Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday Melange 3/31/08

Main Entry: mé·lange
Pronunciation: \mā-ˈläⁿzh, -ˈlänj\
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from Middle French, from mesler, meler to mix — more at meddle
Date: 1653
: a mixture often of incongruous elements

Various and sundry things to pass along to you on this last day of March...

--Kathie Lee Gifford is coming back to morning television.

--Popular Mechanics names the 10 Most Prophetic Sci-Fi Movies Ever. The number one on the list is one of my son Jonathan's favorite movies ever. And funnily enough, one of them is "Short Circuit"--an 80's movie that I just thought was silly fun.

--Yahoo is launching a new website for women ages 25 to 54.

--Today is the International Day of Prayer and Remembrance marking the third anniversary of the death of Terri Schindler Schiavo.

--Steve Martin and Diane Keaton are re-teaming for another movie together.

--Purgatorio's latest "Divine Vinyl" is, as usual, a crack-up. (it's a regular feature in which he highlights Christian album covers from days gone by.)

--The same tongue-in-cheek humor characterizes Stuff Christians Like--a blog that pokes gentle fun at things that only Christians will "get"--like fearing the rapture will happen before you lose your virginity.

Thanks to all who had ideas and suggestions about my knee problem. It seems worse today. After reading about the symptoms, I'm wondering if I have bursitis.

Happy Monday to all...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fit Friday Update: I'm on the disabled list

It's been quite a while since I've done a Fit Friday update, and for the most part, things are going great. I've now lost 24 pounds, and in any given week, I exercise 4 to 6 days.

As you know if you've been following my fitness journey at all, I was really disappointed when my for-women-only gym went out of business without warning. I was really adrift for a few days...but just for a few days. I ended up joining Cardinal Fitness, and I have to say, I love it.

My daughter and I were both concerned about how we would feel working out with men around. As it turns out, that's not a problem at all. People pretty much don't pay attention to other kind of just do your own thing. The staff is friendly and helpful, everything is clean and nice, and the equipment is great. (The music sometimes tends toward the "screamo" variety, but I just need to get my own Ipod or Dell DJ to take care of that!)

However...I'm dealing with a problem with my left knee. I really don't know what it is. It seems to "catch" sometimes, even when I'm just walking. And if it does it a lot, it then becomes painful and stiff.

I made a big mistake the other day by staying on the elliptical far too long (knowing how weird that knee is). I was watching the movie "K-Pax" on one of the TVs at Cardinal Fitness, and I got so involved in it, I didn't want to stop watching. So I ended up doing cardio for almost an hour, and now my knee is paying the price. The only thing that seems to help is staying off of it, exercise-wise, for a few days before I try again.

If anyone has any ideas, suggestions, or even theories about what's wrong with my knee, I'd love to hear them. I know it's dangerous to get a diagnosis off the Internet, and that's not what I'm looking for...just any possible theories.

I'm thinking about visiting a chiropractor, but I don't even know if chiropractors would deal with knee problems. Anyway...bummer. I need to exercise for my blood sugar's sake, so I really want to get back into action. I'm thinking about doing Pilates until the knee gets better, because it seems to be OK as long as I don't put any weight on it. Thoughts?

If you'd like to participate in "Fit Friday," it's normally hosted by Kelly at A Spacious Place, but she's taking a break from it right now as she's participating in a reading group. Feel free to join in and post your fitness ideas, suggestions or experiences!

Before I go...

If you're a Christian, you must read this post by Athol Dickson. Amazing!

I am sooooo ready for the weekend. Hope it's a wonderful and blessed one for all that stop here!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!

Today's Thursday Thirteen happens to fall on the 28th birthday of my oldest child, Jonathan--so my TT today is a collection of pictures of him.

Jonathan has always been a joy to me. He is extremely intelligent, funny, interesting, well-read, an excellent writer and communicator, a lover of music, a man of character and integrity who loves and serves God. And he has become a wonderful husband and father as well.

I treasure any time I get to spend with him, and I love him more than I could possibly express. Happy birthday, Jonathan!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Word Out Wednesday

A great website for health and fitness

My first idea for "Word Out Wednesday" today was to talk about a terrific little magazine I found called "Outsmart Diabetes," which is put out by Prevention Magazine. In the process of looking for information on the magazine, though, I found something that might be even better---the Prevention Magazine website.

If you're interested at all in health and fitness, this website is a goldmine! There's information on virtually everything related to getting and staying healthy and fit.

Do titles like this interest you? "The Flat Belly Diet"..."Quit Late-Night Snacking"..."52 Ways to Lose a Pound a Week"..."Essential eating rules that stoke your metabolism all day long"..."100 Smartest Diet Tips Ever"...and the list goes on and on.

The website is attractive, easy to navigate, and loaded with helpful things like recipes, anti-aging tips, quizzes, videos and success stories. If you become a member, you can join discussion forums and craft your own personal health trackers. I'm going to be visiting this site a lot in the future!

As for "Outsmart Diabetes"...even though Prevention puts it out...I wasn't able to find a lot about it on the site. (Apparently that's also the title of a book from Prevention.)

I can tell you that I first purchased a copy of the magazine from my local grocery store last fall, and I was delighted with the recipes and made several of them--including diabetes-friendly pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pudding, and an amazing cheesecake that you would NEVER know was diabetic-friendly if someone didn't tell you. I recently bought the latest issue, and plan to delve into it as well.

About Word-Out Wednesday....

Why don't you join in? Simply "get the word out" about something on your own blog--it could be a product you love, a book you enjoyed, really anything--then check back and sign the Mr Linky at Adventures of Wondermommy. I think it's a great idea!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More stuff to tell you....

Brooke White

More links and things...

--Ten TV shows that changed the world (hat tip to Christ and Pop Culture.)

--What David C, David A, Brooke and Jason need to do to survive on American Idol (USA Today.)

--In the wake of the recent California Court of Appeals ruling concerning home education, Exploring Homeschooling is urging parents not to be afraid to homeschool.

--What kind of flower are you? Linda has this fun meme...and a video that will take you back a few years.

--Jeremiah Wright is "preaching to a choir I've left"--Jonetta Rose Barras in the Washington Post (from

--Is "chick lit" dead? Does Christian fiction need to be "edgier" to sell? Author BJ Hoff has some thoughts on these questions and more.

--Worried about your twenty-something who seems to be adrift? You're not alone, according to this USA Today article: "Around the kids, they're nothing if not supportive. But a growing number of baby boomer parents are freaking out inside..."

QUOTE: "In news of the 'no duh' variety, the American Medical Association released figures about sex and alcohol use during rowdy spring break vacations. The poll, which surveyed female college students and graduates aged 17 to 35, found that 74% believed women used drinking 'as an excuse for outrageous behavior.' ... What's happening on spring break beaches isn't just boys being boys and girls going wild. It's young people, women especially, deciding that the way to measure their readiness for the adult world is not in terms of education or emotional maturity but [by] sexual desirability. The raunchy contests and general debauchery were something that these women had prepared for, almost as though for a final exam. ... One word I heard again and again, oddly, was 'confidence.' As they psyched themselves up for wet T-shirt contests or debated whether a given guy was worth flirting with, a lot of women told me that they saw spring break as the proving ground for their attractiveness." —Los Angeles Times writer Meghan Daum, commenting on her time spent with spring break revelers (from Culture Clips)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday Melange

Various and assorted links and stuff:

--Kentucky Grilled Chicken? Coming soon to a KFC near you.

--Two Virginia sisters made a nice chunk of change on E-Bay with a corn flake shaped like the state of Illinois.

--"Person of interest" in his wife's killing, Drew Peterson is apparently trying to garner some sympathy.

--An interesting article about English detective novelist and playwright Dorothy L. Sayers.

--Why husbands should be uglier than their wives (hat tip to Evangelical Outpost.)

--Five Ways to Be Content (from Christian Women Online.)

--The top book sellers of 2007 (from Infuze Magazine online.)

Happy Monday.....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

13 Easter-related Things

Some songs, quotes and other Easter-related things:

1. "Cross of Love," performed by Twila Paris and Steve Green

"We have no tomb in Christianity because we have no corpse."--Padre Sahib

3. "Via Dolorosa," performed by Lea Salonga

"Whoever reads the New Testament seriously, or gives thought to the impact which the apostles made upon their generation, must acknowledge that one outstanding historic event alone spurred that small band of 11 ordinary men
to an amazing task of evangelization in their generation. Defying every
obstacle, loss of home, persecution, even death itself, they evidenced the
supreme relevance in their ministry of the resurrection of Jesus Christ." --Erling C. Olsen

5. "The Easter Song," performed by the 2nd Chapter of Acts

"All heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, all hell terribly afraid of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning."--Oswald Chambers

7. The word "Easter" actually derives from the name of a pagan goddess, which leads many Christians to call it "Resurrection Sunday" instead.

8. Americans spend 2 billion dollars on Easter goodies. They consume 7.1 billion pounds of Easter goodies each year.

9. "Love Crucified Arose," performed by Michael Card

"We are not preaching the Gospel of a dead Christ, but of a living Christ who sits exalted at the Father's right hand, and is living to save all who put their trust in Him...we are not pointing men to a dead Christ; we are preaching a living Christ. He lives exalted at God's right hand, and He 'saves to the uttermost all who come to God by Him.'"--H. A. Ironside

11. My favorite Easter candy is the Cadbury Creme Egg. What's yours?

12. Why are we celebrating Easter so early this year? Just how is the date of Easter determined? Here's the answer.

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live..."--Jesus Christ, John 11:25

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Word Out Wednesday

The Excellent Blog Award

Remember Word Out Wednesday? Originating with Adventures of Wondermommy, it allows you to blog about anything you want to "get the word out" about.

Today, I'm delighted that Kat has given me an Excellent Blogger Award. So I'm going to use this as an opportunity to get the word out about some excellent blogs.

The Rules: By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you are eligible to award it to 10 more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want but please award at least 10. You deserve this! Feel free to award people who have already been awarded. Cindy's Note: Do NOT feel obligated to pass on the award. If you can't or don't want to for any reason, simply smile and enjoy the praise!

So I hereby give the Excellent Blog Award to:

Mrs. Fussypants' Guide to Life

Julee Ann's Journey

Still His Girl

Welcome to Granny's House

Honey I Fed the Kids

Cheaper by the Half Dozen

Victoria Gaines' Light for the Writer's Soul

Karla's Looking Towards Heaven

The Diet Naked Blog

Robin Lee Hatcher's Write Thinking

Oh, and if you want to participate in "Word Out Wednesday," report back to Wondermommy!

I'm hanging out at the Internet Cafe today...

Please join me here!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Help for your "Lost" addiction...

...and other stuff to tell you

--Addicted to "Lost"? Finally, you can get some perspective on your problem:

--Speaking of "Lost," there are a couple of stops I have to make after each episode.

Mrs Fussypants does a recap--here's her latest--and it's usually a hoot.

And the USA Today Pop Candy blog opens up for comments after the show. It's fascinating to read all the theories and responses.

--Forget March Madness! You can select your brackets for "Lost Madness" here.

--What would Oprah do?--Another hat tip to USA Today Pop Candy: there's a woman who has pledged to live her life by Oprah's principles, and she's blogging about it.

--So not everyone appreciates the bagpipe. I happen to love it...and found this story about an expert bagpipe maker pretty interesting.

--Evangelical Outpost sounds off on Barack Obama's controversial church.

--Ben Stein taking on the scientific community's intolerance for creationism? DK Raymer blogs about it here.

--Have you ever heard about Billy Graham's prodigal grandson? I had never heard of Tullian Tchividjian until local pastor and author Chris Brauns told me about him. Very interesting story.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

...these are a few of my favorite Irish-related things...(I hope you'll forgive me, but I said everything I wanted to say about St. Paddy's Day in my post a year ago, so the following is a re-post!)

It took me years to realize that a lot of people use St. Paddy's Day as an excuse to party and get drunk. The day still has happy connotations for me of being a kid in school and making sure I was wearing my green so I wouldn't get pinched. Just in case you forgot to wear green, though, you could also pin on a green construction-paper shamrock!

Now, I use it as an excuse to reflect on my Irish heritage, dream about visiting Ireland someday, and think about some of my favorite Irish-related things.

Favorite Irish author: Maeve Binchy. I believe I've read all of Binchy's books to date, and there's not one I haven't enjoyed. Her breezy, humorous and casual style gives the reader the feeling that you're chatting with a good friend, but don't be fooled--her storytelling ability is impeccable. Among my favorites: Circle of Friends, Tara Road, and Light a Penny Candle.

Favorite author who writes about the Irish: B.J. Hoff. It's no secret to anyone who reads this blog that I'm a major B. J. Hoff fan. Her Emerald Ballad series hooked me, and I've continued to be impressed by her absorbing tales which often feature Irish immigrants. When asked why, B. J. replied:

"Well, who’s more interesting than the Irish, after all? There’s no danger of ever running out of stories about them!

"Seriously, I love writing about the people who built our nation—our ancestors—and there’s really no way to do that without writing about immigrants. And since the Irish immigrants played such a hugely important role in settling America—and since my own family tree is exceedingly 'green—' I chose years ago to focus on Irish characters."

Check out B.J.'s About the Irish page on her website for some interesting facts.

Book that started my fascination with the Irish: The Red Knights of Hy Brasil, by Christine Savery. I blogged here about locating a copy of this beloved childhood book. I fell in love with mysterious and charismatic Shane O'Coghlin, one of the book's main characters, and in fact the book began my lifelong love affair with all things Irish.

Also blogging about St. Patrick's Day:

--DK Raymer at A Flyover Blog

--BJ Hoff at Grace Notes

--Mrs Fussypants (you HAVE to check out her video!)

--Sherry at Semicolon

--Baba's Blog

--Hootin' Anni's

--Kay at Loop de Loops in La La Land
Let me know in my comments section if you're blogging Irish today, and I'll include you in this list!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

13 Photos from My Family's Past

My son recently scanned some old family photos for me, so I thought I would share them. Thanks for indulging me as I take a walk down Memory Lane. Here we go:

1. My beautiful mother at the age of 9

2. My dad as a high school football player in the late 40's

3. I'm the baby being held by my dad. To the left of my mom in the picture is my great-aunt Cynthia, for whom my mother was named, then I was named for my mother. Taken at Doling Park in Springfield, Missouri.

4. I'm the little one with the manic smile. With my sister Bev and our family of dolls

5. As a missionary family in the Middle East, circa 1966. With the Dome of the Rock in the background, Jerusalem.

6. On a camel in the Holy Land, July 1966. Behind me is my friend Cindy Aynes...she is now married and a missionary in New Zealand.

7. Me as a very serious Bible college student, circa 1975.

8. The blushing bride! August 19, 1978

9. Me and Doug after tying the knot! Wow, we look so young...we were so young.

10. With my darling sisters, Lisa and Beverly, on the Big Day.

11. My little scamps, Jonathan and Justin, circa 1986. Can't you just see the mischief in their eyes? Were they ever that little?

12. Me and Elizabeth, Mother-Daughter Banquet, 1988. I was so excited to have a daughter to bring!

13. Mother-Daughter Banquet, 1989. Obviously I liked dressing us alike!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Word Out Wednesday!

I review Lisa Samson's Embrace Me

Welcome to those of you who are visiting as part of the Ultimate Blog Party! If you're new here, please scroll down and read my party post and get to know me a little better.

I've visited so many fantastic blogs through this event...the only sad thing is that there's just not enough time to read them ALL on a regular basis. I've definitely enjoyed finding out about some incredibly interesting women.

One of the blogs I discovered through the Party is The Adventures of Wondermommy, and she has a meme I can really get on board with. It's called...ta da...Word Out Wednesday!

As I commented to Wondermommy, I've taken part in a similar meme--"Works for Me Wednesday"--but eventually faded out because I had trouble coming up with ideas. But it seems like I always have something I want to get the word out about!

As Wondermommy says, "Word Out Wednesday is where I get the 'word out' about something. It usually comes in the form of a product recommendation."

In my case, it won't always be a product--sometimes it might be a book or a link.

If you'd like to take part, just do a Word Out Wednesday post and then go here to link back to it.

I guess I'm really participating just by getting the word out about "Word Out Wednesday," but I actually do have a few things I want to let you know about.

Embrace Me, by Lisa Samson

Although I've always been a Lisa Samson fan, I have to admit I balked at reading this book! The story of a disfigured girl who travels with a freak show as "Lizard Girl"? It sounded just a little too weird to me. I wondered if Lisa had jumped the shark with this one. (I know that phrase usually applies to TV shows, but you know what I mean.)

Well, I should have known that Lisa Samson could take a premise even that strange and spin it into an immensely readable tale of forgiveness, redemption, and even joy.

The story really focuses on two people: former pastor Drew Parrish, and the girl with the disfigured face, Valentine--whose best friend is her fellow "freak," a beautiful girl without arms and legs named Lella. (Samson admits in a note at the end of the book that there are so many options now for disabled people, you wouldn't be finding them in a traveling sideshow--but she says she bent reality somewhat to make the book's point.)

The friendship between Valentine and Lella is so sweet and tender, and their lives are so full of small happinesses and infused with such gentle humor and quiet grace, you somehow fail to get really depressed about their plight.

While Valentine and Lella are taking a break from the road in a town called Mount Oak, another story unfolds that actually takes place several years earlier--that of the wildly successful preacher, Drew Parrish, who somehow finds himself completely down and out. How Drew rises to prosperity and then loses it all is a fascinating tale.

And how Drew's story intersects with that of Valentine makes for extremely compelling reading. In fact, despite my initial skepticism, I ended up reading the entire book in one evening, completely unable to put it down. While drawing me in with very special and utterly believable characters, it opened my eyes to so many lessons about Christ and about the things that are really, truly important.

I highly recommend Embrace Me. It's a book you won't soon forget.

And now for something completely different...

It's been a while since Weird Al Yankovic did his "White and Nerdy" parody, but I was just tipped off to this video in which Donny Osmond rehearses wildly geeky dance moves for the video. I dare you not to love Donny after watching this!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Welcome to the Ultimate Blog Party!!!

Hello, and welcome!

If you're visiting my blog for the first time as part of the Ultimate Blog Party, I thought I'd take a moment to introduce you to myself and to Notes in the Key of Life. Most of the links in the following paragraphs will take you to a post about that particular thing. Also, be sure and listen to my audio blog intro, which is to your right on my sidebar.

My name is Cindy Swanson. I am a wife, mom to Jonathan, Justin and Elizabeth, (three wonderful twenty-somethings), mother-in-law to Daylyn and for the first time, a grandma--to beautiful Payton, born 1/31/07. I am a radio personality at 101QFL and Radio 91, and a voice-over artist as well.

My faith in Christ defines me; I couldn't live a day without Him. I also love music , reading, and writing, and dream of visiting Ireland, Scotland and England.

I often blog about interviews I've done, often including transcripted excerpts and/or soundclips. Some of my interviews are linked on my sidebar.

Feel free to take a look around, and enjoy this slide show!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

13 places I would rather be than here....

OK, I'll admit, I lifted this idea from another blogger, and as soon as I can figure out who it was, I'll link to them! Great idea, though, especially when I'm dealing with temps in the 20's here (although not all of the places on my list are necessarily warm.) Here we go:

1. In Austin, Texas, visiting my sons and daughter-in-law and grandson and mom and sister and brother. And maybe going to eat at County Line BBQ (below).

2. In Casper, Wyoming, visiting my sister Beverly.

3. At a hotel in downtown Chicago with my husband. (Below is a pic of the view from our room during a weekend visit last year.)

4. At the Hotel Del Coronado near San Diego. (I was there once in the early 90's, and it was amazing.)

5. In Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I passed through there with my family once in the 70's, and I've always wanted to go back!

6. Ireland. I've ALWAYS wanted to go there. (In fact, author and blogger Angela Hunt has been there all week, and I've been--pardoned the pun--green with envy.)

7. Scotland. I've wanted to go there for quite some time.

8. Branson, Missouri. I had my honeymoon there, and have been back several times, and I've always had a wonderful time there.

9. Maui. Or any place that looks like the picture of Maui below.

10. Savannah, Georgia. Another place I've always wanted to go, especially after all those Eugenia Price novels I read growing up.

11. New York City. (Except not this morning when there was an explosion in Times Square.)

12. Shopping at The Domain in Austin, Texas...but only if I had plenty of money.

13. At home, tonight, in my jammies and drinking hot blueberry-and-pomegranate tea, watching "Lost."

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Happy Birthday to one of my favorite cities in the world!

Yes, today is the 171st birthday of Chicago! And in honor of that, I'm posting pictures of some of my favorite Chicago memories.

My sister Beverly in front of the painting of Mike Ditka at Ditka's restaurant

My daughter Elizabeth, my mom and sisters in front of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, where "My Best Friend's Wedding" was filmed

A picture I took of Chicago's lakefront from the air

My husband Doug and me at Mamma Mia on our 25th wedding anniversary

View from our hotel window on a weekend trip my husband and I took to Chicago last April

My sister Lisa and me at "Wicked" in Chicago last summer

And finally, a true Chicago moment: my kids singing "Hit the Road Jack" along with musicians at a train station last summer. The voice singing really loudly at the end is my son Justin!

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