Friday, October 31, 2008

Scenes From a Canon

I was going through my camera, and I came across a few pictures from the last week or so that I enjoyed.  

This was one of Dane's soccer games.  We were having "technical difficulties" with the camera during Aidan's game, so all we got were a few pics of Dane's game after a desperate call to my brother for camera assistance.  I know this isn't a great picture, but I just love the expression on Dane's face.
And Aidan found some powdered donuts to eat during Dane's game:
The happy soccer player and his Daddy:

During one of our play groups, a bunch of us took the kids to this local "pumpkin patch" at one of the churches.  I use the term "pumpkin patch" very loosely.  My children and I were chastised no less than 4 times in under an hour for (and I'm not kidding here) HANDLING the pumpkins.  That's right, a "Look but don't Touch" policy at a pumpkin patch.  We were told that we were more than welcome to sit NEXT TO the pumpkins and pose for a picture, but please do not actually PLAY WITH the pumpkins.  Maybe the Pumpkin-Nazi-Lady thought these were special golden pumpkins that would turn back into fairy-dust at the mere touch of preschooler's hands.  As you can see, we listened and obeyed very well at the pumpkin patch that day.

My friend Becky made me a purse.  This purse.  And I LOVE it.  Our church has a quilting ministry which up until a couple of years ago consisted of a lovely group of, well, older ladies.  I don't mean geriatrics, I just mean they were all at least a generation older than my own.  Then something happened with the sweet quilting ministry.  They started offering free child care all day on Mondays and making purses.  Now, all of my friends are quilters.  They make sassy diaper bags and teacher bags and purses and I was jealous and wanted my own.  But, alas, I am horribly impatient and not good with tedious, time consuming tasks, and I am simply not cut out to spend hours with a sewing machine.  So my friend took pity on me and made me my very own purse!  
And if you look closely, you may notice a very subtle bird theme.  Because I am all about the birds.  
Happy Halloween, everyone!  I'll post cute pictures of the Knight in Shining Armor and Leonardo the Ninja Turtle soon!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions, Part 2

Please refer to FAQ Part 1 if you are feeling exceedingly nosey about my family's current situation.

Q:  So, um, you're pregnant?

A:  Yes, we are pregnant.  Homeless and pregnant.  Just stick me barefoot on a street corner and I am a statistic.  We are about 16 weeks (4 months-ish) along, and should find out in a couple of weeks if it is a boy or a girl.  I feel fine, and have felt fine the whole time (I think God knew I could not handle morning sickness and everything else that is going on right now), except for very frequent headaches that I'm hoping has been a sinus infection that will clear up with the gigantic antibiotics I am taking now.  And, I have only gained about 2 pounds so far (that was SO NOT the case with my previous pregnancies, I had put on about 10 at this point with the boys).

If everything goes how Mandy plans (which would be the FIRST thing that has gone how I planned of late), the baby will be a scheduled c-section in the last half of March.  The actual due date (40 weeks) is March 31, but due to minor complications with my last c-section, I think my doctor is planning the delivery for a week or two before that date.  And because life is not complicated enough, Brandon will be leading a mission trip to Mexico over Spring Break the second week in March.  So if you're local and wondering how you can help us out, you can offer to take the boys for a day between March 7-March 14 so I can rest and try not to go into labor while Brandon is building houses in the barrio.

Q:  Aren't you just so so excited that this one might be a girl??  Aren't you??  Aren't you??  You'll get to dress her up in frills and pink and the hair bows!  Oh, the hair bows!!  You SO need a baby girl in your house.

A:  Um, wow, you (and almost EVERYONE I have talked to) are sure excited about the possibility of me having a girl.  Can I send not-sure-it's-a-girl to your house when she is 13 and having a girl-drama meltdown because the boy she thinks has nice hair loaned her best friend a quarter at lunch time and that must mean he does not like her AT ALL and how dare her best friend for cheating on her non-boyfriend like that.  

I don't know if I can handle a girl, and frankly the possibility of having one sends me into a near panic attack at times.  I'm sure it would be fine, and we would eventually (hopefully before she is actually born) become thrilled with the thought of having a daughter.  I have been practicing "being okay with a girl" by going to stores with baby clothes, looking at pink clothes, and trying not to throw up.  It's been very therapeutic.   We would also be thrilled with being an all-boy family.  That thought gives my heart a bit of piece in this moderately stressful season in our lives.  And, um, all the baby girl clothes are pink.  Really pink.  That nauseatingly pale baby pink.  I can taste the bile in my throat as we speak.

Q:  How do the boys feel about a new baby coming?

A:  It doesn't occupy their thoughts much.  Dane wants a baby boy so their will be three boys, and Aidan is ambivalent about the whole idea.  I'm grateful that I do not have children that wake up every morning and say, "How much longer until the baby is here, Mommy?"  Because, folks, it would be a long 5 more months.  Dane is slightly concerned that if it's a girl, we don't have any girl toys.  He wants me to go and buy the girl a Barbie.  Like, now.

Q:  So since you are pregnant, are you still planning to adopt?  Where does the pregnancy leave all of that?

A:  Read this if you are confused about this question.  The easy answer is, yes, we are still planning to adopt.  We have always wanted to adopt a child into our family, and we continue to rely on God's perfect timing in this.  The agency we are dealing with has put our application on hold until the pregnancy is over.  They say it is not psychologically good for the family to be in the midst of a pregnancy and an adoption simultaneously (um, especially for this family at this time, because excuse me, my plate is FULL).  And that seems like a very logical decision to us.  At the earliest possible opportunity, we plan on activating out application again.  Brandon and I decided that if we have another boy, we will plan on adopting a boy, and if this baby is a girl, we will plan on adopting a girl.  We are hoping that these two children will be close in age, just as Dane and Aidan are close in age.  

Hope everyone is having a great week!  Congrats to my baby sister who closed on her first house today!  

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions

These days, I get asked quite a few questions.  Well, here are some answers for inquiring minds:

Q:  How's everything going with your house?

A: If you recall, our house became Hotel Ike on September 13 when a giant tree decided it would rather be an indoor plant.  We have hired who we believe to be very capable and honest contractors (ask me again in a couple of months).  Unfortunately, I am less impressed with my insurance company by the day.  My contractor cannot start the actual work and repairs until the insurance has approved the estimate (and it's a big estimate).  And who can blame him?  I don't work unless I know I'm getting paid, either.  So I sit.  Waiting sometimes-patiently to hear from my insurance adjuster to call and say that we are a go for launch.  And we remain homeless now, going on 6 weeks, for repairs to begin.  My contractors have been wonderful.  His staff (and by staff I mean every female related to him), has inventoried, boxed up, and moved to storage EVERY ITEM IN MY HOUSE that was not ruined.  And the ruined items?  They inventoried those, also, and disposed of them.  That brought me such peace that I cannot describe.  I was spared the overwhelming chore of going through all of my destroyed belongings and inventorying them.  Thank you, kind elves.

So if anyone out there is wondering what they can do for us, please pray that we hear from our insurance company soon that they have approved the estimate so work can begin.  We are expecting this to be done in a matter of days, but there have been delays at every turn, and people, my sanity is hangin on by a thread some days.

Q: Didn't the tree hit your van, also?

A: Yes, the tree hit my van also.  It crashed into the top of it, breaking out the 3 back windows, and flooding the interior with 14 hours worth of hurricane rain.  Needless to say, it was totaled.  
(Quick story, one day when I called State Farm to check on the status of the claim for my van, the lady pulled up my information and said, "And you had the van that was completely submerged in salt water, right?"  Um, no.  But then I got to thinking, is rain from a hurricane that's been over the ocean for several weeks salt-water rain?  And then the phone girl and I shared a moment of blond-silence while we thought about that one.  Fortunately my husband was sitting right there to bring us back to 7th grade science class and remind us that no, it wasn't salt water rain.

For the past couple of weeks (several weeks), we have been borrowing an "extra vehicle" from a family at church.  This family is not one of our close friends (no particular reason why, we just have not taken the time to get to know them as much as we would like), but they heard that we were without one of our two cars, and called Brandon's office offering up their truck.  And when I say truck, I mean TRUCK.  3/4 ton, extended cab, full bed, hiked up thing that doesn't fit in some parking garages.  I felt testosterone-deficient just climbing up into the drivers' seat.  We returned the borrowed truck to the generous family this past week, and continue to be amazed at the generosity and kindness of our church family.

This past Friday we went into Houston (by House of Pies) to look at a van Brandon found a great deal on from ebay.  I was skeptical, to say the least.  When we pulled up to a warehouse across the street from a couple of abandoned houses behind an apartment complex I was a bit more skeptical.  When we stepped out of our car and saw a BMW outside the warehouse with a sign in the windshield reading "No Title Available", I was about to run for the hills.  Or maybe the House of Pies.  And I probably would not have run.  (come on, now.)  But we found a great van in this chop shop.  One year newer than our old one, 12,000 fewer miles, and much more affordable.  There were no floor mats in the van, so we just decided since the van had probably been used to transport dead bodies (Stow 'n Go seats are very handy for just such a thing), the floor mats must have had too many blood stains on them for resale.

All kidding aside, I think these van people bought vehicles on auction and then resold them.  And if you're ever in the market for a fire truck, I know just where to find one.

Q:  So where are y'all living?

A:  Since September 14, we have been living with my aunt and uncle, who are perhaps the most gracious people on earth.  Brandon and I talked about it, because our insurance will pay for us to stay in a hotel.  We thought that me in a hotel room for days with Dane and Aidan might just drive me to insanity, so we thought this was a better solution for our family for the time being.  And from our perspective, it is working out as good as it could possibly work out, considering we are living with other people.  The house has enough room that for the most part, we are not stepping on each other's toes.  

If at some point between now and house completion, it starts to not work out for our aunt, uncle, and cousin, we would move into a hotel for the duration.  After all, we are all family so technically we all have to love each other, we would still prefer that we all still like each other after this is all said and done.  Because we will still have to pass the cranberry sauce to one another at some point.

They live about 20 minutes from Hotel Ike, and it's closer for us to my work and the boys soccer, and a little farther from church and Brandon's office.  Did I mention that it's the best it could possibly be, living with other people?  We will be eternally grateful for the hospitality of my aunt and uncle, and I pray that someday we have the opportunity to answer someone's prayer when they really need a lot of help the way this has really answered ours.

I just realized that I am rambling far more than I thought I would be, so I will wrap this up and continue with part 2 FAQ tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

He Makes Me Laugh

Brandon and I went into Houston the other day (not a common occurrence for us), to look at a van Brandon saw on ebay (that's a whole different blog).  If you're familiar with Houston, we were on 610 going north, where 290 hits 610.  The highway splits, and the left lanes follow the "290 to Austin" signs, while the right lanes stay on 610, where we needed to be.  We were in one of the left lanes, and we needed to change lanes.  Here is the conversation that ensued between Hot Brandon and I whilst attempting to change lanes:

H.B.:  Let's go to Austin.  Let's 'Keep Austin Weird'.
Me:  We're not weird enough to 'Keep Austin Weird'.  We're very normal and boring.  We would just 'Keep Austin Regular'.
H.B.:  We don't keep Austin regular.  I think the prune company keeps Austin regular.
Me:  Hmmm.  Good point.  That would be a huge responsibility.  Keeping the entire city of Austin regular.
H.B.:  We'd be like Austin suppositories.

I love him.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Coming Soon: March 2009

And you thought I was just getting fatter.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pumpkin Patch 2008

While we were in DFW last week, we took the boys to the greatest pumpkin patch ever.
We got there on the morning of the first day it was open, and we were one of the only people there for a little while, and the weather was perfect.  A great morning.  This particular pumpkin patch comes loaded with not only pumpkins, but inflatable slides, bounce houses, obstacle courses, and playground equipment.  I think it their hearts, Dane and Aidan are still there.  Mean Mommy made them play in the pumpkin field for a while and pick out their pumpkins before they could play.
Aidan always looks huge in pictures like this:
Please note that I did not photoshop to adjust the colors in any of these pictures.  The day really was this orange.  
Finally all the pumpkinning is done, and the boys got to play for a while.  It was nice this year, because Aidan was big enough to do everything Dane was doing.  Last year we had to help him climb up these steps.
I think they think the pumpkin patch people were their real family, so they could play here everyday.

I didn't take a picture of this, but they also had one of those circa 1986 playground merry-go-rounds.  The big metal kind that the kids just hang on for dear life to, while their Daddy pushes it around and around as fast as it will go or until a small child flies off.  Aidan loved it.  And his parents loved watching him stumble around in a dizzy stupor after we stopped all the spinning.  Fun times.

We were trying to make them pose like the characters from Kung Fu Panda here (What?  Doesn't everyone do this at pumpkin patches?)  Behind them is the hay maze where Dane had to go in and find two boys that were lost inside for like half an hour.  The maze is built too small for adults, and you can't climb on the outside to visualize your kids, you just hope they're still in there somewhere and haven't dug an underground tunnel to get out of all the hay, already.  I think you're allowed to throw water bottles and granola bars over the side to them, though.
Off to bed after getting my tail kicked in the ER today.  I love my job, I love my job.

Monday, October 6, 2008

State Fair Favorites

Perhaps by next weekend I will be done blogging about last weekend.  Or perhaps not.

We (and by "we" I mean Dane, Aidan, and I) had a blast at the State Fair.  I think even Brandon had a better time than he thought he'd have, what with all the Sham-WOW! fun and all.  And look!  Big Tex has a new shirt:
The kids rode several rides, the scariest one for Mom being this GIANT slide.  I don't know if you can fully appreciate the hugeness of this slide from this picture, but I would have been too chicken ride down.  Dane and Aidan didn't seem bothered by it.
Brandon and Aidan are on your right, Dane is racing on the left:
Don't they all look terrified??
One of the highlights of the Fair for Aidan was playing a couple of Midway games and winning cheap stuffed animals.  He and Dane played a fishing game and won a couple of puppies which they proceeded to drag around the Fair the entire rest of the afternoon.  (These animals were covered with Fair-dirt by the end of the day, and "accidently" got left at MoMo and Pappy's house.)
Dane also played that game on the Midway where you throw the football and try to get it into that impossibly small hole 10 feet in front and 8 feet above you.  My Dad had talked to the nice lady running the booth, and basically had arranged to buy one of the prizes if she would let Dane toss the football a few times.  Needless to say, both were a little shocked when Dane threw the football in the hole on only his second try.  He earned his prize fair and square.

No day at the Fair would be complete for Dane without a Fletcher's corny dog:
And Aidan learned the fine art of sticking your fingers in the plate of powdered sugar and licking them after the funnel cake was gone.  I don't know who taught him that.  So embarrassing.
To say he got disgusting would be an understatement.  He had sugar, snot, drool, sweat, and sunscreen all smeared around his face after it was all said and done.
We tried to get some cute cousin pictures after we ate.  This was the best it got.  This is what Aidan does when you tell him to smile for a picture.  Maybe he thought we said "Show me how big your underbite is!"
Then he thought we said "Show me how big your tongue is!"  (It's a freakishly big tongue.)  Meanwhile, Dane is just smiling and posing away.  
Here is the bride-to-be with baby Zane at his very first State Fair.  He's only slightly bigger than her engagement ring.
And finally, no day at the Fair would be complete without a trip into the petting zoo.  Please notice Brandon in the far left side of the picture.  At the petting zoo, you have to leave all strollers outside.  So while we had no qualms about leaving our $200 stroller outside, NO WAY was Brandon going to leave the newly-purchased Sham-Wows! out in the stroller.  Those could not leave our sight, lest they be stolen by the thousands of Sham-Wow hungry fanatics roaming the fair grounds.  So, yes, that is my husband gripping his Sham-Wows! between his legs while his son feeds a cow.  What?  Totally normal. 

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sham-wow! or Bust

This past week Brandon, the kids, and I loaded up in the little car and headed up to the State Fair of Texas to spend an afternoon eating random fried foods with my family.  I will try to put into words what occurred with my mostly normal husband that day.

So, Brandon sometimes has insomnia.  And sometimes he ends up watching TV during the wee hours of the mornings.  And sometimes he ends up buying things that he sees during those "Paid Advertising" slots.  (Like the 2-disc set of Country Story Songs.  "Boy Named Sue", anyone?).  

Moving on...

Brandon saw an ad for a Sham-wow! the other night.  Apparently they are magical non-paper paper towels that can pull a 2-liter's worth of spilled coke out of your carpet in no time flat.  If we had just had a few Sham-wows! a couple of weeks ago, we probably would not had any water damage in Hotel Ike at all, according to Brandon.  All of the rain would have just absorbed into the multiple Sham-wows! and we could have squeezed it all into an empty swimming pool somewhere. 

So about an hour or so into our fair day, we are walking around inside one of those buildings that have the booths that sell pots and pans and massage chairs and such, when Brandon says something like "What if they have Sham-wows! at the fair!"  And his eyes light up as if the State Fair of Texas held the Holy Grail.

Not 10 minutes later we are outside and see a older woman walking with two bright yellow rolls of unidentified object over her shoulder.  Unfortunately for the older woman, Brandon also saw her, and correctly identified her recent purchase as the elusive Sham-wow!.  I then witness my normally sane husband sprinting across the street, nearly slide-tackling this poor woman and her companion to find out where, indeed, she had gotten the Sham-Wow!  

After the embarrassing tackling incident and subsequent apology, we headed eagerly to the Embarcadero to see the Sham-Wow! demonstration for ourselves.  Sure enough, a fast talking, fast Sham-wow! rolling young man was Sham-wow!ing the crowd with his fancy Garth-Brooks-microphone and cool 2-liter tricks.  

I thought my embarrassment had peaked with the old-woman-tackling incident.  I was wrong.  So, so wrong.

It really peaked when I heard these words from the Garth Brooks mic: "The next three people who wave their hand in the air will receive not one, but TWO Sham-Wows! for the rock bottom price of $24.99!!

And then I witnessed my hubby wave his hand wildly into the air at Garth-Brooks-guy, while half-swatting another lady's hand down.

I'm beaming with pride even as I type.

Because, you know, only THREE people at the whole entire State Fair of Texas were being offered that 2-for-1 deal.  All those other people we saw walking around the fair that day with two Sham-Wows! must have paid full price for both of them.


Needless to say, if anyone needs to ever borrow not one, but TWO Sham-Wows!, Brandon is the person to call.

And please note the look of sheer amazement on his face: