On Day Two in Orlando, the little blue rabbit spent some time
with a big killer whale.
This is as close as he got to Shamu, though.
Little blue rabbits are often mistaken for fish treats.
Shots of the Day
(Limited in number due to the risk of salt-water immersion
and being flung off rides at high rates of speed)
Saturday, May 31, 2008
On Day Two in Orlando, the little blue rabbit spent some time
Posted by Amanda at 11:59 PM
Friday, May 30, 2008
Very early this morning, long before the sun came up, the family hit the road -- well, the runway -- bound for Florida. The kids were very excited to go, regardless of lots of work and little sleep before departure. They could barely contain their excitement long enough to pose for the obligitory pre-board photo.
Babbit, on the other hand, wondered what kind of nuts leave the house at 3:45 A.M. to do anything legal.
Ah, this kind...
The nuts were later redeemed when the smallest one showed Babbit
the sun breaking over the clouds.
Maybe the first flight was worth it after all.
Babbit's Competition: Bub's "Baby Cow"
Guarding the luggage while the parentals look for
the Atlantis of rental car lots
(which was eventually found by entering a building, taking an escalator,
exiting a building, crossing a street, taking some stairs,
entering a garage, and wandering around for a good long while)
While continuing to wait for the car,
Babbit takes advantage of some camera time
while Gracie explains his role to Grandma
Speaking of luggage, there was barely room for Babbit
once the luggage consumed every square inch of cargo space
in the unusually-shaped car.
Any guess whose bag is pink and sequined?
Babbit arrives at the resort in Orlando.
He chills while the family checks in, stocks the condo,
and takes advantage of the on-site amenities
(namely, a bed for taking naps).
Posted by Amanda at 11:59 PM
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Remember this guy?
Babbit the Blue Rabbit will be Orlando-bound come Friday morning. Well, technically it will be morning, though we'll be on the road to the airport long before the Friday sun makes an appearance. Stay tuned to see what sort of shenanigans he'll be a part of.
Speaking of the trip to Orlando, we leave for the airport in about thirty hours, and I'm losing the battle to a brand new head cold. Instead of spending the late night tonight and much of tomorrow preparing to go, I'll be in the bathroom with a Neti Pot shoved up my nostril. Good stuff.
In lieu of actual vacation productiveness today (which would have been so helpful with regard to said head cold), I spent the day planting flowers from the Wal-Mart clearance rack, repainting a bed frame, posting my old washer and a bunch of other stuff on Freecycle, and trying to coordinate my already full schedule with Freecyclers... because all of those things are so necessary two days before any vacation. Sheesh.
And in addition to all of that nonsense, I stopped by a resale shop where I bought a couch primarily because the pattern matched a couch I already own. Then I hauled it thirty miles across the Metroplex half hanging out of my CR-V. It was marked down twice and on special sale beyond that, so in the end I spent $15.00. How could I say no? Look, they're twinkies. It's like it was meant to be.
Then, in the midst of today's goofing around, I saw a news story on the topic of childhood obesity and how it may be leveling off. That's great news, but it reminded me of something I saw in Wal-Mart last week. Seriously, who in the world puts a hamburger on a frisbee? Doesn't that brand of subliminal messaging sort of defeat the purpose? I'm just saying...
And on that note, I'm off to fill my sinuses with salt water. Have a swell evening!
Posted by Amanda at 9:12 PM
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
This morning after the masses returned to their day jobs (including my children whose day job is, you know, school [which I believe is completely unnatural since no child should be in school after Memorial Day, but I digress]), I parked myself right back in the middle of my pillow-laden bed for a little morning TV trash before embarking on the post-holiday chore extravaganza.
To get myself in the cleaning mood, I watched a show on the Style network appropriately named Clean House. It's a show like any other cleaning/organizing/home decorating show, except the host of the show doesn't mind a little back-sassing. In fact, on today's show, she told the reluctant client, "I don't care about your whining. Girl, I done had three kids -- your whining don't bother me none." That's the kind of spunk many of these shows are missing.
Anyway, I was watching the show, really just wanting to veg out before tackling my irrational pre-vacation to-do list, when I sensed the conviction of the Lord. You see, on this show, the female half of the clientele kept sneaking her things -- the things that had been decluttered -- back into her house. And it wasn't like she was sneaking in a long-loved silk scarf, rather, she tried sneaking in a green marble table top big enough to seat ten people. She convinced friends to come buy her belongings to give back to her later, contributing her own money to the redecorating cash stash. She resisted the process so much that her husband cursed at her, and the fiery hostess nearly hit the road.
So back to the conviction: I love decluttering. I love sorting and purging our belongings. Were it not for the twinge of guilt I feel when I consider all the money passing back out of my house, decluttering would be the most perfect past time for me. Don't get me wrong -- my underlying need for frugality ultimately does not interfere with me letting go of the excess Barbies and bed sheets.
I learned a long time ago that things are replaceable. There is no need for me to hang on to an abundance of belongings that clutter up my life and rob me of a sense of peace. That to say, what I felt today had nothing to do with property. Rather, it had to do with attitudes and behaviors and emotions out-of-control.
I'm dealing with a few things -- some obvious, some less-so -- and though I ultimately want change to happen within, though I want an emotional remodel if you will, I find myself hauling in that green marble table top of old. I want the end result, instead I cling to the things I should be letting go.
But I'm tired. I'm tired of dealing. I don't want to be stripped down to the studs. I don't want to haul stuff out, wield a paintbrush, hang a curtain. I just want to walk in for the reveal. I wish it were that easy.
"Test me, O LORD, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
for your love is ever before me,
and I walk continually in your truth."
"Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."
Posted by Amanda at 2:09 PM
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Gracie felt particularly courageous today and decided it was time to try the bike without training wheels. We've been encouraging her towards independence since Bub learned to ride, but thus far, she's been very resistant. To encourage her further, we picked up some elbow and knee pads (she normally just rides with a helmet), and found a Balance Buddy while at the store. [Thanks, Jenny!]
Posted by Amanda at 9:08 PM
Friday, May 23, 2008
James got home late Wednesday night, and while we planned to hook up the new washer and dryer then, my mom (who was in Oklahoma) asked that we wait until she got back to Texas. She said she really wanted to help with the installation and even said something to the effect of, "I'll stick around to wash the clothes."
At that, what was one more day of appliances in the garage, really?
A very small sacrifice to make a mom (or two) happy, in my opinion.
My mom is employed by Home Depot as an Appliance Specialist and has been after me to upgrade my machines for years. "They'll change your life," she'd say, as I rolled my eyes. "They're like a miracle in metal," she'd proclaim, as I sighed heavier than a thirteen-year-old. She nearly considered postponing her trip to Tulsa when I called to tell her that I'd finally, after all these years, made her wildest laundry dreams come true.
On Thursday, Mom finished her day in Oklahoma at the OB-GYN office with my sister-in-law, hopped in the car, and raced south towards the Red River. She was delayed slightly by the highway construction that's been conveniently ongoing for the last four years -- the construction that just happens to force drivers to creep by last Oklahoma casino before leaving the state. She got here about 7 P.M., scarfed down some dinner I'd made, and made a beeline for the front loaders.
As we hauled in the new and hauled out the old, she giggled with excitement. For her, it was better than Christmas. I thought maybe I was imagining things, but when I mentioned I wanted to turn the dryer vent hose a quarter-turn to move the machine two inches closer to the wall, she hopped on top of it and dangled head first behind while I held onto her leg. That sort of request would normally elicit the eye-rolling and heavy-sighing on her part.
Clearly she wasn't thinking straight.
And I have proof.
I'll want to remember how lovely they were
when the day comes that I break them.
Better than Prime Time: fresh watermelon and a new washing machine.
With the exception of one towel and a few T-shirts,
this huge basket holds one load.
This posting about the new washer -- it's a sickness.
I'm deeply distrubed.
Posted by Amanda at 10:13 AM
Last year, when I was obviously pregnant, I took Gracie every Thursday to a preschool story time at the public school where little ones could take their lovies. We abruptly stopped going when Zachary died.
Last week, while waiting in line at the school, another mom recognized me. Squealing, she grabbed my arm and asked how my baby was. "He's dead," I replied. I'm done diagramming my uterus for total strangers, and I didn't know what else to say after that.
So I didn't say anything.
Posted by Amanda at 9:04 AM
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I saw a report on MSNBC.com today about a young man and his blog. 26-year-old Adrian Sudbury called in sick one day with an illness that later turned out to be two competing types of Leukemia, which "according to the medical literature, he is the only person in the world to have." After a bone marrow transplant that should have saved his life, he developed chronic Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD), and now finds himself in the last stages of living.
One of the major reasons Adrian has shared his experience of living with and dying from leukemia is to increase awareness about Bone Marrow Transplants. It is his mission to show how an often very simple procedure -- a brief course of hormone therapy, the sacrifice of some blood products, and three hours of a day -- can save someones life. To consider becoming a Bone Marrow donor, watch the video below, and check out the National Marrow Donor Program at Marrow.org.
Posted by Amanda at 8:26 AM
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
This evening, around 5:00 P.M., Steven Curtis Chapman's youngest daughter Maria was killed in a tragic accident at their Tennessee home. Just days after their eldest daughter Emily's engagement, Maria was accidentally struck and killed in the driveway by an SUV driven by her teenage brother.
I can't imagine the compounded heartbreak this family must be feeling right now and believe we should each pause to pray.
Star Tribune Story
Prayer Chain and Condolences
The Chapman Family Blogs
Memorial Contributions to Shaohannah's Hope
(the ministry started by the Chapmans that helps families with adoption)
Posted by Amanda at 11:57 PM
James is out of town this week, and with my alarm clock issue, we've been running a bit late in the mornings. This morning, I woke the kids up 23 minutes before the school bus was due, so instead of rushing them out the door, we took our time and went to the donut shop for a quick breakfast.
We left the shop and drove towards the school under an overcast sky. As we turned off of one highway onto another, we were met with a double rainbow. I pointed it out to the kids who "oohed" and "aahed," and I reminded them that a rainbow is representive of God's promise. (Genesis 9:8-17 is the complete promise, but 14-15 sum it up: "Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.")
This past weekend in the midst of all the birthday/recital/appliance purchase craziness, there was an anonymous comment left on my blog by some spammer. It was absolutely replete with nonsensical babble about "the methodology of the gods" and how they "expend most of their efforts planning for and executing temptation designed to test people," forcing them into a never ending cycle of life until they get it right. The spammer went on to say that "The gods are asexual -- they have no sex organs nor rectums; Females are better people than males;" and because "it was foreshadowed on an episode of the Simpsons, people will be cast into outer space with gold cards in hand when the Earth's axis shifts." The post continued with political positioning and venomous racism, and as I deleted it, I couldn't help but think how sad that person must be, and how empty and hopeless his life is as he remains in such a state of confusion.
I thought about that commenter this morning as I observed the double rainbow. God is the God (the only God) who created the universe and everything that dwells within it. Honestly, we as His puny, finite creation don't necessarily deserve any contact from or connection with Him, and yet He shows up some random Wednesday morning to remind the human race not once, but twice, of His promise of mercy and grace. I needed that reminder today.
I've been thinking a lot about 1 Peter 1:3-9, which reads,
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
I'm quite despondent about those scriptures because I feel like I'm just not passing the test. I don't feel like my faith is being positively "proved," because though I have often made it clear that I could not have survived one moment of this obliteration without the compassion of God, I am not "filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy." In fact, some days I feel like I'm just barely getting by. I don't know.
This is not a brand new struggle -- none of this is. I just feel like I've been shelved, you know? I just wish I could get some idea as to when my "little while" will be over, or if it ever will. I look in on Angie Smith and find such faith and beauty in the newly missing. And then there's Karen's sister Kim, who just buried her second baby in three years, and even she is far more astute than I am. I feel like I've just reached this point of stagnancy and nothing is changing with regards to my grief situation.
Over time, it's true that things have changed -- I no longer bear that raw, exposed wound -- but so much pain remains. I still can't handle babies or pregnant bellies well, which is so difficult considering that beloved members of my close family are now pregnant or trying to be. I already avoid long-time friends with babies, so how can I manage my loved ones? I'm quite sure this new crop of kiddos will knock me out of the position of holiday hostess -- at least for a while. It's not that I don't want to be a part of their joy -- I do. It's more about the fact that I can't bear it. I can't bear my own disappointment. I can't bear being a disappointment. I would rather just stay away.
I saw this episode of Monk once where his psychiatrist, Dr. Kroger, decided to retire after his cleaning lady had been killed. At the announcement, Mr. Monk had some kind of psychotic break and began cycling through the stages of grief at a rapid pace and all at once:
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
When I saw that, I felt like I could relate. I've done a similar thing, except now I feel like I'm stuck. I feel like a stuck record player playing the same note again and again and again, never finishing the song. I'm sad. I'm sad. I'm sad. I'm sad. I'm sad. You get the idea. My grief has been exacerbated by the fact that my mom is in Oklahoma gathering baby things for my brother, and by a conversation I had yesterday with a friend wherein she asked, "What's new with you," and I honestly answered, "Not one thing."
Though rationally I know I'm not, lately I feel wasted, worthless, used up, and tossed aside. Life has gone on and left me behind.
Seeing the double rainbow today reminded me that even in the midst of my stagnancy, even in the midst of my grief, even in the midst of my shelf-sitting and feeling like I don't matter one bit, I serve a God who truly cares about me, who is not "expend[ing] most of [his] efforts planning for and executing temptation designed to test people," as the spammer above inferred. Through his word, God has promised me many good things, and though I don't deserve it, He is faithful to remind me of them and to bring them to pass. Eventually.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD,
'plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.'"
-- Jeremiah 29:11
"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God...
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare."
-- Psalm 40:1-3a, 5
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us... and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
-- Romans 8:18, 28
Posted by Amanda at 7:44 AM
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
For someone who hates the laundry as much as I do, I sure go through the machines. I'm sure it's because I've been quite stingy when it comes to appliance investments. I mean, I hate the laundry so much that you can imagine how much more I hate the thought of spending money on getting it done.
When we moved to this house a little over a year ago, we brought with us the washer that came with our Oklahoma house, and a dryer I purchased for $17 at a thrift store when we realized we needed an electric dryer as opposed to the gas one we had. Nearly immediately after moving here, the washer died, so I bought another one last summer at a garage sale for $50. That washer died around Christmastime, so I bought one from my mom's friend for $50. About two months ago, the $17 dryer died, so James bought one for $25 during our neighborhood garage sale. I killed it a couple weeks later.
Now, allow me to clarify the fact that I know how to do laundry. I empty pockets, I sort by color, and contrary to popular belief, I do not overfill my machines. Still, I seem to pick used appliances in the midst of their last spin. We decided, then, that it was time to plunk down some real change and invest in a reliable set because no matter how I hate it, laundry must be done with some degree of frequency, and a working machine makes that possible.
Every spare moment we've had this week has been spent in appliance showrooms. After work, before the kids got home from school, in between rehearsal and recital -- days and days of being totally overwhelmed. Today, by myself, with no impatient husband or children trying to lock one another in side-by-side refrigerators, I found a set I wanted at a price that wouldn't kill me -- this Samsung pair in your basic laundry room white. I was sold by the user reviews of 4.5-5 out of 5 stars, and by the Samsung website that says this [with my additions]:
"When time is money, you don't want to do several loads of laundry if you could do it all in one load [particularly if you hate the laundry as much as I do]. The WF337 washing machine lets you wash more clothes in fewer loads, saving you precious time and money [thereby making you less likely to end your life by ingesting the laundry soap]."
I browsed briefly this morning before spotting the set, after which I promptly had the sales lady draw up the sale. I had the option of delivery, which would take 4-5 days and would cost $65 for the first 25 miles and some undetermined surcharge for the 15 miles more to our house. Instead of that, I opted to rent a
Budget van for $15, into which the warehouse employees would load the set for me to take home immediately. The latter seemed like the timeliest and most frugal option.
I rented the van in the morning thinking I would get home, unload it, and return it, all before the end of the school day. Though I had two men loading the set, I didn't think of who would unload it for me when I got home. And with James spending the week in Iowa, he couldn't run home to my rescue. The whole way home I pondered my predicament, wondering what to do and not believing I'd overlooked that most important detail. I talked to my mom, who became quite stressed out. I talked to Amy, who laughed at me. In the midst of the driving, the stress, and the laughing, I decided I would try to wrangle a neighbor, and if that wouldn't work, I'd try to bribe some construction workers who were nearby, finishing out our neighborhood.
I got home, made space in the garage (where the set will sit until James comes home to hook it up), and found that the neighbor I was hoping to have help me wasn't home. Also, though it's crunch time for neighborhood completion, there were no construction workers anywhere. I stood in my driveway wondering if I had the upper body strength necessary to singlehandedly heave appliances when another neighbor way down the street came out for his mail. At the promise of a free lunch, he came down to help me out. With minimal complaining on his part, we got the set unloaded and I returned the van in a timely manner.
I am so glad to have this process out of the way, though I am still unsure about my degree of upper body strength.
Plus, now I have no excuses with regards to the laundry.
And that is just not good.
Posted by Amanda at 4:03 PM
Monday, May 19, 2008
The weekend was filled with tulle and ribbons as Gracie participated in her first dance recital. She had a great time, but think more than the actual dancing, she liked having her hair and makeup done...
wearing a tutu...
hanging out with other little girls in equally cute outfits...
posing for pictures...
and getting flowers.
As for the dancing, here she is at dress rehearsal. All the girls were a bit distracted by the coaching from the wings, the bustle of the audience, and the change in routine. Gracie in particular missed a couple of the steps, much to her dismay. On recital day, though, she was spot on and quite lovely.
In a dancer, there is a reverence for such forgotten things
as the miracle of the small beautiful bones
and their delicate strength. ~Martha Graham
Our Beautiful Ballerina
Posted by Amanda at 9:18 PM
Friday, May 16, 2008
There's something so different about being five and being six, and I'm accepting it, but sadly. It amazes me to recall yesterday and realize yesterday was years ago, and that marks the difference in our girl. Our baby has with all certainty cleared that baby stage.
Coloring books have become secret diaries. Caillou and Boz the Bear have been replaced by Hannah Montana and Ty Girlz. What was once Veggie Tales on repeat in the car for all the world to hear is now Worship Jamz downloaded into an MP3 player for little girl ears only. Constant sweetness gives way to occasional sassiness. Though we miss our itty-bitty baby, we love the funny, silly, crazy girl she's become.
Happy birthday, Gracie. You are a joy, a treasure, and God's constant blessing upon our lives.
"A daughter is a day brightener and a heart warmer." -- Author Unknown
Posted by Amanda at 8:31 AM
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Allow me to share with you a mere morsel of my Mother's Day sweetness. Bub brought home a Mother's Day tribute book he fashioned at school, complete with multi-colored flowers, marker smudges, and plenty of exclamation points.
(Book Title: Happy Mother's Day Mom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
As I opened the Manila paper cover, I thought,
"Maybe I'm not doing such a bad job."
I turned the page and felt proud that he understands
how obedience benefits us all:
Ah, the dagger of guilt. Welcome, my old friend.
I'm not particularly fond of tomatoes,
and I can't recall dirt ever being on the menu.
Surely he knows how I love chocolate.
"What I Know About my Mother:" A List
Remarkable details, but not one of them true.
Still, we're having salad for dinner --
and maybe some dirt.
(Who thinks it's a gift to have her child guess her weight? Seriously.)
Posted by Amanda at 3:37 PM