Thursday, December 28, 2006

Government Snooping

I'm glad that my SIL Megan can live in China and serve the people over there because that is something that I, personally, would not be able to do. I'm too free-spirited and would not tolerate the restraints on my freedoms that living in a Communist country requires.

GET THIS. Here is an e-mail I just got from Megan. I sent her a Christmas package and a birthday package--one in November and one a few weeks ago. She got both of them around the same time.

"I just got my birthday package today. I love the shirt. It looks adorable and I can't wait to try it on.

"I do have a strange question though. On the outside of the birthday package, the little green note [customs form] said that there was clothes and a book. The package had been taped shut with China packing tape so I don't know if there really was a book enclosed and China decided they wanted to read it ... Just curious."

You know what it was? It was a book of Sudoku puzzles for Megan to do when she gets bored! I thought I was being so brilliant by remembering to NOT send her anything religious, too.

Why would China censor a book, with hardly any words in it, that originated in Japan? I guess I don't know very much about foreign relations. I know China hates Taiwan but I didn't realize there were hard feelings toward Japan??? Or maybe the customs guy over there just wanted to do the puzzles himself and stole it? I don't get it! But, in any event, it makes me really annoyed.

Just knowing someone who lives over there and--and being on my end of it over here--makes me appreciate my freedoms in America even more. At least in my country government officials don't snoop through my mail and take things that belong to me.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Snow Flakes and Bran Flakes

Christmas was so much fun this year because Meredith “got” it. She was so excited to partake in everything. The first present she opened was a little rocking chair from my parents. She didn’t want to open anything else right away. She just wanted to rock back and forth with her dolly. We had to hide every present as soon as she opened it in order for her to want to open the next one. I’m sure this is a familiar story to a lot of you parents out there.

Here is a picture of Meredith with her new rocking chair. As you can see, she is very happy about it.

This was our first Christmas, since being married, to be in our own home for Christmas morning. After doing our thing here, we went to Kev’s parents’ house for more gala and a Christmas brunch. Then more family came over. Then, as soon as family was leaving, friends from church came over and stayed until midnight. Right before we left Kevin’s family’s house, the rain that had been falling all day turned into mammoth snowflakes!

I got my wish … a white Christmas.

I have been wanting to get a few things to help celebrate next Christmas – like a felt advent calendar and a kid-friendly nativity scene that Meredith can play with. So on Tuesday I hit-up the after-Christmas sales.

A friend had given me a coupon book for the Circle Centre mall. The coupons included a free ring-cleaning and a free gourmet coffee from the Nordstrom Espresso Bar! I had a blast shopping by myself and getting my freebies. Kevin thinks I’m weird because I like to shop by myself.

I should have realized after having such a good day that I would have a bad one. Today I’ve had the worst morning sickness yet. To top it off, I didn’t sleep well last night and was exhausted this morning when Meredith got up. So, I let her freely roam the house while I tried to get more sleep.

I woke up at 9:30 to discover that she had climbed on the table and dumped a box of Raisin Bran everywhere. There were trails of crushed bran flakes scattered all over the kitchen, dining room, living room, and partially up the stair way.

Curiously, there were not any sugar-coated raisins (“rai-rais”) to be found anywhere. Not even a single one! She had rummaged through the bran flakes and eaten the thing she liked, leaving the rest behind.

Ah, well … At least I got a nap out of the deal.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Pink or Blue?

Check back sometime in early August 2007 to find out which one it's going to be.

Christmas at the Zoo

Who would want to go to the zoo in the dark when it’s raining, just four days before Christmas?

That’s what we did last night and I would love to make it an annual event. Although I think snow would be better than rain for next year.

A tourism website described it as experiencing the “soft glow of a million twinkling lights.”

It was amazing. I have never seen so many lights all in one place. The zoo is fairly wooded and every tree was strung with hundreds of lights, with lights on all the buildings, and lots of separate light displays set up along the walkways. It was truly beautiful and very festive.

The best news is that our tickets are good through December 30. So, I’m hoping we can go again!

Afterwards Kevin’s family came over for hot chocolate and shortbread. Actually, I’d never done it before but I made homemade marshmallows. They were very yummy and surprisingly easy to make. I’m going to see if I can freeze them successfully. If they’re still good after being frozen I’m going to consider making them in bulk to enjoy all winter long. Yum.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Monkey Influence

I was so happy to realize that Meredith’s hair is now long enough to put in a pony tail and piggy tails. The only problem is that she keeps ripping out the hair bands.

Yesterday I put my hair up in a pony tail to show her how nice it looks on me and how pretty she could look too. This was not convincing to her at all. She looked at me for five seconds and then, once again, ripped out her pony tail and walked away.

This morning I was reading a book to Meredith and noticed that a cartoon monkey on the page was wearing her hair pulled up in a pony tail. I pointed this out to Meredith. Then I went and got a hair band and put her hair in a pony tail “just like the monkey.” I kept telling her that she looked “so pretty, like the monkey.”

She kept the pony tail in ALL morning long, until her afternoon nap! From time to time she would point to it and very happily say “monkey!”

I’m sure it helped that Meredith has really been into monkeys lately, including Curious George.

Apparently Meredith thinks monkeys look cool--and she wants to be like them--but her mom does not. I'll try not to be bothered by this.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Downhill towards Christmas …

Kevin is smiling happy smiles today as he just finished taking his fifth and last final exam. His exams were spread out over a two-and-a-half week period. (F-o-r-e-v-e-r.) We are all glad he’s done! I’m very proud of him for working so hard this semester. It’s been a big adjustment to go from practicing law for three years to being a student again, while still juggling work responsibilities and family time, but he’s done well. And here is very exciting news – he’s one-fourth of the way done. Yippppeeee!!

Meredith has been enjoying her chocolate advent calendar that a friend got for her. It’s from Trader Joe’s and every day she opens a new window where there’s a toy-shaped piece of chocolate awaiting her. She has a very hard time understanding why she only gets to do this once a day. Every time she passes by it she asks, “Chock-it?” She has learned at a very early age the delight and value of Chocolate.

I had a Christmas Cookie Exchange party last week with some girlfriends and we had a lot of fun. While I was planning the party, Kevin was in the thick of studying for final exams. I felt guilty that the most “important” thing on my mind was a party while he was wrestling with legal theories and something that actually matters.

Then I had an epiphany. What I was doing was very important too!

If we don’t take time in the middle of busy seasons to do things like have parties with friends then our whole lives will pass by without anything special in them. So, after that, I felt validated in my party-planning efforts.

I wish you all a special and wonder-filled Christmas season!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

So far ...

... only one broken oranament (Meredith defied the "one finger" rule and grabbed a little ball) and one other broken Christmas decoration. Hopefully both can be glued and will be good as new.

"Merry Christmas from Meredith!" (She didn't want to wear this hat but we told her she had to before we would give her what she wanted - her pacifier. You can tell that she has a look of resignation in her eyes.)

And here's one I took today - lately Meredith has become really attached to her dress shoes and this white hat. She wants to wear them all the time. I think we're going to have a little dress-up princess on our hands!

Today is Kevin's first final exam. He just left a few minutes ago. I'm amazed at how relaxed he is about these tests. He didn't study at all last night and he hardly studied at all this morning. He has two exams this week, two next week, and the last one on December 19.

Monday, December 04, 2006

First Snow

Our first snow has arrived. It happened last night during the evening service at church. Afterwards I watched the children bounce up and down, grab their coats, and run in circles in the parking lot. Some were jumping high into the air with excitement, yelling, “It’s snowing, it’s snowing.”

I always forget how beautiful falling snow is until I’m suddenly surprised by it.

I hope that, at least on the inside, I’m always like those little kids in the church parking lot, bouncing up and down with excitement at the sight of our first snow.

Snow is not always convenient but it is enchanting. What is convenience worth in light of enchantment? I’ll take the latter.

When we got into the car, strains of “The Snow is Falling” met our ears. We love our new “Santa Baby” Christmas CD!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Fun at the Doctors'

Meredith has had a recurring cough and congestion for the past month. She seems to get better for a few days and then starts coughing again. So today I took her to the doctor.

While we waited in the exam room, Meredith started running around wanting to explore everything. She kept climbing on top of the step to get up on the exam bed and then jumping off the step. Then she wanted to push all the buttons on the exam bed. Next she went over to the doctor’s stool and started spinning it around and around. After getting bored of that, she spotted the blood-pressure-gauge-thing and all the ear-inspection-things hanging on the wall and started yelling “Toys, toys! More!” No, Meredith, those aren’t toys, I told her. Then I told her the doctor would be in at any minute. Every time she heard a noise outside the door she would yell “doctor?”

This is the first time I’ve taken her to the doctor since she’s arrived at the toddler stage. I couldn’t believe how much work she was. It was crazy trying to contain her in that little exam room! It was all I could do to keep her from exploring the toxic waste can.

After what seemed like an eternity the doctor finally arrived.

To make a long story short, she isn’t even sick. She has no signs of a virus or infection, or fluid sitting anywhere in her lungs, ears or throat. So, he thinks that she has some allergies. I got a prescription for some allergy meds and we’re going to try it. Let’s hope it works. Poor girl! We just want her suffering to go away!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Congrats to Kc & Meg

Okay, she finally posted!

We never knew ...

We never knew, or at least we forgot, how nice it is to be HOME for Thanksgiving weekend. I have traveled for Thanksgiving each of the last six years. Kevin has traveled the last eight years.

It was so nice to not have to fight crowds at the airport at the most crazy travel time of the year. Because we stayed home, it felt like we experienced three Saturdays in a row. Nice!

Thanksgiving itself was a good combination of relaxation and excitement. There were also a few surprises that were mixed into the day.

One particular surprise I am waiting OH-SO-PATIENTLY for someone else to post about on their blog. As soon as they do, I will link to it.

I made stuffing for the first time. I found a great recipe that has dried cranberries, apples, sausage, and lots of fresh herbs. It was great. The only problem is that I made way too much and have a ton of it still in the fridge. We’re going to be stuffinged-out. Can you freeze stuffing? Something tells me no.

The rest of the weekend I spent either being lazy or working on Christmas stuff. It’s great to start the Christmas season on a low-key note, rather than getting home tired from traveling and already feeling behind.

Kevin, of course, had to study for finals and read for classes. He spent Friday morning at Starbucks and I joined him later in the day. We gave Meredith her “coffee” (that’s what she calls it but, really, it’s just a cup filled halfway with water and a straw, so she thinks she's getting what we're getting too). We all drank our coffee together, Kevin studied and I started addressing Christmas cards. The Christmas music was playing, the fire was lit. Ahhh ...

What a great four-day-weekend.

Oh, Shannon posted some Thanksgiving pics here. I'll try to post some later too.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Coat

Meredith has a new coat. It was given to her as a hand-me-down but it still had the tags on it. Meredith thinks she’s a princess when wearing it. You should see her smile at herself in the mirror.

Last week we went to brunch with Kevin’s family and Meredith was wearing her new coat and hat. As we were walking into the restaurant a little boy standing outside asked, “Daddy, is she a SHEEP?” Ha, ha.

And here’s a cute one of daddy and daughter.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

My Second Favorite Day … and Toys

Sunday is my favorite day because Kevin takes a break from studying and we have the whole afternoon together as a family. It’s a restful day and a day of worship.

Thursday is my second favorite day because my crazy work deadlines (on Wednesday) are complete and I usually take the day to fool around with Meredith and regroup. Kevin doesn’t have evening class so he gets home in time for dinner. And the promise of another weekend is so close I can almost feel it. That’s why Thursday is my second favorite day.

This Thursday, today, is especially nice because Shannon came and picked up Meredith for the afternoon. This has allowed me to get some extra rest which is good because I’m sick.

Shortly after they left I picked up all the toys that were scattered around the house. That was nearly three hours ago. And, guess what? The house is STILL picked up. Amazing! That, like, never happens in my life. Three hours of sitting quietly and then walking downstairs to find that the house is clean? Incomprehensible!

I find that I must constantly choose between two evils – picking up toys all day long, which is exhausting, OR living with chaos, tripping over everything, and stress, from having toys strewn all over the place.

In theory, Meredith should be learning to pick up after herself, and play with only one or two things at a time.

Yeah, right. I think I’ll try my hand at cat herding first.

Family Pic and Alleged Trendy Color

Okay, we rarely get these nowadays … a family picture.

Also, for those of you who asked what we thought was a “trendy” color, here is one example. Our living room is a color called “smoky mountain.” The thing I love most about this color is that I’m never sure exactly what color it is. (I must love confusion, huh?) It’s grayish but sometimes I think it leans more toward blue tones and other times I see a lot of green in it. Probably nine out of ten people who come over squint and ask, “What color is that?” I love it!

I tried to take a picture of our dining room wall but it didn’t turn out – the color there is called “dried grass” and is a pale grayish green color.

Monday, November 13, 2006

“It’s the most wonderful [and potentially stressful] time of the year …”

Tonight I put Meredith to bed. This is usually daddy’s job (which he enjoys) but daddy wasn’t home when Meredith was tired so I took over.

Kevin’s routine is to rock Meredith, sing a few songs, pray, and then put her to bed. The only songs I could think of tonight were Christmas carols. This must be indicative of what is slowly but surely seeping into my mind – the awareness that Christmas is just around the corner!

After singing Silent Night, Away in a Manger, and O Holy Night I was reminded of how much I really do love Christmas. I love the meaning of the season and all the festivity, but I dread the oft-associated stress.

To make the upcoming season more calm and enjoyable, I decided to start my Christmas shopping early. Before heading to the mall I conducted a two hour brainstorming session and wrote 2-3 gift ideas next to each person’s name I was buying for. I did this last year too and found that it helped tremendously. My shopping time was cut down to a fraction of what it would have been if I had wandered the aisles aimlessly.

I will admit, however, that I felt really self-conscious when pulling out my wrinkled piece of paper in the respective stores and crossing off names and items. I’m the only person I’ve ever seen do this (except at grocery stores) – so people probably think I’m a freak. But I honestly don’t care. It’s a system that works for me.

The other night we passed by someone’s house and they already had their Christmas tree up in the window. Now, if we really want to talk about over-achievers, there’s an example for you!

Lastly, I don’t know how helpful this website would be to the rest of you but I think there are some ideas to glean from – Christmas Organizing – check it out.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tired of this Ride

Twice every two years I ride the election-night-and-day-after roller coaster. I check online throughout the day to see how various candidates and ballot initiatives are doing. Then, before I go to bed, I check again.

I begin to digest, dealing with my various elations and disappointments.

When I wake up in the morning, and check again, I am always surprised by something that has transpired through the night. Then I begin the process all over again.

The ride continues throughout the day.

Oh, my head hurts. Get me off this coaster.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ah, what's a little drizzle?

I spent the morning looking out the window waiting for the rain to stop. Being tired of the confines of the house, I craved a new environment. Finally it went from raining to drizzling. According to it was going to drizzle from 3-5 p.m before it started raining again.

That was my chance!

“Meredith, you wouldn’t let a little drizzle get in the way of fun, would you?” I asked. “You’re as bored of the house as me, right?” “You don’t mind a little nip on your nose as long as your ears are warm, right?” “Okay, then, let’s go.”

We bundled up, got the stroller out of the garage, and headed for Starbucks. Starbucks has got to be the best place to go on a rainy day. We have a really cool one here in Broad Ripple, too. It has a large sitting area with lots of windows, a fireplace, a couple of leather couches and four large, comfy chairs.

I got an extra-hot venti peppermint white mocha – extra-hot so it would stay warmer longer and venti because (I always have this conversation with Kevin) why would you get anything else? The economist in me realizes that the larger the drink you get, the less you are paying per ounce. Or, maybe it’s just that it’s bigger and I like it. (Heh, heh, heh.)

Meredith and I had a lot of fun today at Starbucks. She was an angel for me. Of course, the cookie helped tremendously. We sat for about 45 minutes, I read the paper, and Meredith stared at two ladies, apparently school teachers, who were grading papers.

Now I’m back home again … looking forward to the next drizzly day.

My Daughter Thinks She Is Picasso

Meredith has now entered the “artist phase” of toddlerhood. All parents who are reading this will immediately know what I mean.

Because my daughter now thinks she is Picasso, I have stopped giving her pens, pencils, or crayons unless she is under strict supervision. She has drawn on several walls, pieces of furniture, on her clothing, and once while I was in the shower she drew all over the toilet. They are very nice scribbles. But that’s besides the point.

This morning I gave her a piece of paper and said, “Okay, you can only draw on the paper, Meredith, not anything else.” I was planning to watch her carefully while she drew but then got distracted. Now she has these beautiful lines of ink all over her khaki pants.

What was I thinking?

In other news, my little girl has been singing a lot too. (She must be destined for the arts, right?)

Usually we have no idea what she is singing – it’s an assortment of random notes and syllables. But on Sunday Kevin said, “I think she’s singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” We listened closely and, sure enough, she was singing “wi-wa star, how I won-ah [and then something unintelligible].”

We sang it back to her and she smiled, knowingly, and then continued singing. SO CUTE!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mr. Poll Inspector

This year Kevin volunteered to be a poll inspector. The poll inspector is the one who runs the poll at a particular precinct and has to handle all the problems and be the “bad guy” when it comes to telling people they can’t vote and why. They prefer to have lawyers run the polls, because often other lawyers show up and make legal challenges. But you don’t have to be a lawyer – the basic criterion is that you’re a strong-willed person who is able to stand up to belligerent people and confidently call the shots.

The three people I know who best fit this description are my husband, and his two parents. All three of them, incidentally, are going to be poll inspectors this year.

After attending a training session yesterday, they all came back literally shaking from fear at what they are going to have to do. All three of them have been specifically selected to run the polls in “high fraud” areas. And all three of them confessed that they are terrified.

When it comes down to deciding if a person can vote, or if a ballot must be set aside because it doesn’t meet the legal requirements, there will be a panel of three judges – the poll inspector and two others – one republican and one democrat. Interestingly, they couldn’t find enough republicans to sit on the panels (their precincts are in heavily-democrat areas) so Kevin and his parents are going to have two democrats on each of their panels. In other words, they are going to be outnumbered.

But, like Kevin said, the panels are not about partisan politics. “The goal is to ensure that there is a fair election.” Here’s hoping that the other panel members agree with that.

This is going to be a very interesting election year. For them, because they are facing a huge challenge. For me, because I get to sit back and watch.

It's What You Offer

We’ve been having a lot of company lately. Because of this, I’ve been learning a lot of important lessons on keeping things simple when I entertain. I like for everything to be perfect when people come over. This is often a pride issue vs. a hospitality issue.

Last week we had the largest sit-down-dinner party we’ve ever had. There were 18 people and I was planning to serve soup. It suddenly dawned on me, as I was setting the table, that I didn’t have enough matching bowls for the largest table. This really, really bothered me!

Can you believe it? Think of all the people out there who don’t even have food for their bellies and here I am stressing about not having enough matching bowls. I was already upset that the only tablecloth I had to fit our table (when both leaves were in it) didn’t exactly match my plates. But, now, this!! I turned to Kevin and pleaded with him to let me run to Wal-Mart and buy something cheap, as long as everything matches. He told me “no” that no one will care but me and it’s not about matching bowls, it’s about Christian fellowship.

I knew he was right. So, I continued setting the table, with mismatched bowls. And, when all was said and done, no one really did care and we had a marvelous time of fellowship!

I remember back to the time when Kev and I were in Philadelphia for a friend's wedding. We stayed with perfect strangers. Their home was small and humble. Despite the fact that they didn’t possess very much in the way of earthly goods, they openly and lovingly shared the things that they did have. I was incredibly blessed by their example.

Often I remind myself of this family whenever I feel my pride seeping in.

It’s not about what we have, it’s about what we give.

Fondue Revelations

Thus far I have been blissfully ignorant about the spiritual state of my fellow MOPS friends.

No longer.

The “mentor mom” – a designated older, more experienced woman – in our larger MOPS group invited our small group to her house for a fondue party last week.

As I was happily devouring my chocolate, the mentor mom, Mindi, started asking us to share where we are in our walk with God.

The first lady shared about how she attends church most of the time and that she knows she needs to go more often. She was not raised Christian.

My good friend Kristi, who invited me to join MOPS, and I were sitting together on the couch and we were the second and third people to share.

Kristi and I shared similar things … about our Christian background, God’s working in our lives, that we know we have a lot farther to go, and we’re grateful for God’s faithfulness. Yada, yada, yada.

Then the discussion took a turn with one woman expressing her objections to Christianity and that she has thought about it, and all roads lead to heaven, and that it’s all about “searching inside yourself and being a good person.”

Then, our group LEADER, said, “Yeah, I’m pretty much in the same boat as you.” She said that she doesn’t really think it’s important to go to church and has no desire to read her bible. She seemed a little more open to Christianity than the first lady, though.

I realized, when I joined MOPS, that there would probably be quite a few non-Christians but I guess I always thought that our group leader, at least, would be a Christian.

Every time we meet, we pray and we use Christian terminology. I guess I just assumed that all the ladies at my table were believers. This was a wrongful assumption.

One thing I really appreciated about the fondue discussion is that all the ladies were open and honest. There was no pretension or façade. This is the best starting point possible.

I’ve been praying for opportunities to be a salt and light for Christ. I guess God has now given me what I asked for. I just pray that I don’t blow this opportunity. It would be easy for me to find excuses – I have transportation issues that prevent me from getting to know people better, or “I’m so young” compared to most everyone else, or the mentor mom would be a better person to share, etc., etc.

Sigh … No more blissful ignorance. Now, what am I going to do with this newfound knowledge?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

“Tonight she said she loves me … what a pity to part …”

Tonight my little girl told me she loves me for the first time. Kevin was getting ready to put her to bed and he told her to give mommy a kiss and tell her I love you. (He always says this but she never follows his direction.)

But, tonight was different! She said “love you!” and then she wrinkled her nose and smiled with both her mouth and her eyes, showing that she really meant it.

My heart melted. Right there – like warm butter on hot bread. It was wonderful.

I was especially surprised that she said “love you” today, of all days, because today I was an especially bad mom. I was very impatient with her and found myself getting angry at her when I was trying to make dinner and she kept walking between my legs and the counter and pushing on my legs so I would have to move away from what I was doing.

Seriously, it took me like twenty minutes to chop one onion for dinner tonight! You know Rachael Ray’s 30-minute-meals? Well, Rachael obviously doesn’t have a one-year-old. If that were the case, they would all be 90-minute-meals.

Anyway, I’ve never told my daughter “no” so many times as I have today.

So, why did she pick today to say “love you”? I have no idea. But I’m really glad – because I really needed to hear that today.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fall Break

Since it’s Kevin’s fall break this week, we’ve been taking advantage of rare “free time” and filling it up with all sorts of activities – Brown County State Park, the zoo, Holliday Park (which has to be the coolest park I’ve ever been to, with the most gigantic playground area I’ve ever seen and numerous wooded trails), and two bonfires / hot dog roasts. One wonderful thing about the eastern half of the U.S. is that you’re allowed to have fires in your backyard!

It’s been nice to have Kevin around more than his schedule ordinarily permits. Although, now, it’s pretty much back to business-as-usual since he has a lot of reading for class on Monday.

Last night I went to a friend’s house to learn how to make egg rolls and fried rice. Our instructor was a really sweet, perky Korean lady who lives on the 8th floor of the tallest building in Seoul. She’s here in the U.S. temporarily while her daughter attends a Christian high school. (I guess they don’t have those in Korea.) Anyway, she said the funniest things – like she had a hard time telling all the white people apart when she first got here because we all look the same. And she was so happy to see that I drive a Hyundai which is, you know, a Korean-manufactured car. I asked her if she ever makes any American food and she said yes, spaghetti, only she likes the white sauce.

Anyway, it was fun. I think I’ll make the egg rolls again which, surprisingly, weren’t very complicated.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Football and Pie

Well, dear readers, since I’m sure you’re all chomping at the bit to hear an update on my fantasy football team, I will provide one for you.

Here’s how it’s gone so far …

The first week I agonized over which people to play … and I LOST the game.

The second, third, and fourth weeks I completely ignored my team. What can I say? I forgot until it was too late.

Interestingly, even though in two of the games some of my highest-scoring players had byes, I WON all three of those games! (What does that say about fantasy football, huh?)

Last week, the fifth week, I decided I’d better not press my luck and switched some players around. I happened to win that game too.

So, basically, I’m in second place right now in my league. Yeah!

I’m sure this good fortune won’t last forever but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts!

Okay – one funny Meredith story. We had guests for dinner last night. I had baked an apple pie and it was sitting on a counter ledge near our microwave. I was in the kitchen getting ready for supper and realized that it had been strangely quiet for the past two minutes.

I looked over and spotted Meredith with her little hand in the middle of the pie! She was busily scooping out pieces of apple and quickly gobbling them down. Her face was a mess.

I hadn’t realized she could reach the pie. My little girl is getting so TALL!!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Oh, Drama ...

Drama follows me wherever I go.

Yesterday Kevin was sick. So, being the good wife that I am, I decided at 4:45 to change the menu and make him homemade creamy chicken and wild rice soup.

I grabbed my wallet and the toddler, got the stroller out of the garage and started running (literally) to get to the grocery store and buy the items I needed for supper. The grocery store is 1/3 of a mile from our house.

I made record time, bought three items, and headed home – again, I was running to be able to get dinner on the table in time.

I put the stroller back in the garage, bolted the garage (it’s an old house with a detached garage), and went inside.

I put Meredith down and started making supper. When I looked at the ingredients list, it dawned on me that I had left the groceries at the store!

I quickly called the grocery store to confirm that they were there, grabbed Meredith again, got out the stroller and started flying (literally) to the store.

When I got there the guy bagging the groceries burst out laughing, “Ma’am you were racing outta here so fast. I tried to catch you but you were GONE.”

By the way, dinner was on the table at 6:30 p.m.

Not too bad, considering.

List Freak

I am a list freak. It is the only way I can get things done. I have a “general” list of things I need to accomplish in the near future and then I have sub lists of things I need to accomplish today, in the next 42 minutes, etc.

“You know, you really should use Microsoft Outlook’s ‘task’ feature,” Kevin says to me last night. He noticed my desk covered with scraps of paper and sticky notes containing a myriad of items for me to accomplish.

He had earlier suggested I use Outlook’s calendar. I protested for a long time and then finally succumbed. Since doing that, my life has never been more organized. I went from having a calendar “in my head” to having one on the computer, where I get electronic reminders in advance of important dates. I love it!

Anyway, today I decided to take the suggestion about the task feature. I put all of my random to-do lists on my computer.

Can I just say that I’m already hooked?! My desk is clean and my to-do list can be organized in numerous ways. No more messy scratch marks or losing important pieces of paper.

The only problem is I might spend so much time tweaking my computer lists (because it's fun and I like it) that I have less time to actually DO the things on the lists.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Not Happy

When we moved into our rental house six weeks ago we were surrounded by these tall, beautiful trees. One tree in our backyard was especially beautiful. It was a large sugar leaf maple. I could hardly wait until it turned beautiful colors (probably in the next few weeks).

Three days ago I saw red plastic ribbons tied around three of the trees. The next day some workers came in a large truck and started sawing off the branches. Pretty soon the trees were whittled down to stumps. The only tree left standing was the maple.

I thought that was the end of it until yesterday when they returned and started chopping away at some more trees on the side of the house.

And I have just discovered something horrible! Right now they are working on that beautiful maple tree too.

Are they planning to cut down ALL the trees??? Good grief!

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not an extremist environmentalist who is ready to throw her body across a bunch of trees in order to save them. I realize there’s a time and place to cut down certain trees. It can be responsibly done (and trees replanted) to produce things useful for humans and it can be done where trees are a nuisance or danger to humans.

But I don’t understand the sense of cutting down all the trees on our property in a period of three days. This is the problem with renting – you’re not ultimately in control of your property, your landlord is.

Right now the guy who is cutting down the trees is right outside my window. I loathe him! Here is a picture so you can loathe him too. Thank you.

UPDATE – The guy (the evil one) saw me taking pictures of him!!!! He moved his little “car” thingy right outside my window and held up a sign that he had written that said, “Can you please e-mail me pictures at [insert e-mail address]?”

He then yelled out (loudly enough so I could hear through the window) that he has three boys and they love to see pictures of him on the job. But he rarely ever gets pictures of himself on the job. So, he would appreciate if I would e-mail him pictures.

So, what was I supposed to do? I took a few more (with him smiling back at me) so I could send them to his boys!

I guess it’s not his fault that all our beautiful trees are getting chopped down. It’s the landlord who ordered it done. And he is only doing his job, after all.

But, then again, that’s like saying the SS men couldn’t be blamed for anything – it was all Hitler.

Okay, I still think he’s a very bad man. Even if he has three cute little boys waiting for him at home.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"I can't believe you did that."

This is what Kevin told me when I gave-in to Meredith and spontaneously bought her a doll she wanted at the grocery store.

Yesterday was the first time I’d ever done that. But every parent does it at least once in their life, right?

Meredith wasn’t demanding about the toy. (If that were the case, I wouldn’t have bought it.) She was simply joyful to have discovered it. She saw it hanging up by the milk aisle (strategically placed where mothers are going to be shopping with their children, I’m sure) and she fell in love with it. I’ve never seen her so happy to find a toy in my life. I let her hold it (that was my first “mistake”) and she clutched it tightly all throughout the store.

When it came time to check out, I looked at the price and it was only $3.99. So, I bought it.

We work hard for our money and we might as well spend it on making our daughter happy, right? Anyway, that was my logic.

To justify this to Kevin, I decided to tell him that God told me to buy the toy. (How can you argue with that?) And here is proof – when we got home I noticed that the doll (a cheerleader) had an “M” printed on her t-shirt. I hadn’t noticed this until AFTER we got home. This is proof positive that this doll was meant for our little girl.

In the end Kevin didn’t really mind that I bought it. We both now think it’s funny – we have this cheap, blonde piggy-tailed doll to add to our toy collection. But Meredith likes it and that’s what matters.

Oh, yes, and I biked to the grocery store with Meredith in the trailer behind me. There’s a grocery store very close to our house (three-tenths of a mile) but it’s tiny and not well stocked. So, I decided to bike to the one that’s over a mile away. The trailer holds a lot of stuff so I can nearly buy a week’s worth of groceries if I do this.

Biking to the “big” grocery store wouldn’t have been a big ordeal except there were places en route where the sidewalk ended and I had to bike either on the grass or on the busy street. Since I had the baby in tow I opted for the grass. It was one of the hottest days we’ve had since August and by the time we got home I was sweating like a pig.

If I keep up with this biking business (which I probably will since we’re down to one car) I’m going to have the nicest legs in town.

Hmmmm ... Maybe our second car dying was a blessing in disguise!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Two All-Day Cooking Feats

Although I’m a huge fan of 30-minute meals, there are some things in life that are worth spending all day to make. Today is the second time in three days I’ve spent all day cooking one thing – first it was apple sauce and now it’s tamales.

Last Friday Kevin’s mom invited me over to try my hand at making apple sauce and canning it for the winter.

Laura is the first person I’d ever met who knows how to can things. Since moving here, I’ve discovered that everyone else in the region knows how to can too. It must be a Midwestern thing since none of my friends or acquaintances in California know anything about canning.

So, in order to become a true-blue Midwesterner, I must also learn to can.

After spending the day boiling and squishing apples, and completing the canning processes, we now have 30 jars of applesauce between the two of us. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera and don’t have pictures. But the jars did look very nice all lined up on the counter. It was quite rewarding to see the fruit of our labors (literally)!

And then, today, I’ve taken it upon myself to make homemade tamales. This is really just a test run to see if I can make them for Christmas gifts (in lieu of cookies – I figure people might like to have dinner dropped off at their door instead of more sugar, although in my opinion a little more sugar never hurt anyone). [grin]

As a kid I remember our Hispanic Neighbors bringing us homemade tamales every year in December. I love this Mexican Christmas tradition! They are so yummy.

If I can figure out how to do it without totally botching it up, I’d like to invite some friends to come over in December and help me.

So, anyway, right now I have the pork loin boiling with garlic and onions and the dried corn husks are soaking on the countertop.

The Kitchen is emitting a very pleasant aroma. I can’t wait!

Biking to Dinner

Monday, September 25, 2006

Double Standards and a First Friend

They say your kids will do what you do, not what you say. This is true for us.

We constantly tell Meredith to NOT write in daddy’s school textbooks. This is one of her favorite pastimes lately.

The problem is she sees daddy making notes with a pencil in his textbooks every day.

So, if daddy can do it, why can’t she?

Needless to say, Kevin has many beautiful pencil drawings in his textbooks, done by none other than artist Meredith.

Meredith has made her first “friend.”

Until last night all other children in her life were referred to as “baby.” But, now, she calls another little girl at church by her first name, “Becca.” And she says Becca’s name with such excitement and joy, too.

This morning we asked Meredith if she had fun with Becca last night. When she recognized the name, her eyes lit up and she started chuckling.

It makes me so happy to see my daughter make a little friend.

Progressive Dinner

It’s really hard to avoid the sin of gluttony at a progressive dinner! We had a great time Saturday evening, starting with appetizers at our house, and then moving on for three other courses at other various homes.

The morning of the party I decided to make flowers out of some radishes. I had never done that before. I enjoyed the attempt at being creative and artistic. It’s good to indulge the right side of my brain now and then.

Oh, and by the way, the circus was amazing! My favorite parts were the acrobats and elephants. And what mother in her right mind would ever allow her son to be a tiger tamer?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Random Things

I have a child who hates the computer. Or, better put, hates it when I’m on the computer more than I have to be to get my daily work done. Therefore, I don’t blog as much as I used to.

Aunt Shannon has her right now, actually. They went to run some errands together. And tonight, when they get back, the three of us are going to the circus!

I’ve been on the Ringling Bros. website umpteen times to look at the clowns, lion tamers, and the people who get shot out of cannons. I’m SO excited.

Recently overheard from Kevin: “I really don’t like traditional law school. I thought I would but I don’t.”

He tells me that the Socratic method is “overrated.” (This is something he was looking forward to but, after experiencing it, he thinks is dumb.) He tells me that it’s nothing like standing in front of a judge in open court. Basically, he says, it’s all about the professor trying to prove his point, ignoring any legitimate argument the student may have, and trying to make the student look stupid. He said he learned a lot more about how to be a good lawyer by bantering back and forth with his boss Jim Mason at HSLDA.

My last MOPS class featured an interior designer who said something I disagreed with at the very beginning. Therefore, I found myself tuning her out for the rest of the class. This is bad, I know.

Last night we got a call from Kevin’s parents and then met up for ice cream. And on Tuesday night we had his grandparents over at our house for dinner. These are things that we couldn’t do in Sacramento. It’s nice to be able to do more “family” things.

It’s been really cool and crisp here lately, definitely evoking a fall feeling. I have a pumpkin sitting outside our door and that has helped me to get into the fall mood.

It’s been a while since I’ve experienced this type of fall weather, encompassing certain sights, smells, and feelings. It’s been since 2002, to be precise. That’s when Kevin and I were first married and living in Virginia.

Because I haven’t experienced this “fall feeling” since I lived in the Old Dominion, lately I’ve been flooded with memories from that time and place in my life.

I love Virginia and always will. But I think part of me probably romanticizes it a little too much. Those years were very good.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tailoring God

I found the article below to be highly intriguing. I thought about cutting a few paragraphs to paste here but, in the end, decided that the entire thing is interesting, and I couldn't butcher it.

Where do people come up with their view of God? Have they been taught? Have they researched it on their own (using the bible or who knows what else)? Or have they just pulled a few fanciful ideas out of a hat, based on what sounds right to them?

Your God is likely supremely different from anyone else's God

by Jerry Large

Some folks like to say everyone worships the same God. But we know that isn't exactly so, and now we have a description of how American conceptions of God differ.

The Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion and the Gallup organization recently finished a study that went beyond the usual questions — "Do you believe in God?" and "Do you go to church?" They tried to dig more deeply and find out how people see God, how they see themselves in relation to God and how that affects their ideas and behavior. What they found is that when Americans say "God," they are not necessarily talking about the same deity.

The researchers asked 29 questions about God's character and behavior, sifted through the answers they got from 1,721 participants and identified "two clear and distinct dimensions" to people's ideas about God.

Those are God's level of engagement and God's level of anger at human sins. People see God as engaged or not, angry or not. The four combinations of those two traits yield more information about the believer than the usual denominational labels.

Americans see God as engaged and angry (a god who is involved in world and individual affairs and who metes out punishment for bad behavior); engaged but not angry (involved in individual lives and the world, but behaving benevolently without anger); disengaged and angry (withdrawn from intervening in human affairs, but unhappy with the state of the world and likely to punish bad deeds in the afterlife; or disengaged and not angry (a god who set things in motion, then went fishing).

Basically what we have are lightning-bolt God, smiley-face God, bummed-out God and whatever, dude God. The researchers assigned them letters: A (authoritarian), B (benevolent), C (critical) and D (distant).

The combination you choose says more about you than about God.

The researchers found "a clear disconnect between how the media and academics identify American believers and how they identify themselves."

Few people use the term "evangelical," for instance, even when they belong to churches that have "evangelical" in their name. But when the data are organized by type of God, it's clear which groups people belong to.

Only evangelical Protestants showed consistency in their political views. "They agree with conservative agenda items and disagree with liberal ones." They tend to believe in an authoritarian God. Other groups crossed political lines depending on the topic.

It didn't matter whether people were Catholic, Protestant or Jewish; what determined their views on a number of topics was the version of God they believed in.

A Catholic who believed in the authoritarian God was as conservative as any evangelical.

They also found that women leaned toward more engaged versions and men toward less engaged. People with lower educations and lower incomes also tended to believe in a more engaged God, who answers prayers. Most black people believed in a more engaged God. Southerners tend toward an authoritarian God, West Coasters are more into a distant God and Midwesterners lean toward the benevolent God.

Interestingly, not a single black person in the survey claimed to be an atheist. Asked whether they believed without any doubt that God exists, black Protestants were the only group in which 100 percent said yes.

Black folks overwhelmingly believe God is not happy with people's sins and will tan hides when necessary in this life or the next.

The survey was full of stuff you might not know: It found that 3.7 percent of the black population is Jewish, compared to 2.6 percent of white Americans.

Everybody's got a model of God to suit who they are. People's religious views reflected their income, education, gender, race and age.

People 18-30 are about three times more likely than people over 65 to have no religious affiliation. Americans are becoming less tied to denomination.

Americans overwhelmingly say they believe in God, it's just that folks have different ideas about who God is and what God wants from us.

The differences have social and political impacts. Who we vote for and which programs we support all affected by the way we see God, including the small portion of the population that filled in "atheist" on the survey.

On abortion, allowing gay people to marry, military spending and social programs, a person's description of God corresponded with his or her political stand.

If the government were going to back a religion, which version of God would it push? Looking at the survey will remind you why separation of church and state makes sense.

People have a bad tendency to talk past one another, using the same words to mean very different things, which leads to misunderstandings and makes it difficult to put conflicts to rest.

This survey gives people a clearer idea of what their neighbors are talking about when they bring God into a conversation.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Wild Beast at Church

We’re working on getting Meredith to sit still and be quiet in church. She’s starting to do better – we’ve gone from one or two minutes to about ten minutes. Then, it’s off-to-nursery time.

We’ve been doing the typical things, like bringing books for her to look at while we’re seated. But now that she’s recognizing more objects and saying what they are, this isn’t working out so well.

Yesterday morning we handed her a book that happened to have a tiger on the first page. She opened the book and said, “Tigah! ROOOAAAAARRRR.” (She actually makes a very scary-sounding roar.)

Needless to say, I don’t think we’ll be bringing that book to church any more.

Just when we were wondering if it was worth it to take her in church for such a short period of time, she started coming to us (at home) and wanting us to sing with her from our church’s Psalter. Often we see her at home, sitting by herself with an open Psalter, softly singing random notes.

This is a good (and cute) reminder to us that our daughter needs to be in the church service – even if it ends up being only a few moments – learning to corporately worship God from an early age.

Incidentally, one of her newest favorite words is “bi-bah” (bible). She picked up on this after watching daddy read his bible in the mornings. The only problem is that she now thinks that EVERY large book that doesn’t have pictures in it is a bible.

Therefore, all of Kevin’s law books are now “bibles” and she happily declares this whenever she sees one! We’ve tried to tell her different but she just won’t have it.

Her other favorite words are “ace you” (thank you) and, just recently, Kevin taught her to say “attaché.”

He taught her this because she was constantly calling his book bag a “purse.” This, of course, was a severe affront to his masculinity.

Meredith’s favorite song right now is Ring-Around-the-Rosie and she often sings “ashes, ashes,” plops herself on the ground, and bursts into giggles. She also loves This Little Piggy and she’ll take her own hand and run it up her body, saying, “Wee, wee, wee.”

Meredith is our little buddy. She’s very playful and makes us laugh all the time. How we love her!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Five O'Clock Dread

For many men and women in the work force, five o’clock is the most anticipated time of their day. It’s when they finally get to leave the office and head home. For stay-at-homers who are responsible for dinner preparations, five o’clock can be the most dreaded time of their day. Especially if they have no clue what is on the evening’s menu.

Many of my female friends – lets admit it, it’s usually the women folk who are responsible to get the grub on the table – have confided to me their five o’clock fears.

So far I’ve been able to stem the five o’clock dread by becoming an avid weekly-menu planner. I’m not very organized in (probably) any other area of my life but I’ve found that planning our menu in advance results in these benefits: 1) we eat better, 2) we save money by eating out less often, 3) we save money by shopping from a list and not buying items that go to waste or are unnecessary, and 4) my days are more sane because I know what to anticipate at five o’clock.

Well, for busy cooks everywhere, I’m happy to report that my favorite recipe website has just come out with a new feature.

The All Recipe’s Cooknik Meal Planner

This is something I’ve long felt has been missing from their site and would be extremely helpful for many people – both stay-at-home cooks and working cooks.

I think this could be a great tool and I’m glad to see that it’s finally being implemented. It’s $15 for six months and, in my opinion, if there are only a few meal ideas I glean every week from it, it would be well worth it. (We have a lot of family favorites so I doubt we would use every idea, in a given week, anyway!)

One attractive thing about this meal planner is that it lists appropriate meals for whatever season it is and encourages the use of seasonal ingredients. Plus, it creates a categorized grocery list for you! Imagine the time this could save …

I wish all of you many happy five o’clocks!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Storm Windows

I can't stand dirty windows, at least not for more than a month or two, can you?

Several weeks ago I took off the storm windows on the front of the house, to be able to wash in between the glass and get the windows clean. They were filthy and I was sick and tired of looking through them!

It took me approximately ten hours (okay, I’m exaggerating a little bit) to do this. The windows were heavy and I wasn’t exactly sure how to use a power drill. [Grin.] Plus, as I was trying to put the windows BACK up, Meredith took my pile of screws and scattered them across the front porch.

All these little delays add up, you know.

Well, anyway, yesterday some repair guys came over to the house to paint something (I’m still not sure exactly what). In order to do this, they took off ALL the storm windows. At the end of the day they weren’t done with their project so they left the windows off.

I figured I would seize this golden opportunity to wash the REST of the windows of the house, but I didn’t count on them coming so early this morning.

Needless to say, this morning I threw on a pair of jeans and ran out of the house like maniac, as soon as I saw their van pull up, so I could wash the rest of the windows.

I am happy to report that I finished in record time!

After I was all done, I turned and saw these guys gawking at me.

“Well, ma’am, you didn’t have to do all that. We were planning on cleaning all the windows when we were done with our job.”

Sigh …

And then, here’s the killer … One guy says:

“Yes, and when the windows are all clean we’ll make sure to put the storm windows back on RIGHT. I don’t know who did the last job but two of the storm windows up in front of the house were put on backwards.”

“Oh my goodness,” I replied. “I can’t believe someone would do something like that. Wow.”

As soon as I said that, I whirled around and went back inside the house.

Why do I try?


Check out this letter from a lawyer to this guy.

The guy's response.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

I’m now done with the first book in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, about a fat woman from Botswana who uses her inheritance to start a detective agency. Mma Ramotswe is endearing, even if she’s not particularly good at sleuthing. She’s very kind and very opinionated – I love her for that.

Let’s just say that I’m hooked. I’ve officially joined the cult following of Alexander McCall Smith and plan to read all his books hereafter. I’ve already requested the next two books in the No. 1 Ladies’ series from my local library.

Lately I’ve been reading some meaty child-rearing books. It was rather nice to throw a “candy” book into the mix.

Although the book was pure fun, it was also full of random philosophical musings. Like these two …

“That is the problem with governments these days. They want to do things all the time; they are always very busy thinking of what things they can do next. That is not what people want. People want to be left alone to look after their cattle.”

“The problem, of course, was that people did not seem to understand the difference between right and wrong. They needed to be reminded about this, because if you left it to them to work out for themselves, they would never bother. They would just find out what was best for them, and then they would call that the right thing. That’s how most people thought.”

One funny story about this book is that I was nearly done with it on my return flight from Los Angeles when, at the climax of the plot, I turned the page and discovered there were eight pages missing!!! (This is the potential problem with library books, I suppose.) I don’t think I’ve ever been so annoyed in all my life. There I was 30,000 feet up in the air – suspended in more than one sense of the word – and with nothing to read! ARGH.

Hitting the Books

Several people have asked about Kevin’s school experiences thus far. Since he barely has time to brush his teeth anymore, let alone blog, I figure I should keep you posted myself.

Yes, he studies pretty much every spare moment. He’s taking 15 credit hours and is working 20 hours. That doesn’t leave much free time.

The nice thing is that when he studies he’s usually at home. It’s not exactly “quality family time” but he is around and I’m glad. (Can you believe he can concentrate with the Meredith-factor? I can’t believe it, but he seems to manage.)

Some classes are interesting, he says, and other classes are painstakingly boring.

He’s mentioned on several occasions that he goes into class thinking that he understands things perfectly and then, after listening to the professor for two hours, ends up being thoroughly confused.

His favorite class is Civil Rights. He likes both the subject matter and the professor. Incidentally, the professor is the head of the Indiana ACLU. Despite opposing views on the constitution, Kevin says that the professor is a good teacher, he’s congenial, and he’s fair.

Today after class, Kevin had an on-campus interview with the Air Force JAG. When he told me he had this interview, you can imagine how thrilled I was. Frankly, I’m tired of moving (four times in four years of marriage) – the last thing I want to think about is being military.

“I’ve always wanted to be able to serve my country,” said Kevin. Apparently on the JAG website it says that you’re a “soldier first and a lawyer second.”

I’m glad he had the interview and wants to serve his country and all but, like I said, I’m really tired of moving.

The end.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I’m Now a MOP

I’m now officially part of MOPS and Meredith is a MOPPET. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect but now, after my first day yesterday, I think I’m going to like it.

The other ladies were very friendly and warm. And, being the food girl, it was good to see that we’ll be having a hot brunch at each meeting.

I was glad to learn that MOPS is very low key. I need that in my life right now. Although I know it’s important to be challenged spiritually and intellectually, honestly, I’m grateful that I’ll be able to have a venue to just “escape.”

And from what I could tell, Meredith enjoyed her experience too.

It’s time for me to take more ownership of my community. I have my church friends, my family-friends, and now I hope to cultivate another circle of friends. It’s all a part of developing roots and making Indianapolis seem more like “home.”

My Team is Ready and Raring to Go!

Watch out folks! Fantasy Football season is here at last!

Kevin got an e-mail from a friend yesterday (a guy friend, of course – who else would keep track of their team and someone else’s team?): “Remind Amy to set her lineup today or tomorrow (before the game). She has all her players on the bench right now!”


Because my priorities are in order, before I even thought about logging onto Blogger today, I went to my Fantasy Football page and selected my starting players for the game tonight.

I was pleased to see that certain players had icons next to their names containing *important* informational items. This was a relief because who has time to research this on their own?!

Apparently one of my running backs, Domanick Davis, “went on injured reserve” thereby “ending the 2006 season.” Bah! Why did he have to go and do this? I’m highly perturbed at him right now. He was probably injured doing something stupid, too.

One of my wide receivers, Joe Horn, will “miss Thursday’s game.” Apparently the coach has decided to “sit him out to make sure he is at full health for the start of the regular season.”

And then I was made aware by the Associate Press that another of my running backs, Edgerrin James, is “expected to see only one or two carries” in tonight’s game. That doesn’t sound very hopeful now, does it? But, on a wing and a prayer, I decided to keep him in the game anyway. It all boils down to this … I believe in my guys!

Go team, go!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fall Teasers

As I walked to the post office the other day, I noticed some dead leaves swirling in the wind. Then, yesterday, as we headed to Turkey Run State Park for the afternoon, I noticed some yellows and a little bit of red in the vegetation.

These have been my first visual reminders that fall is just around the corner.

Ahh, my favorite season. And this year I’ll be in Indiana where I can relish it to the fullest – where the air will be crisp and the leaves will be bright.

I can’t wait.

Post Trip

Some highlights …

I went shopping with Betsy and was educated on the newest shoe craze – it’s all about the wedge shoe, folks. If you don’t have a pair, you’re simply not “in.” (That means that I’m definitely “out.”) I do think they’re cute though – so, I’ll have to keep my eyes out for a deal.

We took Meredith to the beach – the second time for her. Her first time was in Oregon in April. This time, in So. Cal. in August, the temperatures were slightly friendlier. At first she was terrified of the waves and then, just when she started enjoying it, she began to shiver from the cold. (The Pacific is still cold, even in August.) She did really love the sand, though.

I spent most of the time at the beach boogie-boarding with David. He’s my favorite brother in the whole world! I borrowed Melissa’s boogie-board, which was bright pink and had a Barbie theme. I must have been the coolest person on the waves that day.

Christy and I went shopping in the downtown L.A. fashion district. Most of the vendors are wholesalers but there’s an alley with all retailers. I think a lot of it is hype, and overpriced – I wish I could’ve bought some of the clothes the wholesalers were offering, but I just simply didn’t want to buy 10 of one item. At the end of the day, however, I took home a few pieces of jewelry and a teal-colored dress that Christy says looks smashing on me.

My last evening there, I went, as David’s guest, to a roller skating party. His orthodontist who, incidentally, used to be MY orthodontist rented out a roller skating rink and told all his patients they could invite four friends. Since I, apparently, am on David’s A-List I got to go. While I was standing in line to rent my skates, they announced that they ran out of roller blades. So, I ended up with old-fashioned roller skates. It was just like the good ol' days! It was me and approximately ten million kids wearing braces out on the rink. We all had a good time. Oh, yes, and my mom skated too.

I took Meredith with me practically everywhere and whenever she was tired, she’d fall asleep on whomever, or whatever, object, she happened to be resting upon. Here is a picture, below, of her asleep on a bench at the Cheesecake Factory. She slept for two hours like this.

The trip was great – and, as much fun as I had, Meredith had the time of her life being carried around by Aunt Melissa practically every waking moment!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Go West Young Ladies

Well, Kevin is officially a student now. He’s been through orientation, which he described as “boring.” Tomorrow is his first day of classes. He’s taking 15 credit hours and will be working 20 hours a week. So, needless to say, his schedule will be hectic.

I’m a terrible wife – I shouldn’t have planned it this way – but I’ll be gone his first week of school. Meredith and I will be visiting my family in Long Beach. I’m a nervous wreck whenever I think about taking a very mobile and independent 14-month-old on an airplane by myself!

Kevin has offered me no consolation. He has already told me that it will be awful and he would be nervous too, if he were me. (We both know our child very well.)

My plan is to bring lots of books – she’s really into books right now – and lots of snack foods that I normally don’t give her, which she’ll love. For instance, store bought cookies.

My hope is that if she starts causing a scene on the airplane, she’ll stop dead in her tracks at the sight of a cookie. (Did I say I know my child?)

Now that I think about it, maybe I should go buy lollipops too. It would probably take her a long while to finish off a lollipop. A lollipop could potentially buy me loads of precious time!

My parents are going to be so fortunate to experience a week with their sugared-up granddaughter!!

I’m really looking forward to spending time with my family this next week. At the same time, it’s been hard to get both mentally and physically ready for it since it’s coming on the heels of our moving and Kevin beginning his studies.

But, ready or not, here we come LBC!

[As an aside, I’m also wondering, with the new anti-terrorism regulations banning liquid in carry-on luggage, if I’ll be allowed to bring bottles of milk and water for Meredith. Here’s hoping!]

Friday, August 18, 2006

There you have it ...

The world's largest pig. I have seen it with my very eyes at the Indiana State Fair.

Do you realize that pretty much everything they serve at the fair is fried? This year they even had fried twinkies, fried oreos, and fried peanut butter cups. I didn't try any of those. I did eat my first elephant ear, however.

Anyway, we had a lot of fun. Meredith loved all the animals, of course.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

New 'Hood

We got all our stuff moved into the new place on Saturday. Whenever we move I’m always reminded how nice it is to have true friends – people who care enough, and are kind enough, to give up their otherwise-free Saturday, sweat profusely, and deal with back pain for a few days in order to help you out. Moving is one thing in life that you definitely cannot do on your own. Thanks friends!

Life is very different now. Our last house was nestled in the quiet suburbs. It was bright and open and fairly new. This house is located in the bustling city. It is smaller, older and feels more closed-in but it also has more character. (Like Jon said, "Take a look at those iron grate air vents!")

At first I was disappointed that we weren’t going to live in the suburbs again. I really loved my old life in Roseville, California. But I know if I sit around and rue my old life too much I’m going to miss out on the good times that I can have here, in Broad Ripple, in the next two years. This will probably be my last chance to live in the city. I’m going to capitalize upon it and make the most of it. It’s going to be fun.

Today I took Meredith on a walk down several city blocks to get some lunch. We’ve been eating leftover pizza for days now, since I haven’t had time to grocery shop yet. I took one look at the last slice of pizza in the fridge and made an executive decision to hit up the town and seek another option.

I must say that it’s more interesting to stroll in the city than in the suburbs – especially where, in our old neighborhood, all the houses looked alike. In this new neighborhood all the houses are unique. Plus, there’s just a lot more happening. There are more people to watch and more activities going on.

I’m looking forward to many more exploratory strolls in my future. In the meantime, I have lots of boxes sitting around, calling my name.

Oh, and in the midst of all our busyness – unpacking, settling in, Kevin trying to order school textbooks, trying to hook-up our new washer and dryer, etc., etc., Kevin has mysteriously come down with a bad case of poison ivy. Since he hasn’t done yard work in a while, we are puzzled at how he got it. But anyway, his hands and arms have been burning and itching since Sunday. Poor guy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Under the weather ...

Meredith was sick with the flu two days ago and then gave it to me. Yesterday was the worst. I had a work deadline, had the flu, Meredith was in full-swing energy plus a little crabby with her teething, plus I had started doing laundry that morning and God forbid I should stop doing laundry once I’d already started.

I never thought the day would end.

Today I’m better but am still a little bit drained. This morning I was lying on the couch with absolutely no energy as Meredith pranced about, taking advantage of my immobility and exploring new territories. I watched, through heavy eyelids, as she scattered bread on the floor, took books out of the shelf, and unfolded a pile of laundry.

You know, when you’re sick there are a lot of things you really don’t care about when, otherwise, you would.

I hadn’t planned on falling asleep but was awaked out of a deep stupor to the sound of my cell phone announcing: “To complete this call …” She had found a way to turn the speaker on – that’s the only reason I heard it.

In a daze, at first I couldn’t locate where she was. Finally, following the sound of the phone, I climbed upstairs to find her sitting on the landing, a guilty look on her face. She knows she’s not supposed to play with my cell phone. (The picture of her, below, is an old phone – THAT one is okay.)

I looked at the “call history” and discovered that she’d made five different phone calls. Thankfully none of them were to 9-1-1. It looks like she called somewhere in Austin, Texas and somewhere else in Greensboro, North Carolina. One of the numbers she dialed had upwards of a dozen digits. I can only hope that our next phone bill doesn’t reveal that she made a call to Pakistan.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Dinner Break

You can probably guess what we’ve been up to … painting, painting, and more painting. Whenever we can squeeze in a few hours, we run to the house and paint.

We took a break on Saturday evening to go to a dinner for all the attorneys and spouses at Kevin’s firm. (It took me a while to get the paint out of my hair but, fortunately, I got ready in time! I’m a very messy painter.)

Anyway, the dinner was held at an Italian restaurant downtown. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much food in all my life. We were served appetizers, wine, bread and dipping oil, soup or salad, a main course, dessert, and selections from a full coffee bar.

It was really good to meet more people from his firm. The people at the dinner were all really kind and friendly to me. Some of them were really funny, too.

We’re thankful that God has provided such a good job for Kevin.

Oh, and I don’t think I ever really put this on my blog, because things were hectic at the time, but his firm has told him he could work as many hours as he wants while he’s in school. Having this type of flexibility will be such a blessing!

21st Century Baby

Friday, August 04, 2006

You make me “hap-PY” when skies are grey …

Meredith continues to learn more words on a daily basis and more songs on a weekly basis.

Whenever we ask her if she can sing “You are My Sunshine” she bursts out singing “Hap-PY.”

Whenever we ask her if she can sing “Head and Shoulders” she lifts her little toes and sings: “Toes.” She also knows the hand-motions to this song.

She always obliges us with six or seven different animal sounds, on command – including "What does a baby say?" ("Waaa, waaa.")

And we can never eat a piece of fruit shaped like a ball without her squealing and yelling “Ball.” She can spot a grape, blueberry, cherry, etc. from a mile away!

Thoughts on Anniversaries

Yesterday was our four-year anniversary. Last night over dinner we talked about how each anniversary we’ve experienced so far has come at a really busy time for us.

During our first, second, and fourth anniversaries, we’d either just moved or were planning to move within weeks. During our third anniversary, we were just learning to adjust to life with a newborn!

I think I appreciate anniversaries more now than I used to.

We’re not (quite) as sappy as we used to be but our love is equally deep and much more mature and knowing. The days seem to fly by a little faster and I appreciate having a special day, an anniversary, to just dwell on each other and our mutual love.

Our love and our relationship is something I think about every day but an anniversary provides a special excuse to reminisce even further.

Marrying Kevin is pretty much the best thing I ever did.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Jelly-Body Trick: An Essential Stunt for Kids with Controlling Parents

Meredith has learned a classic childhood trick. It’s the jelly-body trick.

Whenever she’s running free and doesn’t want to be picked-up and constrained, she lifts her arms and her body becomes limp. Usually there’s some screaming and wailing that goes along with it too.

If I’m not properly on guard, this trick works pretty well – she’s able to slither right through my arms and successfully regain her freedom.

This handy trick was employed by my darling daughter at Best Buy last night. (We, of course, made the initial mistake of letting her get out of the cart.)

As soon as her little feet hit the ground she started running around the store like a wild woman, relishing every ounce of independence.

The girl probably ran for two miles, thanks to the jelly-body trick, before Kevin finally grabbed her and we took her out of the store kicking and screaming.

Really, she’s not normally an out-of-control monster but last night she was tired and original-sin came out in full force.

My prayer is that her strong willpower will be shaped and molded to live for the Lord vs. her own ambitions.

In the meantime, I’m going to have to learn better grasp-and-hold maneuvers to counter the Jelly-Body.

[Note: Having a strong-willed child is payback for my own childhood, I'm sure.]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Gotta Place!

Well, we’re happy to report that our house hunt has finally come to an end. We’ve opted to lease a place north of downtown for the next two years. It’s a three bedroom with a basement – I’m not sure how many square feet but we’re fairly sure we can squeeze all our furniture in there! Our fingers are crossed!

It’s located in an area called Broad Ripple and there’s a grocery store, library, post office, a playground park, and lots of coffee shops within walking distance. What more could I ask for?

We get the keys on Friday and plan to move in less than two weeks. It will be nice to get settled in before Kevin starts school.

In the meantime, we’re picking out paint colors. Kevin says he wants to go “trendy.” Last night he marked a bunch of pages in a home decorating book I got from the library, indicating what colors he thinks fit that category.

I’m sure we can agree on something.

The Beast

I love roller coasters. How I love them! Kevin is good to indulge me every couple of years. So, last Saturday we went to King’s Island in Cincinnati.

King’s Island is home to the world’s longest wooden roller coaster, The Beast. The Beast was the last ride we went on before heading home.

It was nighttime when we rode it and it wound us through numerous wooded areas and two long, dark tunnels. It was awesome! I now have a new respect for wooden roller coasters.

Of course Kevin says I just love an excuse to scream. This is probably partly true. But I also love the experience, the out of control feeling, and the thrill.

For the record, though, I really do hate those rides where you’re hanging upside down, suspended in the air, for 60 seconds. I went on one of those (The Tomb Raider) by “mistake” because it was an indoors ride and I didn’t know what I was getting into. I closed my eyes and prayed for it to be over the entire time!

Once, while hanging upside down, I peeked to see what was beneath me and there were red swirling lights (a lava pit) and red-colored water squirting up at me. Something reminiscent of Hell, for sure.

We also went to the water park and had two races with Andrew and Alaina. (There were four water slides next to each other and we raced head first, on mats on our bellies.) I came in last every time. But it was fun. And I’m really okay with losing. Really.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

What would summer be without a trip to the Fair?

Last night we went to the Boone County Fair. We went mainly to show Meredith the advertised “3,000 animal exhibits.”

It was an interesting experience for me since the only other “county” fairs I’d been to are the L.A. County Fair and the Orange County Fair. Both of these fairs are gigantic. It was fun to go to a much-smaller fair for a change.

I think some people in the family thought that, since I grew up in Los Angeles, I’d never seen a cow before. In order to set the record straight, the L.A. County Fair has numerous animal exhibits, including cows, pigs, goats, chickens, etc. Who would’ve thought?

At the L.A. County fair, you can “learn to milk a goat, sample some of the freshest ice cream around, and meet an assortment of friendly barnyard animals.”

In fact, “last year, over 60 animals were born during the Fair.” At the L.A. County fair you can “visit an array of baby animals and their parents living pastures, just as they would on the farm.”

Don't ask me where the farm is in L.A. where all these animals come from but, apparently, it exists somewhere.

Actually, I have a distinct childhood memory of my mother buying me “fresh” unprocessed milk from a stand at the fair. The stand was strategically located near the smelly cow barn.

My sisters and I would’ve rather died than drink that milk.

That is one thing about growing up in L.A. – maybe you’ve seen cows before but you’d like to think that milk comes from a machine instead. Eggs too.

But, back to last night … I think the most fun part was a show they had going on called “The Fair Factor.” It was a take-off of “The Fear Factor” show.

The contestants had to eat something called “1,000 Year Old Eggs.” These apparently are a delicacy in Asian cultures. They are preserved duck eggs and, when cracked open, look like black jelly. The first contestant kept gagging and gagging.

Kevin was disgusted and left but I, personally, thought it was very funny.

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!

I think I was born in the wrong era. The Jazz Kitchen was amazing – the most fun I’ve had in a while.

Probably my favorite part was the vocalist who showed up toward the end of the evening. His voice was incredible and the songs were so fun. He sang “There Will Never Be Another You,” “Angel Eyes,” etc. And the swing dancing was fun to watch too. I think I’ve finally talked Kevin into taking lessons with me. So, next time we go to the Jazz Kitchen it will be even MORE fun. Stay tuned …

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Meeting, greeting, and running around ...

I feel like I spent the entire weekend running around. We went to meet little Brody Sawyer, born a week ago Monday. He’s adorable. I love holding newborns. New life never ceases to amaze me.

Kevin went golfing – two days in a row! When he was done on Saturday we went to see a house for rent. We were almost ready to put a deposit on it and then Kevin had second thoughts, wondering if it was going to be too small. So, long-story-short, we’re still in the market. (We saw three houses last night, we’ll see one more tonight, and three more on Thursday night!)

This house-hunting business is getting physically exhausting (with all the running around, squeezing in appointments) and emotionally exhausting (‘cuz I just want to find a place to call my own and lay my head for the next two years).

On Sunday, we went to Michael and Heather’s house for dinner – even though Heather was scheduled to be induced and give birth the next day! (Heather, I think you’re amazing or crazy or something!) We're looking forward to meeting little David LeFebvre in a few days. Did I mention I love newborns?

Then we rushed to go meet Ronald and Karen for coffee – they were heading through town from a family reunion. I think it’d been more four years since I saw either of them. It was nice to touch base again.

On Sunday night we finally got a chance to meet Megan’s boyfriend. His name is K.C. and he’s very tall. He’s also funny and we like him. But we knew that we’d probably like him since Megan likes him so well.

Tonight we’re all going to the Jazz Kitchen in Broad Ripple, an artsy district here in town.

But, of course, since we’ll have a whopping 15 minutes to spare, we’re going to swing by another rental house on the way.

Sigh … Kill me now.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Niceness Goes Around

Today I complemented the worker behind the deli counter when she gave me exactly one pound of sliced turkey, no more and no less. “Wow, right on the nose! You’re good,” I smiled.

The lady beamed.

I wondered if anyone had ever told her she's good at weighing turkey before.

Then she looked at Meredith and asked me if I would like a slice of cheese or a piece of salami for the baby.

Yes, of course! Meredith had happened to be really fussy at the time and I was relieved that she had something to occupy herself for the next five minutes.

I probably wouldn’t have necessarily struck up a conversation with the lady behind the deli counter except that I noticed she looked particularly tired and weary.

This little interchange really touched me. It was rewarding to connect with a stranger and share little kindnesses with each other.

Sickness and Discipline

Lately Meredith has been under the weather. That, combined with the fact that she’s getting a boatload of teeth all at once, has resulted in her being especially fussy, needy, and clingy.

I’ve enjoyed the opportunities to cuddle with her, actually. She’s typically not a very cuddly baby by nature.

The other day we sat out on the backyard swing for about an hour. Every time a bumble bee buzzed by, she would lift her finger and say, “bug.”

Then, last night, she sat on the couch with me for 30 minutes and we watched one of those home-improvement shows. I couldn’t believe she sat there for that period of time! What happened to my bouncy daughter?

I’ve had a hard time being discerning with her, the last few days, when it comes to the issue of discipline. I feel really badly she’s in pain and have been catering to her a lot. Today I feel like she’s been taking advantage of this situation and has been bratty, knowing she can get away with it.

Sigh ... Knowing how and when to discipline a sick child is more challenging than I realized.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Caught by Grandma

You may remember that I wrote, a while ago, about cutting Grandma Cazzell’s hair. I thought it was funny – definitely a different experience for me to be called over, without a moment’s notice, to serve a new client with my amateur hair snipping skills.

Well, apparently, an extended family member read about it on my blog. I didn’t realize that she knew my blog existed, mind you. It’s amazing how these things get around.

And then, when this extended family member was visiting grandma the other day, she mentioned it to grandma, who was probably mortified to discover that her hairstylist-client-confidentiality privileges had been violated and her personal life had been discussed online.

The next day grandma asked my mother-in-law about it. I can only imagine the look on her face when she asked, "Can just ANYONE read Amy’s blog?"

So, I got caught by grandma, whom I thought I could “safely” talk about since she doesn’t even use the internet.

[It's getting to the point that I can't talk about anyone anymore! How fun is that? How am I supposed to get material for this blog, anyway?]

Sometimes I get into the mindset that the only people who read my blog are the people who comment on my blog.

Apparently this isn’t true – not for me, not for you, not for anyone who cares to share their thoughts on the internet.

In the meantime, (you can bet your bottom dollar) guess whose hair I'll never be cutting again?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Things Not Heard in the Real NFL Draft...

...but were actually said during our fantasy football draft:
  1. “How many wide receivers do I need?”

  2. “What team am I again?”

  3. “I’ll take Braylon Edwards.”
    “You heard he’s injured, right?”
    “Well then, on second thought…”
    “Once you take your hand off the piece, you can't undo your pick.”

  4. “I'll take Larry Johnson.”
    “Someone else already drafted him.”

  5. “I'll take Larry Johnson.”
    “Dude, he's already on your team!”

  6. “Can I phone a friend?”
(Credit: Darrin Thompson, who thought to jot these down and then post them on his blog.)

Monday, July 17, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like football ...

I still can’t believe it but I’ve been dragged into the whole Fantasy Football craze. All the guys under 40 from our church were planning to do it this year so one of the wives decided that the gals should have a “Chic League” and participate too.

I’m still not sure how “into” it I’ll be – I keep saying I’m doing it for the social factor only. I enjoy watching football but I’m just not into all the stats and stuff. It seems like, if you’re going to win Fantasy Football, you have to really know the stats and keep on top of it every week. Or just be lucky, I suppose.

One good thing is that it will give me an excuse to learn more about the sport. A second benefit is that it will give Kevin and I something to chat about and be competitive about. You can never have enough competition, you know.

The draft itself was fun (but got really tedious towards the end). We all met at the Falks’ house – the girls were upstairs and the guys were downstairs.

I really wish I had a camera. They guys were hysterical. They had the room configured to accommodate all their laptops plus a phone to conference-call a friend. (All the extra leaves were put in the dining room table to do this.) They were constantly smack-talking and then hurrying to go talk with someone else about strategy. They were rushing around everywhere, acting like little boys who were getting their first puppy. It was cute.

During their break, all the guys rushed upstairs. Each guy ran to his wife to look at her list of players and see who SHE had drafted. Somehow I think that Kevin is going to keep better tabs on my players than I will.

Here is an example of how the girls’ draft differed from the guys’ draft:

The guys: “Oh yeah, he played for the Ravens last year!”

The girls: “Plaxico. What a weird name. Okay, I’ll take him.”