Sunday, October 29, 2006

Blog Challenge: Scared

With Halloween upon us, tell us about a time in your life when you were scared. Shaking, screaching, frozen, trembling, crying, sick-to-your-stomach, whatever scared. Maybe you were a child, maybe you were an adult, maybe it was a nightmare, maybe it was a job interview. Whatever. You've been scared before. Tell us!


I've always been afraid of bugs. I blame it on my evil brother, David. Many times when I was between the ages of 8 and 12, he'd stick crickets and june bugs down my shirt. I'd try and try to get them out, all the while feeling their sticky, scritchy-scratchy legs against my skin. But they always had those nasty little barbs on their legs which dug into the lace of my bra and the cotton of my t-shirt, and the only way to escape the scritchiness was to rip my shirt off and go running down the garden rows, flailing my arms in the air in both fear AND fury. He laughed his head off one spring day when I walked into a curtain of tiny green tree worms in the forest. Of course, I freaked out and went running out into the tall prairie grass, flapping my arms around, slapping my head to try to get the worms out of my hair. He didn't help me; he just roared. He'd throw spiders at me, he'd lie and tell me a spider was on my back, he'd capture Daddy Long-Legs by their spindly legs and chase me with them. He'd break their legs off and put them in my hair or down my shirt. I hated David during those years.

I was 17 in the summer of 1986 when I came, literally, face to face with my fear. We were camping in the Ozarks of Arkansas, on the shores of Bull Shoals Lake. Our rustic cabin was dusty and dark and full of spider webs. Mom swept it out, but even so, I was always careful to check between the sheets for spiders before climbing into bed at night.

One night, while the rain gently pounded the tin roof, I fell into an easy slumber. I began hearing my name far, far away. "Stacy," it whispered. "Staaaccccy. Sssssttttaaaaaaaaacyyyyy." It kept whispering, in a sweet, welcoming voice, slowly bringing me out of dreamland until I was aware again that I was in the cabin. My head was nestled comfortably in the billows of my down pillow. I was lying on my right cheek. I slowly opened my eyes, and there, sitting at the tip of my nose, was a blurry blob of.... LEGS!!! A daddy long-legs spider! SITTING ON MY PILLOW, at the tip of my nose!! In the very moment I saw it, my eyes bugged out of my head and my brother fell into gales of wicked laughter. I became hysterical, leaping in one bound out of my bed and across the room, crying and carrying on and threatening to maim him and MEANING EVERY WORD of it. Mom was furious with me for making such a racket. Meanwhile, as always happened with David, he flashed his stupid little grin at Mom and didn't get in trouble at all.

I coudn't sleep well after that. I didn't trust David. I didn't trust Mom to hold him accountable. And I surely didn't trust the spiders that were lurking in every shadow. I hated that vacation. To this day, spiders scare me. I know that a Daddy Long Legs can't bite me. I don't care. I'm scared to even stomp a spider. It's a silly fear, I realize that. It's irrational. I can't help it. When I was senior in high school, just 2 months after the Pillow Incident, I was bitten by a brown recluse. I never saw the spider, but during first period , my arm began to ache, and there was red streak climbing up my arm. The school nurse wouldn't let me drive myself to the hospital. Mom had to come and get me and take me to the emergency room, where they extracted the poison and told me what had bitten me. I still have the scar, which is about the size of a match head on the inside of my arm. Knowing that a spider had crawled on me and bitten me and I didn't even know it gave me the creeps. But I gotta say... waking up with a spider at the tip of my nose takes the cake. That's the most frightened I've ever been. And what's sad? I still get mad at David when I think about it. (And he'd probably still laugh, punk that he is.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

cat solution

Bobbie's cats are in heat. WORD TO THE MOMMAS, someone better come take this little kitty away before I drop her off in the country somewhere. Bailey the Cat went into heat last week. She was vocal, but sort of dainty about it, if you can imagine such a thing. But yesterday, Sarah the Cat took HER turn, and whoa. That cat is driving me to drink. Prowling around the house, rubbing her wet, nasty rear end against my furniture and walls, utterly MISERABLE, yowling at the the top of her kitty lungs, "MRWOW. MROOOOOOW. ROWWWWLLLLLL. MRR. MrrrRRRR. ROWWWWWWlllllLL!"

I love the internet. You can learn ANYthing on the internet, in roughly 2.7 seconds.

Tonight, I googled "cat in heat"and learned how to solve the problem.

I just so happened to buy a family-size pack of 625 Q-Tips today. Hmmmmm.

Symphony - amateur review

Darren and I have season tickets to the Fort Worth Symphony. Since it's paid for ahead of time, it's like getting a free date once a month - a date for which I'm required to dress up and apply make-up. The symphony always performs at Bass Performance Hall, which is an event in and of itself, so beautiful is its architecture and so inviting its aesthetic. Dani and Brian attended a production of Romeo and Juliet this past week. I forced them to smile for the camera because I want to document Dani's first official date at Bass Hall. (Actually, Brittani took the photo!)

I'm not much of a fan of classical music. I'd much rather take in a Pink Floyd laser light show than a concerto or a symphony. Strings annoy me. I prefer bass. Even so, I enjoy the Symphony, because Darren is in his element there. Some of the most wonderful naps I've ever had were on his shoulder, in a cushy seat beneath the trompe l'oeil ceiling, with classical music droning on in the background. Last month, Darren had to nudge me awake when I moaned in my sleep!

My favorite part of each month's concert, besides our conductor, The Debonair and Gorgeously-accented Miguel Harth-Bedoya, on whom I have an enormous crush, is The Star-Spangled Banner. (Tonight, much to my dismay, we had a guest conductor. I do. not. like. guest. conductors.) As soon as the conductor takes the stage, he bows to the audience, then turns to the musicians and, as the audience stands and faces the flag, launches into the anthem. I sing. Always. I can't hear our national anthem and not sing. And I sing loudly. There's a reason for that. When I'm singing alone (and yes, I sing the Star-Spangled Banner alone), I start it real, real low so that I comfortably hit the notes at the end. At the Symphony, the song is in its intended key, and I can't hit the notes unless I'm belting them out. It's not embarassing, though, because everyone AROUND me is singing (symphony patrons are like that). I. Love. To. Sing. That. Song. Tonight, I got about 4 measures in, then stopped singing. Sitting directly behind me was a baritone. His voice SOARED. It filled the whole space of the Lower Gallery. I kept waiting for people below us to turn and look up to see from where that voice came. It was beautiful. I usually get teary-eyed singing that song, but tonight, as I listened, I heard the music more than the words, and I didn't cry. It took every ounce of willpower in me, though, to keep from turning around and gaping at him. BEAUTIFUL.

I was completely prepared to hate the first piece, Vaughn Williams' "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis", because it's written for strings alone. YAWN. Oh, but I was wrong! It was wonderful! I was mesmerized. Truly, I sat on the edge of my seat and watched the orchestra play. It's a piece I would actually consider buying and listening to at home, and maybe I SHOULD, because I designed two scrapbook layouts in my head while I listened. It was that inspiring. Darren was more surprised than I was when I actually clapped at the end.

The next piece, a 20th century work by John Corigliano, sounded like angry traffic and wailing sirens to me. UGH. It featured a classical guitarist, and I had been looking forward to hearing him. But the background noise, er, music, ruined it for me. Afterward, while standing in the ladies' room line during intermission, the hall was abuzz with commentary. "It was... strange." "It sounded like every instrument was off key." "I don't even think they were playing the same music!" In internet message board speak, a thread killer is someone who posts their two cents on a subject that's been started, and no one replies after that. Well, tonight in the ladies' room, I "killed the thread". Because after I added my comment, "It was kinda like abstract art, only in music form", no one said another word about it. *oh.*

Finally, the last piece of the night was performed: Brahms' Symphony No.2 in DMajor, Op. 73. It was pretty, it was happy, but it was tooooo long. I could've slept, but instead, I tried to be a grown-up and stay awake. Besides. The shrimp I ate at dinner was causing me some distress, and I needed to be awake to make sure I didn't conduct a symphony of my own. Ahem.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Blog Challenge: Do-over

A few years ago, Dani and I went with our friend Colleen to a free lunch-time concert by Steven Curtis Chapman. I'm a huge fan - of both his music AND his personality. I love hearing him talk almost as much as I love hearing him sing. He just seems real and honest and unpretentious. He's very family-focused, and he adores his wife.

That day in Dallas, I took one of my scrapbooks for him to autograph. I'd taken photos of him at a previous concert, and wanted him to sign the photos. They were in a layout in my album. I also wanted him to sign a layout I'd made featuring song lyrics he'd written. He signed the pages, and complimented the layouts. I rode the high from that compliment for WEEKS. WEEKS, I tell you. My friends got sick of hearing me talk about it. :)

"So, this is what... papercrafting or something?" he asked. I answered, with a giggle, "It's called SCRAPbooking."

"Ah, scrapbooking," he smiled. He was intrigued by it and asked me questions; we very briefly talked about hiring me to scrapbook for him, but it was sorta all in fun and just polite conversation on his part. I was newly "professional" and was timid about selling myself. There wasn't time to talk in detail, anyway, because the autograph line manager was giving me the hairy eyeball and people behind me were getting impatient. I kicked myself later for not having business cards printed up, and for not being prepared that day.

Now I have the cards and a website to direct him to and the complete self-confidence to talk to him about it. I want another chance! Who knows. Maybe I'd have handed him my card and he'd have dropped it on the floor behind him as he signed the next CD. But maybe he'd have slipped it in his pocket and remembered it later. Maybe maybe maybe. Now I'll never know. I want a do-over!

Saturday, October 21, 2006


This is the blog challenge I posted last Sunday. I myself didn't even complete the challenge until just this minute. See? I TOLD you I've been undisciplined!

Pick a day this week, and blog about what's going on outside and what's going on inside. I'm thinking in literal terms: outside your house and inside your house. Or outside your place of business and inside it. But if you want to get creative, feel free to blog about YOU - what's going on inside as opposed to what you're allowing the world to see on the outside.Extra points for posting photos! If you can't post photos, then do your best to illustrate with your words. Give us a clear visual of what's happening inside and out!Don't worry about your house being messy, or your outside being boring. Document a day this week, just as you're living it. Tell us about the sounds outside and the sounds inside... or what the squirrels are eating and what you're eating... or what the temp is out there and how comfy you are inside... or what needs to be done outside and what needs to be done inside.Whatever. Be creative. Just blog about inside/outside. I haven't done mine yet.

Yesterday, after I blogged, and after Elaine blogged, we challenged each other. Today, ALL DAY, we were supposed to stay away from the computer and focus on getting a specific task completed.

Mine was a 3" stack of photos that I needed to scrap.

I'm a 3" stack away from getting paid for this job and moving on to the next one. Since noon today, I've gotten about 2/3 of the way through that stack. I've scrapped 22 layouts. YAY!!!

I think our challenge inspired Darren, too, because before I even rolled out of bed this morning, he'd done two loads of laundry and made a trip to the hardware store. This afternoon, he removed the downstairs toilet to try and figure out why it hasn't flushed properly in forever. We figured it was probably a toy, but it wasn't. It was a lid. It looked suspiciously like one of the lids from Ashlie cat litter jugs. We scratched our chins and tried to figure out why a lid was jammed down in the bowels of our toilet. Could it be...

AIDAN? "Yah," he answered. At my birthday party (which was last December), I put one of my new pirate guys on it and pretended it was a boat, and then I flushed it and watched it start going down and I rescued my pirate guy, but I couldn't rescue the boat in time."

Ok, then. Mystery solved.

Meanwhile, OUTSIDE, Bobbie scubbed the pecan sap off the front porch. It's white again. YAY! This year has been horrible for pecan sap. A google search informed me that this constant fine mist of sap is caused by aphids, which don't cause harm to the trees, but DO cause big-time nasty messes for me. Grrr.

Discipline. Today, I found it again. I actually was logged on to the internet all day long. I had my favorite radio station streaming to keep me company, but I didn't abuse my logged-on status. I didn't check my favorite blogs or ScrapShare. I didn't google. I didn't even answer emails, save for one that I couldn't resist answering, and even THEN, I was only in my Inbox because I was waiting for an answer from the client whose photos I'm scrapping.

Just before I sat down to blog (which I told Elaine last night I would be doing tonight, so I'm not really cheating), I logged on the SCrapShare to copy and paste my challenge. But I did not go to any other forums. I did not open any other threads. I did not collect $200, even though I saw a thread at the very top of the forum that I REALLLLLLY wanted to open and respond to. It said, "Have you ever tried Coke Blak?" Well, yes. Yes, I have. I love coffee, and I love Coke. But never the two shall meet in my mouth again. SputterSputterNastyNastyNasty!!! The biggest waste of $2 I ever spent. I should go back to 7-11 and demand my two dollars back. Like that guy in the '80s movie "Better Off Dead": "I want my two dollars! Give me my two dollars!"

Okay. Enough dillydallying. I'm heading back to my studio now.
Thanks for the challenge, E! I can't wait to see the pics of what YOU got done! :)

Friday, October 20, 2006


For whatever reason, I've thrown all discipline to the wind lately.

For the last month, every structured thing about my life has gone kaput. Bedtime routines, morning routines, work schedule, chores, grocery shopping, meal planning, laundry.... everything. I could say it's because Bobbie and her 4 chicas (including the two cats, LOL) moved in and threw me into a whirl, but that would be a lie. I've used that as an excuse to get lazy and throw my routines out the window, but it's not the REASON I've let everything go.

I stopped taking my medicine around the same time. Go figure. What the heck is THAT about? I'm back on it, but it got ugly for a few days.

I'm far, far hehind on my job queue. I have one that should've been done a month ago. I have two more sitting here waiting to get started. I have another coming in two weeks. At this point, I'm so far behind that I feel paralyzed by it. When I DO sit down to work, it's slow going. I usually fly through the pages, but lately, it's drudgery. And then I'm unhappy with the results, which makes moving to the next page even harder.

Something has to give. I've GOT to find it in me to get back to a routine. I'm lazy. Admitting that pisses me right off! But it's true.

I need discipline. (and NO, Darren. I'm not asking for a spankin'. LOL!)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Stole this from someone else's blog:

1. What kind of shirt are you wearing? ash gray ScrapShare t-shirt

2. Would you kiss anyone on your blogroll? Darren and Ira

3. Do you have a "thing" for anyone on your blogroll?
Darren. :D

4. How many people on your top friends do you know in real life?
This must be a MySpace thing. I have a MySpace, but I only use it to get notices when Poor Rich Folk updates their blog. I think I only have 5 friends listed, plus Tom. No, I don't know Tom.

5. How many kids do you want to have?
Three. The factory is closed.

6. Do you have a good relationship with your parents?
Hoooooo. Yes. It's good as my family defines good. I wish good was different though.

7. What name would you want besides the one you have? None. I'm a Stacy through and through.

8. What did you do for your last birthday? Drove from Tahoka, Texas to a remote cabin above Pitkin, Colorado

9. What's your current ringtone on your phone? a really loud old-school phone ring.

10. What do you think when you get meme's with missing questions?
I probably don't even notice.

11. What were you doing at midnight last night? scrapworking.

12.Where is the furthest place you've ever called to talk to someone?Australia. :) Would you like a load of goats?

13. Do you like having your hair pulled?Um, NO. What kind of dumb question is THAT?

14. Name something you CANNOT wait to do? Hug Beth in person. :)

15. Last time you saw your dad?on his 60th birthday almost a month ago

16. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life?
nothing. I'm hugely blessed and soakin' up the sun.

17. What is your favorite board game?
Scrabble with just Darren, but Apples to Apples with a group

18. Do you have a pimp name? uh, hmmm. Lety's 3-year-old daughter Nivia calls me Sisty. But I don't think that counts.

19. Have you ever talked to Tom? (this survey came from My Space)
Ah ha. There ya have it. It WAS a My Space question. No, I haven't. You mean he's real?

20. What's the last thing you ate?my leftover chicken/spinach quesadillas from today's lunch. Had 'em for a midnight snack. Bad Stacy, BAD!

21. Favorite month? November - it's consistently cool outside, but not cold yet. It's the month of my much-anticipated annual Texas crop with my best internet friends. It's also the month of Thanksgiving, and the beginning of all things festive.

22. Least favourite month? August. Oppressively hot. So is June and July, but by August, I'm just really getting sick of it. And the A/C always goes on the blink in August.

23. What's the last piece of clothing you borrowed from anyone?
Huh. Must've been Sonny's BigDog shirt back when I was nursing Ian almost 5 years ago. Ian hurled all over me and thank goodness Sonny was bigger than I. Otherwise, I'd have had to finish the party topless. :)

24. Who's getting on your nerves right now?
Bobbie's cats. They're wreaking havoc all over my front room. They've knocked books and candlesticks off the mantle, 2 huge scrapbooks off the bookshelf, and a plethora of papers off the desk. Anyone want two cute black kitties?

25. Most visited webpage?
tie: and Google

26. Do you ever sleep in the nude?
Every night. This morning, Brittani knocked on my door, but I didn't hear, so she walked in and said, "Aunt Stacy, we have to leave in ten minutes." I'd forgotten I was enrolling her in school this morning, and I'd slept in. (Begged Darren to get Aidan dressed and off to school.) My first thought was, "Dear God, please let me be covered so that Brittani isn't scarred for life." I was. *sigh!*

27. What is the strangest thing you have in your purse or wallet?
a lipstick in a color I hate and never wear (Clinique Deeply Rose)

28. Last person to make you sad?
Aidan. After dealing with him and his defiant freak-out tonight, I went to my bed and cried.

29. Would you help your best friend fight if he/ she is losing?
I've never fought in my life. But yes, I guess I would. 'Cause Sunday, Darren (my BFF!) was losing to some rock-throwing, unruly kids who were being sent home early from Fortress, and my inner linebacker came out of hiding and blocked their escape attempts. Shocked me as much as it shocked them.

30. coke or pepsi?
Diet Coke. Pepsi tastes like dirt.

31. Do you have a crush?
Yes. Everytime I see him across the room, I get all melty. :)

32. Have you kissed or been kissed by anyone in the past week?
Yes. In the past hour. Sweet, slow kisses from my crush. :)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cat(s) and Mouse

Friday, Bobbie's two kitties Bailey and Sarah arrived from Tennessee. I wondered how Ashlie (our overweight, territorial, furball-hacking, bipolar cat) would handle the invasion. It didn't take long to find out. Here's how she handled it:

"Hissssssssssssssssss." Teeth bared, hair on end, ears laid back.

The first night, Bailey (the black and white one) ducked between Darren's legs and then hissed back. Hilarious. All weekend long, we'd hear hisses - the cats were laying down their ground rules. Ashlie was winning.

Bailey likes to sit on my shoulder and watch me work in my studio. Sarah likes to pounce across my desk and kick up photos in her dust. They both love to steal my tape runner.

Today, I said, "OFF THE COUNTER, CAT!" to Bailey, just before brushing her off into thin air. Ian took issue with me.

"Mom, you can't tell Bobbie's cat what to do."
"Oh yes I can."
"But you're not the boss of Bobbie's cat."
"I am when she's on my counter and Bobbie's not here."

Clearly, Ian is on the cats' side.

What prompted me to blog about the cats is that just a few minutes ago, I walked into the kitchen to put Aidan's school uniforms in the dryer. But as I entered the room, all three cats were standing at attention in front of the dishwasher. It's the first time all three of them have been that close to each other since they got here. It must be because they have a common goal. I think we have a mouse.

And I tell you the truth. As I sat here writing that last paragraph, I heard a hiss. From my desk here in the family room, I can see into the kitchen and my office. Looking into the kitchen, I saw that Bailey was on the counter and Ashlie was reading her the riot act. Another sound grabbed my attention from my left, and turning, I saw that Sarah was prowling around on my desk. I got up and took pictures.

Bobbie's cats have moved on, but Ashlie's still standing guard at the dishwasher. Good kitty! Only thing is, past experience has taught me that as soon as The Mouse makes an appearance, Ashlie will peel out on the tile, run in mid-air like a cartoon, then fly across the house and hide behind the sofa in one motion.

I can hear Sarah and Bailey laughing already.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

the week in pictures 9


The building that houses Fortress Youth Development Center and Fortress Church is surrounded by razor wire, because, YES. People do steal from churches.

Monday: DANI'S ROOM (before)
Monday was a school holiday. Dani spent the day turning this:

into this:
Tuesday: DANI'S ROOM (after)

That's Brianna on Dani's bed. She helped Dani move one of the futons from the game room into Dani's room, and Dani's twin bed into the game room. Brianna and Bobbie will share the game room; Dani and Brittani will share Dani's room. Think it'll stay this clean for long? :)


After my blog about the nasty scrapbook closet we were using, my sweet friend Beth started a super-secret fund drive for me! It was the BEST surprise. I couldn't believe someone would do such a kind and generous thing. Beth raised $300 in two days' time, which allowed me to purchase the needed supplies to build our closet. My friend JW donated his time and skill and got the closet built in 6 hours. I'll share more photos of it tomorrow after Scrapbooking Day! (Shhhh. Don't tell my ScrapShare friends. I want this to be a surprise tomorrow. bwahahahahaha)


She still wears contacts, but until her eyes heal completely, she has to wear glasses every other day. Actually, she likes them so much that she's worn them every day since she got 'em! She calls it her "I-drink-coffee-and-write-deep-poetry look".


We finally had our first cool front of the season, which meant we finally got to have our first Taco Soup of the season! We shared it with our new neighbors, who loved it so much that they came back later for seconds! :)

Saturday: LAUGHTER
Aidan snapped this shot of me laughing this afternoon. He's quite proud of it!


My former boss and good friend Sharon used to tell the best joke about a big-mouthed frog. The frog is mouthing off (with a big huge mouth) at an alligator, see, and then asks the alligator what he likes to eat. You gotta imagine Sharon stretching her mouth as wide as it would go, each word stretching bigger than the one before it. HILARIOUS. Anyway... the alligator answers, "Big mouthed frogs". At that, the frog purses his lips together and makes his mouth as tiny as possible, and says, "oh".

I often have those "oh" moments, and when I do, I never fail to purse my lips together and make a tiny little hole where the "oh" comes out.

A couple of months ago, I couldn't find my little magnifying tweezing mirror - the one I use every night - the one that's ALWAYS on my bedside table. All of a sudden, it up and disappeared. I asked Dani if she'd borrowed it, and she said no.

Last night, Brittani (Bobbie's oldest daughter) arrived from Tennessee to live with us. (For those of you who haven't followed along, Bobbie is my beloved seester and she and her youngest daughter moved in about a month ago.) I wandered into Dani's room a little while later looking for a ponytail thingy, and saw my mirror sitting there on her dressing table. WHA?? I claimed it back, marched into my bedroom and announced to Darren, "I just found my lost mirror in that bad Dani's room! She said she didn't have it. Hmpf. I'm not even gonna mention it to her; I'm just reclaiming it and she'll have to notice that it went missing."

A few minutes ago, I don't know what came over me, but I said out of the blue, "Hey DANI. Hmpf. I found my MIRROR in your ROOM last night. Hmpf."

"I thought you weren't gonna tell her," smirked Darren.

"Yah," said Dani. "Brittani brought it last night. She found it in her room when she moved out. She thought it was mine. I said, 'No, it's my Mom's.' So you must've left it in her room when we visited this summer."


Friday, October 13, 2006

positive spins

You know what I love about my kids, and mostly, kids in general?

They see the positive in everything.

Case in point:
A few minutes ago, driving down the road, Aidan asked what happened to my old van. I explained that the place where Dad bought my new car gave him a little bit of money for it, so he let them have it.

"Why only a little bit?" asked Aidan.
"Because it was falling apart and didn't have an air conditioner," I answered.

Ian piped up and said, "Well. Someone who doesn't like AIR conditioners can just buy our old van!"

hee hee heeeeee. Yes. Seein' the positive in the little things. So many adults jump immediately to negative conclusions. They thrive on adversity and negativity. This morning, I'd had my fill of that attitude. This afternoon, it's a distant memory. Oh to be childlike again!


I picked Dani up from school a little while ago. When I pulled up, she and a handful of friends came bouncing out to the car.
"Hi, DANI's MOM!" they cheered.
"Hi Henri! Hi Aneisha! Hi Kathleen!" I smiled back.
I gotta say, I love Dani's friends. And that's BEFORE Dani told me on the way home, "When you pulled up, Henri said, 'Hey, let's go out and say hi. Dani's Mom is COOL!'"

Yep. Today, I am lovin' kids of all shapes and sizes. :D

Go forth and find positivity, even in the little things! :D

word nerds

We are a family of word nerds. You don't know how PROUD that makes me! :D

Tonight at dinner, we sat around calling out words for Aidan to sound out and spell. Even Ian got into it and finished spelling words when Aidan took too long. Afterwards, Dani and Aidan settled down to do some homework. DANI's homework. For one of her English classes, she had to write and illustrate a children's book. She wrote it, and told Aidan what to draw. I loved watching them work together. Aidan couldn't WAIT to help his Sissy write a book; they'd been talking about it and planning it all week.

For Aidan, Ian and Brianna's bedtime story, Dani read "Thomas and the Giraffe". :)

Darren is my biggest blog champion. He encourages me to write daily, and always has. Everytime I write something really personal or honest, I wake up the next morning saying, "Oh NO. Did I really blog that? I need to go delete it....". But Darren always talks me into letting it stay. (And I'm always glad later.) He checks my blog every morning, and though he doesn't often leave public comments, he almost always calls me from work to chat about what I've written. I love him for championing me.

Yesterday, when he walked in the door, he said, "You'll never believe what I did today." I couldn't imagine. I've learned that Darren CAN surprise me, so I really didn't know what to begin guessing. "I started a blog!" he said with a grin.

"YOU???" I laughed.

He was right. I couldn't believe it. Darren is an intensely private guy. (Which is why I'm always so surprised that he's okay with the things I blog about. I guess I shouldn't be. He got used to my diarrhea of the mouth a long time ago.) He's very shy and doesn't easily open up to people. So a blog? Yah. That's a big deal. It's so unlike him.

Or so I thought until I read the first entry. No. I was wrong. This is JUST like Darren. He isn't writing it for him. I mean, he IS. But he's just as honestly writing it for others. He hopes that his sincerity about his struggles and joys will encourage others who are on a similar path. He asks his readers to hold him accountable. I will do that for him. Check in on him occasionally. He'd be honored. :)

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I happened to be up at Fortress Youth Development Center today when one of my favorite kids walked in.

It was 12 o'clock in the afternoon. He should've been at school.

We have a hard and fast rule at Fortress. Kids are only allowed to participate in our after school Literacy Lab if they've spent the day at school. Truants and skippers aren't welcome; you must earn your admittance to Fortress Literacy Center by demonstrating dependability, commitment and an honest work ethic.

So when Diondre walked through the doors today, we were surprised. He never misses school. Diondre is one of our most conscientious kids. He's honest and dependable and is growing into a leadership role among his peers.

Turns out, he had TRIED to go to school. His morning got off to a bad start when he woke late and missed the bus. So he set off walking. He walked and walked and walked, a long way. He arrived at his high school after the 2nd period attendance had already been taken. Because of that, he was turned away at the door and refused admittance to the school.

So he turned around and walked again. And walked. And walked. And walked even further and landed at the doors of Fortress.

Here's the deal. Since Diondre wasn't in his seat in 2nd period, the state didn't have to pay a nickel for his attendance. And because of that, the school decided it didn't have to mess with him for the rest of the day. That's just wrong. WRONG. They'd have let him in with a tardy excuse, but guess what? Diondre doesn't have a Mom who will write him one. He has a Mom. Just not a Mom who cares enough.

He wanted to attend school today. He wanted it badly enough to walk miles and miles for it. When he finally arrived at Fortress, he was beaten down. His school doesn't care about education. It cares about education dollars. And that made me mad today.

Sometimes, even the best-placed rules need to be broken. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that warrant special consideration. Sometimes, there's a bigger picture that we ought to step back and take a look at.

Today, the bigger picture was that Diondre did the best he could. He's not chronically tardy. He's one of the GOOD kids. You'd think an inner city school that struggles to FIND good kids would bend over backwards to hang on to the ones they've got.

Thank God for Fortress. When Diondre had nowhere to go, he came there. There were untold attractions and deceptions and temptations along the way. Seriously. I dare YOU to walk the streets that he walked today. But he kept his eye on Fortress, and showed up at our door. That's why we're there. I feel blessed to have witnessed that today.


Monday, October 09, 2006

word to the mommas

We painted. And painted. All day Saturday (with a crew of 20 or so), most of Sunday afternoon (just a handful of us), and this morning (just 4 of us). We're still not finished. But boy have we had FUN! The building is looking FINE! My camera batteries croaked before I had a chance to take any "after" pics, so those will have to come later. You'll have to trust me, though. It is lookin' GOOOOOOOOD!

And word to the Mommas! Let me tell you what I learned yesterday.

I was sitting on the second level of some scaffolding, painting the lower windows. Kristi was standing on a ladder up on the third level of said scaffolding, painting the 2nd story windows. She asked me to move very carefully, or to warn her, because her ladder went to shaking like Candlestick during the Loma Prieta everytime I moved. So. Instead of getting up off my hind-quarters to move down to the other end of the scaffolding, I decided to schooch across instead. I was being ever so careful. All of a sudden, "YOWWWWWWWIE!" I scooched a whole gaggle of splinters up into my pantiloons. Mercy. That was hurty.

Kristi's 14-year-old son was on the scaffolding with me. I stood up and tried to nonchalantly pull the splinters from my butt. No can do.

"Andrew," I said. "I'm sorry to inform you that I'm about to put my hand down my pants 'cause I just splintered up my bohiney. You might wanna turn around." He did. I stood there, 8 feet up on scaffolding, on the service road of one of the busiest highways in North Texas, and tried to pick splinters out of my backside. I got one. There were more. They were starting to sting. I was in agony.

So I climbed down and demanded of Darren, "Come with me. I need your help."

In the bathroom, I dropped my drawers and stuck my rear out. The splinters were not on my backside. They were on my underside. Imagine with me, if you will. You're sitting on a piece of weathered lumber. Your feet are out in front of you. You scooch along on your butt. What part of your butt, exactly, is making contact with the lumber? Yah. That part. Very private.

"You'll have to bend over more," Darren said. I complied.

"More," he ordered. I complied again.

As I bent, my body did this really weird bellows kind of thing, and all of a sudden, air went whooshing through my intestines and out my blowhole. Right into Darren's face. He yelped and jumped back, disgusted. I laughed, of course. It was an accident, I swear. But it was funnnnnneeeeee.

Brave Darren didn't leave me hanging, though. He braved the elements one more time and plunked a splinter the size of a sapling out of my undercarriage. Yowwwwwieeeeee!

So, word to the mommas. Do not EVER scooch across scaffolding. No. Instead, take however many leaden steps you must, even if it means knocking your best bud off her ladder. Just do it.

Thank goodness Darren was there, though, fo' real, y'all. Otherwise, sweet little Andrew would've been scarred. fo'. LIFE.

Sorry. No pictures. :)

Blog Challenge: Desert Island Books

Thanks to jtc for posting this question on ScrapShare and inspiring this week's blog challenge!
"If you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you want to have with you?" My challenge to you is to answer that question, and then answer these as well: Why those three books? And what are your favorite quotes from those books?

1. The Little Prince by Antoine St. Exupery. I first read this book in 11th grade, I think, but it could've been 12th. It was on the "library bookshelf" in my French class, and I checked it out. It was love at first read. I soon bought my own copy and have read it dozens of times since. When Dani was little, I read it to her, and she now owns her own copy. When Darren and I went to Paris in 2001, Dani was 10 years old. She asked for a souvenir. Not a miniature Eiffel Tower or a tshirt or any other silly thing, no - she asked for a copy of The Little Prince in French. And so she got it. :) It's a beautiful story that reveals the deepest truths using the simplest words. It's bittersweet and heartwarming at the same time; everytime I read it, I take life slower for a few days, and I notice the flowers. My favorite quote from the book:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.


"What makes the desert beautiful," says the little prince, "is that somewhere it hides a well."

2. Sacajawea. I've always been a voracious reader. When I was little, I'd get in trouble for reading after bedtime. But I wouldn't be stopped. I remember crawling under my covers and holding a flashlight flat to the page, only being able to read a few words at a time as I moved the flashlight back and forth, left to right, across the pages. It's no wonder my eyesight it so bad! My parents are avid readers, too, but that wasn't always so.

I remember the first book my Mom read for fun. I don't know what made her pick it up, but it was at the grocery store. I remember that. It was HUGE. 1400 pages. In paperback. She read it late into the night for weeks. After that, she couldn't stop. She read. And read. And read. Soon, she talked my Dad into reading Sacajawea. The thing about my Dad is, he's a DOER. He's always busy - working, puttering, fixing, doing. He thought sitting and reading would drive him crazy. But this Sacajawea book interested him. (Dad's always been a history buff.) He began reading it at night after crawling into bed, and when he finished its 1400 pages, he was hooked on reading, too.

Both Mom and Dad read more than I do these days. They buy books by the dozen at garage sales, and then resale them once they've read them. They're members of several book clubs. They read when they go camping, which cracks me up. They read on the back porch. They read in bed. Mom ALWAYS has a book splayed open on the chair next to her recliner. The funny thing is, I remember THEM reading the book, and I always thought I'd read it myself someday. I still haven't done that. That's why I'd choose it as one of my desert island picks.

3. The Bible. I know that sounds trite, but let me elaborate. I want a parallel Bible - one with a modern English translation alongside the original Hebrew and Greek. I'd want to spend time studying what phrases and words mean in their original language, because sometimes the deeper meaning is totally lost in our modern translations. It's a sad thing to admit, but I don't have "time" to read the Bible. I mean, SURE. I read it when I'm looking for something or seeking advice, or when I'm doing a specific Bible study. But just for pleasure? No. I don't go to the Bible. I often stand in front of my packed bookshelves and mutter, "I need a new book. There's nothing here to read." When right there in front of me is the greatest book of all time. WHY do I not pick it up and delve in? Why why why?

I can't choose a favorite quote from the Bible. But I can most definitely choose a favorite passage. It's all of Romans 8. I was baptized at the age of 12, and my mind understood what I was doing. Even my heart had an idea of what it all meant. But my true conversion didn't happen until I was 21. I was sitting on a twin bed in the poorly lit bedroom of a dingy apartment in Denton, Texas. I read Romans 8, and though I'd read it before, it was that night that I finally understood what mercy and grace and HOPE meant. It was that night that I realized that my life was not bounded by rules and regulations and punishments and fear, but rather, set free by grace and mercy and hope and life. LIFE. That night, I began living. I long for that peace again. I long for the hot tears and the soft heart and the pierced soul that understanding afforded me all those years ago. I long for a deserted island, and The Book. And yes... now that I think of it, I *do* have a favorite quote from it:

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I'm off to bed. I wonder what I'll read tonight....

Saturday, October 07, 2006

28 & Fortress YDC

Today was a (deserved) happy face day!

After school, I explained the game to Aidan, and told him to pick a number between 1 and 28 (the number of comments as of the time I left the house to go get him), and to write it big on a sheet of paper. I should've guessed what he'd pick.

"I'll pick the BIGGEST number," he said.

Congratulations, Dawn!! :) Email me your address and I'll get the beans out Monday. :)


In other news... we at Fortress are gearing up for our 10-year Anniversary & Homecoming in about 6 weeks. One of the things we wanted to accomplish before the big event is painting our building. Cara, Kristi and I picked out the colors a couple of months ago, and tomorrow, we have volunteers who are coming to help us paint! I swung by the building this afternoon to grab one last "before" picture, and caught Michael up on a lift taping off the windows in preparation for the paint.

Michael Thames is the Exectutive Director of Fortress Youth Development Center. You know, he doesn't HAVE to be up there. He could've easily passed the job off to one of the employees or volunteers. But he didn't. He spends as much time getting down and dirty at Fortress as he does doing Executive-Directory-type things. (Maybe more time.) He takes time to shuttle kids around, to counsel kids who want advice, to befriend kids who need a mentor, to attend funerals with kids who've lost cousins or uncles or grannies. Michael is passionate about inner city ministry and the kids we reach there. He meets with high-dollar-muckety mucks and powerful community volunteers and various boards. He speaks at City Council meetings and teaches Bible classes and participates in a men's accountabilty group. Most of that is done in slacks and a tie. But where Michael's most comfortable is here - in the trenches. Being a servant. Making a difference with his own two hands and with his heart for inner city kids. His passion and endurance is one of the reasons *I'm* at Fortress. He encourages me without even realizing it.

Michael is an inspiration to me. He lives it when so many people just talk it or throw money at it. I'm proud to call him my friend. Michael doesn't read blogs, but just in case Cara makes him read this one... I love you, Cuz-o! :)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sad Face

Well, swell. Aidan got in trouble this evening and his punishment was to go straight to bed. Do not pass go, do not get a bedtime story, do not choose a number for Mom. So we don't have a winner yet. I'll let him pick tomorrow. What that means for YOU is, more chances to win a 6-pack of beans! There's still time to comment!

Aidan's Kindergarten teacher has a discipline system that's very easy to follow: if there's a happy face drawn on the calendar in his Everyday Folder, it means he followed the rules and was a good citizen in class that day. If there's a sad face there, well... not so much.

Yesterday, bless his punkin heart, Aidan got a smiley face. "It was suppposed to be a SAD face, but Mrs. Flores forgot," he admitted. Gotta love the honesty.

"Why, Aidan? Why did you deserve a sad face?"

"Because I wouldn't walk in the hall. I would only crawl."

"What?? Why on earth?"

"'Cause I was just too tired."

I gave him a mini-lecture about how he needs to not be caught GIGGLING and talking to Ian 30 minutes after we tuck him in... but I didn't punish him. After all, he volunteered the information, and it WAS a sorta small crime. Then I noticed his pants.


He stuck out his bottom lip immediately and bowed his head. He's so cute when he does that. But yesterday, while peering into the gaping hole in his brand-stinkin' new khakis, cute didn't do anything but piss me off.

"WHY?? AIDAN LANE KOCUR!! What are you thinking? Those are BRAND NEW PANTS!! Are you supposed to cut your pants?"


"What are you supposed to cut???"

"Only paper that I'm allowed to cut."

"I can't believe this, Aidan. You KNOW better."

"I made a bad choice."

"I tell you what. The very next time you make a bad choice and abuse your art supplies, you'll be grounded from art. That means at home AND at school. NO DRAWING ON THINGS YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO DRAW ON, and no CUTTING YOUR PANTS!! Do you understand me??"

"You can't ground me at school."

"Oh YES, I CAN, Mr. Buster. I'll talk to Mrs. F and she'll know that you're not allowed to have scissors at school."

"Mrs. F isn't my art teacher."

"Well, I'll talk to you art teacher, too."

"You don't know where her room is."

"It's by the auditorium. I DO know where it is and I WILL talk to her and you WILL be grounded from scissors at school. We're not discussing this, Aidan. Hush it."

"Hmpf. I cut my pants yesterday, too. And the day before that, too," he said defiantly.


It was at that point that my head began to explode and Darren took over.

So you see, he deserved sad faces all week long. His teacher has been too lenient. We told him in no uncertain terms that today had better be a happy face day, or ELSE.

Today, for the first time all year, he didn't race to greet me with a hug after school. I had to search him out.

"Aidan, what's wrong?" I asked.

He pouted that bottom lip and hung his head. Cutie pie punk kid that he is.

"Did you get a sad face?" I demanded. It's only his third (actual) one of the year. But I'm mean. Sad faces on his calendar are not permissible. "WHY?"

"I threw a rock and it hit Thomas in the head BUT I WAS TRYING TO THROW IT OVER HIS HEAD AND I DIDN"T MEAN TO HIT HIM IT WAS AN ACCIDENT! And MOM, (Cara will love this) Tristan made me think of it!" I really, really like Erica, Thomas' mom. I hope she doesn't hate me now.

So. Aidan was already in trouble for throwing rocks and busting Thomas in the head. At dinner, he threw a huge temper tantrum and refused to eat his green beans. He wanted more bread, but when told that he couldn't have anymore until he ate the beans, he FREAKED. OUT.

Darren gave him one change to cool it, and Aidan answered by stomping his feet on his chair. Off to beddy bye he went. Do not pass go. Do not beat his butt with his cute little braided leather belt. Do not scream your head off like a banshee. Just tuck him in bed and walk out of the room and count to ten. Or twenty. Or one hundred and fifty-seven.

Cara tells me she doesn't think my kids misbehave, because she never sees it. Too bad she hasn't been here THIS week. Have mercy.

50,000 and Ranch Style Beans

It's October! So why, pray tell, was I sweating BULLETS a couple of hours ago? I'll tell you: I was unloading groceries from the car and bringing them into the house. It's still HOT outside! 83 degrees at midnight. On October 5th. That ain't right! As my friend Roger said the other day, "I like summer. I just don't like it again. And again."

But. It's October! That means that even though tomorrow's forecasted high is 94 degrees, we could very well see a drop of 40 to 50 degrees sometime this month. Which, my friends, means that it's TACO SOUP TIME!!!

YumMY. I bought the ingredients tonight, 'cause it'll happen this month. We'll get a cold front that cools us down enough (at least for a few days, before summer returns for one last hurrah) to enjoy a dinner of scrumdillyumptious Taco Soup. My mouth is already watering. I can't wait. I've been waiting for this, my favorite wintertime meal, since sometime last March when I last made it. See, you just can't eat Taco Soup when it's hot. It's against the law. Come on, cold front! :)

I think it's hilarious that this simple little recipe has made me famous on my scrapbooking board. Seriously. Years of sharing layouts and scrapbooking tips and giving advice and being my sunshiny self... and what I get remembered for is a recipe that involves opening a bunch of cans and dumping them in a pot. ROFL! Seriously. This recipe has a life of its own! People I've never met get my number from Information, then call long-distance to tell me that their families love it. People text each other to get the ingredients when they're grocery shopping. It's Taco SOUP, people. Go forth and EAT SOME. It's OCTOBER! :D :D

In other news, I noticed a couple of weeks ago that my hit counter was nearing 50,000. (It's kinda cool, 'cause I installed the counter almost exactly a year ago, on October 7, 2005.) I thought about having a Blogger party to celebrate the milestone, but then worried that y'all would think I'm a dork. Today, my friend Desiree called and totally encouraged me to do it! Then my friend Colleen and I spent the afternoon together and SHE agreed that it was a neat idea. So, on Desiree's suggestion, here's the deal:

Tell me which of my blog entries you enjoyed the most. It'll feed my ego. Maybe it'll keep me from turning into Jack in the Box tomorrow like I did tonight on my way home from the grockery store but at the last second I regained control of my mind and totally drove right through the drive-thru without stopping and I'm sure the order-taker girl thought I was insane and she'd be right 'cause I had $83 worth of groceries in the backseat and why did I need a Sourdough Jack at midnight ANYWAY but I digress.

Taco Soup calls for Ranch Style Beans.
Ranch Style Beans are made right here in Fort Worth.
I've heard that they're hard to find outside of Texas, and downright impossible to find in the northeast.

Tomorrow night, I'll ask Aidan to pick a number between 0 and however many comments there are, and that person will receive a 6-pack of RANCH STYLE BEANS! Woo Hoo! Who would pass THAT deal up?

Crack. Me. Up. :D

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

a work of (he)art

Aidan loves to create art.

Since he was little bitty, he's always begged for pens and paper. He went through so much of it that I taught him how to use free drawing/painting software online when he was 3 or 4, and then had to limit him to one printout per day. Now he begs for scissors and glue and markers.

He's currently grounded (AGAIN) from crayons and markers. I just about blew a gasket (AGAIN) and knocked his block off (AGAIN) when he said (AGAIN), "Mom. I just drew on the furniture. I forgot. (AGAIN) I'm sorry."

Most of the time, his art makes me happy. Every day, he brings artwork home from Kindergarten. I hang it in "the gallery" in our kitchen, and that makes him happy. (Which makes ME happy. But I'll stop now before you start puking.) He almost always writes "I (heart) Mom" on his drawings. Today, he brought home two new pieces. (hanging on each end of the gallery)

I looked for the familiar message, and was surprised to see he had changed it up a bit. Each picture bore the word M-O-M-E. I looked down at him, and was staring up at me with his little hands behind his back, with the sweetest little half smile on his adorable face. You know the kind of smile I mean: the tight-lipped, quivering, biting-the-inside-of-your-cheek-to-keep-your-face-from-exploding because you don't want to appear too proud or eager kind of smile.

"Aidan. I love it!" I exclaimed.

"It says 'I love you Mommy'".

As I scooped him up into a big squeezy hug, I answered, "I KNOW. I SAW that!"

"But Mommy, it says MOMMY. Not MOM."

"I know, Aidan. You are AMAZING! I love that you wrote Mommy!"

He was so proud.
Me too.

I love that kid. I love him I love him I love him.

Even when he draws on the furniture.

And can I just say that this is AMAZING?? I think I'm gonna frame it and keep it on the wall fo evuh and evuh. :)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Blog Challenge: Without Consequences

Every Sunday, I host a blog challenge on the scrapbooking board that I'm an active participant on.
Up 'til now, I haven't been including the challenge as part of my Sunday blog entry, but in answer to recent requests to do so, I'll start doing that this week. Play along if you want, or just read. :)

Q: If you could live one day without consequences, what would you do? Would you get a tattoo just to see what it was like? Would you skip work or school and sleep all day? Would you have a one-night-stand, or would you buy a yacht, or would you tell your parents what you REALLY think of them? If you could live one day without consequences, what would you do?

A: I'd spend a LOT of money. I'd break out the ol' emergency credit card, wipe the dust off of it, and at midnight, I'd invite all of my Fortress girlfriends and all of their daughters and all of the Fortress singles to join me at a swanky downtown hotel, where we'd all have adjoining suites. The next morning, we'd order room service, go for pedicures, and then spend the morning buying out the local scrapbook stores.

We'd lunch at a tea room somewhere, and then we'd go to Dallas and spend a load of scratch at Sam Moon, buying fun purses and jewelry.

After that, we'd disperse, 'cause I'd need to take Cara with me to Home Depot, where we'd completely redesign my kitchen and order every single thing we'd need for its remodeling, including the cost of having it professionally installed.

From there, we'd meet our hubbies for dinner, along with the Carmans and the Castellanos and Bobbie, and we'd all pig out at Reata downtown, and then retire to the rooftop grotto for drinks and cigars.

I'd tank up everyone's cars on the way home, and I'd buy fresh flowers for my kitchen table, then I'd come home, take a whiff of my super-clean house that I'd hired a maid service to detail for me while I was out spending and playing... and then I'd slip into my freshly washed super-high-thread-count-Egyptian-cotton sheets that I had delivered from the swankly linen shop down the street. And then I'd sleep peacefully. 'Cause after all... no consequences, right? :)


Dani and I have an open, wonderfully honest relationship. Truly, sometimes she answers my questions and/or volunteers information so freely that I sit back and think, "Wow. I've done something right. This isn't normal for a teenage girl."

What I've done is foster honesty between us. She knows that above ALL ELSE IN THE WORLD, I value honesty the most. I've always been honest with her. She's known for forever that she was conceived before her Dad and I were married. It was a mistake *I* made, but I wanted her to know that even though I'd been irresponsible, her birth and me being her Mother was no accident. It wasn't part of my life plan at the time, but God blessed us and made it part of His perfect plan anyway. I never wanted her to be ashamed of it or think the subject was taboo. And so I've always just been open about it. That, really, has been the basis of our relationship - pure, open, uninhibited honesty.

When she was little, she learned early on that telling the truth was MUCH better than trying to get out of trouble with a lie. Even little lies are unacceptable. Sometimes, when she simply told the truth, she didn't even get punished for whatever crime she'd done. She learned to value honesty and fairness, and she learned to follow the rules even when no one was looking.

One day when she was five, we had a photo shoot at the Botanic Gardens. Posted all over were signs that read, "Stay off the grass." As I snapped away, I noticed a PERFECT spot for the PERFECT photo. It was on a stone path next to a gigantic oak tree.

"Stand closer, Dani," I coaxed. She inched ever so slightly closer.
"Lean against the the tree." She barely moved.
"Come on, Dani, just stand in the grass so you can be right up against the tree."

She lowered her eyes and looked at me out of the top of them.
"Mom. You know we're not supposed to stand in the grass."

That was the worst spankin' I'd ever received. And it was at the hands of my five-year old daughter.

Last night was the Homecoming Dance. I dropped Dani and Brian off at 8:00. Another Mom was scheduled to pick them up at midnight and drop them off at IHOP for a post-dance dinner with a group of friends. I was supposed to pick them up there at 1:00.

Somewhere during the evening, Bobbie (my sister) and I hatched a wonderfully fun plan. We'd get to IHOP early and take photos! We made sure we were seated so that we'd be able to see them when they arrived. Darren warned me that Dani would be mortified. I was adamant that she would NOT be. She's a cool kid. She'd think it was a riot if her Mom and Aunt showed up at IHOP. We just have that kind of relationship. I was sure of it.

While I drank my decaf coffee, I started getting nervous, and completely doubted myself. WOULD she be mad? Would I embarrass her? I asked for menus so that we could hide behind them when Dani came in the door.

And hide behind them we did. But Dani saw us anyway, and waved. (Turns out, she and her friends were seated in the booth directly behind me. I couldn't have hidden from her if I'd wanted to!)

"What are you doing here???" she asked. "Are you HIDING from me??"

"Oh GOSH, Dani," I stammered. "We thought you were going to Denny's! I can't believe you're here at IHOP!"

Her friends were all saying, "Yah, right. Uh-huh."

Dani thought it was hilarious. I snapped a photo and then Bobbie and I left.

This morning, as I was telling the story to friends at church, Darren overheard and said, "Stace? Did you lie to our daughter?" I sheepishly admitted that I had. The guilt had already been festering, but now it was about to burst. I went to Dani and confessed.

"WHAT?" she exclaimed. "You lied to me?? You DID know we were at IHOP?"

"Yes, Dani. I'm sorry. I lied. We knew."

"Mom? You LIED to me? All my friends asked me, 'Did your Mom really think you'd be at Denny's?'... and I said, 'Oh yah. My Mom would never lie to me.'"

I just about broke down in tears when she told me that this morning. Don't punish me anymore. That's about all I can take right there.

Later, at home, Dani was cleaning the kitchen when I walked in and said, "Dani, I'm so sorry. I've always taught you to be completely honest with me, and now I'm the one who was dishonest with you. Forgive me. I made a stupid decision."

"Mom. If you had a good reason, I might understand it. But there was NO reason to lie. You just LIED. For no reason! I don't get it. I don't get why you had to lie."

"I was afraid I'd embarrass you in front of your friends. I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have ever lied about it. I made a bad choice, and there's no excuse for it."

"Seriously? You thought I'd be embarrassed? You could've just said, "Hey! I came to take some pictures!"... and I'd have been like, "Hey! Cool! Okay, guys... my Mom's taking pictures. Say cheese!"

I groveled a little more, and she said, "You're teaching me how to act when I DO tell a lie. You're teaching me to admit it and not make excuses for it. You're still teaching me honesty. Now. Finish cleaning this kitchen and it'll all be forgiven."

"You're PUNISHING ME?" I laughed.

"Yep," she answered as she walked out of the room.

Darren smiled at me from across the hall and said, "I think you're getting off easy."

Yah. Now if my guilt-ridden heart would only let me off the hook.

I do value honesty above all else. ALL else.
So does Dani.
Weird thing, having the roles reversed on you like that. Happened when she was five, and now when she's fifteen. I'm afraid for what dumb mistake I'm gonna get spanked for when she's 25!

I'm the luckiest Mom ever. I have a daughter who trusts me with her life, her secrets, her passions, her fears, her questions. And today, I learned that she also trusts me with her expectations of me, her honest opinion of me, and her disapproval of my actions. That's a lot. There are STILL very few people in my life whom I trust with those types of things. I thank God that Dani trusts me enough to be honest with me. I still don't think that's normal for a teenage girl.