Friday, December 31, 2010

Favorite toys of 2010

Life isn't all about things. No, life is about love and family and Christmas with all your favorite people who don't mind when you totally screw up the creamed corn and ham and very much about husbands who do the dishes and cuddle and make you laugh until your stomach hurts.

But.

There are still some things that make you feel all warm and fuzzy every time you use them. I have things like that. And the warm and fuzzy things deserve a blog post. Because, warm. Fuzzy.

(I'm totally using Amazon affiliate links. Because, money. But I paid for all those things myself or got them as gifts from friends and family, because I am so not popular enough for these companies to send me this kind of stuff.)
  • Rubbermaid Easy Find tupperware - Oh my cow, who knew that tupperware could make you so very happy? The almost all-one-size lids all lock together and everything stacks beautifully. Gone are the days of shoving all the tupperware into my cabinet and closing the door as fast as I can before it topples back out on me. The trick is to make sure you get rid of your old stuff though.

  • iPhone 4 - But I don't want to talk about it. It makes me feel dirty.

  • Breville Panini Press - Jack got me this for Christmas. And my in-laws got me one too! (I'm guessing they're going to communicate a little more next year). And oh, the sandwiches. Crisp and fancy and delicious. I'm so in love. DON'T put the tomatoes right next to the bread as they obliterate with their delicious moisture. DO add artichoke hearts on your panini. You're welcome.

  • Kindle - This isn't mine; it's Jack's. But he adores his and takes it everywhere he goes. I have the Kindle app on my iPhone and I'm loving that too. No more trying to figure out what to do with the millions of paper books we've already read! (I mean, I guess we still have to figure out what to do with those, but we won't have to buy any new ones, at least.)

  • Scrapbooks Etc. magazine - My mom gets really, really excited when she gets Handyman Magazine in the mail. I can't for the life of me figure out why she likes that one so much, but that's how I feel when I get this magazine. I scraplift from it for both paper and digital, and they have great tips for both beginner and advanced techniques. It's like Jenni Hufford in magazine format. Love.

  • Revlon Age Defying Moisterizing Concealer - I had Maybelline concealer for a long time. So long, in fact, that I began to refer to it as my "manna concealer" because even though it was "empty" for an entire year, every morning, there would be just enough to use that day. It was cu-razy. But anyway, by the time I finally actually ran out, it had been discontinued, I guess. So I had to do the scary, scary, job of picking a new brand (which meant trying to match my old color to a new color OMG HOLD ME). I ended up going with Revlon, mostly because that's the brand of lip gloss my grandma had that I ended up with and loved. The concealer is equally impressive - much better coverage than the Maybelline and stays on noticeably longer. I am very happy with it, especially for a drugstore makeup.

  • Shark Vac then Steam Mop - I would write a song about this steam mop if I had any kind of talent whatsoever. It would be a love song, in case you were wondering. I used Ellyn's once while I was in Florida this year, and even though it was awesome (yay steam! yay sanitation! YAY LIFE!), it's not quite as awesome as mine. Because mine is a dustbuster first and then a steam mop. So, I win. Sorry, El.

  • Bissell Carpet Steamer - Speaking of steam, Jack got this for me at a garage sale for $30 and it was basically brand new! And I know it's pricey brand new, but I think you can also rent them and they're totally worth it. This is the kind of machine with which I would hold hands and skip through a field of daisies if it was into that kind of thing. I try to steam my carpets at least every other week, and it makes such a huge difference, especially with The Evil Urine Dog in the house. Also, I don't buy the expensive shampoo stuff for it - I just use liquid laundry detergent, and it works great.

  • Fabric coffee sleeve - My in-laws got me this super-cool little Starbucks brand coffee sleeve for Christmas, and even though I'm concerned that people will think that I care about the environment when I use it, it really is very nice. Not only does it keep my hands cool and safe, it keeps my coffee hot and delicious. The Starbucks version has little grippies on the inside like on the bottom of comfy socks, which is very cool. My only complaint with the Starbucks brand one is that it has a great pocket that is just slightly too small for my Starbucks card. Silly. My friend Erin also sews her own version, and they are SO CUTE. She has the best taste ever. She makes birdies and owls and uses vintage buttons and just trust me on this one. If you want to buy hers, let me know. I'll get her to give me pictures and prices.

  • iHome Bike-to-beach speaker system for iPod - I'm not going to lie, I don't love exercise. In fact, I kind of hate it. But I'm pretty much stuck doing BikeMS at this point because my selfish mom wants her chronic disease cured. This iHome is perfect. It mounts where one of your water bottles goes and snaps in tight so it doesn't move, and you have a little remote control you can mount on your handle bars so you can turn it up or down, pause, or skip to the next song. Your iPhone won't fit in it and close for riding though - it's too tall for that, so you have to have an iPod.

  • Rachael's Scraps Store - Okay, so this is totally my secret weapon when it comes to digiscrap design when I'm low on time. She has extremely high quality commercial use products, and I have been very happy with everything I've purchased there. While I'm on digiscrap designers that save me time, I also love Chrissy W. Templates, and my favorite kit designers are Creations by Rachael, Jacabean, and Down This Road Designs (I know, I CT/have CTed for all of those kit designers, but that's because I love them. Fo realz).

  • Kinect for Xbox 360 - Oh my gosh, my brother and sister-in-law sent us this for Christmas and it is SO MUCH FUN. And the technology? Freaking incredible. I probably will never play a Wii again. This one uses your entire body with no controller at all and functions beautifully. We play Kinect Sports with my brother on the Xbox Live network (he lives in Boston and we live in Dallas) and we have so much fun. Also, makes you super-sore. I really want to get Dance Central and the workout one. (Because I don't think we look quite ridiculous enough playing the sports one.) It's all very addicting. AND! We used it as a webcam on Christmas morning and they got to see my mom open the present we all got her. So fun.

  • Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog - Technically I didn't purchase this because you can watch it on streaming Netflix (over and over and over!), but if you haven't seen it, it's really, really important that you do. Have I ever led you astray? Trust me on this one. I mean, Neil Patrick Harris. Amen and amen.

  • Shoowoo.com shoes - Thank you, Lindsay Ferrier. Also, I hate you.

  • Rachael Ray's Lazy Spoon and Ladle set - Jack got me these for my birthday and they are SO COOL. They fit on the edges of your pans so you don't need a spoon rest. They are dishwasher safe, and I like the flexible feel of them. Related: my in-laws just gave me a super-cool spoon rest clippie thing for my pots to use with my regular spoons too! I used it while I was cooking Christmas dinner, and I love it.
More things I love on my running list and last year's favorite things list (which are kind of the same).

Friday, December 17, 2010

He's not going to work any harder

Now that the cat's out of the bag about our big purchase, I might as well tell you something about Jack.

When he finally owns this taekwondo school, he's not going to work any harder than he does now.

There might be more work to do, sure. Actually, there most definitely will be more work, and it will take up a lot more of our time. No doubt about that.

But he will not work any harder.

We will be making the money, and how he performs will directly and significantly impact our income for the first time.

But he will not work any harder.

The instruction he gives his students will make or break us; if they don't like him and leave, we will have to worry about replacing them to pay the bills.

But he will not work any harder.

I am confident about this statement because I have known my husband for eight years, and I have never, ever seen him do his job half-heartedly or below his very best abilities.

He's not going to work any harder because he can't possibly work any harder.

No matter what situation he's in, Jack embodies the commandment from Colossians 3:23-24:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Every sales meeting. Every class. Every inventory. Every private lesson with a difficult student. Every late night sorting belts. Every judging assignment at a tournament. Every report he must turn in. Every toilet he scrubs.

He does all of it excellently. With all of his heart. As working for the Lord.

I have so many reasons to be proud of my husband, but one of the foremost reasons in my mind is his work ethic. I think that's one of the most impressive things that his parents ever taught him (well, that, and how chivalrous and respectful he is toward women).

I have seen him perform when nobody will notice. I have seen him excel when there will be no reward. I have seen him care when he hasn't been given a reason to.

And that's how I know that when it's his recognition, his reward, his gain?

He's not going to work any harder for it.

His place

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Only thing to do is jump over the moon

I've been keeping a secret lately. At least, from the internets. We've been working on something very big lately, and even as I'm writing this, I'm not allowed to actually publish it. I'm not really sure when he'll let me. To be honest, I have a feeling he doesn't want me to "jinx" it (not that we believe in that kind of thing).

It all started August 11. That was the day Jack had a meeting with his bosses asking whether he could purchase the taekwondo school that he manages. It was kind of an all-or-nothing kind of meeting for him. Jack had gotten to a point in his career where he just couldn't see himself working for someone else any longer. It has been his dream to own his own taekwondo school since he was 12 years old, and that just wasn't happening.

The first time he tried to buy it, the leasing company wasn't on board and it fell through the week before our wedding.

The next time he tried to buy it, about a year and a half ago, his bosses said "no." The school was making too much money and was supporting the other two schools, so they didn't want to sell it.

The doors just kept closing on us.

But like I said before, this was it. Jack couldn't work for somebody else any longer. He was unhappy, and uncertain about his future.

And unlike a year before when he asked, his bosses said "yes." Not because it was making less money, but I think probably because they knew they couldn't keep him much longer as an employee if they didn't sell it to him. Which was true - he was ready to update his resume and move on if this didn't work out.

We were so excited. But cautiously so. After all, we had gotten this far before. In fact, we had gotten a lot farther than this before. And there were a lot of obstacles.

We had to come up with a rather large down payment. But then a perfect financial partner showed up, interested in investing.

Then, we had to find a new location with more space and a better landlord. And we found one right across the street and got approved for that as well.

Then we had to get a loan with the business plan and school's financial history. And the bank approved its part of it.

We will have to get the new location built out. And the new leasing company offered to pay for most of the big stuff there.

We had to get the business appraised for both the loan and the lease for as much as the asking price in order to get a big enough loan. And it came in way over the asking price.

So far, everything has fallen into place, and we have gotten farther than we ever have in our previous purchase attempts. Currently, the purchase agreement is being looked over by our lawyer and the paperwork has been filed with the SBA. We were hoping to have the school purchase completed by the end of December, though the SBA is kind of backed up, so it may be the end of January before we get the final approval.

But today, Jack signed the lease at the new place. The five-year lease which had to be signed before the SBA will actually loan us the money.

Gulp.

I believe this is what you call a "leap of faith."

But it's happening. This fabulous school, full of amazing, kind, generous, wonderful people who have become family to us, is about to be ours, God willing. And I do mean that "God willing" part. It's very much up to Him at this point, and this entire process has been a test of our patience and faith, as I'm sure actually being small business owners [OMG] will be.

So far, for the first time, the doors have been swinging wide open for us.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

He looked at me and said

"Did you hear that song?

Doo do do doo do do Jump on it. Jump on it. Jump on it. Jump on it.

Why do you always laugh when I sing that song?

I don't know why you laugh at me.

That's a funny song.

I guess that's why you're laughing.

Never mind. I figured it out."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

He's nicer

My friend Nikki is staying with us this week. She's been fun to have around despite her having to study for her finals (in fact, I'm quite sure I didn't help that any over the last few days when I've distracted her from studying with all my shiny objects). The other night, I was making Jack a cake after he had complained for a few days that he wanted cake and demanded that I make him one.

I find it's really beneficial to reward that kind of behavior.

"You're really nice to him," Nikki said as I was complaining that this was just going to teach him that whining pays off. "He had better be nice to you."

I laughed.

"Honestly? He is," I told her, thoughtfully. "He's way nicer to me than I am to him."

And it's true. He is nicer to me than I am to him.

Even though most of the time that I'm annoyed, I snap at him with a harsh tone, Jack barely ever raises his voice or speaks disrespectfully toward me. Though I often forget to do things when he asks because I don't make it a priority, Jack is constantly getting things done for us, such as paying our bills, waiting for people who need to fix things at our house, and even running my errands, like taking my car to get its oil changed. When I am being grumpy and no fun, he is working hard to make me laugh.

We rarely fight and I know that is due largely in part to the fact that he speaks kindly when I am not doing so, and he keeps our lives so organized that there is little left over which to argue.

I have several close friends who have ended up on their own after their husbands left them recently. Sometimes it was a tragedy wearing on their marriage. Sometimes it was a husband's addiction. Sometimes the pressure of differing faiths wore on the couple until they couldn't stay together any more.

Living in a world full of heartbreak and divorce has caused me to really look at the way I act in my marriage, and most of the time, I'm not happy with what I see.

I am rude. I am spiteful. I am mean. I fall short in just about every way. I am surprised he puts up with it.

I absolutely can not so arrogant to think that my husband will never leave me. I have too many friends who have been left when they were willing to work on their marriages to think that. But at the same time, I think that for a marriage to really work, you have to decide that divorce is never an option (and both of you have to commit to that).

Finding a balance between those attitudes is a strange thing.

My dad says the only difference between couples who got divorced and couples who stayed together was that when it was time to get divorced, the people who stayed together it just, didn't get divorced. It's not that it was never so bad that they could have; it's that both of them committed to getting through that hard time together.

"There were times that I thought maybe the only options were to either divorce your mom or kill her," my dad jokes, after having being married to her for more than 30 years.

Fortunately, he hasn't done either yet.

But all it takes is one of those partners not to commit to that and everything you worked for is gone. And I'm guessing that every harsh tone, every ignored request, and every avoided apology from a sinful, haughty wife will wear away at even the happiest marriage.

Even if her husband is pretty perfect.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hijacked (a tale and a giveaway)

Update - Congratulations Kimber at Pure Joy! You're getting a blogjacking!!

--

I hijacked Ellyn's blog design last night. I have been working with her on a new design on and off for a while and between me being lazy and her being anal adorably particular, it's been taking a while. So last night, we were e-mailing back and forth and I said this:

I'm going to do a Christmas one of my choosing right now. And you don't get a say on what it looks like.

This led to a conversation about a blog design Trading Spaces, and I said that I would definitely do that. "I'll do yours and you do mine," I typed. She wrote back "Okay, but I'm going to have to hire you to do yours." Useless, that one.

Anyway, it was kind of a joking conversation until I found a picture in her Flickr account that I just couldn't pass up. Because when I saw it, I envisioned this header:





Which, of course, led to the blog design she has on there now against her will.





She found out about it today. I don't think she was thrilled about me putting a photo of her screaming child on her blog header. But nobody's thrilled about a hijacking. That's why they call it a hijacking and not a ride-along.

Anyway.

I like to give away a blog design at Christmas every year, remember? It's kind of fun and doesn't really cost me anything. And it means that I get comments on my blog which translates to love and popularity which fulfills my need to be in the spotlight because LOOK AT ME! I'M AN ATTENTION WHORE!

Oh yeah. The blog makeover. Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a blog design hijacking. The winner will send me up to five photos and their favorite color, all of which I may or may not use. And their blog title, which I will use. Because, come on, it's still your blog. And I will decide what your blog design looks like and design one for you. YOU WILL BE AT MY MERCY.

Of course, if you don't like it, I suppose you could just not let me install it. That's where Ellyn went wrong. Giving me her password all those many years ago. Hooray for constantly abusing privileges given by close friends!

Anyway, leave a comment here to win. For 10 extra entries, donate any amount to either my BikeMS ride or Renee's love-a-thon and leave 10 extra comments if you do. I will have random.org choose a winner on December 26.

Good luck!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Before you

Dear Babybuckle,

I'm going to be honest with you. We are not ready for you yet, despite the pleas from your grandmothers to PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, GIVE THEM GRAND BABIES BEFORE THEY DIE or the incessant questions about our reproduction plans from our friends.

It's not that we don't ever want you; I'm sure you'll be all kinds of awesome when God decides to give you to us. You will change our lives dramatically and permanently. And for now? That's not ideal.

Because this is the "before you" time. The time that your mom and dad are sleeping in together every weekend and staying up until 1 and 2 a.m., even on work days. We're going out to 75-cent movies together on a whim on Tuesday nights and eating dinner at 10:30 p.m. every night. We're keeping a very not-kid-friendly house clean, for the most part. We're making home improvements and big life changes together, and we're working 12-hour days at work if we need to. We are paying off student loans and laying in bed playing games on my iPhone late at night. We are teasing each other, laughing until we cry, and learning hard lessons about communication together.

We are building a life together. And that life is so, so good.

This time spent waiting will make the time we have with you even sweeter, because there will be no regrets, no lost moments with one another, and plenty of time for both of us to selfishly enjoy each other and our careers. We will know that this season, the season before you, built our friendship and marriage like nothing else could.

And that makes it completely worth the wait.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dear Taekwondo students

Dear Taekwondo students,

I can't even begin to tell you how much I love you. You are the reason for our livelihood, and most of the reason Jack stays sane at work most days. He wouldn't have stayed with it as long as he has if it wasn't for you. He absolutely adores each and every one of you, and talks my ear off about you every single day. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that - that one's a talker.

Having said that, I have to plead with you, beg with you, this Christmas season. For the love of all that is holy, please don't send him home with entire gallon-sized bags, paper plates, or holiday tins full of delicious goodies.

It's not that they're bad.

THEY'RE AMAZING.

The snickerdoodles, the hand-frosted santa-shaped sugar cookies, the red and white m&ms, and the chocolate-covered pretzels. Oh my cow. It's all. so. good.

But the sheer volume of calories? It's a problem for me.

And Jack has self-control. He can have all of that in our house and enjoy it like a normal adult does, without plunging face-first into the giant pile of cookies, all "NOM NOM NOM GIVE ME MORE COOOKIIIEEEEEE!"

One time, he had an unopened package of chewy Chips Ahoy cookies in our pantry for a good week and a half before he even opened them. I MEAN, WHO DOES THAT?

But me? Well, I'm different.



The chewy Chips Ahoy cookies are lucky if they stay unopened in the grocery store parking lot with me. In fact, that little "not opening his cookies" stunt was how he learned that he would literally have to hide food from me in order to keep it around.

I spend a vast majority of my time thinking about food. And 80% of that time thinking about food is spent thinking about sweets. I don't have that mechanism most people have that makes sweets unappealing after they have too much. I mean, I might, but it comes in the form of nausea after having eaten enough to need a good stomach pumping.

I don't keep sweets out of my house for any snobbish health reasons. I do it because if I don't, I WILL LITERALLY EAT MYSELF TO DEATH ON THEM.

So when that amount of sweets come into my house in the form of gifts? I don't have to tell you that it's a problem. Jack wakes up in the middle of the night to find that I'm not next to him in bed. He stumbles to the kitchen and flips on the light to find me huddled in the corner on the floor, licking the inside of a holiday-themed-tin, covered in chocolate and powdered sugar after having single-handedly inhaled a pound of puppy chow.

It's not a pretty picture, is it?

So please, Taekwondo students, I beg of you. Just give him one cookie. He'll appreciate it just as much as the dozen, I promise. Probably more, since he won't have to buy his wife giant new pants as a result.

Or, okay, maybe give him two cookies. Because after writing this, I'm really craving cookies. Yeah. Give us lots of cookies. Never mind all that stuff I just said. I need cookies NOW NOW NOW!!

On second thought, maybe you should just give him a card.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Modern Mandy

On Modern Family tonight, one of the characters (Cam) was ridiculously trying to help an old man and an old woman hear each other from across the mall. When that wasn't working, he told his partner (Mitchell) to stay with the old man while he chased down the woman, and that they would call each other's phones and let the older couple talk. Mitchell was completely dumbfounded and irritated as Cam ran off and left him with the old man.

"Is this what it's like to live with me?" I asked Jack, laughing. I could totally see myself doing what Cam was doing. He laughed.

"Yeah, that is what it's like to live with you," he replied.

The next scene is 30-something hot Latina Gloria and her 60-something husband Jay looking for her lost car keys. She is frustratedly searching the house as he follows her around.

"Maybe if you had a system for where you leave things," Jay lectures.

"I have a system," Gloria replies. "I put down things, then I remember where I put them."

Jack laughed and looked over at me.

"No, I was wrong. That is what it's like to live with you," he teased. I looked back at him and smirked.

"A young hot wife being lectured by her super-old husband about losing stuff?" I replied. "Yep, I think you're right."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The thoughts in my head tonight

  • Sarah Palin has a reality show? I mean honestly. Does she really want to be taken seriously as a politician? WHILE ON TLC? REALLY?
  • Yes, I will probably end up watching it. Clearly I have no boundaries for bad television. I also love Glee and 19 Kids and Counting.
     
  • Also. I am finished with my Christmas shopping. And by association, so is Jack. Since I bought all of his for him as well. Let's just take a moment to revel in that, shall we? I do not have a Christmas tree yet, and yet I also do not have any Christmas shopping to do. I believe this will be a Merry Christmas indeed. And more importantly, a Merry November 7-30 and December 1-24.
  • Speaking of voting, on voting day, they didn't give me an "I voted" sticker. We waited in line for an hour and we didn't get a sticker. DON'T THEY KNOW THIS IS THE MAIN REASON THAT I VOTE!? Government FAIL.
  • We have drank (drunk? drinked?) about eleventy billion Starbucks Gingerbread Lattes this month. We are very much enjoying the red cup bliss.
  • Last night, we went to a minor league hockey game. We knew it would be cold in there, so we were hoping to take gingerbread lattes in with us (see above). To make sure they didn't have a "no food or drink" policy in the arena, I called them and asked specifically whether I would be able to bring in Starbucks drinks. She said "oh yes, that's definitely fine. You just can't bring in like, 10 pizzas." I had no intention of bringing in 10 pizzas, so we went and bought our Starbucks drinks. And then? When we got to the arena? There was a giant "NO OUSTIDE FOOD OR DRINKS" sign and they made us throw them away. THROW THEM AWAY! So. Eleventy billion minus a half.
  • I did my best to chug my gingerbread latte before I had to throw the rest away. This is not a good idea.
  • The heater in our house is broken.
  • Jack has made me breakfast the last two Sundays. The "made-with-love" variety. The kind that makes the back of your arms all flabby but you don't care because NOM NOM NOM BACON AND LOVE BACON AND LOVE! That boy? He is nice.
  • He is also slightly crazy. In that he is just short of using formulas and mathematical equations to calculate exactly how to finish everything at exactly the same time so everything will be hot at once. I mean, he spent 5 minutes before he even started cooking just strategizing the timing.
  • It has never occurred to me to use math for... anything, really.
  • We bought 30 rolls of toilet paper tonight. Thirty. Along with massive amounts of dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, paper towels (forgive me, Jill, for I have sinned), cream of chicken soup, toothpaste, and many other sale + coupon items. The cashier looked at us like we were a crazy stocking-up-for-the-apocalypse couple.
  • If there is an apocalypse, we are SO READY. At least, in terms of toilet paper and cream of chicken soup.
  • I'm pretty sure our apocalypse toilet paper shopping put us over our grocery budget this month. Because we were saving money by using coupons! Irony.
  • You probably can't eat toilet paper, right? That would be gross. But if anybody has any recipes, please share here!
  • Clearly I have run out of relevant bullet points (like any of them were in the first place). There are technically big things happening for the Hornbuckles, but I don't want to blog them until they're for serious final and done. But there's probably definitely surely hopefully happy news 'a comin.
  • If any of you accuse me of being pregnant, I'm going to smack you.

Let's talk about sex, baby

I got this message from a friend today on Facebook. She has three small children and has evidently freaked herself out a little after having done some statistical research.
Can you do me a favor and write a big long book (or blog post, I am not that picky) about how you managed to wait until marriage to have sex. please include anything your parents did or didn't do and specifically how you made it through high school. Meanwhile, I will quit reading horror stories and listening to my friends. notallsixteenyearoldsarehavingsexright???? AND COLLEGE!!! you went to a big state school and did not have sex! how is this possible?
This made me laugh. Mostly because I don't have any children and am therefore not responsible for worrying about anybody else's moral upbringing. That's got to suck. Good luck with that, by the way.

This is an odd subject for me because: 1) I do not generally blog about sex, for obvious reasons (HI MOM AND DAD!) and

2) I walk a weird line between wanting to encourage my single friends who have chosen to wait for marriage by sharing our story, and really, really trying not to be all "holier than thou" and judgemental with those who have not chosen to wait. Yes, we waited. This earns me no brownie points with God, as Alece so brilliantly blogged recently. I guarantee you that for every time I won that battle I made up for it with about a thousand other sins. So, that's my disclaimer. I don't judge others for not choosing this. I really don't.

Anyway, obviously I am no expert on sex or child-rearing (or anything else for that matter). I can only speak from my experience here. And basically, my experience was... wait for it...

Sex before marriage was never an option for me.

It's not that I wasn't educated about it. I grew up in an incredibly open home where we all felt comfortable talking about anything and everything. But what I learned about sex from my parents was always in the context of marriage. God made sex for marriage. God made sex for marriage. God made sex for marriage. And that's it.

Sounds so simple, doesn't it?

I know of a lot of parents who teach their kids about safe sex over abstinence and reason that they're going to do it anyway and so they might as well be educated to be safe while doing it. I don't think these are bad parents, and I know of a lot of people who go that route, but that's simply not what my parents did.

Because I knew from an early age what the Bible said about marriage (1 Corinthians 7:2), I had made the choice before I ever started dating where that line would be for me. The guys I dated knew this before they ever dated me, and I pretty much only dated guys who either had made that choice themselves or were incredibly respectful of that choice and never pushed it.

Like I said, it just wasn't an option.

My parents obviously supported this decision and did their best to be there for me during my dating relationships. My mom bought me the ring I picked out to wear on my left hand until I replaced it with my wedding ring. Every so often, they asked me the terrible awkward questions that you never want to hear your parents ask you just to keep you in check as you go through high school.

They gave me enough instruction to make good choices, enough support to come to them if I needed it, enough accountability to keep me on the track I wanted to be on despite what I may have been feeling at the time, and enough freedom to let me make my choices on my own. It was a good balance.

But I think what it really comes down to is this:

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.  (Proverbs 22:6)

Train them to care about what the Bible says early, and then what the Bible says about sex when it's time for that.

Train them to choose the people they date wisely (being "equally yolked" helps, let me tell you)

Train them to be able to confidently talk to the people they date about what they are and are not willing to do physically during that dating relationship.

Let them make their choices, but keep them accountable to their faith.

And then you just have to let go and hope and pray that you get lucky and that, well... they don't.

--

What do you think? Did you wait? Did you not? Do you wish you did? Do you wish you didn't? What are you teaching your kids about sex? Can you answer my friend's question too?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dear children of the world

Dear children of the world,

They have been lying to you. About most everything.

First of all, your face won't freeze like that. It's just not possible. I mean, you do probably look dumb making that face and you should likely stop for social reasons. But trust me when I tell you that I have seen my husband make every face in the book and never once has his face frozen that way. I mean, honestly. Once he looked at me, made a strange face, and when I asked him what it was about, he proudly announced that he had never made that particular face before and wanted to share it with me.

So anyway, no. It won't freeze.

And school. Oh man, they are totally screwing you on that deal. Elementary school is a joke. You can skate through that one. And middle school? Unimportant. You should keep your GPA high during high school, but after you get accepted to college you can skip out on the work during your senior year, so really, let's be honest, you only have to apply yourself for three years total.

Also? You will not be held back for failing gym and you will probably not use the calculus or physics you are learning. If you're not going to be an engineer or something similarly smart, you can stop paying attention there too. The most math I do on a daily basis is adding and subtracting up to 90 seconds from a time code, and I work in a semi-technical field.

And that whole texting and driving thing?

Well, that one's pretty sound. Don't do that.

And when you are six and throwing a fit, screaming and yelling and being angry and dramatic and adorable and hilarious, the adults around you will look like this:




And when you scream "STOP LAUGHING AT ME!" they will compose themselves and say "we're not laughing at you! We're laughing at... something else!"

Don't believe them. They were totally laughing at you.

I would have preferred Kristen Wiig

There are a quite a few moral issues that I am annoyingly strict about. Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and there are no exceptions.

It is absolutely wrong to steal music, software, or other intellectual property even though it's easy. I don't download music illegally. I just don't.

Everything in the Bible is true. No matter what modern society says about it.

If you're going to make one lasagna, you might as well make two because it's the same amount of work. Freeze it for later or give it away to somebody who needs a pick-me-up. But never make one lasagna.

And you just don't break the rules with coupons.

One manufacturer's coupon per item. One store coupon per item. Read and follow the rules and conditions on the coupon. Never try to slip in a coupon for a different store or mismatched product if you're not supposed to use it. Don't make copies of printable coupons. And never ever try to use manufacturer's coupons after the expiration dates.

These are the golden rules of couponing, and I follow them religiously. In fact, my friend Eric teases me about my goody-two-shoes method of coupoining. But if you don't do it right? You ruin it for everybody else.

Case in point: Target today.

Evidently some bad couponers have shoved a stick up this cashier's... nose. Because she had quite an attitude the moment I brought out my coupons.

I had eight items and 16 coupons - 8 store coupons, and 8 manufacturer's coupons. Following me so far? One store coupon and one manufacturer's coupon for each item I had. Which, for the record, is totally in line with Target's coupon policy.

One of the manufacturer's coupons happened to have come from a catalina in Kroger, and though it said "redeemable at Kroger" on the side, it also said "manufacturer's coupon" and had a double barcode that began with a "5," which meant that if Target were to send this coupon into the manufacturer, they would get the money back just like any other manufacturer coupon they send in.

It's how it works; trust me. I'm not new at this.

The woman took one look at the coupon and rolled her eyes.

"You can't use this," she snapped, eyeing the stack of coupons under it and the many boxes of Prevacid on the belt. "It says you have to use it at Kroger."

"Actually," I replied politely, "it's a manufacturer's coupon. You can use it at Kroger, but the manufacturer will still pay you back for it if you send it from here."

"No. You can't use it here," she rolled her eyes again at me. I paused, a little surprised at how sharp her tone was and much more bothered by that than her not letting me use the coupon.

"Would you mind if we asked a manager about this? I'm certain that this is a manufacturer's coupon," I said, as I pointed to the GIANT LETTERS THAT SAID "MANUFACTURER'S COUPON" THAT WERE TYPED ACROSS THE TOP.

She called the nearest employee over (I am almost convinced that he was not, in fact a manager at all, but just another cashier) and he glanced at it, said "no, it says Kroger on it," and handed it back.

"Okay, that's fine," I replied, taking the coupon. "Just take one of the boxes off and I'll just use this some other time."

More eye-rolling commenced.

"Is she even allowed to get this many?" the snotty cashier asked her 'manager.' "Isn't there, like, a limit or something?"

Um. WHAT? Is there a limit on how many non-sale items I can purchase from your store at once!?


Sorry, ma'am, you have too many grapefruits here. You're going to have to put some of them back.

A full shopping cart? Well that just won't do. You have far too many items to be shopping at this Target.

I know you want to buy shoes for all your kids, sir, but we have a strict three-item policy. You're going to have to choose which kids are going barefoot this school year.

Fortunately, she let me purchase my now seven items. Lucky me.

The rest of the time spent scanning the coupons was full of loud sighs and more eye-rolling (in a store that was very nearly empty at the time, by the way, so I'm not sure what she was in such a hurry about).

When I finally walked out a few minutes later, she had succeeded in making me feel like a terrible burden on this store as well as a liar, and as a result I was pretty sure I didn't need to "bother" them again with my purchasing so many items at once there.


When I got to my car, I opened the bag and counted the boxes of Prevacid once again to make sure that she had included all of them. With the attitude on that one, I wouldn't have been surprised if she had thrown a few boxes in the trash while I wasn't looking.

Eight. There were eight boxes. She forgot to take the one she removed from the receipt out of the bag.

And since I am the kind of person who tries to cheat Target by using bad coupons there, I am obviously the kind of person who flat-out steals stuff she didn't buy. So I peeled out and never looked back.

Just kidding. I took the box back in to face more icy blank stares. Good thing we get rewarded in heaven for that kind of crap, because Target certainly didn't want me back in their store, regardless of what I was doing there.

The ironic thing is, when she handed me the receipt as I was leaving the first time, a catalina printed out.

It was another manufacturer's coupon, much like the one they had refused to scan from Kroger, that says it can be redeemed at Target.

But I have a feeling that a Kroger cashier will be happy to scan that for me when I choose to spend my money at their store instead.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ten keys to happiness

Or, at the very least, ten keys to a 60% or higher decrease in your my stress level.

1) Keep the house clean.

2) Drink gingerbread lattes much and often.

3) Shower and choose the next day's clothes at night.

4) Have a meal plan.

5) Always perform well at work but recognize that you are technically just there for a paycheck and that's okay too because it means weekends with that guy you like so much.

6) Have a husband who does nice things for you.

7) Choose not to watch that horrific Private Practice that everyone is talking about, even though it's still on your DVR.

8) Just give in and let the dog onto the bed with you in he mornings.

9) Quit things that are stressing you out.

10) Go order yourself another gingerbread latte.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Merry something-or-other - CSN giveaway!

Update - And the winner is - Lisa! Congratulations, Lisa. I'll e-mail you your gift certificate!

--

So, I completely forgot that CSN contacted me again while I was in Orlando about doing a giveaway here. (Ridiculous inbox, much?) If you'll recall, they're the company that has 200 stores to choose from with everything from bar furniture to cookware.

But! Now it's just in time for Christmas! So if you'd like a chance to win a $35 promo code to the CSN stores, leave a comment here. Any old comment will do. Extra points if you make me laugh.

Extra entries:

-Tweet about this giveaway
-Tell me why I ride BikeMS.
-Tell me what the two digiscrap stores I sell at are (hint: you'll find that on the blinkies on the sidebar over on the craft blog).
-Tweet something nice to my friend @gitzengirl

That's 5 possible entries. Leave a comment for each one you do. I'll have random.org choose a winner on Saturday, November 13.

That's not how I thought the day would go

When I checked into the hotel last Thursday morning, Jack hadn't arrived yet.

"Checking in today," the hotel worker bee read from his computer screen "and checking out Monday?"

"Yes... wait. Monday?" I repeated, confused. "We should be checking out Sunday."

"Well, it looks like you've paid on Expedia through Monday," he replied.

"Oh no," I said, "I'll bet he accidentally paid for an extra day." That's something I've certainly done before several times. There was nothing we could do about it now.

When Jack got there a few hours later, I informed him of his mistake.

"What do you mean?" he asked. "We're not leaving until Monday."

"What? I thought we were leaving on Sunday," I replied.

"Nope, I told you about it while you were talking to Ellyn on Skype a few weeks ago," he said.

That explains why I don't remember. I guess I should listen more when he talks.

I e-mailed work and let them know that I was skipping out on work yet another day (Owen called me sneaky). Jack didn't have that luxury, since the taekwondo school was open on Monday and he had to be there to teach classes, but we enjoyed our long weekend at Universal Studios and the Disney parks. I missed no opportunity to rub it in Jack's face that I was going to get home on Monday afternoon and have the day to nap and relax while he would have to go straight to work.

And then karma said "OH NO YOU DI'NT" With a z-snap and everything.

So we had to be outside the hotel at 5 a.m. for the airport shuttle, which means we were up at 4. We arrived at the airport to very long bag-check and security lines, but it didn't matter, because we had all kinds of time before our 8:30 flight.

So we sat. And I played with my new iPhone (oh yeah, by the way, I joined the cult. GAAAAG). And an hour later, we got on the plane.

And that's when they told us that there was a mechanical problem. So we sat there for 30 minutes. And then an hour. And then two. And then, finally, they let us get off the plane and try to find new flights.

And we did!

Though New York City!

And while I am not the foremost expert on geography, I am quite confident that the fastest way to Dallas from Orlando is not through New York City.

Exhibit A:





YES, it is my own artwork, and NO, I do not sign autographs.

But we were in pretty good spirits, even after the 5 hour wait and the next 12 hours of travel that had been promised us. Our waiter at the airport Outback Steakhouse was like "Wow! You two have such a great attitude about your ridiculous flight delay!" and we were all "Whatevs! We are awesome flexible people! At least we get to go home tonight now please bring some more barbecue sauce for our delicious chicken fingers nom nom nom!"

When we finally arrived at JFK airport 4 hours later, I realized that Metalia was not, in fact, overreacting about the barefoot in a New York City airport experience. I really, really thought she was when I read that blog entry. And now, I really, really don't.

That airport was ROUGH. Plus? New York City = bedbugs! ACK! Activate crazy-Mandy mechanism. (Suitcases didn't come inside for a few days, and when they did, they went into the bathtub to be steam-cleaned at a later date and carefully moderated for signs of tiny evil eggs hatching until then. All the clothing we were wearing got washed in hot water immediately upon returning home. Jack met with his lawyer to start drawing up certain papers.)

And of course, the flight home was delayed again in New York. So we were stuck there, in the crowded, dirty, smelly hellhole that is JFK airport. WITH A PIGEON IN THERE WITH US I KID YOU NOT IT WAS FLYING AROUND AND NOBODY WAS EVEN SURPRISED. For 20 minutes. Then 30. Then an hour. Then an hour and a half. And with every flight delay announcement, Jack simply burst into wild maniacal laughter like a crazy person. I would have joined him, but I was pretty much completely numb all over except for a giant throbbing headache.

THAT AIRPORT BROKE US. That's what it took, Outback steakhouse waiter. JFK airport for six hours is what it took.

When we finally boarded the plane that was supposed to take us back to Dallas, I fully expected it to break down before we took off. Or crash after we took off. Or just disappear like the plane in LOST. And then I would get pregnant on the island and The Others would steal my baby. Was this Oceanic flight 815? THAT'S FINE. WE'LL BUILD A HUT WHEN WE GET TO THE ISLAND I JUST WANT TO GO TO BED.

But shockingly, it didn't do any of those things. It landed in Dallas 3 hours later, and we dragged ourselves to baggage claim, fully expecting that by now Sawyer had gone through our bags and removed and stored all the stuff he could use as leverage later on the island.

But they were there too! As was our car. And I didn't even leave my keys somewhere else this time.

Progress.

But even with the ability to get into our car, we still got home at one in the morning. Which meant that we had been traveling for 21 straight hours (it only takes 18 hours to drive from Orlando to Dallas, by the way).

I don't think we'll be traveling again for a while. Especially on Delta Airlines.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Poop and tattoos

Last week, I became expert at taking kids in and out of mini-vans.

Okay, not in. In doesn't work so well for me since I was evidently not born with the ability to buckle babies into perfectly-installed car seats. So I had been placing babies in their car seats and staring at them until their mother arrives to do the real work.

Out, though... oh man, I'm good at out. I can definitely unbuckle and remove a child.

So when Ellyn pulled into the parking spot at the mall on Wednesday, she got out of her side and got the stroller out while I unbuckled Seth from his car seat. After I got him out and delivered to her, I headed over to Evany's side of the van and expertly (read: "I had just learned how to do it that day") turned her carseat around with the fancy levers and unbuckled her as well. She gave me her signature huge-mouthed smile and giggle as I whisked her out of her seat and rested her on my hip. She cooed excitedly and grabbed my hair as I walked to the stroller behind the car, and then she giggled again when I made eye contact with her to remove her death-gripped hands from my shirt so I could place her in the stroller.

When I placed my hand under Evany to sit her down, I felt something... not good. Moist. And squishy. And not good.


When I finally got her into the stroller, it was as I had expected. I had poop all over my left hand and up my arm.

Poop. All over my hand. And arm.

And then I looked down at my side, where I had been holding Evany, and was thrilled to find even more poop covering the entire left side of my shirt.

Now this is what I call vacation.

It took us a little while to get the wipes out, so I stood there for a good minute or two with poop all over my hand, and while I would have expected my brain to have been all "therespooponmyhandgetitoffgetitoffgetitoff!" I was totally fine. Relaxed even! What's a little poop? Poop can't hurt you, right?

Six days with four kids is evidently what stood between me and the end to my squeamishness about poop.

Anyway, we got ourselves and the child (and the stroller, and the carseat) cleaned up, and headed into the mall smelling of, well, not roses. Mara had to get her nose piercing fixed at the tattoo place there (the gemstone had fallen out of the stud), so in we headed. Ellyn held Seth by the hand, I pushed Evany in her stoller, and Mara pushed her baby, Nora in her stroller.

And oh yeah, I smelled like poop. We were quite a sight. And smell.

I looked around the dimly-lit parlor at a guy sitting backwards in a chair as another guy stood behind him with a buzzing needle to his back. Another walked past me with saran wrap covering a fresh tattoo on his leg. Mara headed back to get her super-cool nose stud fixed and Ellyn and Seth eyed the various jewelry displayed in the case at the front counter.

And I? Tried to act natural (read: "stood awkwardly in the center of the room"). I held my best "I so belong here" pose whilst holding onto a stroller and smelling like poop. Though to be honest, I think even without the babies and the poop smell, I wouldn't have belonged there.

Nora began to fuss in her stroller, so I leaned over between Evany's stroller and a pillar to comfort her, when all of the sudden I realized that the pillar I was beginning to lean against was made of Styrofoam. And Styrofoam? Doesn't hold a human's weight very well.

With a very loud crash, the pillar came tumbling down in multiple pieces, and evidently it had been holding a big display of hats at the very top as well. The hats and pieces of pillar scattered everywhere, leaving me flat on my butt in the middle of the ruined display and the two babies' strollers.

Cue screeching record sound effect.

The entire place went silent and all eyes were on me. I looked up slowly at all the tattooed guys who were staring at me, then around at the destruction I had caused. Nora and Evany were now completely quiet and also staring at me.

And there is nothing worse than the cold, judging eyes of a baby. But who could blame them? I was a catastrophe.

I don't think I'll be going to any more tattoo places any time soon. Or trying to care for any babies.

Clearly, these are two worlds in which I do not belong.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's fall on the blog again!

Happy Fall!



The kit I used was Frolic Through Fall by Creations by Rachael! I love that kit!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

You can't punch the wind

My brother taught Jack a trick a while back. He turns to his wife, says "it's windy in here!" takes a deep breath, and then blows all over her face.

I am not the biggest fan of this little game.

So today, at Disney World, when Jack said "it's really windy out here" without as much as one leaf blowing on the trees around us, I knew what he had in mind.

"Don't you dare," I warned.

"But Cletus," he argued, taking a deep breath "it's just so windy out here!"

"If you blow on me, I'm going to punch you," I replied.

Jacked cocked his head to the side and stared at me quizzically.

"You can't punch the wind, Mandy," he replied.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Today



Today she looks like this.



(Which means today I can finally show you these!)



Today she is smiling.



And posing for pictures.



Today she put this dress on.



And these shoes.



Oh man, the shoes.



Today begins what will be the closest and most difficult relationship of her life.



Today she'll put this ring on his finger.



And he'll tell her she's beautiful.



Because she is.



Today she'll start learning how to be his wife.



And he'll start learning how to be her husband.



Which means that today...



...he's the luckiest guy in the world.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In which some people pee and I die inside

As you may know from my recent tweets and blog entries, I've been hanging out at Starbucks a lot lately. It has been awesome. I'm getting work done, relaxing, and I even learned a little something about free or cheap drip coffee and hot tea refills when you have your Starbucks card registered. Life is good at Starbucks.

Except that this particular Starbucks is in kind of a touristy part of town, I guess, so the bathrooms are locked and you have to ask for a key from the barista so they can make sure only the customers use it. Which is a little awkward when you have to pee, but, you know, it is what it is.

Anyway, there's a sign on the door that explains the situation.

Exhibit A:




Obtain! A key! from the barista! AT THE REGISTER!

And yet? People had an obscenely hard time with these simple instructions.

Sometimes it was non-customers who came in off the street and were disappointed to find that they would have to pay $4 to empty their bladders (and then fill them up again!). They were generally okay since they would briefly complain and then decide to pee or get off the pot (HA!).

Another kid stood at the door and tried to open it, and then screamed out to the people he was with that "SOMEBODY ELSE IS IN THERE!" and proceeded to knock on the door to the empty bathroom for the next 2 minutes, which proves 1) He is an idiot and 2a) He either didn't understand that Starbucks' bathrooms were always one-person bathrooms or 2b) he's really rude and didn't care that whoever was "in there" probably wouldn't have cared for someone banging on the door like a maniac.

And of course, there's the two guys who did pretty much what the above kid did, and then when they finally figured out that they had to obtain a key from the barista (read: when I yelled "you have to get a key" four times at them), they came back to the door and unlocked it as they talked loudly.

"Dude," one said to the other. "You can't take the key in with you, or you're going to get locked in."

"Oh yeah," the second said. "You'd better keep this outside with you."

This idea was one of the stupidest I've ever heard. If the whole "locking their customers in while they pee" thing were true, there would probably already be a really unhappy customer locked in there. Since, you know, there's no way to get out if the key is in there with you.

Seriously, the logic of that is so screwed up. But anyway, that's what they did. One of them held on to the key while the other went in. And of course, the one on the outside kept unlocking and opening the door while the other was peeing. But it wasn't until the second one went in that it got really ridiculous.

I was sitting around the corner from the bathroom, so I heard him put the key into the lock and turn it. Then he came running around the corner, laughing like an idiot and saying "I locked him in! I locked him in!" to me. I just stared at him, shocked that anybody could actually be that stupid, and then looked back at my computer.

A few seconds later, his friend came out of the bathroom (because hey! Guess what! It's not locked on the inside. It's locked on the outside.) The key-holding idiot looked all dejected and said "awwww man! I thought I locked you in!"

And America's future died just a little bit more.

In which Ellyn said...



"Wow, those are some really big mugs."

Monday, October 18, 2010

One classy night

It's Day 3 in Florida. I haven't accidentally hospitalized any of Ellyn's children yet and we're having quite a good time. We have already watched Dr. Horrible twice. And if I had to guess, I would say that we haven't seen our last round of that one. If you haven't seen it yet, run, don't walk to whatever you stream Netflix from and watch it immediately.

Ellyn's kids are "resting" which is a fancy way of saying "they're staying in their room so she can get things done and relax." Brilliant! Resting time! Who knew? I mean, they're certainly not resting; they're playing. Actually, a minute ago they were singing hymns, which was kind of hilarious to me since they're all tiny and such. But anyway. Rest time. I approve.

Ellyn and I went out the night before last after she got off work to a little pub nearby, and we were enjoying a glass of wine when some guys who were with her group of work friends came over with three gallon-sized bags of beef jerky. One of them was labeled "regular," the other "hot" and the third "XXX spicy." Evidently it was homemade jerky, which was supposed to be good, and they wanted us to try it. They were pretty insistent, so we took a few pieces to try. It was then that we realized just how cool we were.




Wine and jerky. Claaaasssssyyyy.

Anyway, at one point during the evening, one of Ellyn's friends came outside to where we were sitting and told us that Joey Fatone was inside. We "casually" walked inside to confirm or deny this claim, glasses of wine in hand (we left the jerky there... what were we thinking? We could have looked doubly classy!), and as we walked through the pub, we saw that he was, in fact, visiting with some people at the bar. Which means that I have officially seen a RENT cast-member in real life, though I don't really think he should count (nobody is Mark Cohen except Anthony Rapp and Neil Patrick Harris, sorry).

We continued to walk past as if we were going to the bathroom and when we got to the back of the room, Ellyn casually glanced over to the former N'Sync member as she lifted her glass to her lips. So smooth, this one. As she tipped her glass up to take a coy little drink, she accidentally spilled her wine all down the front of her shirt.

Like I said, smooth.

We burst into laughter and since there was really no way of regaining the illusion of suaveness, we headed back outside.

A little later, I had to go to the bathroom, so I went back inside and burst into laughter as soon as I walked through the door. After washing my hands, I practically ran back out to Ellyn and told her she absolutely had to come to the bathroom with me.

I think I may have scared her a little, until she saw this:




Joey Fatone's alleged signature. On the chalkboard above the urinal in the bathroom.




Yep. This was one classy night.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Florida, Starbucks, and phone conversations from the beyond

I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Florida, enjoying a tasty Pumpkin Spice Frappucino. That's right. This is vacation.

Also, I kind of got myself stuck here because I'm several blocks away from Ellyn's restaurant (she's working tonight so I've been wandering), but it got dark and I'm not sure I want to walk back there by myself in the dark. It's a good thing I like it here, because I might actually live here now.

If I did live at Starbucks, though? I'd have so much blog material. Seriously. The guy who came in with a new sweater on and asked the barista (assuming it was somebody he knew) no less than three times "Do you think I pull this off?" so that she would compliment him. "No really, am I pulling this off?" Ha!

Another guy and barista who were rating the best guitar players of all time and a third guy who kept jumping in with clearly no knowledge of music whatsoever. It was hilarious. They're all "you know, Prince isn't such a bad musician" and the third guy's like "he changed his name to a symbol!"

The girl in the shorts and the red tights. Red! Tights!

And of course, who could forget the guy who introduced himself to me and said "I know this sounds totally cliche... but do you come here often?"

BAHAHA!

But still, vacation.

Especially because I just watched this happen:



Fantastical, no?

Earlier, I enjoyed a meal with Ellyn and her 18 children, who are ridiculously cute, by the way. I'm definitely putting Evany in my pocket and taking her home with me. There's just no way around that. I must have her.

After we got home from lunch, my Grandpa Kent called me. I answered the phone and started chatting with him, and when I asked what he was doing, his answer surprised me.

"Oh, I'm just sitting here and talking to your grandma," he replied.

"You're... talking to Grandma?" I asked, confused.

"Yep," he said, "Just sitting here talking to your grandma."

I figured he must be sitting around, maybe drinking, and talking to the urn that holds Grandma's ashes. The conversation moved to something else so I let the matter drop. To each his own, I guess, and I'm certainly not going to tell my grandfather how to cope with the loss of his wife.

"Well," he said a few minutes later "I'm going to let you talk to your grandma now."

"Let me... talk... to Grandma?" I stuttered back.

My mind started trying to organize a tactful way to tell him that I can't actually talk to her, that she's in heaven. Before I had a chance, I heard the phone rustle and there was silence on the other end of the phone.

"Grandpa? Hello?" I asked.

More silence. Had he put the phone up to the urn? Did he want me to talk to it? Exactly how much had he been drinking tonight? I listened intently as the phone moved some more, unsure of what to do next, when I heard a small voice on the other end of the line.

"Hello?" an elderly woman's voice said. Startled, I replied cautiously.

"Um, hello..." I said, trying to figure out who I was talking to. It did sound a little like Grandma Barbara, and I was stumped. I was pretty sure she died, and that you couldn't talk to people after that happened. Almost positive, actually. "Wait, who is this?"

"I miss you!" the small voice said.

"I, uh, miss you too!" I replied, hoping to identify the voice soon. "What are you doing?"

Silence.

"Hello?" I said, as I heard a little more rustling of the phone.

"Oh, you know, I'm just staring at the ceiling these days," the voice said, and then began to giggle. Upon hearing the laugh, a little lightbulb turned on above my head and I got it.

I was talking to my Great Grandma. Grandma Barbara's mom. Who is still very much alive. Which means my Grandpa Kent isn't crazy after all.

Not so great at the communication, maybe, but not crazy at least.

Friday, October 15, 2010

PISSY!?

Tonight was date night. Jack and I enjoyed a nice meal and a little game of Pictionary at Macaroni Grill (ps, I love crayons and tables you can draw on at restaurants. I am six.)

As is normally the case, we wanted to stop and get coffee on our way home from dinner, so we headed over to our favorite coffee shop in town. Jack turned on the radio to catch the end of the Ranger's game and I tweeted my epic drawing from the night's Pictionary game to see if anybody knew what it was (since Jack absolutely did not during the game and blamed my drawing abilities).

"It's going to be nice this weekend when I can watch the Cowboys game without you getting upset," he said as I thumbed through my Facebook notifications on my phone.

"Oh yeah! I don't have to be there when you get all pissy when they lose," I mumbled.

We lapsed into silence as Jack listened to his game and I played with my phone, when all of the sudden I snapped my head up and looked at Jack, wide-eyed.

"PISSY!?" I asked, loudly, as Jack stared back quizzically. "Did you just call me pissy?"

Jack stared at me blankly as I stared back, waiting for an answer.

"No," he responded slowly. "You just called me pissy."

All of the sudden, I remembered how it had just happened and we both burst into fits of uncontrollable laughter. When I finally caught my breath several minutes later, I looked at him again.

"Are you still going to love me when I'm crazy?" I asked, wiping the tears of laughter from my cheeks.

"Oh sweetie," he cooed, "I do love you. But you're already crazy."

I smiled at him and he smiled back.

"CRAZY!?" he loudly exclaimed a moment later. "DID YOU JUST CALL ME CRAZY?"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The birds and the bees and the trains

I'm going to see my buddy Ellyn next week in Florida, and because I'm an expert at overstaying my welcome, I'll get a really detailed glimpse into their day-to-day lives while they do school and church and all that jazz.

I joked with Ellyn that I wanted to homeschool her kids something while I was there, and that I could do a lesson on evolution since I was pretty sure they weren't getting it in their current lesson plan.

For some reason, she declined.

"Okay," I said "I'll just teach them where babies come from, I guess."

"They'd probably eat it up," Ellyn tweeted back. "They've had a lot of questions after seeing a certain MythBusters last week."

Awesome. Groundwork.

I was telling my friend Colleen this at work today, and she told me a story about when she was raising her own kids. She had gone to a seminar on talking to your kids about sex, and they suggested that to prevent one big scary "THE TALK" moment, you introduce your kids early and often to concepts while they're young, such as the differences between boys and girls.

The next day, Colleen was playing with her three year old son and decided to try this out.

"Are you a boy or a girl?" she asked him.

He paused and thought for a moment.

"I'm a train! Toot toot!" he responded.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hope you have a bullet-proof vest

GET IT? BULLETS! Holy cow, I am so clever.
  • I miss blogging, but there are quite a few really great things keeping me from blogging. Like blogging, for example. I know. Ironic.

  • Glee is weak this season. Modern Family, however, is not.
  • BikeMS registration opened yesterday. I am so excited and so nervous to be leading a team of about 150 people this year. I'm concerned about sponsorships (Ps, I will shamelessly advertise for your company if you're willing to sponsor us). And coordinating 150 riders. And countless volunteers. And training for my own ride. And not being able to clip out of my pedals in front of my team. But good news! I get to worry about that for the next 7 months! Ulcer, here I come!
  • (Ulcer or not, I'm still really excited about doing this again):
     
    Ahhh, spandex bike shorts. You and I are going to get to know each other again soon, aren't we?

  • I am not a web designer. By any means. My blog design business is a glorified digital scrapbooking business and a neglected one at that (I'm sorry, clients! I haven't forgotten about you, I promise! It's the BikeMS registration week. It sucked up every spare moment I had, including time I usually spend sleeping.) Anyway, I have been modifying a horribly complicated (for me) template for my BikeMS team's website and now? I'm really glad I work in broadcasting. I am much too dumb for web design. But as Jack said: "At least you're pretty!" He also said "Well, I didn't marry you for your brain." (True. He married me for my spandex bike shorts. Chicka chicka padded butt. HOT.)
  • My Ahhh Scrap store opened yesterday. I can hardly believe it. A real digital scrapbooking store. I'm thrilled. I have not had a lot of time to wrap my mind around that one. It's just sort of there for now. But I am excited.
  • My friend Eric brought a GIANT RICE KRISPIE TREAT to work today. I mean, for serious. He found it at a gas station, of all places. I could have wrapped it around my entire head. I didn't though, since I didn't want my coworkers eating things off my head.

    I couldn't stop staring at it. And I really wanted somebody to pick it up and take a big bite out of it, as if they were a giant. Or, I guess, a teeny tiny person, since the ratio was actually the other way around. (The thoughts in my head are attacking me.)

  • Speaking of treats. Pumpkin spice latte? YES YES YES OH GOSH YES I'LL HAVE WHAT SHE'S HAVING I LOVE FALL. My mom bought me one this morning on the way to work. Which means I like her best now, obviously. (See also: my love can be purchased.)

  • Last Friday, Jack and I woke up together at 10 a.m. with our windows open. And it smelled like Fall. And the dog got on the bed and rolled around and cuddled all excited-like and we took a super-blurry picture of the three of us with my cell phone and then I made pancakes and coffee and we spent the day holding hands and walking around our favorite outdoor shopping center in the 70-degree cloudless weather with our happy little dog on a string.

    I mean, honestly, you should be dry heaving by now; we are so disgusting and adorable.

    And now this blurry picture is my phone's background and even though it may very well be the worst photo I have ever taken, it is now one of my favorites.


     Because happiness is blurry sometimes, I guess.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Texas Gecko Massacre

I don't think it's a secret by now that geckos and I don't get along. I'm... how do you say it... a big fat wimp. And geckos? Are fast and terrifying. But believe me when I say that I did not do this one on purpose. Actually, I didn't do it at all.

A few days ago, I tweeted that a giant gecko had run into my house. And I know, I exaggerate sometimes. No really, I know you're shocked, but not everything I write is totally serious and accurate.

But THIS WAS A DRAGON. For serious. It breathed fire at me and flew around the room, knocking stuff off the shelves and roaring.

You're never going to trust me again, are you?

Anyway, Jack caught it. And honestly? He was even grossed out. It was nasty.

Exhibit A:




Seriously. The thing is ridiculous. Also? I'm pretty sure he was the same one that I had to have my dad come over and catch one night last year when Jack wasn't home.




Notice the same spots and line across the face in line with the eyes? Totally the same gecko, right?

Which means he has been taunting me for years. Or, well, for at least a year.

But I think he's done taunting me now.

My parents came over the other day. They visited for a while, and then we decided to go to dinner. They had already eaten, so they left through the front door and we went through the back. They took our dog with them (our dog likes their dog), so when I got home, I started walking out the front door to go pick her up from their house, when suddenly I saw something very jarring.

"AHHHHHHHHH!" I yelled, as I backed up.

"What?" Jack asked, surprised.

"AAHHHHHHHHH!" I repeated, pointing at the door. "AHHH! AH AH AH AHHHHH!"

I'm sure that really helped him determine what was wrong. But when he walked over and saw this:




...I think he figured it out.

You are horrified at this photograph. I KNOW. I AM TOO.

When my parents swung the door closed, the gecko on its way inside.

It got cut in half.

Its front-half was inside.

Its back-half was outside.

There was definitely blood.

And for once in my life, I think being afraid of a gecko was totally rational.