Monthly Archives: July 2011

Family Business

look, ma. no tooth!

This is a rare and unplanned Saturday post. It’s quick so don’t blink.

First, THE major development: the child lost his first tooth today. It’s been noticeably loose for almost two weeks and finally popped out this morning at breakfast. The toothless look becomes him. So do the freckles.

The other development: while playing on WordPress this afternoon, I discovered another widget. It’s that Facebook page link over there to the left. Click like to declare your like of everyday epistle

That’s assuming you do like everyday epistle. If not, what are you doing here? Get off my blog!

Just kidding. Stay as long as you like and enjoy your weekend, folks.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin… from Zechariah 4:10 NLT

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Filed under family & friends

Club MOB (Mothers of Boys)

girl power wonder woman

This week my son had a little tiff with one of his classmates who happens to be a girl. They’ve been like cousins since preschool and usually get along swimmingly. By the way, she’s drop dead gorgeous. So what’s all the fuss?

“Mom, she says things that aren’t true about Pokémon,” said my son. “And she stuck her tongue out at me four times yesterday!”

“Honey, you’re still friends, and no one knows everything about Pokémon,” I said. “Girls are funny about things. Sometimes they’re moody for no reason.”

The moment those words left my lips, I felt like the cat who swallowed the parakeet. The employee who sold the company secrets for a song. Just call me B for Benedict Arnold.

not so fast!

One of my professor friends shared how she boldly espoused the feminist mantra when she taught women’s studies: there are no natural differences between boys and girls. Whatever differences appear are caused by nurture. By a society oppressive to women.

Then she had kids. A boy and a girl. And she’s softened her stance a bit. 

I don’t blame her. She had to. It was either dial it down to preserve the integrity of her real life experience, or risk cracking up in front of her students while trying to tow the hard line with a straight face.

There are inherent differences between boys and girls—between men and women—that go beyond anatomy. Not every generalization applies to every person, but there are differences.

Once while visiting the nail salon, I glanced up to see the unbelievable. A mom having a manicure while holding a baby! Oh, it’s a girl.

smilin & chillin

Another time, three of us MOBs took our then preschool sons to lunch after soccer lessons. Our table was a raucous, rumbling good time. Were we disturbing other customers? Not our neighboring table. There sat three angelic little girls about the same age as our guys quietly drawing on activity pages with crayons.

And what may be the cruelest difference of all, the 75/25 rule. We MOBs learn quickly: 75 percent of the items in children’s clothing stores will be for girls and 25 percent will be for boys.

Only about half of those items you’d want your son to actually wear. If you see something you like, better buy it or the next MOB will snap it up faster than you can say Bakugan.

I don’t have anything against girls. I am a girl and I love being one. I love my nieces, my friends’ daughters, and my son’s friends who are girls. I hope my son marries a wonderful girl if that’s what God has for him.

But I’m one proud MOB too. I love my little boy through and through. And I wouldn’t trade him for all 849 trillion pink bows in the world.

So God created human beings in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27 NLT

My momma loves me. She Loves Me Like a Rock, by Paul Simon.

image by freshartphotography.com

Nicole Diehl is a MOB times three. She’s also a veteran blogger at Here’s the Diehl, and recently she opened an Etsy shop by the same name.

What does she design and sell? Among other things, headbands for little girls of course. They’re the cutest things eva! Go to Here’s the Diehl on Etsy and see for yourself.

PS: Nicole donates 10 percent of her shop’s proceeds to Compassion International’s Child Survival Program.

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Filed under humor, women's studies

Crows and Eagles

public domain image

Yesterday I posted a suggestion for how the government could save money by stopping those Social Security mailings fictitiously describing how much we will receive in retirement. I conservatively estimated we’d save about $3.14 million a year. Well, I was more than a little off.

Within less than two hours, my friend Amy read the post and informed me the SSA decided a few months ago to suspend the mailings for a savings of $70 million. I repeat: $70 MILLION. That should make you laugh and cry at the same time.

I love social media. Not only was I pleasantly corrected by a friend, but we all gained some information we didn’t have a mere day ago. Apparently, the government doesn’t have to notify us that they will no longer notify us. Or something like that.

Another friend who works for the government explained in a comment on FB that common sense doesn’t necessarily dictate. There are many easy ways to save money, but the government “likes to make things as complicated as possible.” Hmm.

Lessons learned? You betcha.

1. Dig deeper.

For me, that means to do so preferably before posting. Here’s the link to the SSA page about the mailings: http://www.ssa.gov/mystatement/

2. Share the love.

Thanks to Amy for speaking up. Follow her lead. If you know something, say something so the rest of us will know too.

3. Reach out.

I’m delighted to eat a little crow on this to the tune of $70 million. But the patriotic eagle in my heart is rising. I wonder. What are the other easy ways we could save money?

We’re in a budget crisis as a nation. Many of us are in one at home too. I know some of you watch your family budgets like hawks and sniff out ways to save like bloodhounds. Some of you work in government agencies or have ties to them. You have a ringside seat to witness where we could cut back.

All of us intersect with the government in one way or another. What are you seeing in your experience and expertise that could be simplified or cut with a cost savings for our country? What ideas do you, the People, have?

Would love to know your thoughts, so do share. You can always comment anonymously. If we get a few good ideas going, perhaps we’ll send them to our folks in Congress or the White House.

It’s our country after all. And it’s worth saving.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act. Proverbs 3:27 NIV

Get those patriotic juices flowing with School House Rock’s Preamble.

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Filed under America, blogging

How the Government Can Save $3.14 Million This Year

June 18, 2011

With all this hoo-hah about the national budget, or lack thereof, I have an idea to save our country money. You know those Social Security updates we all get once a year?

Somewhere there’s a printer whose sole purpose is to produce these. And they do a nice job: 11″ x 17″ black and white plus one color, personalized with individual taxpayer information and address. One notification every year for each of the 157 million taxpayers who currently pay into Social Security.

Let’s conservatively estimate each notice costs one cent to print and personalize and one cent to mail. Yes, I know it costs more in real life, but we’re using our imaginations. We’ll give the federal government the benefit of the doubt here.

Two cents for each statement times 157 million taxpayers equals at least $3.14 million saved within the next year if the government stops printing them now. Paltry in comparison to our debt, but every little bit counts.

Then we’ll do what the government loves to do. We’ll forecast the estimated savings for the next 20 years: $62.8 million.

We can’t stop sending the notifications without notification! I have an idea for that too. The federal government can send one final notice.

Let’s print each taxpayer a simple 3″ x 5″ black and white postcard. It’s smaller than the 11″ x 17″ page, has no personalization except the address, and has no color. Let’s say it costs one cent to print and mail. We’ll still save at least $1.57 million within the next year.

The postcard will read:

We regret to inform you, the money is gone. You will not receive anything from Social Security when you retire. It will do you no good to sue us because there is nothing left and there is no clear defendant to name.

Since you will have to fend for yourself in retirement, you will pay a reduced rate of Social Security tax on what you earn effective immediately.

This rate will continue to be reduced incrementally during the next five years until it is cut to a reasonable, flat rate for all taxpayers. Any revenue collected for Social Security going forward will be used only for Social Security.

That’s it. No blame shifting. No grandstanding. No campaigning.

What about the shortfall when we pay less Social Security taxes into the system?

The way I see it, there can be no shortfall if there is nothing to begin with. Something’s got to give, people. No money, no spendy. That’s how it works in our house. And it hurts.

Telling the truth is another house rule. Sometimes that hurts too. There will be no Social Security for Gen X, and probably not for all the Boomers either. This isn’t a surprise. The emperor has had no clothes for quite some time.

I bet we could think up a hundred more ideas like this to save money. It’s time to talk truth, cut our losses, stop spending, and get creative to rebuild the wealth.

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 1 Timothy 6:7 NIV

Dear Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, and members of Congress, Honesty is mostly what I need from you.

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Hitting the Wall

The Championships, Wimbledon

The beautiful tennis player with long blond hair was winning. But not by much. On the other side of the net, a spunky, dark-haired Italian was holding her own with moves more contorted than graceful. This was Wimbledon.

Back and forth. The blond pulled ahead, only for the Italian to catch her. The sportscasters sided with the blond for technical superiority. Yet they couldn’t discount the heart of the underdog.

Tennis games are way too long. We didn’t see how the contest ended. We were on vacation and the beach was calling.

Secretly I hoped the dark-haired girl would win. How many more beautiful blond tennis champions do we need really? Yes, we have Venus and Serena. But an Italian tennis queen. Bellissimo!

Today I identify with that girl more than I would like, and not just because of my Italian heritage.

BAM! The serve. Extensive travel in June.

SWACK! The return. Intensive upheaval back in St. Louis.

SLAP! A high lob. Close on the sale of our house.

CRACK! Another return. Move everything we own and downsize.

POW! The slam. Normalize only to set up for more changes.

In the middle of the game, I’m about to hit the wall.

My husband says I’ve simply run out of adrenaline. The synapses are shot. The serotonin took a nose dive, suffered a concussion, and is sitting out indefinitely.

Bad habits are back. I organize stuff, rather than stake out precious time to work. My husband works until the wee hours, rather than stake out precious time to sleep. My son is not eating enough (any) vegetables. And my inner critic has reclaimed the judge’s seat.

This is no time to quit. It’s precisely the time to keep hitting. The goal is within reach, even if the goal is to make it to dinner with all family members intact. One step, one second at a time. The most crucial moment could come in the next match. Or the next serve. You can’t win if you don’t play.

Break it down. Back to the basics like Elijah in his cave. Rest, eat, breathe, listen. Or like Hannah in the temple. Dust yourself off, clean yourself up, nourish yourself well. Come out swinging like Sampson. Or a certain Italian tennis player who just wouldn’t quit.

Ask for help from the One who never quits. The One whose strength has no end. Lord, help me persevere with grace instead of criticism, humor instead of depression, hope instead of despair. Amen.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NIV

C’mon and rock with me now to a little bit o’ TobyMac, won’t you? Get Back Up!

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Murder by Muzak

The Bangles

The first incident was in Garden Ridge. There I was, perusing picture frames. Bouncing along to The Bangles. Pushing my cart and singing in the aisle with the Muzak. If you want to find all the cops, they’re hanging out in the donut shop…

Then it hit me: I’m in the target demographic for Garden Ridge.

How did this happen? Just yesterday I was catwalking through the juniors department of Belk with my mom, window shopping those crazy Swatch watches, and jamming to that wild new song Walk Like an Egyptian, circa 1986.

The Best of Sade cover

Next thing I know, I’m 40 years old standing in line at the deli counter. I catch myself humming a familiar diddy as it plays over the grocery store intercom, Sade’s The Sweetest Taboo. I’m sorry, but that is not a supermarket song.

Imagine my shock during another grocery run to hear The Sundays singing in the cereal aisle among the Froot Loops and Frosted Mini-Wheats. The Sundays. Band of choice for the coolest collegians I knew. Here’s Where the Story Ends. I’ll say.

Kurt Cobain

This week a DJ found it necessary to announce Nirvana’s Nevermind was released, gulp, 20 years ago. The day I hear Kurt Cobain’s angry, mournful voice crying out to me across the 50 pound bags of flour and rice at Sam’s Club, I’ll know the end is near.

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous. Here we are now. Entertain us. Poor Kurt. No video link for this one. Rest in peace, man. What a loss.

My youngest cousin inadvertently aided the conspiracy to bury me in the oldies. His response to a Billy Joel song in my post American Beauty was a definitive blech. The Piano Man is ancient. Old as his dad. Old as Moses.

Billy Joel Greatest Hits cover

That’s okay. It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me, even if BJ does look a little Jersey Shore.

Last year St. Louis lost our beloved classical music station, but gained a solid contemporary Christian station in its place. My six-year-old likes listening to JOY FM. So do I. Most of the time.

But when I need a pick-me-up from the past, our Gen X station serves up the likes of REM. Depeche Mode. Sheryl Crow. Salt-n-Pepa. Boyz II Men. Erasure. Big Country. Pearl Jam.

This is an indulgence best enjoyed alone because my child immediately requests I change it back to JOY FM. Somehow he knows mine is the devil’s music. Listen too long, and it’ll kill ya.

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to You;
at best, each of us is but a breath.” Psalm 39:4-5 NLT

The Fugees, The Score cover

You saw it coming.
Killing Me Softly by The Fugees.

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Filed under humor

An Ebenezer in July

heart breaker

What’s your Ebenezer? Not the Scrooge kind with Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, “Bah! Humbug!” and all that. Surely you mistake this for the Christmas in July blog. Perhaps I should sign up for Pay Pal.

The first Ebenezer was a place of upheaval, distress and defeat. But God transformed it into a place of victory, remembering and thanksgiving. You can read the full saga in 1 Samuel 4-7.

It ends with Samuel setting up a stone memorial, calling it Ebenezer, and saying, “This marks the place where God helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12 The Message).

My friends Nicole, Katie and others have reposted significant blog entries to remember the places God helped them and their families. Fabulous idea. One I need to employ as it’s too easy for me to forget.

So here’s an Ebenezer in July. It comes not from this blog which is only five months old, but from a July 2007 email. Some of you received the original email or read the story in our 2007 Christmas letter.

A little background. Our only child Theo was born with an ASD or atrial septal heart defect. This condition usually heals on its own. Theo’s did not. He had open heart surgery four years ago when he was only two years old…

A Sigh of Relief, July 16, 2007

Hello, everyone. I am home to get some sleep after this long and truly amazing day. Theo’s surgery went very well and very quickly—only about two hours. He was away from us for a little more than four excruciating hours. Being separated from him was the hardest part for us—like holding your breath, stepping off the high dive, and waiting, waiting for the water to break your fall.

Theo has been resting with us at his bedside in the cardiac intensive care unit since lunchtime. Our incredibly compassionate and capable surgeon kept Theo’s incision small…“neat and square” comes to mind, like one of Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne’s corners. Theo is being kept sedated because when he wakes up, he immediately requests to “go bye-bye, please,” and then tries to sit up and pull out his IVs. What a relief to see his spunk has not faded one bit, nor have his manners.

I will relieve Jeff early tomorrow morning. Jeff insisted on staying the night, saying he is used to being up to all hours working and sleeping in strange places like airplanes and hotel rooms. He made me, the morning bird, come home to rest while he, the night owl, keeps watch by night. What a good daddy and husband he is!

Thank you for your prayers, calls, emails, visits, gifts and concern for us. It is not a coincidence that Theo was born in a time when this surgery is accessible to us and the technology exists to support its success. Nor is it a coincidence that he lives in a house 15 minutes away from a top 10 children’s hospital. That is the tip of this iceberg. How humbling to realize we cannot begin to understand all the connections and repercussions of God’s purpose.

Breathe then a sigh of relief with us that the first and highest hurdle of this race is past. Tomorrow will be a challenging day as Theo is weaned off the sedatives and strongest pain medications. His doctors hope to move him to a step-down unit, which in layman’s terms means a step-closer-to-going-home unit. Please pray that God will quiet Theo and help him to remain as calm as a two-year-old boy can remain in such a situation, and that He will give Jeff and I an extra measure of strength and wisdom to comfort Theo. Pray God protects him from infection or other complications, so he can come home soon. Please.

I leave you with one of Paul’s doxologies from Romans 11:33-36. It sums up our elation, amazement, and gratefulness. I see this short update is getting lengthier as I my mind spins and treads around the events of the day. Humor me as I cannot resist also including a verse from Charles Wesley. I read it early this morning in the near dark before we left our house, and it still seems appropriate as the sun sets on this evening. Good night, and sweet dreams.

Love,

Aimee 

our heart breaker made a quick and full recovery. he was released from his cardiologist's care last year.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable His judgments,
and His paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been His counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:33-36 NIV

Other refuge have I none;
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! Leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.
Charles Wesley, from Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Don’t miss this link to Fernando Ortega’s version of Charles Wesley’s Jesus, Lover of My Soul. Ortega is one of my all-time favorite artists. I was surprised and grateful to find this recording on YouTube!

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Filed under faith, family & friends