Monday, June 26, 2006


Our Stake holds a series of firesides (evening meetings at the church that are NOT around a fire) called "Why I Believe." They have prominent members of the church share their testimonies. A couple of months ago they had one of the news anchors tell his story. Last night was the second in the series and it was a man named Jamil Srour. He is a Palestinian who was raised Muslim and converted to Christianity. He investigated several Christian churches and then joined the LDS church about 8 years ago. It was SO cool to hear his conversion story. He began to question the Muslim faith when he was 10 years old. He was beaten in school for asking questions about God. Yet, he continued to pursue his quest for knowledge. He had a very vibrant spirit about him. His talk has stuck with me throughout the day. I admire people like him who have made big sacrifices for their faith. It makes me realize how easy I have it.

I was a good girl and got to bed on time last night, so I got to go running this morning. It was really humid when I left, but that's not unusual for this time of year. I was enjoying my jog when it started sprinkling every so lightly, about fifteen minutes into it. It actually felt good, so I kept running. Then it started raining harder. I usually don't put in my contacts that early in the morning and my glasses were really hard to see out of! I needed little windshield wipers for them. I also use Andrew's palm pilot as my mp3 player when I run and was worried I was going to ruin it. So, I decided I better run home. I thought, "I must look hilarious running in the rain with soaked glasses, carrying this palm pilot under my shirt with one arm, so it doesn't get soaked!" Thankfully, it was a short little shower. It has stopped before I even made it back to the house. So, I thought I might as well run around the block for the next eight minutes and get my thirty minutes in. Too funny.

The kids went to a friend's house for a babysitting swap this morning. Usually I go shopping or play tennis with a friend while they're gone, but today it was time for business: I have to get my bedroom and bathroom looking decent before Tony and Cindy come to stay with us on Wed night!! So, I scrubbed the bathroom floor, washed baseboards, vacuumed little corners that haven't been touched in was very refreshing. It is almost visitor-ready. I listened to my CD player while I cleaned. I discovered the BEST song to clean to: Jennifer Lopez' "Let's Get Loud." I should've just put that song on repeat the whole time and I think I could've got even more done. It is so catchy and fun.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Uneventful weekend

I run my kids ragged all week. It is so much fun. This weekend we didn't do anything and I think it's exactly what we needed!

I had a service project at the church on Saturday morning. Our stake is participating in a Humanitarian project which includes collecting hygiene kits, children's T-shirts, and school kits, all of which will be sent to Salt Lake and then distributed throughout the world as needed. Our women's group is in charge of sewing the bags for the school kits. It started on Saturday and was supposed to last 2 hours. I took 4-H when I was a teenager, and had to help sew some bonnets for a pioneer trek a few years ago and that's about the extent of my sewing resume. I wasn't sure what to expect when I got there and figured I would just participate in ways that didn't involve a sewing machine--cutting, folding, sorting, etc. Well, there were enough of us inexperienced rookies, that we all ended up taking turns on the sewing machines. It was great! I felt so domestic! :) I didn't even break the machine and only had to have it rethreaded twice. Not bad. The two hour project was not nearly enough. We had about 15 women show up, but only about 7 machines to share. They are getting together again on Tuesday night to sew some more.

It felt good to give some of my time to a service project. I don't feel like we have enough of them in this ward. In fact, I think this is might be the first formal one I've participated in since we moved here 3 years ago! We have plenty of opportunities to serve the members in our own ward, though, so I guess it balances out.

After the project, I went shopping. I wanted to finish purchasing the road trip toys and also needed to get Brandon's birthday presents. It was so wonderful to just be able to take my time while shopping and not have to worry about the kids crying for snacks, Whitney having a stinky diaper, Brandon running away to find a certain toy, etc. Andrew was awesome to watch the kids pretty much ALL DAY. It was a very successful shopping venture.

That evening we decided to go out for Mexican food--my favorite. The kids were terrible and I was reminded why we rarely go out to a restaurant with them.

We rented Chronicles of Narnia to watch after we put the kids to bed. We saw it in the theaters, but liked it enough to watch it again. We were both too tired and didn't make it all the way through. Good thing Blockbuster lets you keep your movies for a whole week. Hopefully we can make it through the rest another night. Especially now that we don't have any TV shows to watch. Although, we may have found a couple of keepers in the past week. We watched the premier of Treasure Hunters. It is kind of like the Amazing Race. It's not as good, but is watchable. And we turned on part of Master of Champions this week, too. Brandon was an instant fan and told me yesterday that it is on again Thursday. He must've seen a preview and now I'm sure he will not let me forget. That show is kind of like a car wreck--you can't stop watching, but feel like maybe you should turn your head.

Church went well today. My friend Nicolle sat with us during Sacrament meeting. She usually does every week, but wasn't available the past two Sundays. It was great to have her back. She says she doesn't do anything, but just having her there helps a ton. Brandon is at the point where he does pretty well in church, but Whitney is difficult to keep quiet. Nicolle lets her play with her cell phone (which is basically off limits with me) and take every card and coin out of her wallet one by one which Whitney finds extremely entertaining. I didn't have to leave the chapel once during sacrament meeting and even listened a few sentences of one of the talks. That is a successfull meeting for me!

Primary was hectic, as usual, but I've come to accept that as the norm each Sunday.

We attended a baptism after church. Brandon has caught on to the routine that they serve refreshments after baptisms, so they have become one of his favorite activities to attend. Since church goes from 9-noon, staying afterward can be difficult with my the two munchkins. But Brandon really wanted to go, so I told him if he was good in church, we would stay. He was the first in line for refreshments when it was over.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Summer of Andrea

Remember that Seinfeld episode where George decides he's just going to do whatever he wants for an entire summer and he calls it the "Summer of George?" That's how I feel so far this summer. I am just playing all day and taking this extended road trip and I am having so much fun. It feels like the Summer of Andrea. (My kids just happen to luck out because they enjoy most of the things that I decide to do!) :)

This week, we went to the free summer movies and watched Polar Express with our friends. It was so fun to get Christmasy for a couple of hours in the middle of the summer.

We went to the water park yesterday. I am LOVING that place. Brandon is, too. Whitney has her good days when she has a blast and other days when she tells me, "Let's go home, Mommy."

Today we had playgroup in the morning. We did the coolest thing. We got to go to a butterfly farm. It is the most random little business that's out in the boonies and really hard to find with a tiny little sign off the road. But it was a great experience once we found it. The owner did a presentation at the beginning all about the life cycle of the butterfly and how you can tell a boy butterfly from a girl and the difference between moths and butterflies, etc. He SO reminded me of the guy from Napoleon Dynamite who owns the kickboxing gym where Kip wants to train to be a cage fighter. He was big like that and talked like him. I kept waiting for him to say, "Do you think anyone laughs at me because I go home to Starla every night?" But he didn't.

After the presentation(where I learned a lot!) we got to go into this little net-enclosed butterfly room. It was too hot, but was still awesome. He told us not to touch the butterflies with our hands, but gave us little cotton pads that were soaked in something the butterflies liked and we could catch them on those pads. It was trickier than it sounded, but I managed to catch a couple for the kids. They both loved holding them, but weren't really patient enough or still enough for the butterflies to stay long.

When we got home, we ate lunch and Brandon wanted to swim out in the little plastic pool in the backyard. We haven't done that all summer. Andrew will be happy to hear that we used it because we don't have a garage and it has been sitting in the shed all year, being a big annoyance. The kids probably had as much fun in there as they do at the water park. (I didn't because I just tried to sit in the shade, but still roasted while they swam.)

We started making purchases for the road trip yesterday. Found some good stuff at the Disney Store on clearance and a few books and toys at the Dollar Store. They also had some children's books on CD there. It's amazing what you can get for a dollar sometimes! I'm sure they'll be super cheesy and I can only hope that the CD will be in English. :) But, hey, it's just a dollar.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Nine years

Nine years! Hard to believe. I feel too young to have been married for that long. We celebrated our ninth anniversary last week. Here are some of the other numbers from our marriage:

6 years as married students.
(Yes, we learned how to live on a budget.
A very small budget)

5 apartments. 1 house.

2 broken bones.
(One on Whitney, one on Andrew--unfortunately his went
undetected for years and required surgery to repair!)

10 times reading the Book of Mormon as a couple

3 college degrees
(if you count my associates that took me 5 1/2 years to earn!)

(see first photo)

4 cars
(two that were driven until they completely died on us)

5 bikes
(Including the Lime Rickey and the Scorcher, two real
winners that Andrew bought for 5 bucks each at the DI.)

2 trips to the ER
(both for Andrew. both since his 30th birthday.
I think his warranty has expired.)

13 scrapbooks I've completed
(and one that's about half way done)

0 yelling matches
(with Andrew. I can't count
how many I've had with Brandon.)

1 happy family

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Operation: Road trip

Boy, oh, boy. I have been wanting to go on a big road trip pretty much ever since we moved here and this summer it's really going to happen! Yeah!

My mom rocks and she is flying out here to make the drive all the way to Utah with me. (Thanks again, Mom!) We will be gone for 22 days, 8 of that spent on the road. On our way out, we'll make stops in Oxford, MS; Dallas, TX; and Denver, CO. We'll spend about 2 weeks in Utah, visiting with both my side and Andrew's side of the family. Then on our way back, we're going through Nebraska, up to Nauvoo, IL for a day to see church history sites, and then down to Louisville, KY and home.

Does that sound awesome or what? I had mentioned it to a couple of friends who thought I was absolutely nuts. But today I talked to two of my friends at playgroup about it and they both think it will be great. I think it will be great, too! We will end up travelling a total of about 4500 miles round trip and see places I've never been. I'm so excited!

The bad part is we'll be away from Andrew for 3 weeks. But we have cell phones and we'll talk all the time. Maybe he'll even get a chance to golf a couple of times while we're gone.

So, do you have any long road trip advice? One of the moms at baseball practice last night told me that her kids love to listen to children's books on CD's. That's something I'd never even thought of. I think Brandon would enjoy it. Of course we'll stock up on lots of cheap new toys from the Dollar Store. And my kids always love to get new treats that I never buy for them at home. We have a portable DVD player that they love, but have kind of trashed, so we might have to look into getting a new one before we leave. If you have any other creative ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Silliness reigns

We had a lot of fun in our house this weekend. Nothing big and exciting. My kids just crack me up. We had several belly laughing moments and lots of smiles. Here are a few of the silly things they do:

Brandon told me this joke:
B: What kind of candy do they eat in Africa?
Me: I don't know. What kind?
B: It's called The Library. (At this point he busts up laughing with his completely contagious laugh, so I laugh too, even though I don't get it!)
Me: What does it taste like?
B: Library books! (Followed by more belly laughs.)

Whitney must've been really impressed with Brandon's preschool graduation ceremony, because she continues to talk about it every day. She will take a random object--a sock, a book, a stuffed animal--and balance it on her head and say, "Gradulation. It's my gradulation." (I guess that's her little hybrid way of saying Congratulations and Graduation at the same time!) It is very cute.
This is what happens when you ask ten 5-year olds to pose for a group photo. Just kidding. I TOLD them to make silly faces in this one and they did a great job.

I took Brandon to see Disney Pixar's new movie, Cars, on Saturday. We both liked it. He ran around the house the rest of the day calling himself Lightning McQueen. In the car on the way home he said, "Mom, that movie was about friends, changing, and speeding." I thought that was a great review.
After Sunday dinner, Brandon and Andrew were making funny faces at each other and I remembered that one Halloween Andrew and I had dressed as the "First Human Clone gone wrong" and we had used masking tape to make our faces look all distorted. I thought Brandon would love that, and this is the result! (Plus some fake teeth from a vending machine) Voila! It barely even looks like Brandon, huh?

Hope you had plenty to smile about this weekend, too!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Family Hike

This evening, after Andrew got home from a very stressful day of work, we went this amazing nature preserve that is about a 10 minute drive from our house. It feels like you have stepped out of the city and into the woods. I love it! The kids and I had been there several times before, but never with Andrew.

It was a beautiful day for a hike. We hiked to this little pond, where Whitney immediately fell in the mud and was overly-dramatic the rest of the night. (You'd never guess that she cared by the way she is playing in the mud in these pictures!)

I'm grateful to be in North Carolina right now, enjoying nature's beauty all around us.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Likes and dislikes

My life is so wonderful and I have no room to complain, but I somehow still manage to find things to complain about. :) Today I have been thinking about things that I really enjoy and things that I can't stand to do.

I LOVE being a mom. I was not one of those girls who always aspired to being a stay-at-home. I wanted to be a dentist since the 5th grade. But as I got older and matured, and listened to my church leaders, I felt that I should at least try staying-at-home since I have the opportunity to do so. I was completely surprised at what I discovered. It is so fun! I love playing in the backyard, going to the park, reading books to my two cuties, just talking to them and trying to figure them out, watching them learn and grow. It is so much better and more rewarding than what I'd envisioned before I was a mom.

Of course it's not ALL fun. I don't enjoy bathing my kids, watching Whitney go through two surgeries and continued eye problems, getting mad at them when they don't listen, potty training (which we haven't even started with Whitney yet, but I don't look forward to that whole process).

Now, the other part of my job as a stay-at-home mom is to run this household--keep food in the cupboards, cook, manage the budget, clean, etc. I don't like this part of my job description as much. I like having a clean house, but I don't like to clean. I almost wish it bothered me more when the house was dirty, so I would be more motivated to do something about it. I do like vacuuming and laundry. I hate cleaning bathrooms (SO thankful Andrew and the kids are in charge of that one!) and doing dishes. Yuck! I like grocery shopping, but don't like putting the groceries away when I get home. I don't really enjoy cooking, but I don't mind it, either. I am all about simple when it comes to cooking. I don't regularly make anything that takes more than 30 minutes of my time in the kitchen. I do enjoy managing our finances, though sometimes I wonder if I mess up too much.

I keep hoping that my attitude toward some of these housekeeping chores will change--the same way that my attitude toward mothering did. I mean, I know they're important. It's much easier to feel the Spirit in your home if it's clean. That's true! But, so far no luck. So I guess I'll just keep trudging along and doing it because I know I SHOULD do it and not necessarily because I WANT to do it.

What are your likes and dislikes about your job? Have they changed over the years? Have you ever TRIED to change your attitude about something and been successful? If so, how did you do it?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Eye STILL lazy

Darn it! Whitney had her appt at Duke today. We did not get the news we had hoped for, though it wasn't all bad, either. When we went in six weeks ago, her left(good) eye tested at 20/30 and her right eye tested at 20/100! Whoa--talk about a big difference. Her vision has improved. The left eye tested the same and her right eye was up to 20/70. Her dr. was happy with the improvement and said we just need to keep on doing what we're doing. So, that means MORE PATCHING. And he actually said we can patch more than 5 hours a day if we want, as long as she gets to use her left eye about 25% of the time. So he said we could patch her for 3 days straight, all day long and then let her go patch-free on the 4th. I think that's what we'll start doing, or at least trying. She does so well with it on, that I want to patch as much as possible and hope to see the vision equal when we go back in another 5-6 weeks. On the bright side, at least we saw improvement and know that the patching is doing something.

She is so cute and cooperative at the doctor's office. I think all the assistants and residents love her. We've been going there for about a year and a half now. This was the first time that the receptionist knew who we were before I told her. I felt loved.

I hope she doesn't end up with a funky tan line around the patch. She probably will because she tans so easily and we spend a lot of time outside.

Brandon had a baseball game tonight. He had two hits--one really good one and another kind of wimpy one. But, hey, a hit's a hit. And he had one good defensive play, too. He spent the rest of his time in the field trying to do the splits, flirting with the one little girl on his team, and asking his dad if he could have ice cream when the game was over.

I tried the new running shoes out for the first time this morning. They're nice and cushy, but came untied twice in my thirty minute jog--even though I'd tied them in double knots. After I retied them and pulled REALLY hard, they were ok. I love having that time all to myself in the mornings. I love to admire the landscaping in the neighborhood. I pass the same guy walking his basset hound every morning and we've formed sort of an early-morning-how-ya-doin bond. I've gained a pound since I started running. What is up with that???? It's not like I was hoping to lose a ton of weight, but I thought I might lose a pound or two and did not at all anticipate GAINING weight. I think I might be eating more junk at night because I rationalize, "Oh, I run now, so I can have a bigger bowl of ice cream." (Or the piece of cheesecake Andrew got me for my birthday that I'm eating right now!) I guess you need to have both sides of the equation--eat right AND exercise to stay in shape. I thought I could somehow cheat the system.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Another whirlwind weekend

It is going to be impossible to keep up the fun that we've had over the past couple of weekends throughout the summer. It has been awesome, and exhausting. On Saturday I had a Primary Leadership Mtg in the morning for church. Andrew took the kids to Brandon's baseball game. Brandon had his best hit of the season--out of the infield(which doesn't happen often in his!) I was so sad that I missed it!

On Saturday afternoon, the YMCA held a coaches appreciation day. We were invited since Andrew coached B's basketball team this winter. It was amazing. I was so impressed and am already hoping Andrew will coach again next year! The kids got to go horseback riding. There was an archery range. (It was both exciting and kind of frightening to see Brandon shooting a bow and arrow on his own.) They had a little lake with a water slide, trampoline, and diving platform. (We decided our kids were too young for that stuff, but it looked sooo fun.) Instead we took our kids to the pool. They had a "sprayground" which was kind of like sprinklers...on steroids. Brandon loved that part. Whitney got in the actual pool with Andrew. We put water wings on her and she was floating all over the place. She is definitely over her fear of swimming.

Saturday evening we had a Baptism at church. Andrew gave a short talk and I played the piano.

After that, we got to go on our weekly date. Poor Andrew tries so hard to surprise me and I always manage to figure things out! There's a little Italian and Greek restaurant between the church and our house that I've mentioned to Andrew as a place I'd like to try. On our way home from the baptism, I noticed that he glanced at the restaurant a little longer than usual. It was so subtle, but I thought, "I bet that's where we're going for dinner." And, sure enough, it was. It was good, but not great. I don't know if we'll go back again. Andrew got roast leg of lamb. I thought he was very brave for trying it. He said it was kind of bland.

It was a beautiful evening and after dinner we went for a walk around a little lake near our home. It was SO fun. The fireflies were out and it was the first time I'd seen them all season. It was like we had our own little magical light show. Loved it.

Yesterday was my 29th birthday! Yippee! Having a birthday on a Sunday is kind of lame because I still had all my church responsibilities to take care of. I didn't really feel like it was "my big day." But, after church Andrew made me a nice dinner and we had cake with the kids. Andrew got me new running shoes. Brandon got me candy. (what a surprise!) And Whitney got me a new yummy scented candle. Andrew said she picked it out all by herself. I was impressed. I don't feel any older. I'm happy with being 29. I told Andrew that I've stopped caring about age and it's just a number. He said that's a sign that I'm getting old. :)

Tomorrow's a big day for Whitney. We go back to Duke to see about her eye. I hope, hope, hope that her vision is doing well and we can stop the patching. Even though she does so well with it, I still feel bad for her. She gets so many stares and questions when we're out in public. I shouldn't care. She doesn't care. I should follow her example. I guess that's another reason why Christ tells us to become as little children.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Muggy days around here

There are some days when it's not even worth it for me to do my hair in the South because it's so humid that it just poofs up into a frizz ball. This is one of those days. The air feels heavy when you walk outside. I wore my hair up halfway yesterday. You know what I mean? Where you have a small ponytail on the top and then the rest of your hair is down in the back. At the dinner table last night Brandon said, "Mom, I call that hairdo acorn head or elephant trunk." I kind of felt like I should be insulted, but it was so funny that I just laughed instead. By the way, I do realize that Brandon has gotten most of the publicity on this blog so far. (Right now he is standing over my shoulder and trying to read what I'm typing. He just said, "I don't even have a blog!") Anyway, that is mainly a result of all the events he's had going on at school. However, I decided I should write a little about our beautiful little Whitney.

She is a quirky little girl and makes me laugh all the time. She is really into sleeping with dolls and stuffed animals. It started off with a collection of 3 dolls, but has somehow snowballed into 8 or 9..I lose count. Last week she decided she needed to add a certain Sesame Street board book to the mix as well. I don't know how she can get any rest that way! And one of the funniest parts about it, is that she thinks she needs to bring EVERY stuffed animal and doll out of her room with her when she wakes up. (Wow that was a confusing sentence, hope you figured it out)

She is also very loving and complimentary. She likes to sit on my lap, facing me and will say things like, "I like your hay-er. (hair) I like your piggies(if I have my hair up). I like your mole. (and my least favorite) I like your zit." She'll do the same thing to Andrew and say, "I like your bee-ud."(beard) even though he shaves every day.

She's been wearing her patch for 5 weeks now to treat lazy eye. We go back to her doctor on Tuesday and hope for the best. She has been such an example to me throughout her whole eye ordeals. She is a trooper and never complained through surgeries, dilation, patches, or exams. She is a joy to have in our family!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Brandon's big day!

Brandon and one of his teachers, Mrs. Eldred

Yippee I'm outta here!

Phew. Brandon made it through his first (and last) year of preschool without any trips to the principals office, broken bones, chipped teeth, OR suspensions. It has been such a good year for him. I remember feeling at the beginning of the year that he was kind of the "problem child." His teacher would tell me things like, "We really tried to work on his listening skills today." or "He had to sit out for a minute on the playground because he was throwing mulch at the other kids." By the end of the year, MOST days when I picked him up, I would hear, "Another great day!" It has been so fun to see him growing up and learning some of those social boundaries that come along with school.

The graduation ceremony was super cute. They all wore these little felt mortar boards. They looked adorable. The classes all sang two or three songs. Brandon's class sang "Here we come Kindergarten" to the tune of "New York, New York." "Start spreading the news. We're leaving today..." Very appropriate. They even had the kids do Rockette-like leg kicks. Brandon was into that. Their second number was "Happy Trails to you." Brandon was one of the loud singers, but not embarassingly loud like at last year's Primary program.

After the ceremony, we went with a few of his classmates and let them run around the McDonalds playland while their happy meals sat around untouched. :)

We were blessed to have such a small class (only 8 kids) and have become close friends with some of them. None of them are going with Brandon to his same elementary school, so I hope we don't lose those friendships.