Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 31

It was nice to have Jack home for Halloween this year so he could hand out candy to the kids with me. We had the Wildmans over for dinner too, and we played a few games with them, one of them being Clue. On a fluke, I happened to guess the correct combination of murderer, weapon, and location, before anybody else even got a chance to guess. My husband is a little bit competetive, so he wasn't all that happy that I beat him with little to no effort!

Friday, October 30, 2009

October 30

Jack spent today laying the tile down in the guest bathroom for real! It was messy and it was hard work, but it looks fantastic!
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 29

(Angela and Sarah have these pictures. I need one of them for today's picture of the day.)

Tonight, Sarah and Angela and I met up with our lovely mommy-to-be friend, Amber and had dinner and a mini-shower for her. It was SO MUCH FUN! She's due pretty much any minute, so it was really nice to have that one last dinner together to talk about girly things and enjoy each others' company. I love having these friends!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 28

Tonight was Bible costume night at Awana (read: Christian Halloween) and my kids were all so excited about the special night. I wore a rain poncho and went as "Noah's wife" (read: too lazy to make a real costume) and Aubree was "a body of water" (so creative!), and Ashlyn was a butterfly. I love these girls.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October 27

Tonight after work, I had to come home and finish these cute little wood letters for our friends' new baby girl's nursery. We're having a mini-shower/dinner with her Thursday, and I hadn't worked on them for a while. That's what I get for procrastinating. But I do think they turned out pretty well!

Monday, October 26, 2009

October 26

I had a meeting with Jimmy, my BikeMS Team co-captain because it's the first day for the 2010 BikeMS registration! We're pretty excited about this year's ride, even though there is much to be done!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 25

Today was Epcot. Jack and I rose bright and early to get all our luggage packed and sent to the luggage storage area so that we could catch a bus to Epcot. We arrived just as it opened and therefore before it got hot and before people really started arriving, which meant comfort and love and joy and happiness.

We rode a few rides (and by "rides" I don't really mean roller coasters, because evidently Epcot is all about the virtual reality and the learning), and we also went back to "Honey I Shrunk the Audience," which I remembered fondly from childhood but is apparently totally lame now (and evidently cause for Jack to make fun of me for dragging him to it in the first place).

Anyway, the best part about Epcot was that we arrived during the International Food and Wine festival (alternately titled: pay lots of money for really small portions festival), which made us super-happy due to our very passionate love affair with food and wine (but mostly food). We pretty much spent the whole day walking and eating, walking and eating.

And then, just about an hour before we left, they arrived. All the idiots. There were hundreds and hundreds of idiots. I wish there was something nicer to call them, but there really isn't. They were dumb. Clearly not fit to be in public, and certainly not to reproduce, but alas, they had already passed their dumb genes on to their offspring.

Why, exactly, do people not understand that they shouldn't stop in the middle of the freaking sidewalk to talk in the middle of a large crowd of moving people? And why, exactly, do people form a blockade across the entire walkway when they're walking the slowest? And why, oh why, do the people with the most amount of body surface area use the least amount of material for clothing?

I could go on and on and rant about the dumb people, but these are questions I doubt I will ever have answers to.

Anyway, we left the park a little early to give ourselves some time to get to our shuttle to the airport (and by "shuttle" I mean the big bus that takes forever to get anywhere because read my lips people, DISNEY DOES NOT DO ANYTHING QUICKLY), but as it turned out, we timed it right when our bus came so we didn't have to wait as long as we thought.

So basically, we ended up at the airport 3 hours before we were supposed to leave. No big deal, we figured, we'd just go to Fox Sports Grill and watch the Cowboys game (Read: Jack watches the Cowboy's game while Mandy re-reads "The Notebook" for the fourth time).

Our flight was delayed two hours. And then? After we got onto the plane? They had to delay it again another half hour. Mechanical issues and what-not. So basically we have been at the airport/on the airplane for the last 7 hours and are still in the air. And now Jack's doing the sleepy thing where he dozes off and his head moves forward or when he finally has his head back his mouth opens and then he'll wake up and realize it's open and close it and I'm all "Awww my husband is cute, but he's going to be mad that I blogged that."

They also called Jack up to be Sir Galahad during a street performance at Epcot today. He acted embarrassed, but honestly? I think he loved the attention. What a ham.
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October 24

Alternately titled: "Find the magic deep in your heart and chant 'I do believe dreams come true!'"

I met the girl of my dreams today.

Jack had to judge all day, which left time for Ellyn and I to meet up (and by "meet up" I mean "make her drive over an hour to my hotel with all of her children while I slept in.") and go play for a while before Jack could come meet us at Disney's Magic Kingdom.

After I got a text announcing her arrival (she sent it, in case there was any confusion about the existence of some texting service for anytime somebody arrived at our resort), I walked out into the parking lot to find a very flustered Ellyn with an apparently very blown-out diaper attached to a very cute baby. I offered to help, though I wasn't quite sure whether I would be able to figure out which end of a diaper goes up if she accepted the offer. She didn't, so instead I met and visited with Ava and Jace and left Ellyn to fend for herself with the diaper (after all, what are friends for?)

Jace hopped out of the car, clearly energized from the ride over, and began talking immediately.

"Guess what! My mommy has a baby in her tummy and we're going to name her ____!!"

Ellyn's and my eyes both got wide and I tried not to laugh as I told him I didn't think he was supposed to tell me that, since it was a secret. I felt bad for knowing when I shouldn't, but now that I do, I might as well say "nanny nanny boo boo, I know and you don't."

After a while of letting the kids play on the resort's beach/playground, we packed up and headed to the bus that took us to Magic Kingdom. I was shocked to learn that it's difficult to get on a bus with three children five and under and a huge stroller and a pregnant belly! So of course, I made the pregnant lady carry the huge stroller while I held and played with the adorable baby. Because really, helping pregnant women carry their many pieces of folded up stroller? Boooring. Blonde blue-eyed babies? Yes, please.

When we got to the park, it wasn't that crowded, but of course, that changed as the day got hotter. By the time Jack arrived at 4, the crowds were pretty thick and the sun was pretty intense, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the (mostly air-conditioned) rides.

On "It's a Small World," I was given the honorable responsibility to hold the red "timing" card while we were in line and hand it to the "cast member" at the front of the line before we got on the ride, so they could keep track of average wait time. Of course, since they handed it to me instead of, you know, somebody responsible, they didn't get their red timing card until after I had ridden the ride, therefore not getting an accurate wait time. So you're welcome, Disney, for my services. You let me know the next time you need them. I'm always willing to help.

I think it helps to have kids with you in the Magic Kingdom, since the shows/rides/everything about it are entirely too cheesy to enjoy through an adult's eyes. Also, the kid-rides are usually air conditioned. Also, ice cream. Also, parades and fireworks, and only one 4-year-old merchandise-related meltdown (those Disney sales people are pretty shameless with the kids - "Oh, what are you pointing at? You want this sword?" which prompts a "Oh yes! I do want that sword! I do I do I do!!!"). Actually, I think Jace's exact words were "Buuuuuuuuuuut I wannnnnnnt the swwwwwwoooooo-ho-ho-ho-ho-hooooooord!!!!!" And in his defense, it was 9 p.m., we had been running him around the park for eight hours, and the sword was pretty sweet.

Friday, October 23, 2009

October 23

I am so proud of my husband!!! Today he competed at Fall Nationals here in Orlando (along with midterming yesterday!) and came away with a first place in weapons! I don't know if you know much about "places" in taekwondo, but that's pretty much the best one you can get. And it puts him in a really good place points-wise for world championships!
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

October 22

Today was lovely. Absolutely lovely.

Oh, except for the whole “getting up at 4 a.m.” thing. That wasn’t so lovely.

And the part with the mom from Long Island who watched her rambunctious daughter run around the airport screaming as we waited (for an hour!) for our “magical” Disney transportation to take us to our resort. The mom would occasionally shout out “Suzie! You get back in your stroller!” “Get back in your stroller NOW!” and, my personal favorite “Suzie, if you don’t get back into your stroller right now, you can’t go to Disney World with us!” Really, Susie’s mom? How exactly are you going to deliver on that one? Leave your devil child in the hotel room while the rest of you traipse off to see Mickey? I think not.

And when the child jumped in front of an innocent woman who was trying to get in line and refused to let her pass, and when that woman smiled uncomfortably at the lazy mother, hoping that maybe, just maybe, she would, I don’t know, control her child, it was no surprise when the mother gave a half-hearted “Suzie! Move out of the way! Get back in your stroller!” and the poor woman who was trying to get in her line had to physically move the unruly child herself, since the child had no incentive to actually obey her mother.

But really. Other than that, it’s been lovely.

Jack had his physical fitness test this afternoon. Basically, in order for black belts to test, they have to do a minute of pushups, a minute of sit-ups, a minute of punches on a bag, a minute of kicks, and a minute of punches and kicks. All the punches and kicks have to actually move the heavy bag, and the judges are very strict on the quality of pushups and sit-ups that they will actually count. It’s pretty hard core. The total count for all of these things must be 300 or above. Jack just about died after he had finished (actually, he couldn’t breathe and I was concerned he might pass out on our way back to the bus), but he passed and has resolved to be in better shape for the next one.

After his test (and the subsequent recovery from the test), we headed to “Downtown Disney,” a big boardwalk with overpriced Disney shops and restaurants. We had So. Freaking. Much. Fun!! We ate at a little seafood restaurant on the dock, where we could watch the people strolling on the boardwalk, the sun setting over the water, and the little boats driving in and out of the area.

The food was overpriced and subpar, and the menu was limited, but the margaritas were good and the company was flawless. Sometimes, during the long weeks in which we only see a few hours of each other, I forget how much I love being around my husband. I forget how much we laugh. I forget how well we fit. Thank God for vacations.

Jack ordered the shrimp and chicken ettoufee, and when it arrived, he began picking all the tiny pieces of green garnish off the top (this is a very common occurrence around our house, since Jack is so darn picky about the green things he eats).

“Sweetheart, why don’t you just eat the green things?” I asked, always amazed that he would go to that much trouble to remove something he wouldn’t even taste in the first place. He stared back at me.

“You’re not supposed to eat that,” he said, as if he were telling me that the sky was blue. “That’s grass.” I laughed as I looked down at it. It did look like grass.

When he had finished removing all the “grass,” he stabbed the biggest shrimp on his plate with his fork and held it up, making a really impressed yummy noise as he anticipated eating it. Then, without a second thought, he put it on my plate.

“That’s for you!” he said, smiling. I stared at him, stunned. Jack is an only child. Jack does not share food. He gets upset when I take a French fry or a sip of his Dr. Pepper. He hates sharing.

“Are you serious?” I asked, dumbfounded.

“Sure!” he replied, as he looked back down at his plate. “I have other ones!”

I thanked him, and a few minutes later, he asked me how many points that got him.

“Oh, that was definitely a four-pointer,” I replied.

“Woah!” he said, excitedly. “That’s almost as much as a present!”

Later in the meal, as I was eating, Jack opened one side of his straw wrapper and blew the other half at me with the straw. It hit me in the face, and I looked up, surprised.

“Oh no, Jack!” I said, feigning disappointment in him. “You just lost two points! That’s half the points you earned with the shrimp!”

Jack’s face fell as he considered the “points” he had just lost. (In case you couldn’t tell, Jack is pretty competitive, even if the game is pretend and there is no opponent.) Suddenly, his eyes lit up with an idea and he looked down at his plate.

“What about if I eat some of the grass?” he asked.


Of course, no walk down the boardwalk at Disney would be complete without ice cream at Ghirardelli.

When we got to that table, Jack and I both looked at it and hesitated. All of the tables were made to look like different Ghiradelli Chocolate Squares, and the "wrapper" on ours said dark chocolate mint. The first thing each of us thought when deciding whether to sit there was "but I don't like dark chocolate mint."

Fortunately, they didn't make us eat the table.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 21

Jack got us a new shower head today for our master bathroom, hoping that it would make it stop leaking all the time. It didn't work. If anything, it leaks more. I am really looking forward to having this bathroom completely redone. One bathroom at a time, though. One bathroom at a time.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 20

Jack put all the tile down, and it covered the whole floor! It's not stuck down yet, but it's going to look really good!
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Monday, October 19, 2009

October 19

Jack put up the new light fixture in our bathroom today, and OH MY GOSH I LIKE IT SO FREAKING MUCH! Also? It's ridiculously bright.
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 18

I'm trying to remember a weekend this year in which we didn't work on the bathroom, but I'm starting to think that there wasn't one. Today, Jack cut all the tile to fit in the bathroom, and he did a great job. He's such a good little worker!
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Saturday, October 17, 2009

October 17

I'm a huge believer in God opening and closing doors.

During the months leading up to Jack buying his taekwondo school, he had everything in order to purchase it from his boss. He had a business plan written. A loan lined up. All he needed was for the leasing company to change the name on the building's lease from his boss's name to his own.

The leasing company said no.

So Jack got a co-signer. Surely with somebody with a lot of assets could help him get the lease in his name. They said no again, this time indicating that they wouldn't be interested in changing the name on the lease no matter who co-signed or what Jack did. Why take the risk when they're getting their money now, they reasoned.

Without the lease, he couldn't get the loan. Without the loan, he couldn't buy the business.

The door slammed shut.

And we decided that God was telling us to wait. So we did. And you know what? The economy took a pretty bad downturn after that. God had a plan.

When I was looking at colleges back in high school, I visited Texas A&M University, where I had a meeting with Dr. Ed Walraven, the head of the Journalism department and later my favorite professor. He got me incredibly excited about attending their school of Journalism and becoming a Journalist.

Right after I got accepted, the university decided that Journalism wasn't worth their time or money (what!?) and I was forced to choose another major.

The door slammed shut.

I ended up choosing Telecommunication as my major, which led me to internships in audio production, where I learned all about editing for podcasts, audio dramas, and radio programs. Now I work for an international Christian radio broadcast where I really feel like I make an eternal difference with my work.

I've had enough experiences with closed doors to understand that when something doesn't come together or gets ripped away from you, God has a hand on it and is putting things exactly where He wants them for something in His plan that's way better. So I've gotten good with the "no's." They're not always fun at the time, but God's plan is always better than mine. Always.

That's why when I started Survival Mode Parent last month, I didn't necessarily know what would come of it. It's not that I wasn't willing to work hard to make it succeed or didn't want to see it come together; it's just that I realize that there are so many ways the doors could close on the project if this isn't what God wanted me to do.

The doors aren't closing here. In fact, they're flying open so fast that they're hitting the wall behind them and bouncing back and smacking me in the face.

In a good way.

From the second I announced the website, people have been beating down my door (no pun intended) to help. My former Awana leader owns an embroidery store and donated all the SMP business cards and any other promotional items we need. (!) Someone offered to write press releases for me. (!) Almost 200 people from all around the country have signed up to volunteer. (!!)

And remember how I was trying to get stuff together for a raffle because it was going to cost $1,100 to get Survival Mode Parent set up as a real-live non-profit with tax exemptions? Well I was. Because I don't have an extra $1,100 laying around, believe it or not. And that's a lot of money.

Today, my neighbors came over. With cupcakes. And scrapbooking supplies they bought for me at a garage sale (SQUEE!). And after they gave me all that, they asked me a question.

"How much did you say you needed for the filing and lawyer fees for Survival Mode Parent?"

"Um, $1,100. Why?" I replied. Steve got out his checkbook.

"Because I want to cover it," he said, matter-of-factly as he wrote an $1,100 check.


Evidently, every year for the last 20 years, my neighbor has been donating his extra paycheck to charity. His wife didn't even know about it. He just does it. Because that's the kind of guy he is. And this time, the charity he donated to was mine.

He said that was the first time he's ever seen me speechless. (Probably because it's possible that was the first time I actually have been speechless.)

We have everything we need to get our non-profit status. We will be protected from lawsuits and can accept donations for the organization. We can get SMP bank accounts and everything that's donated will be tax-deductible for the donors. I'm in awe of how God has provided for this organization.

The door swung open.

Friday, October 16, 2009

October 16

Since Jack and I got married 11 days after my birthday and about 20 days before his, our birthday celebrations kind of get lost in the anniversary celebration. This is really a shame, since I, um, LOVE MY BIRTHDAY. A lot. So we decided to go out to a fancy dinner six months after our birthdays to actually get to enjoy it. That fancy dinner was tonight, and it was The Melting Pot. Holy fun dinner, Batman! We ate, and talked, and ate, and talked, and ate, and talked. And it was amazing.
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 15

We had set up a Christmas tree in the green room for a Christmas video shoot with Chuck. Then, management changed their minds about wanting it up there. So we brought it downstairs and set it up in Joel's office. Merry Christmas... a little early this year.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 14

Tiffany is an incredible story-teller. This makes her ideal for council time lessons. The woman has cross referenced scripture, props, drawings, and lists, and the kids are mesmerized (some more than others) every time. She comes prepared. So when it was time to tell the David and Goliath story to the kids, I wasn't surprised when she had a visual. A really large visual.

You see, Mr. Goliath the Philistine Man was 9 feet and 9 inches tall. Nine! Foot! Nine! And because it's easy to miss just how massive that is, Tiffany cut a piece of butcher paper to that exact length, to show the kids just how tall the big bad dude was. After she got it cut, she pulled me out of game time to help her.

And that's where it all went terribly, terribly wrong.

"Hey Mandy!" she said, unsuspectingly. "You're crafty, right?"

"Um. Yeah," I answered, hesitantly. "Why?"

"Well, I have this giant sheet of paper, and I want you to draw Goliath on it," she replied. "Mine would just be a stick figure. Can you draw one?"

"You mean, one that's not a stick figure?" I asked. Just a stick figure? What else is there?

Yes, I am crafty. But what Tiffany (and many others) fail to understand is that crafty people can't necessarily draw. I mean, I have the physical ability to draw, but it doesn't look like anything. I'm pretty impressed with myself when I doodle a ladybug when I'm bored in a meeting, or maybe a butterfly with the little dashes so you know where it was just flying.


All this to say, this was a bad idea, Tiffany. Bad idea.

Exhibit A:

Aubree and Ashlyn pose with Goliath.

So I started with the head. I wanted to make him mean and scary, so obviously I went with the bloodshot eyes, the toothy growl mouth, the angry eyebrows, and of course, the Ethan/Joe Jonas hair, mark of a true villain.

Stop judging me. His eyes might have been different sizes. And his ears might have been in completely different places on his head. You don't know what he looked like back then. Plus it gets so much worse.

Evidently Goliath had a girl neck, no shoulders, two different sized arms (with a tumor on one of them), and sported a J-Crew tee.

And levitating by his hip as if by magic, a shield. Contrary to what you may think, it is not an old-fashioned wagon wheel. Just in case there's any confusion.

And the pants. Oh, the pants. I'm not sure why he's wearing saggy pants. You would think with his inseam, he'd have a hard time finding them big enough in the first place, but too big? Who knew that was even possible?

And of course, we end with the shoes. Evidently Goliath needed special, corrective shoes since they're two different sizes and all. Also, fun fact: evidently Philistenes wore lace-up shoes and had two different ankle sizes.

I'll tell you one thing - I doubt Tiffany will be asking me to draw anything else for her. I think I'll stick with scrapbooking.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October 13

We have our walls and ceiling painted in our guest bathroom! And we are sure getting tired of being in there!
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Monday, October 12, 2009

October 12

Today I made a Sandra Lee chicken BBQ pizza. It was delicious!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October 11

Today I cut down and dug out all the bushes in front of our house!! It's a good first step toward relandscaping our front yard, and it is a LOT OF WORK!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October 10

Our guest bathroom walls got texture today! My goodness that makes a mess!!
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Friday, October 9, 2009

October 9

Today my father-in-law came into town and helped us finished our bathroom for us. He floated the wall and ceiling where we had removed the wall paper and popcorn, and tomorrow we'll be adding texture so we can paint! It's so nice to get work done, even if it means that the guest toilet will have to be in our bathtub for a while (and therefore out of commission).
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

October 8

He walked in the door after work and called out.

"Close your eyes and hold out your hands!"

I shut my eyes tight and held out my hands. I love this game.

Soon after, I felt the weight of a cold, round ball in my hands. I opened my eyes.

"Happy Thursday!" he said.

A happy Thursday, indeed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October 7

[I do have a picture of this girl, but I can't post it online]

I have this super-sweet, super-quiet, super-mature little girl in my group. She's seriously like a tiny adult. And I know I'm not supposed to have favorites, but let's be honest, she's totally one of my favorites.

As she said her final verse in a section, she made me laugh out loud.

"Romans 3:23," she recited. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Boo-ya!"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 6

I had a tiny composition book from CVS that I kept my to-do list in, but it depressed me every time I took it out because it was so ugly. Enter some scrapbooking magic, and it makes having stuff to do so much more fun! I also made one for my friend Sharon at work.

Monday, October 5, 2009

October 5

Another evening of blog design. Business has been picking up quite a bit lately, which leaves me pretty busy in the evenings and on weekends. I like this particular design quite a bit!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October 4

This morning, I made a really yummy scrambled egg/fried potato/bacon skillet creation. It was delightful!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

October 3

Earl and Kara finally got married tonight!! And it was a beautiful wedding. A lot of taekwondo and Aggie talk, but fun none-the-less. These are such great people, and while we hate to lose them to Houston, we love to see them start their lives together!