Friday, May 29, 2009

Ten things about me that will not enrich your life in any way. (Just so you know in advance.)

The lovely Cassie at Spilled Milk tagged me a couple weeks ago in my first-evuh blog award! The Honest Weblog Award. Woo hoo! And before this, I've only ever won Spelling Bees! So of course, I was stoked.

Is that a bit like "Honest Crap"? Cause if so, it is probably entirely appropriate to most of the contents of Matron Down Under. Hee hee. Okay, so the rules are: I'm supposed to write 10 honest things about myself and then link to seven other bloggers who are meant to go and do likewise. (That sounds quite biblical doesn't it?)

Arghh! I'm so nervous--what if I do it wrong? What if y'all just laugh at me? Did I remember to wear clean underwear? Ok, here goes.

So here are my award winners (OMGILOVEYOUALLSOMUCH!)

1. Jane at The Rowland Ranch
2. David at Solid Footing
3. Amy at Fraught
4. Sara at We Love It, Don't We? (I know you just did one, but I want the world to know I love you. No pressure, though.)
5. Katie at There Are Rules...I can't find your blog anymore! Where did it go, babe? Well, you get one anyway!
6. Barbara at Barbara's 365
7. Michele Renee at Must Be a Full Moon (I've been lurking!)
And one more, cause I wanna:
8. Rosemary at Joyful Mum

Ok, now for my ten facts. Ready?OK!

1. I sleep with earplugs every night, for no good reason. Jason doesn't even snore. I just like the complete silence. I am a little annoying that way.

2. I teach a scripture class to about 30 Year 10 and 11 girls at a local high school. (It only meets fortnightly.) But here's the thing. I love speaking--it's one of my favorite things to do in the world. I don't usually get anxious about it at all. But even so,I get so nervous about this class everytime. I get all hot and start sweating! Teenagers are intimidating, dude! I want them to like me! I want them to like me! Do they like me? I don't think the girl with the pink hair does.

3. When I was a kid, I accidentally watched a few minutes of a documentary about nuclear war (this was in the Cold War days). I remember going to bed so scared that night of missiles! I prayed for many nights after that that God would protect me and my family from nuclear war. (So far, He has.)

4. Also when I was a kid I read the book Little Women about 8-9 times. And each time, I'd hope that Beth didn't die and that Jo would marry Laurie. As an adult, I read Pride and Prejudice 2-3 times a year. Yes, I am that stereotypical.

(I know all you dudes are cringing at this, but I heart Mr. Darcy. It's okay, though--Jason knows. He hearts him a little bit, too.)

5. I can't deal with the thought of mice in my house cause of a scene in one of the Little House on the Prairie books where Pa wakes up in the middle of the night to find a mouse chewing on his hair to make a nest. Ugh--it gives me the shivers even now. Years ago on a mission trip in Guyana, I slept on a (very uncomfortable) chair in the middle of a room because someone had seen a mouse on my pillow. Just can't deal!

6. Before we were married, Jason mentioned that he thought we might live in Australia one day. I was like, "Sure-whatever, babe." Ha!

7. I always wondered why I was so pedantic about spelling errors. Not that I am perfect about typos (there have been a few in this blog!), but I usually can pick them out pretty quickly. But it was actually annoying to notice them all the time. Then I married Jase--an incredibly smart man who just happens to be a terrible speller. (He readily admits this.) My mission in life is to spell check his emails to the church before they go out.

8. On that note, he sent me an email once when he was traveling around Europe (pre-marriage) and I was in Southern Alabama. (How's that for a contrast?) It said something about how much he missed me and wished we were together and then wrote, "But I guess God has his own planes." (He meant "plans".) I knew then that we were meant to be together. But I suppose God could have his own planes if he wanted to, right?

9. In high school, my best friend Betsy and I were obsessed with Star Trek:The Next Generation. We'd watch it every night and then talk about it on the way to school the next morning. I even read the books. (Still haven't seen the movie yet, but oh, I will!)

10. I am a bit of a nerd (see #9) but I embrace it! If Jason and I get into watching a certain show, I will "research" all the actors on it and the writers and be filled with all these "fun facts" to share. Soooo fun, right? Yeah. That and the earplug thing and the spelling thing makes you not wanna hang out with me, doesn't it?

Ok, whew! Well, that's 5 minutes you'll never get back. But at least you know about the dangers of hair-chewing mice now. That's about all you need to know about me, really. Now the rest of y'all, get to it!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Not Your Mother's Dollhouse: A Utopian Vision

Take a journey with me inside the mind of a three year old. Dude, it is a weird place.

This morning, after I got back from taking Ava to school, the refrain of "Play with me, Mom!" rang in my ears. Perhaps this will sound callous, but I have a to-do list that will wrap twice around my 8 1/2 month preggo tummy right now. I'd been hoping to spend some time checking things off of it. But who can resist a dimpled-cheeked, blue-eyed boy? Especially when he follows you around the house, repeating said refrain over and over and over again? (I'm talking about Nate, not Jason. Jason has hazel eyes.) Nate and I sat on the floor and he wanted to play with Ava's dollhouse. But of course, he puts his own little-boy-Natey spin on it.

I started to put all the little people that go in the dollhouse in their proper places. Wrong. Apparently, as Nate informed me, this dollhouse was a "holiday house" for dinosaurs, superheroes, a giant starfish, a few stuffed frogs and--lo and behold--Bob the Builder. Oh--and a giant inchworm stopped by.

Here's some of the guys, you know, just chilling. It's what dudes do with giant turkeys on their holiday.

As we played, it occurred to me that Nate must be an idealist. What a utopian vision--to have a place where dinosaur (large and miniature), turkey, Captain America and starfish could gather in unity. To find a common ground, to all sleep lined side by side in the upstairs loft bedroom. There's something positively biblical about it. "The lion shall lie down with the lamb". "The Pooh Bear shall swim with Barbie and a stegosaurus."

Of course, when Barbie showed up things got a little interesting. She's a bit of a party girl. Then another Barbie came--a ballerina, this one--and Nate told me she had nowhere else to live. So some sort of indigent dancer Barbie needed a place to stay. But my boy--he's a hospitable type. And even though I found her a bit tartish, she was made welcome too.

And as for my to-do list, well, it waited for me. After all I learned something valuable. Several things, actually. For instance, did you know that when Captain America is in a tight spot, he relies on the assistance of a trusted billy goat? I know--I had no idea!

Apparently, this is an established fact. "Yeah, the goat helps him!", Nate told me. Got it.

It heartens me that in the midst of wars and conflict around the globe, the next generation has a vision for the future where multiple species, sea life, farm animals, homeless ballerinas and contractors can hang together. Wouldn't that be grand? Or weird. Or maybe both. It certainly was today.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

I cannot stop looking at this picture. Here's where I saw it.) Maybe it's the bucketful of extra hormones I've got happening right now, but it is so poignant and heartbreaking to me. Look how her hand is resting on the headstone. I wonder what she's thinking about. I wonder what I'd be thinking about if it were me laying there on the grass in Arlington. It's strange to get to that point of your adulthood where you see others younger than you dealing with life's tragedies and making great sacrifices. Just feels surreal. You know what I mean?

For me in the past, America's Memorial Day was kind of an abstract concept. Beyond the fact that it was a nice long weekend, I didn't personally know anyone to memorialize. The wars I knew of (though there are always wars on the earth) were in the past. It's different nowadays, isn't it? I recognize the egocentricity of this, but it means so much more when there are two wars being fought and when people younger than me are fighting and dying. And yes, I am painfully aware that it's happening in other countries all over the world that don't get as much press, and where there aren't smooth white headstones to commemorate the loss.

Today, I've got this song running through my head--have you heard it? It's from a poem written in 1942. The version I know is sung by David Wilcox. If ya want, you can also listen to Edwin McCain sing it here.

Let Them In

Let them in, Peter
They are very tired
Give them couches where the angels sleep
And light those fires

Let them wake whole again
To brand new dawns
Fired by the sun not wartime's
Bloody guns

May their peace be deep
Remember where the broken bodies lie
God knows how young they were
To have to die
God knows how young they were
To have to die

So give them things they like
Let them make some noise
Give dance hall bands not golden harps
To these our boys

And let them love, Peter
For they've had no time
They should have trees and bird songs
And hills to climb

The taste of summer in a ripened pear
And girls sweet as meadow wind
With flowing hair

And tell them how they are missed
But say not to fear
It's gonna be alright
With us down here

Let them in, Peter
Let them in, Peter
Let them in, Peter

© John Gorka, all rights reserved

Here in Sydney, I hadn't given Memorial Day much thought, to be honest. I'm glad I saw this photo today, though. It's important to know, and remember, and pray.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Things I Said This Week and Things I Wanted To Say

You ever hear something come out of your mouth and think, "Whoa--that was surreal." Here's a sampler from the last couple days.

Things I Said...

"Nate, if you want a piece of chocolate cake, you have to stop licking your sister."

(To the other moms at school) "The doctor said the baby's head has moved up since he last checked. She is so grounded for the first five years."

(In answer to a question from Nate) "Because moms have boobies, that's why." (Don't ask)

(To Ava) "Dude, you gotta chill. I have no idea what disco you're talking about going to."

"Okay guys, let's keep our bottoms in our underwear where they belong."

And then there's times when you wanna just level with people, but it wouldn't be so appropriate.

Things I Wanted to Say...

(To Ava's ballet teacher after yet another correction about her ballet uniform) "Miss Priscilla, have you noticed that, (a) these are 5 year olds and (b) this is NOT the Joffrey Ballet? Can we all just take a pill, please? Pink leotard, pink tights, pink skirt? Check. Hair lacquered into bun with hairnet? Check. Pink ballet slippers? Check. Now go pas de deux or something and get off my back!"

(At the preschool management committee meeting that I'm chairing) "I really have no idea how I'm supposed to chair this meeting. I've never learned parliamentary procedure. But I am totally going to act like I know what's up, and smile alot, and hopefully you'll all be suckered!

(To Ava's student teacher) "Why, no, Miss S____, I'm not having twins. Yes, I know I look big, and how lovely of you to point it out in such an incredulous, eyes-popping-out-of-your-head kind of way. If you like, I can now comment on any part of your anatomy that you choose."

(To Jason) "Can't we just cancel small group and watch Life on Mars instead? God understands." (Even pastors have their moments!) Actually, I think I really did say this, or something very like it.

All in all, a good week. How's yours? Any quotable moments?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Badder Than I'll Ever Be

Welcome to the inaugural post of the Bad to the Bone Awards. Cause sometimes you hear about something that's so stinkin' awesome, it's gotta be recognized.

The first time I ever thought someone needed a Bad to the Bone Award was in 2001 when I heard about the story of Jesse Arbogast. Jesse was a 7 year old boy that summer, who, while swimming at the beach, was attacked by a shark. The shark bit off his right arm--it was really a horrible incident. BUT GET THIS. Jesse's uncle, upon seeing what's happening in the shallow waters, wades into the ocean and wrestles the 7 foot long bull shark to shore. At that point, a ranger shoots the shark and they were able to retrieve Jesse's arm.

Jesse's life was miraculously saved, although the reports I could find online say that he has never fully recovered from his injuries. But I just have to say, HATS OFF to Jesse's uncle. Any dude who, in the midst of such trauma and panic, wrestles a shark onto the shore is seriously Bad to the Bone.

Today I read this story about an Aussie country doctor who saved a boy's life by drilling a hole in his head with a Black and Decker drill. Apparently, the 13 year old boy had been riding his bike without a helmet and fallen, hitting his head on the pavement. He seemed fine initially, but after awhile it was obvious to his mother that he wasn't well. She brought him into the local hospital, a rural one that isn't as equipped as one would be in a major city.

The doctor on duty, a GP named Dr. Rob Carson, recognized that the boy was bleeding on the brain and that the pressure needed to be relieved immediately or he would die. This hospital didn't have a neurosurgical drill so he went to the maintenance closet and got a regular old drill. Consulting a Melbourne neurosurgeon by phone, he drilled a hole in the boy's skull and a blood clot came out. The boy was up and about by the next day. Amazing!

Dr. Carson, you are truly Bad to the Bone. Good on ya!

Jason always tells about an old diving coach of his who, after diving from the tower, over-corrected and smacked the water on her back so hard that her swimsuit was ripped and she had welts everywhere. And then? Yeah, she got back up there. Serious badness quotient! And then there's the 86 year old granny on her way home from church who beat up a man trying to mug her.
TO THE BONE, Y'ALL. To the bone. Do you know anyone who is the Baddest person around? Maybe they didn't wrestle a bull shark, but whose badness level just blows you away? Inspire us!

Monday, May 18, 2009

I Really Pictured this being much more Dramatic

This evening, Jason was in our back courtyard with the kids, putting together his fancy schmancy new barbecue. I think he's in love. It is a massive thing--six burners and all kinds of special, barbecuey-type thingys. I kind of tuned out when he was going through all the details--I know that's bad, but there it is.

At one point, he came into the kitchen and said, "Remember how you wanted me to get you a picture the next time I saw a Red Back in the backyard?" "Woohoo!", I said, "Get right on it!" I was only thinking of you guys. You see, as the sage Bryan Adams once wrote, everything I do, I do it for you. There's no love like your love.

So, in the long, long-standing MDU tradition of showing you scary, native Aussie creepy crawlies, (look here and you REALLY should look here), ladies and gentlemen I give you the Red Back Spider.

Alright, alright just give me a minute! That white thingy is the propane tank for the barbecue. And the black thingy on the white thingy is a Red Back Spider. Y'all--I know the picture is not the best, but it was dark out and this was on my camera phone, and we were caught unawares! So let me show you a better picture of what you're actually seeing, k?

Ooooooo. So, the Red Back Spider is one of the most dangerous, venomous spiders in Australia. But don't fret--no one has actually died from a Red Back bite since the anti-venom was developed in 1956. The male's bite rarely requires medical attention, the female's is more serious, but she's slow and rarely leaves her web. (I am making no analogies here, guys. Just givin' the facts. That's what I'm all about, as you know.)

Jason's found several in our backyard, hiding away in nooks and crannies. Just thought I'd show ya! Sorry for the dodgy photo quality...I was hoping for some serious drama that would catapult my readership. Perhaps if Hugh Jackman showed up in our backyard? We'll see what we can do.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

We are Dorks. But Loveable Dorks, Right?

When Jason and I were dating, it was a relatively common occurrence for him to lock his keys in his truck. I remember being dismayed and worried the first time, hovering over him. But by the 5th or 6th, I'd be like, "Ok, well I'm gonna go get a Slurpee while you work this out." He had the art of breaking into his old Ford Ranger down to a science. Wait--an art down to a science? That doesn't really make sense. But he was really good at it.

Sorry--I got distracted. Nate just dipped his matchbox car in my hummus. Delish! I wonder if that's the first time that sentence has ever been written?

Anyway, over the course of our relationship, losing things or locking ourselves out of cars or houses hasn't been exactly rare. We've gotten a lot better at not getting caught in these situations over the years, but every now and then one of us has a real heartstopper.

Like the time about 18 months ago when I left my wallet on a shelf in the toy section of Super Walmart. A Super Walmart chock-a-block FULL of bargain-hungry shoppers. (Some may say this serves me right for doing business at the Evil Empire. They may be right.) I got all the way back to my mom's house before I realized what I'd done. Oh my Lordy Lord, did I freak out. Losing your wallet, license and credit cards right before you are due to return to Australia is not a happy thing, y'all. Mom drove me at breakneck speed back to Wally World and, lo and behold, it was right where I left it. Unbelievable.

Fridays are Jason's day off, and Nate and I met him yesterday at our local shops to have lunch. After lunch, I had to run and get a birthday gift, so he took Nate into the grocery store for a lightning speed shopping trip. Just the essentials. When we met up again, I noticed he'd hung his man bag (yes, man bag) over the handle of the shopping cart. I remember vaguely thinking, He should probably move that, but I got distracted by something and didn't mention it.

Twenty minutes after we get home, Jase gets a call from the Shopping Centre Management. Someone has found his bag and dropped it off at their office. And no, of course we hadn't realized it was missing yet! Don't you know us better than that by now? Of course, it was a relief to know the bag was returned, but here was the clincher. Jason had just pulled a substantial amount of money out of the ATM. Along with some US currency that he'd put in his bag to exchange, there was close to $1000AUD in his bag. Yes, I'm being serious. So we had some big-time stomach pittage going on.

Then we did like we always do when such desperate situations arise. We prayed. Lord, we know you love us whether or not that money is still there, but it would be really lovely if it was! Please? Something along those lines. Jason drove up to the centre and found that every bit of our money was still in the bag. I'm pretty sure that an angelic choir burst into song over Jason's head at that moment.

There are miracles that are seen by everyone, and then there are miracles that are miraculous to you. Moments where you know there was some intervention goin' on. I'll take some of either kind.

I won't even tell you about the time that I lost my wallet in a parking lot of a strip mall, went back the next day praying like a mad woman, and found it turned in at one of the stores. Cause then you'd think I was totally irresponsible. And we wouldn't want that.

This post was partially inspired by Becky finding her husband's wallet after 3 days in a pile of clean laundry. You have any "once was lost but now am found" stories? Do tell!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why I'm not REALLY a Mall Rat. I Swear. Really.

Wednesdays are child-free days for me. (Well, for a couple more weeks anyway.) Ava is in school, Nate is in preschool, and I find myself adrift with oh-so-many options.
Should I stay home and catch up on laundry? Should I do the church planning and admin I need to do? Should I go get my nails done? You get the idea. I find that the things I usually imagine I'll do (go to the movies! sleep all day!) on my next kid-free day don't happen, though. I tend to be much more "practical". Clean the house, catch up on emails, etc.

Today was different, though. I'd scheduled a tour of the maternity ward where we'll be ending up soon, and then Jason and I went to the mall and had lunch together. I hadn't given up on my boot shopping, but this time I recruited him to help me pull 'em on. Yes, he is a prince, even if he wants to give me The Salmonella.

Today, I walked up to our table at lunch where Jason was waiting for me. "It's strange to see you walk up without the kids in hand," he said. Yes, it is strange. It occurred to me then that I always feel strangely conspicuous when I'm out in the middle of the day without my children.

I mean, don't get me wrong: I'm no martyr. I really enjoy time to myself. But I often have this sense that I need to offer some sort of apology or explanation for why I'm on my own. Ya know, like: "I promise I am a contributing member of society and not just slacking at the mall at 11am. I have kids who'd normally be here, you see. I do stuff." Or, I see moms with kids and wanna say, "I sooo know what you're feeling. Normally, I'd be just like you!!!"

Do you do this? Do you ever feel the need to offer unsolicited explanations or apologies for things? Rationally, I know that I don't need to apologize. I don't feel guilty or anything. But my family will tell you that I've always had the tendency to apologize for that which I haven't done, couldn't help, or isn't even a big deal. It is embedded in my DNA, like my mutantish pinky toe or underbite (blessedly corrected by jaw surgery!).

But I wondered today if others feel the same. What makes you feel conspicuous, even if no one else seems to notice and/or care? What do you feel you have to explain, whether or not you actually do? A personality quirk, a life circumstance? Just wonderin'.

P.S. In other news, I found some boots! Oh y'all, you KNOW they're cute, too.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Is it Me or is it Him? It's Him, Isn't It?

This afternoon, Jason was heading out for an appointment. I said, as he was about to leave, "Babe, would you pick up some eggs on your way home?" "What's wrong with the ones we have?" "Well," I say, "This carton has a use by date of April 25, and this one has only two eggs left in it that are slightly cracked. You can't use eggs that have been cracked."

"I've been using them", he says, a martial gleam in his eye. He loves to rile me up. THEN, he says, "And what's wrong with the April 25th ones?" I say, "What's wrong is that it's now May 11th. I won't use those eggs. They are like mini-pandemics waiting to happen. I don't have any interest in getting The Salmonella." (I find that if you put "The" in front of any illness it makes it sound so much more threatening.)
Jason thinks that food poisoning can be avoided by sheer force of will. Like it's some sort of affected illness--like women in the 19th century who would succumb to "the vapours".

That's why he'll eat leftovers far after I would've chucked 'em in the garbage. However, I, after once having The Salmonella and seeing that germ guy on Oprah a few times, am more cautious. But April 25th eggs??? You gotta be kidding me.

It's a good thing Jason's such an amazing father, attentive, loving husband, good cook, and total biscuit. Cause I just don't know sometimes.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Weekend Hedgehog--I Mean, Hodge Podge

Once again, a veritable smorgasbord for your enjoyment:

1. This week I have learned a couple things not to do when you are 8 months pregnant.
--Don't drink a whole bottled water before a 30 minute car drive. Oh my Lordy lord. There's only so much room down there, and your bladder definitely doesn't get priority, if you know what I'm sayin'.

-- This is not the best time to go shopping for new boots. Cause as I remembered too late, it requires a lot of bending over, pulling on, and zipping up.
Holy faux leather! I seemed to have forgotten that I have, like, a medicine ball protruding from my middle. But I was too stubborn to give up, and ended up a disheveled, sore, slightly sweaty mess at the end of it all. With no boots! (Shakes fist at the heavens.) I did discover, though, that trying on shoes is a good way to bring on contractions, so I'll file that away for later!

2. We've used a sticker chart for Ava a couple times in the past for various reasons--as an incentive to do certain things, to reward positive behavior, etc. As a short term thing to "jump start" a new initiative, it works really well for her. Tonight, I overheard her say to Nate, "Now Nate, if you are good every day for the next 7 days, you will get a sticker. And then, I'll get you something." "O-hay," Nate said obediently, "I be good."

I walked over, and she'd made him a chart, with 7 boxes marked off and a sticker in the first box. "Wow, Ava," I said, inspecting the chart. "And what will you 'get' him if he gets all the stickers?" She looked around the room. "Ummm, I'll get him this", she said picking up a teddy bear lying on the floor. "Babe," I said, "that's already his. You can't reward him with something that already belongs to him." The picture of generosity--that's my girl! (Later, when he did something to frustrate her, I heard her say in a very motherly voice, "Well, I guess I'll have to take your sticker off." I figured at that point I should step in, but I was tempted to see if she'd get better results than I have!)

3. I luurve my mama.

(Dave, you were there in spirit.)

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! You are the man. Well, not exactly, but you know what I mean. If I can be half the mother you are, and raise children even half as awesome as we are (hee hee), I'll be stoked. Thanks for all those years of love and sacrifice and stuff. And can you bring that stuff from Old Navy when you come? Kthxbai!

4. Happy Birthday, Dad!
You are also the man--but I don't mean that in a white supremacist "The Man" kind of way. You know that, right? And don't worry, 60 isn't really THAT old. And with your advanced age, once we take away your driving privileges, I think you can get bus tickets for really cheap now!! So that's awesome.

(I wanted to include a pic, but you are growing more elusive and wily in your dotage. I'll see what I can find!)

Okay, now I need to go put the finishing touches on my Mother's Day sermon. Yes, I'm working on Mother's Day. Cause that's the kind of girl I am. Have a great weekend, y'all!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Just Some Stuff

Today I was driving to a meeting and feeling a bit, well, stressed. Even though it was nice getting to drive in the car all by myself, and listen to the radio without having to explain to Ava what all the lyrics of all the songs mean. (It's the simple things, y'all.) Still, my mind was racing ahead to all the things I'd like to/need to/have to get done before baby girl arrives on the scene.

For instance, I am helping plan a women's conference (which is what my meeting was for)that will take place shortly after the blessed arrival. And I know that once she comes, it will be hard for me to do what I need to do to prepare. You know that feeling you get when your brain is yelling at you, "Get on it! C'mon!" Your hands grip the wheel a little tighter or you find that you're hunched your shoulders up around your ears. That's a bit how I was feeling. And there's heaps of other to-do type stuff too, but I won't bore you with the details.

It's just stuff to take care of. And my stuff is no more important than yours of course--but you know how your stuff is. Your stuff seems more weighty than his/her stuff. You're like, "Dude, your stuff's no big deal. You wanna see stuff? You should check out my stuff!" Stuff tends to enlarge in your brain and take on a life of its own. Y'know?

Yeah. So I'm driving along, thinking about my stuff. It was a sunny, autumn day today and I catch sight of a tree coming up on my left. It is a glorious, riotous shade of red--the kind that you only see this time of year. (In this part of the world, that is.) The sun was bright, the sky brilliantly blue, and it really showed off this tree to perfect advantage. (This isn't my photo 'cause I was driving. But here's an approximation.)

Well then I had a little moment. Isn't that nice? It was as if God whispered to me something along the lines of, "You know, I didn't have to make things beautiful. I could've set up the seasons to change and babies to be born and have it be completely commonplace or dull or even ugly. But I didn't. I made it beautiful. I did that for you. I wanted you to see it and think of Me."

As you know, when God tells you to think of Him, it's probably a good idea. And no, I'm not so arrogant to think that God designed autumn leaves just for me and me alone. But there have been several times in my life, and today was one of them, where I feel Him saying: Pay attention. This is for you to see--I put this here and you here with it right now for a reason.

So, I still got stuff. I still went to my meeting. I still have appointments to keep and carpets to vacuum (dear Lord, do I) and a baby to be had. And I don't know if any of this makes any sense. But today when I saw that gorgeous tree, it was like God was saying--Chill, babe. I see you there, driving and stressing. Take a breath, it's all going to be okay. And hey-- look at this pretty tree that I put here. (It's the simple things, y'all.)

That's all. How's your stuff treating you? Shall I Fed-Ex you some red leaves?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Month in Review

Today I sat in the Obstetrician's office reading a magazine called "Notebook". It's a lifestyle magazine, kinda Martha Stewartish--with lots of beautiful photos of flower arrangements, self-improvement stuff, decorating ideas and stylized photos of said decorating ideas.
You know the kind of magazine I mean. Pretty to look at, with good ideas for someone who is not...well, me. I would love to be that person! But, our house is decorated in a combo I like to call Ikea-garage sale-curbside scavenging. With a little kid smudge and lots of books thrown in for good measure.

But anyway. At the front of the magazine is a calendar for the month. It's mostly blank for the reader to "plan your month", inserting the fab ideas you've seen in the magazine. They've also filled in some blanks for you. Like, "February 15th--Choose the seedlings you'll plant for spring". "February 23rd--Take a friend to an art gallery". "February 8th--Sort through your table linens and set aside ones that need cleaning or mending". "February 12th--Visit your local farmer's market for fresh seasonal veggies and prepare a delicious meal for friends and family."

Hee hee. I got kind of giddy reading this, 'cause I started thinking of what my calendar would say. Some of you are especially gifted in these types of areas--I'm sure you could teach me a thing or two. Or maybe you could just come to Sydney and get me all sorted out? Cause for me:Table linens? Not exactly, unless you mean the kind that rip off the roll. Let's take April, for example. Maybe it'd say something like this:

"April 7th: Realize that it's been nearly two weeks since you've cleaned the bathrooms and spray so much cleaner in the toilet that you start to cough from the fumes."

"April 11th: Having forgotten to wash Ava's school socks, spray some perfume on them and wave them around a bit, then put them on her feet. They're only a little bit stiff from earlier use!"

"April 16th: In preparation for your scripture class at the high school with 15 year old girls, throw chocolate at them and pray that they'll like you enough to listen for 20 minutes."

"April 18th: Round out a healthy, well-balanced meal for the children by adding a few puny carrot sticks to Nate's KFC chicken and chips."

"April 26th: In the midst of sermon preparation, eat a big bowl of cookies 'n cream ice cream, balancing it on your shelf-like stomach."

"April 28th: Lick your thumb and use it to rub a spot of the sliding glass door. My, how it sparkles!"

What are some highlights of your month? You're knitting or grinding your own flour as you read this, aren't you? I knew it! Well, I guess I better go tend to my, um, herb garden, then.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mamma Mia! You Can't Make This Stuff Up!

Ok, what I wanted to blog about was Ava's cross country carnival today, but y'all, it's midnight and I gots to go to bed. So I'll save that for tomorrow. Suffice it to say that there is no minimum age for angst.

What I'll do instead is draw your attention to this: "Peeved Berlusconi Wants His Wife to Apologize". Have you seen this news item about the Italian Prime Minister and his wife? Apparently, the Mrs. gave interviews to major newspapers expressing her upset over her husband's philandering ways. Among other things, she noted that he attended a birthday party of a friend's 18 year old daughter, saying she was surprised, since he'd never managed to attend his own children's 18th birthday parties. Ouch! Well, Berlusconi has responded in kind, demanding, through the papers, an apology from his wife. The article says they live separately, which might be a good thing--otherwise imagine the conversation at the breakfast table this morning.

You gotta love the Italians! So dramatic! So over the top! And this isn't a soccer star and his wife, or a pop singer--it's the prime minister, you guys. A serious political dude. I'm not trying to belittle someone's personal crisis, but to have it played out so boldly and publicly! Wow. Truth is stranger than fiction. Whatever relational issues you may be facing, at least they aren't taking up column inches in the New York Times. Unless you're John Edwards. But anyway.

And in other 36 weeks preggo, I am officially as big as a house.
Seriously. I could be wrong, but I believe that's the correct medical terminology. Diagnosis involves determining the amount of times in a week that people mistake you for the side of a barn. Ava asked me why I didn't preach on Sunday. In a knowing tone, she said, "Was it because you don't want everyone to see your fat tummy?" Like, it's okay, Mom, we all know the truth. But don't you worry--I still got it goin' on! Have a great day!

Friday, May 1, 2009

For a Fat Kid, You Don't Sweat Much

I read a blog post about "tepid praise" the other day, and it got me thinking. What's the best backhanded or lukewarm compliment you've ever gotten? Or even better--has someone ever said something that you just didn't know how to take? This kind of stuff fascinates me.

I saw a little article the other day about the octuplet mom, Nadya Suleman. I'm not gonna knock her, I think that she's got enough to deal with. But this particular comment about her just struck me as so funny (funny-odd). The article was talking about rumors that she was an exotic dancer at one point in her past. (I know--why was I reading this? I have no idea. But at least I'm owning up to it, right?) Anyway, a club owner who claims to have hired her said that she was a "plain Jane stripper". Have you ever heard that in your life? Like it's an insult, but a veiled one. Like there's a quality seal or something for exotic dancers, and to this guy, she just didn't quite cut it.

I think if my life choices had led me down that road, I'd be described in the same way! In fact, though I personally love the name Jane, calling someone a "plain Jane" anything is a bit meanish, I think. Dismissive without being outright rude. Dontcha think?

People have told us before that we're "not like most Americans". At first, I didn't know how to take that. On one hand, I knew what they meant--that we didn't fit the stereotype of the obnoxious American abroad. Overbearing, loud, etc. On the other hand, I was like, "So we're the only Americans you like? Those are my peeps!"

Another time, I posted something on my Facebook status like, "Amy has stayed up way too late watching random You Tube clips." And I got a comment from a guy we know (who's several years younger) saying, "Wow--it's good to know that doing stuff like that doesn't go away as we age." Hello! I am thirty, flirty, and thriving, thankyouverymuch! (Well--32, but still!)

My beloved husband who adores me told me a couple weeks ago, "Wow, you've got a pretty fast walk--for a pregnant woman." Which only made me walk faster, of course! I nearly sent myself into preterm labor trying to outstrip him. (Hmmm...considering one of my earlier references, maybe that is a poor word choice. But you know what I mean.)

Or has anyone ever told you they admire how you don't care what people think about you? And did you wonder if that is a nice way of saying, "you sure look like an idiot but you don't seem to mind"? No? Just me? Okay.

Either way--go on, share some of the best tepid or ambiguous compliments you've heard/received! I wanna know. And can I just say, that I'm sure you are a really nice person for someone I've never met and only know through the Internets.