Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer Dilemmas

Three o'clock is the magic hour when I get to sit down with my lovely blue and white china mug and have me time. I mean tea time. But really me time. This is best accomplished when the kids are having rest time. I like to zone out while reading some good blogs or news stories, or maybe a few minutes of something I have on the DVR.

My morning tea is wonderful, but it takes place when the house is in full gear. The purpose is to wake myself up and go, go go! There are lots of times when I get to savor it, but sometimes I get distracted and forget about it until it's almost lukewarm. Then all I can do is gulp it down like some kind of uncivilized brute.

Now that Annabeth is in full out toddlerhood I need my afternoon tea time/me time/zone out time more than ever. Those moments are like an oasis in my day.

Unlike years past, my most pressing summer dilemma has nothing to do with my sunscreen giving me acne or my KP skin treatment removing my tan (whether real or fake). It's worse!

I'm not sure if y'all have noticed, but it's hotter than a mug outside. We are blessed and highly favored to enjoy air conditioning in our home, but it takes a lot of cash flow to keep the air cold in the late afternoons. At least here in southeast Texas. I've been having something akin to a hot flash a few minutes after my afternoon tea. Now I said this to a menopausal woman a few days ago and she said, "No, honey, you are just hot." I am laughing so hard right now. It feels like a hot flash! It's bad enough to send me to the medicine cabinet for some of my husband's Old Spice deodorant.

So do I give up my tea until the weather cools off? Last week I had an afternoon cherry limeade. But as soon as it was gone I heard my tea calling out to me. Then I resorted to a can of Dr. Pepper (the anniversary edition made with real sugar - so, so good!) Again, I couldn't live without my tea and I went right back to it.

Perhaps the answer to my dilemma would be reversing the order of my drinks. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

What is your summer dilemma?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

To a Whisper

This blog was born about a month after my son, which means I've been at it about four and a half years now. I'm not sure it has much to offer anyone else, but it brings me a lot of joy. For one thing, it helps me stay in touch with friends and family. It also gives me a way to connect with other women who are experiencing the same things I am going through. I will never forget how much advice you all gave me when I started potty training Jackson and how much support you provided when I was desperate for him to learn to share. I have sent links to those blog posts to numerous friends so that they could glean from your wisdom. More recently, I was struggling with a painful heart issue and you all encouraged and challenged me in a big way.

I think my favorite thing about blogging is going back through my archives and reading all the mind-numbing details that I torture you with. They give me great delight. However, I never fail to think that I was a much better blogger in seasons past. I wrote more frequently and my posts were more clever. On one hand, I would say it's because mothering and managing our home is requiring so much focus that I'm lacking in the creativity department. On the other hand, I think life has just gotten harder. It's not all fun and games and I can't portray it that way. That's probably just a normal part of this stage of life. There's a lot at stake. And as we all know, life is complicated. For many reasons, things have been pretty intense in our family for the last year and a half. It would be tempting to think my family alone in this, but I know better. I look around at my friends and we are all dealing with big stuff.

This is where I struggle when it comes to blogging. I really do want to write about the major events and struggles going on in my life, but sometimes it just isn't smart. I have to think about the way my sharing will effect the ones I love. Thank goodness I'm not stuck inside these four walls with only my laptop. God has given me some amazing friends and family members to walk through life with. I know I can fulfill that need to share and be encouraged through my close in-the-flesh relationships. But when I feel like I can't write about something important going on, it sort of brings my blog to a whisper.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Chlorine Hair

Annabeth is rounding the bend toward the 18 month mark.

Her sweet little form and facial expressions charm me every day. I don't think she's ever been cuter than in this swimsuit coverup and chlorine hair.

She's a beautiful girl with a lovely name, but we can't help calling her Abe...Aberson...Abey Baby. And sometimes just Sis.

Lately her hobbies include meddling in everything, having conversations in an unknown language, carrying around her dolls, and smacking her brother.

Nevertheless, Jackson is Annabeth's current favorite person. He is very patient and tolerant of her little sister antics, but he does find it amusing when she has to go in time out. (She's there currently.) When I bring her out of her room each morning, she does a roll call of everyone in our family. Mommy? Daddy (Dayee?) Bubba? Bubba was named first today.

PS - Annabeth would like her Nana and Pappaw to know that she can't wait to see them in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Motherload

The Motherload has arrived.

Yes, it is what you think it is.

Psalty the Singing Songbook in all his blue splendor.

We weren't getting in the car for a while, so I played CD #1 on the computer for Jackson. (This is 100% about the kids! I promise!)

Annabeth came running in as soon as she heard the music and started dancing. She was doing a squat-like move here.

Lest you think it's all roses in the Jones home, this was Annabeth just moments before. She got in trouble for hitting her brother for the 50th time today.

Curtis just walked in the door and I got caught singing loudly. The kids were nowhere near. But, like I said, this is all about them!

Monday, July 19, 2010

July? That Can Only Mean One Thing

I measure time by bunco seasons. My year is not January to December, but July to July. Do I sound like a serious bunco-er? Because I am! July has been my month to host for the last few years and I hosted my group last Monday night. Normally I would have had it in my home, but things have been a little crazy lately and I just needed to simplify. If you've ever tried to prepare your home for a party while your toddler and preschooler were actually in the home, you probably get the stress I was feeling. Plus, we'd had company for the weekend. So I decided to host my friends at the LPM office. It was such a relief to have it there. I served fajitas from a local restaurant to make it even simpler. And yummier. We had sopapilla cheesecake for dessert and it was very tasty, if I do say so myself. Too bad I can't really enjoy it because I know what's in it!

I started setting up for the party right as the work day was ending. Melissa had just arrived from Atlanta, so she and Mom visited with me for a little while before heading out.

Lis helped me get organized.

We played in the board room. I added a small round table with big queenie chairs at the far end of the long table.

You can see the bunco gifts lined up at the wall. They were some fun little things from the home section of Anthropologie. I had a blast shopping! It's stuff I would never spend the money on for myself but always drool over.

First we had our Mexican food feast. This is Linda, Dana, Betty, and Cyndi.

Kay, Courtney, Stephanie, Nat, Christine, Nancy, and Michelle.

We finally started playing after an hour of eating and chatting. This was the head table - AKA The Queenie Table. We used a stuffed camel as our Traveling Two's mascot.

This was table #2 - where you are neither honored nor shamed.

This is table #3. Paint a big red "L" on it.

I love this group of women so much. I wish I had a picture of us all together, but last year I made everyone do it and it was craziness. I'll wait till next year to torture them with a group shot again. If you're never heard of bunco, my post from last year explains it better. It looks like I spelled it with a "k" back then. Well, I feel like I'm sleepwalking today so I'll wrap this up. Bunco ladies, you are amazing and I can't wait to play again!

Friday, July 16, 2010


Curtis and I lift our heads off the pillow and glance at the alarm clock. It's six o'clock. Beckham is rapidly pacing around the house and his nails are clicking on the floor so loudly that he might wake up the kids. He wanted out. Now. Poor guy. We must have forgotten to let him out one last time before bed. Curt gets up and starts his day.

I lay in bed until Annabeth starts crying at 6:45. My running clothes are at the end of my bed and I remember all the Chinese food I ate last night. It's time to pay for my sins. I stretch in the dining room and it feels so nice that I think stretching must be God's gift to people who have to exercise.

I take a different route today. This is usually determined by the direction in which I see other people running. Not wanting to pass or, more likely, be passed, I go the opposite way. I see a guy who looks like he fell into the bayou. No, he's just completely soaked with sweat. Oh my word, how long do you have to run to achieve such a thing?

A new trail has been paved and it's a two mile route. This is my fourth straight day of running without getting a side stitch, so I give it a try. I've just been sticking with a mile because it's quicker and my body hurts less. I see the entire girls and boys cross country teams from the local high school arrive. I thank God that they're going a different way. They can probably tell I'm a wannabe. Not that I should care.

I walk in the front door, surely looking and smelling like I, too, fell in the bayou. Annabeth is happy to see me. She's wearing her zebra striped, pink ruffled pajamas and carrying a snack cup with stale Cheerios and Goldfish. There's a little doll tucked under one arm. Her hair is down in her eyes and I sweep it to the side. She wanders over to her Fisher Price Learning Home and plays happily. She is growing into her girlhood more and more each day.

Jackson is wearing his Superman Underoos. He has a fresh haircut and looks so handsome. Of course, he doesn't like to be told that. He's such a boy. He doesn't stop moving from one piece of furniture or counter top to another - climbing, bouncing, crashing, and making the appropriate sound effects.

I head to the shower and make the water as cold as I can stand it. Annabeth wanders into the bathroom and kisses the glass shower door. She takes a seat on the bath mat with her doll and her snack. She grabs my hairbrush and runs it through her hair.

I need to go to the grocery store, but thankfully we still have milk and bread. I make wheat toast for all of us. Jackson says he doesn't want any, but I know that as soon as I sit down to eat he will change his mind. So I make him a piece. He wants it with strawberry jelly. We hug and kiss Curtis goodbye, wishing him a good day. The three of us sit at the table and I've got my all-important tea at my right hand. My Daily Light is opened up to July 16.

Jackson reaches his limit of being able to sit in his chair. He bounces into the living room and climbs on a chair. His little frame is looking so much like a big boy's. I look at Annabeth in her high chair and soak up her good mood. She is becoming a little girl and she loves it. I love it.

I'm overwhelmed by the thought that the glory of God is present in my home this morning.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Ready for My Shrimping Career

It's only July 8 and I've promised not to carry on about the heat until August. So I'm going to talk about the rain instead. We've had a lot of it! I hear the northeast is having a crazy heat wave and it makes me thankful that the rain is keeping us from joining them. Here's my pro and con list for the rain:

Less heat
Free yard watering
No water restrictions in the neighborhood

We can't go swimming
There's little motivation to leave the house
It's scary to drive in
It's just a bit humid outside

The number one drawback of all this rain is that it makes our hair ugly. I have so much hair that it takes me sweet forever to get it dried and fixed every other day. Honestly, hair stylists have told me I have enough hair for three people. So when I've put that much effort into fixing it, I'm none too pleased to end up looking like a neglected poodle after getting caught in the rain.

This happened to me on Monday night, actually. I got my hair looking sleek and smooth against its will and then we immediately went out to the country for a cookout with my family. As soon as we got there it started pouring. I resolved in my heart to be a big girl (even when it was thundering) and not spoil the fun because of my hair. Even with the use of an umbrella it looked like doody for two days. I should have washed it yesterday but didn't because I wasn't going anywhere and, hey, it was still raining!

Today we had lunch plans with some dear friends from Irving and the mop had to be cleansed. Y'all, my hair looked amazing. AMAZING. I gave it the triple torture - blow dry, Chi, and hot rollers. It submitted so nicely. Curt walked in the door to pick me up and I made him take a good look at me. I wanted him to remember it because by the time we returned, my good hair day would be a distant memory.

I do have one very powerful tool against the rain. When Jackson was a baby we went to a youth camp on the bay in Palacios, Texas. It poured the entire time. And y'all, sometimes umbrellas just don't do the trick. Especially when you're carrying a baby on your hip or trying to get your kids in the car. We got so sick of being drenched that Curtis finally went to Ace Hardware and bought some hideous, bright yellow rain jackets with hoods. They were legit. If I worked on a shrimp boat, this is what I would wear. Call me Captain D.

Last week during VBS we had monsoon-ish weather. I'm not even kidding you. After a couple of days of using the umbrella, I realized it was doing me no good. In fact, I was more wet using my umbrella than nothing because it made me so darn slow. So I traded in my cute polkadot umbrella for the shrimper jacket. Oh yes I did. It had been in our garage for two years and smelled like grease, but did I care? No. And guess what? I had an amazing hair day against all odds. The Lord reminded me that Annabeth had a rain jacket in her closet that she'd never worn and she was oh so cute in it. Poor Jackson wore a winter jacket that kept his body dry but not his head. Bless his heart. But let's be real. He's a boy and he didn't care.

I busted out the shrimper jacket today because we have Metro this evening and I don't want to look like the neglected poodle or its doody. It was raining when Annabeth and I picked up Jackson from day camp. We pulled into the soggy parking lot and that's when I realized I had this legit shrimping jacket on - with a hood - and my daughter had nothing to protect her from the rain. I am such a good mother. Annabeth didn't seem to mind and we weren't outside that long. I was prepared to tell anyone who asked that my baby's hair dries in 5 minutes but mine takes forever!

A few people did stare at me and I suppose I'll never know if it was because I looked like a fluorescent yellow Rat of Nimh or because I went so overboard protecting myself against the rain while doing nothing for my daughter.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

For Your Own Good

So last season's Bachelor and his fiance have broken up. And it's messy. If anyone cares, here are my thoughts.

I think Jake is probably a man of faith. It was hinted at over and over again and the word "faith" was used numerous times. In the first few episodes of The Bachelor, you could see a difference in how he did things. For example, there was one girl who was saying she wouldn't kiss him until she was the last girl standing. He seemed moved by her convictions, but when she just used it to tease him he let her go. Another time, one of the bachelorettes snuck down to his room at night (the one he picked in the end, actually) and he made her leave. I can't remember the other things that made him stick out to me, but I was convinced he was a Christian guy. Curtis vehemently disagreed with me. How could a Christian guy get on there and make out with a bunch of different girls? Well, I have done some idiot things as a Christian, but I assumed Jake had a plan to go through this show with his integrity intact. What about that little matter of needing to choose a partner who shares your faith? I'm pretty sure the producers of a TV show are not going to be trusted to pick contestants like that. There were a couple of girls on the show who appeared to share Jake's faith and I thought it might work out for him. But in the end he chose the woman who was constantly portrayed as a vixen. That was after the overnight dates that I hoped he might do differently, but didn't.

If there's a lesson here, it's that when Christians attempt to play the world's games with our own rules, it often ends badly.

I watched the interview between Jake and Vienna on Monday night. Oh my word, it was a train wreck and I could not look away! Jake and Vienna have been living together during their engagement. Apparently she is "demeaning" and he is "controlling." She spent a lot of time in tears and he seemed cold and angry. She says he started refusing intimacy, which, if he really is a Christian, is probably because he has been under conviction about it. Vienna said his reasons were wanting to wait for marriage or because he was fasting. At that point I nearly threw up in my mouth. Jake, please tell me you were fasting from sin, and not fasting from intimacy for the sake of prayer - which is a verse for married people (1 Cor. 7:5). Bleh!

The only reason I'm taking up the time and space to write this is because I saw myself in the train wreck. That was me 12 years ago trying to be someone I wasn't. I had the Holy Spirit living in me but I was living in a way that constantly grieved him. The horrible guilt and refusal to turn from my sin made me miserable. I was always angry and my heart was icy cold. I was trying to play the world's game but I lost. Badly. Satan tells us that God's ways are not for us, but against us. He never wants us to have fun, never wants us to be popular or important. We deserve to be free from his restrictions. But as we saw during that interview and on the cover of all the tabloids at the grocery store, Satan only wants to turn us into fools. He'll talk us into getting into bed with him and then be the first one to point the finger and accuse us (Rev. 12:10) to God.

God's commands are meant to give us freedom. Freedom from guilt, shame, fear, reproach, humiliation, and scandal. Glorious, abundant freedom. Believe me, it is so much better on the side of freedom. If you haven't been over here in a while, come back for a hometown date. Life is good here.

"And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?" (Deut. 10:12-13, emphasis mine).

Monday, July 05, 2010

Fourth of July Favorites

When Melissa and I were kids, we spent every single fourth of July at Pine Forest Country Club. Our grandparents were members during that season of life and I can't even tell you how much of our childhood was spent there. On the 4th, we'd go in the early evening and swim in the pool. Then we'd have some barbecue and watermelon to pass the time before it got dark enough for the main event. As the sun set, families would start to scatter across the golf course and spread their blankets across the hills. After the longest time imaginable, the fireworks would finally start shooting up above the tall pine trees. They'd go up one at a time for a while, then two at a time, all the while building anticipation for the spectacular grand finale. It never got old.

One of our family's favorite stories is from when my younger cousins Ben and Joe were little bitty boys. Joe sensed nature calling at a most inopportune time, and as is every boy's privilege, he just went behind a tree. But Joe was very young and he was scared of the noise from the fireworks. So he asked his big brother to hold his ears while he did his business. "Ben, will you hold my ears while I tee tee?" Poor Joe has to hear that story over and over again. Now he's all grown up and starting a career as a firefighter. Our family is so proud of his bravery and all-around awesomeness!

Here's a list of some fourth of July memories from over the years.

1995 - My grandma let me borrow her Mustang convertible for the holiday weekend. I only had my learner's permit, so one of my parents was always with me while I drove. As I stepped on the gas for the first time and felt the strength of the V8 engine, I fell in love! (A few months later, Memaw gave me that car for my 16th birthday.)

2000 - Curt and I had been dating for a couple of weeks. Both of my parents were out of town and wouldn't let us in the house while they were gone, so we hung out on the porch all night. We brought a little TV out there and watched What About Bob. Random! Of course, my sister and her boyfriend didn't care what my parents said and they stayed inside. We love giving her a hard time about that. And, no, she didn't get in trouble!

2004 - That summer we celebrated our second anniversary and were living in England. It was a little sad not being in the USA for the Fourth of July, but some friends from the church put together a little party to celebrate. Wasn't that kind of them? They served dinner inside the church gym and some British folks we didn't know did a line dancing demonstration. I remember getting tickled about the very serious expressions on their faces. During our five months abroad, I learned what deep connections people have to the places they're from. I remember longing to see big, round Texas oak trees and tall, skinny pines. We visited the Texas Embassy in London that summer and I nearly cried when we walked into the restaurant and saw everything that looked and tasted like home. England is fabulous but there's just that tie to home you can never get over.

2005 - I was barely pregnant with Jackson. I don't know if we'd even told any of our friends yet. We got in the FBC Irving church bus and went to see the fireworks in downtown Dallas. I chewed Preggie Pops the whole time to keep myself from getting sick. I swear if I tasted one of those things now, I would probably lose my lunch.

2007 - We had several families over to our house for a cookout. The toddlers played in baby pools in the front yard. Jackson was going through a really unfortunate party foul phase and he swallowed some water and puked in the pool. It was sick. Later we set up chairs alongside 114 to watch the fireworks over Las Colinas. We waited and waited, then finally we heard the booming of the fireworks. But where were they? We didn't get the memo that they were going off in the courtyard of some very tall buildings. We missed the whole thing and we were right there! Even so, it was a great memory. I think all the babies fell asleep on our laps.

2008 - I was pregnant with Annabeth and at the peak of misery with morning sickness. My parents invited us over for dinner and since I could barely serve my family sandwiches without getting sick, we took them up on their offer of food. In a brilliant move, my parents made chili dogs. CHILI DOGS. I sat in the living room with my head in my hands, willing myself not to throw up, while everyone else had a great time around the dinner table. Later, Curtis lit up some smoke bombs with Jackson and he ended up being utterly traumatized. For the next year he freaked out anytime he saw smoke.

2009 - Last year my whole family (except for Colin) was together at a beach house in Galveston. It was so much fun! We swam in a pool, had dinner at Gaido's, and watched fireworks from a third story deck on top of the house. We could see every fireworks display on the island and many on the mainland. Some neighbors' fireworks got a little too close, so we moved down to the second floor deck. What a great memory.

2010 - We spent the morning at church and had a spontaneous lunch with our friends Andy and Corey and their son Whitt. That was great fun. On the way home, we got a few little fireworks and I grabbed a watermelon and some peaches from a farmer's stand. I pointed to the farm across the street and told Jackson that this fruit was grown right there! Then I noticed that the peaches had stickers on them - stickers that said "Georgia Peaches." What?!?! They redeemed themselves by being juicy and delicious.

Last night we had Chuy's fajitas over at my parents' house. Then we packed into the Suburban like sardines and headed to Pine Forest Country Club - the place of so many 4th of July memories - to see the fireworks. Someone had hooked us up with tickets and after more than ten years we would get to have that experience again. And with Jackson and Annabeth! Jackson was in heaven watching the fireworks and we're certain he has a bright future as a sports color commentator. He described every single thing he saw. (I wonder where he gets that?) Annabeth screamed and cried during the fireworks and my sweet husband took her inside a building. He tried to get her to enjoy the fireworks by playfully saying "Wheeee!" every time one burst. So she would cry "Wheeee!" Poor baby. Hopefully we'll get to go back another time when she's old enough to appreciate it. I should tell her, though, that little girls really don't get the "go behind a tree" privilege.

We were in the last row and dad's legs reached all the way up to the front. This picture was supposed to catch that but didn't quite achieve the envisioned greatness.

My dad and grandpa.

Curtis Jones.

Jackson and Hannah running and rolling down a hill.

My grandma and my cousins' other grandma, Mrs. Carroll.

Mom with Annabeth, Hannah and John. My cousins just moved home from Japan!

Jackson and me.

Jackson and Bibby.