Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Word on Re-Gifting

Today I hosted a baby shower for our neighbor. We have been getting to know this couple for the last 6 months or so, and they are really lovely. She and her husband are from England, and she invited several of her friends who are also from the UK. And here's what I couldn't believe: almost none of them had ever been to a baby shower. I thought everyone did baby showers--that it was a cross-cultural phenomenon. Like, you know, getting pregnant in the first place. But I guess not.

They told me they'd never been to one, and I was like Aunt Voula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding: "You don't eat NO MEAT?"

And, oh, oh! Remember when Aunt Voula is talking to Ian's parents about her "buh-bopsy" (biopsy) and says, "Inside that lump, they found teeth and a spinal cord. Inside that lump, was my twin!" I laughed so hard I snorted. But, I digress. Sorry.

The baby shower. Right. It was fun. We had cupcakes!

Aren't those adorable? If you a)get pregnant, and b)move to Australia, and c)be my friend I'll throw you a shower with cupcakes, too!

I have to be honest though. My friend Holly helped me with the cupcakes. And by "helped", I mean that she did almost all the work while I sat next to her and chatted. You see, I am not very good at many difficult things, but this one thing I can do. I can chat with you while you do the hard thing. That's okay, right?

We had decorations!

Now, that I did do. Except for the part that Jason helped me with.

And we had games, too, which I am not usually a fan of at showers, but these were fun. And here's where my question comes in for you. If you made it through Aunt Voula and the cupcakes.

What is your position on re-gifting? Allow me to explain.

So I planned these games and I wanted to give little gifts to the winners of the games. I ran out of time to shop for little gifts, and I was trying to keep costs down for the shower. So, I decided to re-gift some things that I have been given in the past and hadn't used.

Now, if you've given me a gift in the past, and are wondering if it was your gift that was re-gifted, let me reassure you: no way! I loved your gift, and I use it/look at it/listen to it everyday. I am actually wearing it/sitting on it/drinking out of it right now. In fact, could you please send more, because I am nearly out of it. I am only speaking of things that others have given me. Just so we're clear.

I confess that, from time to time, I re-gift. But I do so in what I feel is an ethical way. Here are my rules for re-giftage:
1. The gift must be in good condition and not opened or used.
2. It must be something that I consider good quality, just not necessarily something that I need at that time, hence its unopened state.
3. The recipient must not know or be acquainted with the original gifter.
4. I do not re-gift for a major event.

So, what do you think? In situations such as mine today--needing small gifts as party favors, I feel that re-gifting is entirely appropriate. Even ecologically responsible. Ha! See? I am so green and stuff!

But do weigh in, and tell me your thoughts. And I will add that I have been the recipient of a re-gift several times. Once at my bridal shower, someone gave me a gift and forgot to take the card from the original giver out of the gift! Hee hee! That was rich. But I didn't really mind, cause I liked the gift. What about you?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Updates and Some Random Minutia

That's a word, right? Minutia? Cause, y'all, I'm so tired right now that I can't really remember. My little Grace is giving me a run for my money, up pretty much every two hours for the last 3-4 nights. That just ain't right. Not that I'm complaining! Well, I am a little. Anyway, Becky had a great idea the other day to clean house--give updates on any blog topics of the past. And since I seem to only be able to think in bullet points at the mo, that sounded like a great idea to me!

1. The Duststorm.
So, here's a photo of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on a normal day:

And here's what it looked like last Wednesday morning:

Can you believe that? That was the scene all through the city. It was quite apocalyptic.

Those who know are saying it's the worst duststorm to hit Sydney in the last 60-70 years, and the appearance of it was unlike anything anyone's ever seen here before. And it was a disaster for farmers in our state. We had another more minor duststorm on Friday, so it's a good thing I hadn't dusted the house yet! I have such foresight, you see. And you would NOT believe the wind over the last two days. It is just roaring against the house. I can hear it all night long. Every two hours, in fact. Cause I'm up at those times, you see. BUT I AM NOT BITTER ABOUT THAT.

2. Ava's eating habits.
I am proud and somewhat shocked to say that Ava now has 4 fruits (grapes, strawberries, kiwi fruit and oranges) and 2 veggies (corn and carrots) in her dietary repertoire. Of course, the quantities of said foods are so small that I seriously doubt it is having alot of nutritional impact. But we gotta start somewhere, right? And at least she's not gagging anymore. She still won't admit that any of it tastes good, though!

Yesterday, she said "I wish I was a cat." "Why's that?", I said. "Cause then I wouldn't have to eat fruit and veggies," she said. Of course, I pointed out that she would have to eat cat food instead. I offered to buy her some so she could see how it compares to grapes, but she turned me down.

3. My recent furniture acquisitions.
Our side-of-the-road finds are now happily ensconced in our home. Remember that desk we found? And the chairs? Jason and his mom painted the desk black for me and we spray painted the chair red and here they are!

We still need to put the drawer pulls back on, but I think it turned out really nicely!

But here's where I need your help. We painted the desk in a glossy enamel color. And then gave it over a week to dry. But the other day I went to pick up a magazine that was lying there, and the back cover had stuck to the desk and left little bits of paper behind. Waaahhh!!! How does one fix this? Do we just have to sand and repaint that part? Or is there some magical, mystical solvent that will remove it? Club Soda? White vinegar? Pixie dust mixed with the good dreams of happy children? Help me, I beg you! Perhaps we chose the wrong kind of paint.

4. Nate's way with the ladies and general hijinks.

This is what Nate looks like most of the day. His feet are a blur. Why walk when you can run? And there is always something strange in his hand--in this case one of those squishy, slimy ball things. Could there be a more boyish boy? I love this little dude.

And he is still is Mr. Smooth with the chicks. I notice now that whenever anyone comes over to visit, he changes from talking normally to using an on-stage type of voice, and he does this thing now where he tilts his head to one side and runs around in circles. Like some kind of crazed puppy. That's my boy!

5. Now for the minutia.
You know what? I'll get back to you on that. It's rather minute, and I'm so tired I don't really remember what I was gonna say about it. And yes, I recognize the contradiction of leaving something unresolved in a "how did all that turn out?" post. Oh, the cruel, cruel irony. And the excitement! Yeah, I know how to keep you comin' back for more, don't I?

I am off to bed. To sleep, perchance to be awakened in two hours. Have a great day, y'all!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Grace, The Jig Is Up.

Sometimes I have imaginary dialogues with people. Or, I compose sermons in my head. Here's the speech I was composing in my addled, sleep deprived brain for Grace the other morning. Really, I was. I do this sometimes, it seems to make me feel better.

Grace, since you had the inclination to be awake last night at 11, 1:30, 3:30, 5, and 6:15, I have made the measured, thoughtful decision to be annoyed with you until at least lunchtime. I was under the impression that we had formed an agreement. An agreement that you, as the third child, would be naturally easygoing and low maintenance. Have we not discussed this? Were you not happy with our previous arrangement of the 3am wakeup then back to sleep until 7? Perhaps you could have found a different way to make your feelings known. No?

Regardless, at around 5am I decided that I would be annoyed with you. And now here we are. It's 7:30. The day has begun. There are breakfasts to be made, lunches to be packed, a school uniform to be dug out of the dryer. My hair is still in last night's ponytail and there is a Foreign Substance on my bathrobe. I will not be beguiled by you smiling up at me from the living room carpet as I change your diaper. Stop that, young miss!

Somehow, you manage to be wide-eyed and fresh. You kick your legs and grin at me. I am unmoved.

I acknowledge that you have adorable chubby hands that you have discovered fit perfectly into your mouth. And yes, they look quite cute folded like so.

However, I hope you will allow me to point out that, as you have reneged on our previous arrangement, I now have the prerogative to complain to the other moms at school drop-off. While you are there, listening. Really, you have brought this upon yourself.

Because you see, it doesn't matter that your little feet are so perfect and fit right in my hand.

To put off my annoyance and smile back at you would set a dangerous precedent. Now, you wake me up all through the night. In a few years, you'll take the car out without asking and come home with interesting body art. Do you see where this can lead?

I can tell by your gurgling that you're thinking this through. I certainly hope so, young lady. Because after last night, your name might as well be Wakey McWakerstein.

I am on to you and your tactics. This pre-meditated cuteness and deliberate toothless grin. This squeal that is this close to being your first laugh. Don't think I don't know. And even though I will probably still get up with you each time again tonight, know that I am doing it under duress and in protest.

So, there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In My Efforts to Keep You Informed.

Here's what's doing down here.

1. When I woke up this morning and looked out the window, the world was neon orange. I couldn't get a good picture, but here's a picture of what it looked like at a local beach.

Those ain't special effects. Overnight, a windstorm blew in a blanket of red dust from the outback, and all of Sydney is covered with a thin layer of it. Our windows and doors were all closed, but I could smell and taste the dust while I was making breakfast this morning. Freaky! So even though, I haven't gotten to visit the Red Centre, I now have some between my teeth! The wind has continued to blow all day and has blown the orange clouds away, but we are left with a layer of dust over everything. See?

Yes. Instead of cleaning, I have gone around the house writing messages in the dust and taking pictures of it. Like an 8 year old. Aren't I hilarious? Lolzzzzzz!!

2. I bought an apron on Saturday.

I was hoping it would inspire me to bake more stuff. Cute things to wear are good motivation for a girl, ya know. So far, I've made two loaves of banana bread and a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I'm thinking if I wear an apron to make dinner when folks come over, they will think the food tastes better than it really does. This is a phenomenon known as psychology. I know that because I have a degree in it.

3. Dave is here with us.
Here he is with Nate on a little bushwalk we took yesterday.

It's been great to have my brother here. I realized that he and I haven't had this much concentrated hang-out time in several years. But isn't it nice when you have such a history and an affection for someone that you can pick up right where you left off the last time you saw them? We've talked about everything from nuclear proliferation to Taylor Swift. I wish he didn't have to go home tomorrow. But I suppose he has a "life" to get back to. Selfish.

4. Ava is now a theologian.
Just now, when Nate asked me "How you know that?" about something, I replied with my standard, "Because I know everything." Ava responded, "No you don't. You don't know if you'll have teeth in heaven!" No. No, I guess I don't.

That about covers it. How are you?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Your Concern is Duly Noted, and Appreciated.

Well, I am happy to report that over the last 72 hours, my eye has progressed from freakish looking, to sinister, to now merely disconcerting. This is progress indeed. What in the world did people do before antibiotic eye drops, I wonder? Certainly there were a lot more people giving The Stinkeye, this I know for sure.

My brother Dave is now here visiting! He had a conference for his work in Canberra--Australia's capitol city, and arrived in Sydney this morning. We drove the 3 hours to Canberra on Thursday to stay overnight and see him, and had a great time hanging out and exploring a new city.

I'll come back soon and post some pics of our little road trip. Right now, I am still recovering from the 3 hour drive home last night, during which Grace unleashed the full might of her fury at being in her car seat. What an angry, angry little girl she was. It reminded me of those stories you read about island villagers seeking to appease the Volcano God, lest their village be covered in lava. I tried everything I could think of on that car ride, yet my offerings to her fell far, far short. So basically, we were toast. Parenting is not for sissies.

Do not be fooled. She is capable of white-hot rage.

So you see, I am all out of blogging mojo. I only have a certain weekly allotment of mojo, and what with the pink eye and trying to placate Grace all the way home last night...I am tapped out. This, then, is my offering.

I'll be back. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Plague Upon My House

Sometimes you don't know that you ought to have been thankful for something not happening until that something happens. Y'know?

Last week, Ava had conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pink eye. It was mildly annoying but cleared up in a day or so with some eye drops we got from our doctor. Then, Nate got it a few days later. Fine, eye drops--no worries.

Then Grace got it this past weekend. Couldn't use the eye drops on her, cause she's too itty bitty. So I just kept her eye clean and practiced a home cure. Warning: if you aren't comfortable talking about or reading about breast milk, you might wanna skip to the next paragraph. I'd read a few years ago that a good cure for pink eye in babies is to squirt some breast milk in their eye. Yes, I'm serious. Look, I saw it on a special thing that I like to call The Internet, which as you know, is the source of all knowledge. Besides God. But God made The Internet. Except for the bad parts--He wants me to tell you that He is not happy about those. Coincidentally, God also made breast milk. So, you see, breast milk and The Internet go hand-in-hand. With God.

So I used my little home cure with Grace, and it did the trick. She was pretty much cleared up by the next evening. But my friends, there is not enough breast milk in my, um, arsenal to deal with the raging case of pink eye that I got last night.

I've never had it before, so I didn't know what to expect. It was a little red and itchy last night, but by the time I woke up this morning, my eye was swollen up like a prizefighter's. It's sore, too. And gooey! Are you feeling sick yet? Why haven't I been thanking God all these years for not getting pink eye?

This is not a pretty sight. I considered posting a picture, but I unfortunately do have some vanity, and besides, this is a family blog. I don't want to scare any young children. But as we say in the South, right now my face'd back a buzzard off a tub of guts. And unfortunately I am not well-endowed or flexible enough to use the cure that was so effective with Grace.

I'm heading to the doctor in about half an hour, where I will ask her for some nuclear-powered eye drops. I think I will pretend to be Paris Hilton and wear my sunglasses inside. Then I will come home and douse our entire home in hand sanitizing gel.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Spamalot? I do.

Do you ever wonder how your life would be different if you read, believed, and acted upon all the emails in your Spam folder? The little elves that live inside my computer and run my email account automatically filter my email, but I always open my Spam folder to see what's in it before I dump it all. Cause sometimes the elves get it wrong, you see. I always get a wee kick out of the emails that are in there.

If I took them all to heart, just think what my life could be like.

--I could see dozens of free matches on and maybe meet my soulmate!

--Rachel Ray could tell me how to drink more goji juice.

--I could inject, implant, or insert silicone, collagen, Restylane and Lord-knows-what-else into various places.

--Because I've served my country, I could let it serve me, by sending me to college on the GI Bill.

--I could lose up to 3 lbs of stomach fat a week, all by following one simple rule.

--I could join the FBI, or alternatively, become a Crime Scene Investigator. (Cause we want our potential federal agents to be gullible enough to respond to a mass, spam email. What an effective recruitment tool!)

--I could accept a substantial inheritance left to me by someone I've never heard of, who died in a country I've never been to.

--I could get my Green Card and become an American citizen.

Oh, what might've been. We'll never really know, I guess. Have you checked your Spam folder lately?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Home Again

Grace and I have just returned from our whirlwind trip to Wodonga. (Again, you really ought to say that phrase to yourself a few times. Just a suggestion.)

She did really well with the flights and the change of scenery and even got to hang out with a couple of fellas.

Totally chaperoned of course. That's Ben on the left there, and Alex on the right. Don't they make Grace look like Ginormica? They are the cutest little guys--both somewhere in the 6 pound range. I just love the expressions on all their faces--they are clearly not impressed with each other. Grace: "Mind if I put my hand on this fuzzy armrest?" Ben: "Dude, get your arm off my soft spot."

Church went well yesterday--I had fun meeting everyone and I think the sermon went pretty well. At least, no one pelted me with anything, so that's a good sign. This church meets in the function room of a cafe, so you can walk in, order a coffee or a snack and a waiter delivers it to you in the middle of the service. Now, that's my kind of church!

The only hitch--Grace ended up getting conjunctivitis (pink eye) on Sunday night and back in Sydney, Nate came down with a high fever and cough. Last night, after talking with Jase about fever management on the phone, I texted to see how Nate was doing and got this reply: "He is asleep but has already woken up and was partially hallucinating. But I think he's ok." Yes, what every mother wants to hear when she is hundreds of miles away from her baby boy. Let the guilt begin! Thankfully, after that wakeup and some more medicine, Nate slept all night and was feeling well enough to talk my ear off all the way home from the airport. ("Mom, what day is today? Can I have a milkshake when we get home? Mom, how do you make milkshakes? Can I make a milkshake? Mom, milkshakes cool my breath off.")

So, next on my to-do list (which I don't have): 1. Unpack, 2. Bathe Grace's ooky eye 3. Take Nate to the doctor in an hour, 4. Pick Ava up from school, 5. Try to keep all kids from breathing on/touching/looking at each other.

Just keepin' it real.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Taking our act on the road

Grace and I are heading out this afternoon to fly to Albury-Wodonga, two lovely, small towns that are on the border of New South Wales and Victoria. (If you need a chuckle, just say "Albury-Wodonga" a few times fast. It's fun.)

Our good friends Jason and Olivia are pastors there. They just welcomed twin boys into the world last week, making it kids number 4 and 5. Dang! And I say again, dang. I'm going down this weekend to preach at their church service on Sunday, cause with 10 day old twins and 3 other gorgeous children, neither of them are sure if they can form coherent sentences. And when that's your standard for public speaking, I'm your girl! No bar is too low.

I've preached several times since Grace has been born, but this will be the first time without a pre-determined baby-holder. So pray that she behaves herself so mama can bring it like it oughta be broughten. And, if you're in the area--which would be an unreal stroke of divine providence--come see us! Otherwise, I'll check in later. Have a lovely weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What do wildebeest, Anne of Green Gables and preschoolers playing soccer all have in common?

In our last episode, I mentioned to you that Jason and I made a list last week. As we were celebrating our tenth anniversary, we decided to come up with ten things we'd like to do in the next ten years. I've talked some with Becky lately about life lists, and I've been reading Mighty Girl some as well--this girl has an extensive list, and even has corporate sponsorship for it! Pretty sweet, if you ask me!

I've never really been one for lists. Of course, I make basic to-do lists and all that, but I'm always somewhat intimidated by big-picture, goal-setting lists. That's just my weird, afraid-to-disappoint-or-be-disappointed personality, I guess. But Jason and I sat at dinner last week--that magical dinner I told you about where Grace slept the whole time--and talked about how we've been together for 14 years. We started dating when I was a 19 year old college sophomore. And barring one breakup (Jason momentarily took leave of his senses and forgot how wonderful I am), we've been together ever since. It's one of those things you hear others say all the time, but those years have flown by. So much has happened, and so quickly, it seems!

(See? I'm being all contemplative and stuff. Actually in this shot, I think I was worrying that my chipped nail polish would show up in the photo. But then I started being contemplative. You'll just have to take my word for it.)

As we talked about that, it was like I could see us having dinner ten years from now, talking about how time has flown. Our kids are little, ministry is busy and the everyday-ness of our lives can so easily eclipse the big-picture stuff.

I'll never forget when my dad stood up at my rehearsal dinner and told all of us that he had actually calculated the number of days that he and my mom had with us before we'd moved on to adulthood. That even though it can feel like a lifetime, it's actually quantifiable and finite. It is sooo my dad to actually be able to tell you the number! But the point, for me, is this--I want us to enjoy our lives and do the things we've "always wanted" to do. I want us to treasure this time when the kids are small.

This can be easier said than done, cause it's so freakin' exhausting so much of the time! I mean, I can't say I was necessarily treasuring the moment this afternoon when Nate was refusing to nap and then woke Grace up from hers. Oh, the preciousness of it all. I can barely contain myself. Oh, wait. Yes I can.

Are you still reading this? Well, God bless your heart. Alright, well anyway. You get what I'm saying. So here's some things we came up with that are important to us. I'd love to know what some of your things are.

Ten (except it's really 12) Things We Wanna Do in the Next 10 Years
1) Go back to Kenya, Travel to Tanzania
--Take a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti
--We both took separate trips to Kenya in college--we'd love to go together!

2) Take the kids on foreign missions to help the poor and see other cultures
3) Move back to the States
--No immediate plans for this one. We're just sayin'.
4) See more of Australia.
--Scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, visit Ayers Rock
5) Nurture a genuine faith in God in our children
6) Go back to Paris and spend more time at the Louvre
7) Increase our ability as leaders and our capacity to develop people
8) Read classic novels to/with the kids
--Chronicles of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, etc. Any suggestions?
9) Coach our kids' sports teams
--Um, yeah, that'd be Jason's goal. No one wants me coaching their team.
10) Be intentional about building memories as a family: trips, traditions
11) Learn about investments and come up with a better long-term plan
--I almost fell asleep typing that, but I know it's important. Like flossing.
12) Buy a house.

So, what are some of the things on your list? Cause maybe I'll like your stuff better and switch to yours. And then maybe I'll be all insecure about my list and be a little resentful of you for being so smart and cool. And then maybe I'll allow my resentment to boil over and make snide remarks on Facebook. Okay, maybe you shouldn't tell me.

Nooooo, I'm kidding! Tell me, do!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

33, prepare to be rocked.

Tomorrow is my 33rd birthday. The last several years, my birthday kind of seems to spring up on me. I just kind of forget that it's happening. Are you like this? Don't get me wrong--it's not cause I'm humble and self-effacing and that I don't like presents. I loves me some presents! There just seem to be so many other things going on. Perhaps it's just old age though, and my mind is already starting to go. Am I still talking?

In other news, Jason and I had a great mini-holiday in the city last week. We were celebrating our tenth anniversary, and spent two nights in a hotel in Darling Harbour.

And I know I've said it before, but dang, this is a beautiful city. You should come visit, you really should. We walked, we talked, we ate, we shopped. Well, I shopped. And though I did not drink the ridiculously priced Diet Coke in the mini-bar, I did have an $18 Peach Bellini at dinner. I have one about every 3 years or so, so I figured it was okay to splurge.

Speaking of getting older, the hotel we stayed in is attached to a large casino. Jason and I aren't really ones for gambling, but we wanted to go into the casino to check out this enormous aquarium they have there. The security dude stopped us and said we couldn't go in 'cause they weren't licensed for minors. I thought he was making a joke--you know how people pretend you look really young to flatter you? Like, "Oh, I'm gonna have to see some ID...", that kind of thing? So we kind of laughed and started to walk through and he was like, "No, really.", and pointed to Grace. Smart man--this girl cannot be trusted in a casino.

She hits the blackjack tables, and you can kiss the next six hours goodbye. What a card shark! Not many breastfeeding infants have her natural aptitude for the game. And you should see her one-handed shuffle! Pretty awesome.

Here's a few pics from our time in the city...

This is the view from where we had dinner. This is Darling Harbour at night--that's a ferry boat cruising by there. The photo doesn't really do it justice, all those lights reflecting off the water was a beautiful sight.

This is our dessert. Am I pathetic, showing you pictures of what we had for dessert? Oh well. It was a hazelnut and chocolate delice (I don't know what a delice is), with raspberry sorbet on top. And that's gold leaf on top of the center sorbet scoop. Apparently, we're putting gold leaf on desserts now. Were you aware of this? I was not. But, yum.

Grace and I, enjoying the view from our room. Look at that little fuzzy head! And Grace's head is cute, too.

I should compile an album called "Photos we took of ourselves", cause that's the only ones we seem to have. There's an art to it, really. Wrong angle, and everybody's got a double chin.

And one more--I just love the expression on her face. Grace was good as gold on this trip. Jason and I are hardened veterans of the fussy baby wars--a story for another time--so we know when we have it easy. We actually had a three hour dinner one night while she slept in the stroller. We couldn't believe it. I kept pointing wordlessly at her sleeping, and Jason was all, I know. It's good to appreciate those moments when they happen.

Well I have to go to bed, because now that I'm almost 33, sleep is important to help my skin retain its elasticity. But next time I wanna tell you about a list we made on our getaway--Ten Things We Wanna Do in the next 10 years. But don't worry--teaching Grace to gamble isn't one of them.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

So here's some nice things about today.

1. I had a hot cup of tea and a white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie for breakfast.

2. Grace is taking a 2+ hour nap.

3. Jason and I (plus baby) are going into the city for two nights to celebrate our 10th anniversary! The actual date was June 5th, but as I was seriously large with child at that time, we didn't really celebrate. God bless Jan for watching the kids! We're really looking forward to our little holiday. And who knows--I might just get reckless and drink a $7 Diet Coke from the mini-bar. We are party animals, two crrrazy kids. Ten years, baby!!

Have a great day, y'all. If you need a pick-me-up, cookies for breakfast seem to do the trick!