Archive for June, 2008

Surprised by (Malted Milk Ball) Joy

Last night we had dinner with some dear friends who don’t get to see very often. Part of the reason for our dinner was to say goodbye to another of our dear friends who heads to Louisville, Kentucky very soon for seminary. It was a good time together.

After dinner we walked to a local ice cream shop. Ice cream is probably my favorite dessert. There are so many good things out there (amazing cakes, pastries, pies, etc.) but really for me me it all comes back to ice cream.

Funny story about my frugal husband before I get to the point: We were deciding what to get in order to make all of the members of our little family happy. Abraham quickly calculates that if I just order a triple scoop waffle cone that it’ll be cheaper than all of us getting our own. “Just order a triple and ask for a cup and we’ll split it up,” he tells me quickly over his shoulder as he heads back to watch over our little guy. Needless to say, I was feeling totally embarrassed standing there for those couple minutes holding the biggest ice cream cone known to man.

Anyway, getting to the point. I’m finishing my cone when this really full crunch at the bottom happens. I take a second to ponder why it felt and tasted different than I was expecting. “Hey, did that cone just have a malted milk ball in the bottom?!?!”

The friends we were eating with were surprised that I’d never experienced that before. “It keeps it from dripping,” friend Phil explains. “It’s the old-school way.”

I was blown away. “I’m blogging it,” was my response. We tried for a few minutes to come up with a spiritual analogy for the malted milk ball at the bottom of the cone, but were quickly distracted by an energetic three-year-old.

Any takers?

June 30, 2008 at 9:04 am 27 comments

The Blogging Wars

With two bloggers under one roof sharing many of the same experiences, turf wars have begun. Whenever an interesting topic is being discussed, or a funny story relayed, you must be careful to claim it for your blog.

It’s becoming more and more common at the conclusion of a story or conversation for one of us to say, “I’m blogging that!” to keep the other’s itchy fingers at bay.

“Who gets to blog it?” is a question that has gotten (jokingly) heated, when a situation can arguably go either way as to whose experience it was. Sometimes it’s very debatable, especially when I think that whatever Abraham has to say is too interesting or complex to pare down to 22 words. Then I argue that he should let me have that topic so that I can expand more on it. 😉

Most of the time it’s me begging Abraham, “Let me have that one, puh-leeze….”

(We actually had a conversation at the Apple store tonight about who gets to blog that we fight over who gets to blog what. Obviously, I won this one. Yes, we’re pathetic.)

June 26, 2008 at 8:42 pm 23 comments

The Tipping Dilemma Is Now More Confusing

So there was a TON of response to the tipping question—I was kind of stunned. I wasn’t expecting so many people to weigh in on the matter. I’m glad you did, but now it seems I have more options than I ever considered, so now it’s more confusing! Thanks a lot! 🙂

I didn’t want to go too far into the story that happened to us, but I’ll reveal it now…

[Begin story].

We sat down in the outdoor area of the restaurant to eat, and the waiter came over and greeted us. He was not over-the-top friendly, which can be nice, but it can also be a warning that he’s really not into his job. On one hand, I don’t usually like when a waiter or waitress feels fake because they’re trying so hard to be “friendly,” but I also don’t want someone who’s aloof.

Abraham told me later that he could tell right from the beginning that this guy wasn’t going to be any good. I did not have the same premonition. (I don’t tend to be very intuitive.)

The food came out quickly enough, but the chips and salsa refills were a little slow. Not that big of a deal, I figured, since we were downing them like it was our job.

About halfway into the meal, I thought I’d like to have a lemonade. Abraham said he’d order it for me, but then as we looked around again and again, the man was nowhere to be found.

From time to time he’d pop back onto the patio and get something for another table but never made his way down to the end, where we were seated.

So we were endlessly trying to get this man’s attention. When we finally ordered it, it came quickly enough. We continued on with our meal, Abraham helping me ingest the lemonade at record speed (easy to do when you’re eating Mexican food).

We asked him for a refill, and he took the glass away to refill it. Then we didn’t see him for literally five minutes. Maybe more. It was a really long time. By this time we had eaten all of our food and were just waiting on the lemonade refill. It felt like we were sitting there forever.

Eventually he came back to our table, asking if we needed anything else. Abraham said, “We’re just waiting on the lemonade.” And he was kind of apologetic, but not really. So he hurried inside, and I thought, “Okay, it’s coming now.” But then he didn’t show up again for another five minutes at least. And this was not fresh-squeezed lemonade. All he had to do was go to the fountain and fill ‘er up.

So he finally brought the refill with no further apology. And we sat there and drank it, more out of obligation at that point than true desire for it.

[End story.]

I know it’s not the worst ever. It’s not like he brought the lemonade out and had his Band-Aided thumb in the glass or anything. But waiting that long for one refill? And there were plenty of other staff around that he could have handed the task off to.

Aaron posted a pretty long comment, including an article that was really helpful. Aaron is one of my oldest friends, and he, in a former life, was an excellent server and restaurant manager. I take what he says about customer service seriously, because he thinks about it all the time. He posted a link to the article on his blog, so feel free to read it if you get a chance.

The mercy/justice tension is always there if you’re thinking about the undeserved favor that we as Christians have received from God, but that we still live striving for holiness in all we do.

I also understand the argument for the underlying issue/personal matter, but honestly know that if I let my personal problems affect my job, I would be in major trouble and not be rewarded for my performance. If doctors do it, it’s a lawsuit; if designers do it, they don’t get paid for their work; if teachers do it, their students fail and they are let out of their contract. Why is the standard different for servers?

I think the suggestion to talk to a manager when service is bad or good is definitely something we should do more often.

Sometimes I try to put it into a global perspective and remind myself just how privileged we are to sit down in a restaurant with tons of options for meals on the menu and money in our wallets to pay for it, unlike most of the world. However, what does that mean when we actually do live in America and there are different standards for service provision here?

Thanks for all the thoughts, readers. You’ve got me totally bamboozled.

June 26, 2008 at 9:20 am 14 comments

Helmets—To Use or Not to Use?

Does your state have a helmet law? I’m thinking specifically of motorcyclists.

The great state of Minnesota does not require motorcyclists to wear helmets. And my former home, Pennsylvania, used to have a helmet law and actually repealed it back in 2003. Not surprisingly, head injuries and deaths have risen dramatically.

Being a speech pathologist, I have seen the devastating effects of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). During my summer internship in the summer of 2002 while I was in graduate school, I helped treat the patients in a special lock-down unit for brain-injured people, many of whom had sustained them riding motorcycles or other ATVs carelessly and/or without a helmet.

I suppose I care about this issue more because of my profession. It really gets me fired up when I see someone weaving in and out of traffic with no helmet. Knowing how quickly and totally their life would change (or end) always affects me.

June 23, 2008 at 11:25 am 36 comments

Tipping Dilemma

On a recent eating out venture, we had a pretty bad waiter. We really try to be very gracious and generous to waiters and waitresses in general, knowing full well that both of us would be terrible at that job.

But seriously, this guy was not good.

Which left us in a sticky situation—should we give him a bad tip? If so, what is that communicating? Is he going to assume that we’re just stingy or will he honestly try to evaluate himself to figure out what he’d done wrong?

Should a bad tip come with an explanation? Should there be bad tips? Just curious about what you all would do.

June 19, 2008 at 8:57 am 39 comments

More From Palm Springs

So far we’ve survived the heat!

Here’s a picture of the mist machines all over the place.

We’ve had some pretty good food here. We went to a burger joint on the strip, and I thought this one would amuse a few people:

This was some of the best chips and salsa I’ve ever had.

And this is the view from our room. There’s a little balcony to sit on, but you can only bear it in the morning. It’s 7pm and it’s still 108 degrees, so there’s not a lot of outside time unless it’s in the pool.


June 16, 2008 at 8:00 pm 11 comments

We Love You (in pictures)

Here are a few reasons why we love you on Father’s Day, Abraham.

  • You have such long hair now!

  • You are playful.

  • You carry Orison on your shoulders when his legs get too tired to walk.

  • You are affectionate with your children.

Most of all, I’m thankful that the tasks of fatherhood are joyful and not burdensome to you. I love the team that we are, and pray that God gives us many more Father’s Days to celebrate together.

June 15, 2008 at 11:03 am 7 comments

In the “Dry Heat”

Abraham and I are in the California desert for the Resolved Conference. It’s my first time in a desert of any kind. Here are some observations:

  • This whole “dry heat” thing… that doesn’t mean that it’s not hot. It’s super hot. So don’t let anyone trick you into thinking that you won’t feel hot. You will.
  • To compensate for the heat, many of the businesses have these mist machines on their awnings that line the streets to cool people while they walk. One of my favorite quotes from Abraham: “If ‘dry heat’ is so wonderful, why are they spraying sweat at us?” The cool thing about the mist is that it’s so fine that it doesn’t even show up on my glasses. That’s a mist I can live with!
  • Salt water pools are sooo cool. Your skin doesn’t dry out as much.
  • Another funny quote from Abraham: “Time slows down when it’s hot and you’re bored.”
  • Body parts get burned easily: hands on steering wheels and feet on pool decks.

As far as the conference goes, we’re here representing Desiring God, handing out free materials and taking survey data to improve DG’s website. Abraham’s dad speaks tomorrow night and Monday night. This conference crowd is made up of 20-somes, mostly from the southern California area. Some of them really like John Piper. We find it convenient that our name tags don’t have our names on them! Not that we’re embarrassed, it just makes it easier sometimes.

When this one girl found out that Abraham was JP’s son, she asked him if she could have her picture taken with him. It was hilarious!

June 15, 2008 at 12:07 am 15 comments

Post-nap Singing Time

Orison has always been a squawker after nap, even from his earliest days. When he was a baby, it was happy coos, then progressed into babbling, which eventually developed into musical-sounding tunes as he discovered the glorious gift of pitch. It’s almost as though when he discovered his voice a little light went on and he said, “Wow, I can do anything with this!”

Now that he’s older, whoever gets him up from nap is often treated to some funny musical renderings outside his door. This is what we listened to yesterday:

June 12, 2008 at 8:42 am 28 comments

Bonus #4 of Grandparents in Town: Being Cared For

There are days when all I want is to not be an adult anymore. I would rather be a child, or be treated like a child. When you’re a child you don’t have to make any big decisions, you don’t have many jobs to do, you have very little responsibility.

Ever since losing Felicity there are days when all I want is to be taken care of. That happens in some measure each day with my wonderful husband. He does some really practical things to help: he takes Orison upstairs or outside after dinner so I can clean up the kitchen in peace; he gives me alone time as often as he can; he encourages me to go out and do things I enjoy; he carries the laundry up and down the stairs; etc.

But some days I long for more than that. I want to be mothered. I want to revert to childhood, when things were simpler. Having my parents here is as close as it will ever get. When my mom sees that my windows are dirty, she takes it upon herself to clean them. When my dad hears that I could use a new shirt or something, he offers to buy it for me. When I just want to go upstairs and lay down, I don’t have to worry about whether my child will be well taken care of. It’s a beautiful thing.

So Bonus #4 was extra special for me on this visit. Of course you can never totally turn off adult responsibilities, but sometimes it’s nice to simulate the simplicity of childhood with parents and just let them take care of you.

June 9, 2008 at 1:14 pm 14 comments

Bonus #3 of Grandparents in Town: Special Outings

Orison has been excited about going to a Twin’s game since last summer when DG took the staff and families. This summer, Granny and Papa were our reason to visit the Metrodome. Orison had a blast, and my dad “had to” buy him a Twins hat. Orison loves it and wants to wear it every day. He calls himself “The Player Bear” when he wears it.

June 8, 2008 at 3:00 pm 1 comment

Bonus #2 of Grandparents In Town: New Toys

This is mostly on Orison’s behalf and for his sake, but I know he was especially excited today with his new scooter.

June 3, 2008 at 9:09 pm 6 comments

Bonus #1 of Grandparents In Town: Date Night

Something Abraham and I hadn’t even thought about as we considered my parents’ upcoming visit is that they will be in the house every night.

That means… someone else is in the house… which means… we don’t have to be… which means… we can go OUT!!!

So after dinner was mostly cleaned up, I threw myself together and we went to see a movie. We go to the movies so rarely, it’s definitely a special treat. And we were surprised by something else as we hurried into the dark theater just in time… a double seat!!!

That means that there was a seat large enough for both of us to fit together, with no armrest bar between us. It was like sitting on a love seat together! We were able to snuggle for the entire movie.

And a piece of cheesecake afterward ain’t too bad, either.

June 3, 2008 at 8:54 am 15 comments

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