Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wait, what?

Nate is in a phase right now of hating nearly anything that we serve him for dinner. There is always something wrong with it. He whines, he complains, he asks for a "snack" instead. So, while Ava gags on the one bite of veggies I make her eat, and Grace either throws food from her high chair or crawls around under the table, eating crumbs like a puppy, Nate slumps in his chair.

I'm not exactly serving him brussels sprouts or something. Last night's menu? Homemade chicken tenders with yummy mashed potatoes and green beans. But, no. The chicken apparently tasted like fish, and he didn't like his potatoes all mashed up and his stomach hurt and life in general was not working out.

In the past, we've made him eat some and then told him that he could be done eating, but that there would be nothing else till breakfast. Last night, Jason decided to take it to another level. He told Nate that if he didn't finish all his dinner, there would be no snacks whatsoever the next day. This is a child who likes to eat from dawn till dusk.

As Jason laid down the law, I gave him the look across the table. The look that says, Really? Are we prepared to go through with this? My mom and dad always talked about presenting a United Front in parenting, so I didn't say anything. But I'm thinking, great. Tomorrow is just gonna be buckets of fun.

Of course, Nate refused to eat any more of his dinner. Gauntlet? Thrown down. An hour later, Nate was asking for a piece of garlic bread. He cried when he was refused.

Oh, and guess who left the house at 5:30 this morning, leaving me to deal with the ravenous 4 year old? Jason was out the door! So he wasn't around at 6:50 this morning to hear Nate asking for a piece of cake. Before breakfast. (A little ambitious, this boy.) Or a croissant at the grocery store at 9:05. And so on. So, I'm left to enforce the No Snackage Rule. Nice moves, Jase!

It's like the new President having to carry out the policies of the former President. "Sorry Nate," I should say, "This was set in motion by the previous administration."

Dinner tonight should be interesting! Jason has already told him that he won't have any snacks tomorrow either if he doesn't eat. In that case, I think I'll sneak out of the house in the dead of night.

May God help us all.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Yeah I didn't go to my senior prom, either.

Last Friday, I got an email from The Wiggles.

What? You do know who The Wiggles are, right?
They're only, like, the biggest act in children's entertainment. Sold out shows around the globe. Packed arenas. The Wiggles are Aussie (duh!) and are based in Sydney. We've seen them play in smaller venues before and loved it.

Now, I know it's a thing for parents who are aspiring to maintain their pre-child identity to diss children's acts as uncool or whatever. But Reader, I will not. I love The Wiggles. (Um, did I just say "diss"? Do we still say that?) They are talented and genuine and you can tell that they really like what they do. And they're respectful of children. Plus, I enjoy a catchy tune. If their rendition of "Old Dan Tucker" doesn't make you tap your feet, you need to stop and evaluate your priorities in life. I will see your Yo Gabba Gabba "Don't Bite Your Friends" song and raise you The Wiggles' "Hot Potato".

No contest. Is all I'm saying.

They emailed me (well, me and a kajillion others) to say they'd be filming segments for their TV show that Wednesday and to respond to the email if we were interested in being a part of the studio audience. If we got a spot, the email said, one of their staffers would call us Monday or Tuesday to confirm. As their email had only come a few hours prior to my sending a reply, I thought for sure we'd get a spot in the audience.

I was so excited. I fired off a reply saying, yes please! We'd love to come! I realized later that the email asked for a few pieces of information that I didn't give--I'd been too eager to reply quickly and didn't read it closely enough. But I hoped that it wouldn't mess up our chances. I thought about sending another email, but then I thought that seemed pathetic. Like when you leave a message for the guy you like but you sound stupid, so you call back to correct it and leave another message that sounds even more desperate and pathetic? And then you wonder if you should call again? I'm speaking in hypotheticals here.

I decided to play it cool. Cause that's worked so well for me in the past.

I will allow my dorkiness to fully blossom as I tell you that I kept my phone on my person for the whole of those 48 hours. Every time it rang, I fully expected it to be a Wiggly staffperson. I kept thinking of how excited Ava and Nate would be. The anticipation of waiting for The Phone Call really brought back some memories.

(Cue violins. Softly, please.)

Alas, the Call. Never. Came.

I think it must've been some kind of mistake, don't you? I mean, if they could just meet me. If they could just get to know me, I'm sure they'd see. I'd make them see! Don't you think we would've been the Most Amazing Audience Members Ever? I'm sure they'd realize that I'm their Number One Fan. Right?

It's a bitter pill. But I am coping.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The jokes just write themselves.

My dad emailed Becky, Dave, and I today with some late breaking political news out of Alabama.

"There are two people running for public office in Alabama whose names are, no kidding, Young Boozer, and Buster Crapps."

Pause and reflect. Two guys. Young Boozer and Buster Crapps.

Mom and Dad were driving back to Florida from the mountains and saw their campaign signs on the road.

The extent to which this news made my day cannot be over-emphasized. As Becky wrote back, "You cannot make Alabama up!"

Dad said that Boozer is running for state treasurer and his slogan is, "Funny name, serious leadership."

In a really weird way, this makes me miss home. Where else, y'all? I ask you.

Things like this make me love life. You know what I mean? We can only hope that one day their children will marry. Then we would have the house of Boozer-Crapps.

Now, go. Enjoy your day, knowing that such things exist in the world.

(Am posting via my phone but I'll verify with links later. As if I could make this up.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Early to bed and whatnot

I was full of ambition to head to the gym tonight as soon as the kids were in bed. A sizable Mrs. Field's cookie, along with a peanut butter and honey sandwich were heavy on my conscience. (I will not mention the pasta with cream sauce I made for dinner.)

Is there any better flavor combination than peanut butter and honey? No, there is not. Write that down.

But as the day went on, I got tired. See, I stayed up stupid-late last night telling y'all all about my scones. Cause apparently that was just *so* important it couldn't wait. Late-breaking scone news!!

Then, Grace started waking up this morning at 5:30. She had some emptying of cupboards and looking for choking hazards to do, and wanted to get a jump on the day. Thank the sweet Lord that Jason got up with her! But I lay awake, willing myself to go back to sleep.

So tonight when we tucked the kids in at 7:30, instead of changing and heading to the gym, I crawled into bed. It had to be done. And I'm still here.

As my mom says, I've got a severe case of the cain't-help-its. There are only a few cures--sleep or peanut butter. But not at the same time, obviously. I've got option 2 covered, so I think it's time for bed.

Good night! Be good to yourself. Xoxo

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I made some scones and I liked it.

Well, Becky may have finished her Ph.D, (during cancer treatments, no less!) but I have been doing a lot of unnecessary baking.

Not to be outdone.

In the past few weeks, I've made Lemon Pound Cake with glazed icing, Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake (twice), Lemon Sponge Pie, fudge brownies, and some other stuff. And as we say in the South, that pound cake was so good it'll make you wanna hit your granny. (I'm not sure why we say that, but we do. When something tastes really good. I would like to add here that I am in no way an advocate of grandparent abuse.)

Last Friday, I made scones! I've been wanting to try to make scones for awhile but I've heard how they're actually kind of tricky to get right. You have to be careful or they come out too chewy. A chewy scone is a crime against nature.

Have you had a scone? I hadn't until I moved to Australia. And then, from across a crowded room, our eyes met. It was love.

Anyway, I googled "easy scone recipe". This is my chosen method for cooking anything. Google it with "easy" in the search query. The Internet knows all about me and my lack of ability, so it gives me the easiest recipes on the interwebs.

Anyway, this recipe popped up on Exclusively Food. I liked it cause it only had 3 ingredients, one of which was cold lemonade. (To my fellow Americans, this means a carbonated lemon soda, not the lemonade you're thinking of.)

So I maked it, yes I did. Here is the aftermath.

In the upper right hand corner you will notice our DVD remote control. And an un-used band-aid. I insist on a pristine baking environment.

And here they are baking.

Ha! Is this like being forced to watch a slideshow of someone's vacation photos? "And here we are waiting in line at Sea World." "And that's me with Shamu."

And here I am with Grace, whipping the cream. (Shamu not pictured.)
Scones must be served with freshly whipped cream, you see. Otherwise, what's the point? I would also like to add that I call this hairstyle "4:30pm on a Friday". Feel free to use it as an inspiration pic to take to your stylist.

And here they are! Aren't they cute? They're smaller than scones would normally be, cause I had a small pastry cutter. One of several inadequacies that I deal with.
I know, right? So scone-like! I put them on my Christmas plate...because I like to do things right around here.

And this is how you do it. Cut them in half, spread on the jam of your choice and slather that cream on, baby. So yum.

And now, in honor of scones with jam and cream, I present to you a poem. Inspired by William Carlos Williams' poem about a red wheelbarrow. (You read that in high school, right?) (And by "inspired", I mean "totally ripped off").

so much jam
and cream

fitted onto a
tiny scone

glazed with

beside a grasping

Scone-ariffic, y'all! Scone-tastic! Whip some up this week!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Imma tell you a story

Late last week we had a massive late afternoon rainstorm. The wind roared through the trees and I sat with the kids in the living room and watched the glass on our sliding door bend inward ever so slightly. That was interesting. But after the storm passed and the sun was setting, my neighbor texted to tell me there was a massive rainbow outside. (I love text messaging. But that's another story.)

And yea verily, there was.

There have been a few instances in my life when I've been anxious or worried about something, and in the midst of my angst, I'll look up and see a rainbow. And in that moment, it feels like it's just for me. Like God's whispering, "Hey--I got your back. It's all going to be fine."

Does that sound silly? It's okay if it does.

One instance of this that really sticks out in my mind happened while we were still living in Dallas. We'd just made the decision to sell pretty much everything we owned and move to Australia. (Where we'd never been.) To help start a church. (Which we'd never done before.)

I haven't told y'all much about that whole process, but it was a wild time for us. Ava was just 15 or 16 months old, and in the five months from when we made the decision to when we moved, we found out we were pregnant again, gave away or sold most of our furniture, shipped a bunch of stuff to Sydney, lived with both of our parents in California and Florida, and generally had a nervous breakdown. (Well, I did, anyway.) Of the two of us, I am the stressy one. You probably guessed that.

Have I mentioned that I don't particularly enjoy change? It was a hectic time. Cough. To say the least.

So, one day shortly after the decision was made, I'd driven up to see Jason at the office. We were talking over logistical stuff for the move, prioritizing what needed to be done first, talking about finances, etc.

I get a little stabby when I have to talk about logistical stuff. I'm just not very good at it and it makes me anxious. So I was stressy and stabby. (If I ever have twin girls, should I name them that?)

I left the office to drive home. I buckled little Ava into her car seat, and pulled out into late afternoon traffic. I was looking at the road of course, but what I was seeing was my life changing in nearly every way I could think of. I was thinking of all that would need to happen in the months to come and wondering how, how, how in the world it all would. I know that people have moved their families overseas--it happens all the time. But I'd never done it, and I was freaked out.

Then I made a left turn and as I did, looked up and saw a huge rainbow in the sky above me. It was striking and beautiful and my jaw dropped when I saw it. And it's so hard to articulate without it sounding like I think God engineered the weather patterns of North Texas that day solely for me. But in that moment, I thought, That rainbow is for me. Like God was saying, "Look I can do this without even trying. Do you think I can't help you and make your way clear?" He was bragging a little, I think, but He can do that. Being God and all.

It was kind of a moment for me. Like a dollop of stillness dropped right into my hand-wringing, anxious, stabby soul. My hunched shoulders relaxed and I smiled a little. All my worries didn't magically disappear or anything. But I was reminded--powerfully--that I was not left on my own to figure everything out.

Those kind of moments are hard to quantify, or explain in a A+B=C way. Like, stress+rainbow=God loves Amy. Say what? I can't show you a formula on a whiteboard that empirically proves I love my kids. But I do. I just do, and I know that I do. So whether or not it makes sense to anyone else, that rainbow made sense to me.

And now when I see a rainbow, it reminds me of that crazy-making season of our lives. (And incidentally, that baby-making season of our lives.) It reminds me, even if only for a moment that, see? It all worked out. Not perfectly, not without angst. Not exactly how I would have planned it to. But it worked out.

And I remember all that, and I resolve again not to stress too much or stab anyone.

P.S. I am a firm believer that God will give you your own rainbow too. Or maybe even a pony. But probably not a rainbow pony. I don't think.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Nate told me again the other day that "Jesus has lemon powers."

He said that months and months ago and randomly brought it up again. He says that Jason told him that. Maybe Jason said "unlimited powers" and Nate thought he said "lemon"?

Lemon powers. What could it all mean? Lemon is nice spritzed over fish. And Jesus did hang out with lots of fishermen. Lemon is zesty. So is Jesus. Hmmm. There is obviously some deep level of spirituality here that I have yet to reach.

Lemons do smell really nice, though. So there's that.

And that's all I have to add to your day right now. Yeah, you're welcome.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I scream, you scream

No, really, she screamed.

Till I gave her my ice cream. I am a sucker the third time around!

Spring has sprung! And to celebrate, the kids and I got soft serve cones on the way home today.

Yum. Well, the few bites I got to have were yum, before it was wrested out of my hand.

Hope y'all have a great weekend! From now on, I'll be hiding in the bathroom to eat my ice cream. Xoxo

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Week in Pictures (and some words. and a bra.)

Here are a few I've taken in the last several days.

September 1st was the first day of spring! After living here five years, I've finally begun to think of September and October as springtime months, which is totally surreal on one level. I picked these freesia from our front yard...they smell so wonderful. And I love my little yellow thrift store vase! We had a few warmer days last week and now it's raining and freezing again. Boo! Please ignore the knife and other stuff in the background of that photo. I can't stage pictures for crap. One of my many failings as a blogger, nay, as a person.

Last week, our church moved into a permanent facility. We've been meeting for church services in a conference facility for the past several years. That means that each week, we had to unpack everything we needed for our service, sound equipment and kid's ministry out of plastic storage bins. And then pack it all away again. Each week for the last 5 years or so. Now, we've signed a long term lease on a place and are getting to, like, leave stuff where we put it! You can't imagine how liberating this is! Here, Ava and Nate were "helping" do some painting. Jason basically lived at the new place all last week, painting, building, rallying the troops, rollling around joyously on the carpet, etcetera.

Well. What to say? Grace has taken to getting my bras out of the laundry basket and draping them around her neck. She walks around the house like this, and screeches at me if I try to take it from her. I wasn't gonna post this photo, cause really, this isn't one of my nicer bras. But then I thought, hey--I mean, y'all probably assume I wear a bra, so what's the harm in showing a photo of one?

Not that I'm implying you've been thinking about my bra. Or lack thereof. Except for right now you're probably thinking about it cause I brought it up. And that's okay. Never mind. Can we forget we talked about this?

This past Tuesday was my birfday, y'all! Bring it on, 34! Hit me with your best shot--I ain't afraid of you and your early signs of aging! Jason and I went out for dinner at Darling Harbour. It's our favorite place to go in the city. Here we are in a very silly, contrived photo. But I can do that cause it was my birthday! Look at Jason, though. Is he cute or what? What a biscuit! I have a case of Crazy Eye in this picture, but I can do that! Cause it was my birthday! (P.S. I was wearing a bra in this picture.)

And here's the view from where we sat at dinner. Darling Harbour at dusk. This never gets old. Sydney is beautiful. Why haven't you visited yet? We also have koalas.

Here's Grace this afternoon. She wanted me to put her in the rocking chair to watch cartoons with Nate. He was not happy about giving up the beloved chair. But to his credit, he did. And look at her, all looking like a little person!

Here's how I found Ava and Nate this morning before school. They are either bickering furiously, or doing things like this. The other day, we were all driving somewhere together and Nate asked, "Why can't brothers and sisters get married? Cause I wanna marry Ava!" And Ava chimed in, "I wanna marry Nate!" I was like, "Over to you, Jase!" He handled it beautifully, "You guys love each other a lot, but the love you'll have for the person you marry will feel very different. You just don't know the difference yet, but you will one day. Plus? Genetics." (Except, he didn't say that last part. It was implied, though.)

That's our little world at the moment. Flowers, birfdays, painting, bras and discussions about inbreeding. Pretty standard fare, really.

Monday, September 6, 2010

It's a jungle out there.

And now, part two of a series: Stupid Things I Have Done. (See part one here.)

I'm a pretty outgoing person. I tend to have a self-deprecating sense of humor. I don't mind being the butt of a joke every now and then. I also (ahem) don't mind being the center of attention sometimes. So, often, things that might be considered embarrassing don't really bother me too much. I can laugh most things off, or find a way to alleviate the awkwardness that comes with a faux paus. (Or even a fox pass, depending on where you're from.)

But not everything. My powers have their limits.

As in many countries, it's customary here to greet friends with a little kiss on the cheek. Or, usually, a little cheek-to-cheek moment. Sometimes combined with a handshake. And/or a little kissy noise. I love it, actually. It feels very welcoming and affectionate to me.

After we'd been here a year or so, I felt like I'd gotten the move down. Say hi and smile, move in for a quick little cheek-to-cheek kissy moment. (What should we call that?) I always go to my left. It just feels right, okay? One day after church, Jason and I were saying goodbye to a couple in the congregation. We were friendly with this couple, but at this point didn't really know them super-well.

So I leaned in to say goodbye to the husband, and went my customary left-leaning approach. Except, he went the same way too. It all happened in slow motion--like if you've ever been in a car accident and you can see it all coming to pass around you but you can't seem to react fast enough to change anything. You know that scene in The Matrix where Neo jumps up to do that awesome kung fu kick and the world sort of stops all around him? It was like that, too. Except for the fighting.

So my friend and I leaned the same way and instead of kissing on opposite cheeks, we smacked each other right on the lips.

I accidentally kissed someone else's husband on the lips. At church. And I was one of his pastors.

We sort of stared at each other. I experienced the five stages of grief in about 4 seconds. 1.)"That did not just happen!" 2.) "Arghh--I can't believe I did that!" 3.) "Maybe if I look the other way, I can pretend it didn't happen." 4.) "I feel sad inside. So, so sad." 5.) "Okay, we've got to make the best of this."

Sometimes you can find yourself in the midst of an embarrassing social situation with another person, and the two of you can form a kind of partnership to extricate yourselves from it. You know what I mean? It's like you find yourself dumped in the Jungle of Awkward, the tangle of trees obscuring the sky, with only a handful of trail mix between the two of you. The outlook for recovery is bleak. But you offer your hand to the other person and say, "I can get us out of here, but you've got to do what I say. Follow my lead. You've got to trust me!" Some social mishaps need this kind of commando-style navigation. Or is that just me?

But for it to work, you've got to have a willing partner. Someone who is able to laugh it off. A person who can take it in the teeth and power through to the other side. Sometimes when the wave of embarrassment comes, it's best to just let it roll over you. Are there any other analogies I should employ, or are we understanding each other? Anyway, in this instance, my friend was not up to speed. He just looked at me funny and apologized and shut down the conversation as soon as he could.

And that made it so, so much worse.

Today's take-home message: Acknowledge the Awkward. Perhaps that can be the title of my upcoming book on social mishaps. It will be chock-full of survivalist and kung fu analogies!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Someone should warn you about these things when you enter the country. Is all I'm sayin'.

Randomly today, I thought of two embarrassing moments that I've had since we've lived in Sydney. They still make me cringe. And as you probably know, the pain of acute embarrassment is mitigated by telling someone else about it. I don't know why, but it's true. These two stories I'm gonna tell you are also related to getting along in a new country. Pitfalls that native Aussies would've known about and avoided, but because I'm a fer-ner (as we say in the South), and a little bit dumb, I fell right into 'em.

The first happened when I had Nate. Nate was born 3 months after we moved here. It was interesting, to say the least, to arrive pregnant in a new country. The health care system here is totally different, and I didn't have the luxury of taking my time to learn how it all worked. I needed to find a hospital and start seeing a midwife or doctor. Or whomever would let me make an appointment. The florist? The guy who makes keys outside of the grocery store? Anybody! No really, the hospital staff were lovely and very accommodating of me, the clueless American.

Long story short, the last few weeks before Nate was born, I got sick. I started spiking these fevers every night, with no other symptoms except fatigue. This went on for a couple of weeks, and none of the tests they were running were turning anything up. We weren't sure what was wrong with me--Nate seemed fine in all the scans and monitoring they did, but we just weren't sure. When I was 35 weeks pregnant, my water broke. I think my body had just had it. Concerned that perhaps he was sick as well, they allowed my labor to progress and Nate was born, 5 weeks early.

I had a fever during delivery and though the delivery was relatively peaceful, (Prayer, y'all. Prayer.) there was a fair amount of drama surrounding it. Here in Australia, usually a normal birth is attended by a midwife and maybe another to help, or your obstetrician if you have one. With Nate, the room was full of people. An obstetrician, 3 or 4 midwives, a pediatrician, and the anethesiologist who'd just shown up to give me an epidural. (Ha! Too late, buster. I did not think that was funny at the time.) They were all there in case I got sicker or something was wrong with Nate when he came out.

So, Nate is born, he cries (Yay!), and the midwives want to whisk him away to the special care nursery to check all the things they check with preemies. Plus give him some antibiotics in case I had something nasty and had given it to him. It was not a frantic atmosphere, but there was definitely a sense of rushed purpose to it. The midwife brought Nate over to me and said, "Why don't you give him a quick nurse and then we'll take him."

Okay, I thought. I knew that moms are encouraged to breastfeed as soon after delivery as possible. So, with probably a dozen people in the room, I popped my girls out and tried to do my thing. You know. Well, Nate was all, "Look. I've just been born? And I'm early? I'm not quite up to this just yet. I'm gonna have to take a raincheck." So I cuddled him for a minute and then handed him over. I noticed the midwife kind of looking at me strangely.

Fast forward a few weeks. We are home and both of us are just fine. I am up in the middle of the night feeding Nate. My mind is wandering and I am thinking back on those few moments after he was born. Like a bolt from the blue, it hits me. I give a little gasp and sit straight up in bed. Here in Australia, to "nurse" a baby can mean to hold and cuddle him. And in that moment I realized that the midwife had been telling me to hold Nate for just a second. And I'm all shifting around and lifting my shirt like I'm at a Mardi Gras parade. Just hold your baby, you moron!

It wasn't so much the exposure that embarrassed me. I mean, all those people had just seen Nate be born. It's just that I felt stupid. Like everyone must've been thinking, "What is she doing? We don't have time for this right now." Oy. That memory still makes me curl my toes in agony. Incidentally, all the time after that I noticed people would ask me if they could "nurse the baby". I would always, for a split second, think they were asking to you know, nurse him. I always had to take a second and remind myself what it meant. Heh. Funny.

Well, that was lengthier than I intended. So I'll come back tomorrow and tell you about the second humiliating moment. It's not quite as long and drawn out, but still super awkward! Thinking about it still makes me slap my forehead and sigh.

I'm gonna go lie down. Y'all have a good day.

(Here's Nate about a year after his birth! He grew up to be a big baby who liked lazy Sunday afternoons, long walks on the beach and eating paint. I'll stop talking now.)