Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Celebrity Crushes: A 20 Year Retrospective (part 2)

The High School Years: 1992ish-1995

Kadeem Hardison as Dewayne Wayne
Dewayne Wayne: One of the classic nerdy-turned-cool guys. And much cuter than Bill Gates, no? He had the flip glasses, the witty banter, the calculus mind, the romantic touch that finally won over Whitley. And me. Kadeem, you rocked my homogeneous world. I like to think I could have been the one cool white girl on your campus.

Luke Perry as Dylan McKay
Listen up people: Dylan was not just a "bad boy," he was a renaissance man. He was a poetry-reading, AA-going, tear-wiping, daddy-hating, Brenda-loving, wetsuit-wearing, Harley-riding Byronic hero. He took Brenda to donate blood for their first Valentine's Day, y'all!

To be honest: This crush did linger into my college years, when an unnamed roommate and I watched 90210 from the very beginning. (Even the episodes we had missed due to our parents' censorship or the unfortunate seasons that ran on Wednesday nights.) One of us actually made her class schedule based on the airtime for these shows. Um, it wasn't me.

Robert Sean Leonard
3 words: Dead Poets Society.

My love for ol' RSL knew no bounds. Then he was in Swing Kids. Then he completely fell of the face of the earth. But, BUT! He is now back on House! Not quite so cute as before, but, in my humble opinion, a pretty stinking good actor. I am hoping that this TV role does not end in his shooting himself or being shipped off to a concentration camp.

Ethan Hawke
Noticing a pattern here? What can I say...for a girl whose wildest fantasy was being shipped off to boarding school, Dead Poets Society was practically porn.

I was fairly convinced that Ethan was a cinematic genius, but then...Reality Bites. Even with all the greasy hair, that flick, kids, was deep. And very, very 1994. (As it was aptly observed by my friend who did not watch the movie until 1999.)
I actually own that movie on VHS and I might drag it out later tonight.

Bonus: GirlCrush........Dana Delaney
The History Channel started running reruns of China Beach in the afternoons when I was in 9th grade. I still think that was one of the best shows ever to air on TV. Dana Delaney was spectacular with her no-nonsense haircut and her bad drinking habit. Way better than the current slop on Desperate Housewives.

I think this was about the time I started dying my hair red.

Note to self: See if China Beach is on NetFlix...

Part III coming soon........

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Car Musings

We went over to Fayetteville this weekend to celebrate our nephew's 12th birthday. It was a fun trip, but awfully quick--which means the ratio of hours IN the car to OUT of the car was not exactly weighted in our favor. A couple of thoughts from our 10 or so hours in the Volvo:

*Surely some deep meaning lies in the lyrics of that siren Laurie Berkner:
Oh, Bumblebee-hee, can't you see?
It's just you and me--
One...two...a hundred-and-three

When do little kids start developing correct stress & accent in their speech? Sometimes I find it really hard to decipher what John Mark is trying to tell me because the rhythm is all wonky. Like carrying on a conversation with a tiny Andre the Giant. (Was I the only one who had to watch Princess Bride like 13 times before I understood any of his lines?)

*The word "Mama" is much like the Hawaiian "Aloha." It can really take on any meaning, depending on the context. At some point in the last 2 hours, "mama" has meant all of the following:
I threw my pacifier and now want it back.
Turn on the DVD player.
I'm hot.
I'm hungry.
I'm thirsty.
I'm tired of being in this car seat.
The music is too loud.
The music is too soft.
Hold my hand.
Make the See'n'Say play "Old MacDonald" again.
Hey, look!
What's that?
Quit talking to each other and pay attention to me.
I can't think of anything else to say, so I will say your name. Again. For the forty-eleventh time this minute.

*The Electric Company is still fabulous, even 25+ years later. John Mark and I are trying to perfect his "Heeeeey Yooooooooou Guuuuuuuuuuuuys!" Also, Morgan Freeman as Easy Reader--it don't get any cooler than that, kids! If you do NetFlix, put the "Best of the Best" DVD in your queue, stat.

Coming soon: Part Dos of the Celebrity Crushes Retrospective.....

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Celebrity Crushes: A 20 Year Retrospective (part 1)

The Early Years: 1988-1992 (6th-8th grades)

Joe McIntyre of New Kids on the Block
Oh, Joe. You were so fab with your falsetto singing. Or, perhaps, just your voice that had not yet changed--I was too young to tell the difference. I remember being so shocked to hear my mom say that "Please Don't Go Girl" had been popular when she was in junior high. Surely no one but Joe could do this song justice! I listed to that one on my walkman at least 4 times a day in 1989.
Many tears were shed over being denied my requests to go to a New Kids concert. (Yes, I know they are on a reunion tour now--that does not erase my pain.) Validation came in 2004 when I saw Joe on Broadway during his run as Fiero in Wicked.

Kirk Cameron

This probably goes without saying, because who didn't have a crush on Kirk Cameron in junior high? The hair, the tightrolled jeans, the impish grin--he was the total package. My love for Kirk only grew when I saw him in some James Dobson abstinence video at a youth rally in Newport.
I am sad to say that Kirk's stock took a sharp downward turn when he decided to star in the Left Behind movies, but my pre-pubescent heart still flutters a little when I see pictures like this I would have cut out of Tiger Beat and hung on the inside of my closet door.

Michael J Fox as Alex P Keaton

Hmmmmm. Looking back, I see this crush as, perhaps, a sort of foreshadowing in my romantic tastes.
Well, Alex P/Michael J....So much to love:
1. Gotta love the initial. I give him props for starting the initial craze way before it was cool. C'mon--did you really think Samuel L Jackson thought of that all on his own?
2. Again, please note the fabulous hair, just bordering on a mullet.
3. Sock ties.
4. The dorky earnestness of a Young Republican.
5. Much repressed emotion.

I did not love Michael J quite so much in the Back to the Future series, but Spin City was a pretty great show, even if I did only watch it in reruns.

Bonus: GirlCrush.........Alyssa Milano

The lipgloss!
The clothes!
The bangs!

Alyssa had it all. The greatest compliment of my junior high life was when some girl at church camp told me I looked like AM. It was totally untrue, but I clung to those words with all the vanity in my 13-year-old heart.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ten Things Tuesday

It's, like 3 months of Tuesdays, really. Would it make me sound SuperSpiritual to say that I have been fasting from my blog? Ooooooooh. I bet you are feeling very humble and NotSpiritual right now, aren't you?

Okay, okay--I have been a) busy, b) completely uncreative and c) somewhat forgetful of late. However, in spite of the busy-ness, there have been some great moments in the past few weeks. I have much reason to give thanks!

1. John Mark is now 2 (!!!!) and has started using quasi-sentences. It's the most precious and amazing thing ever. Sometimes I think if I loved him any more my heart might explode.

2. The drama for WOW came off pretty darn well, I think. My son is still singing "Go, Go, Go Joseph" every day, so at least one kid found it memorable. The cast was fantastic. I was so proud of them!

3. I don't have to work on the drama for WOW 2009 for at least 5 more months!

4. We had a wonderful trip to Hungary with the mission team. It was great to be back at the Bible Camp.......exciting to see our missionary friends with their new to team-teach with Robin again........a huge relief that our son did not scream for the entire trans-Atlantic flight.......exhausting to eat out for every single meal with a toddler in tow. All in all, a huge blessing for our family to be on this trip. A little bittersweet that this will be our last Ash-MG mission trip for a few years. I'm already looking forward to our next adventure! (See JM riding with Daddy on a subway in Budapest.)

5. My nigh-unto-perfect husband took off 2 afternoons last week to help finish our family profile for the adoption agency. Woo-hoooo! I am so glad to have that done, signed, sealed & delivered.

6. My air conditioner works. I really, really hate to be hot, so I do NOT take this for granted.

7. I have an air conditioner in my car. (See #6.)

8. Just a few more weeks 'til the "school schedule" starts. I know--we don't have a child in school. But so much of the world runs on this schedule that all of life seems to settle into a nice routine come Labor Day. Ladies' Bible Class, library day, Kindermusik....I'm looking forward to being back in that groove.

9. Now that all my summer projects are completed, I get to tackle some fun home projects. I have been looking forward to these for months. At the top of the list: finishing up the transition of JM's room to his "toddler" room and starting work on the nursery.

10. My dear, sweet friend Alyssa got married this weekend. I am incredibly happy for her...even though I am not ready to admit she is old enough to get married! I got to see some of my first "babies" who are now full-fledged young adults. They make me cry just a little--they still make me laugh my head off--they make me proud all the time.

Bonus! 11. John Mark walked down the aisle at Alyssa's wedding without a hitch. Well, except that just as he started into the auditorium, he hollered, "MAMA! Walkin'!!!" (as opposed to sprinting, which he had been warned not to do!). Then about halfway down the aisle, he spotted me waiting for him on the front row and said, "Peeee-yow!" (pillow). Not bad for a barely-two-year-old. He was rewarded with a trip to the candy store :)

It's good to be back!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Sum, sum, summertime

And, oh, that can only mean one thing: Camp! I do love me some summer camp. Which is odd, considering that I don't like to sweat, I don't like to do sportsy stuff outside and I don't like mosquitoes. But, somehow, all those things together + sleeping in a cabin with like 15 other girls + swimming in a nasty pool + doing some cheesy crafts + singing every 1970's devo song ever written = Big fun. My dad was actually the director of our church camp for many years, so our family would MOVE to camp every June. I really do miss those days. I even try to get my husband to wear Deep Woods Off sometimes to conjure up memories of those camp romances....

This week the youth group went over to the Country Gardens apartment complex to do a little mini-camp with the kiddos there. John Mark and I helped serve snackies. I absolutely LOVED seeing our teenagers in action! They paired up with the little kids and took them around to about 20 different carnival games. They did all the "big buddy" stuff like helping them open their snacks, putting straws in the juice boxes, reminding them to throw away the trash, and letting them win at the games. It was precious. JM even got in on the action! He had his very first taste of another summer favorite...Pop Ice! Here he is with one of our teenage friends:

Being over at the little camp reminded me of the most demanding job I've ever had: Day Camp Counselor. Sheesh! At the ripe old age of 17, I was responsible for keeping a whole cabin full of 4-year-olds from drowning, getting stung by a wasp or wandering into the woods. During registration on Monday, one of my camper's moms introduced herself and said I would need to make sure her daughter did not get into the sand box (which was actually a full-sized sand volleyball court)....because she had a glass eye. Of course, this was a perfectly reasonable request, but have you ever tried to keep a kid out of a sand box? I think I made it 3 days before said camper's buddies lured her into the sand. I had to call her mom, who then drove to camp so she could take out the eye and wash it. Bless her heart!

When John Mark goes to camp, I think my first question is going to be, "How old is his counselor?" If they say any age younger than 30, we will be bringing our sleeping bag and bug spray right on home.


Random shot of the week: Who doesn't love to get some homemade goodies in the mail? I found these in John Mark's mailbox yesterday. In case you can't tell, they are the trimmed ends of asparagus spears that we had for supper. On Tuesday. Mmmmm.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ten Things Tuesday

I have not been feeling too bloggy lately, but I have been dying to share with you my big accomplishment: I finished my first 5K on Saturday! It was such a fun day, from start to finish. I loved being part of such a beautiful group of women that included every size, shape, color and age imaginable.

The challenge of training for and completing this race has taken on a deeper significance for me over the last couple of months. While I am incredibly proud to have reached one of my fitness goals, I am far more grateful to have finally come to a place where I can say I am at peace with my own body. Like so many other women, I have spent years at war with my body--starving it, stuffing it into girdles, hiding it under carefully chosen clothes, saying horrible things about it, keeping detailed lists of every flaw and mistake. My struggle with infertility was the last straw--not only did my body not look as it should, it wouldn't even work as it should. It was the ultimate betrayal.

However, on Saturday, as I ran alongside my fantastic clinic leader, Renee' I crossed the finish line and saw my wonderful husband cheering for my gorgeous little boy hugged me and cried, "Run! Run!" I looked around at all the amazing women who were celebrating our success together...I was finally able to reclaim this body for what it is: a gift from God. It's not perfect, but it is a gift nonetheless: A tool, a vehicle to move me through this life and allow me to work and play and serve and grow and experience all this world has to offer. I promised God that I would begin to celebrate the gift of my healthy body as a way of honoring Him, and so I thought I would start right here....

1. My arms can comfort my baby, hold my husband, and hug my friends.

2. My hands can write a note of encouragement and fix food for someone who's sick.

3. My legs take me quickly down to my baby's room when he needs me in the middle of the night.

4. My lungs allow me to sing praises to God when I gather with my church family.

5. My heart beats all day long, all night long--I never even have to think about it. That's pretty amazing!

6. My back is strong enough to carry an ever-heavier toddler, bring in the grocery bags, haul the laundry basket, scrub the toilet, and make my house a pleasant place to live.

7. The little lines forming around my eyes and mouth show that I have spent many, many moments of my life smiling. I am thankful for those moments--even if I'm not exactly thankful for the lines!

8. My feet have carried me through some of Jonesboro's roughest neighborhoods, down the dusty streets of Honduras, along mountain paths in Ecuador and trash-littered streets of Guyana, through cobblestone sidewalks in Hungary and Costa Rica, up the side of a mountain in Colorado and through dozens of flooded streets in Mississippi and Louisiana while I tried to do what God had called me to do in each of those places.

9. My body is the most sacred and special gift I can offer my husband.

10. My lips allow me to speak words of blessing to those I meet every day. What a powerful privilege and responsibility.

"For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
Psalm 139: 13-14

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Ten Things Tuesday

XBOX Wife Ten Things Tuesday
What a gorgeous couple of days we've had! It's been wonderful to enjoy some sunshine without all the heat and humidity. Playing outside and even working in the yard have been a treat.

My in-laws are coming tomorrow, so in honor of their visit, today's list will be just 10 of the things I appreciate about my family-by-marriage...

1. They truly think of me as their own and treat me as such.

2. They love to travel! I love to hear about all the exotic places they visit...Hawaii, Panama, Florida Keys, Branson....;) As a bonus, my MIL always brings us cookbooks from the places they visit.

3. Technically, both my mother & father-in-law are retired, but the truth is that they are full-time shepherds at their church. They go to the hospital several times a week, sit with the sick, check on the shut-ins, lead a grief recovery group, visit families in crisis--I can't even keep up with all the ways they serve the flock there.

4. They love to try out new restaurants, so eating with them is always a culinary adventure.

5. They adore John Mark! Their support throughout our adoption process was just amazing, and they welcomed their grandson with open hearts. I just love seeing them all together.

6. My sister-in-law has been a single mom for about 8 years now, and she has made many sacrifices in order to be a stay-at-home mom during that time. She is one of the strongest people I have ever known.

7. SIL is "den mom" for her son's scout troop and goes on every camp out, fishing trip, backpacking trip and pinewood derby race known to man. And never complains about it!

8. Both my parents-in-law and my sister-in-law bought webcams so they can talk to to John Mark online. Yes, it's pretty ridiculous. Yes, it's also pretty adorable.

9. My nephew has an amazing head for science. He loves to take things apart and see how they work. Rockets, chemical reactions and physics problems fascinate him.

10. This family has gone through many heartbreaking losses in the last 10 years, but they remain faithful to God and secure in His love. Their commitment to the Lord is a blessing to everyone who knows them, and I'm especially thankful that my son will grow up experiencing this kind of faith.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Running Revelations

This is the LAST week of our running clinic! Can't believe it's almost over...can't believe I've made it this far! I am just T-minus 5 days from my first 5K. (And, yes, I did say "first" on purpose. Trying, trying to convince myself to stick with it...)

We really did have a good session this morning and I made some big discoveries:

1. Long-sleeved t-shirt and shorts: Best running outfit. 56 degrees: Best running weather.

2. Even disciplined, seasoned runners wake up for an early run and think, "Dangit. I just knew it was going to be raining." This could, perhaps, be the most affirming discovery of this year. I thought real runners always wanted to run. Who knew that they are big slugs like the rest of us? (Although, unlike the rest of us, they are big slugs with nice firm tushies.)

3. I am going to look way more legit out there on the track with my first race shirt on.

4. It feels great when someone slows down to run alongside you. When I first realized how much our clinic leaders were having to hold back in order to run with us, it was fairly humiliating. Now I choose to embrace the comraderie and realize that everyone has to adjust their pace a little to stay with the group. (There's a sermon in there somewhere!)

5. Running shorts with built-in panties are my new-found love. So much so that I am considering sewing undergarments into all my other pants. They don't ride up! They don't show over the top of your shorts! They are always right there when you are getting dressed! One down side, however: if you keep putting your shortswiththebuiltinpanty in the dryer, eventually the panty part shrinks up so much that you cannot pull the shorts up all the way. And there you are, running with your crack hanging out.

Still waiting for this revelation: What do I eat before I run? So far I have been running so early that I don't even bother, but the 5K is at 8am, and there's no way I can put off breakfast that long.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

10 Things Tuesday

XBOX Wife Ten Things Tuesday
It's Tuesday! Time to pause and be thankful--

1. We had a wonderful weekend in Little Rock and Searcy, but I am GLAD to be home today!

2. We had a potluck at Ladies' Class today....boy, do I love me some potluck food. Especially what the older ladies bring. Those gals can cook, kids!

3. I am so grateful for the ladies who are kind enough to watch our babies while we meet and discuss our bible lessons each week. It is such a blessing to have a little quiet time with friends and to know that our babies are being loved and cared for.

4. I got to see Brother Winston at the church building today. That is definitely where he belongs. Praise God for his healing! He is such a gift to our church family.

5. John Mark took a loooooooooong nap this afternoon. It did not help his grouchy mood too much, but it did help mine!

6. I received a very unexpected phone call from an old, old friend today. It was good to catch up and talk about life and faith and Harding gossip and American Idol.

7. We had pancakes for supper. I love pancakes any ol' time, but supper is the best.

8. It was Neil Diamond night on American Idol. Sadly, no one sang "Cracklin' Rosie." This is not really something to be thankful for, necessarily, but Neil looked pretty dang good for someone who's gotta be pushing 70.

9. I paid bills tonight and there was more than enough money in the bank to cover them all. While the news talks about skyrocketing food and fuel prices, I really am grateful that we don't have to make choices such as whether we will buy medicine or food, pay the mortgage or the electric bill.

10. It is just 10pm and I am done with all my to do a bit of reading. I am so very thankful for good books!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sewing Projects

I think I am finally on a roll of finishing some sewing projects rather than just starting them...or, you know, just buying the fabric and then stuffing in in a drawer. This week I made a little dress for our friend Bella, who will be turning 2 in a few more days! It's a simple peasant dress with puff sleeves. I made a matching diaper cover, 'cause a girl can't be going around with her undies showing (unless they match, and, in that case, you definitely should be showing them).

I think next time I use this pattern, I will make the sleeves a tad longer. Anyway, in case you cannot tell, the main fabric is brown gingham. Jamie found this precious accent fabric. She has a great eye for that kind of thing, which is why she is my favorite crafting partner!

I also finished a simple skirt for myself. I fell in love with this fabric and bought it without knowing exactly what I would do with it. I think this will be pretty for summer with sandals and a simple white top, which I sure did find at Gap for $9.99. I decided to line the skirt, which was not called for in the pattern. Some nifty online tutorials gave me all the info I needed. I also did my first completely solo zipper on this project--even my mom was impressed!

My goal for next week is to actually sew the stack of shorts I have cut out for John Mark's summer play clothes. I am recycling a couple of Michael's old button-ups to make the shorts. After that, it's Mother's Day gifts. I'm really excited about those this year--I'll be sure to share the final product with y'all.

Have a great weekend! We're off to Searcy and Little Rock for some hospital business and some q-time with my brother and sister-in-law.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I have been having this strange urge to work in the yard this spring. Specifically, to grow flowers. This is somewhat odd since, to put it nicely, I do not have a green thumb. I don't even attempt to keep houseplants, because the only ones hardy enough to withstand my poisonous touch are also the kinds babies can't eat. And we still eat everything around here.

However, all winter I have thought about clearing out the leaves, trimming up the bushes, breaking up the soil and planting some happy little bursts of color in my yard. Maybe it's some sort of latent motherly drive: Must grow. Must nurture. Must cultivate. Must cut and display in cute vases around my house. (Okay, that last one is more Martha Stewart than motherly, I'll admit.)

So strong was this urge that I actually did something very uncomfortable: I went to the garden store and asked for help. I did not attempt to pull my little wagon around and pick up plants as if I was a seasoned gardener; nor did I eavesdrop on other shoppers' conversations about gardening to glean information. When the friendly sales person said, "If you have questions, let me know!" I latched on to her as if she were my only hope. She was probably expecting to answer questions like where are the begonias? or could you suggest a good fertilizer?, but I lit into her with my list of yard woes. We have too much shade. There's this shrub we have that's hideous. Our soil doesn't drain well. I have no idea how to take care of plants. It was like free therapy! She was incredibly helpful, and maybe just a little pitying of me in my ignorance. She suggested some beautiful flowers that were, quote, "impossible to kill" and told me exactly what to do to keep them looking nice. I have plans to find this same lady next week when I attack the back yard and milk her for more information.

On the personal growth front, this was huge for me. Not the planting flowers part, just the willingness to ask questions part. I love to learn--I would be a full-time professional college student if it were up to me--but I hate, hate to admit I cannot figure something out on my own. I took a B in one of my literary criticism classes because I could not bring myself to ask the professor to explain the reading assignments to me. I will not go to a running store to buy new shoes because I don't want them to see that I'm barely classified as a beginning runner. I throw away sewing projects when I can't get the zipper in straight. My mom says I was even like this as a child: If I could not do something right on the first try, I would just walk away and conclude I couldn't do it at all.

At the ripe old age of 31, I realize there is too much I still need to know about marriage, parenting, discipleship, friendship to keep pretending that I already have all the answers. I want to be humble enough to admit I can't do everything right on the first try. I want to be curious enough to ask questions. I want to appreciate the wisdom and experience of others. I want to be passionate enough to risk looking foolish. I want to learn.

And I want to grow flowers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ten Things Tuesday

I am so not putting the picture up today. Just not worth my trouble. But it IS worth my effort to be grateful for the many blessings I have...

1. Today I managed to get ahead of schedule and JM and I had such a fun morning while we got ready for bible study. Mama did not have to say "I can't read right now" or "Hurry! Hurry!" once.

2. We had a small group at Ladies' Class and we had a wonderful discussion about discipline and helping our kids develop a relationship with God. It was just what I needed, plus...

3. My friend stopped by after class with some recommended reading. Oh, do I love some parenting books! I will even read books I completely disagree with, just for heck of it.

4. The brief rain showers today made for a very peaceful naptime (for Little Guy, not me--well, it was peaceful for me in a different way). It was nice to enjoy some quiet time, listen to the rain and enjoy a cup of coffee.

5. Got to go to TCBY with one of my favorite people today. He is one of my "old" youth group kiddos, and I adore him. He always makes me laugh, tells me about the latest in the artsy world and suggests TV shows I should check out.

6. Baby Halle arrived safely today to meet her parents Mark & Jamie. Praise God!

7. MG moved the brokedown TV off our deep freeze and we discovered a motherlode of frozen food--still very much in-date. We had parmesan-crusted Mahi-mahi for supper. Yuuuummmm. And I did not have to crust it myself. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

8. It was Andrew Lloyd Weber night on American Idol. And I did not have to listen to Kristy Lee Cook. (That almost deserves its own spot on the list, people.)

9. My husband gave me a "time-out" when the baby and I got into a war over a diaper. Sounds harsh, was actually so thoughtful and much needed. :)

10. I finally finished the little dress I've been working on for our friend commonly known as The Bell-bell. It is pretty darn cute, but I'm not completely sure about the sizing. Don't tell the hubs, but I am going to try it on JM in the morning.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

WTnotthebadFword Wednesday: My Day brought to You by the Letter F.

Flying solo.
Field trip (to museum).
Fabulous friends (came with).
Frolicking (much).
Following (toddler).
Fighting (mean schoolchildren).
Flat shoes (bad choice).
Feeling uncreative.
Freakin' Tired.

Good night, dear readers! If you love me, you will send me more fodder for F musings :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ten Things Tuesday

XBOX Wife Ten Things Tuesday

It's Tuesday, kids, and we all know what that means! I'll start by saying that I realized tonight how blessed I am to know Who to thank for all the wonderful moments in my life. On that note...

1. I am thankful for the neighbors who keep their yards and flower beds looking so nice. I enjoy the budding trees and blooming bushes every time I look out my window!

2. My husband did not kick me out of bed last night when I woke him up coughing about 14 times. He did not even sigh loudly and flop over in the bed (the usual reaction when I do something annoying during the night). A hopeless romantic, that one.

3. Diet Dr Pepper. Even if it does give me brittle bone disease one day.

4. MG and I have resolved to eat healthier and I am proud of the choices we've been making. Having kids really does make you want to invest in your health.

5. John Mark loves my friends, and that absolutely thrills me. I want him to grow up knowing many adults that he can depend on and look up to.

6. We went on an hour-long walk this afternoon, which gave us a chance to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and visit all of our puppy friends around the neighborhood. (We really do stop and talk to every dog along the way!) It also helped me stave off the afternoon munchies.

7. My sweet, sweet friend came over to eat supper tonight and it made me so grateful for friends that are more like family.

8. Mariah Carey was on AI tonight, which prompts me to be especially thankful that a) she is not always on AI, and b) her stylist does not choose my clothes.

9. My husband just called to say he made it safely to Chicago.

10. I am going to get one last wear out of my flannel PJs since my dear husband is not here to keep me warm. LOVE my flannel jammies with the snowflakes! :)

It was just a matter of time...

I was tagged by my dear friend Danielle, who I miss ever-so-much! I am supposed to list 7 random things about myself, and I am nothing if not random. So here goes.....

1. I sweep my kitchen floor every day. It still looks nasty.

2. This is the first season of American Idol I have actually watched. I always choose a song for myself to go along with the theme for the week--you know, just in case they call me in at the last minute to compete.

3. I bid on junk on Ebay and then spend all day thinking, "I really hope I don't win that." I never bid on the stuff I would actually use.

4. I love Dawson's Creek reruns. When I worked, I did my morning routine around their airing on TBS. If I did not feel guilty about having the TV on all day, I would still be watching them. However, DC will never replace 90210 in my heart.

5. I put decisions off to the last minute. Any decision. Every decision. It's not that I am indecisive, really; it's that I love options so much I don't want to rule any out. I think this makes me flexible and adaptable. My husband says it makes me infuriating.

6. I hate my voice. Not my singing voice, but my speaking voice. It's kind of deep and coarse and I'm pretty sure my volume control was broken a long time ago. Also, I could never call a boy without his mom or roommate or brother knowing exactly who I was--even if we had only met once.

7. I always wanted to take dance classes. Technically, I guess I have done this: MG and took ballroom dance, which was fun. But I wanted to take ballet or jazz or tap. I did learn some dance basics in my gymnastics days, and I still practice them in down the hallway in my house. I will officially be old when I stop doing this.

I don't know if I have seven people to tag! I will have to add them later....Bebe calls!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

WTnotthebadFword Wednesday: Fears

I'm not really a fearful person. It's not that I'm all that courageous, necessarily--just oblivious. I forget to close the door or turn off the stove; I get on planes without a second thought of it crashing; I ride fair rides and worry more about puking than hurtling to my death; I let my kid walk around in public restrooms and put his little hand on the floors and walls. My poor husband has to go behind me locking doors and checking appliances and washing hands and reading warning labels while I go on my merry ignorant way.

The truth is, I am too lazy to nurture any legitimate fears, so instead I just hold on to a few completely irrational ones, including...

Big Dogs. I do like dogs; however, the sound of a big barking dog makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up (in the bad way). We have a rottweiler that lives in the fence behind us that snorts and fumes at us every time we go in the back yard to play. John Mark will run toward the fence squealing "puppy!" while my heart jumps up into my throat. Even the friendly, drooling, overweight lab we meet on our walks makes my blood pressure spike.
I keep trying to pinpoint some event in my childhood that would make me so irrationally afraid of dogs, but I have never even been nipped by a puppy. My best guess is that my mom's attempts to train us to be cautious of strange dogs became deeply ingrained in my psyche. Every time I get near one of these creatures I hear her voice warning, "That dog'll jump up on you!"

Knocking My Teeth Out. I am completely sure this came from my mom, who could imagine a missing-teeth scenario in every sporting activity, no matter how innocent. I also firmly believe that this is why I am the sorriest athlete I know: It's not that I'm uncoordinated or slow or weak or totally undisciplined--It's that I am too afraid of knocking out a tooth. (Really. Can you think of anything more humiliating than having to go to work or church with a HUGE gap in your smile? It's awful.)

(Sorry to pin both of those on you, Mom!)

Having Conjoined Twins. Please note that I am not actually afraid of conjoined twins, like some people have that weird fear of clowns. No, this is more about going to a doctor that says, "You have two babies, but they are attached to each other." Seriously, I have had horrible dreams about this for years, to the point I believed it was an omen. My husband says this is a direct result of watching too many sensational news stories, because the chance of this happening is like one in 1,000,000. Confession: At some point after we decided to stop our fertility treatments, I actually thought to myself: "I guess I can stop worrying about having conjoined twins." It was a huge relief.

Okay, dear readers, time for you to 'fess up: Any other irrational fears out there?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

10 Things Tuesday

I have so very, very much to be thankful for. Here's just a glimpse....

1. My son finds the fact that we have bananas in the house reason enough to dance. In the kitchen. To the music in his own head. LOVE it :)

2. Our Ladies' Class prayer requests ranged from the heavy to the mildly stressful to the downright mundane--what a wonderful reminder that God will listen to all my concerns because He loves me (just as these sweet friends do!)

3. I got to help our worship minister brainstorm some ideas for our midweek worship time. Exercising my creative mind makes me feel energized...and who doesn't like to feel that their opinion is valuable?!

4. It was a perfect day to catch a quick nap this afternoon! I did, and I woke up feeling so much better. Good enough to fold laundry, even.

5. One of my "old" high school girls came by to visit me today. She is about to enter the teaching profession, and God is going to use her in amazing ways as she loves and molds young lives.

6. We had homemade tamales for supper, purchased through the Hispanic Center's fundraiser. Aw, kids--you could taste the love that went into every bite!

7. Speaking of the Hispanic Center...I am really thankful to see that Jonesboro is becoming more diverse and inclusive of other cultures. It's fun to see our city changing in that way.

8. I love the simple prayers we share before our family meal each night. John Mark stretches out his hands for us to hold as soon as we sit at the table and says, "pay-rrrrrrrr."

9. I have friends that help me find humor in the ridiculous (and frustrating) things that seem to happen every day. I was reminded today of how therapeutic it is to laugh instead of worrying or complaining.

10. Only 2 more days 'til new episodes of The Office! I might need a new outfit for the occasion.

(I don't know how to get rid of the 2 boxes above the "10 Things" button. Who knows? Just pretend you don't see them--or pretend it's all artsy and stuff.)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

WTnotthebadFword Wednesday--on Thursday: Facebook

Let me say to all you Facebook lovers out there: I am not dissing Facebook, okay? So not. I am, however, just laying out there why I personally am not jumping on the Facebook bandwagon, because it seems like at least once a week someone asks me, "Are you on Facebook?" and I have to say no. Here's why...

First of all, the whole "Are you on Facebook?" question makes me feel ridiculous. It's a perfectly legitimate question, but it always makes me feel like I am either at a bad college mixer (and have completely run out of things to talk about) or like I am in some kind of odd flirtation ritual. No offense if you have ever asked me that: It's not you, it's me. :)

Second, I have never been able to get past my first conversation about Facebook that took place with a girl who was heading off to college in some eastern state, way far away from everyone she knew. (This was back when Facebook was just for students.) I said, "So, do you know anyone from your drama camp who is also going to school there?" And she said, "No, but a lot of their students are on Facebook, know." No, I did not know, and that totally weirded me out.

Third, unbeknownst to most of my acquaintances, I really hate to make small talk with people I don't know very well or hardly ever see. I cover this pretty well because I talk a lot, but....I do often hide from people at the grocery store or at the mall. Seriously. I can rarely think of anything clever to talk about. I've read all those articles that say "get them to talk about themselves!" but I can never think of a single interesting question to ask. So, I end up blathering on about myself and then I feel like a heel. It's a vicious cycle. PLUS, I keep imagining Facebook as being like that awkward run-in with someone you knew from high school...You see them in the grocery store and are genuinely glad to see them. You have the standard what-are-you-doing-now? chat and that is so much fun. Finally, you realize you both have shopping to do and you've been standing in the frozen food aisle for like 15 minutes and your kid is screaming so you move on. And then, you keep running into them. In the produce, in the deli, in the paper products. And it's so horrifically uncomfortable that I can't even describe it.

Finally, any notions I had about using Facebook for my own evil purposes--say, I don't know, secretly spying on certain people from my past without them ever knowing--were completely blown out of the water when my friend J and I got busted trying to get her an invite to view someone's page. So now, not only do I not know what that kooky guy I dated like 15 years ago is up to, he also thinks I am a stalker.

You know, all this leads me to believe that what this world really needs is a Campus Mail system. I will save that for another post, though...


Random thought for today: What is a Euro Vac, exactly? I bought a little Shark brand vacuum to do the rugs in our house and it has been pretty much useless. It doesn't pick up diddly squat on carpet. (Just so you know, it does pick up diddly on the hardwood, but then you have all this squat lying around....) I was complaining about this to my husband, who replied, "Well it is a Euro Vac. You didn't realize that before now?"

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

10 Things Tuesday

Shout out to Danner for proliferating the blog lists....

Today I am grateful for...

1. The few minutes I get alone with my husband every morning while he gets ready for work. I hate that the Little Guy does not see Daddy before he goes to work, but that time is precious to me.

2. Heaven. Our Ladies' class talked about some passages from Revelation this morning and it was wonderful to be reminded that there is much more to life than just what we can see, touch and taste in this moment.

3. The rain let up and we had sunshine today! Hooray!

4. My son thinks my husband is the greatest thing that ever happened. That makes two of us.

5. The Japanese maple in our yard is budding, and it is simply lovely.

6. I have marked 3 projects off my running "House Projects" list.

7. My friend Stephanie thought to ask about John Mark's ear today. (He has to see an ENT about some fluid that just won't go away.) It made me feel so loved.

8. John Mark thinks all TV shows are divided into 2 categories: "Elmo" and "news." Both of these are met with equal excitement, and "news" even has its own dance, which includes chanting "news, news" while you dance.

9. I got to make a late-night Target run with Jamie. Kids, that is a good time, even though they had already closed the snack bar for the night.

10. My husband told me our bathroom had flooded while I was at Target. Unfortunately, I forgot it was April 1st and freaked out. Fortunately, this was a lie. :)

Okay, next week, I will have the cute little 10 Things logo like all the cool girls.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

WTnotthebadFword Wednesdays: FAME!

This, kids, is my lunch box from first grade. As you can see, it features Cocoa, Leroy, the teacher played by Debbie Allen and the whole Fame Gang. I proudly carried this lunch box as an expression of who I was as a six-year-old, just struggling along, waiting for my big break on Broadway, trying to rise above the gritty streets by devoting myself to my craft.

Or, you know, as a white kid in some homemade knickers and mongrammed sweater, going to a Christian school in Paragould, AR.

Along about the 4th grade, I was in a talent contest at the fair. Well, I should clarify that this was actually the Northeast Arkansas District Fair, not just some piddly county fair, and, for further clarification, it was a preliminary competition for the Mid-South Fair. For this big moment (my big break?!?), no other song but "Fame" would do. So there I was, in the sweltering September heat, wearing a tuxedo shirt, red sequin bowtie and cummerbund, and some lycra pants on which my Mom had sewed a red sequin stripe all the way down the side of both legs. Oh, and my hair in a side ponytail with a sequin scrunchy---because how else would I wear my hair when I am up there belting out, "Baby, remember my name" (remembah, remembah)?

I am rather on a roll of self-disclosure here, so I will go ahead and tell this part, too: There comes a point in the song (karaoke tape) that is the height of 80's synthesized musical breaks...and being a gal who does not like to waste a moment on stage, I decide that this is the perfect opportunity for me to show off some of my other skills, namely, doing a back handspring, followed by a toe-touch. Oh, yes I did. And then I ran back to pick up the mic off the floor and close with a rousing, one-step-higher-for-effect chorus. Remembah, remembah...Fame! (aaaaaaaaaand....jazz hands!)

I am pretty sure that my mom went to bed that night wondering why she had been stuck with the most ridiculous child on the face of the earth.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Track Musings

My beginner's running group meets on Thursday mornings (did I mention this is at 5:30am? No? Oh, it is. That's really early, in case you did not know). Even though it was cold again, it was nice to be outside in the not-rain. The track is right in the middle of town, so you get to experience the whole place waking up: the birds are getting warmed up, the traffic starts to buzz, the lights begin to flicker on up and down Main Street and Caraway.

So far, I am really enjoying the training program we are using. I definitely feel like I'm being pushed, but not pushed so far that I fear I might collapse in a heap on the asphalt. Most of the time, I'm comfortable enough that I can let my mind wander. This morning I had all manner of profound thoughts that I wanted to write about. I mean, so many deep insights that I was going to make a list of them so I would have months of blog fodder.

Then, just as we wrapped up our session, the leader said, "Hey, we got in a full 3 miles today."
Three miles. And then every profound thought I had went to the four winds. For the first time, I actually believe I will be able to complete this training program. Feel free to say, "you go, girl" at this point, even though that's really outdated. Has some new phrase replaced that one? I would like to start using it, if so.

Down side to this revelation: It is only 8:50 and I am already a little sore. Off to find the ibuprofen for a preemptive strike.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Introducing...WTF Wednesdays

I have suspected since my college days that, while other days of the week have the standard 24 hours, Wednesday must have at least 27 or -8. At least. I generally like Wednesdays, I suppose, they are just soooooooooooooooooooo long. Maybe it's because there are still 2 days of the workweek staring you down. Maybe it's the threat of eternal damnation hanging over you--because what if I skip church and then Jesus comes back tonight?!? Maybe it is because there is more rain on Wednesdays than any other day of the week. (I have no proof for that, but I feel it in my bones, and I see it in my horrible humidity hair.) Maybe it is because every other blogger I know does "WFMW" and, truthfully, very little works for me and when I see that abbreviation, I always think of "WTF" and that has a bad word in it.

And that makes me laugh.

And SO....I am going to introduce WTF Wednesdays, except F stands for flip or freak or fudge but not the bad F-word. I'm not exactly sure what this most excellent theme day will actually be about, will be most excellent. Just off the top of my head, I can think of 2 options we have here:
Option 1: I can blog about things that make me say to myself, "Self, WTF?" (again, not the bad F-word), or
Option 2: I can blog about things that start with F. I am, for some reason, drawn to this option because it seems very much like Sesame Street. In the good way.
Option 3: Yet to be determined, but will be suggested by some brilliant friend of mine.

Okay, all 3 of you readers, you have until next Tuesday to vote or make a suggestion. See, isn't this great? I am giving control to the readers. You, YOU! (yes, and you, too, third reader) have the power here. Don't waste it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

These Boots are Made for Walking

or, perhaps I should say these chacos are made for walking...

About a year and a half ago, our family moved from a house on the outskirts of town to a place right smack-dab in the middle of our community. We live directly behind the city high school, and that's about as centrally located as it gets. Our friends who live in big cities scoffed at our complaints about the "long commute" into town, but that extra 15 minutes (one-way) really did add up to a lot of time over the course of the week---especially in a town where the pace of life doesn't really include padding for a commute.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, the change for us has been fantastic. We live less than one mile from the library, grocery store, church building and MG's work, which means a whole lot more time at home and a whole lot less time sitting at fast food restaurants. For MG, it means a fraction of the time spent on the road. For me and the Little Guy, it means we hit the road the old-fashioned way: on foot. (Okay, and in jogging stroller, although that is not so old-fashioned.)

I began to embrace the habit of walking on daily errands when I spent 2 months in Antigua last year as we completed John Mark's adoption. A stroller wasn't even feasible on the cobblestone streets there, so I would put him in the sling and set out on foot to sightsee, grocery shop, meet up with friends, whatever my agenda held for the day. At times, it was a huge hassle (read: crying baby plus poopy diaper plus hungry mama plus sacks of groceries plus big scary buses running you off the road), but, on the whole, it was a blessed change of pace for me. On several of those walks through town, my roommates and I talked about how we couldn't imagine going back to driving--by necessity--to accomplish even the simplest errand.

I have been eagerly awaiting Spring's arrival, just so we would have the opportunity to get out the stroller and enjoy some fresh air after a long, dreary winter. For one thing, I have a few Christmas pounds I still need to shed. For another, I get some satisfaction in knowing that at least I am doing a little-bitty something to help limit pollution. However, I've found that going on foot has a couple of other nice benefits that I'm beginning to appreciate...

For one thing, I get out into the communities where people live, not just where they drive. Jonesboro is not too pedestrian-friendly, so I try to take residential streets mostly, where there is usually a sidewalk, or at least the traffic is sparse enough to be aware of us. Yesterday we strolled over to visit a friend who lives nearby, and I stopped to take a picture of a beautiful tree that was just starting to bloom. Just as I snapped the picture, the owner of the tree (and house nearby) pulled up into her driveway and stopped to chat. She told me that the tree was a star magnolia and how much she looked forward to it blooming every spring. That 2-minute interaction was a bright spot in my day. We also got to see our neighbors working in their yards, walking their dogs and tackling some home-improvement projects.

The greatest benefit for me is that I find joy in the "doing" of the errand, not just the completing of it. For instance, we needed a couple of things from the store on Monday--things that I had forgotten to get on my big shopping trip but that I had to have for supper. Normally, I loathe that kind of trip because it involves putting my kid in the car and then getting him out of the car, which takes more time than the actual shopping. On Monday, however, we just strolled on over to the grocery and had a ball. We stopped to admire every dog or cat along the way, we watched the birds hopping and flapping, we saw the big guys at soccer practice doing their drills and called "hey, heeeeeeey!" to every passing car. It was plain ol' fun.

Now, I am going to need someone to remind me of all this joy and fun and profound meaning when it is about 104 degrees up in here. I think, at that point, we may do all our walking during the hours of 9pm and 4am.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What Going Green Gets Me

Why won't the recycling station give me any more blue bags? I have been reduced to storing all my milk jugs, dirty tin cans and empty soda cans on my kitchen counter. My efforts may be doing something to clean up the environment, but they're doing nothing for the cleanliness of my own home.

Note #1: Not pictured is last Tuesday's sprint to the curb with my blue bag. I heard the truck pull up at 7am and dashed out in my jammies--and still they will not give me any more bags.
Note #2: The coffee press has nothing to do with this. Do not think for one second that I will be sending the Bodum away.

Our family is not what you'd call crunchy, but one of our goals for this year was to be a smidge more environmentally conscious: recycling or donating things we would normally throw away, changing over almost all of our lightbulbs to compact CFLs, using cloth napkins and towels instead of so many paper products. I even wrote a letter to my beloved Chick-fil-A asking them to reconsider their use of styrofoam cups (which they insist are more easily recycled and/or biodegraded than coated paper cups).

Trying to reduce the amount of trash we generate has also forced me to think about the amount of "trash" (ie, stuff that we don't really need and is destined for the garbage pile) we bring into our house. It amazes me that most of the products on the market today are meant to break down, wear out or become obsolete within just a few months or years. Our society is so used to consumption that we don't even stop to ask if we could do things differently. To read about one family's experiment in stopping the clutter and consumption, check out this blog.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Oh, Yes I Did

I sure did go to the track this morning at 5:30. I really want to say "5:30 AM" just for emphasis here, because, kids, that is early.

My friend Danna inspired (suckered) me to revive my winter plans to take up jogging and join the Women Run Jonesboro training group. Essentially, they are doing the Couch-to-5K plan that I have attempted about 3 times before and quit. But, BUT--they do it as a group. I would like to say that the group concept attracted me because of the accountability factor, but truthfully, it's because there's always someone to chat with (or complain to, whatever) while you jog. Even better is that Danna was there to chat with. We don't get to do that enough these days.

I have to say that I did actually find some pleasure in getting up while the house was still dark and quiet, getting dressed and slipping out the door. It felt good to be outside, even if the fresh air we inhaled was a mere 30 degrees. The birds started singing as the sky grew lighter and it reminded me that spring is just around the corner.

I really needed a fresh start today. Yesterday was so hard, and I couldn't even tell you why. Okay, yes I could: Toddler who wouldn't sleep at all the night before, plus tired Mama, plus toddler who wouldn't nap, plus much whining. And, just for fun, plus a load of snot. The thing is, as tough parenting days go, this one wasn't so bad. No one puked or bled or ate anything that comes in a child-proofed bottle. I just could not get myself under control. I could feel myself getting more and more angry and impatient until I had turned into one of those fat, hollering, foul-mouthed mothers on Dr Phil. It was horrible, and I was so glad to go to bed last night and put an end to the day. I closed my eyes thinking, "Your mercies are new every morning!" So when that alarm went off at 5:10, I didn't let out my ususal moan of dread but a sigh of relief.

Today is going to be a good day.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

You Poor, Neglected Little Blog

(...or, "Why Did I Get A Blog, Again?")

The great flurry of friends who've begun blogging (or revived long-forgotten blogs) reminded me about this little place on the web where I had imagined sharing some of my more random musings about my hometown, faith, marriage, motherhood, rude people at the fabric store, why I hate Wal-Mart, and life in the grown-up world.

See, when I attempt to share these astute observations with my husband, he usually gives me that look that says, "You think you are clever, but you are not." When I attempt to share them with my toddler, he says "Snack." When I attempt to share them with my other stay-at-home mom friends via the telephone, one of us invariably says, "Crap. My kid is screaming again." So, that leaves this space, where I cannot hear what any of you are saying. Unless you leave a comment, but hey--I know what you type in that little box is never the same thing you say to the screen when you read a blog. I know.

So, there you go. Blog, be neglected no more. Self, quit over-editing yourself and just write something, for crying out loud.

And now, to update you since my last blog post:
1. My 10-month-old is now 19 months old. He walks, he talks, he destroys entire rooms in minutes. He demands to watch Elmo, much to my chagrin. He loves him some Paul Simon.
2. I still write for some print publications, but I don't get paid. How'd that happen? How can I change it?
3. I actually finished a sewing project. Yahoo!
4. Bolstered by that one tiny success, I spent an obscene amount of money on more projects that promptly went to the bottom of the closet.
5. I started a quilt, which I have wanted to do since I was a teenager. Well, actually, I have wanted to finish a quilt, but you have to start somewhere, right? So, how long have I been carrying this dream? Oh, 13 years, give or take. Okay, then: I allow myself 13 years to finish this quilt. If anyone is reading this, you have to hold me accountable.
6. I have still managed to avoid Facebook.

There could be more updating, but I need to have something else to write about next time.