Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Kennedy Detail (Gerald Blaine)

Our most recent book for our book club was The Kennedy Detail by Gerald Blaine. It is, naturally, about the Secret Service Detail assigned to JFK during his presidency and especially on the day of his assassination, and it is written by one of the men on JFK's detail.

Do I recommend this book? Yes and no. The topic was indeed fascinating, but the telling of the narrative was a bit. . . slow. The book is more than four hundred pages long, so if you have the time to read four hundred rather slow pages, knock yourself out. I did! You'll learn lots of interesting facts. If you don't have lots of time to sift through  a l l    t h o s e    w o r d s ,  then call me and I can give you a synopsis of the most interesting facets of The Kennedy Detail.

In Blaine's defense, he really did do a great job re-telling the story of JFK's assassination. By nature, Secret Service men and women are very detail-oriented and tend to file away in their minds a wealth of information about each and every scenario in which they find themselves. So you could say it was his DUTY to turn those six seconds in Dallas in November of 1963 into four hundred pages.

But here! Some broad-stroke, interesting-to-all take-aways for you:
-The Secret Service does not believe what the general public believes about the Kennedys and all of their alleged affairs. They claim it was impossible for Marilyn Monroe and JFK to have had an affair. And I guess they would know, since they never left the president's side.

-The men on duty during the assassination were tormented for the rest of their lives about their "failure" to do their jobs. Some were able to continue working for the Secret Service, but many retired to the private sector to escape the guilt they felt. One, Clint Hill (the man who ran up to the president's car after the shots were fired), was interviewed on 60 Minutes in 1975, and the interviewer (Mike Wallace) said he had never seen a more broken, tormented man in all his life. You can see some clips here.

-Jackie was not crawling on the trunk of the car to reach the Secret Service agent Clint Hill after JFK was shot; she was actually crawling after bits of her husband's head that had. . . escaped from his body.

-When JFK was assassinated, his detail consisted of forty over-worked men. Now the Secret Service is almost TEN TIMES that size.

-All of the conspiracy theories are unfounded and can be explained away very easily and quickly. Blaine perfunctorily dedicated a whole chapter to this. I did a fair amount of internet research on these conspiracy theories, and I have to say that Blaine did indeed debunk them all. Which is sad, as we all love a good conspiracy. I guess we'll just have to turn our attention to the lunar landing!

Well, there you have it. Let me know your thoughts on this book if you've read it! (Or if you want to borrow it, let me know!)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The third time is not so charming (I'm talking about naming the baby, not the baby herself) (just to be clear)

As I mentioned, we are having another little girl. I couldn't be happier! I love having little girls and watching them figure out girl things like purses and make-up and shoes. I also love that their daddy pushes them to be thinkers and designers and creators.

I know there will be challenges in our future, not the least of which will be how to pay for three weddings or whether or not to allow dorky teenage boys to take our daughters anywhere or how to handle all the D R A M A that comes with teenage girls.

But we have a more pressing problem.We have absolutely no idea what to name her. I opened up my Facebook page to suggestions, and I got about a kajillion good names thrown my way. But I am finding out that naming a child is a very personal decision. For instance, there were several votes for Kennedy, which is a name I also happen to adore. Also, there were some not-good-at-all names thrown my way, and I can't tell if these were offered up in jest or not. So. I will not be making the rest of this naming journey all-inclusive. (If you're one of the people who suggested a name, I assure you, I LOVED THE NAME.)

I will share one more story about naming Baby Girl Number Three, though. One day,  I asked Coralie for her input.

Me: Coralie, what should we name your baby sister?
Coralie: Coralie.
Me: Well, that IS a lovely name, but couldn't that be confusing?
C: No.
Me: Well, what if I said, Hey, Coralie, I have some candy for you! Which Coralie would I be talking to?
C: Me.
Me: Ok, well, what if I said, Coralie, you made a poor decision and disobeyed. Now you will have to get a spanking. Which Coralie would I be talking to then?
C: The other Coralie.
Me: Oh.

Well, then. Back to square one.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Six things you may not know

1. While waiting in line to see Christmas lights a few weeks ago, a very angry mom accosted us. I don't know how it's possible that I never shared this story with you, but the whole event was so unbelievable that as soon as I knew we were not actually going to be gunned down, I said, "Oh. my. gosh. I have to blog about this."

I started typing out what exactly happened, but it's very technically and sort of boring, so I'll condense it.

A van tried to cut in the hour-plus long line to see the Christmas lights and no one would let it. So a woman, the passenger, gets out of her car and stands RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR CAR so if we try to move forward, we will hit her. Like RUN OVER HER. Well, this is ridiculous, so Ryan honks. (There are police patrolling to keep crazy people like this from cutting in line, but they are nowhere to be found.) She marches over to Ryan's window, starts yelling and gesticulating and turning red in the face and ends her tirade with a "MERRY CHRISTMAS."

Unbeknownst to us, the car from MI in front of us thought that their car had been hit by this crazy family trying to cut in. So a passenger no shorter than 6'6" gets out to confront the lady. She yells at him, too! This lady had no scruples. The tall guy finally gets back in his car, and the woman whips something out of her jacket's inside pocket. I was CERTAIN it was a gun. (It wasn't-- it was a pen and pad of paper, and she made a big show of taking down the MI car's license plate.) But if anyone did conceal and carry in line to see Christmas lights? It would be this lady.

Then it all became very awkward as we HAD to let this van in line in front of us, though people behind us yelled and honked at the van in protest. So here is this hostile van, in between the confrontational MI car and us, who clearly didn't want to let it in, just tra-la-la-ing through the park, hanging out the windows and taking pictures of the pretty Christmas lights. Merry Christmas indeed.

2. I think Madeline may have broken my nose. At the very least, she chipped part of the bridge off and it is now floating elsewhere on my nose. What happened was this: some very nice evangelical women have been canvassing our neighborhood trying to convert people. Because I am already a Christian, we usually just end up chatting about this and that, and--I guess--we have become "friends." Well, they came back twice last week. Twice. The first time, I had less than an hour to get dressed, feed my kids, get my house show-ready, and get the kids out the door. I politely told them that it wasn't a good time to chat, and they cheerily said they would come back another day. Well, that other day was last Wednesday. Coralie, Mads, and I were playing in Coralie's room, and I saw the evangelicals walking up our driveway when I looked out Coralie's window. I DID NOT feel like chatting that day, so I did something heroic: I taught my children how to hide in a closet. I shoved the three of us into C's closet and told the girls to be quiet and to wait until those people walked away. Coralie was confused as to why I wouldn't want to open the front door, and Madeline just played along like she always does. Well, pretty soon, she found Coralie's toy golf club and started playing with it. Now, this is no ordinary toy golf club--  it is SOLID. It's from Pottery Barn, who I am sure you know makes every single product of theirs weigh three times more than their competitors do. So she picked up the club, raised it over her head, and before I knew what was happening, cracked it down on my nose. The worst part? I couldn't even cry out because we had to be quiet hiding from those nice women.

3. I am eating an absurd amount of mac and cheese these days. I don't really even know why. Last night I made a box at 9 pm while I watched the Golden Globes. I'm not proud of it, but I did it.

4. We had our sonogram, and we are having another little girl. Besides the excitement of having a healthy baby girl join our family, I am also experiencing a mild amount of panic over the cost and drama of having THREE GIRLS. I'm not so worried about the next few years, but I am TERRIFIED about what will happen in 13 years. You know, when we have THREE TEENAGE GIRLS. THREE. TEENAGE GIRLS.

5. I turned down an opportunity to do some tutoring. This was hard for me, as I really enjoy 1) working with teenagers, 2) using my brain, and 3) making money. But, alas, the timing wasn't good for our family.

6. I am sooooooooo behind on blogging the contents of my brain. I have two more posts I would like to write, but I don't know if I can stop playing Words With Friends long enough to type out anything besides words like "zeds" and "extractable" and "yak". But I'll try.

As Coralie would say, "peace out".

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A double whammy

You know how you can read something a million times, and then one time-- BAM!-- something totally new hits you about it? Last night in our Bible study, we were studying the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand, and two things surprised me.

1. The story opens with Jesus telling his disciples, "Hey, let's go somewhere quiet together and get some rest."

Here, I am thinking, "Jesus, you had me at hello. I'd LOVE to go somewhere quiet and get some rest."

Then, when Jesus and his disciples arrive at the appointed place, they find that more than five thousand people have walked to that very place to wait for them

Here, I am thinking, "Brother, I feel you on this one! Everywhere I go, I am met with a (small) crowd. I can't wait to see how you disperse the crowd--I'll file that away and use it myself next time."

(Yes, I am an idiot in that I have read the story before and know how it ends, but still.)

Then, the Bible says that Jesus met them with compassion.

Here, I am thinking "Amen, brother! You tell 'em! Wait. . . what? You mean that when I sneak away to a remote corner of the house (ok, my closet) to read my emails and I hear four little feet running after me, I am supposed to meet my little girls with compassion instead of annoyance?"

Forget that Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fish-- the REAL miracle is that he didn't snap the crowd's necks off and say, "CAN'T YOU SEE I NEED SOME TIME ALONE SO I CAN READ MY EMAILS, GIRLS?" Or, uh, something like that.

2. After reading all the way to the end of the story, our pastor's wife asked when we most feel the Lord working in our lives. I said that the Lord is always working in our lives; the changing factor is whether or not we acknowledge it.

Oh, yeah. That reminds me, I started this here blog so I can actively track how God is working in my life. I figured that if I could sit down and actually write some posts, it would mean that I would have had to have done some thinking and meditating beforehand, and that is usually when I see God working.

Ok, so I haven't announced this on my blog yet, but--surprise!--I am 19 weeks pregnant with our third little one. Also--surprise!--our house was put on the market this week. Also--surprise!--Ryan is teaching back-to-back sessions of a night class at our local university and won't be done with that assignment until my due date basically.

So to say that this is an insanely stressful and busy time for our family would be an understatement. Our house went on the market on Tuesday, and we have had five, FIVE, showings since Wednesday morning. Do you know what it takes to mobilize this tired pregnant mama and her two I'm-never-in-a-hurry-unless-you-bust-out-the-candy-basket kids? A lot. And twenty minutes' notice is not a lot of time to clean up the house, pretend like four people don't live there, and get the heck out of dodge.

Annnyway, last week as I saw in my mind's eye what these next few months could look like, I prayed that God would keep our spirits buoyed and our marriage intact. Oh, and if He could manage the sale of this house, the purchase of another one, Ryan's first job stresses, Ryan's second job stresses, my daily taskload, AND the growing of a fifth member of the family, that'd be peachy. But that all sounded greedy, so I just focused on asking for peace and joy in this time.

So. Here's how he has answered. We have had a remarkable amount of interest in our home, which is incredible since it is January of 2012, you know, the QUARTER OF DOOM in the real estate market, in the worst economy EVER. (Ok, so maybe the Great Depression was worse.) Five showings scheduled in under 48 hours?! That's awesome!

Also, I have felt very affirmed in my writing lately. It's a scary thing to put yourself out there in print, and I have felt nothing but encouragement that I should continue doing so.

Also, we sold our broken Blu-Ray player on Craigslist today (the DVD and WiFi still worked, so someone actually wanted it), and the guy who bought it asked Ryan where he worked. Long story short, this dude had heard of Ryan and his former side consulting business and said that someone had highly recommended to his firm that they hire Ryan! Not that Ryan could pursue that even if he wanted to, but that affirmation was a true God-send for him.

I write all this not to say how perfect our life is (see: trying to sell a house, juggle multiple jobs, and harness two small independent children) but to show how much more abundantly God answered my prayers than I could have imagined!

Just like Shasta learned that there had only been one Lion, I am learning that God is so much bigger than a singularly-focused request.