Sunday, August 30, 2009

Is everyone excited??

I just finished my VERY LONG post about the BIG SURPRISE. It is set to publish at midnight on Tuesday, September 1!!

Do a happy dance, people. It's coming.

Friday, August 28, 2009

And if you were wondering what to order at Starbucks today?

I have your answer. It's the Shaken Passion Tea Lemonade (sweetened). It's wonderful and refreshing and it tastes like Summer.

By the way, does anybody want to do the "It's 81 degrees outside" dance? Because it is. Yessssssss.

Fall decorations go up tomorrow.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

September 1. Get excited.

In 4 days, I have a big announcement.

Really big. Like, really really big.

And no, I'm not pregnant.

It's back!

It's that time of year again.

The long hot days of summer are shortening, the school zones are once again slowing morning commutes down, and AWANA is back in session.

This is my second year as an AWANA leader (well, at this church at least). I joined last year, partially for something to do but mostly because it would guarantee my neighbor kids a spot in the high-demand program.

Since AWANA was as much a staple of my childhood as cartoons are to most kids (I say "most kids" because we didn't really watch cartoons... why watch TV when you have an awesome stay-at-home mom who will take you to the zoo instead?), I wanted it to continue to be a part of Aubree and Ashlyn's life, if only for a few more years. Plus, it gave their parents a few hours to themselves, since they could just drop the girls off and I would bring them home a few hours later. Win-win-win, I say.

This year, I had the benefit of walking into the AWANA room and actually knowing what I was doing not being completely clueless, with the added benefit of having really good friends there I was looking forward to serving with.

I was standing around visiting with Sarah before club started, when a new 3rd grader arrived, unsure of what to do. I introduced myself, told her a little about what to expect, and started discussing AWANA with her. In the middle of one of my sentences, she randomly put her little arms around my waist and hugged me for seemingly no reason at all.

In a sad world where we're told to try not to even accept hugs if we can help it (for security reasons), it's nice to still see the innocence of a kid who's just glad to have found someone who will help her figure out where she's supposed to sit in this new group.

And as much as I tried to follow the "no-hugs" rule, I found it difficult since there were so many little girls who were so eager to tackle me with their affection.

As for my small group, well, I hit the jackpot.

There's the "kid with the attitude" that I had last year, who, judging by tonight's behavior, seems to have grown up considerably since last school year, and I couldn't be more thrilled. Knock on wood.

There's the little girl I judged harshly in my mind based on her inital rambunctiousness, who later surprised me by spouting off her verses word-perfect and effortlessly, as if they were written on the wall behind me.

Then there's the quiet, brilliant, and kind daughter of one of my co-workers, and the little girl who just moved here who is so ridiculously sweet I can hardly contain my excitement. I can already tell I'll be looking forward to seeing those two every week.

And of course there's Aubree, who I have known since she was kicking my 13-year-old hand from the inside of her mom's pregnant stomach. She's the one who reads huge chapter books and totally gets my sarcasm. The one who is so mature that at this point, she's closer to a friend than just the kid I used to babysit.

Time after time, these kids amaze me with their developing personalities and senses of humor. I love seeing the lesson click for them during council time, and I love how excited they get during game time when their team wins first place. I love the little notes they give me and the little jokes they tell me. I love showing up every week and recieving the hugs I'm not really supposed to accept. I love hearing their little voices recite the word of God.

It's going to be a good year.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lest you think I have abandoned you...

...because I have. Abandoned you, that is. I haven't blogged in eight whole days! Why has no one called my husband to offer condolences? Because surely the only reason I would take a blogging hiatus for eight whole days must be that I am dead.

Guess what! I'm not!

Actually, I don't have a good reason for staying away for so long. I mean, other than laziness, busyness, blog designing, and having nothing to write about. And by "nothing" I mean "nothing long enough for a whole post." So I shall offer you a bulleted list of my goings-on, lazy-blogger style.

  • This weekend I went to a Women of Faith conference with some of my co-workers. My boss was generous enough to get us all tickets, and I had a nice time with everyone, and I was very excited to see Steven Curtis Chapman perform on Friday night.


    I have a hard time enjoying conferences like these, partially because I'm fairly cynical when it comes to religious "productions." I'm usually on the production side of such things, and so maybe I'm jaded, but I kind of hate it when people put on a show for me and tell me to feel spiritual. Matthew Turner calls this hype a "joygasm" in his [awesome] book "Churched," and that's the word that kept coming to mind when I was sitting there listening to the show.

    It also didn't help that they took about 40% of the time plugging their books, future conferences, WorldVision, and their other sponsors. I mean, I realize they have to spend some time doing that, but I feel like they wasted a lot of mine.

    Also, the whole "let's tell a sad story and cry and then sing" thing doesn't really appeal to me either. I'm not the girl you see in church putting her hands in the air during the worship songs (or sometimes, even singing at all), and I'd rather hear teaching and theology than stories about "How God changed mah life when I was saaaad." I'm sure this stuff has a place for some people, but for me, not so much. I don't need an emotional experience to believe what I believe.

    So there you have it. I have no soul.

  • Last night I went to my parents' house to pick up the dog (she stays there while we're at work because she just can't seem to stop peeing on the carpet), who henceforth should be referred to as the damn dog. But, you know, people don't like it when you say "damn."

    Anyway, my parents and I were in the office, mom and I having called my dad in from his dinner to help us with something. As we've learned before, leaving food on an end table where Maggie can get to it is not a good idea. Leaving food anywhere that Maggie can get to it is not a good idea.

    But by the time he realized his mistake, it was too late. He came back to a plate of only sauerkraut where there used to be sausage, sauerkraut, and cauliflower. (What kind of weird dog likes cauliflower but not sauerkraut?)

    Damn dog.

  • So you know how your mom is pretty much the nicest person on the planet even though you mercilessly tease her about her chronic disease and inability to make decisions and the fact that her house is a vortex? And you know how she bought you a laptop last night for no other reason than that your old one is slow and she loves you?

    Oh, wait, no that was my mom.

  • I know you think all I ever talk about is the war on geckos, but let me tell you, they're vicious. As I was turning on the light last night after walking in the door, I swear the biggest gecko I've ever seen ran between my legs into my living room. If ever there was a time to scream and wet myself, this was it.

    I'm pretty certain that if Satan had a pet gecko, this would have been it. He was big and evil and had sharp teeth. I couldn't even put a glass over him and save him for Jack; he was too big for the glass. So I did what any reasonable, adult woman would do.

    I called my daddy.

  • So Awana starts tonight and I'm very excited. First of all, this year my co-leader is my buddy Sarah, with whom I have lots of fun. Second of all, I have some awesome girls in my group, and I know this because I had a few of them last year and they're pretty much the sweetest kids on the planet. Third, and most importantly, kids say funny stuff, so most likely they will finally give me something to blog about again.

    And thank goodness for that.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The girl

Growing up, I was in AWANA, a scripture memorization program at church. When I got a little older, I started going to AWANA camp every summer. From crafts to games to Bible studies to chapels, it was exactly what you would expect a church camp experience would be. I met a lot of other AWANA kids, most of whose names I no longer remember.

But there was one girl. A girl I looked forward to seeing year after year.

The girl who spoke gently and quietly; the girl who was always kind even when she didn't feel like it.

The girl who whispered back to me long after lights-out and giggled in the darkness as our counselor shushed us.

The girl who shared my obsession with "Adventures in Odyssey" and the relationship between Connie and Mitch in the millionth AIO season.

The girl who ran like mad with me to the morning game circle as the closing phrases of "Stars and Stripes Forever" blared over the speaker, foreshadowing our humiliation if we arrived late.

The girl who laughed and laughed when I knocked on the bathroom door in our cabin and asked if she was lonely in there.

The girl I never forgot, even long after I stopped going to camp.

Remember in Anne of Green Gables, when Anne's all cheesy and annoying about how Diana is her "bosom friend?" Kindred spirits, they were.

I'll spare you the drama and the precociousness of an Anne Shirley impression, but if there was anybody in this world I think God specifically placed in my life beautifully, purposefully, and permanently, it's this girl.

(This picture is from camp when we were about 14ish?)

These days, I know her as the girl who persevered through school despite outrageous challenges. The girl who chose nursing as a career because of her desire to help others.

The girl who you can make blush ridiculously easily. (She's blushing right now reading this, actually.)

The girl who screams at the television right along with my husband as their beloved Cowboys lose game after game.

The girl who knocked on my bathroom door on my wedding day and asked if I was lonely in there.

The girl with a heart for missions. The girl who wants to marry a man who loves Jesus more than he loves her. (The girl who's single, by the way, gentlemen! ;-) And now she's definitely blushing.)

The girl who still whispers and giggles with me late into the night every time we get together.

She's the girl I know my daughters will look up to when they want to see a woman of God. The kind of girl I want my sons to grow up and marry.

Friendships like these do not come along often, and not a day goes by that I do not feel infinitely blessed by this one.

Happy birthday, Angela!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not Me! Monday - Couponing obsession edition

I'm sleepy, but there are just too many of these to skip today's Not Me Monday (a la MckMama!)

I did not spend all week planning for Saturday's Kroger run. I was not ridiculously excited about their doubling $1 coupons, and I did not reiterate my excitement to my husband about eleventy-billion times until he gave me a "I get it! You're excited about Kroger!"

My friend and I did not decide to go to Kroger at midnight Saturday morning rather than, you know, a normal time, to avoid the crowds. We did not still find quite a crowd of couponers, and we definitely did not leave at 4 in the morning!!!

It was not totally worth it. And I did not go back again the next day.

When I told Jack about the story about the "crazy couponers" that were there at 4 a.m., he did not look at me funny and say "Um, weren't you one of the crazy couponers that was there at 4 a.m.?"

Then, at 1 a.m. on Sunday, I did not also drag Jack to CVS for the weekly CVS run. I am not becoming addicted to grocery/drug store shopping at ungodly hours.

There is no chance that I was so lazy that I just did this:
...instead of actually putting the toilet paper on the roll like I was supposed to. I do not wish I could blame that on Jack.

Also, my husband does not call this brand of toilet paper "Angel Crap" because he hates it so much. I do not continue to buy it even though he hates it because it's always free with coupons.

Finally, my friend Angela's birthday gift is NOT sitting on Jack's pool table instead of in the mail to her, even though her birthday is tomorrow. I would NEVER forget to send anything on time.

What did you not do this week?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The pervert in my shower

They're after me. Again!

As I've mentioned before, I have this strange habit of showering in the dark. Just before I turned the water on tonight, I happened to flip the light switch on, and boy am I glad I did.

There he was. Just sitting there, waiting for me to trap myself inside a glass prison with him. Waiting for me to grab that conditioner so that he could crawl up my arm.


I had a peeping gecko!! Even worse, just before I took this picture, he also had a little video camera and binoculars in his tiny hand. He was ready for me.

Get out of my shower, pervert gecko!!

Behold! I have organized the pantry and laundry room closet!

Alternately titled: The reason your blog designs are not finished yet.

Kitchen pantry - Before Mid-organizing, when I realized I should take a "before" picture

Alternately titled "Honey, do we have any cereal?"


Laundry room closet - Before


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Best book ever?

So I got a 40% off coupon for a paperback at Borders (got it in an e-mail - you can get those e-mails with a Borders card), and I would like to use it.

Any recommendations for the best book ever (that's out in paperback, please?).


And now, a commercial that I think is hilarious. Because I'm a big nerd.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Welcome to Not Me Monday, a blog carnival created by MckMama.

It has not been a ridiculously long time since I have done a "Not Me! Monday." I am not doing this mostly for my cousin, who whined that I hadn't done one in a while. (Hi, Jennie!)

Jack and I did not spend this weekend mostly sitting on our butts, me blog designing, card-making, and letter painting, and him playing games on his computer.

One of the only times we got out, we did not buy this couch for Jack's office so we could have a second guest room. It was not a semi-impulse buy.

I did not offer up ten blog makeovers for a contest, and I have not been going crazy trying to get them all designed for everybody. It has not been really, really fun to give this many blogs away, and I'm not considering giving away more.

At no point this weekend did my husband consider licking a remote control.

We did not buy Klondike bars on sale this weekend, and I have not eaten four of them since we bought them. I do not spend all my waking hours thinking about the ones left in my freezer.

At no point this week did my dog lock me out of my own house (and certainly not twice!), urinate in my husband's truck, or steal chicken right off my dinner plate.

I did not finally figure out Statcounter enough to find out that two Google searches that led to my blog were "defriended in facebook hurts," and, my personal favorite: "tanning topless in my garden."

I definitely didn't discover I was wearing my shirt backwards in the middle of the work day last week.

Last week, we did not have a really disgusting smell in our house, leading us to believe that a mouse or rat had died in our walls.

It was not actually the many pounds of meat in our garage-freezer thawing out after the power having been out for several days. The fact that we really overbuy ice for parties did not save our butts in this situation.

We did not refreeze the meat that was still cold even though we knew it would lower the quality and put us at risk of food poisoning. (We do not have super-low food quality standards).

What did you not do this week?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cajun Chronicle

On Thursday night, I arrived home and noticed that our front lawn was mowed.

Awwww! Jack mowed our lawn! And on his busy day at work too! I thought.

When I got inside, I opened up his laptop, opened a Word document, and typed a nice message to him.

Thank you for mowing our lawn, husband! I love living with you!

When it came time to make dinner, I went into the kitchen and opened the pantry, noticing a box of red beans and rice on one of the shelves.

"Jack loves Cajun food! Since he was so nice to mow the lawn today, I'll make him a special dinner - Cajun grilled chicken, red beans and rice, and fresh green beans," I thought.

And it was an awesome meal. Not only did I go all out with the Cajun-ness (when Jack took his first bite of chicken he made a loud yummy noise and said "you nailed it."), I decided that, for the first time ever, I would cook the fresh green beans the way his mom makes them - boiling them in chicken broth and real bacon - rather than steaming them, which is how I always cook them.

I may have created a monster, because he went crazy over them (and I must admit, they were pretty amazing).

After he had finished eating, he opened his laptop to play a game. Seeing my message, he looked at me, confused.

"Thank you for mowing the lawn?" he read aloud. "I didn't mow the lawn."

"You didn't?" I asked, surprised.

"Nope," he confessed.

Turns out my Dad mowed it. Guess I owe Dad a Cajun dinner.


It was day 2 of my Cajun dinner (also known as leftover night). Jack had just put his feet up in his recliner, plate in his lap, and he grabbed the remote to turn our DVD player on. All of the sudden, he lost control of the remote in his hand and dropped it.

Right into his red beans and rice.

"Awwwwwwwwwwwww!" he whined, as he picked up the gooey remote from his dinner plate. As he held it up and stared at it, I recognized the look that flashed across his face.

"No, Jack," I warned. "Don't do it."

"Do what?" he asked, innocently.

"Don't lick the remote," I said. A goofy grin came to his face.

"I thought about it," he replied.

I know you did, Jack. I know you did.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The one in which I pretend to be a cheerleader [even though I never ever was one]

Give me a "Z!"

Give me an "O!"

Give me an "E!"

What does that spell?

Hopefully it spells one happy mama to one pretty little baby girl!


Ps - This is the first thing I ever really painted. I liked it! I think I'll do it again!

Pps - The pink ribbon in the picture will go on them for hangers, hopefully to look something like this.

Reader poll: Do the edges need a border of some sort (maybe polka dots?) or should I just leave it alone?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dog with a death wish?

The dog just ate the chicken RIGHT OFF MY PLATE! I only went to the bathroom for a second and she ATE THE CHICKEN RIGHT OFF MY PLATE! Jack was even in the room! He was asleep in his chair, but still.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm not the only one who hates the dog

Text message from Jack, 2:45 p.m.:
I'm going to kill her. She perf in my truck!

Text message from Jack, a few seconds later:

He also called me, enraged that even though he locked her up behind the gate all morning and let her outside for a good amount of time, she still managed to poop on the carpet during the couple hours he was home in the afternoon.

Needless to say, I sat in my office at work laughing at his misfortune (and at the "perf" text message). Because I'm an awesome wife. And because for once, I didn't have to clean up the mess.

The one in which I can't dress myself or get into my house

Today, I was walking to Starbucks and talking to my friend Joanna, when I happened to glance down and notice something strange. The front of my white tank top that I was wearing under my shirt looked weird.

Upon closer inspection, I found this:

Oh yes. I was wearing my undershirt backwards.

23 years old and I still can't properly dress myself.


When I got home today (in the pouring rain, by the way), I was anxious to see how Maggie did on her first day in "jail." After coming home way too many times to urine stains (or worse) on my carpet, I decided it was time to invest in a baby gate. She just couldn't be trusted to roam free when we were gone anymore.

We have a little tiled area at our back door where the gate would fit really well, and it would be better than putting her in a crate. She had plenty of room to move around, and her bed, food, water, and toys would all fit there nicely. In fact, that's where we used to keep our dogs in the summer when I was growing up (they were outside dogs but sometimes it was just tooooo hot).

I could hear Maggie inside as I started to open the door. She was excitedly whining. I turned the handle and pushed.

The door didn't budge.

My initial thought was that Jack set up the gate on the back door, since he leaves out of the front sometimes.

Great, I thought. He locked me out. And I don't even have a key to the house.

Fortunately, my neighbors have a copy of the key, and I was able to get in the front. When I opened the front door, Maggie greeted me excitedly.

"Maggie, what are you doing here? You're not supposed to be out!" I said to her, as I walked to the back door to inspect the damage.

She had knocked down the gate to get out. It was wedged between the opposite wall and the door, and therefore preventing the door from opening from the outside.

My dog locked me out of my own house.

She's an evil genius.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Just got this e-mail:

Congratulations Mandy!!!!!! 

Your blog entry has won our skin cancer awareness blog contest! We did not expect anyone to run a contest in parallel to ours. Your idea awarded your blog the most comment and referral points. We will be sending a link to your blog to all the contestants today, as well as posting a link in our own blog on to showcase the contest. The link to our blog can be found here:

A big THANK YOU to all you crazy awesome ladies (and gentlemen) who spent your evenings in the comment section of that blog entry! My readers rock!!


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rachael's doing it again!

Generally I don’t like to promote sales here or tell you to buy stuff (other than, of course, Vicks Tissues. Buy millions of those!), but I was really excited to see that Rachael is doing her “Get it All” coupon again at her Pretty Scrappy store. This is how I bought all her stuff, and it was the most amazing deal ever.

For those of you who don’t know, Rachael is the designer I like to work with for my Blogs by Mandy blog designs. Designers don’t have to give permission to use their stuff for anything but personal use, but Rachael was kind enough to give me permission to use not just one or two kits, but her whole store for commercial use (and for no extra charge! That’s huge!). Plus she’s completely delightful to work with and extremely talented, so I really like her.

If you’ve ever been remotely interested in digital scrapbooking, now’s the time to stock up on stuff. Digital kits will cost you anywhere between $3 and $15 each, so I know from experience that this $25 for Rachael’s whole store is a really fantastic deal.

Monday, August 3, 2009

New comment system

Give it a try! This one (that I stole from Sara) lets me reply to your comment in the thread, and you'll get an e-mail with my reply! Then, when you reply to that e-mail, it puts that next comment on the thread in the comment section! It's a great way for me to be able to interact better with you when you leave comments.

Anybody want to test it for me?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Blog design tips - Question and Answer

I recently posted a thread on MckMama's BlogFrog forum answering blog design questions. Here are some of the questions and my answers from that thread.


How do I get three columns on my blog?

This is the tutorial I used when I first learned how to create a 3 column blog layout. It was really easy to follow, and I had it done in no time. From there, I modified colors and such as I wanted to.

How do I make a blog button for others post on their blogs?

First, you create an image that's roughly 150x150 pixels. Then, put it on a web site that hosts photos, like From there, you can just use this code to put it on your blog with a little blog box underneath that will allow your followers to grab your button. Just change my URL ( to your own, and my image URL ( to your image URL.

<div align="center"> <a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Jack and Mandy - The Blog" src=""/></a> </div><span style="font-style: italic;" class="Apple-style-span"><span style="font-weight: bold;" class="Apple-style-span"><div>
</div> <div align="center">Grab our button for your blog!<div><span style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;" class="Apple-style-span">
</span><div align="center"> <form><textarea rows="6" cols="20"><center><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Jack and Mandy - The Blog" src=""/></a></center></textarea></form> </div>

How do I make is so my posted pictures cannot be clicked on [to enlarge them]?

After you add the photo in your post, visit the HTML section of your post. See where it says "href" with a URL after it? That's the link to the actual photo image. Remove that URL, and people won't be able to click on it to make it bigger any more.

How do I change my background image?

You can change your page background by finding the section in your HTML that says "body." See the part that says "background" in that section? If it's just a color (aka something like #ffffff or $backgroundcolor), replace it with this:

background-image:url(;background-position: center; background-repeat:no-repeat; background-attachment: fixed;

But replace my background (the photobucket URL) with the URL of your image. Let me know if that works for you!

Do you know how to make the headers rotate every time you refresh the page?

I've never made a rotating blog header, but if I was going to, I would probably follow these instructions. Sorry I can't help more on that one!

Can you tell me how to make a flashing blog button?

Same goes for the flashing blog button - I've never done one but these look like very simple instructions to do that too!

I use Photobucket as my online pix host; when I load pictures there using their "large setting" the pictures are really huge. And when I use "medium setting" they're smaller than I would like. What is your recommendation for dimension, pixels, etc. for posting pictures on Blogger?

Go into your HTML and find the part that says “outer-wrapper” and “main-wrapper,” or some variation of this. Your outer wrapper is the section that encompasses both the middle section and the sidebars. The main wrapper is just the middle section.

Take a look at the width of the main wrapper’s width (mine is right under the “main-wrap” section – it says “width:485px;”) This tells you how wide your middle section is and you can adjust your photo size accordingly. I’d go with something like 300 pixels across, or less if you’d like the text around it. You can change your photo size in photobucket by going to the “edit” tab and then resizing it.

I have a three column template but the part where my posts are is a little too narrow. Some times when I put a picture it will get cut off. how can I fix that?

Go into your HTML and find the part that says “outer-wrapper” and “main-wrapper,” or some variation of this. Your outer wrapper is the section that encompasses both the middle section and the sidebars. The main wrapper is just the middle section.

Now that you’ve found the main-wrapper, the part of your code you want to change, you can change “width” number to be larger to make it wider. However, for it to work right, you’ll also have to change the outer wrapper’s width to be wide enough for the new width of the main wrapper plus the width of the sidebar wrapper(s) (which will be below the main wrapper in the same section.)

How do I disable right clicks on my blog?

If I was going to do this, I'd use this tutorial.

The night of two geckos

They've started to organize themselves, and I know it's only a matter of time before I'm dealing with a full-fledged gecko military attack.

I can just see them, with their tiny helmets, tiny uniforms, and tiny M-16 rifles. Some of them will be riding on tiny tanks, and some will be pulling tiny pins out of tiny hand grenades. As I'm writing this, there's another one on the outside of our front door's window, no doubt on a covert spy mission to infiltrate our defenses.

I saw gecko number one (we'll call him Adolf) in the foyer as I was walking to the bathroom. I froze. I was alone in the house. I had no backup on this mission. Calmly (no really, I was calm), I walked to the kitchen and grabbed a glass.

I will not let them win.

Quickly and confidently, I slipped the glass over the offender, and with one clink, I was safe once again. Adolf circled the glass several times, suddenly a prisoner of war. I think I may have even heard a tiny "Noooooooooooo!"

Maybe not.

A few hours later, I came home from CVS (what do you do at 1 a.m. on Saturday night/Sunday morning? I'm so darn cool.) to find another one. On the ceiling!

Fortunately, Jack was home by then, so I didn't have to sit on the couch the rest of the night staring at the gecko, lest it launch an all-out air attack.

I suggested getting the ShopVac and its long attachments out and sucking it off the ceiling. Evidently that was "cruel." This is the method he chose instead.