Saturday, June 30, 2007

Songs for your Beautiful Boy - a playlist

Our friends and neighbors, Justin and Luann, just had their first baby. I haven't even met him yet (later today!), but I've been adding to his playlist for the last month or so. (ANY excuse to buy more tunes, and any excuse to make a playlist, I always say!) Most of the songs weren't written with babies in mind, but if you listen to the lyrics and imagine babies, some of 'em will make you cry. I promise. :) I hope the CD brings the new Mommy and Daddy some company during those long, please-go-to-sleep-why-won't-you-sleep nights, and some laughs and impromptu dancing during the daylight hours. Welcome Home, baby Mattson!

  1. Beautiful Boy (Ben Harper). I've always loved John Lennon's song, written for his son Sean. Here it is, newly remade and included on the newly released "Instant Karma: The Campaign To Save Darfur". It's first because it makes a great CD title. :)
  2. Blessed (Elton John). I always forget how much I love Elton John until I listen to him sing again. "I promise you that. I promise you that. I promise you that you'll be blessed." Sweet sweet sweet!
  3. Forever Young (Rod Stewart). I blogged about this one several weeks ago. (click here.)
  4. You Are So Beautiful (Joe Cocker). There've been other versions, but Joe Cocker's remains my favorite, and probably always will. There's something about that raggedy voice, the wavering high note at the end... ahh. Today while listening to it as I burned the CD, tears welled up in my eyes and I forced Ian into a prolonged hug. "You're everything I hoped for. You're everything I need." I've always called (huge surprise baby) Ian my serendipity baby, because I didn't KNOW he was everything I'd hoped for until I had him.
  5. Can't Get Enough of You Baby (Smash Mouth). Here we go, time to ratchet the energy up a notch and DANCE! And ya gotta love those baby kisses!
  6. Stay Up Late (Talking Heads). You know, I spent the bulk of my teen years listening to and singing along with Stay Up Late and other songs of its genre without even paying attention to what the lyrics were saying. "Mommy had. a little baby. There he is. fast asleep. He's just. a little plaything. Why not. wake him up?" This song is included because it's just plain fun to listen to, but also to remind Justin and Luann of this bit of wisdom: NEVER wake a sleeping baby! No matter how precious he looks... no matter how badly you want to kiss his perfect little lips.... no matter no matter no matter. Don't do it! :)
  7. For Baby (John Denver). Make fun of me if you must, but I love me some John Denver. It's my Mom's fault, and though I haven't admitted to HER how much her taste in sappy mountain music rubbed off on me, it's true. This playlist would be incomplete without the beautiful (yet sometimes dorky... "I'll sing you the songs of the rainbow"????) lyrics of For Baby.
  8. Sweet Child O' Mine (Guns 'n Roses). I once attended an Aerosmith concert and totally blew off the opening band 'cause I'd never heard of them. Several months later, they hit the bigtime and I realized that I'd blown off Guns 'n Roses! Dani laughed at me earlier when I got all verklempt during this line: "I hate to look into those eyes And see an ounce of pain." Hmpf.
  9. Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You (Frankie Valli). If you're a parent and you've never felt THIS way about your baby, well, you're lying. :) "You're just too good to be true- Can't take my eyes off of you -You'd be like heaven to touch- I wanna hold you so much"
  10. I'll Be There (Jackson 5). "I'll reach out my hand to you, I'll have faith in all you do. Just call my name and I'll be there." Michael was only eleven years old when he recorded this song. No one ever said the boy couldn't sing.
  11. Maybe I'm Amazed (Jem). Love the original by Paul McCartney... it's one of my favorite love songs, along with "I Will", which also happens to be penned by Sir Paul. This cover is sweet enough, though. I remember being amazed by how much having a baby changed me. Maybe I'm still amazed.
  12. (I Can't Help) Falling in Love With You (Elvis Presley). Really. Do I need to say anything more?
  13. You Are the Sunshine of My Life (Stevie Wonder). I was all set to include Stevie's "Isn't She Lovely" on here, but then Chancho went and turned out to be a boy after all. It's alright. Little Chancho aka Mattson will surely be the Sunshine of My Life and the Apple of My Eye to his mom and dad.
  14. Dream Baby (Hootie and the Blowfish). I had a hard time deciding whether to include Roy Orbison's original, or this remake. In the end, I decided I had enough old stuff, so I went with Hootie. This song is begging, SWEET DREAMS, BABY. SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP!!!
  15. Arms Wide Open (Creed). "Welcome to this place, I'll show you everything With arms wide open ." Such a cool song written by a soon-to-be Daddy.
  16. Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. I don't know why this is here, except that I think it's funny. :)
  17. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You (Rod Stewart). "You fill my heart with gladness Take away all my sadness Ease my troubles, that's what you do."
  18. Your Smiling Face (James Taylor). This one's for Justin. "Isn't it amazing a man like me Can feel this way..." There's nothing like a baby's first smile. Doesn't even matter if it's gas-induced or not. :D
  19. Song Sung Blue (Neil Diamond). This one's for Luann. I pray that you don't hit the roadblock of PPD. But the blues are pretty much inevitable every now and then. When they hit, just sing this to Mattson: "Me and you are subject to the blues now and then. But when you take the blues and make a song, you sing them out again." If that doesn't work, look our your window and call me. :)
  20. Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen). Mattson IS the crazy little thing. "This (this thing) called love(called love)It cries (like a baby) In a cradle all night. It swings (woo woo) It jives (woo woo) It shakes all over like a jelly fish. I kinda like it. Crazy little thing called love."
  21. Give A Little Bit (Goo Goo Dolls). Aw MAN. I meant to put SuperTramp's version on here, but it's Goo Goo Dolls instead. Ah well. Good enough. :)
  22. The Prayer (Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli). THIS SONG ISN'T ON THE CD, but I wish it was! I didn't think to include it until it was too late. What parent doesn't need THESE words sung over them? "I pray you'll be our eyes, and watch us where we go. And help us to be wise in times when we dont know." Beautiful beautiful song, and I don't even like Celine Dion, as a general rule.

We can't wait to watch baby Mattson grow up next door! Before we know it, he'll be following our boys up and down the sidewalk on his tricycle. :) ((((Justin and Luann)))))

Friday, June 29, 2007

Washington DC Recap- FRIDAY

Erin re-capped our day on ScrapShare, and because her telling of our story is so complete and perfect, I'm copying and pasting her words here, to use later when I scrapbook the trip. My own comments are added in red. Thanks, Erin, for being such a gracious and fun tour companion!

As you know, I spent Friday with Cowtown Stacy touring around DC. She wanted to take one of those Trolley Tours which takes you around to the major attractions, and since I had never done of those, I thought I'd try it out. What a great way to see the city! The next time you ladies come into town, I'd recommend it to you, too. We were able to cover more ground b/c we drove around some parts - and if we wanted to stop and tour something extensively, we had the freedom to do it.

We only did about half the tour - kept to the sites near the National Mall, but there are two others parts we could have done. 1 was catch a bus to the Arlington Cemetary (hour and a half tour), and the other would have taken us up to the National Zoo, the National Cathedral and down Embassy Row (another hour and a half with no stops). But, I think she was happy with what we did see - all the major attractions were along the orange line of the tour!

We met up at L'Enfant metro station downtown around 10:15. I had screwed up - I thought she was staying along the YELLOW line of the metro system, so I picked a stop along the yellow to meet her. Unfortunately, she was coming up the BLUE, so as part of her DC experience, I made her learn how to change metro trains. Oops! But, she navigated the system well, and we met up without incident. Walked over to the Air & Space Museum, which was stop #3 on the trolley tour, to pick up the tour. The tours are kind of neat - you can start anywhere, and hop on and off wherever you like. Except, because we had purchased our tickets on the internet, we were told that we shoulda gone to stop #9 first to get our voucher. Ah well - we knew we'd get there eventually, and we had paid for our tickets, so our consciences clear, we rode on to stop #4, the Jefferson Memorial.

As you can see, it was a beautiful day in the Nations' Capital. PERFECT day in the nation's capital. Mid 80s, low humidity, blue sky, cool breeze. Ahhhhh.

We tried to get our picture taken in front of the statue of Jefferson, but the first person cut off his head! Obviously not a scrapper. So, we went back in, and found someone else to retake the picture. It's really backlit, so I'll have to fiddle with it some, but at least it shows the whole statue.
It was here that Erin mentioned the plane. Her husband is a pilot, and owns his own 4-seater prop plane, and happened to be taking their kids up that very afternoon. I became giddy, 'cause you know, I'm a ten-year-old boy inside, and I've been frustrated ever since my dream of flying in a small prop-plane became reality, because I'd been forced to sit several seats back while DANI got to ride shotgun! I wanna fly in the FRONT seat and look out the window! Erin said we could make it happen. Right now. Oh my. I can't tell you how close I came to ditching DC altogether and taking off with Erin's hubby in that plane. The airport would've been about a 2-hour drive away, though. After serious contemplation and a couple of close calls, I decided to continue the tour. But I'm going back for my flight! Mark my word!

Moving along, the next trolley stop (#5) was at the FDR Memorial. The FDR Memorial is kind of neat - it's like a series of outdoor rooms with shade trees and waterfalls and statues - it feels more like a garden than a monument. The memorial traces twelve years of American History through a sequence of four outdoor rooms-each one devoted to one of FDR's terms of office. There are several waterfalls, and the statue of the urban breadline showed the despair of the era, while the state of a man listening to the fireside chat recalled the hope of the time, too. I honestly knew nothing about the FDR Memorial, so I had no expectations. It's beautifully done... very peaceful, yet provocative in that it forced me to think about the hardships that FDR led America through: the Great Depression and WWII. It's interesting to note that FDR specified that should a memorial be erected for him, he wanted it to be no larger than his desk. For decades, his wish was honored with a desk-sized stone monument.

The next trolley stop was at the Lincoln Memorial, and from there, we could have peeled off to visit Arlington Cemetery, but we thought it might take up too much of the day. We walked first to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. I hadn't been to this memorial before. The statues of the ground troops walking through the fields was impressive, but the images on the black polished granite were so ghostly. The mural is based on actual photographs of unidentified American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, and you can't see the images when you're right up close to the wall. It's eerie and beautiful at the same time.

(well. Apparently, Blogger has decided to throw a tantrum, and won't let me upload any more pictures. Grrrrr. I'll carry on with descriptions, though.)

From the Korean Memorial, we walked back to the Lincoln Memorial. From the steps of the Lincoln, you have a beautiful view of the National Mall. That's the Reflecting Pool in front of you, and the Washington Monument. Off to the left, that domed building is the top of the American Museum of Natural History, and you can see the Capitol's dome on the right. Stacy was impressed with how tall the statue of Lincoln is, inside the memorial. It's actually 19 feet tall! I was impressed with its size! I'd always imagined the statue of Lincoln to be just larger than life-size. Oh. my. It's HUGE. Took my breath away, it did. The Lincoln Memorial was the one I'd most looked forward to seeing, because of Darren's experience there a couple of years ago. He was on DC on a business trip, and visited the Memorial. That night, he called me and described to me the depth of emotion he felt while there... while reading Lincoln's words, which are etched larger-than-life into the walls of the memorial. He said he actually wiped tears away standing there. I must admit that I didn't shed tears, but it was a beautiful experience nonetheless. One of my two favorite photos of the day was taken here... a close-up of Lincoln's face with some of his words in the background.

By this time, it was already lunch time, but there was no food readily available, so we walked on to the WW II Memorial at the other end of the Reflecting Pool. We ran into the same folks who had taken our picture back at the FDR, and learned they were from Cleveland, and in town to see the Indians play. They were very, very nice, but it was funny to keep running into them throughout the day. They weren't on the Trolley Tour - they just kept showing up.

Funny story at the WWII ... we wanted a picture of the 4048 stars that represented all the lives lost during the conflict, and Stacy said, "I wish these people would clear out for my picture!" Unfortunately, someone heard her, and we got a big "HMPH!" and she walked off. Oops! Anyhow, most people eventually cleared out for one shot ... maybe we can photoshop out the last group. GASP! I was speaking in jest. I wasn't trying to hint at anyone, and I certainly didn't mean to be rude. My mouth - it gets me into more trouble than not. LOL! The WWII Memorial was of special interest to me because just days before my trip to DC, I handed an finished scrapbook over to a client that featured the ground-breaking ceremonies for ths memorial! I'd worked on photos of Clinton, Tom Hanks and other famous faces, along with photos of countless veterans... including my client's own father.... who were all there for the groundbreaking in 2001. It was neat to see the completed memorial in person.

We had to head back to the Lincoln to get back to the Trolley, so we decided to go through the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, as well. It was incredibly moving - while we were standing there in front of the walls reading some of the names, someone pulled out a trumpet and started playing Taps. That was sad and moving enough, but there veterans at the Memorial who stopped to salute, and it became almost unbearable. The crowd went dead silent, though, and nothing stirred except a slight breeze, and even the birds fell silent. Awesome. This was undeniably the most soul-stirring experience of the day. I'd sorta had a blase attitude about the Vietnam memorial... I suppose because I grew up in a place and time when the topic of that war was sort of taboo. We just didn't talk about it. Also, I'd seen photos of the memorial wall and I'd always wondered what the big deal was. It's a WALL. How much of a memorial could THAT possibly be? Walking along the wall, though, I said to Erin, "All these names. So many names. And most of them were just BOYS. Young men who hadn't even had the chance to be adults yet." When the trumpeter was playing taps, I turned and looked behind me, and saw the group of old vets we'd been following standing there with their hats over their hearts, their faces solemn, their bodies rigid as they honored their fallen brothers. That's when MY tears came. When I least expected it, WHERE I least expected it. Suddenly, I needed to touch one of the names. For the first time in my 38 years, Vietnam became real to me. Not just a war that no one talks about. Not just a mention in my high school history text. Real.

At this point, we were both starving, so we absolutely had to get lunch next. Hopped back on the Trolley, and the next stop was the Museum of American History, but it's closed for renovations right now, so we went on to the Museum of Natural History. A wonderful museum, but frankly, all we wanted was the cafe, so we ate lunch there. All Smithsonian Museums have free admission, so we walked in, ate lunch, and it was the best Coke I have had in a long, long time. Before this trip, I never realized that everything in DC is free. Well, not EVERYTHING. I paid $2.40 for a 20 oz. bottle of Diet Coke. But all of the museums... the zoo... the monuments... all free! We hopped the trolley, and this was our one grumpy tour guide. There were two guys working on the roof of one of the buildings, and one of the tourists asked what they were doing. After finally finding them, the tour guide was, "What are you freakin' out for? They're working on the roof. They're not assassins for Pete's sake." Stacy decided that this guy was at the end of a very long shift, and just didn't care any longer. Sure enough, at our next stop, he announced, "This trolley is going out of service, so everyone out!" The next stop was infamous stop #9, so we got our "official" tour voucher, and looked at the souvenirs, but there wasn't really anything there. This is where we could have switched trolleys to head up to the National Cathedral, but we knew we had to be back at a certain time to make dinner in Virginia, so we didn't risk it, and went for the bigger bang for the buck portion of the tour. Next stop was the White House. You can no longer tour the White House unless you have an official thing from your Congressman, so we had to settle for pictures at the fence. Ever seeking a good photo op, I pondered how to get a photo of me without the wire mesh and iron fencing in the background. "How soon do you suppose they'd shoot me down if I jumped the fence?" I asked Erin. "They're surprisingly slow," she answered. I cracked up, because really. Me, climb a fence? I was watching one of those CSI shows the other night, and even Mariska Hargitay had a hard time scaling a similar fence. LOL!!

Next stop was the National Archives, but we were losing steam, so we didn't get out there. (Not only were we losing steam, but the line to get in wrapped around the building!) Rode past Union Station as well, and learned that there are 56 flags around Union Station - one for each of the states, one for DC, and one for each of the US Territories. Learned something new about the statue in front as well. This was the most excellent tour guide - he would pause the trolley for pictures at the best places. (We were lucky enough to hop on his trolley TWICE during our tour! I left him a $5 tip the second time.) One of them was a Memorial I didn't even know about - the National Japanese American Memorial. It's on the road from Union Station towards the Capitol Building, and it honors the Japanese Americans who fought in the war while many of the countrymen were kept in the Internment Camps.

Our last stop on the tour was the Capitol itself, and we had missed the last tour time, so we stood on the steps and enjoyed the view. (My second favorite photo was taken here. MAN, I wish Blogger would cooperate tonight.) Interesting facts our tour guide told us about the capitol building: The Statue of Freedom (on top of the Capitol's dome) is 19 feet, 6 inches tall. There's actually a law in DC stipulating that no statue may be taller than Freedom, because "nothing is more important than Freedom." Freedom faces east, and many perceive that to be the front of the capitol. In fact, there is no "front" or "back". Over the years, people have argued that the statue should face west, overlooking the country which spreads to its east. But Freedom faces east for this reason: so that the sun will never set on freedom.

The US Capitol Building was the last stop on our tour, so we rode back to Air & Space to catch the Metro on Smithsonian Station to head back to Virginia. A group of us were able to meet up for dinner at That's Amore in Vienna, and we did remember to get a group picture!
It was so much fun meeting more of my ScrapShare friends! Tracy met up with us again for dinner, along with Nancy, who I've had the honor of creating scrapbook pages for. There were 9 of us, and everyone generously pitched in to pay for my dinner, after telling the waiter it was my birthday. They all sang to me as I blew the candle out on my chocolate cannoli! :)

Back row: Nancy (nowimscrappin), Stacy (Cowtown Stacy), Gayle (babybugcarter), Tricia (tkleber), Erin (LvHmBirth) and Cheryl (Memaw2Wm)Front row: Tracy (turtle), Pat (gigglets), and Sheri (sahva) with her daughter, Natalie

Dinner was delicious, but I think we all ate too much! After dinner, Cheryl, Gayle, Stacy and I rode back to my house to sit on the couch (Jill in FL, you have to come back b/c my couch collection isn't complete!). (I think Erin's couch picture collection rivals my porch swing picture collection!) We drove over to meet up with Terri in VA and Heidi V who weren't able to meet us at dinner because of their class at the GASC - someone has that picture on their camera, but it wasn't me. And then Cheryl and I drove Stacy back downtown to her hotel in Crystal City. A full day, but a beautiful one for touring the Capital!

It WAS a full day, but so much fun! The next morning when my feet hit the floor, I groaned. My legs were wobbly, my feet were sore, and if my sister-in-law hadn't been on the road for 2 hours already, coming to meet me from Delaware, I'd have crawled back into bed and stayed there!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Washington DC recap - THURSDAY

Four days in the nation's capital
Is not enough time to see and do everything you want to see and do.
But I gave it a good shot!

Tracy took me to Mount Vernon, George Washington's family home. Beautifully restored, it's presented exactly as it would have looked when the Father of our Country lived there. The most interesting tidbit I learned there: the house isn't made of stone. It's made of wood, beveled and shaped to LOOK like stone, then painted, with fine sand thrown on the paint while it's still wet. Looks and feels AMAZINGLY like stone.

That evening, we did a "Ghost Walking Tour" in historic Alexandria. Much to Tracy's dismay, I didn't catch any ghosts on my camera. I can, however, recite for you some of the WORST "ghost stories" I've ever heard. It rained on us during the tour which added some fun to the ghostly and ghastly evening. We had a blast! This was my favorite shot of the night:

Tracy also treated me to some mighty fine dining, including a TexMex place that was actually very good! But the best was the pizza place. Remind me, Trace... what was that place called? OH MY. I ate the whole thing, and I'd do it again. YUMMO!

What I learned from Tracy: wear a little sparkle every day. That's her motto. :)

(She's very proud of me for buying glasses with a little sparkle in 'em!)

Thanks, Tracy, for hosting me for two nights, for showing me the sites, for squeezing me into your already over-scheduled week. You da best!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Deus Mea Lux Est

I didn't take my camera, because it was 10 o'clock at night, and I was making a quick trip to pick up Dani at Trinity Washington University, via the Metro. I'd only be seeing the inside of the underground tunnels, and whatever random sites the brief city bus ride allowed me after that. I had my route mapped out, and I felt confident and bold, and excited to see Dani again.

Not long after I left my hotel, Dani called and told me she was ready early. Forty-five minutes early. I'd already calculated the timing, and knew that I wouldn't arrive at her campus for another 45 minutes at least, what with the Metro switches I've have to make, and waiting for the bus at the other end. So I made a snap decision to get off the Metro and hail a cab, which could get me there in 10 minutes or less.

But D.C. is not NYC, and hailing a cab wasn't as easy as I thought it'd be. There were no cabs in sight. I had a list of DC cabs phone numbers with me, so I decided to call one. Lesson #1: DC cabs will not drive in to Virginia to pick you up, even if you're standing on the Potomac River looking at the Washington Monument. So I hopped back on the Metro, rode one more stop in to DC proper, and went back up to street level to hail a cab.

But again, no cabs in sight. In fact, very few cars in sight at all. I called the taxi company again, only to find out that they won't send a cab to a Metro station. Uh, okay. You must give us an actual street address, they said. So I began walking, looking at buildings, searching in vain for an address. There were no street signs as I crossed a highway overpass. Finally, I came upon a building that had an address etched into its stone front: 955 L'Enfant Plaza North. I called the taxi place, and was told that the address I provided was bogus. It wasn't in their system. They would not pick me up there.

"Lady," said the cross woman on the phone, with condescension in her voice, "here's what I need you to do. I need you to find yourself a building, and look at its address, and call me back."

"MA'AM," I snarled back. "I am STANDING in front of a building, looking at its address."

"That's not a real address," she snapped. "You need to find yourself an actual address and call me back."

"LOOK," I said, my voice beginning to tremble. "I'm not FROM here. I just want to get to my DAUGHTER ACROSS TOWN. I just need a CAB to come pick me UP. Here.... let me look at this street sign and tell you which intersection I'm at...." but it didn't matter. She hung up on me.

I felt defeated. I felt helpless, and despite myself, and to my great annoyance, I felt afraid. I was on a dimly lit, deserted street in Washington D.C at 10:30 at night, and save for a homeless person on those steps over there, and something lurking in the shadows down that way, I was alone. With hot tears stinging my eyes, I headed back towards the Metro station.

I should mention that my feet were badly blistered from wearing flip flops all day, and my shins were screaming from pounding the pavement for 3 days, something they are most certainly not accustomed to doing. I should also mention that I'd promised my friend Erin that I'd call her if I got into any trouble or needed her help. I PROMISED her. I did not call. She'll flog me later, I'm sure.

As I trudged back across the overpass, I called Dani, because by this time, I was later than I'd originally planned. So much for being early. I couldn't help the shaking in my voice. She became worried for my safety, because I'd spent a lot of energy warning her of the dangers of the Washington D.C. streets after dark before she left on her trip.

A few minutes later, just as I was heading down the escalator back to the Metro, my phone rang. Dani said that two of her Team Leaders had offered to bring her to the nearest Metro stop and meet me there. Ahhhh. Relief. I was so grateful as I hopped aboard the yellow train and headed for Gallery Place/Chinatown, where I'd switch to the red. Sometime later, as the red train came above ground, I called Dani again and told her that I was two stops away. She said she'd tell the Team Leaders to start walking.

When I arrived, Dani called again and said that there'd been a change in plans. She wouldn't be meeting me at the station. Instead, the Team Leaders would meet me there and walk with me back to the campus, 10-15 minutes away. As I sat outside the Brookland/CUA Metro station, I looked around. I was sitting on a bench, directly across from a city bus stop, with a well-lit, occupied guard shack on the corner. For the first time in a couple of hours, I felt safe in my surroundings. I called Darren, and railed against myself for deviating from my original plan in the first place. Dani and I had planned on a late (LATE) dinner at the hotel restaurant, overlooking the D.C. skyline. Now it would be closed by the time we returned, and neither of us had eaten. The Metro would stop running at midnight. Darren asked if I wanted to talk to the boys. I didn't. I was afraid that their sweet voices would be the end of my stoicism, and I'd end up crying. I was recovering from the frustration and fear of my adventure on the street, but I knew that I wasn't far from the cusp of full-out crying.

Looking up, I wondered aloud, "CUA. I have no idea what that stands for." Then I noticed a banner hanging from a light pole across the street, with a crest emblazoned on it. "DEUS. LUX. MEA. EST." I said. "I know it's Latin, but I don't know what the words mean."

"God. Light. My. Is." answered Darren.

"God is my light," I repeated. "God is my light."

The tears came.
God, in the form of a banner lightly fluttering in the night sky, at a Metro stop in the heart of Washington D.C., was with me. I wasn't alone. And I knew in that moment that I hadn't been alone for a single second on my journey. God is cool like that. I love how He sends me messages and reminds me not to despair.

I was reunited with Dani about 30 minutes later, and had a delightful conversation with the two college-aged Team Leaders who walked with me. Our adventure wasn't over.... it was almost 2 a.m. before we finally made it back to our hotel. (D.C. taxis SUCK. After three no-show taxis, I finally called a Virginia cab, who arrived in 15 minutes and took us back home to our hotel.) Oh - and CUA? It stands for Catholic University of America. The guard shack? CUA campus police.
God? He truly IS nondenominational. Deus Mea Lux Est.

Deus. Mea. Lux. Est.
For a moment, I wished for my camera, back at the hotel.
I wanted a photo of the banner.
But God is my light. I shouldn't doubt in darkness what He has shown me in the light.
I don't need no stinkin' picture.
I've got my memory.
I've got my God.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

camera update!

I called Dani's conference leader... who called the bus line (it was a charter bus).... who called the driver of Dani's bus... who said he DID find a camera, and locked it in the Lost and Found locker. The person with that key has left for the day, but I described the camera, and if it's the same one, we'll get it back. YAY YAY YAY! Cross your fingers.

Last minute details before my flight leaves :
  • the boys are packed for Grandma's (Darren's mom), including games, toys, and their favorite foods
  • I'm packed and ready to go
  • I almost left my new 2 gig memory card in the dang computer. THAT WOULD'VE SUCKED. Luckily, I looked down and noticed it there.
  • cell phone is charged. Charger is packed.
  • I managed to get three loads of laundry done: work clothes for darren, underwear for all, and the stuff I packed. Laundry is embarassingly piled up around here.
  • Scooped the cat litter.
  • Uploaded pictures to Walgreens in Oklahoma for my Daddy to pick up... mostly ones I've posted here of the kids in recent months. (I dont' think he reads my blog, and my Mom thinks computers are evil, so I know she doesn't.)
  • My flight was delayed almost an hour, which gives me time to blog! hee!
  • used my trusty CM scissors to give myself bangs. I always do random stuff like that when I'm leaving for a trip. ALWAYS. What's wrong with me? Don't worry. They're whispy, light, airy bangs, and they're long. I think it's okay.
  • spent last night hanging out with my two best buds in the UNIVERSE.... the friends that God gave to me when I prayed for good friends three years ago. Cara and Kristi. Joe T's, margaritas, swim suit shopping (we spent Kristi's gift certificate. It was her birthday we were celebrating), then a long, relaxing chat at a neighborhood pub. LOVE YOU BOTH, so much. See you Monday! MUAH!


I have internet friends. (Ya think?)

Some of them are people I've only met a few times in real life, and yet, I consider them some of the dearest friends I've ever had. A handful of them I've NEVER LAID EYES ON, and yet, they know me better - and I them - than some of my IRL (in real life) friends do.

And so today, when I got the news, it was my internet friends I turned to first. Here's the story as I posted it on ScrapShare:

WAH!!!! Dani lost my camera...
I'm sure I'll blog about this later, but
for now...WAH!!! Dani just called from D.C. She just arrived there today. (She's
been in NYC since last week, participating in a Global Summit conference thing
where students do mock UN debates and trade agreements, etc.) She lost my
camera! She took my trusty workhorse held-together-with-scotch-tape Canon A80
with her, and lost it last night. She was sooooo scared to tell me.I'm not mad
about the camera.

(Honestly, I prepared myself for the possibility of it
not coming home, 'cause
for all of Dani's good qualities, she's a bit
scatterbrained about keeping up
with stuff.) But I wasn't prepared to be so
sad about the pictures I'll never
get to see now! Her whole week of life in
NYC (she stayed in a dorm on the
Columbia U campus) is GONE. I won't get to
scrapbook it. I won't get to see all
the awesome photos she's been
describing to me.

She said, "I still have $140. I'll try not to spend
much more. I'll eat really cheap. And when I get home, I'll add to that money
with some babysitting jobs and replace your camera."

I said, "Dani. Don't let this ruin your trip. I'd rather you have good
than good pictures. Enjoy the rest of your trip, spend your money,
and in fact,
blow some of it on a couple of cheap disposable cameras and
keep taking
pictures. Don't punish yourself, and don't worry about

When she gets home and the trip is behind her, THEN I'll make her
replace my camera. That was part of the deal when she begged to take it... that
if she lost it, she'd have to replace it somehow. Hard lesson. For her AND

Gah. This parenting thing. It never DOES get easier, does it?

The responses I got from my online buds were overwhelmingly sympathetic. (And in some cases, empathetic!) Cheryl and Susan comiserated with me while remembering cameras full of vacation pictures that they've lost. Tonya gave me hope that an honest, good person might have found it and we might see it again. (She was that person once at DisneyWorld!) Mary encouraged me to ask others in her conference group for photos, as did piggum. Favpastime and Simply Coffee reminded me that Dani is a gifted writer, and I should encourage her to write down every memory and describe every detail while it's fresh. Amazingly, Erin (who lives near Washington DC, where Dani is spending THIS week of the conference) offered to loan Dani another camera, and offered to drive it over to her! And Jayce, my friend in Staten Island, first chastized me for not telling her than Dani would be in the city in the first place, then scolded me further by saying that HAD SHE KNOWN, she could've taken Dani a new camera before she left for D.C.

I love my online friends. Truly, I do. On days when I need an instant hug or instant validation, or immediate advice, it's often those friends that I turn to, because SOMEONE. IS. ALWAYS. THERE. Even now, at 2:37 a.m., I could log on and find someone to answer whatever question I have, or to laugh at whatever is cracking me up, or to oooh and aah over whatever scrapbook thing I'm excited about. These people GET me, because we all have a shared passion: family and scrapbooking. Some of us are white, some are black, some are asian, some are hispanic. Some are wealthy, some are scraping by. Some are Democrat, some are Republican, some are Libertarian. Some are atheist, some are agnostic, some are Christian, some are Catholic. (HA! The girls from "the board" are laughing at that one.

All are real.
All teach me, inspire me, encourage me, challenge me.

In my post about the lost camera, it was Peggy D's response that touched me most. Her signature line, which wasn't aimed at me AT ALL, but which spoke to me anyway, reads: Never doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light. --Raymond Edman

That's perfect advice for me, right now. The lost photos. The missed scrapbook opportunity. The irreplaceable "Dani Kissing The Bull On Wall Street" photo. They're all "dark" now. But the memories Dani has - the "things God has shown her in the light" - those are still real. She doesn't have to have photos to make it so. And neither do I. God has already answered several very specific prayers regarding Dani's trip - that she make friends easily (she arrived at JFK not knowing a soul), that she travel safely, and that she have the time of her life. I won't doubt in the dark what Dani has seen in the light.

(But I'm still gonna scrapbook her trip! Photos or not.... ;)

Monday, June 18, 2007

cheerful givers

Zach, the Fortress intern who lived with us this spring, came to visit Saturday night. He's been trying to raise money to go on a mission trip to Darfur. He has a long way to go with his fund-raising. A LONG way, 'cause he just recently started trying in earnest to come up with it. I jokingly said, "I think Aidan has more money saved than you do." Aidan leapt from his chair, ran upstairs to retrieve his pink bunny coin purse (hey. Stop laughing. It was a gift from Ms. D... or maybe Kaki.), and dumped its contents in front of Zach. He's saved over $13 so far, all in loose change that he finds around the house, in the car, on the street, etc. (And I've paid him a dollar or two for chores along the way.) He's been saving for THIS.

I thought for sure that Zach would say, "Aw, man, I can't take your money." But he didn't. Instead, he said "Cool. Thanks." LOL! I wanted to say, "Hey now! He's worked hard for that money, and has been saving for a long time! Give it back! He's only SIX!" But I didn't. I knew that Aidan was happy to give it, and I didn't want to take that away from him. (But I wanted to take the money away from Zach. lol!) I was so very proud of Aidan, mind you. I was just a little appalled that Zach accepted it.

So yesterday after church, one of our summer interns, Russell, asked me, "Would you mind if I took the boys to the toy store this afternoon? Yesterday, I thought it was so nice that Aidan gave Zach all his money, and I wanted to do something nice for him in return."

I could've kissed Russell then and there for being so sweet to my boys and for acting on an impulse to do something so kind. I warned him, though, that my boys are savvy and would choose the most expensive toy unless given a budget. I was thinking that Russell would tell them they could spend $5 or $10 apiece, and when he said, "You can buy something that costs $20", I added, "or, you can each buy something that costs ten." Russell looked at me and laughed, and said, "No, I mean they can EACH spend twenty." "Are you CRAZY?" I laughed. "I'm their Mom and I've never given them that much to spend!" Man, I love Russell.

We talked briefly about ordering the Lego chess thingy, and for a minute I thought that was gonna be the plan... and then they'd have $15 between them to spend at the toy store. But in the end, instant gratification won out, and neither boy was willing to wait for a package to arrive when they could get something at the toy store RIGHT THIS MINUTE. So off they went shopping.

Aidan chose the new Monopoly game, and Ian picked two more figures for his medieval battle collection. (He chose an archer and a dragon.)

Last night, the four of us (Russell, the boys and I) played a speed game of Monopoly. Good times, good times. This morning, the boys have already gotten the game out again and are in the middle of a game as I type. I wish I'd have thought to take a photo last night when we were playing. I know I'll want one of Russell and Aidan and Ian for my scrapbook, so I'll make sure and get one tonight. I already have the page title in mind:

"So let each one give as he purposes in his heart,
not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a
cheerful giver."
(2 Corinthians 9:7)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

stream of consciousness (Blog Challenge)

Sometimes during allergy season, when I blow my nose, spray shoots out of my tear duct - but only my left eye. I learned a long time ago not to park under telephone wires. When I got these funky new glasses, I realized that they'd really only look good if I was wearing makeup, and I thought, "shaZAM! This is just the kick in the pants I need to actually make myself up everyday!" It lasted, I think, two days. Roughly every hour or so, I think about Dani being in New York City and I say to myself, "SELF, this is not fair. Here you are scooping HER cat litter and doing HER chores and ..... wah." I'm jealous. And yet, I'm thrilled that she's getting this experience. Today, I asked her if she's taking pictures. "I have an amazing picture of a squirrel," she answered. Not exactly what I had in mind there, Dani. Tonight at 8 o'clock, I was yawning my head off. I pushed through that and then caught my nightly second wind, just as I knew I would. But I also know that if I stay awake past two, I might as well stay up all night, 'cause even if I go to bed, I'll just lie there awake thinking of the things I could be doing. Don't know what it is about that 2 o'clock mark. Even when I'm exhausted and the computer screen gets all fuzzy on me and my fingers can't grasp a pen properly... .doesn't matter. If it's past 2, I won't sleep anyway. It's 2:41.

the challenge: Just write. Stream of conciousness. Doesn't matter if it even makes sense. Who cares if it flows. Just start. Just type whatever pops into your brain. Go.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


A little while ago, my cell phone rang. It was Darren, who was out running errands with Dani. I said "Hey", but he didn't respond. It only took a few seconds for me to realize that his cell phone called me without his knowing it. (He keeps it in his pocket but never locks the keys, so it's happened before.)

I usually hang up, but tonight, I decided to try to get their attention. First, I started shouting into the phone as loudly as I could, "Helloooooooooo! DARRRRRRRRRRRREN! DANNNNNNNNNNNIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!! HELOoooOOOOooooOOOOooooOOOOOOO!!!!

Nothing. They just kept chit-chatting along, oblivious to the eavesdropper in Darren's pocket. Then I started meowing. "MEOW. MEEEEOOOOOOWWWWWWWW. MEERROOWWWWWWWLLLLLWWWWRRRLLLLLLL."

Dani said, "Do you hear that?"
Darren didn't hear it.
"I swear, I keep hearing a cat."

She looked in the backseat, on the floorboard, wondered if there might be a cat in the trunk. Darren said she was hearing things. Meanwhile, I keep meowing at the top of my lungs, in between fits of ROFLOL at myself.

Then Dani said, "Dad! You've been meowing this whole time?

I guess by then, Darren had heard it too, 'cause he said, "I promise, I only did it three times."

"I know I'm not insane," she quipped. "I. HEAR. A. CAT."

I then sent my meowing into overdrive. Several times, I was laughing and meowing so hard that I thought I'd have an aneurysm. LOL! Between meows, I listened to Darren brag about the dinner he cooked tonight, and I overheard him telling Dani how to make a red light turn green. Funny stuff. Soon enough, they pulled into the driveway.

At that moment, Aidan came down the stairs and said, "Mom. Please stop that meowing. You're keeping us awake!" Ian was on his tails. They looked at me like I'd lost my mind while I went on meowing and meowing, hiding on the stairs as Darren and Dani walked in the back door.

Upon entering the house and hearing the same meowing, Dani said ,"SEE?" and started looking in the suitcase they'd just borrowed from our friend Kristi, thinking one of Kristi's cats was trapped inside. Aidan settled it once and for all when he said, "MOM IS MEOWING! SO MUCH!"

My sides still hurt.


I think Ian got too much attention with his mohawk, 'cause Sunday at church, he worked hard to knock it down, saying he didn't want it anymore. There were way too many teenage girls making a fuss over him, and he didn't like it one bit.

I hope there aren't any teenage girls around this morning when he and Aidan arrive at VBS in this:

Do they have a cool Pappy, or what?

Sunday, June 10, 2007


ARCHAEOLOGY: the study of material remains

Q. What's the oldest article of clothing you still wear?
A. a gown my dad bought me when Aidan was born over 6 years ago. I've gained too much weight to wear anything older than that.

Q. What's the oldest article of clothing you won't get rid of?
A. a Hawaiian dress that my Grandma Dorthy brought back for me from Hawaii in the '70s.

Q. When was the house/building you live in built?
A. 1917.

Q. What in your fridge needs to be thrown out?
A. potato salad from our last cook-out

BIBLIOLOGY: the study of publication

Q. What are you reading?
A. The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

Q. Do you have a favorite quote?
A. "If you want to be happy, be." - Leo Tolstoy

Q. What's the most recent music you purchased?
A. some stuff by Green River Ordinance, an up-and-coming band that I'm loving.

Q. What book could you read again without being bored?
A. I want to read The Life of Pi again. And I never tire of the book of Romans.

CARDIOLOGY: the study of the heart

Q. How old were you the first time you fell in love?
A. 2nd grade. With Kyle. Stayed in love with him until we were in college!

Q. What charities do you have a heart for?
A. Fortress Youth Development Center here in Fort Worth - ministering to the physical, social and spiritual needs of inner city kids. And the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society... ever since one of my best friends (Elaine Mc) died within 5 weeks of being diagnosed with Leukemia when she was 15.

Q. What's the best way someone can show their love for you?
A. Tell me why they love me, or bring me a Diet Vanilla Coke from Sonic. LOL!

Q. Name five things you "love":
A. a clean kitchen, knitted dishtowels, Darren's scruffy beard, open windows, the mountains

PHYSIOLOGY: the study of physical function

Q. Are you right-handed or left-handed?
A. right

Q. Do you like your smile?
A. It's crooked and my teeth are grayish and dull.

Q. What's your best feature?
A. my smile. LOL!

Q. Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
A. my gall bladder

Q. Which of your five senses do you think is keenest?
A. smell, definitely. I have a bionic nose!

OMNOLOGY: the study of everything

Q. What color do you think looks best on you?
A. I always get compliments when I wear coral and dark red.

Q. Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake?
A. one of my contacts. LOL!

Q. What's your favorite flavor of gum?
A. Orbit Mint Mojito

Q. Where's the first place you went today?
A. Braum's, to get milk.

Q. Do you stand or sit in the shower?
A. Stand. But maybe if I had a ledge, I'd shave more often. ;)

AXIOLOGY: the study of the nature of values and value judgments

Q. Would you walk naked for a half mile down a public street for $100,000?
A. uh, no.

Q. Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100?
A. who's first? :)

Q. Would you pose naked in a magazine for $250,000?
A. no

Q. What value is of utmost importance to you in a friend?
A. Honesty.

Q. Would you accept an indecent proposal for $1,000,000?
A. never.

TECHNOLOGY: usage and knowledge of tools and crafts

Q. What's the last movie you saw?
A. "Stranger Than Fiction" (on DVD)

Q. What's the first website you visit when you log on?
A. my gmail account

Q. What's your ring tone?
A. "Brick House" by the Commodores, much to Darren's embarrassment

Q. Would you quit blogging for $25,000?
A. Is it weird that I'm waffling on my answer?

Q. What piece of equipment do you wish you owned?
A. A good surround-sound stereo system for the house and outdoor living areas

GENEALOGY: the study of relationships within families

Q: Is there a specific family member you're really missing right now?
A: Bobbie and her girls, living too far away in Tennessee

Q. Who is your oldest living relative?
A. My Grandpa Elden, who's in his mid-80s.

Q. Are you named after anyone?
A. My Mom's middle name is the same as mine and Dani's.

Q. Is there anyone really famous in your family tree?
A. I'm a direct descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins of the Mayflower.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Both boys were overdue for haircuts. About two weeks ago, Ian mentioned that he wanted a mohawk. We talked about it briefly and I decided, what the heck. If my painfully shy child was going to have the guts to stand out in public with a mohawk, I wasn't going to stop him!

Several days ago, he announced that he'd changed his mind. No reason other than "I just did." I was a little disappointed - not because I was real keen on the idea of the mohawk itself, but because I thought it would've been a huge stride in him overcoming his shyness.

Thursday was the day. On the way to "Cool Cuts", Ian said, "Mom, I've been thinking about it. I'm getting a mohawk." I told him that if he was serious, he'd have to ask for it himself. (I'm mean, aren't I?)

When the gray-haired, Grandma-looking hair stylist was ready for him, she crouched down in front of him and said, "Hi, Ian. I'm Barbara." Ian didn't even let her finish before he blurted out, "I want a mohawk."

Those of you who know Ian in real life realize what a landmark occasion that was. Ian rarely speaks to those who KNOW him, much less strangers who kneel down and get in his face. He's more likely to growl than to speak. Grandma Lady looked at me with question in her eyes and said, "Is that okay with you, Mom?" I assured her it was, but told her that I didn't want him shaved; I asked her to use a #2 blade all around, and give him a short mohawk. I could tell she didn't approve of the whole thing. LOL!

Here he is. I figured I'd do the #2 and the short 'hawk so that when he DOESN'T have it spiked, it'll still look okay. I can't believe this is my Ian. I'm so proud of him for being bold and determined... and for be willing to stand out in a crowd. Cute, isn't he? (He'd growl at me for saying so.)

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I just spent way too much time creating these animations... and then couldn't get the animations to work right - some bug makes them go all wonky when I try to save. So I saved them as still photos instead and am calling it a night. They were lots of fun to make, though! Try it for free...

Here's me, taking pictures at the park with my new camera:

Darren, having a good ol' time in his favorite place: the Givens' cabin in Colorado:

Dani, who has recently taken up basketball (all 4'11 of her)...and who loves penguins...and who sometimes wears random silly things. Just this week, she left the house wearing a tiara one day, and a pirate patch the other...

Aidan, who dances all the time, loves his blown-out-knee pants the very most, and always has cuts and scrapes somewhere on his little body. If only his room were this clean right now:

And finally, my Ian... my night gamer... my little sword fighter extraordinaire. If I could've added a growl and a scowl, I would've.

Wouldn't we make the CUTEST animated family cartoon you ever saw? I mean, WOULDN'T WE? Oh Daaaaaaale.......

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

movie pheater

Yesterday, I was IMing away with my friend Elaine when something made me turn around and look...

Is it wrong that the boys moved all these chairs into the room, then hauled every stuffed animal we own down the stairs, and I was oblivious to all of it?
Yah. I thought so too. They were all watching "The Three Amigos".

"It's a MOVIE PHEATER!" announced Ian.

I popped 'em some popcorn and let 'em eat it in the family room, 'cause, you know, it's the little things.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Forever Young

Dear Dani,
Sometimes, when I'm searching for the perfect words for a specific situation, I find them already written - in lyrics. The other night, I was working late in my scraproom and this song came on, and I thought, "I need to make a Dani page with these lyrics." Tonight I downloaded it... it's on our iTunes now so you can listen to it when you read this. I couldn't say it better.

I love you! You make being a Mom my life's joy.
I'm so proud of the young woman you've become...
of the way you handle the big stuff, and the way you
don't let the little stuff bog you down. You are more confident
about who you are and what you believe and what you stand for
at fifteen than I was at ... 30. You're amazing. You don't give yourself
enough credit. Oh yah. I was gonna let the song talk for me, wasn't I?
OK... log on to iTunes and listen to "Forever Young" by Rod Stewart.
One more thing.
You are ROCKIN' that new haircut!

Love you, Daughterre.

May the good lord be with you
Down every road you roam
And may sunshine and happiness
Surround you when youre far from home
And may you grow to be proud
Dignified and true
And do unto others
As you'd have done to you
Be courageous and be brave
And in my heart youll always stay
Forever young,
May good fortune be with you
May your guiding light be strong
Build a stairway to heaven
With a prince or a vagabond
And may you never love in vain
And in my heart you will remain
Forever young,
And when you finally fly away
Ill be hoping that I served you well
For all the wisdom of a lifetime
No one can ever tell
But whatever road you choose
Im right behind you, win or lose
Forever young, forever young
Forever young ,forever young
Forever young, forever young
For, forever young, forever young
(lyrics by r. stewart/j.cregan/k.savigar)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

BLOG CHALLENGE: Make Your Own Pizza night

Friday night was Make Your Own Pizza night. It sounded like a brilliant idea until I bought the ingredients, at which point I had immediate buyer's remorse and thought, "Ya know, self, you could've saved 40 bucks if you'd just picked up some $5 Hot And Nows at L'il Caesars."

But that wouldn't have been nearly as fun, nor would it provided these fun pictures to scrap!

1. individual pizza crusts 2. Ian 3. Fresh basil from Darren's herb garden (and crushed pineapple) 4. Stacy 5. Nathan 6. hamburger and bacon 7. Aidan 8. pizzas in the oven
9. pepperoni and canadian bacon 10. Brian 11. asagio, mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar
12. olive oil 13. Dani 14. jalapeno, onion, bell pepper, tomato, banana pepper 15. Darren
16. YUMMO!

(Make your own cool mosaic here. Thanks to Ali Edwards for the tip!)

(the challenge: This week, I was inspired by Ali Edwards' blog for our weekly challenge. Choose a set of photos and make a mosaic with this EASY PEASY (and free!) mosaic maker!I uploaded my photos to Flickr and created a set there. But it looks like you can upload to the photo maker directly from your own computer files, too.If you don't take digital photos, you can still participate. Just choose a sampling of Flickr photos that inspire you, and go from there. (That's what Ali did!)Have fun!)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Happy About:

  • a clean scraproom... and a place for everything... and the fact that today, I exercised discipline and self-control and PUT THINGS AWAY as I used them. Amazing.
  • a clean kitchen... Dani and I have gotten back into the habit of cleaning the kitchen right after dinner. Ahhhhhhh. Love a clean kitchen.
  • inspiration that I found in the latest issue of Scrapbooks, Etc.... one of its articles featured a scraproom that totally, TOTALLY inspired me. Just in the nick of time, too, since this is the Summer of the ScrapRoom at my house.
  • I think I've finally caught up on my lack of sleep this week. My kids have been so generous with my sleepiness, letting me take long naps every morning/afternoon and not getting into trouble or fighting while I'm doing so. :)
  • My asparagus ferns are still alive, even though I keep forgetting to water them. Someone call me today and remind me!
  • every time I call Luke's cell phone and get his voice mail, I get weak in the knees 'cause he talks in Creole, and it sounds so stinkin' SEXY. It must be known now that in no other way do I find Luke sexy. He's like my brother, see. But that CREOLE. Wowza. Tonight, he answered, and I panted, 'Bonjour, Bon Soir", just like I do everytime I leave a message on his voice mail... trying in vain to imitate his voice. I can't help it. It just happens. He replied [something breathy and beautiful in French/Creole], and I replied, "Ooooh. What did you just say to me??" He answered, "Every time you call, you turn into a big dork and try your hardest to speak French, but you suck at it." I said, "oh." Then I bwahaha-ed. I love Luke. I have the best friends. All of 'em. :) I'm pretty darn happy about that.