LINES! Not unexpected, I know, but something to be aware of on the front end.

The first booth we stopped at was the OKC Zoo booth. They had a nice display of information, crafts, and hands-on learning.

OKC Zoo Exhibit
Here are some of my kids making bracelets and bookmarks at either the Red Earth  Museum & Gallery or the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art booth (I can’t remember which one this is!):

Museum Fun
And then here we are, standing in line to go inside the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion. Don’t we all look so thrilled to be standing there?

Governor's Mansion
And then imagine our surprise when the governor herself, Mary Fallin, walked by right in front of us. Imagine even MORE surprise when all of my girls went, “Who? The governor is a woman?” Guess who forgot to tell her children who the governor of Oklahoma is before we toured her house? Yes. Political mom fail. We can talk more about that later. Ahem. Moving on then. A photo:

Governor Mary Fallin
And one of the many line-infested inflatables/bungie jump swing things:

Swinging Fun
It was here where we turned into raging monsters got a tad cranky. The line was long, it was right around lunch time, it was super hot. And then, after waiting in the line for FOREVER, a kid from the back cut the line right in front of us. My girls were not happy about it. I told them that some things you just had to live with. And then the punk boy called over to his sister to join him in his newly buffeted position in line. It was at this moment I calmly said to him, “Hey. You know, we know you were behind us and now you are in front of us. Not much we can do about that at this point. But I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t invite a big group of your friends over here to join you now that you’ve done it.”

Yep. Mama needed a time out too. Moving on then.

So there was a pretty awesome agricultural display. This fella in the picture with E7 gives a literal meaning to the term HOLY COW!

Ginormous Cow
And then we hit the historical section. I was fascinated to learn of this whole group of people who do something referred to seemingly officially as “Rendezvous and Muzzle Loading” (that link was the closest I could find to what I think he was talking about). In short, they do the period-costume and camping thing and they do it regularly, with their whole families. Interesting, for sure.

Here are my girls playing with some replica land-run era toys along with this little cutie who went on her first Rendezvous when she was just two weeks old!

Historical Toys
And on our way out we had to get a picture of K9 in front of her military vehicle namesake:

Military Vehicle
And one more – though I snapped this photo on our way in, it didn’t occur to me how funny it looks until on our way out. I think it’s hilarious that this giant state capitol sign is positioned where it is. I guess it’s for those of us who don’t, in fact, realize that they are standing right in front of said state capitol. Guess you just can’t assume anything here in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State Capitol
So there you have it. The Half-Pint House experienced Septemberfest today and overall we give it 10 thumbs up! I can see us doing this again next year for sure.

Who are the people in your neighborhood?


We hosted a block party in our Cul-de-Sac this past Saturday. I wrote about making the effort to interact with your neighbors for WORLD Mag this week.

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We’ve been in our new house in Oklahoma City three months now. A few weeks ago we decided it would be fun to host a neighborhood block party. But it’s been 100-plus degrees ever since we moved in, and that kind of heat does not lend itself to having a successful outdoor party.

But with fall just around the corner with school starting and schedules quickly filling up, we were afraid we would lose our window of opportunity, so we decided to go ahead and give it a try. My husband designed a killer flyer that we distributed throughout the neighborhood. We then held our breath. Would people respond?

We had good reason to be apprehensive; we’d tried similar events in other places we’d lived with mixed results. But this time turned out to be different. Several families on our cul-de-sac indicated ahead of time they wanted to come. In addition, the weather “cooled off” to the low 90s, so it was actually tolerable to be outside for a couple hours.

All told we had about 30 people hanging out in the middle of our street that evening. Adults chatted and kids had Hula-Hoop and chalk-drawing contests. We met neighbors we had not yet met and were surprised to discover that some of the neighbors who had been living on our street for several years were also introducing themselves to each other for the first time. In fact, several commented how they had wanted to do something like this before but never did.

In the end, it was a great evening. I have no grand illusions that we became BFFs with our neighbors, but I do think we cracked open some doors for future cookouts or dinners or get-togethers in the future.

It’s hard enough to follow Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself-harder still when you don’t know your neighbor’s name. We’ve got names now; let the lovin’ begin.

And now for something a little sweeter…

I didn’t want to leave my blog on such a sour note for the weekend, and I forgot to inform the world that 10yo Chloe has been 11yo Chloe since last Sunday, so here we go!

Captain Obvious, aka Chloe is now 11. She has been for about a week now. Check it out:

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She has beautiful long blonde hair which you will never see all of because she lives in a pony tail 95% of the time. You may not see her nose very much either because it is usually stuck in a book.

She remains perhaps the most diligent member of our family in that if you give her a job to do or a game to play, she sticks it out to the bitter end. Well, she does that for almost everything. She has a bit of trouble with her room, but that runs in our family, so I can’t fault her for that.

She’s on the young end of the number line for 6th grade, but she’s plugging away and she’s going to be fine.

She’s awesome.

She’s Chloe.

And she loved this rainbow cake we made for her birthday:

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And she loved the ginormous box of books we gave her for her birthday in addition to this Perry the Platypus hat:

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Happy Birthday, Half-Pint #2! You are very special to us.