Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Why We Do What We Do

My Mom hates that I attend church in the inner city. There are prostitutes around the corner and dope houses down the street and homeless people wandering about. The building gets broken into on a regular basis, the air conditioner isn't all that great, the vans get their batteries stolen all.the.time, cars have been vandalized while we sit inside worshiping....

There are times when I miss suburban church. There are times when I think how nice it would be to show up somewhere in my Sunday best, full make-up, kids all cute and clean, and blend in with everyone else on a cushy pew. There are times I want to be preached at, sung to, and entertained. There are times I want to attend a church function where I haven't labored over the whole thing. I just want to show up and enjoy. Sometimes, I miss suburban church.

Inner city ministry is not glamourous. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it seems pointless. To quote my friend Joe, who along with his wife, has dedicated his life to inner city ministry (he's now in NYC):
"It's hard work. Very hard work. ... But it's necessary work. Over a thousand times the Bible tells us of how we are supposed to work with and help out the poor. It's mentioned over a thousand times because we need reminding - actually, we need to be beat over the head - because we shy away from hard work."

When a kid you've loved and mentored and prayed over goes back to dealing drugs after three years of being clean, the heartache makes you want to throw up. When a young man who's been in your home a hundred times and is about to have his electricity turned off accepts your offer of money to pay the bill and then shows up at another church member's home asking for money to pay his light bill and you smell the pot wafting out of the car, the anger that wells up in you makes you want to squeeze his cheeks between your thumb and forefinger and yell, "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING???" When a young Mom who's been heartbroken by her baby's Daddy yet again - and whose own parents are too strung out to notice - says after Bible study, "I just don't know if I believe in God sometimes. Why would He let me hurt so much if He were real?"... well, that brings hot tears to my eyes just typing it.

But let me tell you. Those heartaches and hard times are FAR outnumbered by the blessings I receive in the inner city. This past Sunday, my dear friend Mico showed up at church. He's been scarce the past few months, 'cause he'd (in his own words) "busted out his lightbulb and chose to live in the darkness of the world". I was elated to see him, and ran to give him a hug. He resisted. I then playfully said, "Aw, Mico. I miss the old you. I'm fixin' to make you smile,"... and as I tried to turn his downcast mouth into a upright one, he swatted my hand away. Darren wisely encouraged me to leave Mico alone, which I did. But I ached for the Mico I once knew.

During worship, I watched him. He sat staring at the floor, his eyes hard and cold, his mouth frozen in that angry scowl. I wondered why he was there. And we kept singing. Eventually, he looked up. Still hunched over, he allowed his eyes to look upward, and I made eye contact with him, and smiled. He did not smile back. But soon, he was sitting straight up. Then he was mumbling words to the songs. Darren nudged me to alert me to the fact that Mico was singing, but he didn't need to do so. I knew. I was watching the transforming power of God's love work a miracle. Mico was changing before my very eyes. Darren started "Listen to Our Hearts", which has always been one of Mico's favorites. Mico not only sang the words, but I could see him FEELING the words. His rich tenor rang out:
How do you explain, how do you describe
A love that goes from the east to west
And runs as deep as it is ride
You know all our hopes
Lord, you know all our fears
And words cannot express the love we feel
But we long for You to hear

So listen to our hearts
Here our spirit sing
A song of praise that flows
From those you have redeemed
We will use the words we know
To tell you what an awesome God You are
But words are not enough
To tell you of our love
So listen to our hearts

If words could fall like rain
From these lips of mine
And if I had a thousand years
I would still run out of time
So if You'll listen to my heart
Every beat will say
Thank You for the life, Thank You for the truth,
Thank You for the way.
(words and music by Steven Curtis Chapman and Geoff Moore)

Afterward, Mico stood and spoke. He walked over to me and said, "First, I owe Stacy an apology". Then he bent down and hugged me tight. Then he confessed, repented, and asked for prayers. He said he'd stayed away because he was too ashamed to come, and frankly, he didn't want to change anyway. But heartache had left him profoundly empty that morning, and when he had nowhere else to turn, he remembered his Fortress family. He came home. We circled around him, thanked God for his return, thanked God for the healing power of music, and thanked God for Mico's heart.

And I remembered why I'm there. Had I been sitting in a cushy suburban church Sunday morning, I might have left feeling nice and clean and "churched". But let me tell you. I wouldn't have been blessed like I was Sunday morning. Yes, it's a dirty, ugly world in the Near Southeast neighborhood of Fort Worth. But it's full of people just like me and you: people who need God and often resist Him anyway.

It's full of Micos. I thank God that He led me to that place.
It may be poor and dirty, but Sunday morning, as I dripped tears of joy and relief onto Mico's shirt collar, I thought it looked radiant and hopeful. And I was so glad to be there.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

58 people
-including 8 college interns, their host families, and the staff of Fortress Youth Development Center
90-something kebabs
a huge pot of baked beans
3 gallons of homemade ice cream
120 cans of soft drinks
POOR RICH FOLK!! in my backyard
lots of laughter
chillin' out afterwards with Kristi while Dani and Andrew played guitar
goin' to bed comPLETEY wiped out, but feeling so, so good
It was a great day. :)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

the week in pictures 5

Scrapbooking day at Fortress. We sat out all the donations boxes and let the ladies have at 'em. They were blessed with all kinds of fun stuff this month: pre-made borders, stamps, funky papers, and a ton of organizer bags. The highlight of the day was presenting Nookie with a bazillion scrapbook magazines and Nikki with a Disney album to take to camp this summer. She's a Mickey Mouse-aholic, and the album made her jump up and down like a little kid on Christmas morning! :)

MONDAY: this is one of my favorite things. I love when Aidan climbs up in my chair, stands behind me, and watches me work. He always does so with his arms around my neck. LOVE that.

self portrait by Aidan and Ian:

one of my favorite scrapbook jobs ever: 62 pages of Napa Valley photos. GORGEOUS. I liked the title page a lot, too. I used a Gelly Roll white gel pen to write on the photo. Cool!

Dani's last day of school. She's now officially a sophomore. SO proud of her for all she accomplished this year!

the boys, Daddy and Landon built a new Dawn Treader out of Legos...

Aidan helped me paint the Fort Worth skyline...

Friday, May 26, 2006

creative types unite!

We're hosting two college students this summer in our home, both of whom will be interning at Fortress Youth Development Center - an inner city ministry that our family is dedicated to working with. One of the guys arrived tonight, just after I'd changed into my grubbies and started painting the sky on Aidan's sunset mural.

Darren showed him around the house and then brought him out to the backyard. "Stace, this is Landon," he said. "He's an artist."

I looked at Landon and said, "Seriously? What kind of art do you do?"

"Paint, mostly," he replied.

I stood up, handed him my paintbrush and said, "Here. YOU do this. I have no idea what I'm doing!" And guess what? He did!

I'm no painter. I mean, I can COLOR. As long as I have an outline, I can fill it in with color. I can't draw out of my head, though. I have to copy something I'm looking at. Last weekend, Aidan and I found a picture book that we both liked. The idea for what I painted that day came from that book:

Tonight, as I tried to paint sky with shades of yellow and blue and tinges of sunset, I was failing miserably. I needed outlines, but the sunset sky has none. But Landon the Intern/Artist took my sky and added a fiery setting sun, then added a purple and green and ochre landscape just like the picture showed.

Aidan, overseeing the whole thing, and said over and over, "Wow. Man. That looks GREAT!" Little art critic.

Tonight while we all stood around in the kitchen making up silly songs and laughing, Landon proclaimed that he thinks he couldn't have been placed with a better family. He's already having fun.

It's gonna be a great summer!


edit: Oops! Thanls for the heads up, Debbie. Link is fixed now.

3 weeks ago today, I went cold turkey from ScrapShare, the message board that eats my time. I love it there. I have a bazillion real-life friends and cyber friends who congregate there, and it's a happy place for me to be.

At the beginning of the month, I looked at my calendar. I was swamped. I had too many jobs due and not enough days to complete them. Plus, I had several commitments to church and community that I had to uphold. PLUS, I wanted to try and be a Mom and Wife as much as possible. Something had to go from my schedule. I knew it was ScrapShare. I tried to control my useage for the first few days of the month, but I failed miserably. And so I signed off and didn't look back. I even removed the link from my favorites to avoid the tempation of "just taking a quick peek".

Six days after my initial sign-off, Chris was voted off the American Idol island, and my presence was requested on the board. It seems people were afraid I'd be crying all alone. So I logged on and posted. But I was very good. I only went to that one thread and posted that one thing.

I've logged on a few other times, too, to retrieve an address from my Personal Message box, to look for a quote that I knew was in the archive, to look for updates from Amanda.... But each time, I took care of my business and did not pass go. I did not collect $200. It took restraint and self-control. Too bad I can't exercise those two things when it comes to potatoes. Hmm.

Ok. I admit. A couple of times, I've gotten links via email that said, "You should log on and see this!" Most of them I was able to ignore. But a few of them were too tempting. So I logged on, checked out said thread, then logged back out. I felt like I was slinking around behind everyone's back. I was a SuperSpy! :)

But for the most part, I've been away. And I've missed it so much!

Even so, I have to admit it was the right thing to do. I've accomplished so much this month! More than I thought possible, really. Wanna see?

Vaune family album - 102 pages
Ira's album - 8 pages
Coleman 50th birthday album - 62 pages
Bryan vacation album - 40 pages
8 z becky brown purses

Other business items:
*secured one new client
*made initial contact and appointment with another potential client
*worked a ton on, which is NOW LIVE! (Don't y'all all go check it out at once, now. Hee hee!) I hired a wonderful web designer, who took my designs and visions and made them work exactly as I saw them in my head. You ScrapShare people know her as Turtle. For the rest of the world, her name is Tracy Bank. I recommend her highly!

Plus, these things around the house got done:
*reorganized my scraproom
*painted base coat on the boys' playhouse
*started murals on the playhouse (1 wall is complete!)
*cleaned by bedroom (a huge feat for those of you who've seen it in person recently)
*watched the Mavs beat Spurs in a 7-game series
*turned the game room into a guest room for the two college interns who will be moving in tomorrow for the summer (with LOTS of help from Dani. Actually, she did most of it.)

The rest of my house is a PIT, though.
But this weekend, I'm FREE! After I clean up my scraproom tomorrow morning, I won't step foot in there again until after our Memorial Day bash on Monday. Then Tuesday, I'll hit the ground running on a job that's due the following Friday.

And after that, I'll host my own Welcome Home party on ScrapShare.
I can't wait to get back! :)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Today - a quick review

Lost cell phone. Didn't even realize until the copy store place called Cara who had called my phone last and she called to tell me.

Retrieved phone. No service. Huh?

Called Cingular.
"When's the last time you powered your phone off?" asked they.
"Uh. Never," replied I.
Apparently, your cell phone is like a computer. It needs to be powered off once in a while. Okey dokey then.

Worked a lot. Crossed three more jobs off my list.

Painted some more on the boys' playhouse, 'cause Aidan is a SLAVE DRIVER. "MOM," he admonished. "You only have THREE days left and you still haven't FINISHED PAINTING IT!" Three days left until the weekend. He wants it done before the weekend. I oughta give him a paintbrush and let him have at it.

Talked to my brother Rodney, and it was joyous. Truly.

Four friends called to chat today. I called two others. Most phone time I've spent in a long time!

Watched American Idol.

Dani cooked dinner.

Gonna hit the sheets before midnight tonight.
Can you even believe THAT?

I'm exhaused, and tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Dani's most recent Xanga entry is titled:
"15 people, 15 secrets, 15 things I need to say"

As I read through her list of 15, I was able to figure out who each entry was referring to. Almost. There were a few that I was unsure on, but on the others, I was dead-on correct. And yet, when it came to #14, I WANTED to be sure, but I wasn't quite.

"14. I've been angrier at you than anyone else, I've loved you more than anyone else, I've laughed with you more than anyone else, I've cried in front of you more than anyone else. You are like me and I am like you and you are the most influential person in my life. So I guess all that's left to say is thanks."

We sat out on the porch swing and talked about her blog. She was surprised that I knew most of the 15. There was one in particular that I wanted details about. It had to do with a boy who recently broke her heart. She didn't want to tell me the details, so I bribed her with a trip to Starbucks. "Ok," she said. "Done! Let's go!"

So at 10 o'clock on a school night, we sat outside at Starbucks, drinking Frappuccinos and talking about boys. She told me the details, and I told her some of my own boy horror stories. That hour sitting outside Starbucks will remain one of my most cherished memories. For in that hour, my daughter and I bonded in a way we never have before.

She'll be 15 this summer. There is so much life for her to experience, and while I realize that she'll want to keep a lot of it to herself, I also thank God that we have such a beautifully communicative relationship that she'll know she CAN talk to me about any of it. We talk frankly, honestly and without fear.

I cherish my daughter.
And you know what? She cherishes me too.
I was #14.



Last Saturday night, er, Sunday morning, Dani and I found ourselves having to make an extremely late-night run to the nearest 24-hour Walmart. We did our shopping and, walking to the car, saw the welcoming beacon of the Whataburger sign bidding us come. So we did.

I like hanging out with Dani. It doesn't take any convincing to convince her to make a late-night stop at Whataburger with me. I had a Potato and Cheese Taquito. She had a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit. And it was good.

But the BEST part of that Whataburger stop was what happened as we waited in the notoriously ssslllllllooooooowwwwwww drive-thru line. We had the radio turned down low as we chatted away, and Dani suddenly said, "Hey. Give me your phone! They just said something about the 9th caller winning tickets to NRH2O."

So she dialed. It rang. THe DJ answered, "You're caller #9! Who's this?"

In her excitement, Dani put on her best valley girl voice without even meaning to, and said, "This is Stacy and Dani!"

"Oh," said the DJ. "So there's two of you?"
"You're up pretty late on a Saturday night."
"Yah, we had to go to Walmart and buy some stuff..."

The DJ cut her off mid-sentence to congratulate her on winning, and she enthusiastically sing-songy said, "Oh wow. THANK YEW!!"

THen she proceded to give him all of MY personal information, birthdate and all.

"'Cause you have to show a photo ID when you pick up the tickets," she explained later.

As we sat in the drive-thru, we laughed our heads off when her voice came across the airwaves. She was horrified at how giddy she sounded. I thought it was the cutest thing ever. I SO wish I'd had my camera that night. Pictures of us being giddy together in the Whataburger drive-thru would've been fun to scrap later.

The coolest thing of all is, just a few days before, we had talked about taking the kids to NRH2O (a water theme-park for you non-locals) this summer, but wondered if we could fit it into our budget. No worries now. Dani won us a Family 4-pack of tickets. Now we only have to buy one. WOO HOO!

We're driving to Dallas tomorrow after school to pick them up. I'll take my camera.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

the week in pictures 4

Sunday: Blue Angels Air Show.

Monday: the boys love it when I work, 'cause it means more computer time for them! On Monday, I worked all day and none of us even got dressed until time to pick up Dani from school. :)

Tuesday: self-portrait Tuesday for Dani:

Wednesday: still plugging away on May jobs...

Thursday: Aidan danced his heart out for 4 minutes and 59 seconds while "Play That Funky Music" played on iTunes. Then the next afternoon, while running errands, AC/DC's Back in Black came on the radio. After a minute, Aidan said, "Mom, turn it up. I like this song!" I have the coolest kid!

Friday: Flower for Mommy. (it's the little things!)

Saturday: Today I started painting the murals on the boys' playhouse. They've chosen a western theme, and the front of the playhouse is going to look like a mercantile. In 96-degree heat, I painted a barrel of apples, a barrel of pickles, and Ashley the cat peeking around from a bag of flour. Whee! Ian wants a saddle painted on it. Don't think that's gonna happen. Are you LOVIN' this hairdo? Bwahaha! Aidan took the picture:

Thursday, May 18, 2006

This I Know

A month or so ago, my ladies Bible study group started a new series: "Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit". It came at a good time, 'cause I was working on a purse order for a woman whose Mom has exemplified the Fruit of the Spirit her whole life. I was paralyzed by the importance of this gift, and hardly knew where to begin. I wanted it to be perfect.

The initial email she sent me read:
Hello, Stacy.

My Mom lost two of her three children and my Dad in a tragic car accident when I was 11. My Mom & I were also critically injured. My brother was 9, my sister was two, and my Dad only 33. I am now 53, so that was a long time ago, but the pain is always present.

My Mom is the strongest woman that I know. Never once have I heard her utter any anger toward her God. I would love to have a purse with her children's pictures on it, and the Fruit of the Spirit on it. She is the epitome of a Godly woman.

The photos of those precious children sat on my desk for weeks. Everyday, I'd look at them. I asked for advice on the scrapbooking message board I'm a part of. I talked about it with local friends. I prayed about it. And yet, I was afraid of the task.

Lesson three in Beth Moore's study was about love. I wasn't feeling particularly lovely that night and I didn't want to go. (Remember several weeks ago when my blog became very dark and dreary?) I knew that not wanting to partake in a study about the most commanded action in all the Bible probably meant that I NEEDED to go. And boy did I! It wasn't a lesson that was all lovey-dovey and sweet. On the contrary, it was pretty stinkin' depressing. Because Beth talked about what all women are way too familiar with: rejection. "God is calling our hearts to remain warm and exposed, pulsating with fresh life. This is scary, because by being called to love, we risk rejection." Oh, how that rang in my ears and brought tears to my eyes. How could she have known, all those months before when she taped the series, that on the very night I would be hearing that lesson, I would be nursing a fresh rejection wound? It's true that to the extent that we have loved, that's how deep the rejection can go. Doesn't that make sense? The more you love, the deeper you hurt.

That night, after I got over myself ('cause yes, I did have quite a pity party), I thought of two people: one is a friend in California whose 11-year old son was in a horrible rock-climbing accident recently. And the other was the recipient of this purse - the Mom whose husband and children had been snatched from life so many years before. One Mom with a fresh, oozing wound, and one with an old one that still loses its scab once in a while. Neither of them faced rejection, per se, but they both bear the wounds of loving deeply and hurting profoundly. But that night, I was reminded that there is divine healing for human loss, and it's found in the sovereignty and supremacy of God. You're all familiar with the verse in First Corinthians that says "Love never fails...". The Greek transliteration of the word for "fails" is "to drop away... to fall (away, off)". That means to me that love never drops. It never goes over the cliff. Well, maybe it does, but it never lands at the bottom. It never fails. 'Cause we serve a God who loves us enough to catch us everytime. This I know.

He caught that Mom all those years ago, and He continues to catch her today. There's no other explanation for how she was able to move forward with such grace and compassion and HOPE. Love didn't fail her.

This week, I received an email from her daughter.

Oh, my goodness, my Mom & I just opened the purse! We both cried and she just rubbed and rubbed the purse like a treasured possession. It was a beautiful moment.

We were with her sisters and my cousins this weekend. She shared about a recent dream she had of my sister. Melody was playing in the yard with a sand bucket, and she was just lifted up to heaven and my Mom was calling her to come back. It was such a big deal for my Mom to share that with us. She is so quiet about her grief. Her voice broke and she cried, but there will be no tears in heaven. We are promised that!

The purse was more beautiful than I had imagined. My Mom said she will be so proud to carry it. God bless you for enabling me to give my Mom such a keepsake.

It reminded me of the most recent lesson we studied: joy. And this quote from Beth Moore, "Joy doesn't always come naturally. But I can always CHOOSE JOY."

That's what my "purse Mom" does. She chooses joy. And so will I.
So will I.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

36-year old woman develops high blood pressure...

Dallas Mavericks to blame.

Heh. The Spurs are giving us a run for our money, that's for dang sure. As if Saturday's game wasn't bad enough, tonight's game went into overtime, with the Spurs and my Mavs volleying the lead back and forth the whole time. And to make matters worse, the game was on TNT tonight, which we don't get ('cause we only have basic cable), so we were listening on ESPN radio. Listening to a basketball game on the radio is a TOTALLY different experience from watching it on TV (which is a totally different experience from watching it in person). On the radio, you have to pay attention to every word, 'cause the action moves so fast. "There's Terry up the right, over to Stackhouse, bounces to Dirk, in and out, Howard got the board after Terry tipped it, Mavericks ball, Terry from the corner, swoosh! Dallas leads by two, here comes Finley (gotta keep reminding myself everytime, 'He's not a Maverick anymore'), up the middle, over to Van Exel (reminder: he's not a Mav anymore, either)" ..... AH! See how exhausting it can be?

We're 3 and 1 against the Spurs in this playoff series. I'm rooting for Phoenix to win theirs, 'cause how much FUN will it be to root for my boys against my old heartthrob Steve Nash? YOu think I'm developing high blood pressure now? You just wait until I have to decide between Dirk and Steve. That could likely induce heart failure.

MAN, I love NBA playoff time! :D

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Top Gun

WHEW! We spent Mother's Day out at the Naval Air Station enjoying the Air Show. TOTAL blast!

I have this infatuation with aviation. No, really. I do.

One of my long-time life goals was to fly in a small plane. I made that happen this past summer. Next, I wanna fly in an even smaller one and sit right in the front seat, or at least be able to look right out the front window. I wanna go up in a helicopter. I wanna go up in a hot air balloon. And most of all, (yet probably furthest from ever being able to happen, unless I lose all this weight), I want to skydive. Today, watching the Golden Knights freefalling and spinning and twisting and commanding the wind, I got all tingly and emotional. I

Aidan and Ian fell completely in love with the Blue Angels. In fact, yesterday, after seeing them flying overhead while running errands, Ian proclaimed, "I'm gonna be a Blue Angel driver when I grow up." By today, he'd changed his mind. Now he wants to pilot the Space Shuttle. (He saw a picture in a Navy calendar we got at the show.) As we were leaving, he noticed a fighter and wanted to go see it up close. We walked 60 yards across the tarmac, with Ian chattering the whole way, intent on asking "that man in the pilot suit if he's the driver of that fighter." When we got to within 10 feet of the jet, Ian tugged on my arm and said, "Mom. I'm too afraid. You'll have to ask him." I tried to talk him into it, but his shyness overtook him. So I said, "My son walked all the way over here to ask you a question, but now he's too shy. He wants to know, 'Are you da driver of dis fighter?'" The pilot smiled broadly and said enthusiasticly, "I sure am!" Ian hid behind my legs, dodging the pilot's attempts to peek around and see him. Ian was SO impressed. He practically skipped all the way back to where Darren and the kids were waiting.

Aidan was equally impressed with the planes and copters. He and Ian got to sit in the co-pilot's seat of a carrier, and they stood in the cockpit of a Blackhawk. They were most impressed by all the buttons and gadgets. They also loved the First Aid kits for some reason. LOL!

The Blue Angels were amazing. I'd never seen them in person, and as they taxied out past the crowd, I had goosebumps I was so excited. I tell you, I am a ten-year old boy inside. :) There was one point during the show where one of the wingmen came flying in real low, and the noise caught everyone off guard and scared half of us to death. Seriously, I felt my stomach jump. I immediately started laughing and turned to Dani to see if it had scared her too, and just then, another wingman came zooming over from out of nowhere and scared the crapola out of me again. After catching my breath, I busted out laughing. Judging from the people around me, I wasn't the only one caught off guard. In fact, a twenty-something man standing behind me said to his Dad, "That's what got me when I was a kid, wasn't it?" His Dad laughed and said, "Yep. You fell to the ground crying, so scared you couldn't get up." That was pretty much Aidan's reaction. He hates to be caught off guard in ANY situation, but add a terrifying noise and a huge plane, and he's done for. He cried for 15 minutes, and spent the rest of the show like this:

It didn't ruin the day, though. We all still had a great time. The weather was perfect (87 degrees, breezy, 37% humidity), the strawberry smoothie was mmm mmm good, and we stopped at Sonic on the way home to wet our whistles with Diet Vanilla Coke and Lemon Berry Slushes. I wouldn't have spend my Mother's Day any other way. Being with my kiddos and husband, doing something so out of the ordinary and fun - just wow. Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

the week in pictures 3

Fortress Golf Scramble benefiting the Youth Development Center and Literacy Lab. I was in charge of decorations:

Tuesday: spent the day cleaning house (even my bedroom!) and reorganizing my scraproom and new cabinet. No photos yet, though. Had the house treated for carpenter ants, which I discovered while cleaning. ARGH. It's always something, ain't it?

Finished a purse job:

Worked on pages for Baby Ira. This was one of my favorites, 'cause the little kids in them are such cutie pies.

Friday: Darren did more tree surgery on the dead cedar. See this limb that's falling? It broke three of the spindles off of my fence. GRRR. At least he didn't break his HEAD, that... that... that MAN.

Today: Darren and I went to the Fairmount Historic Neighborhood Tour of Homes. ALWAYS come away with nifty ideas after going through those houses. I actually talked to one of the home owners about doing a before/after album of his home renovations, and he was very interested in that. Gave me his number and said to call him. YIPPEE!

Tonight, we went out for "Mother's Day" (instead of tomorrow lunch, when we'll be eating chili dogs with the kids at Fortress. YUM! ;))... I picked La Familia, 'cause they've recently moved to a grander, bigger, more neato location and I hadn't been yet. It's my favorite locally-owned Mexican food place. Dani and I shared fajitas, which they douse in Everclear and then set ablaze right at your table.

After that, we came home and watched the Mavs barely eek out a victory over the Spurs. I barely breathed for the last 26.6 seconds of the game, which, in true basketball fashion, lasted for 20 minutes.

Now I'm enjoying the last little bit of the evening, catching up on blogs (YAY!!! Ira went home today!), answering emails, enjoying a Blue Bell ice cream sandwich, and listening to Darren playing the piano.

Life is simple, but oh so good. :)

Friday, May 12, 2006

new favorites

We have a bedtime ritual that we go through every night, without fail.

First, Darren reads to the boys. They're on book 4 of the Chronicles of Narnia. After a chapter or two, the boys come running to me for a night-night song. Last night, I really REALLY wasn't in the mood to sing (Just ask Cara. I said something rude to her 'cause I was in such a bad mood. She loves me anyway. Thanks, Cara. And I'm sorry.) ANYway...

I was in a really fowl mood, and I didn't wanna sing, so I said, "Boys, how 'bout we just listen to 'Blackbird' on iTunes tonight instead of me singing it?"

They were all OVER that. Ian said, "I wanna listen to the song AFTER Blackbird, too."

"Me too!" exclaimed Aidan.

I knew that Ian was talking about "Piggies", which follows Blackbird on the Beatles' White Album. That song cracks him right up. So after Blackbird, I kept iTunes playing and Ian was happy.

But Aidan was definitely NOT.

"I wanted the song AFTER 'Blackbird'", he whined.

"This IS," I argued.

"NO. I want the one with the PIANO at the beginning."

I quickly added two and two and realized that he was probably talking about whatever comes after Blackbird alphabetically in my iTunes library. (Actually, he was talking about the song that comes BEFORE it alphabetically, but for some reason, my iTunes is always listed Z to A instead of A to Z, so it plays afterward.)

When the very first note of "Better Days" by the Goo Goo Dolls played, Aidan relaxed into a huge smile and said, "YAH. This is the one."

I love that my kids are so moved by music. Dani is, too. She often blogs lyrics, because they so often say what she's thinking. My kids. They are SO like me.

That's not such a bad thing. :)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

stream of consciousness

I want my nose pierced. Yah, it even surprises ME. I want one of those teeny tiny little diamond specks. Not gonna do it, 'cause Darren would howl at the moon if I did. But I want it.

The only time I remember throwing a temper tantrum as a kid was when I was about 5 or 6 years old. My parents and I and my brother were riding in a Jeep over Engineer Pass in Colorado. I kept holding my big, billowy Mountain Mama hat out over the edge of the Jeep, because I loved the way it flapped in the wind. Mom told me to stop several times, and finally threatened to throw my hat over the mountain if I did it again. I did it again. She kept her promise. I watched in horror as my beautiful brown straw hat fluttered and floated over the edge of the mountain. I can still feel the heartbroken rage that my 5-year old self felt!

The only time I remember throwing a temper tantrum as an adult was during our second year of marriage. I wanted to go to a craft show and had been looking forward to it all week. When the weekend came, Darren suddenly didn't want to go. (Could it have anything to do with the fact that he was working 2 full time jobs AND taking 2 classes at the junior college?) I responded by chunking a 5-pound container of peanut butter at his head. It dinted the wall behind him. In my own defense, I was, uh, not well. Soon after that episode, he dragged me to a shrink. True story.

I never, ever eat chocolate without checking the bottom of it first. Once, in college, I took a candy bar out of the bottom drawer of the refrigerator in the break room of the video store where I worked. (Man, that was a lot of prepositional phrases.) It was an Almond Joy. When I got to the second piece, I poured it out of the package into the palm of my hand, and with it came a handful of dead ants. I spit and gagged and ran for water. The store's owner had put the infested candy bars in the fridge to kill the ants. You'd think I'd have learned....

but a few years ago, I was at a party and there was this bowl of cute little Texas-shaped chocolates wrapped in Texas-looking foil. I unwrapped one and popped it in my mouth. Something felt funny. I immediately spit it out, and discovered that there were tiny maggots on the bottom of it. I tried to be discreet, really, I did. I grabbed a napkin and started scrubbing my tongue. The kitchen was full of party guests, and I didn't want to embarrass our hostess, but after about, oh, 2.6 seconds, I couldn't control it any longer. I ran to the sink and wretched. The hostess said, "Oh, I wouldn't have eaten those if I were you. They've been in that bowl forEVER." Uh, okay. Thanks for telling me that BEFORE I stuck one in my mouth. ICK!

I have OCD when it comes to cleaning my ears. I don't floss regularly, but I clean my ears at least once a day.

Yesterday, at the dollar store buying cheap candles for my centerpieces, this is what the young clerk said to me when it was time to sign my receipt: "Here. Maybe you would like to hold a handsome man like me." He handed me a pen with a naked man on it. I looked up at him and laughed out loud, 'cause NO. I would not like to hold a "handsome" man like him. Cracked. Me. UP!

This is for Erin:
I think Elliott's going home this week. It's time. The judges thought tonight was his best vocal ever, but really. It's time.

Katherine mostly impressed me with her first song. The arrangement of the two songs together was clever and fun, and she was energetic and entertaining (even though she was out of breath for some of it), but "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" was painful. PAINFUL.

Taylor was Taylor. I sorta hope he DOES end up in Vegas, 'cause I'd be booking a flight to see the man live. He cracks me UP! Wouldn't buy an album of his, but I'd totally fly to Vegas to see the show.

I wish I'd've put money on Chris way back when. 'Cause I said at audition time that he would be our next American Idol. It was nice seeing him calmed down a little this week. This was the first week he didn't bring a tear to my eye, but he was still fantastic. Suspicious Minds was perfect for him, and MAN! Did he ever ROCK that second song? I can't believe he got all the lyrics right AND kept the tempo. Totally impressed with Chris.

I'll miss Wednesday night's show (client appointment), so someone will have to call me and tell me what happens!

Finally, this is for Jonesee...
the tooth fairy gave $1 for each of the bottom two teeth, and $2 for each of the top two teeth. That's the end of the inflation, though. Only the top two front teeth get $2. After this, we're goin' back to a dollar. :)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Tonight, as we drove home from a golf tournament for Fortress Youth Development Center, Darren surprised me with, "There's a cabinet at the auction that I think will be perfect for your scraproom. Let's go look at it." So we did. It measured 47 inches, but the space I have is only 45".

"Are you SURE it won't fit?" I asked. "I don't care if it overlaps the doorframe a little." Darren was afraid that it still would be too wide, so he sped home to measure. He called me at the auction with only 2 items to go before my piece was up for bid. "It'll work!" he exclaimed. "I was wrong. We have 48 inches, not 45!"

So I got my handy yellow card ready and started bidding, winning the cabinet for $45 less than I budgeted. YAY!!! It's not an antique piece, but it'll be functional. :) Happy Mother's Day to me! :D

When we got home, Aidan came bounding down the stairs with a big hole in his head. The tooth fairy is flat broke, having cleaned out her purse of all quarters and bills for the boys to put in the collection plate on Sunday. But DH of Tooth Fairy had a Twenty.

"How would you like a Diet Vanilla Coke from Sonic?" he asked.

Seeing as how I was gonna be up til all hours emptying out my scraproom to make room for the cabinet, I was all over that. He came home with change for the Tooth Fairy. :)

You might remember a trip I made 18 months ago to visit my dear friend Donna. Her husband wrote her story and submitted it to the Chicken Soup people. It was published last week in Chicken Soup's syndicated column, and will appear in Chicken Soup for the Scrapbooker's Soul later this year. You can read it
here. If anything good came from Donna's passing, it was that I came to know Rick in the aftermath. He's a kind, generous and sincere man. He has a delightful sense of humor and never fails to make me snicker when he writes. I'm proud to call him my friend. I can't believe it's been almost two years since we learned of Donna's illness. I still miss her witty posts and helpful advice. I miss her creative genius and her artistic take on everything. I miss Donna.

Time passes by, people pass on.
At the drop of a tear, they're gone.
Let's do what we dare, do what we like,
And love while we're here before time passes by.

(written by Jon Vezner and Susan Longaker)
(performed by Kathy Mattea)

Monday, May 08, 2006


Our Rose of Sharon trees are starting to bloom. Darren picked the first flower Saturday and brought it to me. It's been sitting in a dish of water since then. Last night, Ian gazed at it for several seconds, then turned to Darren and said,

"Dad, that flower's so beautiful, you almost can't even look at it."

Saturday, May 06, 2006

the week in pictures 2

Sunday: Cara and I took the Middle School girls from Fortress to see Akeelah and the Bee. GREAT movie.

Monday: A study in tessellation - Dani had to make art out of a repetitive shape in Geometry class. She saw several things in these shapes, but ultimately decided to go for Dumbo. :)

Wednesday: Aidan lost his first top tooth. The other one is barely hanging on, but it still hasn't fallen out. Pay no attention to the Cheetos residue on his teeth. Yuck. Should've made him brush before I started snapping pics!

No pics. I worked my tail off all day. :)

no pics. I shopped all day for decorations and such for an event I'm decorating for on Monday.

While planting flowers this afternoon (including a hydrangea bush - my FAVORITE!), Darren discovered and transplanted a tiny cedar tree. He's going to try to make a bonsai out of it - something he's always wanted to do. :)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Darren came home from work today and the first thing he told me about was the white erase board outside his office. Someone had written the question: "If you could name the 8th dwarf, what would his name be?"

Darren added two suggestions to the list:
Frilly and Stumpy.


Based on my mood and condition this evening, I'd add these:
Feisty (I am. Ya wanna fight?)
Busy (I am. I have three jobs due at the end of this month, and I only just started one of them today. But I wasn't too busy to make a late-night run to the local beer barn with Cara earlier. I got a huge-honkin' Dr Pepper. Sorry to disappoint you.)
Smelly (I am. Funky would be another good name. I need a shower.)
Windy (I am. ahem. Excuse me.)

So. What would YOU name the 8th dwarf?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Looth Tooth

Aidan hath a looth tooth. Acthually, he had two looth teeth. But one fell out today, and now he only hath one looth tooth again. (Which ith hanging by a thread and will fall out any thecond.) Lath fall, he lotht his two bottom teeth, and there'th thtill a thizeable gap down there. Now he'th on his way to lothing both top teeth. Aidan hath alwayth had a little lithp. Now it'th worth! :D

And speaking of Aidan... Beth commented that she named her Aiden after Rich Mullins' song "Let Mercy Lead". So did we! :D