Friday, February 27, 2009

May the Force Be With Him

Conversation in the van earlier this week:

Dane: Mom, sometimes when people are really happy, they cry, right?
Me: Yes, sometimes people cry when they're real happy.
Dane: Yeah, sometimes when I wake up in the morning in my bed, and I'm thinking about Star Wars, I cry because I'm so happy. But it's not because I'm sad, it's because I'm happy. You can't hear me cry, I just have tears coming out of my eyes. I'm just a Star Wars fan.

The child has seen Star Wars movies twice. TWICE. But I guess he's just a Star Wars fan.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Some friends from church (and Val) threw me a fantastical baby shower yesterday.  Complete with Pregnant Mandy Food (including pickle wraps and mini key lime pies) and tons of super cute baby girl gifts.  Here are my girls and I behind the table o' yumminess (they totally speak my love language.  And I have no idea why this entire paragraph is "bold").And yes, those are carrot cake cupcakes and cake balls and mini key lime pies and chips with ranch and french onion dip that you see.  The vegetable tray is just off to the side.

My mom, sister Lindy, and G.G. came down for the shower also:
By the way, this is as close as I'm getting to a "belly picture" this pregnancy.  I'm reaching that depressing phase of pregnancy in the final month where even maternity clothes are starting to not fit.  Nothin' else is fitting into this shirt I'm wearing here, folks.

Should I be depressed that my 90 year old grandmother is more fashionable than me?  She always looks so sassy.

And nothing is more fun than opening baby girl gifts.  Lots of pink, and lots of ruffled items and handmade goodies by my overly talented family and friends.  I have about 57 pictures of me that look pretty much like this, but with different super-cute girl items.
My church (as well as my family) has once again amazed and humbled me at their generosity.  I'm feeling quite a bit more prepared and relaxed than I felt just a couple of days ago, and Baby Girl is even the proud owner of approximately 30 pairs of socks!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Valentine's Day 2009

Best.  Valentine's.  Day.  Ever.

So good, that I'm just now getting around to blogging about it, several days later.

I spent Saturday with my Sweetie, and a bunch of other Sweeties as well.  Thank you, dozen or so ladies from church, for loaning us the Man Muscles from your house for a few short hours on Valentine's Day.  This grateful pregnant lady didn't have to lift a SINGLE BOX.  

Yes, Saturday was moving day.  We are officially BACK IN our house!  Saturday morning too many people for me to count showed up at 8:30 am to help us out.  They moved everything from storage, into our house, and even assembled furniture, and were done for the most part by about 11:30.  It could not have gone more smoothly.  Several of our good friends and family stayed at the house all day long, helping with unpacking, installing fixtures, and basically keeping Brandon and me motivated to KEEP UNPACKING.  We got the vast majority of the house unpacked on Saturday, and we could not be more thankful for our friends and family who helped.  (Have I mentioned before how much I love my church?  If you don't have a church, you should totally come to mine.)

The boys were ecstatic to be back in their "really real house" and play with all of the toys they haven't seen in 5 months.  I've also been motivated in the last few days to go through a bunch of our belongings and really weed out things we don't actually need and use on a fairly regular basis.  Like a bunch of clothes in my closet and the boys' toys.  For example, I realized I have an entire dresser full of scrubs that I don't wear (mainly because my department recently went to "all black" uniforms).  

Several boxes remain unpacked throughout our house, and the garage is still a basic nightmare to even look at, but slowly but surely life is returning to normal here.  Just in time for a "new normal" to start in about a month with Baby Girl's arrival...

Brandon started tiling the shower in our bathroom last night, and hopefully the project will be finished next weekend.  We have a bunch of family coming to town tomorrow and Sunday for my baby shower.  I have the baby's room as unpacked as I can get it at the moment.  The walls are primed but not yet painted, and my mother in law is making her crib bedding!  I am so excited to see it.  Of all things, Brandon and I could not agree on any girl crib bedding that we saw ANYWHERE.  I never would have guessed it of him, but Brandon was pretty insistent that her room look "pink and girly".  Who did I marry?  

I also realized today that Baby Girl does not own any socks, and for some reason this really disturbed me and served to highlight all of the ways we are "unprepared" for this baby.  We also have gotten rid of most of our baby gear, including the high chair, swing, bouncy seat, and bathtub.  And I'm not sure if the car seat survived the hurricane or not, as it resides in a box somewhere buried in our garage.  I am going to have to make a big trip to Babies R Us soon, but I'm putting it off as long as possible, as this will only create more boxes for me to unpack and stuff to put away.  

And do baby girls have to wear hair bows so that people know she is a girl?  I have no idea.  I only know boys.  Can she wear boy socks?  Is there a difference between boy socks and girl socks?

Speaking of the difference between "boy socks and girl socks", our children just learned the difference between boys and girls, like, last week.  Apparently, Aidan, who is three and a half, has thought that boys and girls all have "tenders" like he does.  So we felt the need before his baby sister arrived sans tenders to explain that she's not supposed to have them.  Hmmm.  We've taught our kids about Jesus, and the alphabet, and how to add and spell their names.  We just never got around to "girls don't have tenders like boys do".  Not sure how that one got missed.  But we've cleared it up now, and hopefully we will avoid a very panicked Aidan the first time he witnesses his sister's diaper being changed.

So this post started off as "Valentine's Day" and ended up as something of a brain dump.  Sorry about that.  Have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

But First...

I am working on a post about our Valentine's Day (maybe I'll have it done by St. Patty's Day), but first...I could not resist posting this picture I recieved via e-mail forward.  I'm sure there's a story behind this picture that I desperately want to know.  Any guesses?  Thoughts?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Things I Will Miss

Let me apologize up front if all I seem to be blogging about are home repairs and getting back into our house. Now that we can see "the end" of all of this, it is very difficult to escape the tunnel vision I seem to have right now. I can't seem to focus on anything other than the 800 things that I think need to get done in the next week that will help get our life back to normal.

Because for the last several months, "normal" has looked very different. We have been living with my aunt, uncle, and cousin since September. When we first moved in, I honestly thought we would be back in our house by Christmas. At that time, if I thought it would be almost 2 months longer than that, we would have explored other options for their sake. Asking someone (even family) to put you and your family of four up for an indefinite amount of time just seems inconsiderate. Yet in our desperate and homeless state immediately after the hurricane, we did it anyway. To put it mildly, they have been the most gracious hosts you could imagine.  These last several months have been infinitely easier than they had the potential to be because of our wonderful family.

In no particular order, here are some of the things we will miss most about these last 5 months:

1. The drawer of McDonald's toys. My aunt Carol has an entire drawer in the kitchen dedicated to little McDonald's Happy Meal toys and other little trinkets. I think it took Dane and Aidan about 3.7 seconds to discover the drawer, and it has served as a wonderful "find something to do while I finish making your dinner" diversion.

2. Chocolate milk and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. And Little Debbie snacks. And other goodies that I love but don't buy when I go shopping. The boys are going to have a rude awakening when they do back to drinking straight white milk without the splash of chocolate they have become used to. Yummy!

3. My cousin Jonathan ("Jonpin" to Aidan) and the look on his face when he watched Dane and Aidan run around the living room jumping and falling on the ottoman one night. It was a great look.

4. NCIS. My uncle Tom is an enabler to my addiction to this show. It's on 3+ times a day in syndication here, and the first episode starts during the kids' nap time. I'm sure there are more productive things I could be doing during nap time, but Gibbs and the team manage to lure me in more often than not.

5. No one decorates a house for Christmas like my aunt Carol. No one. It was so pretty and festive, I missed "being home" a lot less than I thought I would this past Christmas. Because my house is never that pretty or festive for Christmas. I'm lucky to get the tree up and decorated. The boys are at this perfect age where they were enthralled by All Things Christmas, and managed to break only a couple of things. Also, I wrapped all of my gifts and most of the gifts for my aunt, which I love doing, and I got to set up a "gift wrapping room", complete with a table for wrapping and a Christmassy movie playing. I wish I had a permanent gift wrapping room.

6. The boys playing the "newspaper game" with my uncle Tom. This is an ingenious game where the boys run around the room and my uncle, from the safety of his chair, hits them with newspaper rolled into a ball. Dane and Aidan LOVE this game, and could play if for hours. There's lots of squealing and attempts at evasive maneuvers, and shouts of "betcha can't hit me again".

7. Carol the cleaning lady (not Carol the Aunt). She came every other week. I will miss her.

8. The walking trails. In my aunt and uncle's neighborhood, miles of walking trails circle around in the "woods" for joggers, dog walkers, and little adventure seekers. It's a safe place for them to walk, run, ride scooters, and collect sticks and rocks. Dane and Aidan will miss their walking adventures.

9. My wise aunt. My aunt Carol is very very smart and the best part of our displacement has been getting the opportunity to actually get to know my family a lot better. We have lived 20 minutes away for 8 years now, and before this we saw each other perhaps a couple of evenings a year. My uncle Tom is very smart, too, he's just usually working during the day when I am at the house and craving adult conversation.

10.  The image of Aidan in my Uncle Tom's Chair.  My uncle has a Chair.  Many mornings I would wake up and find Aidan rocking back and forth in the Chair with his blankie after Tom has gone to work early.  Because he wouldn't dare occupy the Chair in Tom's presence.  But out of a dozen options of where he could choose to sit, Aidan loves to sit here.

We are moving back into our house this weekend, and it will be a transition.  One of many transitions that have taken place for our family over the last several months, between pregnancy and hurricanes.  As over-the-moon excited we are about moving back into our home, in many ways we will miss living here.

(And if anyone wants to help us move, please holla.  Because though I will be a useful unpacker, a little thing called Braxton Hicks means I won't be hauling boxes and arranging furniture this weekend.)  

Monday, February 9, 2009

Because I Don't Have a Facebook of my Own

Hot Brandon got Facebook a few months ago.  And I gotta tell ya, it's pretty addicting.  I'm pretty sure I spend as much time if not more on his facebook than he does.  I don't have my own, and I'm not sure why.  It may be that I like a certain bit of anonymity online.  (Ironic, since I have no problem spilling my guts here on my blog).  But I like not naming my town, last name, employer, and other identifying factors here on my blog.

But I love reading other people's facebook and seeing "where they are" and "what they're doing", and I've had fun reading people's "25 Random Things About Me" postings.

So blog readers, here are "25 Random Things About Me".  And I tag everyone on my sidebar.  Even if you've already posted this on your facebook, you have to post it on your blog too.

25 Random Things About Mandy:

1.  I don't like gravy.  Or mashed potatoes, yogurt, oatmeal, grits, bananas, or just about anything with a "mushy, don't really have to chew" consistency.  This includes ice cream if it is too melted and runny milkshakes.

2.  I have a scar just below my right eye from my forceps delivery.  I was 9 pounds when I was born, and my mom is very petite (sorry about that, mom.)

3.  I don't like roller coasters.  Even the ones that aren't really that scary.

4.  I can't climb steps without counting them.  But when I count them, I count them by syllables.  For example, when I count the steps and get to "seven", that's two syllables, so each step gets its own syllable.  Do they have medication for this?

5.  When I was in elementary school, I decided to get my ears pierced.  So my mom and I went to the Golden Triangle Mall, and after the first ear was pierced, I decided it hurt too much to get the second one done.  So I left the mall with one ear pierced, and left the earring in for the requisite 6 weeks before pulling it out and letting the hole grow back in.

6.  When I was in high school (maybe middle school?) I used to rollerblade back and forth in front of my house every evening for about an hour.  But just in front of my parents' house.  If I went farther, I would have to navigate a hill, and even after an unfortunate incident involving a stop sign and my face, I never learned how to apply the brakes on the rollerblades.

7.  I don't put butter on my bread.  Or on rolls, cornbread, etc.  I do put it on corn on the cob, but that's it.  I also don't eat any kind of sauce (ie mayo or mustard) on my sandwiches or burgers.  This is not because I'm heath conscious, I just don't like wet stuff on my bread.

8.  I'm only on number 8 and already I am running out of random things.

9.  One of the doctors I work with who hasn't seen me in several weeks, told me last week that I was "the most pregnant person he has ever seen."  This is a man who has been a doctor almost as long as I have been alive.  Just wait till next month, doc.  THEN I'll be the most pregnant person you have ever seen.

10.  I get cravings for chicken when I am pregnant.  I have been known to go to the grocery store, buy a rotisserie chicken, and pick at it for the next three meals.

11.  Half of my random things thus far have involved food of some sort.

12.  I almost didn't get into nursing school because the school lost my application.  So my dad called Senator Jane Nelson (I'm not kidding) and explained the situation, and several hours later I got a call from the president of The University of Texas at Arlington telling me I was accepted into their nursing school based solely on my GPA, sans application.  Then I graduated Summa Cum Laude two years later.  (FYI:  My spellcheck just picked up "Laude" as a misspelled word, and wanted me to change it to "Laid".  Perhaps my spellchecker finished in the bottom of his class and bears some resentment...)

13.  I know my alphabet in sign language, but no actual words.  Except Jesus.

14.  I serve once a month as a "greeter" at church.  This means I am supposed to be smiley and friendly and welcoming to our visitors and newcomers, helping them with basic questions and directions.  What happens instead is that as I am greeting, I greet someone I know but perhaps haven't seen in a couple of weeks, and we end up talking for 10 minutes, making them late for service.  I'm the worst greeter ever.

15.  A couple of months ago I was reading books by an author named Lee Child.  They are addictive books and characters, and Brandon and I read every book he has written without interruption.  We were obsessed and even dreamed about what we were reading to the point that we were both losing sleep because we could. not. put. the. book. down.

16.  Brandon and I bought the first bedroom furniture we have ever bought last night.  After almost 9 years of marriage.

17.  I also have to buy a new kitchen table, which is going to take forever because I want to buy one exactly like the one I had before.  Stupid hurricane and moldy kitchen tables.

18.  I drink 1-2 liters of water per day, and 1-2 servings of caffeine a day.

19.  I love going to garage sales and buying kids' clothes for .50-$1 apiece.  My 3-year old is currently wearing a pair of Ralph Lauren jeans in perfect condition that I paid $1 for.

20.  I have no earthly idea what I am going to do with a daughter.  I am a Boy Mommy, and the idea of raising a daughter causes me to lose sleep more than one night a week.

21.  I fell off my bike one time when I was a kid and skinned my knee and I don't think I ever rode the bike again.

22.  I am not a pack rat.  I tend to throw away things I am finished with, and rarely give it a second thought.  I have no problem getting rid of clothes that have not been worn in a year or two, kitchen junk I'm never going to use, books we have read, and random financial paperwork such as pay stubs that I can't think of a reason to keep.

23.  I have no desire to ever scrapbook or quilt anything.  Ever.

24.  My favorite "board game" is a little tile game called Rumi-Cube.  I once played, like, 16 games straight with my cousin in the back of a suburban on the way to Austin.  My dad was driving and stopped at a restaurant and had to order for us because we were still in the car playing.

25.  I can insert an IV in the dark.  And put in a Foley catheter in the dark, for that matter.  (Well, the catheter takes a little light.)

And I tag everyone on my sidebar to come up with 25 Random Things of their own.  Because I'm getting sick of looking at pictures of all your kids (just kidding.)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Thanksgiving in February

Back in November, our senior pastor at church, David, asked the congregation to submit "Thanksgiving stories". This is what I submitted, and what was read in church the Sunday before Thanksgiving (that's why it addresses our church family). I have gone back and read this several times over the last few months, to remind myself of just how fortunate we really are. It is very easy to throw myself a giant pity party, when the reality is that our family is very blessed indeed:

This year our family has much, much to be thankful for. It has been an eventful year, to say the least. A year in which we are thankful for the way God has provided for us. Last July and August, I remember money being tight for our family. I work as a registered nurse, and the nature of my position is one where I "fill in" when the emergency room is short staffed. I remember not working as many shifts as I thought I needed to work to help pay the bills. I remember praying to God that He would continue to provide for our family as He always had in the past, expecting that surely the shifts would come. Early in the morning of September 13, as Hurricane Ike was ripping through the Houston area, a 60 foot tall water oak tree was ripping straight through the roof of my house. Ike's subsequent rainfall fell directly into our house, leaving significant water damage to about 75% of our home. Our van was also totaled as it sat in our driveway, in direct path of a large branch from this tree. At last estimate, our house sustained $130,000 worth of damage. Miraculously, our family was completely unharmed, as we slept, along with my sister-in-law and her family, on the opposite side of the house. We are thankful that we were home, as we were able to move many of our belongings to safety and prevent further losses.

God has been unfailing in the way He has taken care of our family through this. This year, we are so thankful for our church family at Northside. You have come to our home in the middle of a raging hurricane to help. You have housed us. You have fed us meals. You have clothed us. You have watched our children for us while we met with contractors and insurance adjusters. You have loaned us a vehicle to use until we were able to replace our ruined van. And you have prayed for us. For our home, for our sanity, and for the health of our long-awaited unborn child (a whole 'nother Thanksgiving story of itself). And God has been faithful. With a few "pregnant-hormonal-woman meltdowns" aside, our family has felt the overwhelming "peace that passes understanding" that only comes from God. We know that our family is safe and taken care of, and that our house will someday be ready for us to live in again.

We are also eternally thankful for my aunt and uncle's endless hospitality and patience. It is my prayer that someday I can say to a family, "Welcome to our home. Stay forever if you need to. If you need food, just put it on the grocery list, we'll take care of it. And the cleaning lady will be here Friday."

As of now, our house remains unlivable while repairs slowly continue. But we have learned patience. And we know that God will always provide for us. And those extra shifts at work? They never did come. But these days we don't have much of an electric bill to pay. Or a gas bill, or grocery bills for that matter. And who am I to tell God how to answer my prayers? I would have never in a million years thought that God would work through a hurricane and an oak tree to take care of our family.

By the way, this time next week we should be back into our "really real house" as Dane calls it. Yay!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Blogging is Cheaper than Therapy

I have been a little slow with all the blogging lately. Truth be told, there is a lot going on right now: I am 32 weeks pregnant, our house should finally be ready in the next week or two for us to move back in, and I am frantically trying to coordinate efforts between my insurance company, mortgage company, and contractor to ensure that this happens and everyone is fairly compensated. Oh, and I have to buy a bunch of new furniture. And Brandon is still out of town.

Lots of stressful, unfun-for-anyone-to-read-about things going on here, hence the scarce blogging. I am not sleeping well, working quite a bit this week, and still trying to be "good mommy" to the boys. Brandon gets back on Saturday, and I am looking forward to having him back. I miss him a bunch, and frankly, I need a little breather. Which is why my very compassionate OB doctor blessed me with a prescription for Ambien this past Monday. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you. At least for now I am sleeping.

So I have started a new category of blogposts on my sidebar called "blogging is cheaper than therapy". Because sometimes a girl's just gotta vent. So I apologize that you may be reading things that are non-light-and-fluffy and may not have cute pictures of your grandchildren in it, but this is my blog and I get to do what I want with it.

I may also be posting things that you find you have no idea what I am talking about. Because I have not blogged about every passing thought, life event, and shake-up thus far. There are things I have intentionally left off of this blog. I debate posting some of these things, but truth be told, I want to write them down. There are things I want to remember (happy memories or not), and this blog is my "scrapbook" so to speak. One that I let random strangers on the internet read, but my scrapbook none-the-less.

On a completely unrelated note, Baby Girl has a tentative birthday: March 26 is her scheduled c-section. This birthday is a familiar one in my family, shared by both me and my mom. So a delivery on this date would make it a tad easier on the rest of my family, having one less day to remember. And I think it's kind of cool that she would share a birthday with both her mom and her grandmother. March 26 puts Baby Girl at 39 weeks 2 days, so I hope I make it that far. Dane made it to 40 weeks (actually, I think I would still be pregnant with Dane if it were up to him), and I went into labor with Aidan at 38 weeks 6 days. So it will be a coin toss if I can make it to March 26, but we're going to shoot for it!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Open Letter to my Contractor Who Shall Remain Nameless

(if this makes no sense to you, please read the postings in the "Ike" category on my sidebar.)

Dear Sir:

Thank you for picking up your telephone on the Sunday morning following Hurricane Ike this past year. That is the only reason I hired you to fix my house after the damage it incurred. I was a hormonal, homeless, desperate woman with very limited cell phone service at the time, and I was very grateful to make contact with someone who knew how to build things.

But most days I wake up and wish you had not picked up that phone. You know, that day almost five months ago. Yes, five months ago, when you took on the job. The job that still isn't finished. Most days I wake up and wish I had not been so frantic and impulsive and had the clarity of mind to wait a few more days post-hurricane for businesses and other contractors to open up shop again, so that I could have hired a competent person instead. I'm not trying to be ugly, I just do not enjoy being lied to. Over and over again. You seem like a very nice person, and your family seems lovely. We would probably all get along just fine and dandy as long as we never have to do business together again.

A couple of other things I would like to mention:

--I wish you would have read the paperwork I gave you outlining exactly what insurance was going to cover, instead of just sticking it in my file. Then perhaps we would not have wasted 2 months because you didn't realize they didn't want to replace the roof (the roof has been replaced).

--Please explain to me why it is surprising to you that more than one coat of paint is required when you are painting walls. Especially when you are painting dark colors. The insurance paperwork outlined that they were paying for two coats of paint to be applied, so please act surprised. Please do not tell me "The job won't be done when we said it would be done because NOW WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO PUT ANOTHER COAT OF PAINT ON". Um, have you ever painted before? Of course red walls and green walls and blue walls are going to need two coats of paint. And while we're on the subject of painting, is it possible to have more than just the one guy painting the entire interior of the house? The job may get done a bit quicker if he had couple more sets of hands.

--Please tell your workers to please not throw away things like shower recesses and light fixtures when we buy them and leave them at the house for your workers to install.

--Thank you for fixing our crown molding. It looks much better now.

--When you tell us to pick from a small selection of carpet that is both in our price range and "in-stock", please make sure said carpet is actually in-stock. And please make sure that the second carpet that we pick out because you tell us is "in-stock" is actually in-stock. Because now we are having our third choice installed because the first two carpets will not be "in-stock" until the end of the month.

--See those apartments going up on the street outside of my neighborhood? Know why they are being built so fast? BECAUSE MORE THAN TWO PEOPLE ARE WORKING AT A TIME. Should it bother me that an entire apartment complex is being built from the ground up faster than my house is being made livable?

Thank you for letting me vent, Mr. Contractor-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless. Please keep in mind that though I am extremely frustrated with you, I pray for you on an inconsistent basis. I pray that your weeks are slow and relaxing, so that there is ample time for you to finish this stinkin' job already.


Homeless and Pregnant