Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Melissa and I went out for late-night coffee last night, and as often happens when it's just the two of us, we delved into some pretty deep subjects. One of the things we talked about was Heaven. What will it be like? I cannot imagine life on this earth without Darren. I mean, I can not IMAGINE it. I know I could survive it, but I can't imagine HOW I would. He is part of me, and I him. We are one. Likewise, I can't imagine living for all eternity without him. I don't want to! Will we be husband and wife in Heaven? Jesus says no. Matthew 22:30: For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. I don't like that answer.

Tonight at church, we talked about what we think Heaven will be like. It was interesting to hear the different viewpoints from the young adults that Darren and I teach. Shondra said she thinks it will be constant blue skies with puffy clouds. Mico said he thinks about mansions and fancy cars. I wondered if Heaven won't be different for all of us. For me, it might be gently rolling hills against a glorious backdrop of snow-capped mountains, accompanied by the serenade of cascading water. For you, it might a tropical island, with sandy white beaches and crystal clear water. For someone else, it might be streets of gold and diamonds that grow on trees. Maybe Heaven is each person's dream of what Heaven is.

I'm only sure of this:
that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for me. "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14: 2-3)

he promises that it'll be better than I can imagine. "He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all I ask or imagine..." (Ephesians 3:20)

God will be with me. "Now God's presence is with people, and he will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them and will be their God..." (Revelation 21:3)

I'm also sure that I won't feel stressed because I'm 5 days behind a job deadline.
I won't get headaches when I go without Diet Vanilla Coke for a day or two.
When I DO enjoy a Diet Vanilla Coke, the styrofoam cup won't split down the side and have to be tossed out the window onto an unsuspecting morotist with his window rolled down.
The boys won't miss the target when they "go potty".
I won't be fat.
My house won't require constant maintenance.
I'll never have to pump gas.
I won't sweat like a pig.
I won't say stupid things in my haste to say something helpful.

But mostly, I'm sure that I will be with God. The few times in my life when I've truly, truly felt his presence.... those times were AWEsome. MINDnumbing. I cannot describe how I felt. To think that I will have that feeling forever and ever.... wow. That's enough. That's enough.

Monday, June 27, 2005


We are a family of readers. VORACIOUS readers. Every room in our house features stacks of books. The boys' bookshelves are packed tight with volumes of Dr. Suess, Berenstain Bears and Thomas the Tank Engine. Dani's shelves are loaded with Harry Potter, Traveling Pants and Lemony Snicket series. The bookshelf headboard in mine and Darren's room currently creaks under the weight of travel guides, books about writing, and assorted works of fiction. Directly across from our bed is a 7-foot bookcase that's full. The bookcase in our front room is full, too. We're getting ready to add built-ins under the windows in there, so we can buy more books and have a place to put them. We love to read.

Every night, the boys take turns picking the story for bedtime. Dani usually reads to them at bedtime - it's their special time together. But last night, she wasn't in the mood to read, so she announced that was going to read the book in a special language.
It sounded something like this: Meow, meow. Meowmeowmeow. MeeeeYow, myow-myow, meow. Mee Yow. The boys LOVED it!

Aidan is beginning to read simple words. Saturday afternoon at Darren's office, he saw a sign in someone's cubicle that featured Scooby Doo. The sign read "Go, Raggy, Go!" Aidan studied it, and excitedly said, "Daddy! That sign says 'Go, Scooby, Go!'" He totally guessed on the big word, but he GOT the little word. (And it's all about the little things, remember?)

This weekend, I added some photos to Aidan's ABC scrapbook. He noticed today, and was not happy with me. "Mommy! You did it WRONG! You put the indians on the wrong page, Mommy. 'Indian' starts with N. Ndian. You put it on the I page, but it starts with N!"

I hated to argue with him, I really did. He's learning fast. Gone are the days when I could be lazy and skip paragraphs and pages in their storybooks. They can't read yet, but they know when I've skipped something, even when it's in a book we've never read before. I'm gonna have to get creative like Dani. I wonder if she's read to the boys in "cow" yet? Moo moo. Moomoomoomoo. Mooooooo.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


I was reading Parade today, and as I do every Sunday afternoon, I turned first to "In Step With" by James Brady. Today's column was about the talented Joss Stone, the soulful 18-year old songstress from England. I was reading along, minding my own business, immensely enjoying her conversation with Mr. Brady, when out of the blue, I read, "Born: April eleventh, nineteen EIGHTY-SEVEN." I blinked to refocus my eyes. Yep, 1987. Then I looked at her photo again. Yep, she looks like a young adult. How can that be??? April 11, 1987 was mere WEEKS before my high school graduation.

This probably wouldn't have hit so hard had I not had the following conversation with my friend Jason on Friday night:

J: So. Only 4 years, and you'll be 40.
Me: Yah. But you'll be 30 sooner, right?
J: Me? Nah. I'm still a baby.
Me: How old ARE you?
J: I just turned 24.
Me: TWENTY-FOUR? So I was 12 when you were born?
J: (laughs)
Me: I could have BABYsat you. Maybe I DID babysit you!
J: (still laughing)
Me: That's wrong. That's just WRONG.


In other news, Darren took me shopping yesterday for my birthday, then out to dinner at Joe's Crab Shack, where I indulged in the "33 Shrimp Platter". I had coconut shrilmp, fried shrilmp, shrilmp scampi, grilled shrilmp..... and I was too stuffed for dessert. My BIRTHDAY dinner, and I couldn't even consider a Mini Bananas Foster. I'm not liking old age much.

For those of you who are interested (if there are any of you, lol!), on my birthday shopping spree, we bought 2 pairs of capris (one black, one denim), and new white shirt, and an old French Door from Old Home Supply. We're gonna clean it up, paint it, and use it for a computer desk in the family room. Today, I went to a nude furniture place and bought a file cabinet and another piece that will serve as the base of my desk. I've already primed them and they're ready for paint. I'll post photos when I get it all put together. :)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Birthday Highlights

12:27 a.m. - happy birthday message from Mickey Mouse :)

8:30 - rolled out of bed

Noon - the boys gave me their gift: my own tool box (a very cool canvas "box", filled with not-girly red tools. YAY!!!!! I jumped up and down like a child on Christmas morning. Is that weird?)

12:30 - called Sherilyn so she could validate me (see #34 from yesterday's post) and tell me that it's NORMAL for a girl to get that excited about tools.

1:30 - treated myself to a Rt 44 Diet Vanilla Coke from Sonic

4:30 - headed across town to help prepare for Ms D's Surprise Birthday party and finished the gift album I'd been working on all day. Had fun making roughly 17 million miniature salami sandwiches while joking around with friends

6:30 - got to see Melvin, who flew in from Chicago for the party. Remembered how much I like having him around!

7:30 - spent the next 3 hours shooting photos of Ms. D's party. (Ms. Dorothy is the wonderful lady who faithfully cooks and feeds all the kids who pass through the doors at Fortress.) She was genuinely surprised, and LOVED it. Touching notes written in the scrapbook, a wonderful video from Joe and Baby Ira in NYC, good food, good laughs, good friends, good times. PERFECT way to spend my birthday.

11:30 - lounged on Cara's front porch with a margarita snow cone and caught up with two friends who I haven't spent much time with lately

11:40 - "We want to sing badly for you" phone call from Elaine and Jerry. CRACKED ME UP.

1:20 - took Cara's Tahoe and drove Kristi home (see #13 from yesterday)...on the way back to my house, heard The Eagles' "Life's Been Good To Me So Far" for the second time today. None of the other lyrics fit (I don't have a mansion, a limo, a Maserati, or hit records), but the title fits perfectly.

1:30 - arrived home to find Darren still awake. :)

Happy Birthday to me!

This isn't the most flattering photo of Ms D or poor Cara (who can't seem to keep her eyes open for a photo, EVER!)... but it's the best one of me. Yah, that's vain. But it's my birthday, so I'm allowed. :)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Me, at 36

On the bluffs overlooking the Trinity River and the West.... still in my neighborhood, but on a street I'll never be able to afford. As long as I'm dreaming, I've always wanted a stone house with a turret and lots of ivy growing all over it. With a Live Oak tree in the back yard.

The white linen shirt when he wears it over a crisp, white t-shirt, with his Levi's 550s.

Calves. Darren has always known this, 'cause I often comment on guys' calves TO him. (He's a confident man, dontcha think, for puttin' up with that??) A few weeks ago, I started noticing that Darren's calves are lookin' GOOD. Must be all that basketball he plays with the guys at Fortress. :) :)

I can't remember. But the last CD that Dani got was "The Beautiful Meltdown" by Switchfoot, and I listen to it all the time.

any place where the air is still and stagnant. I must have moving air. The worst place was in an airplane on the tarmac one time. We sat and sat and sat, and there was NO air moving. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I thought I'd die if I couldn't get some air. Is that some form of claustrophobia?

I'm a freak; I don't like massages. Oh, wait. When I get my hair washed at the salon, and they massage my scalp, ooooh. Yah, I really like that.

Strong in mind. In many ways, mental strength is more reliable and more important than physical strength. And in most cases, it's more attractive!

Another thought...I watched cancer rob my Grandpa Lewis of both. Even after his physical strength was gone, I could still recognize his mental strength. His humor was still there. His passion was still there. But when the constant morphine drip eventually took his mind, I wept. For although his body was still functioning, his mind was gone, and so was he.

Around 9. But recently, I've fallen into a bad habit of sleeping later, 'cause I've fallen into a bad habit of working late into the night. (It's when I do my best work!)

The dishwasher. I cannot STAND to wash dishes. Then again, I can't stand to unload the dishwasher, either. Come to think of it, I'm really not much of a kitchen person at all.

Lying. I cannot tolerate it. Lie to (or about) me once, and I might be able to deal with it. But do it twice, and I'm gone.

A few months ago, Aidan scribbled on one of my friends' scrapbook pages while she was here at my house. At the time, we didn't know which of my boys had done it. I called both boys in and said, "Who scribbled on Lety's page?" Aidan said, "I did." Lety was shocked. "He told the truth! No kid ever tells the truth! How did you make him do that? I wanna know the secret so I can teach Nivia to do it!" The answer is simple: my kids know there is no alternative. Lying is the fast track to the Life Sucks Rally at my house.

Guitar. We like to sing and I've always wanted to be able to whip out a guitar and accompany the singing, especially when we go camping or when we're hanging out on the front porch. I tried to learn once, but my chubby little fingers were too short to reach most of the chords. Maybe I should try a child's guitar! Dani is learning to play, and I'm envious. :)

Shades of blue. I always love shades of cool blues when I see them in design mags. But when I designed my family room, it had to be deep red. And my favorite clothes tend to be either deep reds or bright melons.

SUV, since before they were even called SUVs. When I was 17, I wanted a Ford Bronco more than anything in the WORLD. I'm 36 today, and I've still yet to own my Bronco. Now I want a Tahoe. (But my dream car, which is completely impractical, is a bright yellow VW Bug. I drove one in college, and have always wished I still had that car.)

Absolutely. I don't understand it, and I don't pretend to know what it will be like exactly, but I do believe that Jesus went to prepare a place for me.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. And The Little Prince by Antoine St-Exupery. And The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown.

Autumn! I love the respite from the hot summer, but I also like how summer sneaks back in off and on throughout the fall. I love the colors, the holidays, the first pot of stew, the first mug of cocoa, the first time I see my breath outside....

Samantha Stevens' power- the one that cleans the house with the twitch of the nose.

I don't. And likely never will.

Balls or pins or something? No. I'm not that coordinated.
Tasks and projects and kids' schedules? Flawlessly. Mostly.

Kyle. When we were in college, he suffered a brain aneurysm and went into a coma. I never went to see him in the hospital. My excuse was that I was saving it for when he woke up. But he never did. In reality, I was afraid that seeing him like that would break my heart. The sad irony is, NOT seeing him broke my heart even worse.

Monday. (See? I am a freak!) Weekends are chaos. Lots of projects to be done, lots of Fortress stuff to commit to, etc. Mondays mean that life returns to normal. Mondays are my day to rest. :)

I drive a minivan (blech), so I don't have a trunk. But in the back of my van right now, there's probably a lawn mower, an edger, a weedeater... (Mico's borrowing my van while his truck is in the shop, so he can continue working his lawn business.)

Hamburger! With cracked pepper. Topped with cheese, mayo, mustard, tomato, onion and avacado. On a toasted bun.

Bugs Bunny! I still quote Bugs Bunny stuff, even though I haven't seen him in YEARS. Someone's late? Oh, they "should've taken that left turn in Albuquerque!". Someone does something dumb? "What a nim-cow-poop. What a gull-a-bull!"

Thanksgiving. Smoked turkey shipped in from Greenberg's in Tyler, Sweet Potato Souffle, Jill in FL's Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Cranberry-Orange-Pecan Salad, yeast rolls, and lots of pie.

28. If you could only choose one fantasy servant, who would it be (chauffeur/gardener/cook/masseuse/other)?
Housekeeper. My dream in life is to be able to afford someone to come in and clean this place once a week. Ah.... heaven!

29. FOUR WORDS THAT SUM YOU UP: loyal, hospitable, good-natured, fun

30. FAVORITE PIG-OUT FOODS: fajitas, chips and queso (why am I so rotund?), potatoes in any variation (ah, that's one reason), Diet Vanilla Coke from Sonic, homemade Ghirardelli brownies

31. THREE OF YOUR EVERY DAY ESSENTIALS: music, hugs and kisses from the kids and Darren, and sleep

32. THREE WAYS YOU'VE BEEN BLESSED: I've been richly blessed with friends. This house we own is a huge blessing - a gift from God, really. And, hmmmm... I suppose I'm blessed with talent. I'm not hugely talented in any ONE thing, but I'm a little talented in many things.

33. WHICH OF THE FOUR HOBBITS ARE YOU MOST LIKE? Frodo. I want to do what's right, but I often rely too much on my own self and not enough on those who love me. I sometimes alienate those who want to help me. When faced with a task, I'm determined to see it through, even if it means other things are neglected in the process.

34.WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST PERSONALITY FLAW? I need to be validated. I need to be told I'm good at what I do - otherwise, I don't believe it. But worse, I need for my negative feelings about people/things to be validated by people who feel the same as I do. And that leads to excessive gossip and snarking, which I usually end up regretting later.

35. HOW DO YOU COPE WITH STRESSFUL SITUATIONS? Aye yai yai! Mostly, I get away. I have Flight Syndrome. If I'm in a stressful situation, I'd rather flee the scene than have to face confrontation. Or are you talking about regular, day-to-day stress? With the ones I love, I yell. (Oh man, did I just admit that out loud?) When that doesn't work, I forage for comfort food. (Did I just admit that too???)

36. ARE YOU HAPPY ON THIS BIRTHDAY? Oh, yes. More importantly, I'm content. I'm living a dream, and I try to remember that every day, and appreciate it. :)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Sense of Smell

I've never had allergies until this year. And this year, they kicked my tail. They got so bad that I lost my sense of smell and taste for over 5 weeks. It drove me NUTS not to be able to smell. I burned two separate batches of brownies because I didn't smell them baking, and thus forgot about them. Once, the absence of my sniffer worked to my advantage; as we drove down the road, the whole family moaned and gagged at the stench of a dead skunk. I was happily unaffected. But it also worked to my DISadvantage.

I have a very decisive sense of smell. Last fall, I would've sworn that something crawled up under the house and died. Darren and Dani never smelled a thing. During the winter, I detected the malodorous, musty scent produced by the leaky pipe that was dripping into a bucket in the laundry room. Darren and Dani never noticed it. They say I have a bionic nose, and that I'm not normal. Whatever. At least I can rest somewhat assured that I'm not one of those people who lives in a foul-smelling house and doesn't even realize it.

Last week, I noticed that my sense of smell was returning. I can't remember what it was now, but I remember opening a container and catching a whiff of something, and exclaiming, "OH! I can smell again! WHEE!" Ever since, my sense has been getting stronger. Today, I knew it was back to normal when I walked into the downstairs bathroom and choked back a gag. The room REEKED of urine. My first thought was, "WHY does my bathroom smell so vile? And WHY hasn't anyone else noticed???" I bellowed at Dani. She only vaguely picked up on the offensive odor. Meanwhile, my upper lip was curled in disgust and my eye started to twitch. My mind flew back to the filthy men's bathroom I encountered in rural Minnesota last summer at some random pump-n-dump filling station. Blech. And then I thought back to the trail of guests who'd used my bathroom over the weekend, and I hung my head in shame. My house reeked, and I hadn't known it.

A brief investigation revealed the source: my BOYS. UGH! The grout on the shower ledge was stained brown. There were ochre-colored streaks running down the tile wall behind that shower curtain. I relunctantly pressed my nose into the fabric of the curtain, and instantly recoiled. It was saturated with the odor. Repulsed, I burned some serious calories screaming at the boys, and then went straight to my knees with a bottle of Pine Sol, a sprayer of ZEP, and an old rag. I scrubbed, rinsed, and repeated. I washed the shower curtain and gave it an extra shot of Downy. The bathroom sparkles. But 10 hours later, I can still detect a trace of the smell.

I put the fear in my boys today. I told them that if I EVER see stains on the wall and floor like that again, they WILL go back to diapers. They believed me.

And Darren? He doesn't smell a thing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Interview with Ian, age 3½

Who's your favorite superhero?
Batman cuz he has a batman suit.

What do you do when you first wake up?
Eat breck-thist

And what do you like to eat for breakfast?
A peanut butter and jelly sramwrench (he says, with his index finger in the air, as if to stress the point)

But you don't eat peanut butter and jelly for breakfast!
Well. But I WANT to. But I just eat cereal.

What kind of cereal do you like the best?
Cat'n Crunch. The Daddy kind. (that would be Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch, lol)

What do you want to do tomorrow?
Go somewhere.

Fortress (our church)

What do you like about Fortress?
Going to class, because it has play-doh.

What's your favorite color?
I'm gonna try this Buzz Lightyear underwear on.

Okay. But what's your favorite color?
Bwue. This Buzz Lightyear underwear is Aidan's.

What do you love about Aidan?
Can I just keep this Buzz Lightyear underwear on? I wike this underwear.

Yes. What do you love about Aidan?
Sometimes he be's nice to me and sometimes he be's mean.

What do you love about Sissy?
She takes care of me.

What do you love about Daddy?
He's a good fixer.

And what do you love about Mommy?
Well. How do you spell 'I don't know?'?

If you could be any animal you wanted, what would you be?
(angry voice): No animal! 'Cause I'm just a PEOPLE!

What's your favorite snack?
peanut butter on a spoon

What song do you like to sing?
(adamantly): Nuffing.

Oh, Ian. You like LOTS of songs!
Well. I like 'I Don't Wanna Live On The Moon'.

What will you be when you grow up?

Batman kills bad guys. And I wanna be at a new house and I'm gonna name that house "Batman's House".
But I also wanna be a train driver. I wanna drive Thomas.

What's your favorite toy?
A sword.

Who loves you the most?
Aidan does. He just lets me look at his ABCD Book. (a scrapbook that I made for Aidan when he turned two.)

What's your favorite book?
Well. I don't have an ABCD Book. (Might as well plunge a dagger through my heart. My poor, neglected last child!)

But my favorite newbie (movie)is Shark Boy and Lava Girl, but I didn't get to see it yet. (Probably won't. Yuck.)

Where do you like to go out to eat?
Well. My favorite rest-a-rant is MixDonald's.

What do you like to eat there?
(looks at me like I'm an idiot) Chicken nuggets.

What do you like to eat at home when Mommy cooks?
Macaroni and Cheese

Where do we live?

Where in Texas?

No, not where IS Texas. What town IN Texas do we live?
(sigh) Fort Wurf.

Where does daddy work?
at his work

What does he do there?
He works at his computer.

What does he do on his computer?
He pways games.



Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Worry, Schmorry. I just read Joe's blog and let me tell you: my worries seem so insignificant and silly. Please pray for Joe and Laura's baby Ira as he faces his 5th surgery. He's two months old today.


Brennan Hawkins, the 11-year old boy who went missing from a Boy Scout Camp in Utah, was found alive and well this afternoon. Hallelujah! When I heard the news, I sat down and watched the news coverage as warm tears filled my eyes and trickled down my cheeks. I've been following this case because it hits very close to a real-life worry I have - one that I haven't verbalized to many people.

Dani is going on "trek" in a couple of weeks with her church youth group. She'll spend 5 days in the mountains of Colorado, climbing a 14,000-ft peak. She'll have plenty of chaperones and will be surrounded by friends and adults who love her. She'll be led by experienced mountain guides who know the terrain and the dangers. And Dani herself has experience - she and Darren climbed a 12,000 peak in New Mexico 4 years ago. Still.... I worry.

That's normal, isn't it? I'm a Mom. I worry EVERYtime my kids are in someone else's care. It's not debilitating worry. It's not anxiety. But there's always an underlying tinge of worry present. When Darren took the kids camping this spring (I was on a road trip with friends), I worried. The person I trust most in the whole WORLD was taking my kids camping, and I wasn't completely comfortable with that.

For the past few weeks, Dani and I have been gathering supplies and gear for Trek. And so it's been in the forefront of my mind that my precious daughter will be in the woods, on a mountain, where her every step and every split-second decision will be important. I've talked to her about acting responsibly, and paying close attention to things around her and the instructions given her. Because I worry.

When I first heard about Brennan's disappearance, my heart sank. I've been following the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba, and I continue to pray for her recovery and a happy ending. But the Brennan story gripped me for the past 4 days. When the good news broke today, Dani and I were both sitting here, and we watched (and continue to watch) the coverage together. It has afforded us a great opportunity to talk about what to do if you get lost in the wild.

In a day and age when we often hear about missing kids who are never found (or are found, but not alive), this, as one man said, is a modern-day miracle. Thank you, God!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Super Heroes

We're in the midst of SuperHeroMania here at the Kocur house. It began several months ago when the boys first saw the movie "The Incredibles". Ever since, Aidan is very proud to announce to anyone who will listen that he is a super-dooper fast runner. He'll run in place for a few seconds for effect before actually taking off, and he always comes back huffing and puffing, to prove to you just how fast he is.

A month or so ago, the boys discovered a Batman movie on TV and fell in love. Then, last night, Darren and I went to see Batman Begins at the theater. Ian was positively distraught that he didn't get to go. "But I didn't SEE that movie yet! Waaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!" Fast forward to this afternoon, and one of the original Superman movies was on TV. We caught the last 30 minutes of it... enough to see Christopher Reeve stop the earthquake, repair the San Andreas Fault, and fly around the earth fast enough to turn back time so that he could save Lois Lane. The special effects were hilariously BAD (how far we've come!!), but the boys were in awe. SUPERMAN!!

For the rest of the day, their baby blankies came out of hiding and served as capes, and the boys ran circles around the house, crying, "I'm Batman! I'm Superman! We're gonna kill all the BAD GUYS!"

At one point, Darren started blocking their path with his legs. Ian planted his feet, furrowed his brow, and with all the seriousness his 3-year-self could muster, lowered his voice and said, "SAY YOUR PRAYERS, BAD GUY."

We're not sure where he picked THAT up, but it was hilarious. I never cared one whit about Superheroes as a kid. Dani never cared, either. I thought I'd escaped unscathed. But no.

I have boys. And boys don't care about Superheroes. Boys ARE Superheroes. :)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day, Darren!

Part of what makes Darren such a good husband is that he is such a great Daddy! Take today, for instance.

He woke up early and set the boys' sandbox up as a surprise for them. (It's been dismantled for a few months while we did some major work in the backyard.)

As he does every morning, when Dani goes for her morning jog, he waits for her return before he leaves.

Aidan said to me this afternoon, "I hafta get my shoes on, 'cause Daddy's taking us kids somewhere. And you're not invited. You need a break. That's what Daddy said."

Upon their return, Aidan said, "We bought you a surprise, but I'm not supposed to tell you, 'cause it's a secret."

While they were out, Darren bought them gum and candy, just because.

And part of what makes him such a good Daddy is that he's such a great husband!

While they were out, they shopped for my birthday, and the only gift they bought is the one that the boys picked out. :)(I wonder if they can keep the secret for a whole week??)

He cooked brunch for all of us.

Tonight, he took me out on a date. (We saw the new Batman movie.) When Ian cried because he wanted to go, Darren said, "I'm taking MOMMY on a date. It's her turn.

Back at home, we sat in the car in the driveway, with the stereo cranked as loudly as we thought old Mrs. Schou next door would allow (and then some)... and jammed to Boston's "More Than A Feeling". Niiiiice.

Once inside, we cuddled on the couch, alternating between ESPN, CNN and HGTV. (Nerds. We are definitely nerds!)

I'm one lucky girl. Being married to my best friend -who happens to be a great Daddy- is serendipitous. It's the dream I never knew I had. These may seem like little things, but you know what? Little things rock my world! And this was just today. I can't wait for tomorrow. :)

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Darren thinks I'm beautiful, and tells me so all the time. I tell him that he's blinded by love.

But I usually don't get that compliment from other people... and that's what made today so weird.

This morning, as a scrapbook client was looking at a photo of Dani, she said, "Your daughter is beautiful." Then she looked me in the eye and said, "She's the spitting image of you!" I could not respond. I resisted the urge to laugh and say, "Bless her heart!"

Then tonight, I was IMing with a group of close girlfriends, and the topic of my weight came up. One said, "Stacy... there's a difference between being fat and being overweight... You go to great lengths to look fabulous, and you usually DO look fabulous. Seriously. You are a VERY attractive woman. And you may be heavy, but you know how to make yourself look GOOD."

Then another one chimed in with, "Stacy is beautiful..."

Then the third one quipped, "Then there's when she's giving her peeling wall the hairy eyeball.....and that's just plain funny..." (see June 11th entry). And I was so glad that she broke the awkward moment with humor, because I didn't know how (nor did I want) to respond to the first two comments.

It was then that my NEED TO EAT kicked in. Big time. I was not hungry. I foraged for food, but there's nothing snacky in my pantry, because tonight when I was at Target, I purposefully walked past the snack aisle, and resisted the call of the Snickers in the check-out line. It wasn't even difficult. I didn't want any of it. But NOW.... I'm almost willing to get in the car at this crazy hour and drive to the nearest 24-hour Whataburger for a fix. WHY???? I've been thinking about this for MONTHS. Maybe more like years. What are my triggers? Why am I so overweight?

I am quite possibly the busiest, most productive person I know. The most frequent compliment I get (to borrow a quote from Elaine) is, "How do you DO it all??" So you see, I'm not a slug. And yet, I'm fat. I could lose 150 pounds and still be at the high end of my "perfect weight range".

Some of my weight issues are genetic. Some of it can be attributed to my thyroid disorder (which, for reasons I can't explain, I am still not treating). But MOST of my weight issues are in. my. freaking. head. I've known this, but I haven't been able to pinpoint WHY.

And I still don't know why, but it's clear to me tonight that I NEEDED TO STUFF SOMETHING, and that need became overwhelmingly strong at the moment that my friends said those things about me.

And that pisses me off on so many levels. What is my problem?

I think Dani is beautiful (and apparently, so do other people!). If she were to say to me, "No, I'm not," it would break my heart. I'd want to shake her and say, "You silly girl! Of COURSE you are beautiful! From the inside out, and all OVER, you are beautiful!" I'd have a mixture of sadness and anger over her attitude.

I take very literally the fact that God is my (adopted)Father. I believe that He loves me as His child. He has told me so. I am quite sure that my protests and self-destructing behavior bring him sadness and anger. And yet, I do it anyway.

Wow. This is raw and wide-open, and I can't believe I'm BLOGGING about it, of all places. I might wake up tomorrow and realize that this was a HUGE, terrible mistake. I can always delete, right? ;)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Road Trippin'

I found this cool site tonight that lets you make a map of all the states you've been to. I have a running list in my head, but I never realized that I've been in every state west of the Mississippi until I saw it on the map!

Looks like I need to head east, doesn't it? Try it yourself!

It's kind of cool to think that all of these states have been clocked on my adult tripometer. Darren and I are both Road Trippers. If we can drive it, we will. It started in college. Every once in a while, we'd close our eyes and put our finger on the Texas map... and that would be our destination. One time, we saw Waurika, OK on the map, and started wondering what the town's daily paper might be called. This was pre-Internet. We couldn't just Google and find out. The only way to get our answer that night was to hop in the car and drive. So we did. On the way, we stopped for our favorite road trip snacks: "party dried apricots" and Twizzlers. We arrived in Waurika in the wee hours of the morning, found a coin-operated newspaper stand, and were dismayed that the Waurika News-Democrat was sold out. But we had our answer, and that was enough. We turned around and drove the 3 hours back home.

Darren once drove from Casper, Wyoming to Denton, Texas in one 19-hour stretch, stopping only for gas and food. Last summer, we drove to Winnipeg, Manitoba and back in 5 days. We drove straight there, visited a dear friend for fewer than 24 hours, and drove straight back. About 12 years ago, we were camping in New Mexico when we decided that, what the heck, we'd go camp at the Grand Canyon. We left Holy Ghost Canyon (up above Santa Fe) at 8 o'clock in the morning, drove across New Mexico, through the Painted Desert, into Flagstaff and up to the Grand Canyon. We arrived just before dusk, and had roughly 45 minutes to see what we could see and set up camp. Only there was one major problem: no camp sites. They were all taken. How silly we were! So we snapped a few pictures, and found ourselves back on the road, looking for a motel vacancy. By the time we found one, we were 150 miles down the road, and almost in Colorado. The next morning, we decided to visit 4-corners and head into Colorado. All that driving for 45 minutes of Canyon. And yet, we didn't regret it.

We once flew to New York City, rented a car, and spent 7 days doing a Fall Foliage Tour through New England. Had time permitted, we'd have driven to NYC to begin with. Another time, we flew into LA, rented a car and drove down to San Diego, then up the coast to San Francisco, then out to Yosemite and back to LA for the flight home. Awesome trip. In college, I took a road trip with friends from Denton to Seattle. It took us 3 days to get there. It was while I was in Seattle and Darren was back in Denton that he first told me he loved me. I was on drunk on love for the rest of that trip. My great affection for Seattle probably has more to do with Darren that it does with the city itself!

I have the itch to drive again after traipsing down Memory Lane tonight. We'll sorta do it this summer in Ireland. We're flying into Dublin, but then we'll spend 2 weeks in the car, driving from town to town, Road Tripping like we always do. I wonder if they sell party dried apricots and Twizzlers in the Emerald Isle

Thursday, June 16, 2005

To Do:

Sometime back in March, I wrote out a to-do list on our kitchen chalkboard. I love to-do lists. I'm one of those freaks who will do something that's NOT on the list, and then ADD it to the list, just so I can mark it off.

Around mid-May, I started feeling sorta cranky that we hadn't crossed anything off The List yet. So Darren and I went through and marked each chore with a percentage of what we'd accomplished. Sad, isn't it? Could've probably planted an herb or laid a brick in the time it took to do that. But it makes me feel productive to see the percentages there, and especially to see them change.

Then this week, a sad thing happened. Our paint job had been given a 10% rating, because the room was taped off and ready to go. Sometime after the debacle we now fondly call "Previous Home Owners Are Morons", someone scratched a new designation next to the 10% mark. "...and declining".

I think it was Dani. Punk that she is. I think she should be grounded for such a grievous act of ..... nah, nevermind. I'll just make her keep scraping those walls. Hmph.

Can I mark an item off The List if I hire someone to do it?? In another episode of "Previous Home Owners Are Morons", we found that when the storm windows were installed on this house, no one bothered to clean the outsides of the original windows. So now we have grime sandwiched between two panes of glass. You know me. I'm not a clean freak. If I say that my windows need to be cleaned, you better believe that they NEED to be cleaned. We're not talking about a speck of dust here and a streak of grime there. We're talking "viewing the world through a haze of crap". A gazillion windows riveted on to this house, and they all need to be removed and cleaned. So I've hired a man who's happy to do the work. I say that my work is done, and I should be allowed to cross that item off the list.



Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Darren is a creature of habit. He finds something he likes, and from that point on, he's content with it. (Which bodes well for me, come to think of it.) Tonight, to appease our teenage daughter who has been scraping wallpaper and texture off the wall for 3 days, we went to Chili's. It's a running joke in our family that Darren ALWAYS orders the Chipotle Blue Cheese Bacon Burger. Always. Never grows tired of it. Even our boys, ages 3 and 4, know how to say Chipotle Blue Cheese Bacon Burger.

Darren's office is a quick walk from the downtown Subway sandwich shop. For years, he's eaten at Subway at least once a week (usually more). He always orders either the Meatball Sub or the one with salami and pepperoni. And he's always collected the little stamps that reward you with a free sandwich after you buy so many. Recently, he came home from work and, with a little pout on his lip and a trace on whine in his voice, he told me that Subway had discontinued their stamps program. BUT, he added, it's really a better deal for him in the end, because with their NEW program (the Sandwich of the Day), he ends up saving the equivalent of a sandwich for every 3 that he buys, instead of one for every 8. Yay! He's excited about saving that $2.99. I'm excited that he'll finally venture out and try some different sandwiches! For some odd reason that even I can't explain, that makes me happy.

Now if I could just get him to try Chili's Grilled Caribbean Salad. Or their Chicken Crispers. Or the Turkey Combo. Or the Chicken Caesar Pita. Or....

Monday, June 13, 2005


I've always wanted to make a kaleidoscope using photos. But I've always put it off, 'cause frankly, was scared of the math. The measurements and angles intimidated me. But last night, I sat down and did it! I almost walked away from the project twice, but finally something clicked and it all made sense. As soon as I whacked the first photo, the rest was easy sailin'.

The funny thing is, I chose a photo that annoys me. It's a close-up of an azalea bush that I took in my front yard this spring. I've never been a pink person, and seeing the fuschia flowers blooming against the shell pink of my house makes me curl my lip. They're obnoxious. People are always aghast when I speak of my distaste for the sanguine show-offs, as if it's sinful or unpatriotic to feel such a thing. "You don't LIKE the azaleas??? What is WRONG with you??" It's not the flowers, it's the pink. Give me red any day!

Last weekend, to make room for the boys' play area, Darren uprooted 6 azalea bushes from the back yard and offered them to our new neighbors. Within hours, LuAnn was gleefully transplanting them in her front yard.... perfectly mirroring the row of azaleas in MINE. Our across-the-street neighbors were ecstatic. Seems they LOVE the show every spring. "Don't EVER uproot the plants in your front yard!" they begged. "We'd be so sad!" Hmph. I have plans for that spot. IT does not include pink azaleas.

Then again, I saw an ad in Sunday's paper. Five gallon azalea bushes were on SALE for $30 a pop. THIRTY BUCKS. There are 12 bushes across the front of my house. Maybe I should learn to like 'em, eh?

Sunday, June 12, 2005


I love music. From classic rock to comtemporary Christian, from bluegrass to classical... I love it all.

I often think about The Soundtrack of My Life, and what would be on it. Here are a few tracks:

1. Hope to Carry On - Rich Mullins... There are so MANY songs by Rich Mullins that should be on this list. Aidan is named after the boy in "Let Mercy Lead". "Bound to Come Some Trouble" was a signpost moment in my life. "If I Stand" has wonderful, wonderful lyrics.
2. On the Turning Away - Pink Floyd... anything from Animals, Wish You Were Here, The Wall, and Dark Side of The Moon can transport me back to my junior year in high school....good memories of Orion the Hunter and brown leather bomber jackets.
3. Your Smiling Face - James Taylor... I like to sing this to my kids
4. The Great Adventure - Steven Curtis Chapman... "Saddle up your horses, we got a trail to blaze"... love the energy in this song!
5. I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash... my theme song
6. You Are the Sunshine of My Life - Stevie Wonder... just 'cause I like it
7. Fields of Gold - Sting... 'cause I HAD to have a Sting song on my sountrack
8. In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel...I remember jamming so loud to this song that the sound was bouncing off the house next door and back into my yard.
9. What A Wonderful World - Louis Armstong...has ALWAYS been a favorite of mine, since I can remember
10. Dream - David, sexy. Brings back sexy memories. :)... and it was the song that Darren and I exited our wedding to! ;)
11. I Can Only Imagine - of those songs that I hear and say, "Man! I wish I'd written that!"
12. Think - Aretha Franklin...First loved it watching "The Blues Brothers" many, many years ago. LOVE to hear it every time a pitcher is purposefully walking a batter at a Fort Worth Cats game. Makes me get up and dance and sing. I wish I could wail like Aretha!
13. Free Fallin' - Tom Petty and the of those songs that transports me back to a specific place and time
14. Milk - The Judys ...I had a hard time picking between this one and "Moo".
15. For Baby (For Bobbie) - John Denver... Mom made us listen to John Denver every stinkin' Saturday of my childhood. I hated it back then, but now, I sorta like it. Especially THIS song.
16. Brown-Eyed Girl - Van Morrison ...because it makes me happy, that's why. And I'm a brown-eyed girl.
17. What Sweeter Music - John Rutter, composer, performed by the Cambridge Singers...magical, beautiful, blissfully perfect.
18. Moving Pictures - The Kinks IS one big moving picture.
19. Picture Book - Young Fresh Fellows... I make a living making Picture Books. I spend a great deal of my time making them for my family. Gotta have this song!
20. At Last - Etta James... dedicated to Darren. Sappy, romantic.... ahhhhhh.
21. Over The Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo... have you heard this? It's been around for years. If so, go listen again. If not, go directly to iTunes. Do not pass Go. Buy it now. Listen. And enjoy.
22. Thank You (falettinme be mice elf) - Sly and the Family Stone...because it's funky and fun and it makes me wanna dance (I can't dance, but it makes me wanna!)
23. Meant to Live - Switchfoot... my daughter blasts her Switchfoot CD all the live-long day. I like it, so I don't protest. This song has a great message that I should try to remember more often.
24. Pyromania - Def Leppard...takes me back to 8th grade... and clucking down the halls of GMS, gettin' busted for chewing gum by the typing teacher
25. Open Arms - Journey... first song I learned to play on the piano besides Beginner Piano music. To this day, I can sing every note and every syllable of every Journey album from the 1980s. LOVED them.
26. Someone Saved My Life Tonight - Elton John... another artist whose every song could be on my list.
27. Keep on the Sunny Side - The Whites.. first heard this on the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou" (which reminds me... I need to add that one to my list of favorites)

What songs are on YOUR soundtrack?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Simple Saturday Project that Wasn't

I had grand plans for today. I had my Suede paint, my rollers and brushes, and my drop cloths. The room was taped off and the furniture was all pushed to the middle of the room. I was going to paint the Game/Guest Room. It would be a simple Saturday project.

First order of business was repairing a hole and filling some cracks. I had my spackle. I had my patch kit. I had my putty knife. When I started to patch, I noticed that I was dealing with more than a simple crack. The wall started to come off in CHUNKS when I dragged the putty knife across it. It didn't take long for me to figure out that some brilliant previous owner had textured and painted over wallpaper. The wallpaper is now coming loose from the wall, and everything on top of it is coming too. Grrrrreat. My reaction was not a happy one. Look closely, though, and you'll see George Washington in the chipped off area. Too bad it wasn't the Virgin Mary - I could've sold the wall on eBay and gotten rich.

So instead of painting today, I spent the afternoon scraping paint and texture and wallpaper off the walls. In some places, it comes off in sheets. In others, it digs in its heels. Dani and I have calloused hands and we're working on some pretty decent-sized blisters. We have a long way to go, but our girly hands are sore and stiff, so we took off for the rest of the night.

So much for a simple day of painting. I'll have to fill cracks and retexture before I get to that stage. So goes the life of an old-house owner. I suppose I should've KNOWN it couldn't possibly be a simple project!

Friday, June 10, 2005

painting, sanding, hammering. WHEW!

I attended the Great American Scrapbook Convention in Arlington today. Oh. My. I spent way too much time in BallRoom A, where all the vendors were. When one spends too much time, one also spends too much money.

I also took a couple of hands-on classes. After all, some of my clients really like the current trends, so I should try to keep abreast of new techniques, don't you think? Especially if it means I can expense it. :)

I learned about the wonders of walnut ink (made from crushed walnut shells). I actually sanded and distressed a piece of paper, something I've always thought was a silly idea. (Turns out, I like the end result.) I painted, hinged, hammered, sanded, punched, stamped, and generally had a great time! At one point, with craft paint and walnut ink all over my fingers, I said to Sherilyn, "This feels like Kindergarten!" Tomorrow, we get to do it all over again. Yay!

The two of us seldom get to see each other, so last night, we stayed awake until 5:30 talking. Then we had to get up at 7:45. We vowed that we'd go to bed at a reasonable hour tonight, but here it is 2 a.m. already. Our first class starts in 6 hours. AYE YAI YAI!

Before we left BallRoom A this afternoon, I said to Sherilyn, "DO NOT let me come in here tomorrow." But alas, my daughter has given me a shopping list. She wants to be paid for today's babysitting in scrapbook product.

Oh no, Dani. Anything but that! Don't make me go back in there. I might buy something outrageous like a scrapbook made from an old license plate or something. I might succomb to the seductive aroma of the VersaMark ink pads. I could possibly fall prey to the 15 or so Sizzix dies that tried to seduce me today. What if I get sucked in by the $10-per-cup-brads-and-eyelets-buffet again??

But, a brave Mother I must be. I must face the corridors of BallRoom A after all. I must enter each vendor's booth with my debit card in hand and a smile on my face. After all, I am a good Mother, and I shall not let Dani down!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

the long and short of it

Working from home has its advantages. It also has its disadvantages. I get interrupted 17 million times a day. "Mommy, can I have a snack? Mommy, I can't get my bike out of the garage. Mom, Aidan drinked my drink! Mommy, can I play a game on the 'puter?" Today, when Aidan asked, "Mommy, can we go blow bubbles?", I gave my standard answer: "In a minute." He sighed. Well, really it was much more than a sigh. It was more of a huff. And then he said it. With his hands on his hips and his jaw set, he demanded, "A short minute, or a lo-o-o-o-o-o-ng one??" Oh, the guilt.

So we went out and blew bubbles. We spilled bubbles all over the front porch. We hosed the bubbles off and then slid around in the sloppy mess it left behind. We rode our bikes up and down the sidewalk. We "rode the porch swing". Sometime during those two hours, Ashlie the cat got out of the house. I didn't see it happen, but a couple of hours later, I noticed that she wasn't around, and started calling her name.

"She's outside, Mommy," said Aidan.
"How do you know?" I asked.
"Because I saw her run away when I was riding my bike."
"Why didn't you tell me, Aidan? I could've gotten her!"
"Because I just wanted to keep riding."

So off we went to find Ashlie. We checked under the house, all around the house, under the deck, and in the bushes. She's an indoor cat and always has been...doesn't have front claws, and wears no identifying tags or collars. She NEVER goes outside. So I started to worry. We live one house from a busy street... so we walked down to the end of the block and I checked the road. We went up and down our street, asking neighbors to keep an eye out for her. All the way, Ian called, "ASHWIE! Come home! Come home ASHWIE!" Aidan was guilt-ridden. Ian didn't help the situation when he said, "It's gonna be terrible news when we tell Dani that her KITTY IS WOST!" We have possums in our neighborhood, including one that is known to hang out in the cedar tree next to our house and has been seen scurrying from underneath our deck. I kept imagining Ashlie coming into contact with that beast.

After two more hours, I called Dani (who was at Fortress participating in the Summer Program) and told her that Ashlie was missing. She asked Mico to bring her home so she could aid in the search. As soon as she arrived, I apprised her of the situation, and she walked straight to the west side of the house. I'd looked there twice. Fewer than 30 seconds later, she emerged from the bushes with Ashlie in her arms.

"Where was she?" I asked.
"Did you look on that side of the house?"
"Yes. Where was she?"
"Did you look under the deck?"
"YES, Dani. Where was she??"
"Under the deck. She was scared to come out. I had to crawl under there and get her."
"How did you see her under there?"
"I didn't. I followed her voice. She meowed when I called her name."

Ah. I called her name for two hours, and she never once meowed. I suppose we know who her REAL owner is.

At bedtime, I told the boys it was time to go upstairs. Aidan, who had his heart set on seeing Aunt Sherilyn when she arrives late tonight, pleaded, "One more minute, please Mommy?"

I relented. "Okay, boys. ONE more minute."

Aidan ducked his chin,looked at me from the tops of his eyes, and said, "A lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-ong minute."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

You wanna peath of me??

"MOMMY! You wanna peath of me? You wanna take it out thide?"

Aidan has a sthlight lithp. Everytime he delivers the above challenge, I laugh. Sometimes he laughs along, but most of the time, he gets his feelings hurt that I'm not taking him seriously. He thinks he's being tough and scary and intimidating. At those times, he scolds me: "Mommy, I'm being THERIOUS!" The insides of my cheeks hurt from biting them. :)

He picked up the phrase last week at Fortress. While eating lunch after church, Ian kept giving two of the older boys (Steffon and Jashun, ages 7 and 8, or thereabouts) the evil eye. Their response was, "You wanna piece of me? You wanna take it outside?" Ian's only retort was a furrowed brow that grew deeper and deeper. Aidan responded with gales of laughter. They were all kidding around, and it was fun to watch. I never imagined that the words would become such a catchphrase around my house.

It carries varied meanings. Today, it meant, "I don't like that you said I can't have a Coke!" This evening, it meant, "Chase me around the house and then catch me, and then smother me with kisses until I cry Uncle!"

I can't wait to thee what it meanth tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I'm finally a blogger!

This has been coming on for a couple of years, and evidently, the only treatment is submission. I've wanted to blog since I quit writing my weekly church bulletin column over 2 years ago. The only thing that kept me writing then was my deadline. I knew that without the pressure, I wouldn't write. Still, I gave it up and sure enough, I've hardly written a thing since.

Occasionally, I'll remember to check in on Jerry and Elaine's blogs... (how on earth has it escaped me for all these years that you guys share names with the characters on Seinfeld??? LOL!)... and I'll hear this little voice in my head saying, "Start a blog. Start a blog." But I shush the voice and tell it to go away. Last fall, Jerica started a blog. The Voice reared its ugly head again, so I slapped it upside the head and hissed through clinched teeth at it to shut up. And then, this spring, I discovered Joe and Laura's blog. I am drawn to it every day. Every time I read updates about Baby Ira, I feel the words moving and forming inside me, and I'm moved to write. I haven't felt that "calling" in a long time. And since I can't shush it adequately, and since it dodges my backhanded slaps, I've decided to submit.

So this is my blog. I'll pretend that you're reading it faithfully, so that I'll feel responsible to write. I need to write. I've ALWAYS needed to write. I won't be accountable to myself, but I'll be accountable to you. Humor me. :)