Monday, January 30, 2006

Big Girl

We think that Meredith has said her first word. At first we weren’t sure it was intentional but now we’re pretty sure. She has been saying dada for a while now – of course, it would be “dad” first – but it wasn’t until two days ago that we realized she says it most often when Kevin either walks into the room or leaves the room. Apparently she knows exactly who she’s talking about. In fact, it often sounds like she says, “Hey, dada!”

We’ve also started feeding her Cheerios (which is great since it buys me time if we’re running errands and she gets hungry!). It’s adorable. She grunts loudly to indicate she wants another one. Then, as soon as we pop it in her mouth, she says “mmmmmm.” And then she makes these funny chomping facial expressions.

I think it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Ever.

Parenting has been fun all along … but it’s starting to get a lot more fun.

Celebrating Chinese New Year

Just as soon as I wrote the post, below, declaring myself to be an incompetent baker, I decided to go to a whole new level in my baking exploits. I decided I was going to attempt to make fortune cookies to help ring in the Chinese New Year.

I’m all about celebrating every holiday possible. Fun food is a good way to do that. The cookies turned out great!

Me and my good friend Meredith Turney, who is here visiting for a whole week. Yay!! (Beware of the zombie eyes. It's my lot in life.)

Kevin got a big one. (Actually, I was tired of making them so I just took the rest of the batter, at the end, and made a gigantic one.)

We wrote our own fortunes. Kevin had all the good ones ‘cuz he cheated and looked them up on the internet.

Two Merediths.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Amy comes to realization she will likely never win best of bakeoff …

More and more, I’m realizing that I’m a loser baker. Cooking is an art I enjoy. Baking is mostly a science. Baking requires too much exactness to suit me. I don’t have the patience required to excel at it. I don’t like to “cut-in cold butter” when I can nuke it for five seconds. I don’t like to measure “level” cups and teaspoons. I don’t like to sift things. It takes too long. And I’ve found that chocolate tastes pretty much the same if you melt it in the microwave vs. melting it in a double boiler.

Last night after bible study I started making a couple of tarts. I almost forgot that I’d volunteered to make desserts for a group of local pastors meeting at our church this weekend. The tarts had to be dropped off late this morning.

With the first crust, I took too many shortcuts and it didn’t turn out (it was too soggy to press into the pan). With the second crust, I accidentally turned it upside down into the hot oven after it had finished baking. That was at 11 o’clock at night. I spent the next thirty minutes cleaning out the oven and, in the process, burned my wrist fairly badly.

At that point, I felt like the pastors were going to be lucky to get store-bought cookies.

But I decided, in the end, to start making a third crust, which thankfully turned out okay. (And fortunately I happened to have the ingredients on hand to do this.)

Baking tries me. It really does. But since I like sugar so much, it’s a necessity for me to bake. So I guess I’ll just have to keep on keeping on.

Speaking of making things in the kitchen …

Oh yeah, I am very happy to report that I’ve learned how to make homemade baby food. As Meredith has started to eat more and more solids, I was mortified to see what that was doing to my grocery budget. Never did I dream I would make homemade baby food. But desperate times call for desperate measures. With a little bit of encouragement from my mother in law, I tried it. And it was a lot easier than I expected. After about 45 minutes of blending, there is approximately a month’s worth of baby food in the freezer. This is going to pay off big time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Seeing the positive ...

Last night I was bemoaning the fact that my back hurt from running errands and standing on my feet all day.

A: "I think I'm going to have major back problems when I'm old."

K: "Me too."

A: "Well, the good thing about that is that neither of us will hold the other back. We'll both be cripples."

Are you serious?!

You may have seen this already since it was the top story on Drudge but I had to post this simply because it was one of those incredulous moments. I don't know why I am surprised that a profit-driven company would do this. But I am.

Communist Google: Search Engine Agrees to Censor Results in China

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Meredith's Trip Downtown

From Meredith:

Today I went downtown with my mom. Normally I wake up at 6:30, grab a bite to eat, and then play with my toys in my jammies. Today was different. After breakfast, my dad put me in a pretty church dress and I got to wear my shiny black shoes. Then he put me in my car seat. Soon my mom came out – she was all dressed up too. Then we went for a long car ride. We went to a prayer breakfast to celebrate life and remember how horrible abortion is. Apparently, if I were only seven months younger than I am now, my life could be taken away from me and the law wouldn’t protect me. Isn’t that just awful?

My mom told me that she had dreams all last night that I was going to be a bad girl at this meeting and cry a lot and make things hard for her. But I really showed her! I was a perfect angel. I sat on Miss Sarah’s lap while my mom ate her breakfast and then I fell asleep in my carrier.

On the way back, we stopped by daddy’s office to surprise him with an iced coffee. I love to see my dad during the day. I miss him when he’s at work. My mom is okay but my dad is more fun. He makes cool animal noises and knows all the words to all the songs.

Monday, January 23, 2006

So grateful ...

... for a president who values innocent life.

"You believe, as I do, that every human life has value, that the strong have a duty to protect the weak, and that the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence apply to everyone, not just to those considered healthy or wanted or convenient," Bush told the abortion foes.

"These principles call us to defend the sick and the dying, persons with disabilities and birth defects, all who are weak and vulnerable, especially unborn children," the president said.

Animal Attacks

Yesterday I was assaulted by two animals. As I was getting out of the car for church, this large ugly dog lunged toward me and I shrieked loudly. Kevin was amused by this.

After church, we took a picnic lunch to the park. Kevin took Meredith to the pond to feed the ducks some of our leftover chips. At that point, a particularly ugly goose decided to make a run for me. I again screamed loudly and started running away. Kevin, again, was amused.

Why do animals hate me so much? They must sense that I don’t like them either.

For the record, I also scream at ugly bugs.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Organization Frenzy Leads to Calm

Two weeks ago we set out on a mission to de-junk our lives and organize every closet, cupboard, and miscellaneous storage space in our house. We must have been motivated by the realization that we are going to have to put our house on the market and move some time in the not-too-distant future.

I’m not an organized person by nature. In fact, I’ve always enjoyed having just a little smidge of chaos in my life. It makes things more exciting that way.

But I have to admit, so far I love the novelty of having my entire home in order – even the spaces that aren’t readily visible. It’s a good feeling to walk into my garage or open my freezer and sense calmness, peace, and tranquility.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Point to Pain?

"There are tenderhearted people who virtually object to the whole scheme of creation. They would neither have force used nor pain suffered; they talk as if kindness could do everything, even where it is not felt. Millions of human beings but for suffering would never develop an atom of affection. The man who would spare due suffering is not wise. Because a thing is unpleasant, it is folly to conclude it ought not to be. There are powers to be born, creations to be perfected, sinners to be redeemed, through the ministry of pain, to be born, perfected, redeemed, in no other way." - George McDonald

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Golden Globes and Self-Denial

First a disclaimer: I didn’t watch the Golden Globes. I was busy doing some early spring cleaning.

But I did read the newspapers this morning. And I read Felicity Huffman’s quote:

“I know as actors our job is usually to shed our skins, but I think as people our job is to become who we really are and so I would like to salute the men and women [transgender individuals, et. al.] who brave ostracism, alienation and a life lived on the margins to become who they really are.”

After reading this, it struck me that this quote epitomizes the humanist world-view. Under the religion of humanism, man is God and the ultimate goal is to fulfill ourselves and pursue pleasure.

This is polar-opposite of what Christ calls us to do. He tells us (Matt. 16:24) to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.

All of us struggle with sin on a daily basis, regardless of what those particular sins might be. All of us are daily presented with opportunities to either "be who we are" or be like Christ and deny ourselves.

Pursuing our own pleasures may feel good for a time, and lead to instant gratification, but it’s only when we deny ourselves and pursue God that we experience “fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:11).

Monday, January 16, 2006

What Kevin will do in his golden years ...

On Saturday night we stopped by Starbucks, hoping for a relaxing evening of coffee and conversation. We arrived to find that a local group, The Harmonicoots, had a gig there that night. The place was abuzz with lively, silver-haired individuals, harmonicas, clapping, and foot-tapping. We (scratch that, I) even got a chance to sing along with some of the songs.

Even though it wasn’t what we had originally planned, we had a good time.

Since Kevin got a harmonica for Christmas, I told him that he should join a group like The Harmonicoots when he gets old and that I would attend every single show.

[He was noncommittal on this one. But I think it would be fun.]

Grabbing, Football, and Oranges

I think Meredith is the grabbiest baby I’ve ever seen. She’s never content with what we give her, she always wants the next thing (the one that’s just beyond her reach). It’s getting impossible to sit with her in church because she constantly grabs for the hymnals or the people in front of her. Yesterday this lady in front of us saw that Meredith was grabbing things and handed her a little pamphlet. We took it away a few minutes later only to discover that there was a little “bite” out of the corner of the pamphlet. We searched for the missing part of the pamphlet but could find no trace. Meredith then looked up at us with a sly grin. Kevin looked at me and shrugged his shoulders while I fought off the urge to laugh out loud. Ahh … Meredith.

Here is Meredith and Daddy after church. They came home, kicked off their shoes, and plopped on the couch to watch the Colts’ valiant attempt to beat the Steelers. Kevin thinks Meredith likes football.

Oh yeah, and this entry wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that we ate the “first fruits” of the orange tree we planted in our yard earlier this year. Yes, this orange [pictured below] grew in our very own backyard. I think Kevin now feels like he’s lived the California dream.

When asked how it tasted, Kevin replied: “Not bad at all.”

A: “It’s the first fruit this tree has ever produced, Kevin!”

K: “Yes, I feel like I should tithe it.”

A: “Well, there’s four of them; we can take the rest and put them in the offering next Sunday.”

K: “Um, yeah …”

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


When Judge Alito was nominated to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals back in 1990, here’s what Senator Kennedy said to him during his confirmation hearings:

“You have obviously had a very distinguished record. And I certainly commend you for your long service in the public interest. I think it is a very commendable career and I am sure you will have a successful one as a judge.”

Then, last Monday, he lambasted Judge Alito’s record and him personally.

Is it because now he’s up for the High Court and there’s more at stake?


Online ASL Dictionary

Because my grandma is deaf, Kevin thinks I should be fluent in sign language. Yes, I do know the alphabet but, unfortunately, I don't know all my other signs very well. So, when he asks me what a certain sign is, I'm usually not much help. He recently found this cool online ASL dictionary, however, and he's had fun with it:

Online ASL Dictionary

Monday, January 09, 2006

Oh, yeah ...

I almost forgot to tell you ... FORGET ABOUT WAR MOVIES! This past weekend we watched March of the Penguins and that about killed me!! I would never recommend that movie for children. It's so SAD. Unless you're up to watching innocent, helpless, cute little baby penguins lying dead, lifeless, frozen on the ice ... Or you're in the mood to see a large bird of prey snoop down and peck at these little helpless creatures, hoping to make one of them its next meal ... I would highly recommend that you avoid March of the Penguins at all costs!!! It was awful, awful, awful. I could hardly stand it!

While the Man Is Out

Tonight Kevin is gone for the evening. I’m not used to being home alone at night. I pretty much hate being home alone at night.

At first I had grand plans for being really productive. Then I found Lemmings on the Internet.

Then I made a chocolate espresso cake. I don’t even like cake so don’t ask me why I did this. I do like batter, however. So maybe that’s why I did it.

And, since no one (i.e., Kevin) was home to tell me how bad it was to do it, I ate chocolate espresso batter and cake for dinner. Hee, hee.

Then I sat and watched a trail of ants go from an opening in our bathroom sink, across the countertop, and to a crack behind our bathroom mirror.

We’ve had an ant problem in our house lately and both Kev and I have been very put-off by it. One evening I tightly wrapped some leftover cornbread in foil and placed it in the pantry. The next morning there were thousands of ants crawling all over the foil.

That’s how bad it is. Every time we think we’ve wiped out every last ant that exists inside our house and at least a ten-foot perimeter around our house, they always come back the next day.

You know what I’ve learned during all of this? I’ve learned that although ants are very industrious, determined, and hard-working, they are also very dumb.

What other kind of species could witness thousands of their brothers and sisters be completely annihilated by poison and then spread the word to the rest of their friends and neighbors that they should all come back the next day because there’s a piece of cornbread lying out???

As I watched the trail of ants in our bathroom, I spotted the Queen Ant marching alongside the rest of them. And I’m happy to report that I quickly grabbed a wad of toilet paper and victoriously killed her.

Sigh … I can’t wait for my husband to come home. In the meantime, I’m going to make sure I seal-up that chocolate espresso cake very, very tightly.

A Recovering Pack-Rat

Kevin learned this weekend that I’m a recovering pack-rat. We cleaned and organized our garage this past Saturday and, during the process, went through a bunch of old files and papers I’d saved from my teenage years. Much of it was very enlightening. For instance, we found a paper I’d written on why I thought human clones would have a soul. I didn't write this as a school assignment. I wrote it purely for fun. I had completely forgotten how the topic of cloning had been a fetish of mine.

I’ll have to read it again sometime soon. Maybe I’ll even publish it on my blog. Only if it’s good. Or funny. One of the two.

We also found a bunch of e-mails I’d written, a list of home decorating ideas (which, now, I would gag to have my home look like that), and a bunch of old jokes I’d typed out and saved.

It was fun to re-live those years. But, after getting a few laughs from it all, everything lies at the bottom of our trash can. After all, I said I was a “recovering” pack-rat.

One thing I did save, however, was a large (I mean very large) sketch of myself that a street artist drew when I visited New York City for the first time. I told Kevin that I would never hang it in my home – that would be too pretentious – but maybe I would have a grandchild, or perhaps a great-grandchild, someday who will think I’m the greatest thing ever and will want to proudly display it above their fireplace mantle.

Now that’s wishful thinking.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

War Toys

This year for Christmas we bought my little brother a large army set, with helicopters, miniature guns, soldiers, etc. As I stood in the aisle looking at this toy for the first time, I realized that my brother would like it. Then I started to get a sick feeling in my stomach. The truth was: I didn’t want to buy him a war toy.

Honestly, I’m not a liberal (shocker). I realize that war is often necessary to keep our freedoms and our ultimate peace. But that doesn’t mean I have to like war or war toys, right?

That’s when Kevin walked up and said, “What’s wrong with war toys? That’s what boys like to play with and if we have boys someday, they’ll play with war toys too.”

Yet another reason why boys need dads … so their moms don’t completely sissify them.

And then there’s my recent aversion to bloody movies. What’s happened to me? It was only eight years ago that I dragged my dad into the theaters to watch Saving Private Ryan. Now I can barely stand to watch most war movies – even the mildly gory ones.

As I pondered my newly-acquired distastes, I tried to think of what had happened in my life recently to make me this way. The only thing I could think of was that last July I became a mom.

I know that not all moms are against war toys and bloody movies but that’s the only connection I can make. The absolutely, only, single one.

Before and After

It was time for a change in my life. I like my new haircut. It’s pretty much what I had in mind but I wish it were a little bit shorter. I’m seriously thinking about having Kevin take another inch off over the weekend. (He agreed to do this last night when I asked him.) We’ll see …



Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Church Dating

Over the holidays I read a book that changed my outlook. I must confess, I bought it as a gift for someone, started reading it, and couldn’t put it down. It’s called Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris.

"Are you dating the church? We are a generation of consumers, independent and critical. We attend church, but we don't want to settle down and truly invest ourselves. We're not into commitment - we only want to date the church. Is this what God wants for us? Stop Dating the Church reminds us that faith was never meant to be a solo pursuit. The church is the place God grows us, encourages us, and uses us best. Loving Jesus Christ involves a passionate commitment to His church - around the world and down the street. We can't be apathetic. It's time to fall in love with the family of God."

Here's an excerpt:

"Can you spot what I'm calling a church-dater? Here's a quick profile. Do you see one or more characteristics in yourself?

"First, our attitude towards church tends to be me-centered. We go for what we can get - social interaction, programs, or activities. The driving question is 'What can church do for me?'

"A second sign of a church dater is being independent. We go to church because that's what Christians are supposed to do - but we're careful to avoid getting involved too much, especially with people. We don't pay much attention to God's larger purpose for us as a vital part in a specific church family. So we go through the motions without really investing ourselves.

"Most essentially, a church-dater tends to be critical. We are short on allegiance and quick to find fault in our church. We treat church with a consumer mentality - looking for the best product for the price of our Sunday morning. As a result, we're fickle and not invested for the long-term, like a lover with a wandering eye, always on the hunt for something better."

This book was very convicting for me. I don’t think I was a church dater until we moved to Sacramento. We found a good church and then became frustrated by a few things. We stayed, however, because we felt it was still the best option. Looking back, I wish I’d been less critical and had spent more time and energy serving and being involved wholeheartedly. I think that would have been the God-honoring thing to do. And I think it would have reaped other rewards too … such as blessing others more and benefiting myself.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book. Every page was packed with insights and messages to challenge me.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Aunt Megan sent me this dress from China. I really liked the wrapping paper. Unfortunately, this wrapping paper from China got my mouth all red when I tasted it. My dad tried to clean my mouth off but couldn't get it all.