Did You Miss Me?

Here’s a fun fact for you: the last time I was out of the presence of a child for 24 hours straight was 10 years ago when my husband and I travelled without our kids to help a friend plan their father’s funeral. Before that, it was two years earlier for the same friend’s wedding. Before that, it was the week I took off before giving birth to my oldest. 19 years ago. And I have come to the conclusion that being in the presence of children continually for years on end constitutes a form a torture.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. Most of the time I even enjoy them. But you can never fully relax around kids. You can’t start a project and feel comfortable knowing that you’ll have the time you need to complete it before a child needs your attention. You can’t even just allow yourself to become absorbed completely in something without running the risk that you’ll discover that your child decided to entertain themselves by emptying a king size down comforter all over your bedroom.
I’ve been trying to find ways to get away from my kids for years, but lacking resources and/or generous friends who want to give me the keys to their vacation home and money for transportation to get there, it has not happened. So this summer, I decided to take an impromptu sabbatical to recover a bit. I told my kids that I was on “pretend vacation” and taught my kids to bother and manipulate each other instead of me. I spent time with them (I called it “visiting”) on my schedule rather than theirs.
Mostly I just sat and thought and thought and thought and thought. In between thinking, I sought out a few other adults and just talked and talked and talked and talked. It was good for the soul. I learned a lot, in fact. And as you may have noticed, I didn’t write at all. Because writing is much harder than talking.
But today the kids went back to school. Not only did the kids go back to school, but my youngest started preschool. Which means that for the first time in 19 years, I am going to be at home, without kids on a regular basis. So, no more writing like this:

(Yes, that is an actual picture of me writing with a child sitting on my shoulders.)

(Yes, that is an actual picture of me writing with a child sitting on my shoulders.)

I have a lot of interesting things coming up. Like an appearance on Moody Radio this weekend (more on that later). And the whole gospel that’s hidden in two words which you’ve never heard about. A post on free will, which several of you have asked me about. Another on what the blazes is going on with the world – is it really as bad as it looks, or is their reason for hope? (The answer is yes.) And a whole bunch of other Upside Down World awesomeness. So, stay tuned! I’m baaack! ūüôā

Bloggy Linky Goodness – My 500th Post

So, after my less that cheerful and uplifting post last night, tonight I’m all good news. First of all, it’s still Sunday somewhere in the US of A which means that this is the 3rd week in a row that I’ve gotten Bloggy¬†Linky Goodness out on time. Which is like a record for me or something.

Second, this is my 500th blog post. And I want you all to be properly impressed by this feat because it was done with children climbing all over me. I’m not even kidding – last fall, Olivia was channelling the spirit of a cat and kept sitting on my head and neck while I typed. Be impressed, damnit. According a guesstimation¬†based on the usual length of my blog posts, this means I have written approximately as many words here¬†at The Upside Down World¬†as are in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Hobbit. And I’ve only occasionally¬†repeated myself. So, yay me! Too bad I don’t have any rum to have a celebratory drink with. I guess you’ll have to have one for me. But only if you’re old enough and not a recovering alcoholic. In which case, just grab some water and say, “yay Rebecca!” with that instead. B-b-b-b-but, but wait – it gets better! In honor of my 500th blog post, I’m offering 5 days of free-ness on the Kindle version of The Upside Down World ~ A Book of Wisdom in Progress. From Wednesday through Sunday of this week, you will be able to download my book from Amazon free of charge. I’m giving you a few days advance notice so you have time to inform your family and friends and arrange your downloading parties to take advantage of this amazing offer.

Third –¬†and this is really the best news of all – I think I finally reached spiritual home today. The long journey I’ve been on is complete and I’m ready to start a whole new leg of the adventure. It’s good. I know some of you have been worried (hi, Mom!), but I’m finally¬†OK. I can’t begin to guess when my non-spiritual life will pick up, but that’s just piddly stuff compared to where I’m at now. However, the details are¬†all stuff I’ll have to be getting into over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

Oh – and speaking of my mom, today is my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary! Yep – that’s them on their wedding day up at the top there. They are¬†traveling through¬†the Canadian Rockies where they took their honeymoon right this moment. Only this time, I’m pretty sure they are using hotels and not a tent. So, if you still have that drink handy say, “congratulations, Rebecca Trotter’s mom and dad!” (I’m sure that’s how they want to be addressed these days – as “Rebecca Trotter’s mom and dad”! LOL) If your drink’s already gone, pour yourself another and maybe think about cutting back on the sauce, will ya? Continue reading

Bloggy Linky Goodness

Look at me – it’s been one week¬†exactly and here’s another addition of¬†Bloggy¬†Linky¬†Goodness, right on schedule. I’ve read some really great writers this week. In fact, too many great writers; they’re¬†feeding my insecurities.¬†But that’s my problem, not their’s. ¬†So, without further ado, here is this week’s Bloggy¬†Linky¬†Goodness, pre-screened and¬†pre-enjoyed for your convenience!

My 2 Great Guys¬†A great post from regular reader and commenter¬†O.R. Pagan/The Bald Scientist about one of those moments that parents of kids with autism cherish. I hope you’ll go check it out. And say “hi”. You guys are too quiet!

He Said/She Said¬†I just discovered this blog – good2begone – and I’m loving it. (I spit my drink out reading about his stepdaughter saying Lincoln lived in a “login” in another post. That’s quite an accomplishment.) This post looks at the differences between men and women’s communication styles. Continue reading

Did the Ex Try to Poison Me? Plus, A Guide to Wine for the Newbie.

It is Friday. And Friday is a good day for wine. Because you’re too tired to do anything crazy, but something to take the edge off is called for. Wine is perfect for that! And let me tell you, if you are getting drunk off of wine, the wine you are drinking isn’t good enough. Or you’re not paying enough attention to it. Either way, you’re doing it wrong.

If you’ve never been much of a wine person but would find the idea of it appealing, don’t ask a wine person for advice. They will direct you to something which they enjoy and you will find either unaffordable or undrinkable. (Do ask liquor store clerks, though. Some of them are really excellent and they don’t get paid enough to buy $40 bottles of wine either.) For those of us who are past Boones Farm but aren’t yearning to gargle our alcohol before swallowing, allow me to share The Upside Down World’s handy guide to wine selection:

  • Whites are usually easier to drink than reds.
  • Blush wines are usually easier to drink than either white or reds but usually run a little towards the kool-aid side of wine.
  • Ask for something that’s not too dry and you’ll get a sweeter wine.
  • If you are drinking a red, ask for low tannins – those are the things that make your mouth pucker when you drink many red wines.
  • Interesting, quality, cheap, easy to drink red wines often come from up-and-coming new regions which change from time to time. South American wines are usually a good choices at the moment (or at least they were a year ago when I had money for a $10 bottle of wine!).
  • For an easy to drink white, wines with unpronounceable German looking names are good bets – but again, avoid anything described as “dry‚ÄĚ.
  • Every once in a while, you can get a good wine pairing for what you’re eating. A sip of wine with food in your mouth will make you almost stop and gasp. It’s so good, it’s like magic. But it happens so rarely and unpredictably that it’s hardly worth going out of your way to find. Don’t get hung up on wine-food pairings.
  • You will appreciate the wine section at Trader Joe’s much more after a few trips into the liquor store by the gas station.

This is a movie about oenophiles. Every character in it is despicable. Moral: get advice on choosing wine from bloggers on the internet.

Myself, I prefer a Riesling. I’ve had magic really good Riesling, but that’s only because someone with money bought it for me. But Riesling can be quite good even at the $8 a bottle mass produced range. This is why when he’s trying to pass himself off as a nice guy, the ex will bring a bottle of Riesling over even though he has no money and doesn’t care for it himself. When I’ve been nasty and he’s feeling extra committed to passing himself off as a nice guy, he won’t just leave the bottle on the counter for me to find whenever I happen to make it to the kitchen. He’ll actually open it and bring me a glass. And have put the bottle in the refrigerator for later. Three weeks ago, I must have been pretty nasty at some point in the preceding days because he brought me a glass of Riesling in one of the crystal glasses my parents sent from Poland. They are strictly special occasion glasses. Because we have 5 kids and at least 2 of them are in the “I inexplicably drop only breakable things I’m not supposed to be touching” stage at all times.

Within seconds after taking a drink, I began to experience intense, clenching pain around the area of my diaphragm. Fifteen minutes later we were driving to the emergency room while I alternately stick a paper sack on my head to avoid hyperventilating and stick my head out the window to gulp in cold, numbing air. On the way, I theorizing that I was having a panic attack or that I might be one of those people who shows up in the ER with severe gas pain and just needed to fart. Another round of head out the window and then into the sack.

I had insisted on a paper sack because you can suffocate from putting a plastic bag on your head. Even one with a hole in it. It’s just not safe. And who offers a person a plastic bag to breathe into? My ex, that’s who. You know, the pain had started right after drinking the wine he gave me. “Did you put something in the wine?” I managed to ask before I was seized with pain and stuck my head back out the window.

The ex was a bit startled to be accused of poisoning me, but my world moved right on to writhing around trying to find the least

He's going to die! Did his mother teach him nothing of the dangers of putting a plastic bag on one's head?

painful position to sit in. Thankfully, I made it to the hospital without throwing myself out the window and was taken into triage pretty quickly. About 30 minutes later, while I was sitting in a hospital bed feeling much better, a couple of police officers walked through the waiting area where the ex was sitting and were waved back by the receptionist. He said he just knew they were there because I had told them that he was trying to poison me. He told himself that the toxicology report would clear him.

I had forgotten that I’d even said such a thing of course. I was busy having what would have been the most painful panic attack in human history. (Since I was in so much pain that it literally took my breath away, I was convinced that I was having a panic attack. I am irrationally certain that anytime something might be wrong with me, it will turn out to be a panic attack.) The doctor assured me that as intense as a panic attack can be, it doesn’t actually cause breath-taking physical pain. Later he came back and offered to call the surgeon and get him to come in the next morning to remove my gallbladder. Or he could wish me luck and let me call him myself come Monday morning. “Those are my choices?” I asked. “Well, I do have you on drugs, so I can manipulate you pretty easily at the moment. If you’re not up to thinking about it, I can just go ahead and make the call now,” the kind doctor responded. Which is what he did.

Amy Winehouse was cleared by her last toxicology report. Would the ex be so lucky?

So, the ex was cleared of suspicion without even having to wait on a toxicology report. I am now a few ounces lighter and missing a green sac that once sat by my liver. (Actually, I have no idea if a gallbladder is really green, but it’s always colored green in illustrations, so that’s how I picture it.) And I have another 3 weeks before I’m supposed to pick up or carry the toddler. Fun.

Of course, I’m tough.¬† I may not be 25 anymore, but I was a good girl and took it easy¬†for a few days.¬† It wasn’t going to knock me down.¬† Unfortunately,¬†a week after my gallbladder surgery, my mother nearly died from septic shock. She had attended a church dance with my father just the night before, so we kinda didn’t see it coming.¬† She ended up in the ICU where the nurse called one of the surgeons and insisted that if he didn’t come in now, she wasn’t going to make it through the night.¬† Even after emergency surgery to remove a lodged kidney stone, it was touch and go for a while. My dad told me that the evening after surgery, mom had the same gray look my grandfather had when he died a few years earlier. The parish priest came out and gave communion and performed the rites of anointing of the sick on her. According to my dad, almost as soon as the priest put his hands on mom, the color began to return to her face. My mom told me that she started feeling better and looked over at my sister who had tears running down her face. “How sweet. She’s crying tears of joy,” my mom thought to herself. Life always seems impossibly good when God’s moving, I suppose. ūüėČ Fortunately, mom’s on the mend. But it’s been a long couple of weeks. I’m exhausted.

I’ve been convicted about the need to rest lately. I’ve been hearing it regularly when I pray. But it’s hard. I’ll rest when I’m not poor.

I lift this nap up to the Lord. May my snoozing honor him.

I’ll rest when I’m done doing what I’m trying to do. I’ll rest when I’m not surrounded by children 24/7 for years without a break. I’ll rest. Later. And then life comes along and just piles on until I get to the point of not being able to function. Again. I swear, sometimes I think that life is so hard because it’s the only way God can get us to stop and rest. One day maybe I’ll learn to do it before life has piled on so hard I can’t do anything else. It would probably be a good thing to get worked out.

I hope that your life is not nearly as crazy as mine right now (although if not, don’t feel too bad. It does seem to be going around!). But even if you’re just riding along on a bed of roses, we were made to need rest. We were made to need some recreation and entertainment along with our work. Hell, what good is a bed of roses without the freedom to relax anyways?

So, please don’t wait for life to pile one you. Take some time to rest this weekend. God said so, and I’m here to report that not resting doesn’t work all that well anyways. If you’re not sure what to with yourself, you can always kick back with my newly re-vamped site. I worked all week making it pretty (or at least not dreadfully plain anymore). Plus, a lot of people who only started reading my blog recently may not realize how much there is on the site. I figured out recently that I’ve published close to a half a million words on the site over the years. Which is far too much sorting for most people to go through to find what you want to read. So I’ve been busy organizing as well. I’ve added menus that will make it easier to find what you are interested in reading. There is now a page with my favorite memoir pieces (Look under the “About” menu). There’s also a menu for “Hot Topics” which includes “Spiritual Parenting“, “Theological Concepts“, “Christianity and Evolution“, “Study of the Book of Job“, “Women and Scripture“. I’ve also created a menu for my poems as these seem to be particularly popular. I’m going to get to work on more Hot Topics just as soon as I can function again, so if you have requests/suggestions, please let me know.

If poking around the blog itself isn’t tickling your fancy, may I suggest the newly released eBook version of The Upside Down World ~ A Book of Wisdom in Progress for your recreational reading this weekend? It’s $5. Just like a movie from the bargain dvd bin at Wal-Mart. But better. And if you use my tips above you can add a nice bottle of under $15 wine to read by. For $20 bucks, you have the perfect night in, courtesy of The Upside Down World. If you really want to splurge, grab a bar of dark chocolate to munch on and it will be just like a visit to heavenly realms. I’ll just be curled up in the fetal position in my bed if you need anything!

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I spent the day upgrading the blog.¬† I’m still working on details, but I have 48 hours to decide if I want to use this theme or not.¬† If you have a minute to head over to the blog and let me know what you think, I’d be mighty appreciative.¬† Even just a “Better” or “Worse” would be useful.¬† Thank you!


The best of the week . . .

According to infalible me!  Ha!

I’ve done more writing than reading this week, so this is a bit light, but here goes:

How children’s¬† play is being sneakily redefined.¬† I totally agree with this from Alfie Kohn:

1. Play is being redefined to include things that are clearly not free, imaginative play.

2. Younger and older children ought to have the chance to play together.

3.  Play isn’t just for children.

4.  The point of play is that it has no point.

5.¬† Play isn‚Äôt the only alternative to ‚Äúwork.‚ÄĚ

When congress does something so idiotic that the people who create internet memes take a break from ridiculing Edward Cullins and valorizing Chuck Norris to say “WTF?”, the people are not amused.¬† US Congress Rules That Pizza is a Vegetable.

An old homeschool blogger buddy, Henry Cate at Why Homeschool shares an article on the surprising differences between elite achievers and others:

  • The average players are working just as many hours as the elite players (around 50 hours a week spent on music),
  • but they‚Äôre not dedicating these hours to the right type of work (spending almost 3 times less hours than the elites on crucial deliberate practice),
  • and furthermore, they spread this work haphazardly throughout the day. So even though they‚Äôre not doing more work than the elite players, they end up sleeping less and feeling more stressed. Not to mention that they remain worse at the violin.

Kids with high IQs more likely to become teens and adults who use drugs:

The results may seem surprising at first glance, but the researchers noted that they do fit some established patterns. ‚ÄúHigh-IQ individuals have also been shown to score highly on tests of stimulation seeking and openness to experience,‚ÄĚ they wrote, and it could be that ‚Äúillegal drugs are better at fulfilling a desire for novelty and stimulation.‚ÄĚ

Hmmmm . . .

As I listened to this interview with Mattieu Richard, I kept saying, “yes! this man gets it.”¬† After a while I started getting a bit irritated that a buddhist monk was sharing some amazing things with the world while we Christians support a cottage industry dedicated to convincing ourselves that the world is only 6000 years old.

Did you know that in Ezekial 16:17 God says that the hebrews had taken the wealth he gave them, made a jewel encrusted dildo with the gold and silver and pleasured themselves with it?¬† In 1 Samuel 6, the neighbors of Isreal, who had stolen the ark of the covenant, made models of their tumors with gold and sent them, along with models of rats made of gold back to Isreal along with the Ark. Can you imagine? “That there piece of gold looks like a goiter I had once!”¬† The bible is the most interesting book I own.

From Slate: Four Excellent Habits – The subtle skills that will give you a permanent edge:

Principle 1: Look for bright spots

Principle 2: Find the right gravity

Principle 3: Maintain your bridges

Principle 4: Avoid following the herd

And finally, I have decided that my 12 year old son Collin is much easier to understand and get along with if you just accept that he’s a 16 year old and an 8 year old living in the same body.¬† And the 16 year old doesn’t like being treated like an 8 year old.

If you blog and have something you’d like me to read and maybe (almost certainly!) include in my weekly list, email the link to me at ratrotter73@yahoo.com with “best of the week” in the subject line.

Principle 1: Look for bright spots

An exciting new feature here at TUDW . . . TUSDW? TUSDWNWRLD?

If you look at the little bitty letters across the very top of this page to the left, you will see that there is a new page called “Ask the Crazy Christian Lady a Question”.¬† You should go click it.

And if you haven’t already, you need to buy a copy of my book.¬† So I can upgrade the website and fix the little bitty letters thing! ūüėČ

Funny Thing About Job

As many readers here know, I’m doing a study of the Book of Job. (Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter3)¬† I’ve had several comments saying, “I love the Book of Job too.”¬† Here’s the funny thing though: I don’t really like the Book of Job.¬† Never have.¬† The repetative poetry used in the book makes it rather tedious for me to read.¬† Plus, the idea that God would just play games with a man like that is odious to me.¬† And responding to his protestations with a long “who do you think you are?” speech isn’t the most endearing portrait of God around.¬† So, while I have read the book a couple of times, it has always been near the bottom of my list of favorite books in the bible.¬† I actually got more from Leviticus or even Numbers than the Book of Job.

However, I happened to come across a couple of things recently which made me take a second look.¬† Which I really needed to do anyways.¬† My experience with studying scripture is that those things which make the least sense or seem the most wrong are often markers for where our understanding gives out.¬† If we approach them in prayer, the Spirit will reveal things we just didn’t know were there.¬† That’s what has prompted my study of Job, actually.¬† Who knows?¬† Maybe when I’m done I’ll actually be able to say, “I love the Book of Job too!”¬† Stranger things have happened. ūüėČ


Sorry for the silence here.¬† One of my computers went down and I had to finish a magazine article I had been assigned.¬† This editor has decided that I’m the go-to person for all of their poorly defined article ideas, which is flattering because it shows faith in my writing ability.¬† However, poorly defined topics always take much longer to write than a clear “go write about this from this angle and be sure to touch on these points” assignment.¬† Blegh.

Anyhow.¬† I should be able to get the second part of my series on the emerging church up tonight.¬† Which I know everyone has been waiting for with bated breath! ūüôā