Thursday, July 31, 2008

hold you forever in the middle of my heart.

My mom loves coffee ice cream. She never, ever falls asleep watching movies. She has beautiful, perfect cursive handwriting. When she gets upset she says “Jiminy Christmas.” She always does a crossword puzzle while she watches the 10:00 news, and then promptly goes to bed at 10:30.

Mom is a great cook. She makes perfect brownies. She’s so amazing at giving driving directions, she can tell you how to get anywhere in Dallas or Houston and what stores are on every corner. It’s like a superpower. My mom is good: she always eats the right things (her idea of a “treat” is a “fizzy water”), she turns her library books in on time, she keeps a perfect check record, and she even flosses every night.

She is ridiculously patient with us. Mom is a great sport, and puts up with my dad and siblings and I when we tease her about using her “British voice” (I honestly don’t know how she hasn’t killed us yet). It’s impossible to call her at an inconvenient time; she is always ready to talk. And if we call and don’t really say anything, she’s okay with long silences. When I lived at home for a while in December, she played Speed Scrabble and Rummikube with me every night, and it was during these contented times that I was able to confide how I was feeling about where God was leading me.

My mom is an excellent preschool teacher; she even plays classical music for the kids in her class. She is crazy smart- she pretty much always finishes every crossword puzzle in the paper, and is crazy well-read. She is always reading multiple books at once, not to mention listening to books in the car and while she does the ironing.

My mom is seriously very fun. On the last night Ginger was in Texas last week, the three of us got out her wedding dress for the first time in 29 years, and Ginger and I both tried on her lovely veil as Mom regaled us with wedding day stories. Then she got out bags of old letters that she had written to her parents while at Texas Tech and we all laughed at the stories of our collegiate mother until we couldn’t breathe .

Mom is the perfect example of what a godly wife should be, and I know Ginger and I will be lucky if we are able to exemplify even a smidgeon of the qualities that she has brought to her marriage. First and foremost my mom is an amazing Christian woman, and I have learned what walking with the Lord looks like firsthand. We don’t deserve her love, her patience, her wisdom, her humor, or anything of the other many things she is constantly blessing us with. I don’t know how we got so lucky.

Happy Birthday to the MOST AMAZINGEST MOM in the history of ever. I love you!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's a Twister!

This title applies directly to my past week of family vacation in Texas. We took a whirlwind tour of the state, zipping through New Braunfels, Gruene, Houston, and Galveston; all the while being chased by the threats of Hurricane Dolly. During the hours in the car we listened to "The Wizard of Oz" on tape. And finally to fill the long evening hours at our Bed & Breakfast, my family of 5 played Pictionary - the word was "Exhaust." I drew furiously, a cloud of smoke from the tailpipe of a car, and then a very tired stick figure. I was like a tornado. My dad guessed just about everything but the actual word. Game night is always interesting in my family.

I remember one Christmas in the late 90's. Our cousins, or at least some of them, were playing a rousing game of Scattergories with us. In this game you record a word that begins with the letter rolled and gain points through the votes in the room. Say #1 happens to be "a color" and you've rolled an O as your letter. Most of the people in the room will record the color orange. A rather clever (read sarcasm) person might call out "orange-orange-red" only to have the entire room turn on them.

The best moment was when the letter happened to be P and the goal was to list "something you shout." I have a feeling we heard many exciting responses that night, but the only one quoted to this day was my mom's answer..."POLLUTION!" We still shout pollution every time we see it. She explained that she yelled it at the large trucks and their dirty exhaust. We returned home only to have my mother pick up the phone some months later and hear one of my cousin's shout through the phone, "POLLUTION!" and then hang up abruptly.

Highlights from this most recent trip include:

-Clay talking about "The Dark Night" in most conversations.
-"Floating" the Guadalupe that was only 3 inches deep in some portions
-Clay ordering duck and quail for dinner
-The interesting time of people watching at Schlitterbahn
- Almost winning in Pictionary
-Pulling into the fancy B&B looking like something out of the Grapes of Wrath (hood of the car smoking)
-Watching Mom dump her drink all over her plate instead of the BBQ sauce
-Going to the beach with a 2 year-old
-Mama Mia! It's not for everyone, but we loved it!
-Seeing Mom pull out her wedding dress for the first time since 1979
-Enjoying Texas and my favorite Texans for almost a whole week!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

These Days

So since she hasn't yet taken the opportunity to crow about it on her own blog, I am doing it for her: Dani found a wedding dress!!! And bridesmaids dresses!!! I can't believe it, I'm so excited. Their wedding is going to be so completely amazing, I just can't wait. I've written before about how surreal all this is, and it is even more so now that I'm looking at plane tickets and getting ready to fly to California in January! I get to see my Dani marry her Adam! And it will be a reunion of ALL the House 9 girls! The roommates and I have been writing this way too much, but I just can't help myself: EEEEEE!!!!!!!!

If you want to see one of the CUTEST kids ever (and who doesn't love cute kids?) then you need to visit my awesome cousin Shannon's blog for some crazy adorable pictures of her almost two-year-old son Justin. See? Aren't you glad you cliked?

So new catch phrase, guys: Janky Quanky. Use it instead of crazy. You'll like it. (It comes from a misunderstanding of what someone at Bible study had actually said, but janky quanky is so much better.) Let's make it happen.

Yesterday Josh, old friend from college, came into town. Even though we drive each other crazy half the time, we always have lots to talk about and have a good time together. We took advantage of my aparment pool, ate Chinese food, and I even got him to agree to watch some "Veronica Mars!" But the best part? Josh is a licensed massage therapist, and at the end of the evening he (completely unprompted) gave me a MASSAGE!!! It was amazing, and I didn't realize how much I needed until my face was contorted in pain as he worked out the knots. Wondrous.

Today I met Josh, his awesome parents Don and Mischa, and a bunch of their family friends for lunch at a Mexican restaurant. There was a little four-year-old boy there who was an incredible little prodigy when it comes to cars. Hand him your keys and within about three seconds he can tell you what you drive. Unbelievable. Sure enough, I hand over my keys, and after barely glancing at them, he instantly proclaims, "HYUNDAI!" I was completely gobsmacked, and continued to be amazed as he identified vehicle after vehicle. "MAZDA!" "FORD!" "GMC YUKON!" He was right every. single. time. I don't know how he did it. I was surprised he didn't yawn and roll his eyes at us being amused at what was clearly such an easy feat. Kid needs to go on the Tonight Show....

I left right after lunch to hit the road back to the parents house. It's only about a 3 1/2 hour drive, but I listened to "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" the whole way and the trip seemed even quicker. I can't say enough for listening to a good book on the road, guys! I mean, you know a book on tape has done it's job when I'm sitting in the garage at my destination delaying getting out of the car because I want to hear just a little bit more....a little bit more.... Although that may say more for the merits of Harry Potter in general than for listening to books in the car....

My brother Clay went to see "The Dark Knight" at the IMAX on opening night. At 3 am. Not insane enough for you? Yeah, he went and saw it again the very next night. Needless to say, he was pretty stoked when I gave him his birthday present tonight: an uber-creepy poster of a murderous looking Joker. Wouldn't want to put that thing on MY wall, but.... Happy 20th, Clay! Enjoy your new maniacal wall hanging!

So why did I drive to my parents house this weekend? Well I'm glad you asked! Is it because I have ALL of next week off, and I will be on VACATION? Hmm....yes. Yes, that is probably correct. In fact, Ginger flies in tomorrow night (SQUEAL!) and then on Monday she, the 'rents, the bro and I will be off to float the Guadalupe River! So if you don't hear from us for a while, now you know why!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rough Draft

This has been one of the more unexpected months of my life. There have been plenty of surprises to keep me on my toes. My soundtrack has been "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay and my books of comfort were The Same Kind of Different as Me, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Wide Awake.

This entire transition month began half a year ago when I got it into my head that I was ready to try life abroad. I worked towards, applied for, and prepared myself to move to Africa for a few months. I truly believed that the Lord was directing my steps through the application process, and as surprised as I had originally been about the opportunity, my heart had done a 180-degree shift and it was set on going.

I even went as far as to pack up my apartment and place all of my furniture and most of my possessions in storage. As I finished cleaning out the old on a Monday morning, I found myself looking upwards and saying, "I hope you know what you're doing Lord."

Of course the answer is that he does know exactly what he is doing, even if I don't always comprehend his thoughts or ways. The very next day I pulled into work only to discover a very polite rejection e-mail sitting in my inbox. Six months of planning and preparing seemed in an instant to have been wasted. I expected to feel disastrously sullen and upset, but found myself instead feeling foolish and limping along with wounded pride. I had work to do, so I set aside any emotions and moved forward with my day. That day turned into a week, and then work took me to camp with 200 kids, and camp took me to exhaustion and finally settling in to the condo that is now my furnished home, thanks to a kind soul on a roommate listing.

I sat on the floor of my room yesterday and tried to have a "moment". I was ready to cry, to journal, to pour out my soul to the Lord, but nothing seemed to come. As I watched the storm clouds roll in, I pulled out some stationary and wrote letters. I found myself reading the rest of the evening with no new goal or resolution to claim. But I think that's ok.

My reading of Wide Awake led me to chapter 10 of the book of Mark. There's a story there about a blind man (Bartimaeus) who was begging by the road. As Jesus and his disciples pass the man cries out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Some of the people were annoyed with him, but the man continued to only shout louder. Jesus finally responds and asks him this question: "What do you want me to do for you?"

In Wide Awake Erwin McManus writes, "Now isn't that a strange question? I mean, a blind man walks up to him, and Jesus asks, 'What do you want me to do for you?' To begin with, Jesus is supposed to be God. Shouldn't he already know what the blind man wants? But even if he wasn't God and he was just intuitive, surely, with a blind guy standing in front of Him, what Bartimaeus wants would be pretty obvious....Why make something so obvious a point of emphasis? It's all about the question: 'What do you want me to do for you?'"

The truth? I want Him to speak clearly and slowly enough for me to hear above all the noise that I seem to be making. For some reason I think that this life should be unfolding perfectly. I must remember that this is a draft, the perfection won't come in this lifetime. Until that time I must be content with edits and changes.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fun With Linking!

First off, I want to apologize for the long hiatus! A delightful 4th of July holiday away in Galveston and a very busy week prevented a post from me. Sorry excuses I know, but what are you gonna do? Exactly.

So remember when I confessed to being afraid of the 1985 version of Alice in Wonderland? I am so totally not alone in this! Other people think it's terrifying as well! SEE? I knew I wasn't crazy.
If you're at all familiar with Rotten Tomatoes, you know how hard it is for a movie to get a decent rating. The score is based on how many good versus how many bad reviews a movie gets from critics. Wall-E, the highest rated movie of 2008 so far (and SOOOO cute! I love him!!!) has an impressive rating of 97%. The Dark Knight is at 100%. Granted it only has 12 reviews so far, but that's still really impressive!

Without a doubt this is one of the coolest news stories I have ever read. A designer remodeling a lavish New York apartment turned it into a puzzle and scavenger hunt for the family, complete with codes, clues, secret panels, and so much more. In fact, this whole concept is so intriguing that its rights have already been purchased for Lost mastermind JJ Abrams. An exerpt: Then one night four months later, Cavan Klinsky, who is now 11, had a friend over. The boy was lying on the floor in Cavan’s bedroom, staring at dozens of letters that had been cut into the radiator grille. They seemed random — FDYDQ, for example. But all of a sudden the friend leapt up with a shriek, Ms. Sherry said, having realized that they were actually a cipher (a Caesar Shift cipher, to be precise), and that Cavan’s name was the first word.

Amazing old photographs that have been made to look 3D. They jump around a lot to give you the 3D illusion so it might make you a little seasick, but it's worth it. I don't know how they do it or why it works like this, but it's awesome.
I'm getting especially anxious to see the trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We (we the awesome Harry Potter fans, of course) thought we'd get a trailer with Prince Caspian. No. Then it was going to come with Kung Fu Panda. No. Then it was supposed to be Get Smart. And Dark Knight. No. No. Still-- nothing! Currently we are hearing it will come either with The Mummy or with Clone Wars. But that's heading into August! And the movie comes out in November! We are seriously overdue. Anyway. All this so say, at least they threw some pictures at us to keep us happy (for now)!
Now I'm not usually interested in medical articles, but this is fascinating. It starts out about itching- why we itch, chronic itching, itching that's all in our minds- but later delves into the very intriguing topic of phantom limbs and their mirror therapy. I know I'm not making it sound that great, but it's completely captivating.
This is SO COOL. You'll like it, I just know you will:

***Update on The Mole! I really thought Kristen might be the Mole! I'm so off my game, I couldn't believe it when she got sent home. Now I am suspicious of Clay and Alex. It will be one of them, just you wait and see! I'm...pretty sure....***