Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Follow Me

Do you know Uncle Kracker's awesome song, "Follow Me"?

I didn't know Kracker had a Blogger blog, but I'm sure he has tons of followers. I have four, over there to the right. Four people who at least pretend to like me. And I don't even know them...they're stalkers! Kidding, kidding. Love you, ladies.

So what's the matter--you don't like me? You want my soul to shrivel up and die because I feel like no one is reading my heartfelt posts? And the more frequent lame ones? Perhaps you just didn't notice the button over there, or were afraid to push it because you might mess something up.

My friend Jean has seven followers. SEVEN! Nearly twice as many as I have. I am ashamed, and humbled that she of the many followers deigns to follow me. She's probably pity-following. I don't care!

Please, I'm begging, click on "FOLLOW ME." You might win a million dollars or a pink iPhone. In the interest of full disclosure, it's highly unlikely, but you'll never know until you try.

I am easily distracted

So I said earlier in a post at Busy Bee that my plans for the afternoon were to clean out my shameful closet and take before and after photos. Here's what I've done so far (click on the image to see it larger):

Nothing sparks my creative instinct like the prospect of avoiding housework. This layout is very different for me...I don't do many heritage layouts. But last week I bought some Tattered Angels Glimmer Mists and Glimmer Screens (masks) that I wanted to play with, and this page was the result of that. I tried using the spray on canvas first, but I should have used watercolor canvas and the waterbased spray pooled too much on the treated canvas. In person the sprayed parts of the layout are beautifully shimmery but it's hard to photograph.

In other news, the drop-off of our little boarder went well. Ron took him while I was at horseback riding with Annamarie, and you can see from these photos that he is terrified by the thought of leaving his loving, nurturing family.

These photos were taken by Ron, bless his heart. I hope that orb in the second photo is Thomas' guardian angel. Ron said that when they arrived, the other boarders who hadn't gone home for the weekend were all sitting around playing Nintendo DS. He hoped that Thomas wouldn't be immediately bored to tears, clearly forgetting who he was dealing with. I'm sure that there aren't many opportunities for sitting around playing video games, but he just may be praying that rain always cancels planned activities.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lacking her mother's neuroses

This story is actually from last weekend and I forgot to post it. Annamarie is fortunately not as stricken with anxiety at meeting scrapping celebrities as her mom is. Sandy and I made a road trip to Memories Galore in Richmond, and we took Annamarie with us. I forgot it was the weekend Donna Downey was there teaching classes, but Sandy and I were able to get an in-person peek at the projects we'll be creating when we take the classes in October. We'll be making two of Donna's GORGEOUS mini-albums and I can't wait.

Anyway, Annamarie has watched Donna's video blog posts with me many times. She knows the names of her children and their dog, and she's seen photos of me with Donna from some event or other. When we walked past the classroom at Memories Galore I whispered to her, "See that lady teaching the class? That's Donna Downey." Annamarie was very excited and wanted to chat with Donna, but I said no, she's teaching. Donna's very nice husband Bill encouraged us to go on in since the class was almost done, so Annamarie ran in and said, "I've seen you on your video. Your glasses are very tempting to me." (Such a typical Annamarie comment LOL.) Donna switched glasses with her for a moment and Annamarie exclaimed, "These are WAY too blurry." Then she told Donna that she liked her hair much better when it was "blonde on top and dark on the bottom." No filter on this child, but Donna agreed with her.

I am really excited about the projects, but I've taken classes with Donna before and they move FAST. I am the slowest scrapper in the world, so I'll just take a valium (not really) and finish my project at home if necessary. Sandy and I are taking this one and this one at Scrapdoodles in Fredricksburg.

Donna is also teaching on the Ultimate Scrapbooking Cruise in January. Maybe like everyone in our town, she will recognize me as "Annamarie's mom."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thursday Night TV

SPOILER WARNING: I am about to discuss things that happened on Survivor last night. If you don't want to know who was voted off, don't read any further until after you've watched it on the TiVo.

This won't be as comprehensive a discussion of my Thursday night viewing as I intended, because my DVR let me down and did not record Grey's Anatomy. This is not as great a tragedy as it once would have been, in the days before I could watch most anything on the internet. Nonetheless I have not gotten around to watching it yet, although various friends have pronounced it good.

I have been watching er for about forever, and I have mourned the leaving of many wonderful characters over the years, but I think last night's episode was one of the saddest ever. I thought the actors did an amazing job of portraying the grief of losing a friend and colleague (been there, done that, twice). I hope they don't plan to spend their final season killing off characters one by one, because I can't handle it.

And on to my real reason for living from Thursday to Thursday: Survivor. Ron and I have watched almost every episode of Survivor ever, through the great seasons and the boring ones, and each season's survivors become our replacement for real-life friends. My BFF Mary Beth has thought several times about applying, and I think she'd be great until she started having DTs from M&Ms withdrawal. I feel that our summer rafting trip proved that I can outwit, outplay, and outlast so I just don't feel the need to deprive others of that opportunity. Plus, how mortifying would it be to have to be pushed up the hill by my big butt AND I would be calling for the helicopter to Loser Lodge before the words "leech-filled swamp" were fully out of Jeff Probst's mouth.

Just a few comments on the players:

Michelle: Probably spent the day after thinking, "What happened? Why did they vote ME off?" What would be the opposite of Miss Congeniality? At least she's not "stuck with the dorks" anymore. I would have voted her off for the tube socks alone.

Ken: Do not let my son find out that "professional video game player" is a career option, lest he decide he is plenty qualified enough and drop out of school in seventh grade. Also, DUDE. Announcing on national TV that you have not kissed a girl in 4 or 5 years? Hott. Since Michelle was voted off, looks like it may be another 4 or 5.

Charlie: Is he making a spectacle of himself or what with his schoolboy adoration of Marcus? His parents surely must have squirmed when he was chosen for the Kota tribe and FLUNG himself into Marcus' arms.

Marcus: Kudos for being secure enough with your sexuality to not freak out about Charlie's puppydog affections. Also, thumbs up on the boxer briefs.

Ace: Eww. And I like bald men. But you are an arrogant snob and after about day 3, people are not going to feel like "descending forward like a swan."

Gillian: I'm not going to rag on her because her daughter is a fellow scrapbooker, but being physically weak, overly perky, and bossy at the same time is not a strategy that has worked well for past survivors.

Randy: You didn't make it through DAY ONE without medical assistance? He can't possibly be as nasty as his online profile claims he is.

That's it for now, but I can't wait till next week. Tomorrow morning we move Thomas into his dorm. I spent the day packing with him, which was an interesting gaze into the 12-year-old male mind. "Two pairs of underwear should be enough, right?"

Of course it's thundering

Because it's 2:30 AM and my youngest child, who is afraid of thunder and has never been away from me for a night except at my mom's house, is currently sleeping in a cabin in the woods with her fifth grade classmates. I know she's fine; she was fine at 10:00 when Ron was shooed out of the girls' cabin so that they could get ready for bed. But it's 55 degrees and it's been raining for 12 hours and I hope I sent enough dry clothes. And why did I talk her out of taking her stuffed horse, Stacey?

Ironically, on Saturday morning I will take my other child to school and leave him there forever. Well, maybe not forever, but until he remembers that he loves us and we're not so awful and he's ready to come home for a weekend. Thomas attends a boarding school where he has been a day student up until now, and he has been begging to board because it is SO NOT FAIR that he has to miss all the fun his friends have and do you know they get to stay up until 9:15?? On school nights?!?

We said no last year but there are so many reasons why this is the right thing for our family at this time, and we pray that it is going to relieve a lot of stress all around. The school worked with us financially after we told them we just didn't have any more money to give them, which was a real blessing. We are going to sell my van, which makes both me and Ron sad because we love the van, which is very luxurious compared to our other vehicles. But it is just one year old and we hope to be able to get a good price for it. So goodbye, leather interior and heated seats and surround sound and magic dimming mirror and automatic liftgate and sonar that keeps me from hitting the sides of the garage. And hello, morning/homework/bedtime battles being someone else's problem five days a week. Thomas is sure that it's going to be a constant slumber party, and he keeps brushing off the strict schedule and chores and evening study hall. I hope he loves it as much as he believes he will, and I hope it will be a real growth experience for him.

Tomorrow...my Thursday night TV observations. I know you have been holding your breath for that.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Where does the time go?

Ack! It can't have been a week since I posted. Internet, I have no excuse for my neglect. I also have nothing particularly interesting to post about so I will just list a few of the random thoughts that are floating around in my feeble perimenopausal brain.

1) Thomas went back to school on Monday and things are going great there. We had a couple of very rocky evenings but things seem to be back on track for now. I am enjoying my alone time immensely. I seem to be headed for life as a hermit...I swear the older I get the more I need my solitary time.

1a.)The beginning of school at Oakland also means the beginning of soccer season, which stirs up very mixed feelings in me. I do not mind at all when they play at home, but because they play other small private schools, we occasionally find ourselves driving all over the hinterlands for an away game.

2) I've been better about making Annamarie do her daily reading after school and today Ron and I were both beaming as she read two chapters out loud. She is about 2 years behind grade level, but we were told that she might never read so can I get an amen for our awesome girl who never stops surprising us.

3) The first week of school, Annamarie's class made posters about themselves and they had to list their favorite activities. Every couple of days now when we are in the car, she will list her favorites for me and there are about 100 items on her list, including taking a warm bath, talking to Grammy and Sandy on the phone, praying to God, eating dessert, going to the dog park, hanging out with her family, listening to her iPod, petting Ruby, and on and on. How can you not love a child who is that good at counting her blessings?

4) Another thing I love is music. Have I ever said that before? I flip flop between genres and when I find a new (to me) artist I wonder how I ever lived without this amazing music and I want to share the wonder with everyone I know but I usually end up inflicting it only on my children because they are a captive audience in my car. They have exquisite taste though, disregarding Annamarie's great love for Shania Twain, and Thomas has become a big John Mayer fan. Lately I have been rediscovering how much truly awesome contemporary Christian music is out there. Right now I can't get enough of MercyMe, Third Day, HillSong, and Steven Curtis Chapman. Third Day's Revelation is the song I am currently playing over and over and I can't imagine anything better than a power ballad for Jesus. I am also anxiously awaiting the release of David Cook's album on November 18.

5) Coming home from taking Thomas to school yesterday, I was behind a truck that had this phone number printed on it: 1-800-666-FIRE. I sincerely hope that I won't require this company's services in the future, because I don't know about you, but I am a little bit afraid to dial that number. "Thank you for calling The Fiery Pit of Hell, where your eternal damnation is our number one priority. Please press 1 to arrange for the sale of your soul. Please press 2 to challenge the devil to a fiddle competition..."

6) Oh, and a layout I did yesterday:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Yeah, scrapping!

This first layout was part of a tag challenge at Busy Bee. I lifted a layout by Shawna Webster and now someone will lift mine and the challenge will continue. Check it out here.

I did this layout last night while watching Definitely, Maybe. What a cute movie! Sandy and I attended a simulcast of Living Proof Live at her church and although this photo is terrible (we asked a stranger to take it) I wanted to remember the awesomeness of that weekend and also to use Heidi Swapp's amazing new lines. The pocket contains a bunch of the scriptures from the weekend. It scanned way brighter than it actually is, but I am far too lazy to rescan it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Indian Summer brings out the crazy

Today's high temperature was just about 70 degrees, a bit unseasonably cool for us, but it felt like a promise that fall is coming. Fall is my favorite season, with its back-to-school excitement and showy colors and favorite sweaters. Oh, I love summer too, but by August it is less about vacation and more about being the season in which the humidity makes my hair look like Krusty the Klown's or maybe Carrot Top's before he went on the plastic surgery and steroids diet. And also, it's the season of too much unstructured time alone with my children, who for some reason never learned the truism that the more you can entertain yourself without whining and bickering, the more likely Mom will forget you're around and let you stay up later. I imagine that there is some scientific research which positively correlates parental annoyance with 8:00 bedtimes.

Thomas and I pumped up that back-to-school feeling by getting him a snazzy new haircut and some new sneakers for school, which starts for him on Monday. He is as excited to start seventh grade as I am for him to go. I would have to think that the past three weeks home with me has backed up my claims that being a grownup is not nearly as fascinating as he imagines. Behold, I have maintained a facade of laundry and dishes and will resume my real mysterious adult activities on Monday. Or maybe on Tuesday, because I will be alternately napping and dancing around on Monday.

I also went to the dentist today to get my teeth cleaned. Our dentist is a wonderful southern gentleman who happens to be from the same tiny North Carolina town as my dad. (Warning: This story is going to take a turn which gives a glimpse of the Crazy that lives in me.) My appointment was at 6:00 PM, so I met Ron at the dog park and turned the kids and dog over to him at 5:30. I was way too early for my appointment, so I sat in the car and put some makeup on, both to kill time and because well, those tooth-illuminating lights are very bright and probably not all that flattering to 42-year-old skin. When I was nearly done with my makeup, I realized I was sitting right outside the waiting room window and hoped that the receptionist wouldn't think I was putting on makeup just for the dentist, who is coincidentally a very handsome man.

I went inside about ten minutes before my appointment, grabbed the nearest People magazine, and listened to the receptionist and another woman laughing about their college-aged sons' inability to do laundry. I wavered back and forth between feeling righteous and mean because both my 10- and 12-year-olds are very capable at washing and folding laundry, and then I was called back. I had forgotten my worries about looking like I was getting fixed up for the dentist until he walked in and I leaned my head back against the chair, causing my barrette to spring out of my hair. I swear it was like a spoof of Sarah Palin, who even Thomas is calling "the sexy librarian." My wavy hair tumbled wildly around my shoulders and my glasses fell off, revealing me for the sultry vixen that I am. OK, maybe not, but I was irrationally afraid that Dr. L was going to think I planned the unleashing of the bushy mane as some sort of office seduction. The tiny sane part of me was sure that he didn't even notice, but nonetheless I mentioned Ron several times, as if to say, "See, I have a wonderful husband and therefore no reason to frighten you with untoward advances."

I'm scaring you now, aren't I?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Surprise, surprise

Yesterday was a rare day filled with (good) surprises. They're so unrelated that I am going to employ ye olde list format.

1. Scrappy mail! Several months ago Donna Downey created this fabulous fabric album which made me gasp with delight. You know I love me some mini-albums. She made kits available on her site (seriously though, Donna, $55?!?), but noted that the stamps she used were no longer available. I was crushed. Without them my album wouldn't be as cute as hers. The stamps had been a CK kit of the month and had sold out. Naturally their unavailability kindled a burning acquisitive desire in me. I did find several sets on eBay, selling for three and four times their original price of $29.95. To make a long story short because your yawning makes it clear that this is only fascinating to me, I waited it out and finally was able to buy them for the original price. My only concern now is where I am going to store these things. There are a lot of them and the border stamps are 12 inches long. I can't wait to use them!

2. After a meeting at church I was stopped by a friend who gave a lead on a new small private school that might be a good match for Annamarie. So far the only drawback is that driving the two kids to different schools in different counties would mean 180 miles of driving every day.

3. I heard from a very dear old friend that I haven't spoken to in 20 years. We have known each other our whole lives, and his dad baptized me when I was a baby (he was our pastor, so he was qualified to do that). He and I became good friends through our church youth group and oh my soul do I have good memories of those times. I am so excited to catch up with him.

4. I should have given this one top billing. Thomas had a wonderful day and cleaned the entire kitchen on a whim while I was chatting with my old friend via email. He did a great job and seriously, this news is about as unlikely as hearing from someone after 20 years.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cool cat

With his mom's sunglasses on.

The kids and I spent Labor Day at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It was a gorgeous sunny day and the park was surprisingly uncrowded. Thomas and Annamarie would get off a ride and holler, "Can we ride again?" as they ran by me to get in the short line again. I would look up briefly from the book I was reading in the shade, nod and turn up my iPod.

It's not hard to be an Awesome Mom on days when you can provide amusement park rides and overpriced sodas and bags of $2.99 a quarter-pound candy. Yesterday we were back to the real world where the PlayStation 2 is grounded in the garage and rooms had to be cleaned, and I needed a Word. (Beth Moore often says that when she's concerned about something, she prays, "God, I need a Word." I wish I could say that the Words that sustain and comfort me unfailingly come from the bible like Beth's do, but truthfully they often come from the pages of bloggers far more eloquent than I. I don't think that necessarily means that God isn't giving them to me, though.)

The words that I needed to read today were written by the amazing Jennifer Mattern at Breed 'Em and Weep. An excerpt that made me weep because I could have written it myself assuming I had Jenn's talent:

I yell. You yell. We all yell. We are absurdly loud, at times. Even the dogs flinch and stare.

I hope you will be all right, now and forever. Your hearing, and your hearts.

I love your hearts very much. I yell because I love you. I really do. That can be true, it turns out.

I yell because I know you can do better.

I yell because I know I should do better, be better to you, but I don’t always know how. And I hate that. More than I can say.

It's not just that it's nice to be reminded that I'm not the only imperfect mom in the world. It's more that even in Jenn's posts about what she sees as failing her children, her overwhelming love for them is what shines through the most. I hope that's just a little bit true of me sometimes.

The Booya Girls are at it again

Four SUPER new articles up at Busy Bee this week...check them out. I swear my acrylic album addiction is getting bad! They are just so much fun to create. For this one I photographed some of my children's school art, printed it on photo paper, and um, archived the originals.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Counting Down

1. Doctor visit to get my stitches out (itching like crazy). 3 days
2. Thomas goes back to school. Alternative title: Welcome back, sanity. 12 days, 17 hours, 7 minutes
3. Trip to Key West for our 15th anniversary. 37 days
4. Ultimate Scrapping Cruise with my BFF Mary Beth. 129 days