Saturday, September 30, 2006


Last night was Homecoming at Dani's high school.
Since her boyfriend, Brian, is in the band and wouldn't be able to pick her up for the game, he brought her mum over early in the afternoon. Dani is SO not a gaudy girly person. She kept saying, "I feel pimped out wearing this thing." lol!! It was, truly, almost as big as she is. Secretly, I think she liked it, but she had to keep up appearances, ya know. :)

Brian has been here for dinner and games (we like him a lot!), and they've gone to lunch several times (at fast food places near school). But tonight is the Homecoming Dance, and their first OFFICIAL date. (We're stone-age parents and wouldn't allow Dani to date until now.) She has a new outfit, hot new heels, funky new jewelry, and the promise of IHOP afterwards. Life is good for my 15-year old. She's positively giddy, and in turn, so am I!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Poor Rich Folk - WOO HOO!!

I love me some Poor Rich Folk.

I blogged about them last spring. They played in my backyard for a Fortress event in May.

In July, I called Luke from Gunnison, Colorado to tell him that we (my family) were rockin' the Rockies to our PRF CD. I called him again last month to tell him that a Suburbanful of inner city black girls were singin' to the CD as we drove through East Texas. (In case you haven't noticed... most of the time, these awesome women are listening to stuff like Kirk Franklin, MaryMary, Yolanda Adams, Cherish, Beyonce. That day, I cracked up when they busted out with Poor Rich Folk's music; they knew every word!)

I don't know why I call Luke, exactly. I guess I just want to encourage him and the other three guys to keep doing what they do, 'cause people DO listen, they DO like it, and they DO appreciate it.

Tonight, they updated their blog. I'm so proud I can hardly stand it! I'd love nothing more than to see these four precious guys make it in Nashville. They've worked hard, they've got the talent, but more importantly, they're passionate about the message they're sharing. They're touring, too. If you get a chance to go see 'em, (they play a lot of college campuses and coffee bars), GO. Then tell 'em I sent you. (Check out the tour schedule on their blog.)

Check 'em out!! (Turn up your volume!) Then click on the link and help me get their next record recorded.

WOO HOO!!! :)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Red Eyes?

Dani started wearing contacts 20 months ago. The privilege was her Christmas present, and she was a happy kid. The optometrist put her in disposable contacts - good for 30 days or so.

A couple of months ago, we started noticing that Dani's eyes were red. She used eye drops, which seemed to help, but only temporarily. Finally, I thought to ask her, "When's the last time you changed your lenses?" She answered, "I dunno." Uh-oh. Not a good answer.

I tried to order a new pack of lenses, but her prescription had expired, so it wasn't approved. I made an eye appointment with a local optometrist.

The appointment was yesterday. The doc looked at Dani's eyes and asked immediately, "Is she seeing floaters? Blurred vision? Does she complain of pain?" No, no and no.

After the exam, he called me back to the exam room. With serious face, he said bluntly, "Mrs. Kocur, Dani has corneal oedema and neovascularisation."

I sat up straighter. What the heck did THAT mean?

"It's caused by oxygen deprivation. When the eye doesn't get enough oxygen, the blood vessels become enlarged. Sometimes, new vessels grow into the cornea. That's what's happening to Dani."

"What..." I began.

He looked at Dani. "How often do you change out your contacts?" he asked.

"Once a month," she fibbed.

"Do you ever sleep in them?"

"Uh,"... her eyes darted from him to me, and then back to him... "Yah."

"DANI!" I hissed. "You KNOW better than that! Why on earth?"

The doctor gave us both a stern lecture on proper wearing of contacts. He said that the problem will probably correct itself if we take care of her eyes and follow his prescription, which is this: special high-oxygen contacts, which she can only wear every other day, and only for 10 hours at a time, until her eyes heal.
She has a follow-up appointment in a week for him to recheck her and see if there's been any progress.

GRRRR. I thought it was cool that she was wearing her contacts for more than 30 days at a time. It was saving me some scratch. I now know that it's not worth it. I told Dani that if I EVER catch her abusing her contacts again (LOL. That just sounds funny.), she'll be grounded from owning them at ALL until she's an adult and totally independent of her Mom. If she DOES sleep in 'em, I'll toss her hip new glasses, too, the ones that scream "I'M A GUITAR PLAYER/ARTIST/WRITER AND I'M COOL, YO!", and instead make her wear big 80s-era butterfly-wing-shaped frames that I can't even believe are even still on the market. That'll teach her.

Please. Use contacts responsibly. I'd hate to have to put YOU in ugly butterfly glasses, but I WILL! And if you're REALLY bad, I'll put little gold initial stickers in the lower outside corner of the lens. Ask me how I know THOSE exist.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


I've run the gamut of emotions this week.
And though I've felt them all profoundly, to my very core, I love that this quote - found in my Moleskine quote journal on the page titled "A Life Worth Living" - reminds me that even out of this, happiness can be born.

I've watched one of my very best friends suffer unspeakable pain this week - the kind of agony that only ultimate betrayal can produce. It's been heartwrenching to see her process the details and deal with them. She's strong, and then she's broken to pieces. She's stiff with rage, and then she's limp with sorrow. I keep telling her that the anger she feels is justified and even healthy. I'd be worried if she weren't angry. Then, I'd also be worried if she weren't devestatingly crushed. She's both. She swings back and forth from one minute to the next. When she's with her closest friends, talking through it all, she feels strong. But then she climbs into her car, and Carrie Underwood comes on the radio, and she sobs. And wails. "Jesus take the wheel, take it from my hands, 'cause I can't do this on. my. own." She has the capacity to feel deeply. It's what makes her heart break so completely. It's also what makes her such a beautiful servant of God.

Darren is a simple man. Wait. Let me explain that. He has a brilliant mind, and he's a profound thinker. But he doesn't need much out of life. He's okay with macaroni and cheese for dinner. He's content with his old collection of classical music CDs, WRR public radio, the Weather Channel, and books. He's grateful for back rubs from a wife who gives sorry ones. He chops down dead trees with glee, and plants new trees with pride. He asks me to take photos, so that we can document the process that makes this old house OUR old house. He doesn't need much - just a glass of ice water, a slight breeze on a warm day, an occasional nap on the porch swing, and a wink and a smile. He has the capacity to enjoy the simple things, and to enjoy simply.

Dani laughs. Seriously. That's her email addy. She laughs a LOT, and loudly. (Wonder where she gets THAT from?!) She often laughs at things that others do not get. What's so funny, Dani? Oh, nothing. BWAHAHAHAHA. She's not afraid to have an opinion. And if she's wrong, she's learning to accept that graciously. She doesn't share my philosophies just because they're MY philosophies - she has her own theories and ideas and understandings. The whole rest of the world thinks Matthew McConaughey is HOT? Well, she thinks he has a big nose and needs to shave his mountain man beard off, and NOW. Her belief in God and her faith in His promises is strong and mature, and it's her own - molded from her own life experience and her own study and prayerful interpretation. She's prone to arguing, but that's because she thinks freely. Frankly, I'd rather have a daughter who argues with me when I'm wrong (or even when she wrongly thinks I am, haha) than a daughter who blindly believes whatever I (or anyone else, for that matter) might say. (Please don't tell her I said that. She'll think it's an invitation to argue about EVERYthing. ;))

Change is hard, whether you're expecting it or not. My beloved sister is here. She made a decision 5 days ago that will change her life and the lives of her girls in unmistakable ways: she's leaving her husband. And though she's comtemplated it for a very long time, and thought it through, and talked herself out of it, and tried to "fake it 'til you make it" with him, and ultimately decided that this is the best move all around... and even though she struggles with the knowledge that God hates divorce, and she worries about supporting herself, and she frets over burdening my and my family... even so, after 14 years of unhappiness, it's time. And even though it's time, and she feels mostly peaceful about it, it's still scary. She's all settled in upstairs, and she's ready for tomorrow, and the next day, and the one after that and.... She has the capacity to risk life as she knows it. She's full of gumption and will, and faith. She'll be just fine.

This week, I wept with a friend. I raged with another. I cooked and cleaned and laundered and even MOPPED. I entertained, I chauffered, I babysat. I nurtured, I held accountable, I encouraged. I said yes to the PTA after saying no twice. Why? 'Cause I was needed. I have the capacity to be needed. If happiness comes from that, then need me all day long. I'm here.

Dear loved ones, I pray for you. For release, for forgiveness, for honesty, for courage. I pray for the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed.

For out of those things comes happiness. And that's what I pray for most of all.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Observations on Wednesday

1. "Do you know what shoots out of this fang? Cannon bombs." - Ian

2. My new favorite word is "manky." As in, "As I was stripping off tonight, I noticed I'd been sporting a manky old photo split on my top all day!!" Crack. Me. UP!

3. My first Room Mom job - provide a decorated box to collect goodies for the Kindergarten TCU basket to be raffled off at the Fall Carnival.

4. Cara doesn't like Baby Ruth bars.

5. Aidan is smart, and today, he realized it for himself. :)

6. The smell of Dani's new Cover Girl pressed powder in a compact sends me right back to high school, big hair, and Journey blaring from my jam box.

7. A pesky squirrel pelted me with pecans this morning as I walked to the car. Fall is coming, Fall is coming!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dear Bobbie

When I was 17 and your were 14, I hated when you borrowed my stuff. ESPECIALLY MY SHOES. I accused you of ruining those cute little soft-leather red Mary Janes I had, because the leather was mishapen and worn where your big toe stuck up. I screamed at you for using my makeup, for borrowing my tapes, for listening to my phone conversations. I called you "little girl" because I knew you hated it. I was horrible to you.

When we were young adults, I tattled on you to Mom and Dad. I hate that I did that. I know now that it was a feeble attempt on my part to make Mom and Dad approve of ME, by disapproving of you. Didn't work. They disapproved of both of us anyway. ;)

When I was 8 and you were 5, I was so proud of you. You were beautiful and meek and shy and scared. I was your Warrior Sister. I wanted you to have the headboard without the black magic marker streak. (Mom and Dad got a discount on that one 'cause it was marred.) I wanted you to stop jumping on the bed because I couldn't bear to see you get a spanking. I remember when we got separate rooms. I'd sneak into your room to play with your Barbie house, 'cause I was too old to have it my own room, and besides, *I* didn't play with dolls. ;)

When I was in 9th grade and you were in 6th, we moved back in together, to "get used to it", 'cause we were gonna be sharing a room again in our new house. To this day, I can remember the glee and sheer joy I felt. I couldn't wait to room with you.

We shared a double bed. You kicked in your sleep. I made you sleep on the outside so you'd quit kicking the wall. I don't know when it changed, but after a while, you refused to sleep on the outside anymore. Worked for me, 'cause that made it easier for me to stay up 'til the wee hours whispering on the phone. You never complained; you just snored away.

When I was in college, I was forced to move back home and back into a bedroom with you. You'd been the only girl (thus having your own room) for 2 years, yet you didn't complain when I moved in and took over. When you graduated from high school, I begged you to come to Denton. I found you a roommate and an apartment. You got a job. We lived different lives and had different friends, but I loved that you were close.

You wrote me letters. I have them still. One was written on a mountaintop in Mexico when you were on a mission trip with your youth group. It was beautiful, and it made me cry and long to be close to you. Another one came when you lived with Darren and me shortly after we got married. I was getting ready for my first girly-doctor appointment, and I was scared to death. You calmed my fears and soothed my anxiety and lessened my shame with your heartfelt words.

As adults, I've shared your pain. I've cried when you cried. I've raged when you wouldn't. I've prayed for you hour after hour. In tears, I've begged God to fill that hole in your spirit, to be the love of your life, to blanket you in happiness and contentment.

I've laughed when you laughed. I've adored and loved your beautiful girls. I rejoiced when you bought your dream home. I was heartbroken each time you moved away. But strangely, our friendship always seems strongest when we're apart from each other. Why is that?

When I came to your house in July, you let me be. I'll never forget that gift of love. I hate that I wasted my one and only visit to you in Tennessee being depressed. But I love that it was with you that I realized I wasn't myself, and to finally do something about it. You rescued me, and you didn't even realize you were doing so.

I love that I can be your soft place to fall.
I can't wait for you to get here.
You can borrow my shoes! (I wear an 8.5, by the way.)
And you'll notice that all of my shoes have a little mishapen worn spot in the leather where my big toe sticks up.

I love you!
See you soon.

Forever your loving warrior Seester,

Monday, September 18, 2006

music and shoes

Dani made District Choir Saturday. She was nervous Friday night when she sang over her music one last time. Her nervousness exposed itself in the form of missed beats, off notes and general blahness. I told her that a bad dress rehearsal is a sure sign of a great opening night. It's true. Saturday morning, she was a bit nervous when she woke up, but by the time she got to the competition and marked the cuts of the music she'd have to sing, she was fine. She knew her music as well as she could, she can only sing as well as she can sing, and she was comfortable with the fact that her best was all she had. If it got her to the next round, great. If not, she was gonna be okay. So she marched into the audition room, cued the tape player dude to start the music, and she sang. Out of her group of 65 altos, only 20 were chosen. She came in 19th. She's off to Regionals next month!

Tonight, we went shopping for her Homecoming dress. In the end, we decided to go with jeans, a fantastic blouse, great jewelry, and killer heels. That decision saved us so much money that we had money leftover. So, I bought shoes too! When I was young, I loved Converse High Tops. I wore 'em with everything, and everywhere. Dressed 'em up, dressed 'em down. I haven't owned a pair in 15 years. Now I own a pair again, and they are my favorite shade of melon. I can't wait to wear 'em.

Check out those killer heels, though. Dani's taller than me when she has 'em on!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fortress Scrapbooking

Today was scrap day at Fortress.
A couple of first-timers came - Erica's sister, and another new Mom who wasn't interested in scrapping. Says she doesn't like taking pics. She has three beautiful daughters. We'll keep working on her!

Cara, Kristi and I completely overhauled and reorganized the ScrapCloset, which any ONE of you would be scared to open. That nasty dark closet is also home to the sewer pipes, lots and lots of Rat Poison (only one reason you need rat poison, people), and roaches the size of VW Beetles. How sad that it's also where our scrapbook supplies live.

Everytime we have a crop at Fortress, we haul all the boxes and totes out of the closet and carry them down a hall, through the main room, up a ramp, and into the back room where our tables are set up. It's quite a chore.

Today, while we pulled boxes out of TheCloset, we started dreaming of a new space. The thing is, there *IS* no extra space at Fortress. It's an old, charming-yet-decrepit building, with every nook and cranny being put to use. TheCloset was the only space available when I moved the scrapbooking ministry from my home to the Fortress building.

But Fortress Youth Development Center Exec. Director gave us permission to convert the area beneath the stairs, which is currently bright and open and housing a Coke machine, to a scrapbook closet. We get to custom design our new space. I have SO many dreams. Of course, we also have to come up with the funds ourselves, so it won't be happening overnight.

I'm so excited, though. SO excited! Imagine a space that's clean, bright, OPEN, and easily accessible. All we'd have to do is open the doors and there it'd be. No unpacking, hauling, stacking, cramming, cringing, shrieking, praying that a rat's not in residence EVER AGAIN!

Oh, the joys of inner city ministry. I wouldn't give it up for anything, but I sure am looking forward to doing it out of a new closet. :)

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Last week, my friend Diana (in California) said the nicest thing, and she said it in a creative way. She posted an acrostic about me on ScrapShare!

Stacy is

Caring and

See? Wasn't that nice of her?

I'll give her super. I'm super-sized. I'm super loud. I'm super klutzy. I'm super silly. I'm... SOPORIFIC?? Darren just gave me that little gem. "Oh. You said SUper, not SOpor," he quipped. "Ian, you and me better head up to bed, and fast," he stammered. Yah. HURRY, you punk, before I knock you OUT!

I'll even give her talented. I make a good living using my talent, and I give a lot of my talent away for free, which makes me feel pretty darn

Awesome. I must tell you that it's true. I get more out of the scrapbooking ministry I coordinate than from anything else in my life, save, of course, my children. I love to see the pride in the ladies' eyes when they show off a new layout. Tonight, when I called them all to remind them that tomorrow is Scrapbooking Day at Fortress, I loved hearing the enthusiasm in their voices. I loved hearing Tanya say, "Oooooh. I have some cuuuuute pictures of JoJo that I'm bringing. I can't wait to show you!" Sharing the importance of scrapbooking, and teaching people how to do it, and being there as they start to believe that they're good at it, well, that's always given me a high. Makes me feel awesome.

Caring? The truth is, I can be selfish and ugly. It's true. But my real nature is to be caring. I think of other people in all kinds of situations. I love to give gifts, and I'm a clever gift-giver. But I gotta admit - being married to Darren has taught me much about caregiving. Early in our marriage, we made a commitment to give selflessly to each other on a daily basis. It might mean something as simple as me rubbing his back when I reallllly don't want to, or him bringing me a Diet Coke when I didn't even ask... or it might be as big as letting him design the backyard however he wants when I really envisioned something completely different, or him letting me paint the family room red when he thought it would be a huge mistake. Learning to be caring WHEN WE DIDN'T WANT TO BE CARING was a marriage-saver for us. Now it comes naturally. We don't have to think of selfless things to do anymore - we just do them. It's carried over to my other life, too. This week, Cara needed a babysitter. I had plans that afternoon, but I didn't hesitate to say yes. Because I love Cara, I love Michael, and I love their boys. My plans waited, and I wasn't sorry. :)

Youthful. Well, now. I'd love to fly to Callyfornya and hug Diana's neck for that one, 'cause the fine lines and wrinkles around my eyes and mouth aren't so fine anymore. Things are sagging that ought not to sag. When a song comes on the radio that Dani likes, she cranks the volume immediately, and half a beat behind her, I'm turning it back down. I'm getting old.

And yet... AND YET...

I can still fall into the deep end of a swimming pool, fully-clothed, holding someone else's camera, and come out laughing. I can still chase Darren around the house, with a towel, trying to pop his hiney. I can still sword-fight in the front yard without embarrassment, blow loud, obnoxious farts because they're funny, kick my shoes off during the symphony because they're hurting my feet, talk trash to my homeys because they deserve it, and stay up waaaay past my bedtime, reading. Because I'm youthful.

Thanks, Diana! I printed what you posted, and it resides happily in my Smile File.

Now. Your turn. Write an acrostic about yourself. Or have someone ELSE write it, and then comment on it. Go on. Brag about yourself. It's good for the soul. :)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

things to smile about

I got the funnest RAK (Random Act of Kindness) in the mail this week. Some anonymous person on my scrapbook message board sent me a t-shirt, after I'd mentioned wanting this particular one:

My Sr. Systems Analyst/Developer Nerd Hubby likes it. :)

Tonight, we took the boys to McDonald's to play, as a reward for Aidan's good behavior. When we pulled into the parking lot, I said, "Hey. That looks like Kristi's Suburban." It was! She and her family were there too! It's funny, 'cause neither of us ever go to McDonald's. Perfect - the boys played with their friends, and Darren and I chatted with ours. :)

My brother Rodney called tonight with happy, happy news. I smiled so much during that 41 minute phone call that my cheeks hurt right now.

Aidan created a birthday card this afternoon for his friend Jonathan. I didn't prompt him to do it - he just did. It's amazing. It's full of secret flaps with pictures and messages underneath. That boy is a whiz with scissors and tape!

Ian has been playing practical jokes on me all week. Yesterday, when I was in the shower, he snuck into my room, crawled beneath my sheets and lay there very, very still. When I came back in to sit on my bed and get dressed, I pulled back the comforter ('cause I didn't wanna sit on it), and he scared the bejeebies outta me. Then he laughed his HEAD off. :)

Later that day, Ian raced out to the car ahead of me and locked me out. And managed to flip every button and turn every knob to full blast before I got there. Silly boy. He giggled all the way to Aidan's school. :)

Dani's been practicing for All Region choir tryouts (this Saturday). She takes constructive criticism very well, and uses it to improve her craft. She's amazing. Hearing her sing, even in German and Latin, makes me happy. :)

I got to see a wonderful, dear friend today who I don't see nearly enough and there's really no excuse for that. She's my former boss, and I've always loved her so much. Today, it seemed like no time had passed since I last hugged her neck and laughed with her. I always feel so safe in her presence, and can be completely myself. She's one of my life cheerleaders and is one of the first people who made me believe I was talented. Truly. Seeing Sharon today made me happy. :)

Lots of people this week have told me that I'm cute. Why, THANK YOU! :)

That's all. :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

the beach

Just for clarification (after my Countdown post)...

I HAVE been to the beach.
I splashed around in the big surf at Pacific Beach in San Diego. (Big Surf because of the storms down in Mexico... which we didn't know about until the Beach Patrol came screaming across the sand, sirens blaring, telling us the beach was CLOSED due to dangerous undercurrents and to get OUT. OF. THE. WATER.)

I've been to Galveston on the Texas Gulf.

I've dipped my big toe in the frigid water near The Golden Gate Bridge. Twice.

I've touched the even MORE frigid waters of the Irish Sea, at Malahide Beach in Ireland.

I've seen the Atlantic as we drove from NYC to Boston.

I've just never taken a beach vacation.
LOVE the sounds of the beach, though. The waves crashing, the sea gulls shrieking, the sea grass rustling. I love the sights - the endless horizon, the ever-changing yet ever-constant landscape of the waves, and the contrast of sand and sky. Heck. I don't really even mind having sand on my hair and down my bra and in my crack.

It's just that I don't think the world is ready to see this bod in a swimming suit. *THAT'S* why a beach vacation doesn't appeal to me. :)

oh - and JAYCE!! You will regret the day you made that offer, 'cause I totally *WILL* take you up on it! :D

Monday, September 11, 2006

Mole = Mole

Dani's first big Chemistry test is coming up this week.
Her homework in that class is to study for the test.
But see, tonight, Dani's been way too occupied with other things: talking on the phone and IMing with her friends. Uh huh.

So at 9:30, she asks to get online again.

"Dani, have you studied?"

"Yes," she says, handing me an index card full of notes to prove it.

I look at the notes. Metric conversions.

"A litre equals..." I say.
"1.09 quarts," she responds.
"ErHHHHHH. Wrong."

"A pascal measures..."
"Uh, area?"
"ErHHHHHH. Wrong."

"A meter equals..."
".264 feet. Wait. No...."
"ErHHHHH. Wrong. You didn't study."
"No! I did! This is just hard to remember."
"You did not study."
"I did!"

"Okay. Here's proof. A mole measures..."
"Uh, wait. I know it. Hold on."
"I'm thinking! This is a hard one."
"Not according to your notes. According to your notes, a mole measures a MOLE!"
"Let me see that! Give me my notes."
"BWA HA HA HA HA HA! You weren't even paying attention to what you were writing down! You were on the phone! Or DAYDREAMING!"

Much protest ensued. Silly teenager. I'm onto her. Know why? 'Cause she gets it from The Master. ME!

Case in point:
Today, my checking account is precariously balanced between having a tiny amount of money in it and none. A quick phone call to Darren when my gas gauge hit E confirmed that at that exact moment, I could afford to put $15 in my tank.

So I pull into 7/11 and key in my PIN. Flip the lever on the 87 octane. Stick the nozzle in and lock it in place. Smile at the black man who winked at me. (I never EVER get hit on except by black men. Thank God for black men!) Ask Aidan what flavor of Slurpee he wants. (Was gonna stop at $14 and spend the extra $1 on his very hard-earned Slurpee.) Got to thinking about my client who I've been unable to reach for 5 days, and wondering if maybe she's out of town, and wondering when I can possibly get paid so my bank balance won't be so precariously perched. And then it happened. POP! My tank was full.

FULL!! I was gonna stop at $14. The pump was glowing a pretty neon $35.87.

Not only that, but I'd paid AT the pump, instead of paying in the store. Either way, Aidan would've been cheated out of his Slurpee. Sweet little man. When I confessed that I'd been a doofus and spent all my money and then some on gas and I was so, so sorry, he said very evenly, "Mom, it's okay." Almost made me cry. I so expected him to throw a fit.

I raced home and transferred money out of Dani's savings account to cover my gas. I'm tellin' ya. That kid has bailed me out more than once.

Doesn't mean I won't chap her hide, though, when she tells me she's been studying. A mole equals a mole? Come on. Even *I* pay better attention than that!

Sunday, September 10, 2006


In honor of Shuttle Atlantis, which finally blasted off yesterday, and because Cara likes it when I make lists like this, this week's blog challenge is a Countdown List. 10...9... 8... 7....

10 Things I Wanna Do Before I Die
1. Get published and paid for it
2. Wear a size 10 again
3. climb a mountain with my kids and Darren
4. take an Alaskan cruise
5. visit Italy and Greece
6. grow vegetables
7. hot air balloon ride at sunrise
8. visit Veronica and Melissa in Australia
9. spend Christmas in the mountains
10. take Dani to a Broadway show

9 Places I Last Spent Money
1. Wendy's (on drinks, this morning after singing all 4 verses of about 25 songs at Granddaddy's funeral) (Grandaddy is actually the grandad of some dear friends of ours, but we all called him that.)
2. Albertsons (groceries of course)
3. 7-11 (gas)
4. 7-11 (after school Slurpees)
5. PTA - bought wrapping paper for Aidan's school fundraiser
6. Walmart (replacement camera for Nookie)
7. Walmart (paper towels, deodorant, junk like that)
8. PayPal (for an album I needed for a client's job)
9. Post Office (mailed two packages)

8 Sounds I Routinely Hear Around My House
1. someone clacking away on the computer
2. the TV in the background
3. Dani's UIL choir tapes
4. Dani practicing for Region Choir tryouts
5. the phone ringing
6. the mail crashing through the mail slot in the front door
7. the swish of my photo trimmer
8. the creaking of old floorboards

7 Real Restaurants Where I Last Ate Out (Sonic doesn't count! lol)
1. a Mexican place in Shreveport with Cara last week
2. Macaroni Grill with Darren weekend before last
3. Pei Wei with Dani (our weekly date night)
4. Chipotle with Dani (the one time we deviated from our weekly Pei Wei)
5. Cafe Express with Jerica
6. Pappasito's with Cara and Kristi on the first day of school
7. Mi Cocina with our interns the last weekend they were here

6 Things I Scratched Off my To-Do List Recently
1. Finished a scrapbooking job
2. mailed stuff that needed to be mailed
3. filled in all of the kids' school activity dates on my calendar
4. cleaned up and organized my "favorites"
5. met with other Room Moms
6. cleaned and rerarranged the front room

5 People I Don't Know who I'd Like to Hang Out With
1. Ali Edwards, scrapbook artist/designer/all around cool gal
2. Oprah
3. Beth Moore -author and Bible teacher (she just seems like she'd be TOTALLY fun!)
4. Sting
5. some random Mom at my Room Mother meeting the other morning. She totally cracked me UP, she was all over the place, and she totally had bedhead with a bobby pin right on top. I could tell we'd be GREAT friends. LOL!

4 Songs That Make Me Happy
1. The Star-Spangled Banner
2. Soak Up The Sun -Sheryl Crow
3. Your Smiling Face -James Taylor
4. It Is Well (With My Soul)

3 Things I Hate To Do
1. Take medicine
2. Put away laundry
3. Put gas in my car

2 Things I'm Really Good At
1. expressing myself with written words
2. color and design

1 Really Bad Habit
1. I go to bed way too late!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Darren needs to borrow a gun license

Dani likes a boy.
Has since the summertime.
Last week, the conversation at The Lunch Table went like this:

Brian: I don't think anyone likes me.

Dani: What? Of course people like you. EVERYONE likes you. People are constantly passing by saying hi to you.

Brian: No, I mean GIRLS. I don't think any girls like me.

Dani: Uh, I'm sure they do. I know of someone who does.

Brian: WHO?

Dani: Well, she has brown hair.

Brian: THAT narrows it down.

Dani: Seriously. I don't think anyone likes me either.

Brian: YES they do. EVERYONE likes you.

Dani: I mean a boy.

Brian: I know someone who does. He's in the class of 2008. He's tall. He has brown hair.

Dani: THAT narrows it down to about 250 guys.

Brian: I can narrow it down to one.

That night, over a Chipotle steak burrito stuffed with black beans, rice and plenty of avocado, Dani asked me, "What do I say if Brian asks me out?"

Now see, I wasn't caught completely off guard. I saw it coming a mile and a half away. And so I was prepared with an answer for my kid who until that very day thought she'd have to wait 'til she was 15 3/4 before she could go on a date with a boy, 'cause that's how old *I* was when I was allowed my first date. With Jeff, who wore his 80s bangs combed over one eye. My Mom could not STAND Jeff because of those bangs. But oh. Back to Dani...

I answered, "You tell him you'd LOVE to go out with him, but your parents have this lame rule about having to meet him before you're allowed to go out with him."

So that's what she told him. He's coming over for dinner Friday night, this boy named Brian. I sorta already like him, and I've never even laid eyes on him. Darren, however, is having serious reservations. A BOY?


He jokingly said he'll have to buy a shotgun before Friday.

He has 4 weeks to get used to the idea, 'cause Homecoming, the DATE IN QUESTION, is only 24 days away. :)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Angel Unaware

The Bible tells us that sometimes, we might meet angels unaware. It's referring to meeting angels, and us not REALIZING that they're angels. But today, I experienced a new spin on that. I met an angel, and I knew he was one, but I don't think HE knew it.

Somewhere in far East Texas lives a man. One Labor Day afternoon, he was barreling east on I-20, keeping up with the rest of the holiday traffic, when he noticed a suburban full of women - black and white, fat and thin, worried and laughing - stranded in the median. He flew on past, but almost immediately, realized that it was against his nature not to turn around and help. And so he did.

As he pulled up beside our suburban, I said to my fellow passengers, "He's a good guy. Look. He's drinking a Dr Pepper."

"Y'all need some help?" he asked. We explained that we'd just had a blow-out and were going to try to get back across the highway to the wider shoulder on the other side. He offered to help us right there in the grassy median. We said OK.

We'd had a massive blowout on the rear driver's side. The tire was completely shredded, the blowout so sudden and so severe that it pulled our vehicle across the lane and into the ditch. Kristi did an awesome job of retaining control at the wheel.

Dennis pulled a hydraulic jack from the back of his truck and went to work jacking up the Suburban. He strained and pumped, as the car inched up ever so slightly. Finally, I said, "We are LOADED DOWN with scrapbooking stuff. Would it help if we unloaded it?" Truly, we probably had about 500 pounds of paper, metal dies, and other scrapbooking doo-dads in the back end of that car. We unloaded it all onto the grass and watched the car lift up a little on its own.

Then Dennis went to work on the lug nuts. They wouldn't budge. His crowbar began to bend under the stress. In prickly grass and lying across ground that was peppered with fire ants, he kept tugging. Nothing. He was afraid he'd break the lugnuts if he kept pulling. Meanwhile, I was taking lots of pictures. 'Cause that's what a good scrapbooker does in moments of stress and potential fun layouts. :)

Kristi and I began making phone calls. No towing companies were answering their phones on the holiday. Others were giving us busy signals. The Highway Patrol never answered. Finally, Dennis got through to someone. An hour and a half after the blow-out, we finally had someone on the way.

We told Dennis thank you. I hugged him. He was the sweetest, most unassuming guy. Melissa kept referring to him as our angel. "God sent him," she said. I know she's right.

But Dennis wouldn't leave. He sat in his truck behind us and waited. "We're fine," independant, self-sufficient Kristi and I kept saying. "You've done so much already. Thank you." He stayed. "I just can't drive off and leave you ladies sitting here," he explained. "If something happened to y'all, I'd never forgive myself."

Eventually, the tow truck arrived. The guy driving it was a little loopy, and I can say with all honestly that we were all glad Dennis was still there. When the tow-truck guy and HIS big-daddy tools were unable to loosen the lugnuts, we decided to bite the bullet and let him tow us 20 miles to the nearest open tire center - a Walmart. All 6 of us women elected to ride with Dennis rather than the tow truck guy. After all, by this time, we were old friends. (But first, we hopped aboard the tow truck for a photo op!)

On the way, Nookie noticed that Dennis had satellite radio in his truck, and she took control of the remote. We jammed to Nelly, Monica and Ray Charles on the way to Kilgore. Dennis just kept grinning. Every once in a while, he'd look in his rear-view mirror and smile. Then he said to me, "Y'all are giving me an education today." I sort of mumbled an apology about the loud music, and he said, "Nah. I listen to all sorts of music. I mean, looking back there, I see what my girls are gonna be like."

Turns out, Dennis is a daddy to three daughters, ages 7, 6 and 3 weeks. When he looked at Nookie, Nikki and Lety in the back of his Suburban, dancing and clowning and laughing, he saw his future. I think it terrified him and electrified him at the same time. We all ooohed and ahhed at the photos he shared of his babies. (The man carries a digital camera in his truck. THAT'S A GOOD DADDY. Hey Dennis! Does your wife scrapbook? We can HOOK. HER. UP!!)

Dennis dropped us off at Walmart. Thirty minutes later, the tow truck arrived. An hour and a half later - FIVE HOURS after the blowout - we were finally back on the road.

We prayed at Taco Bueno. We thanked God for sending Dennis to our rescue, for his faithfulness and protection over us, and we asked God to not hold back a single blessing from Dennis and his beautiful family.

I told Dennis that I'd be posting his picture here tonight. I hope he checks it. I hope he knows how sincerely appreciative we are. We were a bunch of goofy, giggly, photo-takin', be-boppin' girls this afternoon, making the best of a situation that could've been wrought with stress and strain. But beneath all that silliness, we were a group of blessed women. Deeply appreciative. Humbly rescued by an angel unaware.

Thank you, Dennis. Thank you.