Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 30

Sometimes, these kids are the highlight of my week. Tonight was backwards night at AWANA, and the kids wore all their clothes backwards and played backwards games. It was so much fun for them!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 29

Tonight I made steaks. Really good steaks. But they were also really big steaks. Ridiculously big steaks. About a pound each. Me? I ate about a quarter of mine, if that. He? Ate all of it. Ridiculous.

Monday, September 28, 2009

September 28

We have a love/hate relationship with the Dallas Cowboys. More specifically, Jack loves them and I hate them.

I didn't hate them before I married Jack (didn't really have any feelings for them whatsoever before I married Jack, actually), but he's pretty much ruined football for me. The way the Cowboys perform on Sunday afternoon or Monday night affects Jack's attitude so deeply that I don't even want to be around him if they're not in the lead. With every fumble, turnover, and penalty, Jack gets grumpier and yells louder, and if, heaven forbid, they actually lose the game, then you can count on the fact that the rest of our day is pretty much shot. He's ticked and he doesn't care who knows it.

Now, I'll be honest, he's really cute when he gets all excited about a game. Just like when he was little, he still dresses up for his team, ready to cheer them on.

The Cowboys played tonight, and I learned how quickly Jack can actually get home after work if he really wants to (an hour before he usually gets home, in case you were wondering. Amazing what happens when you don't stick around to chat with the students after class!).

And the first thing Jack did when he got home? Change into his lucky Cowboys jersey, of course.

And so they played. And he yelled. And he apologized to a frightened Maggie for his yelling. And I was glad I got to go to bed after the Cowboys game instead of dealing with his potential grumpiness if they lost. And then they scored. And he cheered. And they won. And he looked like this:

And I decided that I might not hate the Cowboys so much after all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

September 25

Tonight was the Taylor Swift concert, and let me tell you, she did not disappoint. Costume changes. Showing up in the back of the arena to sing from another stage. Hugging her fans on her way to the front of the arena. Dancers. Set changes. Videos. What an incredible show!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

September 24

My Survival Mode Parent business cards came in today! One of my former AWANA leaders owns an embroidery and promotions materials store and provided our business cards for us for free! What an incredible gift!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 23

I've been teaching Maggie how to "high five" when she sits up. It's a really cute new trick. As much trouble as she is, she does bring us quite a bit of joy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 22

Fall means all our favorite TV shows are back! Tonight? NCIS.

Monday, September 21, 2009

September 21

My mother-in-law got me a tower slicer, which is pretty much the coolest tool ever for slicing vegetables and things like that. I spent this afternoon "tower slicing" a bunch of carrots and cucumbers and making fresh hummus. I have a great supply of healthy food now!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 20

Today Jack continued the project he started last weekend and scraped all the "popcorn" off the ceiling of our guest bathroom. I made him wear the mask so he wouldn't breathe in the dust. He didn't like it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

September 19

Today, Tiffany, Sarah, I, and a bunch of other leaders from our church headed to the Awana regional conference in Fort Worth. It was a lot of fun, and we learned a lot about how to improve our Awana program!

Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18

Jack left me home alone this weekend to go to a tournament in Houston, which gave me plenty of time to catch up on things I needed to do tonight, like housework and blog orders. However, it did leave me alone in the house with the geckos. You'll be happy to know that I [super-courageously] "shooed" a gecko outside with a piece of paper. Then, to keep them from coming back in, I taped up the bottom and side of the door with painters tape. Whew. Now they can't get me!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17

Fell asleep on the couch tonight. Jack woke me up to take me to bed.. I remembered that I needed a picture of the day. And this is what I came up with.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 16

While looking for old pictures of Will tonight, I came across some diaries from high school. Oh. My. Gosh. Let's just say it's a good thing I got better at writing and quit being so boy-crazy, or otherwise there would definitely be no "Jack and Mandy" blog. And if there was, I would assure you, it would have no readership.

Monday, September 14, 2009

September 14

The summer between my freshman and sophomore year in high school, I "went out" with a boy named Will Thompson.

My parents hated that term, especially for a 15-year-old.

"You're going out? Where are you going out to?" they would ask, teasing. I guess they preferred the term "going steady."

Will was a drummer in our marching band, and I played the flute. I had a thing for the drummers. They were the coolest guys - not only were they oh-so-cute, they were completely confident and got into enough trouble to keep them interesting. Will was no exception. Actually, at times he was the extreme of the stereotype. So naturally, when he asked me out, I was happy to accept.

Will and I "dated" for about three months that summer. Since my parents were at work during the day and I had a "no boys in the house alone" rule, Will would walk the half-mile to my house, can of orange soda in hand (he loved orange soda), just to come sit in the front yard with me for a few hours in the heat.

The first time I brought Will home to meet my parents, he was sitting on the couch in the middle of conversation when he began to eye the platform/shelf at the top our wall near our ceiling.

"I'll bet I can climb up there," he said, confidently. We looked at him skeptically.

"You can't climb up there," my mom said, "it's too high." I'm pretty sure she also thought nobody would ever actually try to do such a thing in someone else's house, but Will saw it as a challenge.

"Oh yes, I can," he said, as he rose from his seat. Effortlessly, he jumped up and grabbed the top of the ledge and pulled himself up, swinging his legs up to the platform and landing on his belly on the ledge.

My parents and I stood there in shock.

"See? I told you I could get up here!" he exclaimed, happily, as he crawled around on the ledge. "It's really dirty up here!"

Well of course it was dirty up there! Nobody could reach up there.

"Alright then," my mom said, and went into the kitchen. She emerged a moment later, Dustbuster in hand. She passed it up to Will. "Then since you're up there, you can clean."

And he did.

Needless to say, my parents always remembered Will.

I told that story to Will's mom tonight. Will was killed in a car accident on Saturday night.

I hadn't seen Will in a few years (only once since high school, I think), but from the other stories I heard tonight from his friends, he hadn't changed. He was still a free spirit, still a goofball, still ridiculously wild, and still kindhearted. He loved his friends and family, and they loved him.

Tonight we all gathered at Will's parents' house to tell stories about him. We talked about how he hated wearing shirts and always carried a pillow to school. We listened to his buddies talk about playing bumper cars in the high school parking lot and other dangerous stories that made his parents laugh and cringe. We listened to his brother tell stories about Will giving him cuts and bruises, and we listened to Will's scoutmaster tell stories about his troupe burning down a cabin. We listened to his mom tell us to cherish the time we would have with our kids and let them be who they are.

And we drank orange soda together. Because that's what he would have been doing.

Actually, there's no telling what he would have been doing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

September 13

Jack woke me up in a really weird way this morning.

"Mandy!" he whispered, as he poked me. "Wake up! I did something cool!"

I groaned and rolled over.

"What?" I asked, not quite awake and not really in the mood to humor him.

"Come see what I did in the bathroom!" he said, excitedly.

"Um. What did you do in the bathroom?" I asked, quite sure that whatever he had done in the bathroom was not something I wanted to see.

"Just get up! I did something cool in the bathroom!" he said.

I slowly got out of bed and followed him down the hall, thinking that nothing "cool" happens in the bathroom.

I walked in the guest bathroom, and Jack held a large piece of wallpaper that he had peeled off the wall up like a trophy.

"Look!" he said, as he pointed at our now half-bare bathroom wall. "I took the wallpaper off!"

"Um... okay...I guess we're not going to church today," I said, as I tried to process the situation. "Why did you peel the wallpaper off our guest bathroom wall?"

"Because we've been wanting to remodel our bathroom, and I saw a piece of wallpaper, and I just wondered if it would be easy to pull off. It was. Look how easy it came off!" he explained happily.

"Yes, I see that. Do you know how to put texture on a wall so we can paint in here?" I asked, knowing that he didn't plan on doing any such work without the guidance of his dad, a professional carpenter, who lives three hours away.

"No, but we can pull off the wallpaper now and then when my dad comes in, he can help us with the wall texture."

His dad has no plans to come in town any time soon.

"So you're saying that you want to remove all the wallpaper in our guest bathroom, then leave it like that for a few months?" I asked.

"Well, yeah! I thought you'd be happy." he said, his smile beginning to fade. "You said this was our winter project."

"It's not winter yet," I said. "It's Fall. Our Fall project is painting the outside of the house."

Nevertheless, half of the wall didn't have wallpaper any more, and I had no choice but to help him finish taking the rest of the wallpaper off.

Fortunately, it did indeed come off easily, and we even took the mirror down to get all the wallpaper off the wall, so now our guest bathroom has bare drywall and no mirror.

Winter's coming early this year, I guess. My apologies to our guests.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

September 12

We had so much fun tonight. It was our turn to host the Bible study, and so we had the Wildmans, Hocks, and Robersons over. After the Hocks and Robersons left, Sarah and Owen stayed and watched "Dog the Bounty Hunter" with us. Funniest show ever. It's so great to have friends like these!! We really love hanging out with them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11

Connie has a webcam!! I spent the entire evening Skyping with a bunch of people from near and far, and it was so much fun to talk to people face-to-face!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

September 10

My laptop came last night, and she's beautiful. I've named her Connie and she and I will be friends for a long time. (In case you were wondering, my last laptop was Eugene, my desktop's name is Katrina, and I plan to name my next desktop Mitch.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September 9

The last couple days, I've been working on a gift for a couple in our bible study. She has a baby girl due in November, so I've been painting these little lady-bug letters of her name for her nursery wall. They match the bedding they got, and I think they are turning out quite well!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September 8

Jack and I get so excited about Fall these days. It means that we get to bring down the Fall decorations from the attic and get out our Fall-themed candles. Our house is perfectly coordinated and smells like pumpkins, vanilla and cinnamon. And even though it's still 90 degrees outside, life is good.

Monday, September 7, 2009

September 7

Ahhh, Labor Day. As Jack said today: "It's like Sunday, but it's Monday!"

Today was a great day together. We did some cleaning, unpacking, unwinding, and a lot of shopping! We started at Bed Bath & Beyond, where we got stuff to make our bathroom Autumn-tastic, and then ended up here for several fun but tiring hours:

Evidently IKEA turns Jack into a master carpenter, since he opted not to buy anything in the place, but rather, to head over to Lowes, buy wood, and build everything from scratch. 500% more work for about 10% less cost? Alright, honey. Go for it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

September 6

It was quiet.

We sat on the front porch of Jack's parents' little country house in East Texas, sitting in the cool shade and enjoying the trees. The dog was sunning himself in the yard, and Jack, his parents, and myself occasionally struck up a conversation about nothing in particular. The grill heated up and flies buzzed around us, evidently triggering an urge in Jack to practice his "Karate Kid" moves.

A fly would land on Jack's leg. He would slowly lift his hand up behind the fly, then launch his hand at the fly suddenly in an attempt to catch it.


Another would land on me. Jack would try and fail at catching it once more, this time slapping me in the process.

"You're not going to catch one, Jack," I told him.

"I am! I am going to catch one!" Then, with renewed motivation to show me that he could, he would try again.

Another miss.

"What are you going to do if you catch one?" I asked.

"I'm going to shake it up and pop it in my mouth," he joked, with animated pantomime, then he went back to trying to catch flies.

Miss. Miss. Miss.

It went on like this for a while. A very long while.

Another landed on his knee. Like all the other times, Jack raised his hand and readied himself for the attack.


Jack closed his hand into a loose fist and looked up at me with wide eyes and a big smile.

"I caught one!!" he said, excitedly.

"Did you really catch one?" I asked, skeptically, as I took his picture with my phone.

"I did! Watch!" he said, as he slowly opened his hand. A fly crawled out of his hand and flew away.

He did it. My husband caught a fly with his hand.

What a freak.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

September 5

I've been looking forward to this for weeks. As evidenced by my current extremely chipped toenail polish. I was holding out for today.

My mother-in-law, Cathy, and I planned a pedicure day while I was in town this weekend, and we were both really excited about it. When we got there, it was the usual rolly-back-but-I-turn-the-poundy-part-off-because-I-don't-like-it massage chair and hot bubbly water for my tootsies.


And then she came over. She didn't look like a professional torturer at first glance, but I came to learn that this was no ordinary pedicurist. She was a sadicurist.

It started like they always do. She grabbed a foot and started clipping the nails. Still relaxed. Then she picked up the nail file and it started going terribly, terribly wrong.

Perhaps it was a bet she had with somebody else in the salon; maybe she said "watch this - I'll bet I can get her to kick me because she's in so much pain." Though that seems like it wouldn't be a good bet even if she won. Maybe she was just mad at her husband.


She opted for the "jam the nail file between your toenail and skin and rub hard" route, which was unpleasant but manageable. I got through both feet of filing without screaming out or reacting too much. 

Then, she began using her clippy tool to remove parts of my skin, which was even more painful. By the time she got to the metal stick thing with the millions of tiny blades on it, she was putting all her weight into it, shaving away the entire outer layer (and probably a few layers underneath) of my skin. 

Then, just when I thought she was done with the metal stick thing, she started over with it. I don't know if she just forgot that she had already done that one or what, but the second time was obviously worse.

Evidently when I said "Ow. Ow. Ow ow ow ow. Owowowowowow! OW!" she heard "I really like that, and having skin on the bottom of my feet has really become a drag. Please keep doing that." My mother-in-law even asked her "is that supposed to hurt?" 

And for picking up on hints and context clues, you get a D-.

After she put the torture devices away, however, she did a great job with the nail polish. And after I left, my feet felt pretty good (other than the spot that she literally rubbed raw on my left foot), and my toes are super-sparkly and cute.

I guess sometimes beauty is pain.

Sidenote: Did you see that Jon and Kate might split up? Oh no! I'm so worried about them! I hope they make it!

Friday, September 4, 2009

September 4

We drove to Nacogdoches today. Evidently that turns Jack into a loon.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

September 3

Can't decide what the highlight of my week is - the 2,000 hits on, or the Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino I'm drinking. Tie.

Welcome back, Fall. Welcome back.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September 2

My husband is quite the multi-tasker. The end.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September 1

Today has been unreal.

I'm not going to lie, it's pretty cool to see a lot of people get excited about something you were hoping was as exciting to others as it was to you. It's pretty cool to see influential bloggers pour their heart out to promote your cause, or incredible authors and professional scrapbookers tweet about you.

It has been less than 24 hours since I launched Survival Mode Parent, and it already has more than 1,000 hits. Even better, almost 60 people have signed up to be volunteers. When I put the locations of all the volunteers who signed up today into Google Maps, the final product took my breath away a little bit.

There are people from everywhere signing up to help others. There are people from everywhere hearing about this website, signing up, and telling their friends about it.

There are people from everywhere expecting me to match them with people from everywhere who need help. There are people from everywhere expecting this website to function as it should.

That's a lot of pressure.

But, you know, the good kind of pressure, like the kind that makes diamonds. Or something like that.

Diamonds or not, every time I think about the scope of this project, I hyperventilate a little bit.

I'm going to need somebody for every city in the whole US! Do you know how many cities that is, Mandy? And, really, I need way more than one person for big cities! What if I can't keep up with all the needs?

And oh my gosh what about a background check? How do I do that? How much does that cost? Who will pay for that? Am I going to get sued if something happens between the two parties?

And then I got an e-mail a few minutes ago from a lovely woman, asking if I had any plans on expanding the service to Canada as well.

A whole 'nother country? Um... sure! Go ahead and sign up! We can match in Canada too!

It's an interesting feeling, riding a wave of uncertainty and trusting God to provide. And judging by today's results?

He is. Um, a lot.

I needed support, and there was Ellyn. I needed a way to get the word out, and there was Facebook, Twitter, the MckForum, the Tip Junkie giveaway directory, and so many bloggers who were happy to help. I needed a way to bring people in and there was my silly little business where I could give away something that was pretty much free to me.

Oh my, what a coincidence. Oh my, how well that just happened to work out.

So the next part? The part where I lay awake at night wondering how I'm going to be able to continue to get this many volunteers every day so that there's actually a chance that Survival Mode Parent will be able to provide names of people who can help to parents?

Well, I doubt I'll have to worry too much about that part.

He seems to have it pretty well covered.