Friday, June 25, 2010

Tantrums at the Pool

I have an awful memory from the summer of 2007 that haunts me to this day. Sunni, Janelle and I had been with Ava, Ella and Jackson at an amazing neighborhood pool. It was seriously like a resort. They were somewhere between 16 and 18 months old. Jackson loved the water and played so hard. Eventually he started to melt down and by the time I could get all our junk together to leave, he had lost it. It was nearly impossible trying to manage the pool bag, a loud and thrashing toddler who was very strong, and the dumb float that he never liked. The car was a long way off and I'd regrettably not used the stroller. I hope you're able to picture this.

Right outside the pool gate, I accidentally dropped the float on the sidewalk. I was already ticked about having to leave and embarrassed about the spectacle that we were, and at that moment I completely lost all sense. I've blocked out what I may or may not have said-slash-growled, but I definitely remember kicking the float as hard as I could. I looked up and realized another lady and her family had seen the whole thing. Luckily, the mom was older and she gave me a look of compassion instead of judgment. She said, "That's so hard. It just never ends well."

Ugh! I hate remembering that. I can't believe I lost it like that in public. I'm not sure my description sounds as dramatic as it actually was - at least to me. On the inside I felt totally out of control.

Annabeth was the epitome of a "good baby." She slept well, she sat in my lap when I wanted her to, she was easygoing and peaceful. My friends would marvel at this. And since she's my second, I knew it had nothing to do with amazing mothering skillz, a special genetic gifting, or anything besides a gift from God in the form of a mild temperament. All glory and honor and praise be His forevermore. Amen.

Three years have passed and now my precious little girl is the same age Jackson was when I made a donkey of myself at Sunni's pool. Annabeth is still a good and sweet little thing, but she gets spicier by the day. Only now I can laugh at it a little and it's easier to let it roll off my back. It wasn't very funny when it was Jackson because I didn't know it would end. People would tell me that but I didn't believe them. I think, too, that I've gotten used to humiliating and uncontrollable situations.

This morning we met up with several of my best friends from college - Maggie, Missy and Mel - and their little ones. I'm the only one who still lives here in Houston, so it was very unusual and exciting to get to do this. It happened once last summer when three of us had new infants to be introduced. Today we met in a home and tried to catch up with each other while the kids played. Jackson was the oldest, then Brynne at age 3.5, then Lucy and Annabeth who were born 9 days apart, then Nate who is 12 months, and finally sweet Maddy who was born on Jackson's birthday this year.

After a little playing, we got geared up to go to the pool. It took a lot of effort to get everyone dressed, sun-screened, and packed up. We finally got there and before we could step foot in the water, it was adult swim. During that time Annabeth had one of the biggest meltdowns she's ever had in public. There was literally nothing I could do to stop it. NOTHING. And I really wanted to hang out with my friends. And I really wanted to let my little guy swim. Bless his heart.

We made it long enough to immerse ourselves in the big pool for 30 seconds before I realized it was a lost cause. I told Jackson we were going to get a Happy Meal to try to ease the pain of it, and we made our way out. I was not happy. It was not fun. I was very disappointed, frustrated, and embarrassed. I definitely had to take some deep breaths. But I did not freak out!

I set my eyes on a Sonic and pointed my car that way. A Dr. Pepper with little round ice pellets (and I'm not gonna lie - a cheeseburger) would make me feel better. Do you know what helped even more than that? Remembering the donkey-pool incident of 2007. Similar circumstances - harder really - and a different outcome? Maybe, just maybe, I have grown as a person! As a mother! Praise the Lord!

Now that I've written those words, I need to give a disclaimer about how much I struggle every minute of every day as a mother. This is the hardest job in the world and I constantly wonder why God thought I was cut out for this.

This is Missy's son, Nate, after he was suitably sun-screened.

I could not resist getting a picture of his Coppertone Hair.

This is Little Miss Tantrum herself.

Mel's daughter, Brynne, and Jackson.

Maggie's sweetie, Lucy, and Jacks.

Me and the kids, Mel and Brynne (Maddy was asleep), Maggie and Lucy, Missy and Nate.

Annabeth fell asleep about 5 minutes into our 30 minute drive home. Once she was in her bed, Jackson and I went outside to play with the water hose. I had my Sonic Dr. Pepper and it was all good.

When we left the pool we were all soaking wet and in our bathing suits. Annabeth just woke up and all I can say is that swim diapers are not nap-friendly.

Happy Friday, y'all!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Love September Giveaway

Y'all, check out the giveaway my friend Beth is doing on her blog. You could win some cool stuff from her Love September Etsy shop. The giveaway ends at 9 am tomorrow.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Oh, Galveston!

It's Sunday night and, again, I'm sad to say goodbye to such a great weekend.

A couple of weeks ago I got a little desperate for a getaway with my husband. I was feeling a little dramatic and like I could not carry on if I did not get a break. My life is wonderful but at that time I needed a little distance from it to reclaim my sanity. Perhaps you've been there before. Luckily, we had a free weekend on the calendar, a very loving set of grandparents who acted like it was their greatest pleasure in life to keep our kids, and an island an hour away just begging for us to visit.

On Friday morning we got everyone packed and took the kids to my parents' house. My mom still had the birthday cake I'd given her, so we took a couple of pieces to go. It was the same flavor as my wedding cake (almond with amaretto icing), which is our family's absolute favorite. Since we were celebrating our anniversary it was very fitting. (I'm sure I've told you before that I took a bunch of our wedding cake with us to Maui and we ate it for breakfast every morning.)

We said happy goodbyes and "I'll miss you! But it'll be a happy miss!" I learned that line from my mother and father. Then we set our sights on Galveston Island and made the 90 minute journey to the ocean.

We were still a little bit tense from packing, not to mention all the shenanigans that we've experienced lately, and I hoped there was enough time in the weekend to shake it off and enjoy ourselves. Bit by bit the managerial attitudes fell away and we found ourselves again. Curtis started to make jokes. I was less controlling. He enjoyed eating for the first time since his surgery. I focused on him. We laughed a lot. It felt good. Date nights are great but it's hard to achieve something like this in a couple of hours.

Our island arrival coincided with lunchtime. We went straight to Pier 21 and had lunch at Fisherman's Wharf. I had a shrimp po-boy that changed my life. I wanted to take a picture of it but I sensed that my husband was not on board with that. So here's what I have.

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf from the back

The Elissa. We were too cheap to buy tickets to board it.

Next we walked across the street to The Strand. We went in the Army surplus store, which Curtis loved. Our most important stop was La King's Confectionery. It's a really special place and if you're familiar with it I'm sure you agree. We'd been to the island a week before Hurricane Ike hit, which made the storm's damage a lot harder for me to swallow. When we visited Galveston last Fourth of July La King's was still closed. Actually, I think most of The Strand was still closed at that point.

I was in a celebratory mood and partook of some apple pie ice cream. This was the server's interpretation of "just a little bit." I regretted that ice cream cone all weekend, due to my body's hatred for milk. It was fun for the 4 minutes that it lasted.

You cannot believe how fast this stuff melted once we walked outside.

My other favorite place on The Strand was The Waterwall Cafe. I was trying to explain to Curtis that it wasn't because of how good the food was, but because it held so many memories. Last summer we were sad to see that it was closed and the space was up for lease. The good news is that it has been made into something new. The bad news is that it's a wine bar and I'm pretty sure I can't take my kids there for hamburgers.

By this time we were wilting in the heat and 80% humidity, so we headed to the San Luis hotel. Our room was awesome and we had a great view of the ocean and of the pool.

The view to the west.

And the view to the east.

We spent a couple of hours in and by the pool. Curtis took a nap on the lounge chair and woke up a new man. We had dinner that night at Tortuga's (Baja Mexican food) and then we drove all the way to the western tip of the island. I think it's so fun to look at all the different beach houses.

Galveston gets a lot of flack for lacking in beauty and cleanliness. What's so sad is that I had never seen it more beautiful than the week before Ike. I want the island to live well and prosper but it's times like these when you know why people say the things they do. The beach was inundated with sea weed and where there were piles of it, it stunk to high heaven. It was so powerful we could smell it from inside our car. Bless Galveston's heart - it isn't her fault but it is her problem. Hopefully the sea weed will go away soon.

I wasn't feeling very brave about the beach, so we decided to spend the next day at Schlitterbahn water park. It was so much fun! I didn't take my camera and that's a total bummer because it was my favorite part. We got there when it opened at 10 and left at noon as it was getting more crowded. We did everything we wanted to do at least once. I think my favorite thing was just floating in the river with the rapids. That's what I love about the original Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, but I haven't been there in years.

After that, we went back to our hotel and crossed the sea wall to survey the beach below. We got brave and decided to get in the water. After a few minutes of squealing every time the sea weed touched me, I became one with the ocean and turned into a mermaid. Not really, but we had fun in the waves and even got knocked down a couple of times. Oh, I forgot to mention that
something is very wrong with my husband because he fell out of his tube at the water park at least ten times. Me? Zero times.

We realized we needed to eat, so we went back to our hotel and shared a burger and chips and guacamole by the pool. The guacamole was so very amazing. It is one of the many reasons I stocked up on Lean Cuisines tonight and will be counting WW points for the next week. After swimming in the pool a little longer, we went back to our room to get cleaned up. I took a nice little nap and then had to wrangle my dumb hair into submission. My hair and sea air are arch enemies.

For dinner we had pizza at a restaurant called Mario's. I got a little peeved that they sat us in between two large tables with lots of little kids. But we ended up enjoying them and missing our own! Next we found a little movie theater and saw a movie. The sun had sapped all my energy and I was primed for the earliest bed time ever.

We had to be back in town for Curt to teach Sunday school, so the alarm clock went off early this morning. It was a little weird to wake up on Father's Day and not have our kids with us. After church we had lunch at Goode Company Seafood with my parents, grandparents, and Aunt Tina's family. It was great to be back with the kids. Annabeth was looking adorable and she was in a very toddlery mood. I just have to laugh when she gets like that. It's like she has surges of aggression that she doesn't know what to do with.

The kids have both talked incessantly about my parents. I know they had a great time with them and were very well taken care of. I'm so grateful for their willingness to keep them.

Finally, happy Father's Day to my Pappaw, my sweet Daddy, and my wonderful husband! I had absolutely no idea what qualities I should look for in a guy that would turn into a good father. Even if I had, I'm not sure I would have prioritized it. There are times when I watch Curtis interacting with the kids that I just stand there in awe. He's such a great dad. Jackson and Annabeth are so very blessed. Also, happy 57th anniversary to Memaw and Pappaw. I'm thankful for their example of love and faithfulness in the midst of literally every high and low this life has to offer.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


*Originally posted on The LPM Blog.*

Curtis, I'm so thankful for ten years with you.

"This Curt Jones Guy"

June 16, 2000, is when everything changed.

I'd just finished my sophomore year of college and was one of four summer interns working in the missions department at my home church. The other interns were Kay Bridgwater, whom I'd grown up with, and Jerrell Altic, a college student from Missouri. Kay and Jerrell had met the previous summer as missions interns and by the end of it they were in l-o-v-e. The fourth intern was going to be another guy from Missouri named Curt Jones. Everyone already knew him well but I'd never met him. Strangely, our two bosses, William and Bob, seemed to think This Curt Jones Guy and I were going to hit it off and get married.

Seriously? For once I was hoping not to be distracted by a boy. I didn't really want to hear about my supposed future with some guy from Missouri named Curt Jones. At the same time, Curt Jones was having to hear about some chick named Amanda Moore down in Houston and he didn't really want to hear it either.

The week of June 16, 2000, we were in Missouri helping lead an event called Mission Vision. Mission Vision consisted of a handful of youth groups and leaders staying in Hamlin Baptist Church. We did missions training and various projects during the day and at night we had speakers, a drama group called Clear Vision, and worship with By the Tree.

After Mission Vision, This Curt Jones Guy was going to come back to Houston with us and work for the rest of the summer. I hoped that at least he'd be cool and we'd get along well.

I should mention that I didn't even want to go to Mission Vision. I can't remember how I justified to my boss, William Taylor, that I would need to come home early. He conceded and I had a plane ticket to get me home in the middle of the week. I was such a good intern! Bless my heart, we were only a week into the job and I'd not yet realized how much dying to self ministry requires. I'm definitely not done learning that lesson.

Back to June 16, 2000.

Mission Vision hadn't yet started. Jerrell, Kay and I drove over to the home of This Curt Jones Guy to pick him up and go to a water park in Branson for the day. Curtis got in Jerrell's Chevy Blazer and had his cap so low over his face that I couldn't even tell what he looked like. Of course I was trying to figure that out. Even though I was trying not to go there, I remember reasoning that if our bosses' predictions turned out to be right, I would always remember meeting him there in the driveway. But surely they were wrong.

We had a great time at Whitewater with no shortage of awkward moments. Really, who wants to be in a bathing suit the first time they meet a new co-worker? At one point we were waiting to get our tubes to take up to the top of a water slide. I was first in line and the next tube that came was a double. If I took it, then I'd have to get in it with This Curt Jones Guy I barely knew. No thank you. I let it pass and took a single. Awkward! Jerrell, of course, called attention to the weird moment and I've never lived it down.

I couldn't tell what Curt's personality was like until the four of us had a little brainstorming session while sitting in front of the wave pool on some lounge chairs. Curt was in charge of student recreation at Mission Vision and we were helping him think of a theme. Here's what we came up with in our 20-year-old humor and brilliance - The Toilet Bowl: Like the Super Bowl, but Different! Nice, right? The daily rec prizes were a plunger, a toilet paper roll, a toilet seat, and a bed pan. We spray painted everything gold. And that is how I bonded with my future husband.

That night - June 16, 2000 - found the four of us praying in Jerrell's parents' living room. We prayed for Mission Vision and for our summer serving together. I got a peek into the heart of This Curt Jones Guy as he prayed for God to be exalted.

The recreation ministry required many, many trips to Walmart and Curtis always invited me to ride along with him. I've never been a big fan of Walmart, but I have a lot of affection for this one particular store where I happened to fall in love with my husband. We've never really had a song, but we do have "our Walmart."

I remember seeing Curt's sweet Grandma Dixon for the first time. She was serving food to all the students and I thought she and Curtis looked alike. Curt's younger sister, Lindsay, was attending Mission Vision as a high school student. We shared a mirror one morning in the bathroom and I wondered if I would be getting to know her soon.

It was only by God's grace and sovereignty that I ever got the job as a missions intern. Unfortunately, I'd skipped out on the youth group experience in high school and had never been on a mission trip. We were training kids how to share their faith and I had no idea how to share mine! Every day we took a group of kids to a different setting to share their faith. Curtis took it upon himself to be my partner and teach me how to do this. I'm naturally a pretty shy person and witnessing to someone I didn't know was way, way, way outside my comfort zone. But Curtis was amazing at it. I was blown away watching him turn countless conversations with strangers toward Christ.

Not only was This Curt Jones Guy funny, not only was he great at leading rec time, not only did he have beautiful blue eyes that both of my children now have, he was passionate about leading people to Christ. I liked this guy! Curtis and I have a deep sense of partnership in ministry and there's no doubt in my mind that it's because of those times we went out and shared our faith together.

Needless to say, I decided to cancel my mid-week trip home.

On the last full day of Mission Vision, we went to do some evangelism on Commercial Street. I really liked This Curt Jones Guy but I didn't know if we would be more than friends. Another leader even asked me if we liked each other and I denied it. A few minutes later Curtis and I went into a soda fountain type of place and sat down at the counter. We ordered Dr. Peppers and hoped to share the Gospel with the server. The first thing out of the server's mouth was, "Are you two married?" It was becoming clear that God was growing our hearts together. That night we finally admitted to each other what had been obvious to everyone else.

The day after Mission Vision wrapped up, I was supposed to fly home with Kay and Jerrell and Curtis was going to drive his car down to Houston. I decided to cancel my flight - again - and make the drive with Curtis. We had twelve hours to talk about everything under the sun. Every time we make that drive from Springfield to Houston, we point out all the places we stopped on our first trip. A lot of times we play the old Shane and Shane and Enter the Worship Circle CD's we listened to. I had no idea how familiar I would become with those small towns along the road in Oklahoma. There are some very creatively named churches along the way, which inspired a game called "What would you name a church?" When we stopped to get gas in Huntsville, Texas, I called Mom and said that This Curt Jones Guy and I would be home soon and to please make Dad behave. They instantly knew.

Next week we get to celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary and our tenth year of being together. There's something so great about knowing we've been together for a decade. I love it. It feels like something to celebrate.

A few years ago my engagement ring cracked where I'd had it re-sized. I had it repaired but it was wearing very thin again. While we were in Missouri I took my engagement ring to the jeweler it was purchased from and had them make me a new white gold tiffany setting. I handed over my ring and watched the jeweler pry open the prongs and dump out the diamond. It had an unbelievable amount of gunk underneath it. If nothing else, it would look a hundred times better just from the stone being cleaned! They handed the old ring back to me empty. I waited in anticipation for five days and finally, on our way home from Silver Dollar City in Branson, I got to pick up my diamond in a brand new band. It was beautiful! My round solitaire looked so happy and shiny. It had been a long time since it looked like that. I sort of wished I'd made this investment sooner. If Curtis had given me a brand new diamond three times as big as that one it would not have thrilled me as much as seeing that same one looking just as pretty as the day he gave it to me. Prettier, really, since it represented everything that we have been through and done together.

Our marriages are somewhat like my engagement ring. The core - the diamond - holds a great love story with lots of passion and commitment. But everyday wear and tear and the occasional traumatic event can do a number on the metal that holds it together. Some of our rings could just use some polishing while others need some real restoration. God can do both! Remember that He loves marriage. He created it, after all. I'm praying that God will show each one of us a specific way we can invest in our marriage to strengthen it and bring out its beauty.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Time Out

Mom was at our house earlier today and the kids were competing for her attention. Annabeth said, "Bibby, me! Bibby, me!" I'm pretty sure that was the first time she ever said "me." We were cracking up.

After Bibby left, Jackson was taunting Annabeth with some toy he doesn't really care about and she just went right ahead and hit him. So I put them both in time out.

I kept a very stern look on my face while retrieving my camera to document this new aspect of family life - sibling rivalry. (They were pretty cute sitting there.)

I'm hoping for a mild case, but what I deserve is for them to drive me crazy until I'm old and gray.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Today's Jackson Moments

This morning at 7:24 I unlocked the front door to go on my run. Jackson heard the sound and came running down the hall yelling, "A kiss and a hug! A kiss and a hug!" This is normally something that happens when his daddy goes to work. He wants some attention from his hero before he has to go without him for 8 hours.

I was both surprised and thrilled that he was doing this for me. I thought, "Oh, my boy loves me so much today! This is because we had so much fun at the pool last night."

The door was open and Jackson was running toward me at full speed. Before I could kneel down for my kiss and hug, Jackson blew right past me and burst onto the porch in his little blue boxer briefs. I was slightly confused that he didn't stop.

"Where did daddy go? I need a kiss and a hug!"

"Uh, buddy, he's sitting at the breakfast table."

I made him give me a kiss and a hug anyway.


This afternoon Jackson found a walkie talkie in his basket of toys. He turned it on and we could hear men's voices talking through it. I thought maybe they were truck drivers. As fun as it would have been to listen in, I was a little concerned that Jackson might pick up some words that I'd rather him not learn at age four.

"But whyyyyyyyyy do I have to turn it off?"

"Buddy, I don't know if those are nice men or not. They might say words that kids don't need to hear."

The walkie talkie was turned off.

A few minutes later, when my son thought I wasn't paying attention, he turned it back on. I caught him whispering into the walkie talkie, "Poo poo! Poo poo on the potty!"

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekend, Please Don't Go

If there's such a thing as a perfect weekend, this was it. I hate to see it go.

On Friday night we got to have dinner at Pappasito's with Heather and Missy and their families. (I stole these pics from Heather's blog. Thank you, H!)

Jackson got the privilege of sitting at the opposite end of the table from us with the big kids. He did pretty well! He hardly ate his food but I think he had a lot of fun and he behaved himself. Isn't it a joy to see your kids enjoy your friends' kids?

Annabeth grabbed a bowl of salsa and dumped it into her lap within 60 seconds of sitting down. While I was attempting to clean that up, she grabbed a large knife off the table. You can imagine how calm and sane I appeared at that time. I wish I had pictures and/or video of this to share with you.

After dinner we had ice cream cake at Heather's house in honor of Matt's birthday. Yum! It was a such a fun night! Jackson cried when we left because he'd gotten it in his head that we were having a sleepover. Bless his heart.

On Saturday I got several hours to myself. It was nice, I'm not gonna lie. I had some shopping to do for our wedding anniversary, my mom's birthday, and Father's Day, and an appointment to get my highlights done.

That night we had a date with Kay and Jerrell to celebrate our 8th anniversaries. We got married two weeks apart and stood in each others' weddings, so it's fun to mark the occasion together. We had a really nice dinner at Smith and Wollensky followed up with dessert at The Chocolate Bar. It was my first time to go there and I loved it!

Kay and Jerrell.

Curtis and me.

Chocolate chip pie ala mode and something crazy-good that Jerrell got.

Kay's frozen hot chocolate.

Kay Kay and me.

We had the best time! Here's to 50 more years of anniversary double dates!

This morning I put Annabeth in this dress and she reminded me of one of my childhood heroes, Pippi Longstocking. I'd still like to have a funky colored Victorian house and a - what was it, purple? - horse. Let me explain the shoes. She has two sets of bows that attach to them, but we lost one yellow bow and she destroyed one pink one. So I either need to buy another set of bows or another pair of shoes. Ugh! For now she's wearing them mismatched. Of course today it was in the spirit of Pippi Longstocking.

I got to help in a two-year-old preschool class during our Sunday school hour. I realized that a two-year-old girl is a completely different creature from a two-year-old boy, so maybe I will stop dreading that age for Annabeth. Y'all know I still have PTSD from Jackson being two. I'm sure my mom still has PTSD from me being 18.

After church, my son and I went to the pool by ourselves and made some great memories. Jackson craves a lot of sensory input, so jumping off the side of the pool, playing in the fountains, going down the slides, diving for toys, and swimming in general are amazing for him. He never stopped smiling and laughing and I think everyone around us was entertained by him. They were definitely splashed. Once again, I need a cheap camera that I don't care about so I can take pictures at the pool!

*Imagine grinning, sun-screened faces here.*

Friday, June 11, 2010

I Write Posts While I Run

Some observations during and after my run this morning:

Beckham would literally collapse and die if I took him running this time of year. Bless his heart. We need to get his hair cut.

My side stitch is finally under control.

Mockingbirds are a bit cranky. I saw a squirrel get dive-bombed by one.

It's much less humid at 8 a.m. than 7 a.m.

The running shorts and shirts I bought that are supposed to keep you dryer really do work!

I've always thought the people in coordinated, fashionable workout clothes are less athletic than the people who wear shorts and random t-shirts. Athletes really don't give a rip. If you were/are an athlete, do you share my feelings? Perhaps this is how I deal with my insecurity when I see the other ladies looking cute in their outfits.

If I haven't touched a volleyball in two years can I still be an athlete?

All the high school runners are out and about on the trails now. And none of them wear shirts. Apparently they don't care that all the dirty old men and cougars are lusting after them like popsicles. Put on a shirt, people!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

There's No Theme

Jackson wanted me to take a picture of him, but then he got all shy. Notice the basket of once-folded clothes in the background. It literally sat there for a week until I dumped it out last night and refolded everything.

This was right before we headed to the mall to get my new Mac.

And here we are with mega-increased awesomeness!

I just happened to have my camera out when Annabeth got in big trouble for hitting daddy. This was her tragic reaction to being scolded.

She hasn't done it again.

Lately I've had a horrible weakness for this. Cold, crunchy pieces of chocolate (and strawberries) swimming in frozen yogurt = brilliance.