Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rockin' My World

Fun things that have happened in the last couple of days:

-Hearing from so many of you in response to A Scholarly Look at the Effects of Blogging on Friendships. Thanks for saying hi! Rachel and Sherry, I'm so glad I can add your faces to those that I picture whenever I'm talking to people out there.

-Reading your PHAT COW guesses. Hilarious! I will reveal the answer tomorrow.

-Curt's mom and grandparents arrived today from Missouri. Yay! We are going to hit Sprinkles AND JD's Chippery in one weekend. If you happen to see me and I look a little wild-eyed and disheveled, blame it on the sugar. The blessed, blessed sugar.

-My new computer arrived! This is probably my last blog post on the Dell Inspiron 5160, which is kind of sad because I've had this one since before Jackson was born. Okay, I'm choosing not to go there. I could make a whole post out of it and that is ridiculous! All of you who have Macs are wondering if I took your advice, and no, I got another Dell.

-I was given the Rockin' Girl Blogger Award by Bee at Will Blog For Shoes and Lisa at The Preacher's Wife. Woo hoo! Thank you so much, ladies! I'm so honored! Bee and Lisa are both very witty and their blogs are fun to read.

Bee suggested I might want to share this award with my friend Monty. Yes, Monty, I accept this award on behalf of both of us!

Now comes the really fun part - passing it on! I would like to give this award to the lovely Alicia who blogs at A Chapter in My Life...India. She has to have the world's coolest blog. She has recorded the highs and lows, the beauty and the grime, the spiritual and the mundane of her two years overseas. Some of her stories and pictures will blow your mind. Others will make you say Bless your heart. Still others will make you cry. I have missed her fellowship since she's been gone from our church family, but she's done an amazing job keeping everyone up to date on her life. While I am in the stage of life that involves lots of dirty diapers, mounds of laundry, and constantly wrangling a toddler into a carseat, it has been really cool to live this Asian adventure vicariously through Alicia by way of her blog. Thank you, Alicia, for letting me be a part! I love you and I can't wait to get my arms around your neck this fall! You are a Rockin' Girl Blogger if there ever was one!

Here are some pics of Alicia and I exactly two years ago at youth camp. This was the last big thing we did together before she left. We were co-counselors of the red group. Most groups did not have two counselors, but I was puking my brains out with morning sickness and didn't want to be doing that in the cabins with teenage girls all around. That would have been traumatic for everyone. Plus, I was only six weeks pregnant and was still keeping it a secret. I needed some help and Alicia was so great! I stayed with hubby while she stayed in the cabin with our girls.

Please excuse the camp hair.

After our group won skit night with "Respect."

On the bus heading home. Our group came in second place overall. I'm pretty sure that was because our co-counselor was racking up points for us as a rec staff member.

Ahhhh, we made it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Party Foul

The day began with Sunni, Ava, Jackson, and I loading into the 'burban and heading out to The Shops at Willow Bend. We met Lauren, Simri, Natalie, and their little ones for a playdate. We all have random connections, but we mostly know each other through Blog-ville. What neat women! We really enjoyed getting to visit with them and watch our kiddos play. Jackson was not as outgoing as he can be, but he got a kick out of watching the big kids. He wants to be one so bad.

And the mall? Why have I lived up here for almost three years and not visited until now? It had so many good stores - Baby Style, Anthropologie, Janie and Jack, Forever 21, to name a few. I have been too stuck on the Galleria to drive 6 miles past it and expand my horizons. Dallas kind of has this aura of wealth, beauty, and extravagance. When we go places in Dallas I'm always saying, This is where the beautiful people This mall is definitely where the beautiful mommies go! I've never seen so many women with strollers in my life.

While we were eating lunch I was very shocked to see that my son was not interested in eating. He is not one to skip meals. So what's up? He just lounged in his stroller like a little bachelor. I can't explain it - you just have to see how he sits. He's such a little man. Suddenly I smelled something horrible. It was my son and his little tummy was sick. Party foul #1: diaper blowout. His shorts were done for, but I had to wipe down the messy parts of his onesie and continue to let him wear it. I even had poo on my shirt. G-l-a-m-o-r-o-u-s.

This evening Sunni and I loaded the babies in her car and headed to an evening playdate at Janelle's with Ella, Joshua, and Laney. All of our husbands had things to do tonight, so it was perfect. No get-together at Janelle's would be complete without something crazy happening, like two separate surprise pregnancy announcements in one night or someone catching their child's poop in their hand. I'm not sure why we didn't make some predictions on the way there. We had some yummy pizza and then the babies swam in Ella's pool. You know how they say not to swim right after a meal? It turns out there's a reason for that. Party foul #2: Jackson swallowed a mouthful of water and then blew major chunks in the pool. Luckily there was only one other baby in the water - poor Ava - and she was promptly removed. That was the end of the swimming. I hosed Jackson down but apparently I should have had someone hose me down, too. Two changes of clothes later and the smells of the day are still l-i-n-g-e-r-i-n-g.

Back in the Day

I just ripped these off Michelle's blog, so please go say hi to her. In fact, when you click on the pictures on her blog they are actually normal sizes. They're just some fun pictures from college that made me smile!

Michelle, Bonny, Mel, and me on Ring Day. Apparently I'm eating my words after saying how casual my school was. I must have had a presentation or something because I usually did not dress like that.

Ring Day is when you've gotten 90-something hours and you finally get your long-awaited, much anticipated Aggie Ring. And then you go dunk it. For me it was in ice cream, but the tradition is to dunk it in a pitcher of beer. Some Aggies swallow their rings and they are known as Aggies Through And Through. They should be very proud.

I have no idea what the context of this one is, but it's me, Maggie, Michelle, Mel, and Bonny. We look about 15.

You might be blessed to know that in our circle of friends (and in our Christian sorority), we referred to ourselves as P.H.A.T. C.O.W.s. Would anyone like to guess what that stood for? I will send a free book to the first person who guesses right. But if you already know the answer you cannot win. And you cannot ask an Aggie. It has to be a guess! Also, our life verse was Psalm 56:1a. "Be merciful to me, O God, for men hotly pursue me."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Compassion International

We are all hoping not to float away tonight here in North Texas. The rain, oh my goodness, the rain! It's out of control! And sadly it's doing nothing to rid my front porch of those horrible web worms that are crawling around everywhere. Do y'all know what those are? They're white, hairy, nasty caterpillars that look like they'll sting the crud out of your foot if you step on one. I don't know if that's true, but I cringe every time I open my front door and see them waiting for my bare foot.

Anyway, a fun little thing happened that I thought I'd share.

Curt and I took our first trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in July of 2003. Shortly after, we went to a concert - By The Tree, I think - where they were promoting Compassion International. We were glancing over pictures of the children and we found a little boy from Tegucigalpa named Marlon. He was 5 years old. Having just been there and seen children scavenging through trash heaps...and having just met children who couldn't go to school just because they couldn't afford simple school supplies like pencils and spiral notebooks, we were moved. We have been really blessed to be part of Marlon's life for the last four years through sponsorship. I tell you this not to get a pat on the back, but to tell you how blessed you can be through doing something like this.

Over the years we have gotten pictures, drawings, and letters from Marlon. I try to read his letters in Spanish before reading the translated part. We got a new one on Monday and I couldn't believe how good the picture was! Then I realized he's 9 years old now. The picture is of a beautiful two-story house sitting in front of a river. It even has a chimney with smoke coming out of it. I noticed that there was some writing inside the chimney smoke. Here's what it says:
Jesus esta en mi
Here's the very complex translation: Jesus is in my

And then I noticed that the chimney smoke is in the shape of a heart!
Jesus is in my heart! Jesus is in Marlon's heart!

How cool is that? Do you know that if I did not have a basic knowledge of Spanish we would have totally missed that? It was only on the drawing, not in the letter, so it wasn't translated. Needless to say, we are totally pumped to know that Marlon is our little brother in Christ.

I hope this little story will encourage you to check out Compassion International and see how simple it is to invest in a child's life in the name of Jesus. Your Marlon is waiting!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Scholarly Look At The Effects of Blogging on Friendships

This blog has created an unusual dynamic in my friendships. I tend to steal my own thunder by telling my latest stories and news on the blog. By the time I see my friends face-to-face and conversations start flowing, inevitably someone chimes in, "Yeah, I read that on your blog!" Dern. That would be all well and good, but some of my sweet precious friends are lurky lurkertons who never leave their dear old friend any comments. (Hint, hint.) Sometimes I don't even realize they're reading! That makes it a very one-way, lopsided conversation - especially with my friends who do not have blogs. (HINT, HINT!)

So here is a request for mis amigos. Let's make it a two-way conversation. Look, options! You could write comments, send update-Amanda-on-your-life-emails at regular intervals, or set up your own blog. Or all three! Whatever floats your boat!

It has been really fun to reconnect with some old friends whom I haven't seen or spoken to in years like Beth, Cathy, and Allison. If there are any others out there, I'd love to hear from you!

And now I'd like to nominate this for "The Most Self-centered Post of All Time Award."

But honestly? My precious friends, I am so blessed by you. If you were not in my life I would feel very empty. I started this blog to update you on Jackson in such a way that I wasn't flooding your inbox every week with 20 new pictures and stories about diapers and spit up that you'd rather not hear. I thought I'd give you a choice in the matter! Your encouragement and enthusiasm throughout the last year and a half have made motherhood even sweeter. If you stopped visiting the blog, I'd probably shut her down. And also? I'm sorry that I have all but abandoned the telephone. If that's your love language, give me a little reminder and I'll try to do better. I love you!

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Holy Whoopin'

Tonight I was listening to Hillsong United which got me thinking about David Crowder and his fall concert at the House of Blues. And that got me thinking about who I want to go with. Perhaps I should go alone since I have every intention of channeling my inner college student and jumping around like a 19-year-old. And that got me thinking that I should just go ahead and put my hair in hot rollers and bust out my old Abercrombie and Fitch clothes. Which got me thinking about the time I got in big trouble for shopping at A&F. So I've got a little story for you, Ags! (Midnight Yell, anyone?)

Texas A&M was and is a very casual school. I spent a little time on the Baylor campus one spring and it was enough to know that not all schools are casual. I saw girls wearing panty hose and skirts to class. Thanks, but I will stick with my flip flops and jeans. I spent the bulk of my wardrobe allowance at Abercrombie. It was a good fit for where I was. Keep in mind that this was before everything they made was very, very tiny. Things started to get a little crazy at Abercrombie. I couldn't shop there without feeling convicted about their disgusting advertising campaigns and promotion of teenage promiscuity. A friend showed me their catalog one day and it had disrobed teens riding an elephant together. Are you kidding me? Promiscuity isn't even the right word. The Lord was clearly directing me to spend my money elsewhere and stop contributing to the madness. But I loved the clothes so much! Why, A&F? Why did you ruin a good thing?

I did really well for about a year. Then I found myself back at the A&F counter. I had found a replacement for their jeans and t-shirts, but not for their sweaters. And I needed sweaters! We were heading to the snowy mountains of Wyoming for Thanksgiving and Abercrombie had the best, warmest, most durable wool sweaters. And they weren't too ugly either. A thought crossed my mind like a lightning bolt. I wonder if God is going to let my luggage get lost? By His mercy, my luggage did not get lost. I got everything home and it was all good.

A few weeks later, my sister and I hitched a ride up to New York City with our mom for a speaking engagement. We ain't too proud to beg when it comes to NYC. She was speaking at Times Square Church and that place is just heaven to us. Truly, every tribe, nation, and tongue are represented there. We stayed in the church's guest house for the weekend. Please do not think for a minute that the Moore girls were not packing all their favorite clothes for NYC. We have to be at our best when we go to The City. Jeans and flip flops really won't do.

On the last day I was all packed and ready to go. Mom was trying to fit everything in her bag, but she had been given so many presents that it wouldn't all fit. She started to leave behind a really pretty tea cup, which broke my heart because she loves those. So I volunteered to stick it in my bag. That is when I removed a large amount of clothes - my favorite clothes - from my suitcase to make room. And, you guessed it, I forgot to squeeze them back in.

Upon arriving back in Texas, I realized my error. I immediately contacted the church and explained that I had left some clothes - some of my best clothes - in the guest quarters. The clothes would be shipped to me a.s.a.p.

When two weeks passed by I started to wonder. I called the church and asked about the package. I'm sure the angels around me and those around the sweet secretary I was speaking to began to chuckle. Perhaps a good silent laugh. I was informed that she had sent a missions intern over to the guest house to retrieve my clothes. The missions intern, God bless him or her, got a little confused.

The Lord did not give me a holy whoopin' by letting my A&F sweaters get lost in some airport. No, that would have been wasteful. Instead, He took the choicest items of my whole wardrobe - my NYC-worthy clothes - and shipped them right off to the mission field.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Friday was a big day. I was forced by Monty to return to the realm of regular doctors. It was time to face the fact that Dr. Clark, my ob/gyn, is not the person I'm supposed to call anymore. It was kind of sad. I had to see a new doctor for the first time in two years and it was weird. But thankfully The New Doc gave me a cure for Idiot Monty and I have felt great all weekend. Yay!

I'm actually glad tomorrow is Monday. This has been a crazy weekend! On Saturday morning I woke up at 6 (no, I'm not kidding you) and headed over to Sunni's for her moving sale. Don't get me started about the fact that she's moving. I might cry. She'll still be in the Metroplex, but she and Ava won't be 5 minutes away. The bright side is that her new neighborhood has a ridiculously awesome pool, so we will be visiting often.

Sunni knows that I've been wanting to have a garage sale, but I have no idea what I'm doing in that department. So she put out a couple extra tables and let me bring some things over. The night before when I was trying to price everything, knowing how little sleep I was about to get, I kind of wanted to back out. I calculated the most I could possibly make and wondered if it was worth it. There were some very entertaining moments that made up for the exhaustion and I did make a hundred bucks for my efforts. Sunni may want to share a few amusing moments from the sale, so I won't steal her thunder in the event that she does. What was just as good as a crisp $100 bill in my pocket was when my hubby said, "Way to go, babe!" This coming from a man who mocked me for bothering to sell anything that would only go for a buck. I made most of my money on the mounds of jewelry I've accumulated over the years. I might have made more if I had taken some clothes over, but giving away my clothes for free is less heart-wrenching than seeing them walk away for a couple of bucks.

After the garage sale ended at noon, we had a wedding reception and a baby shower. Sunday we went to the morning church service, to a young married class cookout at our pastor's house, and then a wedding shower. Every single thing was really fun (we are blessed with such awesome friends), but I need a serious nap. I never thought I'd say this, but thank God tomorrow's Monday!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sixteen Months

Dear Jackson,
A few days ago you turned 16 months old. We are getting really close to 18 months, which sounds like a big deal. Mommy and Daddy just spent a few days in Mexico while you stayed with Biggies and Pappaw. When you and Biggies picked us up from the airport, you were fast asleep. Because your mommy is very impatient and was eager to see your beautiful blue eyes, she woke you up. That was so mean of mommy. You did not understand what was going on. You were in a haze for a few minutes. Once you realized that Mommy and Daddy were indeed in the car with you, you started squirming and whining. I think you wanted out of that car seat and into our arms! When I finally got to unbuckle you, you practically jumped out of the seat. You couldn't wait to show us how much you had grown, how fast you had gotten, and how many new toys you had collected. Truly, you looked a month older than you did when we left.

Over the last few days we have gotten back into our routine. I've had so much fun with you. You are the funniest little boy. Right now you're trying to figure out how to jump. You plant your feet side by side, squat a little, and lift up as hard as you can. A couple of times I've seen you get some air underneath you. You also have a new repertoire of dance moves. You dip side to side or move your arms like you're swimming. Your daddy taught you to shake your head no, which he got in some trouble for. For now it's cute. Just don't take it too far. You've always loved to play hide and seek and that hasn't changed. Although now you will randomly stop whatever you're doing and hide from me. You know that when you get very still and quiet, it doesn't take me long to wonder what's going on and look for you beside the couch. You also still love to play with balls. Yesterday you were throwing them so high and far that I thought about that little boy on Jerry McGuire. Once Daddy got home you had stopped, which is probably best. We wouldn't want him to get too excited.

You think walking is overrated. You can't pick up your knees to run yet, but you manage to glide or trot at a very high speed. Mommy just took you to get some new tennis shoes and when you walked around in them for the first time, you seemed to know they were for going fast! Which brings me to your feet. Bless your heart, son. You have very big feet. It is the Moore curse. Pappaw will tell you one day that at least you will be good at barefoot skiing or walking through a swamp. They're like boats. All I can say is that at least you're a boy with big feet and not a girl.

This week I took you for your third haircut. Your silly mom took you to a random salon in the mall and allowed someone to cut your hair who had never cut a toddler's hair before. I should have left immediately. No amount of soft pretzel sticks or sharing my Dr. Pepper kept you still. He did not know what he was doing and you were not in a mood to train him. When we left, you had a really rad 80s-style duck tail in the back. Actually, it was only on the right side. No child of mine is having a duck tail, full of half, so I took you to get another haircut that same evening. Needless to say, your hair is now very, very short. The baby look is gone from your hair. Your dad was horrified, but only because you now look blond like me instead of even the slighest bit brunette like him. What kept us both from crying about your big boy hair is the fact that it is now short enough to spike. Daddy fixed your hair with some mousse and the hair dryer and you looked awesome. Awesome is a word from the 80s that Mom still says a lot. Anyway, Ella and Ava, prepare yourselves!

Last weekend was Daddy's second Father's Day. You had made him a special card at Mother's Day Out and Mommy saved it for you to give to him. It was made to look like a white collared shirt with a tie. It was very cute and he loved it. Your Daddy is the light of your life. When he hears you waking up from a nap, he grabs his guitar and goes into your room playing you a silly song. In the evenings when you're tired but it's too early for bedtime, you lay back on his chest and watch television with him. When he puts you to bed and makes a burrito out of you and some blankets, you kick and squeal like it's your favorite thing in the world. Your daddy is very active with you and loves you so much. He is so proud of his little boy. You make him laugh really hard every single day.

Speaking of laughter, recently we were all in the car together and you were fast asleep. Daddy and I were cracking up about something and I noticed that every time we laughed, you smiled in your sleep and cooed. It made me so happy. Even when we're a couple of hours apart, or even when you're asleep, you're a part of everything we do and everything we are. We are a family. We belong together. We belong to each other. In fact, it was two years ago today that we found out you were coming into our lives. We could not have imagined the joy you would bring us. We love you very much, Jackson.


Grandmas, take a deep breath before proceeding to the pictures.

Mommy and I heart beefaroni.

However, I also heart eating shoes. That doesn't say much about the beefaroni.


Y'all, I'm having some major intestinal issues. Montezuma hates me. He wants to avenge me until I waste away into a size 2. Which would be nice except for all the cramping. And the fact that I could not leave my house at all today. If I had been more than 30 seconds away from (let's be as refined as possible) the W.C., it would have meant trouble. You know, Monty, can I call you Monty? I have things to do tomorrow. And I am not about to go buy some Depends because I'm afraid of your sudden pranks. Buying a pregnancy test two days ago was embarrassing enough. It was probably you behind the "Look! She hasn't paid! She's shoplifting a pregnancy test!" alarm that falsely sounded as I attempted to exit the drugstore. Really funny, Monty. Really funny.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Headless Chicken Running

Let me give you a run down of the last couple of days.

Saturday: We drive in from Houston in time to shower and get ready for church. I know Jackson has been exposed to a stomach virus, so I decide not to let him go in the nursery with Ella. We were responsible for Ella's last bout with this and I was not about to take any chances with her. Rather, he would sit with me alone on the back row. He's usually mesmerized during any music and I had a bottle ready for the sermon. So I get Jackson and myself ready, which is like pulling teeth as worn out as we are, and get to the church. Late. We're there long enough to visit with Pastor John for 2.5 seconds and then Jackson starts trying to dive out of my arms and yell. Stupid, stupid woman. The walk home is longer than the time we spent at church.

Sunday: We attempt to take Curtis to lunch for Father's Day at El Fenix in downtown Dallas. It's closed. Then we make a huge loop around the city and decide to try Pappasito's. There are tons of people waiting outside. Not a good sign. So I suggest we go to Jason's Deli for lunch and come back for fajitas that night. Jason's Deli is closed. Any evidence of Amanda being filled with the Spirit flies out the window. We eat a very classy Father's Day lunch at Wendy's. That night we get our fajitas and all is well.

Monday: I arise at 4:00 a.m., after having slept about 3.5 hours as a result of a long Sunday nap, and get ready for a day trip to Houston. Montezuma begins a day-long revenge but I'm thankful not to have that awful stomach virus. I fly home for my mom's 50th birthday party with the LPM girls. Our parties are so much fun and this big birthday would be very special. And since it is also my sister's first day of work, I do not want to miss it! The party is a blast. We have breakfast in the office and watch a really hilarious, really sweet video the staff put together for Bethie. Then we drive out to the Galleria to have an early lunch at Ruggles. I'm not very hungry but WE ARE AT RUGGLES. Then we divide into two teams and have a scavenger hunt. Our parties always involve some kind of competition and prizes. My team comes in second but our prize is just as good as the winning team. Typical LPM style. We grab Starbucks, then head back to the office to open presents and have cake. I am picked up at 4:30 from my parents' house and head back to the airport. I hope not to be in an airport again for a long time. After getting lost in DFW and a terminal parking garage for 45 minutes, I am in my car driving away at 9:05. I miss Jackson's bedtime. Dang it.

Since over the weekend I found out about three friends who are unexpectedly pregnant with their second, I am a little paranoid. So I stop by CVS for a pregnancy test. It's negative.

I check my email and do not pay attention when Curtis puts in a DVD. Then one of my favorite songs - David Crowder Band's "Stars" - comes on and I look up. I see a video of my precious baby on the day he was born. In 16 months I had never gotten to see any footage of that day, and now Curtis presents me with this amazing video he's made of Jackson's first two weeks. It's set to some great music. I cry like a little baby. Then I get my baby out of the bed and rock him. He never wakes up.

Tuesday morning: I open my eyes before 7 a.m. and can't go back to sleep because I want to see my baby! I can't wait for him to wake up! Oops, I make a little too much noise in the kitchen and hear him cry. Oh dern!

*Here is a really neat You Tube video someone set to "Stars." It's such a beautiful song.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Reveal Your Inner Foodie

Bee at Will Blog for Shoes tagged me for a dining out meme. Her blog is adorable, so you'll want to check it out. Y'all know that I love food so this won't be a hard one to do.

Alrighty then. I live in the great state of Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Living in the middle of two cities has its advantages, like our huge selection of public libraries. Yeah right. Like our HUGE selection of every kind of restaurant imaginable! Yipee! Wait, suddenly the pressure to choose my TOP 5 is overwhelming me. Should they be restaurants that you can only find here? I don't know! That changes things!

1) Ziziki's - A Greek restaurant in the Knox-Henderson area. What I like to get (split with my friend Jennifer) is Ziziki bread, chicken and mushroom fettuccine, and the crowning glory...baklava ice cream cake. You cannot imagine how good it is.

2) Pappasito's Cantina- We went there tonight, in fact! This is a no-brainer for many Texans. They have amazing fajitas. And the salsa comes to you warm. I could drink it. This is where we had our rehearsal dinner. There is no need for dessert here because there is never any room!

3) Main Street Bread Baking Company - This is a little French place in Grapevine where Mel and I like to meet for brunch. I always get the breakfast croissant and then we share some strawberries.

4) Eatzi's - This place is a European-style market and bakery. When you walk in you have to pass the bread baking and the smell is unbelievable. I pick up the cucumber dill spread and some little toasts before heading into the sandwich line. That's where they craft a wonderful turkey and provolone sandwich on pan au lait with sundried tomato spread, onions, lettuce, and pickles. Thank You, Lord. If Curt lets us go there it is a big treat. There used to be one in Houston but it has closed down. There's only one left and it's in Dallas!

5) The Grand Lux - A sister restaurant to the Cheesecake Factory. Cheesecake Factory was my good friend until they did away with my Asian vegetable stir-fry with chicken. However, I do still dream of their tiramisu. I love the look and the atmosphere of Grand Lux, although it's not toddler friendly and I hardly ever go. They have great appetizers and I really love the crispy caramel chicken. For dessert? The beignets are ridiculously good.

Comment if you're doing your own! Sunni, I know you have some good ones for us.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

All this and Jesus too?

We had the most amazing vacation of all time. If I did not have a little boy to come home to, I would have started paperwork on a visa! We did not want to leave! I cried on the second day telling Curt how much fun I was having. It was just so wonderful to be together and let those lighthearted, fun, adventurous, smiling 19 and 20-year-olds come out and remind us why they fell in love. There were no fights, no stressful conversations, no worrying (only wondering) about Jackson. There was nothing but great. We laughed until we cried. We watched our wedding video. We snorkeled at Xel-Ha. I swam with dolphins. We kayaked. I spoke in Spanish. We ordered room service as many times as we wanted. I gained a few pounds. And it was so worth it.

I was militant about my sunscreen but I could not beat the sun. It was seriously stupid of me to go down there without a base tan. My face never burned but it is darker than I wanted it to be. As you can see, my arms and my shins got a little red.

If anyone is wondering which resort we went to, it was an all-inclusive called El Dorado Royale in the Mayan Riviera. The casitas are about to split off into their own resort called Casitas Royale. Whether you go to the El Dorado side or the Casitas side, it is an incredible place and they treat you like kings and queens.

I am the new spokeswoman for getting away with your hubby for a few days if you're a new mom and you haven't done that yet. Go to a place where you won't see a lot of babies (that will make it easier) and invest in your marriage! The grandparents are probably chomping at the bit to keep your youngun and if they're not, I'm so sorry. Ask God to provide a way. Do it! You'll be so glad!

The room was absolutely amazing. We stayed in a "casita" and the room was round, making it hard to depict the wonderfulness of it all in one picture. There was a regular tub/shower as well as a jacuzzi tub and a roofless shower.

We had requested a second floor casita but we ended up in a first floor "swim up" room. The Lord gave us an upgrade! We loved having water two steps from our porch.

The view from our porch.

Our porch had a day bed and a hammock - perfect for reading when we'd had enough sun. There was a table for our room service breakfasts - cream cheese stuffed french toast with almonds!

The view from the "palapa" where I went when I rolled out of bed each morning.

In front of the palapa.

Great quiet times.

The palapa. Isn't it awesome?

The candlelight, beachfront dinner that was complimentary since we were celebrating our anniversary.

One of our waiters brought flowers to our table when he found out it was our anniversary.

I will have a few more pictures and stories when I get my waterproof camera developed.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Five Years

Curtis and Amanda - June 15, 2002


1989. It has always stuck out in my mind. I don't know if turning 10 years old, or going from third grade to fourth grade, is a developmental milestone for a kid, but I think it was for me. That summer a new neighbor moved in three doors down - a girl my age named Molly. She was from Tyler, Texas, was petite with brown hair and really cute red framed glasses, and she was so much fun. We were the best of friends.

The next two years we had a blast together as we grew out of being little kids into being pre-adolescents - tweens as they're called now. We were old enough to be very much aware that Nike Air Jordans, Girbaud jeans, and Espirit tops could get us places. (See? My denim obession began young. And by the way, I got some Seven capri pants on sale at Nordstrom yesterday for 33% off.) We were old enough to like boys and carve our initials next to theirs into the trunk of the oak tree in her front yard. We spent hours up in its branches looking through the American Girls catalog (she of course had Molly and I had Samantha). We had not yet grown out of playing mermaid in the pool and riding our bikes around the neighborhood, which in our imaginations was divided into East and West Germany. We memorized every song on 93Q and 104 KRBE and made routines to our favorite ones. We recorded tapes of ourselves as djs. And then there was that tape of us burping. We made ourselves sick doing that one. We had countless sleepovers, which I'm sure our parents dreaded because our of tradition of Ching Chong's. Throughout the night we would create menus and signs and transform the kitchen and dining room into a restaurant. We would wake our parents up early so that they could order breakfast and we could whip it up for them. So much fun for us...not that fun for them. I can't remember which one of us was Ching and which was Chong. We also had another set of nicknames which were Flo and Jo. I think we got those from a cartoon. Molly was there the day my sister and I hopped off the school bus and met Michael, who lived with us for seven years, for the first time.

Our life mission was to make ourselves laugh, to have all the coolest clothes and shoes, and to do or prepare ourselves to do everything Molly's big sister Julia did. Julia was two years older than us. She was gorgeous, blond, popular, and did everything from sing in the choir to play sports. So at age 11, we began training for future greatness on the volleyball and basketball teams at Truitt Junior High. Our neighbor Chris taught us everything he knew about basketball. He was all boy and played very aggressively, so I think we had an advantage over the other girls. We even chose the songs we would be singing together one day in the lip sync contest and in the pop concerts we would surely participate in during our junior high years. We were at that stage before you realize you're not necessarily going to excel at everything you want to do. It's a wonderful time.

Then junior high finally came. It is a wonder any girl makes it out of junior high with any ounce of self-esteem or joy. It's a horrible time. Actually, some of my best memories are from then. But so are some of my most painful memories. Both tomboys at heart, I think we struggled with the hormones that were putting us at odds with every other person alive and that were changing us in ways that boys noticed (and harassed us for) but we were not ready to embrace. We both made the sports teams we wanted and finally got to wear the cute blue uniform and carry the prestigious athletic bag that was the coolest accessory of our lives. We shared the same friends. We carefully decided together which trends were acceptable for us to take on and which weren't. I'll never forget our discussion on Birkenstocks. We threw our first co-ed party, where I pushed the boy I liked into the pool and then ran home as fast as I could.

Perhaps the only thing we deviated on was theater. Molly was hilarious and very extroverted. She was perfect for it. I had also been invited to join the theater class (Speech II) and had eagerly signed up for it. We were a great pair in improv, but it was not to be. Somehow "Speech II" was mistaken for Spanish I and there I sat on my first day of seventh grade in a nerdy foreign language classroom. I was mad as a hornet, but something clicked. I loved Spanish. In fact, I would keep taking it until my senior year and then I would minor in it in college. I've benefited from it on many mission trips and just in living where I do. It's funny because I had definitely planned on taking French instead. The Lord knew what I would need.

By high school Molly and I were starting to grow apart. It wasn't intentional, but we were involved in completely different things. Since we attended a very large high school, somehow we never attended a single class together again. We were embedded into separate groups of friends. When senior year finally came, we hung out a little here and there. We were nostalgic about our friendship and we laughed over pictures of ourselves as kids and the things we had done. We agreed that we needed to hang out more often and keep in touch after high school. On the night of graduation we we hung out at the same party and I remember being thankful that we got to spend that time together. We'd come full circle.

Molly was our school mascot and she was very well loved. She had been enlisted by a travel company to be one of two representatives to recruit kids from our class to go to Cancun together after graduation. I remember going to that first meeting at CiCi's pizza to see what it was all about. A girl in her twenties, probably several years younger than I am right now, was the leader. She explained that she would take care of us in Cancun if anything happened. Right. My family decided to go on a tour of Greece and Rome right after graduation, so I did not join my friends in Cancun.

One morning in Rome, right before I left my hotel room to get on the tour bus, I found out that my bff Jennifer was trying to get in touch with my mom. I thought that was really bizarre, so I called her immediately. I will never forget the tone of her voice as she told me that Molly had died on the senior trip. It was unthinkable. She had come down with meningitis and died in the hospital in Cancun. There had been no adults to take care of her, only her 18-year-old friends who, if I am scarred 9 years later and I wasn't even there, surely still carry deep wounds. To say that I and everyone in our community was devastated is a gross understatement.

Sadly, we could not make it back to Houston in time for the funeral. We pulled up to our house and walked three doors down to find a crowd of people at Molly's house. We had missed it by a couple of hours. I have said goodbye to her in many different ways - at her grave with flowers, in notes I've written over the years, in praying to God to tell her things for me. Missing that funeral was terrible for my heart. It has been very hard to get closure.

I woke up this morning wanting to cry about missing my friend. It's been 9 years and three days. And I am heading to the very place where she lost her life. Not that I'm scared in any way, but it's tender for me. This time of year, the loss is especially painful. We should have visited each other at our different colleges and been at each other's weddings. I should be emailing her pictures of Jackson. I should be getting pictures of her little one in return. I should call her and say, "Hey, I'll be in Houston next week! Wanna meet up?" I shouldn't feel pain in my heart when I'm at my mom's house and I drive by her house and that oak tree that we spent so much time in. More importantly, Julia's kids should have an Aunt Molly. Molly's mom should have moved her into a dorm, should have planned a wedding for her, should have rocked her grandbaby in that first week home from the hospital. It all ended too soon.

I do not have a clever ending for this story. I guess it's just all to say that I miss you, Molly. I wish you were still here and I still think of you all the time. You were a very big part of my life and you are a very big part of my memories.
I love you,

Friday, June 08, 2007


I went to aerobics and worked a little bit of my edge off. And now I'm going to get over this melancholy that has been hanging around me all week. I apologize for all the whining.

When I got home, my little man was in such a great mood. Jackson got a new ball to add to his collection and he was loving it. Several times he stopped in the middle of playing and trotted over to me with arms outstretched and mouth wide open. He had in mind a hug and a kiss. It was too, too sweet. The countdown to Mexico is only four days away, so I need to stock up on slobbery toddler kisses. He also enjoyed tossing Beckham his frisbee in the living room. Beckham is just now dealing with Bill's absence, by the way.

It's very possible that this is the first time I've ever made it to June without tossing my New Year's resolutions out the window. Curt and I decided to make some changes in our eating and workout habits and, holy cow, they stuck! Thank You, Lord! I am at the same weight (actually a half-pound below!) I was when I graduated from college. I would call it my wedding weight, but I (stupidly) took diet pills two weeks before my wedding and that doesn't count. I was really tempted to take a shortcut this time, too, but it's just not very safe. Instead, Amanda has eaten a LOT of Lean Cuisines and taken a lot of step aerobics. My poor knees. My poor plantar fasciitis. But bless God, I have a waist!

Have I mentioned before that my gym is located between a Grandy's and a Chick-fil-a? I have? Sorry. Chick-fil-a is not one of my outlawed fast food restaurants. But Grandy's? How long has it been? I have no idea. Grandy's is the kind of place no lady should ever admit to liking, so I'm risking my reputation here. But I promise you that the first time I go to the gym after Mexico, I will be rewarding myself with a nice little chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, fried okra, and a roll with honey. And then I might need to watch Super Size Me again so that I can make it through the next six months.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


So lately on another blog which will remain nameless, I've read a few comments expressing how much my child looks like his grandmother. Really? REALLY? How is it that 80% of the time I'm told how much he looks like his dad, but somehow he looks like my mother? Not mother. I really don't mean to hurt any feelings, but this is a mystery to me.

I don't know. Maybe it irks me in the same way that it irked me when someone once said, "Amanda! When are you going to MAKE A BABY for your mom?"

I will not even expound on how much that statement disgusted me. I've always wanted to do a post about inappropriate questions I've been asked. That, folks, is my numero uno!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Bill is Gone

Bill has now been missing for more than 48 hours. Curt checked the animal shelters but they didn't have him. We'll probably try again tomorrow just in case. Yesterday Curt and I were really sad. I was surprised by how low I was and even more surprised by how low Curtis was. Of course, I do have perspective. I know this is only a cat. My world is not ending. I'm just sad that he's gone.

Today I've tried not to think about it too much. I don't want to keep wondering what on earth happened to him. My mind has imagined so many awful things. There's a group of Santeria-practicing people one town over who sued their city for trying to outlaw their animal sacrifices. Which means they are now allowed to do animal sacrifices. Even that crossed my mind.

If we never find him I have to believe two things:
A) In the words of Shelby on Steel Magnolias - Bill would have taken a few moments of wonderful over a lifetime of nothing special. He was not happy only being indoors.
B) He found a sweet elderly couple without any toddlers who would pinch him or pull his tail.

Curtis was so sweet to make some signs and hang them around the neighborhood. They were up for about an hour before it stormed...again.

We are having the worst weather. I won't even bring up what it was like on the day we went to camp and on the day we came home. Yesterday we had two separate rounds of bad storms. For the first one Jackson and I were out and about. I did okay with it, but not great. I was at the gym last night during the second one. I was taking cardio circuit and the whole time I was gazing out the windows. At one point I swear I heard the tornado sirens going off over the music. No one missed a beat, but of course I had to walk out and see if I was right. I wasn't. But then I could not stop shaking for several minutes. I knew that if a tornado hit the gym we would be in terrible danger from the free weights swirling around us.

What is my problem? This fear is taking over my life. Actually, it took over my life years ago and it's finally choking me to death. I don't know if it's getting worse or if I'm just getting abundant opportunities for it to flare up. I'm thinking about going to a counselor. Seriously! For my tornado-phobia! Are they going to laugh at me? I think I read in Marley and Me that they had to give their dog a tranquilizer any time it was about to storm. You know, Beckham is very much afraid of thunder. So maybe we should make a little trip to his vet. And maybe he will be nice enough to share the goods with me.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Bluegrass and Blue Bell

The Jones fam made the long trek back to civilization today. We had a great time at camp. From what I heard, hubby did a great job with the speaking. I wouldn't know because I was busy chasing my toddler around. But I had fun doing it. Being at camp with a toddler was 100 times easier and more fun than being at a camp with a three-month-old nursling. I also think that by now I've accepted the limitations that go along with being a mom whereas last year I was still kind of fighting it and making myself miserable. I knew to bring a book this year and did a lot of reading and napping while Jackson slept. Sounds nice, huh?

Jackson got to experience what it would be like to have an older brother and sister since we got to hang out with my friend Fay and two of her kids, Addison and Parker. Addison is the reason there is a Jackson. She was and is the funniest, cutest, sweetest little thing and she made me want to be a mom. Fay has been an incredible mentor in my life both in being a minister's wife and a mom. She is responsible for most of my cooking skills. I would probably be a lot farther along with that if we still lived in the same town and could have our tutoring sessions. Fay, Jackson and I will be in withdrawal this week! We love you!

We got home at about 1:30 this afternoon. Our suitcases have exploded all over the house and there are no groceries. We were too busy basking in our American-ness at our church's "Bluegrass and Blue Bell" event this evening. Oh my, it was so much fun. Everyone young and old came and lots of people from the neighborhood wandered over. The event was outside and we had a bluegrass group singing, a vintage car display, a fire truck, a pony ride, face painting, bounce houses, and hay bales to sit on. To the side were booths where you could get glass bottles of Coke and a bowl of Blue Bell ice cream. If you don't have Blue Bell where you live, I'm really sorry. Normally I don't eat ice cream because of dairy issues, but tonight I could not pass up the mint chocolate chip. Some kids were playing volleyball and Jackson was going crazy trying to get over there to steal their ball. Someone said to me, "He likes volleyball, huh? He's going to take after his dad." Um, sorry! I know my husband is good at every sport, but it's his mama he's taking after there! Curtis will only mildly deny that I can school him in volleyball.

I am very sad to say that Bill is missing. He was last seen this morning by our house sitter when he darted out the door for an early prowl. He has not made a single appearance for shelter, water, or affection all day. That is very much not like him. I get so frustrated with that cat's antics and say things I don't mean. Now all those things I've said are haunting me tonight. I know he's only a cat, but he's my cat and he was my first baby. It will be sad if he never comes home. I'll keep you posted. I won't ask you to pray, but if you do you are a nice person.

Here are some pics from today.

My child's life ambition is to hunt and gather pens, but this ink extravaganza is a first. He is very upset because I took the pen away from him.

Bluegrass and Blue Bell in full roar.

The Shady Grove Ramblers. Notice the ginormous American flag backdrop.

Sunni and Ava and Jackson and me. Sunni was very popular because she was supplying mini-goldfish to the babies.

Jacks and Dad.

My all-American boy.