Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Just a little something

I dedicate this to all of my friends with children who are traveling over the holidays. Merry Christmas to all!

'Tis the night before Christmas, and almost midnight
Matt and I are still up, it just isn't right.
The stockings still empty, the toys scattered 'bout
It'd be great if Santa'd show up and help out.

Then what does my tired old brain recall?
We leave town soon and I haven't packed at all!
I rush to the closet to pull down the cases
Start making a mental list to cover my bases.

Grab clothes! Grab pajamas! Grab toys and toothpaste!
Grab sippee cups and pull ups--there's no time to waste!
The clothes are all dirty, the suitcase too small
And we apparently own no toothpaste at all.

We'll have a wonderful Christmas, happy and blessed,
And I'll eventually get to sit down and rest.
But as the suitcases are lugged out by my husband I hear
Us both say together, "We're staying HOME next year."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Customer disservice

To say that we have had problems with Ethan's bedtime is like saying Israel has had problems with Palestine. For almost 10 months we have struggled nightly, sometimes for hours, to get him to fall asleep. The problem seems to center around his ability to turn on his light and play. He will do it 20 seconds after we close the door, and he'll do it 100 times. We tried duct taping the light off, but he learned to peel it off.

After last night's marathon session, I told Matt that we HAD to fix this. I decided to go buy one of those clear plastic holders that hand on walls that are meant to hold file folders or papers. If we mounted that around his light switch, we could reach in from above to turn on the light, but he couldn't reach it. So this evening I headed off to Office Depot, where I proceeded to have a very unproductive conversation with a (male) employee that went as follows:

Him: Can I help you?

Me: Well, this is kind of strange, but I'm actually looking for one of those wall-mounted file holders to put over my son's light switch. We can't get him to stay in bed at night, but it's really dark in his room so if he can't turn on the light I think he'll stay in bed.

Him: Oh, I know what you need then.

Me: What?? (Thinking that maybe there is an even smarter solution)

Him: A timer.

Me: Huh?

Him: You can get them at Wal Mart for like three bucks, and you can set the light to go on and off at set points all day. I use them on my Christmas tree.

Me: But we never know when we'll want the light on during the day--only that we want it to stay off and out of his reach at night.

Him: Well, you can adjust the timers if you wanted to turn it on when it wasn't scheduled.

Me: Are the controls on a remote?

Him: No.

Me: Then couldn't he just use the controls to make his light go on?

Him: I don't know.

Me: (Backing away quickly) Okay then, thanks!

Him: You know, my son was the exact same way, and I finally found a great solution--a plug in night-light that was motion sensored!

Me: Um.

Yeah. Brilliance at work, right there. I managed to find what I was looking for, and Matt has installed it. Ethan was none too pleased when he discovered it. I could almost see his little mind working, trying to figure out how to overcome this annoying obstacle. Just like me in Office Depot.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Heads down, thumbs up!

It didn't kill me, so I guess I'm stronger :) Actually, my first foray into subbing was remarkably uneventful. The kids were (for the most part) pleasant and amusing. Most of them accepted me without reservation, though one little boy marched straight up to me as soon as he put his things down, stared me down with a steely gaze, and demanded that I tell him "the day of our country's independence." When I got over being startled, I said, "Ahh, July 4, 1776." I thought maybe he needed to know for homework. But as soon as I answered, he nodded approval and walked off. "Hey! Was that a test to see if I'm smart enough to be your teacher?" I asked. He nodded. Love it! Later I saw their teacher and she said that one sub didn't know the year, just the date--he was horrible to her all day. Glad I passed!

The school where I subbed is one of the newer ones in the district, and Abby attends one of the older schools. The difference in architecture is astounding. Abby's halls are smaller, the rooms are smaller and have less windows (some don't have any at all!) and the furniture is much older. Somehow, though, hers just feels more like school to me, probably because it's more like where I went to school. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it's lovely to have custom mosaic floors and skylights and cherry furniture, but linoleum and flourescent lighting are true hallmarks of a learning institution, right?

I will definitely sub again*, and I would even go back to that class. At the end of the day they told me I was the best sub ever. Probably because I let them play Heads Up Seven Up** when they were done with their work, but whatever. Best Sub Ever is a title I will proudly hold.

* Cori, if you ever need a sub, you know who to call!
**If you don't know what Heads Up Seven Up is, you need to head back to elementary school. Pronto.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What have I done??

With everything else we have going on right now, we managed to squeeze in a mini-trip to Branson this weekend. We left Saturday around noon, checked into our hotel, and went straight to Silver Dollar City. We were there with our friends Kevin and Robin and their sons, who are 3 and 1. That's right, that means we were at an amusement park with 4 adults and 4 children aged 5,4,3, and 1. It was just us and 500,000 other people. The crowd was insane. We had to park 14 miles away. It was overwhelming. This morning we got up and went to the indoor water park at our hotel, which was sweet. We flew down the huge tube slides, floated along the lazy river, and tried to ignore the fact that we had to come home.

A few months ago, I went through the training to be a sub in the Springdale school district. Apparently it was legit, because I am SUBBING tomorrow. For a FOURTH GRADE class. I have NO IDEA what I am doing. And fourth graders can smell cluelessness. The only saving grace is that Marla also got a gig subbing at the same school, so we'll get broken in together. If I make it out alive, I'll let you know how it went.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Do you have these in a 9?

Last night was Bingo Night at Abby's school. I LOVE me some bingo. When Matt and I were first married, back when life was carefree and time was ours to burn, we went to Siloam Springs to play bingo a lot. We usually went with friends, and had a ball using the colored dobbers, ordering greasy food from the snack bar, and earning glares and "SHH"s from the hard core players who had their lucky charms set out around them in a circle.

Bingo at an elementary school is not that much different. Except that the prizes were toys and not cash or cars (bummer). We had a great time, and I even won a round. I let Abby go and pick a prize, and she came back with a horseshoe game. I was a little puzzled over her choice, but I don't pretend to understand what motivates that child, so I just shrugged and kept playing. On our way home, I told her that her daddy would love that she got horseshoes, because he likes to play that game. She gave me a blank look. "Game?" she said. "I thought I was getting a new pair of shoes!"

Turns out I understand her motivations pretty well.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I love it when other people mess up!

If, and ONLY if, you are in a place where it would not be inappropriate to laugh out loud, check out these two sites:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

WHY do the Japanese use different screws than everybody else?

Well, our good ole Altima may have gotten a reprieve. Thanks to my good friend and faithful blog reader Michelle, we were put in touch with a mechanic who is apparently willing to work for less than $200 an hour, and he should be able to fix Matt's car for less than half of what the Nissan place quoted us. That will buy us enough time to shop around for a good deal on its replacement.

However, I'm half hoping that someone will still be interested in trading the kids for something. Abby was really bad at school yesterday, but then lied to us about it, but THEN told her teacher that she lied to us, so her teacher sent me a note. Whenever Abby gets into trouble, she uses the defense mechanism of hysteria. She immediately starts sobbing so hard that I'm sure all of our neighbors can hear the wails. It is the very definition of theatrical. It makes for an extremely long night, because we have to go through the process of punishing her, but every time we even bring it up there's 20 minutes of deafening shrieks. My ears are still ringing.

Ethan takes a more simple approach, like breaking Christmas ornaments and stuffing a tiny piece of paper in our Wii. Not a big deal, except that you have to take the cover of the Wii off to get it out. Not a big deal, except that the stupid thing is held together with these three-pronged Japanese screws that require a special screwdriver to loosen, which we had to order online and it still isn't here yet. So even though my sweet husband bought us Guitar Hero Aerosmith so that we can perfect our mad skillz on Walk This Way, a two year old has single handedly thwarted our efforts. So, anyone want a couple of kids?*

*Note: I do NOT really want to trade my kids, or give them away, or even sell them for money. That is illegal, plus I love my kids. I just said all that to be funny. Please don't call 60 Minutes or the police.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's a fair trade

The second half of November is always an explosion of busy-ness for us. Matt and I both have birthdays, there's Thanksgiving, shopping, decorating for Christmas, and lots of football. We have survived all of this mostly intact, though a couple of times we've come close to giving away one or both of the children.

Yesterday we got some super fun news (said in an incredibly sarcastic voice): we need a new car. Matt's car is a 1999 Altima that he bought the minute he graduated college. Until then, he had been driving his grandmother's 1984 Chevy Caprice Classic. I couldn't confirm this online, but I am fairly sure those were the largest cars ever made. Anyway, he has loved his Altima, and has driven it into the ground. He took it in for routine maintenance, and was told that it could explode at any moment. Well, it was more technical than that, but you get the picture. So, since it would cost 3 times more to fix it than the car is worth, it's time to shop! We went around today and found a few things, but nothing that screamed "BUY ME!" The problem is that there are plenty of cars that would scream that at us, but they cost so much we can't listen to them. The ones we're looking at can't really scream--they just kind of gasp and mutter. To make it worse, we aren't even sure we want a car. We might get a minivan or an SUV. Way to make decisions, I know. Whatever we decide on, we're hoping they'll give us a reasonable trade value for his car. If not, we have two kids that we might throw in.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A number poem

What's 8 times 4?
What's 35 minus 3?
They're 32, wanna know who
Is that old today? ME!
Happy birthday ME!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You think you know, but you have no idea

I have a personal rule that I do not forward emails. Now, once in a great while I will get a video or joke that is particularly humorous, and I will send it to a few specific people that I think might enjoy it. But for the most part I delete whatever I get. ESPECIALLY ones that TELL me to forward them--forget it. And I really don't like the ones where you tell all about yourself and forward it to 15 friends, and then they are supposed to do the same. I love my friends. But. I do not care whether they prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream or what their favorite cartoon was growing up. Sorry.

Last week, though, I got a forward that I decided to act on. it was a reverse of the "let me tell you about myself" emails--it was a "you tell me what you know about me" email. So as a bit of a social experiment, I sent the email, which consisted of around 20 questions, to a variety of people. Some I've known for years, some not very long at all. I got lots of responses back, and I have to admit it was fascinating seeing what people think they know about me, and what they really do know! Here are some of the more interesting findings:

1. People apparently don't like to look me in the eye. Only 3 people correctly guessed that my eyes are blue.

2. My old work friends see right through the facade. While lots of people guessed that my favorite thing to do was spend time with family and friends, the answers I got back from old coworkers include "Be the boss" and "Talk".

3. People know my addictions. When asked what I would want with me if stranded on a desert island, people consistently picked my many attachments, like Chapstick, scrapbooks, Dr. Pepper, and (love the common sense here) a cell phone.

4. Shockingly, everyone predicted that I am outgoing, and not shy. Imagine.

5. The oldest friends know you best. While everyone really did a great job of getting most things right, the award for all around best answers has to go to Melanie. We have been friends for almost 20 years, and it shows. She said that one of my favorite things to do is sit down with Pop Tarts and a big glass of water to watch tv. Only someone who lived with me in college and witnessed me doing exactly that upteen times would know that. And, only someone who has been on more than a few road trips with me would know that if stranded on a desert island, the only things that could really console me would be Chili Cheese Fritos and chocolate chip cookies.

I guess I'm a pretty open book. I'm okay with that, though. At least people seem to be reading it!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

AMEN in 2012

Well, thank goodness that's over. I hate presidential elections, for so many reasons. It saturates the tv, there's so much meanness and confrontation, everyone has an opinion (usually based on misinformation--Obama's a Muslim, anyone?) and in the end nothing really changes anyway. I remember when Jimmy Carter left office and Ronald Reagan took over. I was 5 years old and cried my eyes out. I could not understand why we were going through all this fluff, when we had a perfectly alive president already in place.

If I learned anything in American National Government my sophomore year of college, it was that a president is largely a figurehead and meant to shape the image of the country. Well, I learned that and that there are some really cute Government professors at the U of A. I digress. Anyway, Since the old taunt, If you think you can do it better, go ahead! is certainly valid, here's what I'd do if I were elected president:

1. Make a law that no one could call our country "America" any more. We are the United States of America. Do you know how mad people who live in other American countries get when we do that? Rightfully so.

2. Insist that the Department of Transportation get rid of all roundabouts on roadways as quickly as possible.

3. Invite the leaders of all middle Eastern countries to the White House for a Wii tournament and pizza. Let them get their aggression out in a safe environment, then hash out the problems over a Meat Lover's.

4. Charge a 50% tax on all luxury boats and private airplanes. If you can afford that stuff, you can afford the taxes.

5. Buy the rest of the Virgin Islands from the British. Why do we own half and they own half? It's silly.

6. Deliver my State of the Union addresses on David Letterman.

7. Abolish caucuses and the electoral college. Who thought those up?

8. Require price tags to state the price of an item AFTER tax. I think we're the only country in the world that doesn't do this already.

9. Appoint only mothers to be on my cabinet. High stress jobs with little glory and even less sleep where your main function is to keep peace and appease a bunch of whiners? No problem for mamas.

10. Outlaw all of the following: skinny jeans, spiral perms, spam (both the food and the emails), okra, that obnoxious plastic that half of all consumer products are sold in now that you have to use a chainsaw to remove, buying stuff you don't have enough money to buy (radical concept), dust, #3 pencils (really, there's no need), Tom Cruise, platform shoes and LSU. Yep, that should do it.

Got any other suggestions for my platform?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Rome wasn't built in a day

I've only been staying at home for a little over two months now, but I'm amazed at how much some things have changed. My "norm" is nowhere near what it used to be. Some examples:

1. On Friday, I had to be at Abby's school by 8:00, the same time I used to have to be at work 5 days a week. It was nearly impossible to get there on time. HOW did I get up and ready so early every day before?

2. I USE my Pampered Chef baking stone. For frozen pizzas and fish sticks, but whatever.

3. My most frequently worn piece of clothing used to be a good pair of black dress pants. Now it's a velour hoodie.

4. I snack ALL. the. time. Well, come to think of it, I did when I worked too. Never mind.

5. Surprisingly, I surf the web less. I don't know if that speaks to how busy I am now, or how lazy I was at work.

6. I shop at Wal Mart during daylight hours.

7. I use coupons--yay me!

8. I know the Disney Channel's entire daytime show schedule. And the theme songs to most of the shows.

Now, the laundry is still backed up, and the kids' toys are everywhere, and I have yet to attempt a meatloaf. But progress is progress, right?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's a scary, scary day

Tomorrow, I have to get up, get ready, dress two children in their Halloween costumes (HSM cheerleader and tiger), take the little one to pre-school, go to school with the big one, help her class do a "Say Boo To Drugs" parade through the school's neighborhood, hand out popcorn at their dance party, zip over to see his parade, dash back to organize and throw her class party, pick up the little one from pre-school, clean the house, greet the friends and family we are expecting for trick -or-treating, feed everyone dinner, take the kids TOTing, hand out candy to other TOTers, clean up, put two heavily sugared children to bed, and then follow suit.

I'm busting into the Halloween candy a little early this year. Like right now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NOW she decides not to be a drama queen

Tuesday, I went to Mandy's house to work on some eBay stuff. While I was there, Abby's school nurse called to tell me Abby was complaining of a sore throat, but didn't have a fever. She and I did that "oh, aren't kids cute when they're so dramatic?" thing, then I told her to give Abby a peppermint and send her back to class. I chuckled with Mandy about it, and life went on. Until 3 AM that night, when Abby's temperature was 103.8. So, I ate a big piece of humble pie with bad mother sauce on top, and took her to the doctor yesterday morning. She has strep throat. Again. It's the second time in two months.

She's better now, though last night her temperature topped off at 104.1. I had to resist the urge to dump ice water on her head. The good news is that if she has one more occurance this winter, we can get her tonsils out. This may not SOUND like good news, but it is. My throat was eternally strepped (?) during childhood, but for whatever reason I didn't have my tonsils out until I was 21. Since then, I have had two children surgically removed from my body, and I PROMISE you, the tonsillectomy was worse. Plus, I couldn't talk for a week. Disaster! So I am anxious to get hers out before she gets sick too many more times, and since the surgery gets harder the older you are.

Ethan remains remarkably healthy, thank goodness. We have discovered the most efficient bribe ever for him--candy corn. He is OBSESSED. He would eat nothing else if we let him. Sometimes, when he wakes up in the morning, he stumbles in our room still half asleep and muttering "candy corn, candy corn" over and over. Today we were driving and he saw some orange construction cones on the side of the road. He screamed with delight, because he thought they were giant candy corns. If only, son. If only.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Last week was another busy one (WHEN does the lying on the couch eating bonbons happen??) that culminated with one of the most anticipated events of the season--the premiere of High School Musical 3 on the big screen. Abby loves her HSM. She has an extensive product collection, and listens to the music so much that even her little brother walks around belting out Bop to the Top.

Even though I resisted the machine that is HSM at first, I am now a devoted fan myself. If she's going to glom onto something, this is a great choice--it's squeaky clean and has catchy tunes and is even occasionally clever. Plus, it lets me bond with her girl to girl, which is really fun. My own New Kids on the Block days aren't that far gone, and so I'm able to sort of relive that experience with her. Sort of.

The movie came out Friday, and it has been on our calendar for ages. I bought tickets in advance for the two of us and Matt's sister Renee, who booked it from her teaching job to meet us for the 4:20 show. (There was a brief time in which I considered checking her out of school to see the first showing, but Matt quickly and firmly put the kabosh on that. He's no fun.)

The movie was GREAT. I was getting jiggy in my seat, already identifying the songs that will be floating through our house constantly for the next few years. When the two main stars kissed, I covered Abby's eyes jokingly, and she had a MAJOR hissy fit. She loves that romance stuff! Sadly, though she watched vigilantly for it the entire movie, Troy's belly button did not make an encore appearance. I guess there's always hope that HSM 4 will come through.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I'm a prisos--and that's a good thing

AMEN had a really nice weekend. Friday night, Matt and I got to watch my cousin Kenneth and his team plow their way to another victory, making them 7-0 for the season. It was a great game and fun to be with my family.

Quite a bit of the pre-and post-game conversation we had centered around our son, who--ready for this one?--pulled the fire alarm at his school on Friday. Mmm-hmmm. I don't want to hear any of that "oh, he's a good boy, just a little active" mess any more from any of you. He is a menace! I thought I feared Abby's teenage years. Oh, but when he's sweet, he's sooo sweet. I'm defenseless.

Abby has officially finished her first 9 weeks of Kindergarten. To the amazement of her father and me, she seems to be reading and writing all of a sudden. It's all she wants to do. You know me, book freak, I'm loving it. Her big thing now is to write notes to us. Tonight I got one that said:


That's "My mom is a princess" in Abby-phonics. I'm going to get it framed.

There is a downside to this new skill of hers, though. Gone are the days that we can tell her that a box of candy says it has carrots in it, or that the TV guide doesn't show Hannah Montana coming on any time soon. Her abilities also seem to have gone to her head a bit, and she frequently speaks to us in this exasperated tone that indicates that now that she knows everything, it is reeeeeally irritating to have to deal with her parents of lesser intelligence.

Well, no one can accuse us of having boring children.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We have to keep meeting like this

I had a wedding this weekend. Friday evening, I walked into the venue to prepare for the rehearsal. I was flitting arouind doing my wedding coordinator thing, clipboard in hand, when I rounded the corner and came upon a group of groomsmen. Nothing unusual there--groomsmen tend to be at wedding rehearsals. However, I almost fell on my face, because one of the groomsmen was Aaron Weidner.

Now, I know what you're thinking.

Who is Aaron Weidner?

Well, that's what everyone is thinking unless you went to high school with me. If that's the case, then you know that Aaron and I, along with another hooligan named Steve, were an inseparable pack back then. We lived within walking distance of each other, and spent a majority of our after school time in my basement. We played pool, schemed ways to pull practical jokes on anyone in our path, and watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail so many times that I still have a majority of the movie memorized today. ("Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries!") In short, we were super cool people.

I still see Steve on occasion, but Aaron and I lost touch after he moved to Kansas City to go to art school. The last time I saw him was maybe 8 years ago, when I went to a club (which I NEVER do) because some old college friends were meeting up there, and guess who was the lead singer of the band? We freaked out then, and we freaked out Friday night.

At the wedding, I got some time to visit with Aaron. He's doing great, and despite the fact that we grew up and became responsible citizens, we got along just as brilliantly as ever. The icing on the cake was that I got to meet Aaron's amazing wife Bev. Steve and I used to give Aaron a really hard time in high school becuase he always seemed to like girls that were, well, idiots. His taste has definitely improved with time--on top of being ridiculously pretty, Bev is one of the most genuine people I have met in a long time. I had a WONDERFUL time talking with them, and I really hope that we will make good on our promise to get together next time we're all in the same town. In the meantime, I'll have to settle for hearing them--Aaron and Bev have realeased some music together under the name The New Tragedies. Look them up on iTunes!

I managed to get a picture of the three of us at the wedding, and I dug through my old stuff from high school to find some vintage photos as well.

Here's Steve, me and Aaron. Yes, I know my hair was ridiculous. So was yours back then. Leave me alone.

I put this next picture in because 1) Steve and Aaron spent countless hours sitting in this exact space, hogging my stereo, and 2) there are some great representations of the times in the photo. Note the green and blue shag carpet and the Huey Lewis and the News mag.

Here we are all grown up. If my calculations are right, there is a span of about 15 years between the first two pictures and this one. I don't know how I ended up between Aaron and Bev, but it's still a great picture.

It was a great bonus to a nice weekend, and it gave me a really fun bout of nostalgia. Now I'm off to Hastings to rent The Holy Grail.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Shoes Blues

Answer me this: how is it that in the current world market, with such a ridiculous surplus of goods available, I cannot find shoes for Abby? There must be literally thousands of styles available in her size. Dozens in one store alone! And yet she's like my own little reverse Cinderella--NONE work. I really do not understand. Are her feet misshapen? Unusually unweilding? We're going to have to move to Florida so the girl can wear flip flops year round.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Never too old

I realize that I have let my blogging slide in a serious way lately.I thought I would be posting all the time once I left work, but it doesn't seem to happen. My bad!

Last week was busy but overall pleasant. My babysitting venture Tuesday was surprisingly peaceful--the only child that gave me any trouble was my own. Wednesday I served as Safegate Mom at Abby's school. This basically means that I sit at a table in the lobby all day and greet anyone who comes in. I also work on any projects the teachers need help with, and if I never cut out another laminated letter, it will be too soon. I had a lot of fun, and the day flew by. The most exciting moment came when a teacher brought a sobbing boy into the office. I saw everyone gather round him and move him into the nurse's room, and the sobs turned into hysterical screams. I asked the secretary what had happened, and she said in a very matter-of-fact voice, "He was chewing on a zipper and it zipped into the inside of his cheek." AHHH! THEN she said, "It's the third time he's done it this year." WHAT?! Perhaps his parents should explore purchasing clothes with buttons.

On Thursday E and I headed down to Little Rock to visit my grandmother. She is doing great, and she has the amazing ability to spend time with Ethan and see only the cute, sweet things he does, and not the beastly, crazy things. It's a talent. The weekend highlight was that I got to go to the Razorbacks game with my friends Kevin and Robin. The team played better than the score indicates, and the weather was perfect for football. Plus I got to watch the Heisman trophy winner, Tim Tebow, play in person. And let's be honest, on top of being an extraordinary player and outstanding human being, he's pretty easy on the eyes. Google him if you don't know what I'm talking about. See?

Okay, I just realized that Tim Tebow is at least 10 years younger than me. Does it therefore make it weird that I think he's cute? This is very upsetting. I'm going to go watch High School Musical and ponder the question.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It could be radioactive

Today is day 9 of a most unpleasant situation, centering around a mysterious condition/issue/virus that has Ethan's dirty diapers, of which he's averaging 5 a day, registering on the nuclear waste scale. (Okay, I made that up--I don't know if there is a nuclear waste scale.)(But if there is, these bad boys would be on there.)(And if there's not, why not? We should definitely have a way to measure nuclear waste.)

I have no idea what's going on, but we have ALL had just about enough. And just try explaining to a 2 year old that they can't have milk or sugary foods because it will worsen their condition. Logic is not high on his list of strengths.

Tomorrow I am watching the two children of some friends of ours. Their boys are wonderful. Aidan is Ethan's age, and Zachary is a 5 month old. I cannot WAIT! I am just going to put the older boys in Ethan's room with every toy he has and sit on the couch and hold the baby all day. Ahhhhh! Then Wednesday I am the Safegate Mom at Abby's school. I vaguely understand this to mean that I sit at this table near the front of the school and greet guests, plus do helpful things like staple papers and the such. We'll see if the reality matches the concept soon enough, I guess. If not, at least it will beat disposing of nuclear waste.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Some families pass down recipes

If you've ever wondered where I get some of my...quirks, you don't have to look very far away on my family tree. I have an aunt named Linda and an uncle named Kenny, and they along with Kenny's wife Mary are responsible for teaching me to be an oddball with the best of them.

I bring it up because recently I've had a couple of chances to shine with my mentors. Kenny and Mary's son Kenneth is a high school senior and a very good football player, and I've been to two of his games so far this season. I was 15 when Kenneth was born, so I always kind of doted on him. Now, of course, he's too "chill" to talk to anyone that's over the age of 20. Fortunately for HIM, he has a family that has no concern for their coolness factor.

Our family sits smack in the middle of the stands, a section over from the students. Frankly, we make the students look like librarians. We are all outfitted with pom poms, cow bells and giant foam fingers. We are also all gifted with substantial vocal cords. I can assure you that everyone in the stands, and possibly half the people on the field, are completely aware which player belongs to us. Kenny is the only one that doesn't use the props--he prefers to use his voice as his only accessory. And a colorful one it is--his comments usually run along the lines of "YEAH! SHOVE THE BALL DOWN HIS THROAT!" I love it.

Kenny has always been sort of a Pied Piper for kids, and it appears he is still as powerful as ever. I noticed half of the student section chanting something, and I realized that they were yelling "ROCKET! ROCKET!" Kenny heard it and jumped up and waved, sending the student section into a frenzy. Apparently that's their nickname for him because he played high school football as a Catholic High Rocket. Then he told me that he has all of Kenneth's friends believing that since he was such a star athlete, Catholic has a statue of him in their courtyard. Reminds me of when he told me and my cousins when we were little that going too close to the Russellville nuclear power plant would turn your skin green for a week.

Both games were great ones for both Kenneth and his team. They are a talented bunch of kids, no question, but those of us in the stands know the real reason for their victories--a good foam finger on the hand of a second generation weirdo.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm heading out the door to visit my grandmother in LR for a couple of days and will return home just in time to cheer both the Foxy Loxies and the Razorbacks on to victory this weekend. I've had quite an eventful week, centering around a huge children's consignment sale called Rhea Lana's. It's quite the event, and I both worked and shopped it. I'll tell all about it later, but for now I have to hit the road. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Well, well, well

I have noticed that many people begin blog entries with the words "So" or "Well" so I try really hard to avoid doing that. It's HARD. Today I'm giving in.

Well, so I'm now two weeks into being unemployed, and so far it's great. I've cleaned out both the kids' rooms, the pantry and even the refrigerator. That, let me tell you, was an experience. Everyone keeps asking how I'm enjoying being a stay at home mom, but I haven't actually stayed home very much, so I have been telling them I'm more the "doesn't have a full time job outside the home" variety. Doesn't have the same ring to it somehow.

Abby's enjoying school and coming home with new stuff all the time. This morning I suggested that she sing a song for us, and she said no, but that "perhaps tomorrow" we could hear it. Okay, I don't even say perhaps. Friday she was Queen of the Day in her class, which meant she got to wear a paper crown all day and all the kids drew her picture. She floated all the way home.

Ethan is still a total wild man, but the bedtime routine is actually getting a little bit better. I choose to think it's my reward from God for quitting work. Okay, actually I think it's probably more that He knew there's only so much one person can take, and we were SO there. Now all we have to do is get him to understand that since he doesn't have to go to school every morning he can sleep later than 6:15. That and convince him that the television is not, in fact, a giant coloring page. Nor is our bed a trampoline. Come to think of it, that kid needs some work. Lucky for him he's cute.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A dream come true

Ladies and gentlemen, I have an incredibly exciting announcement. It is with great humility and honor that I announce that I have been asked to be homeroom mom for Abby's class.

I am so proud, and will do all I can to live up to the high expectations this society has for all women who hold such an esteemed position. Except for wearing appliqued clothes. There, I draw the line.

Couldn't have said it better myself

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

You don't let me call, you don't let me write...


I am NOT happy with the company that hosts this blog right now.

I have a simple problem, that requires a simple answer, but there is NO way to contact a person--not even by email--at Blogger. The best they can do is give me a "help group" where I'm at the mercy of other bloggers that might stumble across my question and happen to know what to do, and feel like telling me. Seriously? So what do the people who actually run the company do all day? Probably have donut eating contests and play Pac Man. RRRRRR.

On the up side, things are still going swimmingly here. I've got the kids' rooms to a point where they can almost be categorized as organized, and I've been spending some great time with my grandmother. Ethan's loving hanging out at home and runs around like a crazy man most of the time. Abby rode the bus home today, which she has been begging to do since day 1, and she LOVED it. I'll probably let her do it every day since it's way easier and just as quick. At dinner tonight, she used the word "perimeter." I've said it before and I'll say it again: she is her mother's daughter.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Oh, like you pay attention to "the issues"

Why didn't I do this sooner? I am LOVING being at home. Well, when I am actually AT home--I have been doing a lot of running around this week. But that means that I don't have to do it in the evenings like before. I'm not doing laundry until midnight or shoving dirty dishes over on the counter to have enough room to make Abby's lunch. I have time to make Abby's lunch! It's great.

Despite the fact that this is one of the biggest transitions of my life, the rest of the world apparently decided to just keep right on going. I've caught a little bit of both of the political conventions on TV, though I can't tolerate too much. When it comes to politicians, I tend to lean heavily on my instant first opinion of someone, based on really serious factors such as likeability, charisma, facial expressions and verbal tics. I don't have to tell you that this does not work out well for our current leader. However, all of the current candidates are considerably more...presentable. And regardless of party or beliefs, you gotta admit that Sarah Palin is a rock star. She is cute and sassy and very, very smart. I would not want to mess with her, but I would love to have lunch with her. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her speech--it contained moments of sarcasm and dry humor that were truly exemplary.

Speaking of sassy, my grandmother is coming up tonight to spend a few days with us. I am really excited for two reasons: I love hanging out with her, and I plan to work her to the bone. Seriously, our house needs some major reorganization and she will be the perfect assistant in my endeavour.

Week 1 of being AMEN COO is over, and I think AMEN is the better for it. I know I am. We'll see if the trend continues!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

This is the day

At this time 3,288 days ago, I was waiting to walk down the aisle and marry this guy (the one on the right):

Turns out to have been one of my better decisions.

I love you, honey--happy 9th anniversary!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wait for it...keep waiting...a little more...

Some of you may remember when I blogged about the aggravating experience of picking kids up from day care. Yeah, well. Day care has got NOTHING on elementary school pickup. Seriously, I'm willing to bet it's easier to get backstage at a Hannah Montana concert than it is to get in and out of school pickup in a reasonable amount of time. Allow me to explain.

About 700 kids go to Abby's school. By my best estimate, 200 of those are picked up by their parents every day. There is a covered entrance to the school, and at 3:00 every afternoon the "car riders" fill the covered area and wait. The PE teacher stands next to the drive with a bullhorn and calls each kid's name as his or her parent approaches the loading zone. About 8 cars can fit in the loading zone at once.

There are also about 15-20 parents who park instead of getting in the line. They get out of their cars and wait on the other side of the loading line, and once every couple of minutes, the kids are allowed to cross to their parents. This is what Matt did when he picked her up the first couple of weeks, and what I did yesterday. But today it was raining and I had Ethan with me, so I decided to get in the pick up line.

I got Ethan from his school and we arrived at Abby's around 2:40. The line of cars already went the length of the school and into the road. There is a dedicated school lane for just this purpose, and I was about the 8th car in it. Remember, this is 20 minutes BEFORE school is out. So until 3:00, E listened to Veggie Tales and I did a Sudoku puzzle. Then 3:00 came...and went. It was a good 10 minutes before we moved. At that point it went fairly quickly, and I was in the pickup zone in a couple of minutes. But I was there 20 minutes before school was out. What happens to parents who actually arrive WHEN school gets out? It's probably dark before they get home.

I guess for now I'll go back to parking--it's kind of a hassle, but there's no way I'm spending 2 hours a week sitting in a line of cars listening to Veggie Tales. Now if Hannah Montana were waiting at the other end, it might be a different story.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Day 1

Well, here I am! Home! Yep, I'm at home. So far, it feels like...I'm at home. It's probably going to be a while before it sinks in that I'll be at home every day. I got to pick Abby up from school on Friday, and take her this morning. Ethan will still be going to day care part time--they let me change his schedule each week. Some weeks he probably won't go at all, but this week he's going for a few hours each day so I can get some things organized at home. It's a little overwhelming, but pretty exciting.

We spent the weekend in Little Rock with my grandmother. We took the kids to Mid America Museum on Saturday and they had a great time (we would have stopped to see you on our way home Aunt Joyce but they were asleep before we left the parking lot). Other than that, we pretty much just hung out at Gigi's house, watching Disney channel and keeping Ethan from breaking things.

So I guess now I should go fold laundry or clean out the refrigerator or something equally productive. Thrilling. I'll keep you posted!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Requiem for an Era, Part 2

Yesterday was my going away party, and of course I cried. And not a pretty cry. There is no question that the hardest part of all of this is leaving my co-workers. I have spent more waking time with these people than almost anyone else on the planet. Because I have a big mouth and few boundaries, they know almost everything about me, and I know a lot about them. I don't know how it happened that I landed right after graduate school in such a fantastic place, but I'm so glad that I did.

I was going to write about the people I have worked with and what they mean to me, but after talking at my party and sending my good bye emails, I don't think I can take another emotional hit. So I'll just say this: I will miss my friends.

How could I not love the people that did this on my birthday?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Requiem for an Era, Part 1

Every fall on the first Wednesday of classes, the Walton College holds a Block Party. It's basically a back to school event. We have music and giveaways, and the faculty grill hot dogs. Because it's at lunch time right in the middle of campus, there are always hundreds of people there. Today, as I was standing in the middle of the Block Party eating my free food and people watching, I felt my first wave of sadness over my impending transition. Don't get me wrong, I know beyond a doubt that I've made the right decision. Still, the U of A has been such a huge part of my life for so long that it's like moving away from a good friend.

I have been on this campus for the first day of classes every semester for the last 14 years. I've shared it with over 50,000 students. I've watched two football coaches, three basketball coaches, and two baseball coaches come and go. I've met wide eyed 18 year olds who are excited but nervous about their college experience, gotten to know them and tried to help them, and then cried when I saw them walk across the stage at commencement. This campus gave me my husband, my education, my career and so many of my dearest friends. I've spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 14,000 hours in my office, working for the school that I love so much. The U of A is a part of who I am. And after Friday, for the first time in my adult life, I will be looking at it from the outside.

Tomorrow my office is holding a going away party for me. People keep asking me if I'm excited to be so close to staying at home, and oh, I am, I AM. I don't think I'll miss my schedule, or probably even most of the work I do. But I will miss the place. And the people...that's why the party will be so hard for me. It's another topic entirely--that's why this is only Part 1.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The best laid plans

How is it that I always prepare for one thing, and then get socked with another? Last week was supposed to be about the first week of kindergarten, preparing for Abby's first soccer game, and getting ready for my last week of work. Instead, it was about Abby and I both getting nasty sick. She had strep throat and missed two days of school (there goes her perfect attendance award), and I had some crazy throat/sinus thing that flat knocked me out. Friday afternoon she and I laid in bed together and alternated sleeping and complaining about how much our throats hurt. Which made them hurt more, but we couldn't help it. Fortunately for us antibiotics worked miracles, and we're doing much better.

Being out of commission for a couple of days put me in kind of a time warp, though, and all of a sudden I am a mere 5 days away from the end of my job. Tomorrow is my last Monday! Not my LAST Monday, but you know, my last Manic Monday, as coined by the Bangles in their same-named 80s megahit.

It's strange--everyone seems surprised that I will actually be busy at work this week. For some reason, it's assumed that I would just be sitting around watching everyone else do the mad scramble that is the first week of classes. I don't get it. They are paying me to work this week. Why on earth wouldn't I work? Besides, my co-workers would kill me, and even worse, cancel my going away party. And that would be disastrous--could they even get their deposit back on the band at this point?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Abby for President

Am I REALLY sitting here blogging about my daughter's first day of Kindergarten? Really? It just seems impossible.

Since reality doesn't seem to be going anywhere, here's a summary of our monumental morning:

We got up and ready as usual, albeit with a little more excitement than usual. Well, excitement on the part of Abby's mom and dad--Abby herself had to be dragged out of bed at 7 and only perked up when I put cookies in her lunch box. Matt ran E to day care early so that we could both take her in together. First, we did a little photo shoot in the front yard. Man, that girl loves to pose. She will be very irritated when she realizes that every morning of Kindergarten doesn't start with a modeling session.

Abby's school begins at 8 AM, and we were told that students could begin getting to class at 7:45. We live around the corner from her school, so we left at 7:35 to allow for school traffic.

That's like saying you put back an extra 10 cents a week to allow for rising gas prices. It was wildly insufficient. There were HUNDREDS of cars, all attempting to pour into the school parking lot. We sat in the car at the edge of the school for 15 minutes, waiting to get in and park. While we sat, we watched smart parents come out of their houses, walk their children to school and return home. I think one of them even washed her car while we were sitting there. We couldn't really be mad at the traffic, though, since it was all people doing exactly what we were doing.

At LAST we got a spot and headed into the school. We got to her room and some of the kids were already there, but not all. Abby went straight for her chair, threw on her nametag, slung her backpack on her chair and started coloring. Go on in, honey, don't be scared!

Abby knows several kids in her class, from our neighborhood, church, pre-school, and her busy social calendar. They were all thrilled to see her. She acted like the homecoming queen returning from spring break. Matt and I hung around for a few minutes, basically watching her ignore us and talking a little with her fabulous and unreasonably gorgeous teacher, Mrs. T. At one point, Abby flagged down the intern-teacher, but it was only to make sure that she, too, knew that Abby can spell Denny's. Finally I sensed that we were close to crossing the line from excited parents to stalkers, so I crouched down next to Abby to say goodbye. She waved without looking up, and when I asked for a hug, she reached over and patted my back. Matt took me by the hand and walked (dragged) me out. I held it together as we walked back through the halls, mainly because I didn't want anyone to laugh at me. They probably did anyway.

Matt picked her up after school, and her day was predictably wonderful. She volunteered to introduce the principal to her class when she came by since Abby had met her before, and she informed me that she wants to buy her lunch from now on because they have chocolate milk. She introduced all her friends to each other at recess and made sure that if anyone needs to know how to spell the name of a certain breakfast restaurant she's available to assist.

There was never really a question in my mind that Abby would love school, but it still floors me to watch her be so at ease and laid back. If Kindergarten had class officers, you know that girl would be going for president faster than some kids could say the word.

Here are some pictures from the big day:

The photo shoot:

She can't NOT dance sometimes:

So timid walking into a new place...

Mrs. T's class. Abby's in the center, already going to town on her coloring sheet:

We haven't forgotten about Ethan--here he is in post-bath lion form last night:

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I'm home! My grandmother's surgery went really well. She is one of the toughest people I have ever met, and one of the funniest too. We had a great time together watching the Olympics and Food Network. I got her hooked on beach volleyball and Paula Dean.

Tomorrow is Abby's first day of kindergarten. In order to avoid thinking about the implications of this fact, I am choosing to go to bed. It will be there when I wake up. Pictures and a recap tomorrow night, I promise!

PS. As for the Wii tournament that my dear husband planned while I was away--the bulb blew out on our tv, so he was without all week. Pity.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


This is Matt typing on Nancy's behalf. She is dictating. She left on Saturday to be with her grandmother, who is having gall bladder surgery on Wednesday. She went a little earlier than planned and did not have time to post. She is telling me to say that she will be back next weekend and will post then. While she is gone, I am planning a small Wii tournament:-)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What does a warthog know about life, anyway?

This morning AMEN (minus the E) went to Abby's new school for Kindergarten testing and orientation. The appointment had two purposes: to evaluate the kids to see where they stand educationally, and to give the parents school information. It went fantastically well. Abby had fun and said she knew pretty much everything they asked her, and we got all our questions answered. Afterwards, we walked through the school and visited with the principal, VP, and librarian. Abby told everyone we talked to that she knew how to spell CAT, DOG and DENNY'S. And she told the principal that we saw her in Target 4 months ago (this is true--the memory in that child's brain!) It won't take long for Abby to make her mark on that school.

A couple of people have asked me about how Ethan's bedtime routine is going. The answer is: horrible. We have tried to give him away twice, but each time the people bring him back after 1 night. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but he really is testing the limits of our sanity. We feel like there has been a tiny, almost invisible sliver of improvement over the last few nights, but nothing anyone but us would notice. Besides, E is really good at letting us think we've come up with a solution to one of his "stages" only to have him pull us right back down into the mires of failure.

For example, E has always fought having his teeth brushed. And I mean FOUGHT. But the child has got to learn good dental hygeine, and his breath was getting really rough. So I bought a fancy schmancy toothbrush that plays Hakuna Matata while you brush, and for a while he loved brushing his teeth. But now he hates it again, only it's worse this time around because we have to pin him down and jam the toothbrush in his mouth while a warthog and a weasel (or whatever Timon is) sing about their life philosophy. Oh, the irony of the words "It means no worries for the rest of your days" echoing off the bathroom walls as you torture your child just to get a basic task accomplished.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree

Scene: The AMEN car on the way home from soccer practice last night

Matt: So, Abby, tell me one thing you didn't like about soccer practice, and one thing you did like about soccer practice.

Abby: Okay, I did NOT like getting all hot and sweaty.

Matt: Well, that makes sense. So what's one thing you did like?

Abby: The breaks.

That's my girl!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Putting on the heat

Okay, this is a somewhat indelicate topic, so if you're sensitive to such things you'd best move on.

On Saturday, a bunch of girls who had been at the conference came to my house for lunch. Since Marla and I are both about to be MOKs (Moms Of Kindergarteners) and several of the other ladies there are moms of older kids, the talk naturally turned to school and the issues that would concern any mom: separation anxiety, bullying, lice.

Yes, lice. It's one thing about elementary school that never changes, I guess. Almost every mom there whose kids have been in school have had to deal with it. One of them pointed out that girls tend to get it less because girls often have their hair blow dryed, and apparently this greatly reduces the occurance of lice, or the outbreak, or whatever word you use.

So I posed a question. If lice is truly an epidemic in schools everywhere, and if heat from a hair dryer has proven to be a strong deterrent, then why doesn't every school just install giant, undustrial size salon blow dryers--you know, the kind that you usually sit under--at each entrance? As kids come in each morning, they could just stand under the dryer for 20 seconds or so. Lots of schools make every child go through a metal detector--how would this be different? And the expense would be negligible, especially considering the savings in medicine and nursing needs for the school.

Everyone laughed--oh, that silly Nancy, always with the crazy schemes. But really--this would WORK! I think I might mention it at Kindergarten orientation.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

War--and peace

Looking back, I can honestly say that while I did have fun playing paintball on Friday, I wouldn't be sad if I knew that I would never, ever play again. I got really lucky--I only got hit twice. Once was on my helmet and once was on my tennis shoe, so I never even had any pain. Others were not so lucky though. Some nasty welps were appearing on a few folks. Way to sacrifice your body for the team, guys! Our team did great--we not only won, but we did it with style. If you're going to play at war, you might as well look the part!

Here are a few pictures of the outing:

Our team. Do we look tough or WHAT? We went all out, painted on tattoos and all.

Commando AMEN. Do I look intimidating? I actually did shoot one person during the game--I was so proud of myself!

Me, my boss Karen, and my friend Autumn doing a little Charlie's Angels tribute. This was after 2 hours of playing in the heat, and I promise you, however stinky and sweaty we look, the reality was worse. Like my ink?

The rest of my weekend was spent in a dramatically different fashion. I went to a simulcast of a Living Proof Live event. LPL is a women's conference held 10 times a year in different cities. The speaker is Beth Moore, who is one of the most hysterical, genuine, brilliant humans I've ever witnessed and an extraordinary Bible teacher. The actual conference was held in Louisville KY with 8900 attendees, but there were 70,000 (!!!) women watching all over the world. Any time I study from Beth's work I get inspired, and this weekend was no exception. She is known for her direct talk, and in the conference she kept encouraging women to "just DO the thing!" I love that. I always seem to have a million excuses why I can't do whatever I'm thinking I'm supposed to be doing, or maybe just not right now, or maybe just not quite that way. Well, now I'm going to quit making excuses and JUST DO THE THING. Woo hoo! Good thing I didn't hear that message and get all hyped up BEFORE paintball--it could have been a different game altogether!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pray for me. Pray for ALL of us.

In 10 minutes, I am leaving my house to join my coworkers for what will be my last staff retreat. Each year, we have a retreat in which my boss Karen pulls out all the stops. Last year, she let me plan it, and I think it was a lot of fun, but this year the ball was back in her court.

Guess what we're doing?

We're playing paintball.

Against another advising center.


I am terrified. I have never played before, but I've had it confirmed by many people that getting hit by a paintball leaves a welp. The high today is 95, with 85% humidity and a heat index of 100%. Pain and heat are two things I avoid if at all possible, and today I get a double dose. However, this is my last chance to be a part of this team that I love so much, so I have decided to make the best of it. I announced to the office that my motto for the day is: Bruises fade, but glory lasts FOREVER.

If I make it out alive, I'll post again soon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Clueless but willing

As I get closer to my occupational change from higher education professional to SAHM (that's Stay At Home Mom for anyone who doesn't frequent parenting websites), I've begun thinking about some of the skills that most SAHMs have that, well, I don't. I know that this indicates all kinds of horrible things about me, like that I'm spoiled and incompetent and blah blah blah, but there's nothing I can do about that. All I can do is admit that I have a problem and seek help. I would never take a job in, say, accounting without learning the basics first--the same should be true with this. The only difference is that no company would hire me to be an accountant unless they knew I knew what I was doing. My family doesn't have that luxury.

So in an effort to perform a sort of self-inventory and confession all in one, I present:

The List of Things That I Should Be Able To Do, And That Other Moms I Know Can Do, But I Can't (But Am Willing To Learn)

1. Sew on a button.
2. Take the screens off my house windows.
3. Change the bag on my vacuum cleaner.
4. Cook.
5. Play a DVD on our TV.
6. Flip one of our breaker switches (technically I know HOW to do this, I just don't know WHERE the box is, which makes me sufficiently insufficient)
7. Pick out fruits and vegetables that are ripe at the store. I have no idea which ones are supposed to be firm, which ones are supposed to be squishy, or bright, or pale.
8. Manage the giant volume of school take-home papers. (Am I the ONLY mother that has this problem? I go to other mother's houses, and I can actually see their table top! WHERE are all those papers?)

I'm sure there are more--this is just a starter list. As I look at it, I realize that most of this stuff doesn't directly have to do with parenting. In fact, I really don't think SAHM will be an accurate name for my new life. I believe I shall refer to the position into which I am moving in less than a month (!) as AMEN Chief Operations Officer (COO). Makes sense, doesn't it? Now I just have to learn all the stuff on my list before my family figures out a way to demote me.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lucie, you're going DOWN

Okay, I've survived my weekend and feel sufficiently rested, so I'm ready to tell my tale of scamming and debauchery.

Almost two months ago, I received an email from a young lady named Lucie Signoret. Lucie lives in Monaco, and she and her fiance Bertin are relocating to NWA for his job. They had decided to get married here on December 19 and needed to hire a coordinator to organize everything. We began regular correspondence and discussed everything from color scheme to reception site. She requested a contract and a quote, which I sent her. Then on this past Thursday, I had a UPS envelope waiting for me at home. In it was a bank-issued check for almost $4000. I checked my email, and Lucie told me that she had sent me the check to serve as both a deposit for my fees and the money necessary to begin reserving vendors for the wedding. This was totally in line with what we had discussed. She had previously told me that she had reserved a band that they knew to play at the wedding, and asked me to wire the balance, after I took out my deposit, to the band.

Of course, when I read that now a million red flags appear, but I get asked to do random stuff all the time as a coordinator, so I didn't think much about it. I was actually getting ready to head to the bank to take care of it when my friend, my dear friend, my heaven-sent friend Mandy called just to say hi. I told her what I was doing, and she suggested that I call the bank that had issued the check, just in case--she had just heard about this happening to someone on eBay.

The minute she said it, I KNEW it was a scam. I called the bank, and sure enough, the check was not legitimate. I was SO mad at myself for not figuring it out sooner, but SO relieved that I hadn't deposited the check. (Their hope was that I would deposit the check, withdraw some of the money, wire it, and THEN find out that the check was fake and that I would have to cover the withdrawal myself).

Matt was as worked up as me, and he had me email "Lucie" to tell her it would be the next day before I could get to the bank just to buy us a little more time. Friday morning I was on the computer preparing to submit my wire fraud complaint to the FBI when my cell phone rang. IT WAS THE SCAMMER! He pretended to be Bertin, French accent and all. Said he was so happy to talk with me, thanked me for all my help so far, and oh, was I going to be able to wire that money today?

I was sweet as sugar. "Bertin! I was JUST about to email Lucie! SO great to talk to you, too! THANK you for calling! I JUST returned from the bank! And GUESS what? The check was FAKE!"

Click. He hung up. Gig's up, Lucie.

Homeboy messed with the wrong wedding coordinator, I can tell you that. We are working with the bank that had the check stolen, and submitting the report to the FBI. I'm going to file a complaint with Yahoo since that's the email server they used. The FOOL called me from a traceable number, so Matt the computer whiz found the STREET ADDRESS that he called from (not even in Monaco, but in Benin, Nigeria)(what IS it with Nigeria and wire fraud?) "Lucie and Bertin" have got some dark days ahead if this woman has anything to say about it.

Despite coming close to having been majorly ripped off, I guess no real harm has been done. I feel pretty stupid, but I'll get over it. Meanwhile, I feel for the next legitimate bride who tries to give me a check--I'll probably require three photo IDs and a blood sample before I accept it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Everyone has time for bowling

It's been a busy few days. I had a wedding Friday, and another one today. I had about a million errands to run for both on Thursday and Friday, and-oh, yeah- I almost got scammed ouf of $2200 (more on that later, and trust me, it's worth the wait).

Somehow in all that action, AMEN managed to find time yesterday to check out NWA's newest entertainment venue--Fast Lanes ( It's by the Pleasant Grove Wal Mart for those of you who are local. I had heard the extensive hype about the place and wanted to check it out. We were really impressed. It's got a huge fancy schmancy arcade with cool virtual reality games, a laser tag arena, indoor go karts, a restaurant, and two bowling areas. One is pretty much like every bowling alley you've seen, though configured nicely with tables right behind the lanes and servers on call to take orders and bring you food from the restaurant whily you're playing. The other area is totally sweet--it's all black light and neon, with huge video screens above the lanes. Instead of plastic molded chairs, you sit on big funky sofas. It looks like a cocktail lounge that had a few bowling lanes crash down in it.

We bowled a game, and had a lot of fun. Matt actually brought his own bowling ball and played a great game. Abby bowled an impressive 87, and I think I scored a 43 because Ethan insisted on bowling my frames. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What happened to protractors and compasses?

It's time to check off one more item on the list of Monumental Events (That Are Very Minor To The Rest Of The World) In Parenting. Yesterday, Matt and I took Abby shopping for her Kindergarten school supplies.

If you are human and went to school, then reading those last few words probably threw you into instant nostalgia mode. Just the phrase "school supplies" sends visions of sharp yellow pencils, full glue bottles and 3-prong folders through my head. I can smell the new notebook paper and feel the weight of the crayon box in my hand. Shopping for supplies is such a highlight of the end of summer! Abby was excited, but I was just plain giddy.

Of course, some things have changed since I was in school. Back in my day, you went up to the school to get your supply list. Now they are available at Wal Mart, Office Depot, and every other store that has a remote connection to school supplies. The lists have some ageless staples, like crayons, but some classics (Trapper Keepers, anyone?) have been retired, and replaced with hand sanitizer and dry erase markers. I was VERY happy to see the good old Vinyl Kindergarten nap mat on the list--this school clearly understands the importance of well-rested 5 year olds.

For the most part, the list was just what you'd expect. A couple of things really threw us though:

- Most of the quantities made total sense, like 24 pencils, two notebooks and even 4 24-count boxes of crayons. However, in addition to the 1 bottle of glue, they request that each child bring TWELVE glue sticks. They are only in school for 9 months! Are they going to put it all together and make a life sized sculpture of their favorite animal? I cannot fathom what else would require that much glue. Maybe they count on the kids leaving the top off and drying out the glue every couple of weeks or something. We were even more surprised when we got to the glue section and discovered that glue sticks are actually sold in packages of 12! Does Kindergarten really focus that much on attaching things to other things, or are we teaching our children the dangerous habit of over-adhesing?

- Born from parents' tendancies to overdo it and the effort to make all kids as equal as possible, the list is for the most part very specific. For example, it doesn't just say #2 pencils, it says "two packages of yellow #2 pencils." Don't be showing off by coming to school with Hello Kitty or Spider Man. I totally get that, and appreciate it. They require the 8-color watercolor sets to keep kids from bringing a 400 color palette, and get really detailed with a couple of things, like "One 4 pack no-odor Expo Dry Erase Markers" and "One pair of blunt end Fiskar brand metal scissors." We could only find the low-odor markers, but Matt made fun of me when I was worried about it. So we made our way down the list, relieved that we didn't have any guesswork since they were so clear. Then we got to the last item on the list: "One package of highlighters." That's IT? That's all we get to work with? There are about 147 different kinds of packages of highlighters. Again I started to worry, again my sweet husband mocked me, grabbed the first package he saw, and headed for checkout. I admire his ability to remain calm in a moment of confusion.

All in all, the trip was fun, reasonably brief and not horribly expensive. Abby is now armed wtih all of the necessary gear to begin her school career--though if you ask me, adding a Trapper Keeper to the mix wouldn't hurt.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blow by blow

Okay, if you haven't read the post I made earlier today, read it first before you start this one.

Matt got a last minute invitation to attend a Naturals game tonight (convenient), so I am flying solo on the bedtime experiment. I'm taking a wild guess that the entire night will be blogworthy, so I'm writing this by way of introduction, and I'll just keep a timeline of events as they happen. Here's my plan. It's now 8:00. Both kids are dressed and ready for bed. I will put Ethan in bed at 8:15 and leave the door open. Then I will go to Abby's room and read her a book. From the chair in her room, I can see Ethan's door and most of his room, so I will know if he gets up. I've taped his light switch so he can't turn his light on, so he will only have about an hour before it gets really dark.

Here goes nothing!

8:15 Ethan's in bed on schedule.

8:16 Abby and I crack open My Little Pony: Golden Egg Hunt.

8:17 I see a blond head peek around the door frame. I get up and calmly tuck him back in. I calmly tell him if he gets up again I will put the gate up. He has seen the gate, and he is NOT a fan. I head back to Abby and the egg hunt.

8:19 Blond head sighting again. By the time I make it to his room, he's already back in his bed. I tell him (clamly) that since he cannot stay in bed, the gate will go up at his door. I put the gate up (which only takes a second thanks to the 25 minutes I spent earlier trying to figure out how to make it fit right). He is saying uh-uh, but not too sadly, and he's staying put. I return once again to Abby's room.

8:19:30 E appears at the door and pushes on the gate. It holds fast. He utters a few "no's." I tuck Abby in and head down the hall. He runs for his bed. I'm sure he thinks I'm coming after him, but this is new, calm mommy. I just close his door (the gate is just on the outside) and go to the living room.

8:20 Door opens.

8:20:20 Door closes.

8:20:40 Door opens

8:20:45 Door slams shut and immediately reopens.

8:21 Whining begins.

8:30 Whining has progressed into full blown sobbing, punctuated with cries of "I'na get outta here!" and "I want my mommy daddy sissy!" and "Where daddy go?" I feel you on that last one, little guy.

8:38 Crying abruptly stops. The door closes, and I can hear the banging of toys. The door opens, and E peers out. He throws out a couple of cries for good measure. Waits, and when I don't react, starts the wailing again.

8:42 Crying got old. He's playing with his toys. Has it REALLY only been 27 minutes?

8:53 He appears to be rather artfully stacking a deck of playing cards against the gate.

9:06 It's pretty dark now, and the entire deck of cards has been woven into the gate. He's fussing again, though it's kind of halfhearted.

9:16 He closed the door, then opened it again--I guess to see if it would trick me somehow. Didn't work, so he's crying louder now.

9:17 I'm hungry but I don't want to turn on the kitchen light.

9:30 This is getting really old. I've been thinking about it, and I'm going to slightly modify the plan. I'm going to speak to him, calmly, and say"If you go to bed, I will take the gate down."

9:37 Didn't work. Back to plan A.

9:40 How about Plan C? He's so pitiful. I say, "If you lay down, I will come snuggle you." He's in bed before I finish the sentence. I take down the gate, go in, hug him, kiss his cheek, and say, "If you get up, I will put the gate back up." I walk out.

9:45 HE'S ASLEEP! Exactly an hour and a half was all it took. But, I remained calm the whole time. And I bet (hope) that tomorrow night just the word "gate" will send him scurrying off to bed.

9:46 I'm getting a snack and going to bed myself. Being a calm mommy is exhausting.

We CAN outsmart a 2 year old. Maybe.

Remember a couple of months ago when I posted about moving Ethan to his big boy bed, and how easy he was to put down in contrast to his sister?


Now he gets up almost immediately after we leave the room--in fact, I think Sunday night he was out of bed before I was even gone. The amazing thing is his persistence. He can get up dozens of times before he finally gives in to exhaustion. Last night was horrible--he played the up and down game for two. and a half. HOURS! We were ready to make him sleep in the back yard.

The problem is that he doesn't get up crying or wanting anything--he just crawls out of bed, sits down in his floor and starts playing. Rrrr! We read some suggestions on various parenting websites last night, and we've decided to try a new technique, though I am VERY dubious.

Tonight, we will put him to bed as usual. The first time he gets up, we will calmly say "You may not get up, Ethan," take him calmly by the hand, and clamly put him back in bed. This in and of itself will be a change, because "calmly" is not a word that I would use to describe our past methods.

If he gets up again (and there's not a chance in the world he won't), then it gets serious. We repeat the calmly routine, but this time when we leave, we put a baby gate up at his door. If he opens the door, we ignore him. If he cries, we ignore him. If he plays in his floor, we ignore him. The theory is that at some point, he will get bored because we aren't giving him any attention and he'll curl up in bed and drift off. After a couple of nights of being ignored, he'll decide it's not worth the trouble and just stay in bed.

I will be seriously surprised if this works. I know my son, and I am pretty sure that at 3 AM he will still be going strong. That's assuming that he doesn't just hop right over the gate, which is also entirely possible. For his sake, I hope it is successful--there are lots of mosqitoes in our back yard.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Final Countdown

After today, I have 32 working days at most left at my job (that's if I don't take any more days off than I'm currently scheduled for). I can't believe it! Now that we're back from vacation, it's suddenly very close. I feel like a high school kid that's a month away from summer break. It's really still hard for me to comprehend that such a major life change is coming, because I'm so immersed in the mundane right now--cleaning out my files and the such. I think it will really begin to sink in when I start to take home the personal things in my office (for which I might need a moving van)(don't judge, I've spent a LOT of time in this office in the last 7 yeras).

Now that I'm on the countdown, it will be a challenge to stay focused and get everything done, especially since soccer is about to start up again and Kindergarten is barely a month away. I know the time will fly. Before I know it, it will be September 2, and for the first time it will be a work day for which I am not employed. I'll be sitting on the couch watching Ethan ride the ceiling fan, trying to decide whether to tackle laundry or dishes first.

I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hakuna Matata

All week while we were at Disney World, I kept thinking about how to fit the experience into a blog post or posts. Organize by day? By park? By event? There is just SO much. I finally decided that the only way to go was to just be random about it and hit the highlights. So, here are the top events and observations that I think are share-worthy:

1. Hakuna Matata. Unless you are just plain strange, you know this phrase is the name of a song from the Disney movie Lion King and that it means "No Worries." We heard this song about a million and a half times while we were there, but the reason it makes my list is that it is a great theme statement for the week. We just had a really easy, fun time. Things seemed to go our way all of the time, and the kids were relaxed and happy.

2. Meeting the Mouse. Well, and a bunch of others. We got to meet Mickey and Minnie at the Magic Kingdom on our second day there, and we saw them again, along with Donald, Pluto and Goofy, at our character breakfast at Chef Mickey on Wednesday. The kids were delighted by the characters, who were in my humble opinion equally smitten. The pictures do a great job of showing the mutual admiration. I cried every time my kids snuggled up to one of them.

3. No cheese! I have a really, really low corny tolerance, so I was worried that I would be more irritated than anything else by the shiny happiness of Disney World. Nope, I was totally hooked. The moment I stepped on Main Street, I was in love. I could have just stood there all day and stared.

4. House Beautiful. I will NEVER go to Disney World and stay in a hotel. We rented an amazing house that had 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, a pool, gameroom, big screen TV, and TONS of space. It was heaven. It was a vacation in itself. And it was WAY more affordable than hotels.

5. HSM Love. Abby and I got to watch the High School Musical 2 dance party from front and center. It would have been enough for her to just see the one thing that she was looking most forward to. But one of the cheerleaders took Abby by the hand and pulled her up to dance. She stood up there in her little Troy Loves Gabriella t-shirt and boogied her heart out with a smile almost breaking her face in half, and I tried to see well enough to take pictures through the tears streaming down my face at seeing my baby so thrilled. I may have boogied a little too.

6. Wild rides. I got to experience some very exceptional roller coasters, including Expedition Everest (3 times), Kracken at Sea World (4 times), Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (2 times) and Aerosmith's Rock n Roller coaster (2 times and my favorite). Even better was that Abby has turned out to be a thrill seeker just like her mama. She begged to ride, and shrieked with laughter and not one ounce of fear as we flew down the tracks. She was an inch and a half too short to ride the ones that went upside down, and it devastated her.

7. Why ride when you can drive? One of the random things Disney folks never tell you is that if you ask, you can sit up with the driver on the monorail that you ride to the Magic Kingdom. Jacob and I took Jake and Abby, and they both got official Monorail Co-Pilot's licenses and everything. They were beyond thrilled.

8. It's better in a boat. Our last night there was the 4th, and we had the simply magical experience of being on a private boat at the edge of the lake in the center of Epcot to watch the fireworks. The moment was perfect in every way. Abby and Jake even got to drive the boat--when the captain asked them if they had their drivers' licenses, Abby immediately informed him that she had a monorail co-pilot's license. He managed to remain straight-faced.

Now we'll move to the visual portion of the presentation. I have about 800 pictures, and posting them on the blog is a big pain, so I tried to narrow it down to pictures that focused on the kids and showed how much fun they had. If you want to see the full montage, email me or post a comment and I'll send you the Shutterfly link so you can see them online.

The kids at their first encounter with the Mice. I'm pretty sure Ethan would have moved in with them if given the option:

Our sweet pad:

Scenes from the character breakfast at Chef Mickey's:

Minnie admiring Abby's headpiece:

Pluto was a slave to the rhythm:

A chat with the Donald:

Kindred spirits:

That Goofy is such a riot:

E and Pluto talk world politics:

Good lovins:

How could the characters NOT love these kids?:
It's a shame that they don't have any personality:
(the non-AMEN member in the picture is my nephew Jake)

The LOVED swimming in our pool:

It's not a Speedo, it's a swim diaper. Pretty dapper, I know:

The closest I will ever get to putting a picture of myself in a bathing suit on my blog:

My favorite picture of E from the trip:

Abby learning the dance moves of her heroes:
And just plain getting down at the Hollywood Studios Block Party parade:

This looks pitiful, but he was really never cranky--he'd just fall asleep when and where he felt like it:

Abby and Jake, aka Super Abby and Super Jake:

My sister-in-law Patty, the kids and I on the giant teacups:

Expedition Everest (which my rock star daughter rode!)

Don't they look happy?:

I know you're shocked, but this is actually not the real Cinderella:

Where's Ethan, and who is this little mouse holding our hands?

Abby taking over for the Cap'n:

Jake and Abby's moment of being the luckiest kids on the planet:

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Happiest Place on Earth

Wow! Our vacation was amazing, and I can't wait to tell you all about it. I have been dying to blog all day, but I haven't had one free moment and it looks like I won't until tomorrow. So, to whet your appetites, here is a picture of AMEN moments after we first stepped foot onto Main Street.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mickey, hold on to your ears (or at least cover them)--here comes AMEN!

Right now, it is a little after 11 PM on Thursday night. Our living room is a sea of luggage, toys, clothes, sunscreen, and sippy cups. My brain is a sea of flight reservations, packing lists, park hours and quantum physics. Okay, not the last one, but it might as well jump in there too.

Though I joke a lot about the likelihood that this vacation will kill us, in all reality I am really looking forward to it. The kids are going to LOVE the parks and all the swimming we'll do, and that will be so fun to watch. Also, I am an amusement park freak, and I have never--repeat, never--been to Disney World before. This is huge for me! It's like my own little thrill ride Mecca.

I will try to find a way to blog while we're gone, but I can't make any promises. In the meantime, entertain yourself imagining what Ethan and Abby could be putting the Disney characters through, and guessing how many times I can convince Matt to ride Space Mountain in a row. Fun times!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

He can dig it

Bless Matt's heart. He is a wonderful husband, and he treats me so well. But sometimes, he just digs himself into a little verbal hole that deepens with every word out of his mouth. And I have to admit that more often than not, I keep handing him the shovel.

A few days ago, we were getting ready for work and I asked him if he likes my hair being so short. He HATES when I do this kind of thing. First, because it's such a loaded question. Second, because it comes with no warning at all--moments before, we had been talking about when to get my car serviced. So you would think that since he knows the dangers of these waters, he would stay away. Simple and enthusiastic is always safe, like "YES! I love it."

That's not what he said.

You know what he said?

He said, "Sure. Now that you're, well, I mean, once women start getting to a certain age, well, I think, I mean, it's very appropriate for where you're at in life."

I think my eyebrows shot all the way to my hairline. I was torn between shock and amusement, so while I sorted out a response in my head, what did I do? Here's your shovel, honey. "So do you like it better than the old way?"

At that point, he realized he was in way over his head. I think "Ummm." was all he managed. Given the alternatives, I think that was a wise choice. Because I knew he was panicking and because I really did sort of set him up for failure, I let him off the hook. He exited the room as fast as humanly possible. I just finished fixing my "appropriate" hair and stuck the shovel in my back pocket for next time.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

You like me, you really like me!

Wow, you guys are actually paying attention! (Well, 4 of you are anyway). Okay, here are the topics demanded by the masses:

- Though my brain knows that I am leaving work soon (46 more days of work left)(not that I'm counting), it's hard to really grasp it logically. It will be such a complete change of lifestyle in every way that I really can't fathom what it's going to be like. I figure I'll be well into October before it truly sinks in that I'm not just on leave. That said, I am VERY excited about it. I'm anxious to get into the groove of being at home, and hoping to be able to actually have clean house by sometime early-winter!

- Weddings are bopping right along. I have a couple in July and some this fall, but (fortunately) nothing has been so wild that it merited individual blogging in a while. Bad for the blog, GOOD for me.

- We are flying to Disney World, though we are leaving from Memphis. (We're flying with Jacob and his family, so we have to meet up with them in LR anyway, and the flight from Memphis is nonstop and WAY cheaper than the one from LR). Abby is more excited about flying than going to Disneyworld.

- Abby's swim lessons are going beautifully. I'm amazed at how brave she has been, and how much she has learned. I have also grown very, VERY tired of spending my evenings watching 16 year old girls (the "instructors") in red bikinis bounce up and down in the water. A few of them could stand to go up a size in their suits too, if you know what I mean.

So life isn't as quiet as I thought. Thank goodness!