Thursday, August 31, 2006

High School

This has been a weird flash-backy week for me.

First, a couple of days ago, I suddenly thought about a scrapbook I'd made in high school. It was a senior composition class assignment: create an "all about me" project. It could've been an essay, or a collage, or whatever. There were specific questions that we had to answer, but other than that, we had freedom in how we decided to execute it. Mine, of course, was a scrapbook. I decided to search for it, and was shocked and stoked when I found it. Reading through its pages, I was astonished that I'm really not very different now than I was then. I still have the same basic personality traits, the same weaknesses and strengths, the same likes and dislikes. I wrote that one of my favorite pasttimes was scrapbooking. See, even back in the 1980s, before Creative Memories, before Heidi Swapp, before Creating Keepsakes and Basic Grey and Becky Higgins, I was a scrapbooker. Before it was cool.

The most amazing thing, though, is that the visions and dreams I had for myself back then have all come true! (well, if you consider my scrapbooking career as photojournalism. It's not exactly what I had in mind back then, but it certainly could qualify now - in a way!)

Well, hold on. The MOST amazing thing was that I thought about it and found it on what is almost exactly the 20-year anniversary of its creation. When I turned to the last page, I almost fell outta my chair. It reads, "Give me twenty years and I'll reflect back to my high school days and discover that I truly was... in love with life."

Yup. I was. Still am.

Tonight, I hung out with High School Dani. It was OPen House at her school, and I totally loved seeing myself in my element her in her element. She is just like I was. EXACTLY!! Every other person in the halls knew her. She was loud and crazy and bubbly and energetic and crazy. Truthfully, she was driving me NUTS, but I loved it. LOVED it. Walking the halls of her high school brought back a flood of memories of my own alma mater and its hallowed halls.

There are lots of differences: mine was built in 1983 and was thoroughly modern. Hers was built in 1936 and still boasts Art Deco features throughout the interior. Mine housed 800 students; hers is more like a small town, with 2500 students. It sprawls over 24.6 acres and its roof covers 235,440 square feet. Mine was predominantly white and black, with some Hispanics and a few Asian students. Dani's is a rainbow of diversity; I doubt there's an ethnicity that's not represented in the yearbook. There are computers in every classroom and Dani's teachers encourage emails from parents. My school had 2 computers in its computer lab. Not even the counselor's office (where I spent 2 hours a day working as a Senior) had computers. And my parents didn't know any of my teacher's names, certainly never went to Open House (did we HAVE Open House in high school?) and definitely never communicated with them.

But there were also similarities. The hand-written posters on the walls, the drumline which played at the beginning of the assembly (I have ALWAYS loved the cadence of a high school drum line), the choir which sang national anthem a cappella (I cried as soon as the very first note rang out), the crappy sound system in the auditorium, the craziness in the halls between classes, the bells.

As I passed from class to class, following Dani's daily schedule (but in 10-minute increments instead of 50-minute ones), I was overcome with two emotions: 1) astonishment that my KID, my little pig-tailed girl, my firstborn sweet precious thing, is a sophomore in high school, and that she is so much like I was; and 2), complete delight that my KID, my little pig-tailed girl, my firstborn sweet precious thing, is a sophomore in high school, and is so much like I was. I am.

I love that girl. Love her. I'd be her best friend if I weren't her Mom. Wait. I think I already AM that.

*happy sigh*

Hanging Out With Donna

A couple of weeks ago, someone asked the question, "Who do you wanna spend time hanging out with in Heaven?"

At first, I didn't know. My Grandma? My Grandpa? Yes, without a doubt. But I felt like those answers didn't count, because they're givens.

Then it dawned on me: Donna. I would wanna hang out with her.

Donna was my friend. She was everyone's friend. She was quick-witted and punny, intelligent and wise, giving and nurturing. It's easy to paint someone who's passed on in a glowing light, but I assure you that Donna's life WAS just that. Glowing. She lived. She shared. She made an impact.

In fact, today, two years to the day after pancreatic cancer robbed her of that life, her glow still warms. People who never knew her... know her. Because she was here. She lived. She shared. She made an impact.

One of the best decisions I ever, EVER made was to drag myself and two comrades to Manitoba. I'd never met Donna face to face before that epic roadtrip, but I loved her just the same. Meeting her was like being with an old friend. We fell into comfortable, easy conversation that was saturated with laughter despite the sorrow. I sat at her bedside, like a kid in a candy store, thumbing through her artwork, and gasping with disbelief when she kept saying, "Take more. No, really. I want you to have it."

I met Rick, her beloved husband, on that trip. Since, we've formed a friendship that I can't quite define. We keep in touch, and he routinely emails me just when I need a lift. He's good like that. He knows. He lives and shares and makes an impact, just like Donna did. I keep waiting for the day he'll show up at my door. (Hey Rick - I rode around town today with my car windows down, 'cause it has finally cooled off here. It was only 91 degrees F!) ;)

I only spent time with Donna face to face in real life for a total of about 3 hours. There wasn't time to play with paper, or to learn her braiding technique, or how to shade with tiny dots of ink, or any of the other myriad of talents she possessed. There was only time to laugh. And hug. And talk. And cry. And be.

And so it's Donna I want to hang out with in Heaven.
I'll bring the supplies, Donna, and the camera.
You just make sure we each have a 6-foot table of our own, and plenty of good lighting.

(((((Rick, Diana and Paige)))))

You can read more about Donna and the road trip here.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Rain Glorious Rain

Finally. Our dry, parched, panting yard has been given hope. There *IS* rain in them there skies.

I can't even remember the last time it rained on my street. It's been a long, oppressive, dryyyyy summer. Oh sure, we've had rain if you listen to the weather teams on all the local networks. "A trace of rain here, a downpour there." One week, it poured a mile away at Cara's house, but all I got was thunder. A week later, it rained 2 miles to the north and 3 miles to the east, but nary a drop in my yard. Last week, Darren and I hopefully watched the real-time radar on (Yah. We're nerds.) as a nice-sized thunderstorm popped up just west of us. Then it dissipated right before our eyes. A few days ago, Darren called from his office. He works in a high-rise and can see our neighborhood from his window.

"You're about to get rain!" he enthused. "I can see it over at Trinity Plaza!" That's just down the bluff and across the river from us. But alas. It dried up before it crossed the river. Stupid rain.

Today, I had JUST settled down at my desk and was sorting pictures when Darren burst through the door. "Come out on the porch with me!" he begged. "It feels WONDERFUL."

So I obliged him, and followed like a good little puppy, annoyed that I was having to get up and thinking, "How good can it feel? It's 100 degrees again."

As soon as I stepped out the door, I knew something was different. What was it? That smell. Like the mountains after an afternoon shower. That sound. Like the rustling of trees in the fall. That STICKINESS in the air. Could it be... YES! There's a drop! And another! And another and another and another!

"BOYS!!" I bellowed through the door. "Come out and play in the rain!"

And so they did.
Life. It's good. :)

Sunday, August 27, 2006


I carry a tiny purse. Always have. I've actually carried the SAME tiny purse for going on 3 years. It's turquoise and brown, and actually matches very little of what I wear. But I fell in love with it three years ago (before turquoise and brown was even cool), and Darren bought it for me for Christmas. It's the most expensive purse I've ever carried, but I'm to the point now that I can justify its expense: after all, I've never carried a purse for more than 3 months, let alone 3 years!

It's tiny (10 inches long by 4.5 inches wide (at the bottom) by 4 inches deep) , but I can pack everything I need into it. Here's a glimpse of what's in it as I type:

1 wallet (no credit cards - don't use 'em, and no cash - 'cause I never have cash. I'd spend it on stupid stuff.) The rest of your usual wallet stuff is there though - driver's license, debit card, Costco card, insurance card, various business cards, receipts... and a newCingular sim card for Dani's phone. Nothing too exciting.

1 cell phone (old school. I don't qualify for a free upgrade until April, and I'm too cheap to just go buy a cooler phone. So I'll wait.)

1 Barnes and Noble gift card. (Darren's. He won the card at work last week, and we went to B&N on a hot date tonight and didn't even spend it! What's up with THAT?)

2 ColorBox ink pads (black and royal blue)
1 pair scrapbooking scissors
1 black Sharpie
1 white GellyRoll pen
2 mechanical pencils
2 Burt's Bees lip balms (regular and Champagne Shimmer)
1 Clinique lipstick (Deeply Rose. I hate the color. Why is it in my purse??)
1 pack Trident Cinnamon gum
1 Moleskine
1 empty Pappa's Restaurants mint wrapper
1 set house keys that don't work anymore (we changed the locks last week)
1 set keys (car and new house key)
1 DumDums wrapper, Cream Soda flavor
1 gold forearm (from Ian's Power Ranger, I think)
1 piece of cropped photo with a note written on the back
5 3/8" screws
1 eye hook
1 random, lone pen lid
1 wadded Orbit wrapper with chewed gum inside it
27 pennies
1 dime
4 of my business cards (need to restock those)
Usually my little CanonA80 is in there too, but I was using it to take the picture :)

My most cherished possession in my purse is my Moleskine. First of all, every artist/writer/thinker needs one of these. They come in different sizes and with different pages (I have the plain notebook, pocket size), and were used by such greats as Van Gogh and Hemingway. I use mine for quotes and inspirations.

I try to keep it in my purse, but inevitably, half the times I hear or read a quote I want to add to it, I realize that it's sitting at home in my studio. I reference it all the time when I'm scrapbooking. Seriously. All. the. time.

Tonight it happens to be in my purse because as we headed out the door to Barnes and Noble (where I bought my Moleskine a year or so ago, by the way), I thought to grab it. Well, see, I thought to grab it, but then I forgot. So I called Dani and had her meet me out front with it. Turns out, I didn't add much to it tonight as I scanned the books and magazines at B&N, but something I read reminded me of the quote Aidan provided the other day: "Mommy, I like loving you." Tonight, sitting at a table near the Travel stacks, it hit me. It's my newest quote, and my favorite. And it's attributed to Aidan Kocur, right next to "I love you more than yesterday, less than tomorrow" by Edmand Rostand.

I gotta change my purse soon. I have a brand new, beautifully-designed-by-Elaine Z Becky Brown bag sitting here ready to be packed. It's still smallish, but not tiny. It'll fit everything and then some. And my Moleskine will feel right at home there. :)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's complementary, my dear

I used to keep a happy box. It contained cards, letters, notes, and clippings that made me happy. I still have that box. It's stuffed to the brim and sitting on my closet shelf. But I don't "keep" one anymore. Instead, now I have notes stashed here and there - in my email, in my PM box on ScrapShare, in the comments sections of this blog, in a clear acrylic box on my desk, on my bulletin board, in the top drawer of my chest of drawers....

I also have slips of paper where I've jotted down quotes that I liked, or snippets of conversations I had with the kids. Those things are strewn about as well.

Mostly, the things I've kept for the last several years have been compliments. Sometimes, when I come across them, my heart heaves with joy. I'm glad I keep those things. They've been my saving grace many times. I sometimes don't respond to the compliments that come my way. Sometimes I'm too embarrassed by them, sometimes they feel undeserved, and ... well, I'm just really bad about accepting compliments in any form. I don't know how to do it graciously. I'm more likely to roll my eyes and make a joke about it.

So now, I'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you. THANK YOU. You know who you are. You know the text messages you've sent me, the emails and PMs you've taken the time to type, the notes you've spent .37 on to mail me. Thank you. I may not have answered, but I kept them. I read them. I appreciate them.

Tonight, I received a compliment that made my heart happy. As I tucked Aidan into bed, he said, "Mommy? I like loving you."

If hearts could sing out loud, mine would've been doing so.

I'm thinking of gathering all the compliments into once place: a scrapbook. What should I title it? Would that be completely and totally egomaniacal of me?

They speak truth to my doubtful heart.
I should celebrate them more than I do.
I should believe them.
I should accept them graciously.

"I can live for two months on a good compliment." ~Mark Twain

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Dani wanted to be in choir this year.
She wanted to be in the highly competitive A Capella Choir. So last spring, she started learning to sightread music, since that's a requirement of A Capella.

She auditioned in May and was dejected when she was placed in the Select Treble Choir instead.

Over the summer, she came to terms with being in Treble, even though her best friends were going to be in A Capella. She worked hard on her sightreading and realized that Treble could be a jumping point to GET to A Capella. She was ready to start her sophomore year with a good attitude about it.

Then came her schedule fiasco. Instead of one of her English classes, they put her in Art. (YES, my awesome writer of a daughter wanted to double up on English this year and got it approved by her academic advisor 'cause she's a Word Nerd like me and BOY does that make me proud!) In trying to get that fixed, they dropped her from Treble Choir to Concert Choir.

"Another new schedule," she texted me. "They put me in Concert Choir! Grrrr." She went and talked to the choir director about it (new director this year... not the one who auditioned Dani last spring), who said, "Well, okay. Let's audition you again right now." So on the spur of the moment, with no warm-up and while reeling emotionally, Dani had to sing. The director said, "I think you're in the right class." Dani was despondent.

"I psyched myself up all summer for Treble," she cried to me later. "And I was excited about it. I was gonna do my best. It's what I was PLACED in when I auditioned. And now the counselor just moved me to beginner's choir? And the Director is just letting it GO? The kids in there can't even carry a tune! They're tone deaf! That class doesn't even get to compete in UIL. This is not fair!!"

My heart broke for her. I remember 20 years ago auditioning for a Pop Singing Group and not making the final cut. To this day, it remains one of my most painful emotional injuries. I let her weep and wail and whine.

Then I reminded her that she KNOWS she can sing, that she has a beautiful voice, even. "You can survive this," I said. "It sucks and it's not fair, but it's what's been handed to you. You control how you handle it."

She decided to go in the next day with a good attitude. She sang out when they learned the school song. She sang the ALTO part out ('cause she can read music, you know). She smiled. She sat straight. She was her usual bundle of energy and joy. At dinner on the third night of school, she talked us into letting her take private voice lessons instead of guitar this semester.

On the 5th day, the director pulled her aside and said, "Dani, I was wrong. You belong in Treble." I'm not sure how Dani reacted in that moment. But when she called me at lunch, she was animated and ecstatic.

In 5 days, she had 4 different schedules. This week, finally, she's been able to settle in to 10th Grade. She's singing Alto. She's making friends in Treble. She's taking English II, English III, World History, 80-minute Algebra II/Trig, Latin III and Chemistry - all honors - along with Treble. And she's thinking about trying to walk on to the soccer team.

I hated that she had to live through all the turmoil of last week.
But I love that she proved to herself that she can handle it.
I'm so proud to be her Mom.

for-ti-tude  (fawr-ti-tood, -tyood)
mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

He did it

Almost bouncing, even.

After school, he climbed into the van and said, "Let's go to Braum's."

We did.
'Cause he did.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Doesn't he look BIG? Doesn't he look PROUD? Doesn't he look PRECIOUS? He was!

The day finally arrived - the day he'd been anticipating since he was 3. The day that he expected last December when he awoke on his 5th birthday.

He sailed through the first day of Kindergarten with no problems. He loved it. After school, we celebrated at Cracker Barrel with any dessert the kids wanted. (We've been doing that since DANI's first day of Kindergarten. It's where she wanted to go that year, and we've done it every year since.) I tried to change the tradition, because our choices are so much BETTER now. "Are you sure you don't want Marble Slab? How 'bout Chili's? Wouldn't you rather go to Pappasito's?" Dani was aghast that I'd suggest such a thing. We went to CRACKER BARREL, thank you very much, 'cause that's what we've ALWAYS done. Okay then. It appears Dani is growing up, though. She had a salad instead of dessert. WHAT ABOUT TRADITION, DANI, huh?? HUH??

Aidan did great on day 2, too. But on Day 3, he woke up weepy and cranky. He hated the socks I laid out for him. He hated the way I brushed his hair. He hated his favorite cereal. And when we got to school, he hated it. He cried at his locker, and when I tried to walk him into class, he planted his feet and cried, "No no no no!"
His teacher came out, said, "What's THIS? One more hug. Bye Mommy!" As I walked away, I could hear his wimpers... "Mommy. Mommy, Mommy Mommy!" I wasn't as much SAD as I was bewildered. This just wasn't my Aidan. He's always been independent and ready for fun. I mean, ask Grammy and PapPap; they'll tell you: Aidan is the kid who cries when it's time to go HOME!

The next morning, he woke in a better mood, but still said he didn't want to go to school. It's not fun. All they do is learn rules. He doesn't get to play all the time. And he didn't realize that he has to go every. single. day. I left him in tears again on Day 4, despite the fact that I'd tried bribery and packed his lunch with S'more Sandwiches (graham crackers slathered with Nutella and Marshmallow Creme), Oreos and Fruit Roll-ups. (By the way. Don't try that at home. The teacher will send a note home that says "Please only pack one sweet in Aidan's lunch per day." LOL!)

Day 5 was good again. He was reluctant to go inside, but there were no tears. I rewarded him that night with a Mommy Date at Putt-Putt. :)

This weekend, I started talking to him about going inside by himself, something that I truly thought he'd DEMAND on Day 2 or 3. He freaked out when I mentioned it. "Maybe when I'm 6 I'll be ready," he offered.

Today was good. He was excited about school again, and was all smiles as we walked toward the building. He asked to go "the long way", so we did. THen he shoved his backpack into his locker, walked confidently into class, and turned around to give me a thumbs-up sign. I wish I had a picture of that. His crying and pleading last week didn't make me cry, but let me tell you. As I walked away this morning with the image of his thumbs-up and smiling face in my head, my eyes were moist.

This afternoon on TV, he saw a commercial for Braums' Banana Split Sundae. "OOOh. Can I have one of those, Mom?" he asked.

"Someday," I answered vaguely.

"When?" he prodded.

"On the first day that you walk into school by yourself, I'll get you one."

He was satisfied with that answer. Later at dinner, he announced that he was going to walk into school by himself tomorrow. Looks like dessert is on my schdule after school again. I'll let you know. :)

Sunday, August 20, 2006


I have a friend who I tried to convert to scrapbooking for years. "I'm unremarkable. I have nothing to scrap. When I get a life, maybe then I'll do it," she always argued.

I always thought that was the saddest thing I'd ever heard. Of COURSE she had a life. She was (still is) beautiful. She had a great job. She was a Super Aunt to 2 adorable neices. She drove a Mustang. She had great taste in music. She thought her life was humdrum, so-so, unremarkable. But it wasn't. It was her life. I ached for her to celebrate it.

I have other friends who've started blogs, published a few entries, then abruptly stopped. "Why aren't you writing?" I ask. "I keep checking for an update." Invariably, the answer is the same: "I don't have anything to write about. My life's not exciting."

Neither is mine. I mean, really. I lead a pretty humdrum life. I get up at 7 most mornings, rush through the morning routine, get the two older kids off to school, settle down in my studio to work, break for lunch when I think about it or when Ian starts begging for food, think about dinner when Darren comes through the door at 6, stay up too late reading or scrapping or chatting, and start all over the next day.

Sometimes I have lunch with friends and drop a chipotle shrimp on my shelf without even noticing until my kid says, "Mom. There's a shrimp on your shirt."

Sometimes I get a call from Rodney (my beloved brother who lives in Seattle and whom I haven't seen in too many years) and we laugh and cry and snark and talk about stuff for 2 hours at a time until our sides ache and our smile muscles are weary and our hearts are spent.

Sometimes I swordfight with Ian in the front yard (he always gives me the BROKEN sword, little cheater that he is), dueling gallantly until he finally rips open my gut and chops off my arm and leaves me to die spectacularly in the overgrown grass under a 104-degree sun with who knows which neighbors giggling from behind their bushes or from the picture windows of their air-conditioned houses.

Last week, I packed for Aidan a lunch (it was bribery, I'll admit it) that consisted of S'more Sandwiches, 2 Oreo cookies and a Fruit Roll-Up, prompting a note home from his teacher which read "Please only send one sweet in Aidan's lunch per day."

I drew smiley faces and hearts and flowers and a big swirly "DANI" on my 15-year-old daughter's lunch sack (she's too cool for a lunch BOX, you know), hoping she wouldn't be embarrassed of it, and half figuring she'd throw the sack away and stash her sandwich and chips in her purse as soon as she got to school. But instead, she was PROUD of that little sack and announced after school, "Hey Mom. Marissa loved your artwork. She said she wishes HER mom would draw on her sacks." Oh... I forgot to mention that in the bottom corner of the sack, I wrote boldly, "Dani has the coolest Mom EVER." :)

Thursday night, I went upstairs to kiss the boys goodnight. When I reached the landing to head back down to the family room, I was suddenly slammed with the realization that I was exhausted. I haven't yet changed my nightly routine. I'm still staying up 'til 2 or so in the morning, but rising at 7. By Thursday night, it'd caught up with me and I turned on my heel and walked straight to my bedroom instead of back down the stairs. I was snoring by 9:30.

Tonight, we ate at CiCi's Pizza, then Dani generously bathed the boys and put them to bed while Darren and I snuggled on the couch and watched "Anger Management". We laughed and laughed. Our fat cat snuggled with us and (weird cat that she is) kept licking the back of my neck. Eventually, Dani came down and watched the end of the movie with us. We didn't even have popcorn.

These aren't exactly the things that define an exciting life. It's unremarkable. But it's MY life. It's everything I've ever dreamed of. It's safe, it's warm, it's happy, it's peaceful.

I'm not clothed in physical beauty. I'm not showered with monetary blessings. I'm not overrun with talent or grace or wisdom.

But I lead a life that's fun to scrap.
I have a life worth writing about.
Celebrate it, 'cause so do you.
Get to it! Be remarkable!

"My students were middle-class kids who were ashamed of their background. They felt like unless they grew up in poverty, they had nothing to write about...I felt sorry for these kids, that they thought their whole past was absolutely worthless because it was less than remarkable."
-David Sedaris, from an interview in January Magazine

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Photos - real and imagined

Tried posting photos again, both from my Image Event site and by uploading directly to Blogger. Tried copying code from a previous photo and changing the URL, but got the dreaded red X. Still using IE. Will try Firefox tomorrow, after I figure out how to get it and use it.

In the meantime, let me see if I can paint a mental picture for you. (I don't have an actual photo anyway, so this should be fun!)

So Dani's in 10th grade now. LOVING not being a freshman anymore. She was mean on the first day of school and told some scared little Fish that there IS a 3rd floor at their school. There isn't. She made up for that later by walking another Fish to her class after she got lost.

But it was on the SECOND day of school that she really got knocked down a notch or two. Before class, she was sitting sideways in her desk, talking to her friend, with one leg thrown over the metal bar that connects the seat to the table part of the desk. When the bell rang and class began, she swung her leg over like she's done a hundred times before and started to swivel her butt into place when something went terribly wrong.

Before she could stop herself, everything went into super slow motion as she fell backwards... out of her seat, ONto her rear-end, landing on her purse and smashing the display thingy on her cell phone. Bummer.

While the teacher and most of the class was saying, "Oh my gosh! Are you ALRIGHT?", she was laughing hysterically. "I FELL OUT OF MY DESK!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA...." she roared through embarrassed but wild, rocking laughter.

She is SO like me. That's exactly what I'd do if I fell out of my desk. In fact, yah. Um, it happened last week.

I was sitting at MY desk in my studio in the next room, while Dani sat here at the computer. Too lazy to get off my butt and walk 2 steps to my paper trolley, I instead leaned way over in my chair to grab the paper I needed. Suddenly, in slow motion, the wheels on my chair lifted off and I found myself flying towards the whole rack of paper. I started yelling, "HELP! HELP!"

I was stranded on my knees, with the chair on my back. If I moved in any direction, catastrophe would ensue. Paper would go every which way, I'd probably break the window behind me, and I'd knock every thing off the magnet board in the process. (My studio is TINY. Seriously. It's like a deck of cards in there... if one thing gets wonky and falls over, the whole room is sure to follow.)

So, like a champ, Dani came running in and saved the day, lifting the chair off of me and helping me to my feet. All the while, I was GUFFAWING at the top of my lungs. "Dork," she said as she moseyed back to the computer.

I wish I'd been in her Latin class when she fell out of her desk so I could have muttered "Dork" to her.

Like mother, like daughter.

stupid blogger and nasty snakes


Oh. my. Sorry about that.


Last week, Samuel L Jackson called me on my cell phone!
It was hilarious. He called me by name. "Hey Stacy. This is Samuel L. Jackson." He started off by telling me to go see his new movie "Snakes on a Plane." And that I needed to stop doing my housewife stuff, stop driving around in my 'Suburban Utility Vehicle', stop getting pedicures and chatting online so much and to GO TO THE MOVIES. He said he was gonna kick my butt if I didn't. He got really snarly at the end of the call. I was CRACKING. UP!

Funny thing was, the call came from my friend's cell phone. So I called her back and said, "Jerica! Weird thing. Samuel L Jackson just called me from your cell phone."

She busted out laughing. "Was that HILARIOUS or WHAT??" she asked.

You can send a phone message too. Just go to

Clever marketing, but it ain't gonna work for me. I never saw Anaconda or Arachnophobia, and I SURE ain't gonna see Snakes on a Plane! Nasty.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


I didn't use to like red.
I didn't DISLIKE it exactly, but it certainly wasn't my favorite color. Then somewhere in my early-to-mid thirties, that started to change. In fact, I think it happened when we bought our first house, and I was able to (FINALLY!) paint and decorate the way *I* wanted.

I'd always said that my favorite colors were shades of blue.
But when I was shopping for house stuff and looking for inspiration, it was the reds that spoke to me and made me happy. I'm picky about my reds, though. I don't like tomato red. I like the color of Red Delicious apples. Red with blue undertones. Deep, dark reds.

I painted my family room a dark red. Darren was having a heart attack when I picked out the paint and brought it home. He couldn't imagine. A RED ROOM? We compromised by installing bead board on the lower half of the walls and painting it a creamy white. The red went on the top half. I love it.

I have little accents of red throughout my house - on candles, bookends, lampshades, stained glass, pillows, books....

My kitchen is dotted with red things. In fact, one of my favorite things of ALL is a simple little enamel colander that I bought at Target. (LOVE Target, too. Probably 'cause the whole STORE is red. Tomato red, yah, but red just the same.) When I had to buy a new toaster recently, I searched high and low until I found a red one. At the antique auction that Darren and I often attend, we've seen a gazillion old bread bins. I never was interested...until a beat up old red one came along. At Canton, I was frugal and thrifty... until I spied an old red bucket that I had to have - I could see it hanging from the pot rack in my kitchen. I talked the guy down 3 bucks, but still spent $15 on it. Don't regret it, either.

My car is red. Darren KNEW I'd love it.
I love reddish shades of lipstick. You won't catch me in pink.
My favorite shirts are reds and corals.
In our most recent professional family portrait (taken *gasp!* 4 years ago!), I made the whole family wear deep red. Still love that photo... us in reds and denims and khakis sitting in a field of Texas Bluebonnets.

Tonight, I googled "favorite colors", just to see what was out there. And I discovered that red means this:
The color of strength, health, and vitality, Red is often the color chosen by someone outgoing, aggressive, vigorous, and impulsive--or who would like to be! It goes with an ambitious nature but those who choose it can be abrupt at times, determined to get all they can out of life, quick to judge people and take sides. Red people are usually optimistic and can’t stand monotony; they are rather restless and not at all introspective, so they may be unaware of their own shortcomings. They find it hard to be objective and may blame others for any mishaps. Quiet people with a preference for red may feel the need for the warmth, strength and life-giving qualities of the color, or they blanket their true feelings under a sober exterior. Red is usually chosen by those with open and uncomplicated natures, with a zest for life.

I'd say that's mostly accurate - the good AND the bad.

But there's one red I most definitely do NOT like.
One of these is not like the others.
One of these things just doesn't belong.

Can you guess?
(aw MAN. I created a cool collage of all things red, but Blogger is being a punk and won't upload my photo. Will try to add it later. Until then, you can view it HERE.)

What's YOUR favorite color?

Friday, August 11, 2006

I'm skurt it's gonna hurt!

Back in May, Dani won 4 tickets to a local water park on the radio - a package worth $76! Today, on our last official day of summer break, we finally took the kids to that park. WHAT FUN!

We slid, splashed, dunked, squirted, sploshed, sputtered, floated, swam, plunged and squished our way through every square inch of the place. Ian was a CRAZY BRAVE BOY and went down even the scariest slides all by himself. He cracked me up, gathering his courage at the top of each one... stepping back, looking around, creeping forward again, then taking a big breath, lowering his octopus goggles (a GREAT find in Target's Dollar Spot earlier this summer!), and stepping off into the great unknown. He arrived at the bottom, every single time, with his mouth wide open in laughter, sputtering and spitting and catching his breath. SO PRECIOUS. Aidan, on the other hand, would've been content the WHOLE time just hanging out under the giant bucket of water, waiting for it to unload a torrent on people below, and behind the many squirt guns and nozzles, aiming at unsuspecting grown-ups.

Darren and Dani spent some time together riding the "big slides" - water roller coasters, if you will. Darren said it amazed him that even going UPHILL, the water's force is enough to keep you going, and going FAST. Fun fun fun!

We used SPF 50, waterproof, and used it liberally. Everyone else looks fine. Little burn. But ME? I'm a crispy critter. My forehead is the color of raw hamburger, and my shoulders and upper back are a nice shade of watermelon. (The meaty INside, not the stripey green outside, you sillies.)

Dani just slathered me down with aloe vera. I can feel the burn rising. I'm skurt it's gonna hurt!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

the view

I think I've blogged before about the view from my master bathroom window. Every morning, first thing, I sit down there and peer through the shutters at the world below. This morning at barely-dawn, I saw that Dani had taken the trash cans down to the curb the night before, I saw that the neighbor behind us had her lights on already, I saw birds and squirrels scampering about. I noticed that we still have chairs scattered about from our last barbecue (need to put those back in the garage), and that my plants need watering. I love looking out at the backyard every morning. It's one of my favorite activities of the day. (Gee, you think my life might need a little more activity??)

But this afternoon, I struck upon a funny observation. My OTHER favorite view is from the tiny bathroom downstairs. It's situated beneath the stairs, and is sunken several feet below the rest of the house. When I sit THERE and look out the window, I'm gazing UPward instead of down. And this is what I see:

I love the steep pitch of my neighbor's house against the brilliant blue Texas sky. I love the Crepe Myrtle trees with their smooth bark and their fuschia blooms, even in the scorching heat (yes. They're pink. I must be softening.) I once saw a small snake slithering and winding its way up the trunk of one of the trees, and I must say, even though I knew it couldn't "get me", I couldn't finish my business and get out of their fast enough! Now I always check for snakes in the tree when I'm gazing. I love the frame that hangs in the window. I love the birds and the geckos that hang out, and I love how the trees bob and dance in the breeze, when there IS one.

In this oppressive summer heat (today was the 25th day we've hit 100 or above this summer), we keep our drapes drawn and the shutters closed, to help keep the house cooler. But when I'm in that tiny bathroom, I always pull open the shutters and gaze at the world up there.

I love the view. It's a simple one, really. Not much to see.
But I find myself feeling lifted somehow when I gaze up from below. Thank God for the little things.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Short People Got No Reason

This, from Dani's blog:

grim news

I went to the doctor for a well-child check-up today, and also to get my Tetanus and Hep A shots. We went through the routine: blood pressure, height, weight, etc. The nurse kind of gave me a funny look and marked something on her sheet. Anxiously, I waited for the doctor to come in. Again, we went through the routine: "Breathe in deep, say 'ahhh', bend over and touch your toes." Then she pulled out the chart.

"How bad is it, Doctor?" I asked.

"Better than we anticipated," she replied. "We've seen some progress, but I do admit that it is minimal. But there's still hope."

I let out a sigh and prepared myself for the worst. My doctor gave me the Look; you know, that sympathetic, 'I feel your pain' look that they get when they're about to break the bad news.

"We can expect for you to grow to 5'0, or 5'1" she finally said.

I felt the tears flood my eyes as I let the heartbreaking news overwhelm me. I had never held out much hope, but that last bit that I did cling to was now completely squashed.
We discussed my options, how I could still live a normal life, and I allowed myself to accept the reality that is my height.

Please keep me and my family in your prayers as we deal with the trauma. Thank you.

posted by Dani @ 8/08/2006 10:36:00 PM

I'm 5'2". Darren's 5'5". Poor Dani.
She's short, but isn't she GORGEOUS?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Year (so far)

I scrapbooked for ME today. YAY!
(click the image to see it larger)


Tonight, after the boys were tucked in for the night and the others of us had settled down to relax, Dani suggested that we watch a movie. Nevermind that it was 10:45. Darren and I both agreed, and within minutes, I'd popped popcorn, tossed in some M&Ms for good measure, and we were all sitting in front of "The End of the Spear". oh. MY. If you haven't watched this movie, go directly to Netflix and move it to the top of your queue. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200 dollars. At first, you'll be asking each other, "What just happened? What's going on?" But stick with it. It'll all make sense, and it comes together BEAUTIFULLY. Watch it. Seriously.

Around midnight, a little voice rang out from behind us. "I SMELL POT CORN." It was Ian. Aidan was standing right behind him. Both of them were sleepy-eyed, and I can just imagine what happened. They were in dreamland when the smell of popcorn wafted into their room. At first they thought they were dreaming, but soon the aroma was enough to pull them out of slumber and down the stairs. They felt completely betrayed. I remember feeling that as a kid, too!

For years, my Mom and Dad would serve themselves heaping bowls of ice cream after we kids were in bed. I'd hear the clinking of their spoons against their bowls, and it always brought with it a feeling of betrayal. How DARE they have ice cream without us kids?? Tonight, I felt so badly for the boys that I almost invited them to snuggle up to me on the couch and dig in.

But I didn't.
They're kids.
They need their sleep.
Besides, they're not old enough for "End of the Spear".

But you are.
Go. Watch. It.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Summer almost got away from us without me having to sit through a dreadful 9 innings this year. But ALAS. Yesterday, Darren noticed that our minor league team, the Fort Worth Cats, was having KIDS NIGHT tonight. And so, along with our friends, the Carmans, we went.

"The only redeeming thing about a baseball game is the hot dogs," I groused as soon as we found our seats. One hot dog, way too many peanuts, 2 diet cokes and a Tums later, I must admit I was wrong about that. There were MANY redeeming factors tonight:

It was Dale and Kristi's 18th Anniversary, and while we were all aware of that, we were UNaware that Dani had secretly made her way to the announcer's booth and requested that they wish the Carman's a happy one. That is, until we heard their names come blasting over the speakers. That was cool.

As Darren chauffeured the boys to the bathroom, little 2-year-old Jonathan tagged along. Aidan put his arm around Jonathan's shoulder and walked with him like that all the way down the sidewalk. It was sweet to watch.

Toward the end of the game, we broke the sad news to the boys that there would be no "running of the bases" after tonight's game. For some reason, the announcers hadn't mentioned it at all throughout the whole night, so we assumed it must've been a last season thing and they weren't doing it anymore. Both boys cried, because they were SO looking forward to it. It's the one thing they remembered from last year's Cats game.

As soon as we won the game, we were treated to a fireworks show. I laid on my back across the bleacher and watched as the bombs burst in air directly above me. FANTASTIC. Suddenly, ash started raining down on me. It was kinda cool. Some of it was ashy and papery, but some of it felt like sand. And the smell of fireworks... totally love that. When the pelting of sand-ash finally started getting to me, I sat up and saw sweet little Faith in her Mommy's arms, looking up at the fireworks, TOTALLY mesmerized, with the biggest grin I've ever seen her wear stretched across her face. It was beautiful, and brought tears to my eyes.

After the fireworks, the lights came back up and... guess what?? The kids got to run the bases!! Aidan and Ian couldn't believe it. Dani and Katherine took Aidan, Ian and Kristopher to the first base line and ran with them. Aidan tore around the bases in his "super-fast mode". We cheered for all three boys as they rounded third toward home. It was so, so cool to see the pride on their faces as their parents hooted and hollared for them. LOVED that.

No photos. My batteries died as soon as we got there. What's up with THAT? I usually take precautions against such things.

On our way out of the park, we noticed a bunch of people peering through a crack between the grandstand seats and the empty underbelly of the stadium below. Down there, strewn about for some reason, were a half dozen tombstones. Engraved. One of the death dates was 1969. What on EARTH? It was bizarre, and I intend to write The Why Guy at Channel 8 to find out WHY. Kinda creepy, when you consider that the Cats play at historic LaGRAVE Field.


So anyway. Baseball. Eh. It's alright, I guess. :)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Something's wrong with me

You know that miniature Three Musketeers that Darren brought me the other night?

I still haven't eaten it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

little things (again and again)

Today, cloaked in a plastic breastplate and weilding an inflatable sword, Ian cried, I'm a WARRIOR!!!" in his best battle voice. Seriously. He can roll his voice as well as any actor I've ever heard. Then he calmly followed with, "I'm a dwarf warrior. 'Cause I'm really small." Cracked. me and Dani. UP!

A few days ago, Aidan said, "Mom. Are you gonna take a shower?"
"WHY?" I asked.
"'Cause you smell bad."
"Thanks for letting me know," I scowled.

Dani came bounding into my scraproom and just about tore my head off in a gigantic squeezy hug.
"WHAT ON EARTH?" I asked. "What's that about? What a sweet hug!"
"Meh," she retorted as she turned on her heel and walked away. "It's from Martha. She just told me to give you a big squeeze from her [on IM]."

Darren came home late tonight from work. As I was throwing dinner on the table, he slipped into my hand a miniature Three Musketeers bar, undoubtedly pilfered from somebody's candy dish at work. That man knows the way to my heart. <3

"Want me to put the boys to bed tonight?" asked my daughter.
Should I ground her for asking stupid questions? No?

We had kielbasa, mashed potatoes and green beans for dinner tonight. Aidan made islands with his mashed potatoes that got smaller with each bite. "OH NO! Another wave!" he'd say as he scooped up a slice of island onto his fork. Meanwhile, Ian forked a piece of sausage and yelled, "RUN FOR YOU LIFE! METEOR!", as he twisted and hurled his meteor through outer space. As it neared his mouth, he yelled, "TURN!"... and it did. Aidan planted green beans in his potato islands. One fell over. "The tree is DEAD," he explained. "Gotta eat it now." Ian kept spearing meteors until he had 5 on his fork. "METEOR! METEOR!" he exclaimed. "They're called MEATY ORS! BWAHA HA HA HA!" I said. "MEATY ORS!" Ian just looked at me. He didn't smile. He didn't laugh. His eyes just danced and said, "Mom is lame."

"He doesn't think it's funny because HE didn't make it up," quipped Darren.

True, that.

Playing with your food at dinner.
Gotta love the little things.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I'm participating in an online workshop with several scrapbooking friends. We're using the book "The Artist's Way: a spiritual path to greater creativity" by Julia Cameron. In Chapter One, we were challenged to write about our creative champions - those people in our past and present who cultivated our talents, cheered us on in our creative pursuits, believed in us even when we didn't believe ourselves, etc. It's easy for me to think of people who've championed me over the years. The first four who came to mind...

My sister is one. She has always, always encouraged me to write. When I visited her recently, she championed me at the scrapbook store. The owner started talking about techniques, and I was listening patiently and attentively, when Bobbie interrupted with, "Oh. Please. You're talking to the pro here. She can teach YOU techniques." I was embarrassed, especially when she went on and on about it. Then at the hair salon, the lady who COMPLETELY BUTCHERED MY HAIR BUT I DIGRESS said, "Stacy, your sister is so pretty. Tell her that she doesn't need to hide behind long hair and to keep it short." Now see, I've heard that all my life - that my sister is SO PRETTY. And she is. But this time, Bobbie overheard it, and interjected with, "Stacy is SO TALENTED. She can do everything. She can sing, she takes such good photographs that ALL her friends make her do their family portraits, she writes, she makes amazing scrapbooks that people pay big bucks for...." and she went on. Again, I was embarrassed and tried to discount it all. But how I love her for championing me when I won't champion myself.

My friend Becky has always championed my writing. She has a file of newsletter columns I wrote in the 90s. *I* didn't even keep copies of those! But Becky has them, and refers to certain ones from time to time. She still reads them. That amazes me. Whenever I think that my writing could never appeal to anyone, I think of Becky. And that refocuses me everytime. She sometimes asks if I'm submitting things for publication, and when I say "no", she curls her lip at me and gives me the hairy eyeball. lol!

My friend Bob. Bob champions me by revealing truths to me about myself. Bob is never afraid to speak the truth, even when it's ugly, even when it's hard. But at the same time, Bob constantly affirms me by telling me that I'm worthy, beautiful, fun AND funny, talented, giving, and loved. Bob challenges me to be better in every aspect of my life - creatively, spiritually, physically and emotionally. I'm actually sad for the people in this world who don't have Bobs in their lives!

And finally, Darren. No woman on earth has ever had a husband who is so accomodating, so in touch, so totally supportive of her creative pursuits. He constantly urges me to blog. And every SINGLE time I've threatened to delete an entry that I felt was too honest, too personal, too whatever, he's pursuaded me to keep it. Because after all, this blog is for me and mine. Someday, I'll be glad it's all here - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Darren champions me consistently - by nurturing me, by believing in me, by bragging on me, by being interested in what's interesing me. Whether it's painting a wall at church, or writing quotes around all the window frames in my office, or glueing rope to the walls in the boys' room, or rearranging the family room furniture AGAIN, or painting a mural on the playhouse, or scrapping until the wee hours of the morning, or writing a play for VBS... whatever it is I'm doing, Darren is my biggest champion.

Who are your champions?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Dumb blogger won't let me upload any pics. Grrr. I'll try to add 'em later when Blogger's in a better mood.


You might recall that back in April, our big cedar tree declared itself dead and fell on the neighbor's roof.

Well, ever since that day, Darren has slowly sawed and hacked away at that tree, starting with the lowest limbs and working up. It had gotten to the point where he was using a pole chain saw, above his head, standing 20 feet up on a ladder. I was not amused. I insisted that he CUT IT OUT and call a tree man.

Flash forward to last weekend. I was driving home from Tennessee and called Darren. When he answered, he was out of breath.

"What's up?" I asked.
"Workin' in the yard," he answered.
"What are you doing?" I pressed.
"Uh. Gettin' in trouble," he said slyly.
"What. Are. You. DOING?" I insisted.

"I topped the tree."
"You topped the TREE??? DARREN!"
"And it broke one of the family room windows."
"You topped the freakin' TREE?"

He apologized over and over about the window. But I did not care one WHIT about that dumb window. To his credit, he had nailed plywood over the window he thought the tree MIGHT hit. He had even placed a sheet of plywood on the porch roof, to ward off any damage should the tree land there. But as trees often DO when they're cut, it twisted and fell slightly off course. WHICH IS WHY I DIDN'T want Darren to top the dumb thing.

"You're lucky it didn't twist and land on your sorry self," I murmured. He tried to convince me that he'd been very careful and was completely out of harm's way. I didn't care. I was pissed.

"If you'd've been killed," I said, "at your funeral, I'd be like Valerie, Miracle Max's wife on The Princess Bride, and I'd be saying, "Boo! booooooooooo!"


In other news, we were all sitting on the front porch Friday night when Darren's mom and I started hearing crackling sounds. At first, I thought someone had leftover bottle caps from the 4th of July and were popping them out in the street. Then it got louder, and I stood to look, 'cause it sounded like a fire crackling. And then it happened. A huge branch came crashing down out of one of the pecan trees out front. NOT DEAD. Totally green and healthy. And totally heavy-laden with nuts. Enough weight to break this huge branch right off. It landed right in the street along the curb, where our neighbor ALWAYS parks his car. Only that night, it was parked across the street in another neighbor's driveway, 'cause they were on vacation. How's that for luck?

Darren was only too happy to get out the chainsaw again and chop it up... and now we have good pecan wood for smoking meat this fall.

Stupid trees. Can't trust any of 'em.