Sunday, September 30, 2007

BLOG CHALLENGE: Autobiography

I recently read the authorized biography of Texas oilman and entrepreneur Clayton Williams. The book it titled "Claytie", but it's the subtitle that gives more of a hint as to the contents of the book: the heights of glory... or the depths of hell.

When I was in college, majoring in Social Life and English on the Side, I often joked that my first book, a memoir type of thing, would be titled "Heifers in the Kitchen". I still haven't published (let alone written) that first book, but when I do, that title will still be in the running, I'm sure.

As I finished reading Claytie, I found myself brainstorming. What WOULD the subtitle be on my autobiography? Would it reflect my funny, light-hearted side? Would it reflect my deep faith and spiritual side? What about my career as a work-at-home Mom? What one phrase would sum up my life in a nice, neat little package?

I'm gonna brainstorm here, just for fun.
The challenge? You do the same, for you. :)
(And heck... if you can think of a subtitle for MINE, feel free to comment.) :)

STACY: I said smile!

STACY: Heifers in the Kitchen

STACY: Life, Friendship, and the Pursuit of Scrappiness

STACY: Picnics, Parades and Pumpkin Guts

STACY: Choose Joy! (or else)

STACY: Just Lettin' It All Hang Out

STACY: An Open Book

STACY: Still Stacy After All These Years

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


My friend Joe (in Brooklyn) (linked in my sidebar) blogged this morning about worry.
Without his permission, I'm copying and pasting his text here, and making it my blog challenge on ScrapShare for this week. I think it's an interesting topic to explore, and that it will open some good dialogue about how we handle the situations life throws at us. Here's his post:

I worry about money - of having it and not having it. I worry about my kids -
their health and their behavior. I worry about my health - my already tired joints and bones. I worry. A lot. Too much. At times, it dictates how I live. Out of desperation I attempt to make my world smaller hoping that I can do a better job of managing all the things and people I worry about. This, of course, isn’t helpful as it is painstakingly clear that I’m unable to manage it all on my own. In fact, things only get worse when I reign things and people in.
Has this been your experience?
And let’s just have a little alter call:
What do you worry about?

Here's the comment I left for him:
I’m not a big worrier. In fact, just this week, my 16 year old daughter accused me of being overly optimistic all the time. Somehow, she made it an insult. LOL! BUT… I do suffer from unnecessary guilt. If I spend too much at the grocery store, or use too many cell phone minutes and have an overage, or if I overeat to the point of discomfort, or lose my patience with the kids, etc etc etc, I don’t just feel guilt. I feel IMMENSE guilt that quite literally makes me sick. I don’t know that it’s a form of worry, per se, but it’s just as unhealthy.

And now, to elaborate.
This summer and now into early fall has been an emotionally exhausting time for us. As we've battled depression, the new school year, health issues, and a recent near-tragedy, our family has really been through the ringer.

As much as it would've made sense to worry about it all, I can't say that I did. Well, let me check that. Of course, there were aspects of things that I DID worry about. But it wasn't the kind of worry that dibilitated me, or held me back, or caused me stress. Quite the opposite, I found that in those times, I felt a sense of hope and calm - a calm that didn't even make sense to me. I believe that the calmness and lack of worry/fear was a gift from God, but that's another post.

However, I suffer from such deep guilt that it sometimes keeps me in my bed, causes me to lose my appetite and then later, to binge. When I had pneumonia, I didn't feel worried about the things I was unable to accomplish on my list of THINGS THAT MUST GET DONE NOW THAT THE KIDS ARE IN SCHOOL. Instead, I felt dread and guilt that I was letting the family down, and my church down, and my clients down, and my friends down, and even the dumb cat down.

Throughout the aftermath of the near-tragedy (which I haven't blogged about, and won't, for the sake of privacy of those involved), I felt guilt that I could've done more, prevented it from happening, etc. (In my heart of hearts, I know I couldn't have; it's just the process with which I deal with things.)

When we're at church, and a volunteer group comes, I feel guilt if the singing sounds weak, or if the lunch served isn't hot, or if the Fortress kids are especially unruly. None of those things are within my power to control, and it makes no sense for me to feel guilty about it. But I do.

Maybe guilt's not even the right word. Do you have a better one?

When I was an older teen, I made many, many mistakes. By the time I got to college, I'd given up my damaging lifestyle and returned to my faith, but I couldn't let go of the guilt. My friend (in fact, to this day, one of the best friends I've ever had, and I'm posting his full name in the hopes that someday he'll google his name and find himself here, and thus, find ME, 'cause I lost him and would love to reconnect) Eric Reynolds (who I've heard lives in Georgia now, to help wih the googling, LOL), gave me advice that still speaks to my heart all these years later. He said, "Stacy, why do you keep asking for forgiveness for that? Why can't you let it go? Why don't you trust God? You've asked Him to forgive you. He has. So now, everytime you bring it up again, He's like, 'Uh, Stace? I have no idea what you're talking about.' 'Cause He's forgiven you. It's gone from his memory. It's wiped off the chalk board. He has no recollection of it. You're forgiven. The only thing you can do now is forgive yourself."

I've struggled with guilt my whole life, I guess.
Remorse isn't quite the right word, either, because it's stronger than that.

Your turn. Self-analyze. What do you worry about? On the count of three, go.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

a glimpse into the heart of me, January 2007

I made this list 8 months ago, and found it again today. I'm posting it here so I'll be able to find it when I'm ready to scrapbook it. I think it'll be a cool page in my Book of Me!

1. I procrastinate everything. If there's a deadline to be met, I wait 'til the last minute. Always.

2. I tend to do my best work under pressure.

3. I'm lousy at finding the right words when speaking out loud, but if I can sit down with pen and paper, the perfect words tumble out with no effort.

4. I'd rather go hungry than have to make lunch for myself.

5. In general, I don't much like kids, but I adore and cherish my own and can't imagine my life without them. I love my friends' kids from the depths of my heart too, but only because I love my friends so much.

6. I have a huge circle of friends, but only a dozen or so who really know my heart, and only a handful who are real enough to hold me accountable when I need to be held accountable.

7. Darren and I both have 4 siblings apiece.

8. Between all that family, and our multitude of friends, we can't think of anyone we'd want to raise our kids if something were to happen to us.

9. I'd rather eat potatoes in any form for dessert than dessert itself.

10. I wish I could afford a housekeeper. I wish it daily!

11. Sometimes, I forget how overweight I've become. I still think of myself as a cute, slightly chubby girl, and when I pass a mirror, I think, "What the...."

12. I'm a voracious reader. I can't go to sleep until I've read something... whether it be a few chapters of a book or a magazine or even the back of a shampoo bottle if that's all that's available.

13. I can't dance. I wish I could, but it's just not in me!

14. I'm proud of the relationship I have with my daughter. She's mad at me right this minute, but I'm proud that we can talk about it and that she can be honest with me about being mad at me!

15. I feel too young to have a 15-year old daughter. I'm 37.

16. I never finished college, and it's my one life regret.

17. I dream of getting my degree someday, but in my head, even after all these years, I *still* keep changing majors.

18. I married my best friend, and that has made all the difference.

19. I keep a tin of Altoids on my bedside table.

20. I'm deeply faithful, but I wouldn't call myself "religious".

21. I get cranky with people who can't make decisions.

22. Being spontaneous keeps me young.

23. I have no patience for people who refuse or are unwilling to change circumstances which make them miserable.

24. Farts are funny.

25. The best days are those when the weather allows the windows to be raised, and my music is blaring, and the house is clean. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

rut roh

I think she was my first crush. Well, no. That's not true. Davey Leineweaver was my first crush. I used to place my 5-year-old self on the street corner in front of my house and watch him play across the way. Until he threw sawdust in my little brother's face. I hated Davey after that. But I digress.

First crush or not, I did love Mrs. Wright. She was my 2nd Grade teacher, and I thought she was so GLAMOROUS and BEAUTIFUL. And to top it off, she was so incredibly NICE - soft-spoken, encouraging, but authoritative at the same time. I loved her. LOVED her. Her classroom was decorated with bright yellow smiley faces everywhere you looked. The clock was a smiley face - I remember that specifically. On Fridays, we played Bingo, and the prizes were pieces of Super Bubble bubble gum. She had a huge container of it underneath her desk.

I was shy in 2nd Grade. No, really, I'm serious! I was PAINfully shy. (Decided in 8th Grade that life would never be fun if I didn't come out of my shell.... so I came out and never looked back.) But in second grade, I was so shy - and so in love with Mrs. Wright - that I wouldn't even ask permission to go to the restroom. Instead, I sat at my desk and wet my pants. Twice. Maybe three times. I still feel the heat in my cheeks when I remember how humiated I was. Even so... it was too much to consider asking permission.

At some point, my mother got tired of bringing new clothes up to the school, so she and Mrs. Wright cooked up a plan. Folded neatly in a brown paper bag in my locker at the back of the classroom was an outfit. A green jumpsuit. A double-knit green jumpsuit. A HANDMADE, puke-green, double knit pantsuit that I ABHORRED. I cried every time Mom made me wear that horrendous monstrosity of an outfit. So she thought it'd be the perfect thing for my locker. The new rule was, I'd have to change in to THAT if I wet my pants again. It fixed me. From that day on, I found the courage to ask to go potty.

I may have to check eBay for a comparably horrendous double-knit jumpsuit for Ian, 'cause today, I got a call from the school nurse, who had Ian in her office. With soiled pants. I asked him later, "Why didn't you ask to go to the bathroom? Were you too shy?" (Ian, you know, is TERRIBLY shy.)

"No," he said. "Well, actually, I was too shy. Because I knew she would say no, because another kid asked to go pee right before I had to poop, and she said no to him, so I knew I couldn't go either."

I'm fairly certain that Ian doesn't have a crush on his teacher. I mean, after all.... Ms. Collins is a GIRL, and Ian hates girls. Which gives me an idea..... I don't need to search for a puke-green double-knit jumpsuit for Ian's locker. Anything pink will do.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

the week in pictures

Ian's teacher said
that if he's gonna
wear tie shoes
to school, he needs
to learn to tie them.
Okay, then. Darren
showed him how,
and he's doing great!

Dani got her first-ever
paycheck. GO DANI!
Too bad for her, though.
Since she ran her cell phone
bill SKY HIGH last month,
she had to sign the
whole check over to me.

Aidan brought his first book home from 1st grade. His homework was to read it to me. I love hearing him read. His inflection - especially when he does the "voices" of the characters in the story - is FANTASTIC. The kid's gonna be in drama class as soon as it's available to him. Mark my words.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

accepting gifts

Tonight, I was offered a very generous gift, and my first impulse was to say, "I can't accept it." Why? I don't know. I always feel unworthy of gifts, especially when they come at unexpected times and from people I'd never expect them from.

And tonight wasn't the first one. Last week, one of my best friends offered to buy me an airplane ticket to come see her. I turned her down. I can't afford to go on my own dime, but it seems so ... I dunno, presumptuous isn't the right word, 'cause I never thought about HER paying when I decided I couldn't afford it... but I think you know what I'm saying. Don't you? lol. I can't explain it. I don't feel deserving of such a gift. Even though she offered and WANTS to do it. I feel weird letting her.

And tonight's gift - I accepted it, although reluctantly at first, and then GREEDILY at last, LOL... but I still feel awkward about it, even though I know that the giver feels joyful about giving it and was so pleased when I accepted it.

I've always been a terrible receiver of gifts.
I always feel unworthy.
I always feel greedy, even if it's something I haven't asked for, or even dreamed of.

Tonight, I feel overwhelmed. Humbled. And yes... totally unworthy of the gift bestowed upon me. I tried to be gracious, but MAN. I don't think I pulled it off. Mostly, I was just speechless.

the challenge:
So what about you?
Are you a gracious receiver?
Tell us about a gift you've received, and how you reacted to it.
Tell us about a gift you've GIVEN, and how the recipient's reaction made you feel.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

avoiding a relapse... and "Never Wanted Nothing More"

Yesterday, I went in for my 2-week follow-up x-ray and doctor's appointment. I guess the x-ray was clear enough, because the doc didn't call in a new round of antibiotics today. (He mentioned that he might need to, after hearing a faint crackling in my lungs yesterday.)

So... I spent the remainder of yesterday celebrating my newfound "health"; I spent the day at Kristi's and then at Cara's. I'd missed my friends SO much. I'm no good at staying cooped up in the house. Hmpf! But by mid-afternoon, I was wiped out. I actually fell asleep on Cara's couch.

Last night, I had to take Dani shopping for the final touches for her Homecoming dress. She needed shoes, a strapless bra, and jewelry. We managed to knock out all of the shopping in only 4 stops and less than 3 hours, but by the end of it, I could barely keep my head on straight, I was so fatigued. I was in bed before ten o'clock.

I slept all night.
After the kids were off to school, I went back to bed for a nap, and woke up at noon.
At 12:30, I fell asleep again and slept 'til 3. I feel like I could sleep again right now.

A little while ago, I got up and unloaded the dishwasher. By the time I finished the top rack, I was sweating and short of breath. They're not kidding when they say that pneumonia takes a long time to get over. It makes me cranky that I FEEL fine, but have so little energy. I'm ready to GO again! But making myself slow down. I do NOT want to relapse. I can't wait 'til I can gogogogo like I usually do. This fatigue is for the birds!


In other news... I watched Good Morning America this morning and caught a couple of performances by country great Kenny Chesney. Let me assure you: even though I'm a Texan through and through, I'm not a country music fan. But one of his songs this morning just made me SMILE. I've been singing it all day. I love love LOVE the lyrics. I'm gonna buy it. Heidi, are you SO PROUD of me?? :)

Every single verse is sweet, but it's the chorus I've been singing all day.

Well, I'm what I am and I'm what I'm not
and I'm sure happy with what I've got
I live and love and laugh a lot
and that's all I need

I never wanted nothing more
and I never wanted nothing more

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Dani woke up sick that day. I can't remember what was wrong with her, only that she went back to bed, and so did I. Aidan slept in his crib down the hall. He was 9 months old. I was 7 months pregnant with Ian, and happy to have the extra sleep.

But it was short-lived. My phone rang. It was my dear friend, Karen. "Turn on Good Morning America," she said. I did. Just in time to see the second plane hit. I remember saying, "Terrorists." And I remember it being so WEIRD, that the word came off my lips so easily - a word I'd probably never mumbled before. A word I'd rarely even heard. But my heart knew, just as the hearts of hundreds of thousands of Americans knew that bright September morning.

Darren's building, the tallest in Fort Worth at 40 stories, and situated near the Federal Building, evacuated. He came home. I was so thankful to have my family together, watching the footage, crying, unable to clear the lump from my throat. But we were all there, all safe. All scared. Where next? Were there more planes in the air?

And for days afterward... I couldn't tear myself away from the TV. I wanted information. I wanted resolution. I prayed that survivors would come out from under the rubble. I wept a lot... for the child I was carrying - Ian - and for my two other children... that they'd grow up in a new world where Terrorism was a real threat. We all lost a lot of innocence that day.

We took down our flags last week - the American one and the Texas one that fly on our two stoops all summer. Darren hadn't yet gotten around to putting them in storage, though I kept nagging him to do so. Last night, he took the American flag and put it back in its holder. "WHY?" I asked.

"Tomorrow's 9-11," he answered.

I'm ashamed that it hadn't occured to me.
How many of us woke up this morning, turned on the TV, and said, "Oh yah. This is 9-11."

There are those who think the footage shouldn't be shown every year... that we should move on without reliving it... that's it too hard, too unbearable... that it somehow glorifies the terrorists.

I disagree.

I think we NEED to see it. I don't think that showing the images in ANY way glorifies the terrorists. I think that one week every year isn't too much to have to bear. Without those images, we become callous. Not because we're uncaring people. We just become numb to the pain; we forget the loss. In this instant gratification world, where we move so fast we often don't take time to EXPERIENCE things, I'm glad that, for these few days each year, we're forced to slow down and really REMEMBER. So it makes us uncomfortable? Good. We SHOULD be uncomfortable.

God bless the families who were forever changed on 9-11.
God bless America.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Ian is such a shy kid.

No, really. PAINFULLY shy.

He hates compliments, hates kisses, hates ANYthing that makes him stand out.

He even sorta hates people. LOL! At least, until he gets to know them.

I was really afraid of how he'd handle Kindergarten, because he's such an introvert. He's done a great job, though. He finds his "quite me time" on the playground at recess, and that seems to be enough for him.

Every day, I ask him if he's made any friends. Usually, he growls at me and says, "NO." Yesterday, he offered a bit more info.

"Well. There's this one kid who I think is cool."

"REALLY! What's his name?"


"Olaf, huh? So you wanna be friends with Olaf?"

"No. I just said I think he's cool."

"What makes him cool?"

(tucking chin in his "you're embarrassing me" way) "I just think he looks cool."

"Well, why don't we invite Olaf to play at our house after school?"

Ian, to my surprise, thought that was a FABULOUS idea.
We sat down right then and wrote a note to Olaph.
Ian picked blue construction paper.

"To Olaph", he wrote.

"Olaph? With a p-h?" I asked.

"Yes," said Ian. "I saw it on his folder." lol

"To Olaph. You're invited to play at my house after school." wrote Ian. Then he handed me the marker and said, "You write the rest."

So I wrote, "Your Mom can call my Mom and make plans. Our phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx."

Then Ian finished it with, "From, Ian."

He tucked it in his backpack and had big hopes for a playdate with Olaph.

Today after school, Darren asked, "Did you give your note to Olaph?"

"Yes," Ian answered, then he broke into tears.

"But he just made a Picachu sound and said he didn't want to come!"

Oh, the heartache. Took so much courage for Ian to write and deliver that note. I hope he'll try again!

Monday, September 03, 2007

the best laid plans....

About 10 days ago, I got an idea. When I get an idea, I can't sit on it. I becomes TOP PRIORITY and I obsess about it until I see it through. This time, the idea was simple: paint the molding in my scraproom.

See, I'd already coerced Darren in to installing the brackets for the shelves I wanted to hang, and one night, I decided that NOW was the time to paint the molding. BEFORE he installed the shelves. How hard could it be, right? The molding was already primed (it's been primed for 3 years!), and I had the paint, so long as I just painted the molding the same color as the walls. As much color and texture as I have going on in my tiny space, I decided that using all one color wasn't a bad idea. So I emptied my scraproom, depositing piles of scrap paraphernalia into the kitchen, the butler's pantry, and the family room, and got to painting. It went GREAT, until the next morning, with the sun shining, I realized that the paint was a different color entirely. How could that be?? I KNEW I'd used the same paint as was on the walls. But the walls suddenly had a pinkish tint, while the molding had a garish greenish-yellow tint. Side by side, they both looked disgusting.

So. I repaintd the entire room. With a brush. Now it all matches. THEN I decided to paint the ceiling, too. It's all a creamy white. (Behr Pot of Cream if you wanna get specific.

But... things can never be that easy. No, of course not. I'd had Dani paint the shelves for me, and I handed her the paint I wanted... Cranberry Whip... the same paint I'd used on the window frames and in the adjacent family room. She painted away. When we brought the shelves in to install, I realized, with a sneer on my face, that they didn't match my window frames. HOW COULD THAT BE?? I knew I'd used the same paint as was in the family room. I KNEW it.

I was wrong. Silly me. My scraproom was the first room we painted when we bought the house, so that that I could get right to work and start making some money. We didn't do the family room for another SIX months. Couldn't have been the same paint. No wonder the cream didn't match the cream, and the red didn't match the red.

It's all matchy matchy now, though! And I'm a happy scrapper.


last Monday, while at Cracker Barrel with the kids after school, I started feeling bad. Achy. Run-down. Headache. By 6 o'clock that evening, I had chills and fever. I went to bed at 8:30 that night. ME! The next day, the fever was out of control, and I started feeling that familiar "crinkling" in my lungs when I breathed, so I made an appointment for the next morning, and an x-ray confirmed my suspicions: pneumonia. I can't believe how quickly it came on! But I caught it early, so hopefully it'll be a much easier recovery than 4 years ago. But because of the pneumonia, being weak and feeling awful and short of breath, but mostly because of doctor's orders to stay off of my feet ('cause I'd've pushed myself to the LIMIT to get this room done), my scraproom remained in a state of disarray. The ladder was still standing in the middle of the room. The dining table was stacked with piles and piles of stuff. You could hardly get through the back door for all the junk.

Darren and Dani spent the weekend with me sitting in a cushy chair directing them where to put what. They've been SUCH troopers. My room is almost back to normal, except now it has some new features. I can't wait to get everything just like I want it. I'm ready to PLAY! And I reallllllly need to work. I've got several jobs waiting, and bills to pay.

Here's a sneak peak. It's what I see from my perch at the computer desk in the family room. It makes me happy. :)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

first week of school

Ian started Kindergarten last Monday. I didn't expect him to love it. He didn't.

But he didn't HATE it, either. He was even excited that morning, and as I brushed his hair, he said, "Hey. I look like a pretty good Kindergartener!" He had a spring in his step as we walked up the street to school, and was fine all the way down the hallway to his classroom. But when we stepped inside and heard two other little boys crying their heads off, he stopped in his tracks and refused to go another step. I'd nudge him forward, and he'd take three steps back.

I said, "Ian, you can sit anywhere you want. How 'bout in this chair, at this table with all these boys?"


"Then how 'bout at that table over there, where no one is sitting yet?"

"Okay," he said.

"But you know, with all those empty seats, a girl might come and sit by you."

He immediately took the seat at the boys' table. lol!

He was timid, hesitant and a little unnerved, but he didn't cry. I reminded him that Aidan would be right down the hall the whole day, and then I walked away. He would not say goodbye to me, and wouldn't give me a hug. TOUGH GUY. Hmpf.

After school, I took the three kids to Cracker Barrel for dessert, a tradition that Dani and I began when SHE was a Kindergartener. We've done it every first day of school since. Aidan told us about his day (he LOVES 1st grade - no surprise there), and Dani told us about hers, but Ian had nothing to tell.

"I don't remember," he answered when I asked what he did.
"Did your teacher read any books?"
"Yes. Three."
"What were they?"
"The first one was called The Kissing Hand."
"And what were the others?"
"I don't remember."
"Hmm. What else did you do?"
"I said I don't remember."
"Ian, surely you remember SOMETHING."
"Don't ask me what I did at school, because I DON'T REMEMBER."

So I asked him if he liked it. He replied with an emphatic NO. At bedtime, he said, "I think I really DID like Kindergarten." Then he grinned sheepishly, tucked his chin, and shielded his eyes.

Ian is a clone of his daddy. They look exactly alike, they're both scary smart, and they're both painfully shy. Darren has largely outgrown and learned to deal with his shyness, but he still has a hard time in crowds and at large parties. Ian is exactly the same way. One time last year, I invited a neighbor girl over to play with him, shortly after Aidan started school. Ian spent the whole time hiding under the coffee table, and refused to come out. I never made THAT mistake again! (Ian HATES girls!!) His favorite thing about the school day is recess, but not because he gets to play. It's because he gets to be ALONE. Every day, I ask, "Who'd you play with on the playground?" He looks at me like I'm stupid for asking again, and says, "Myself."

He's gonna do just fine. :)