Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Problematic Christmas Songs

I absolutely love Christmas music. I am the one who waits all the way until November 1st to listen to it... after all, there's no Thanksgiving music or Thanksgiving movies, so I go from Halloween straight into Christmas with a pause for food, family and the Macy's parade in the middle. Brandon is my balance, making me wait until after Thanksgiving is over to put up our tree or other decorations. He was appalled when I turned on "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" nearly a week before Thanksgiving and has refused to listen to Christmas music until this past holiday weekend was over. Now I'm thrilled that we have a Houston radio station, 99.1, that is playing Christmas music from now until December 25th. And yet, as I listened to it while driving around running errands and to work, I found myself bothered by a few songs. There were a couple that I listened to and just had problems with, so much that I have now dubbed them "Problematic Christmas Songs". Here, in no particular order, are 10 Problematic Christmas Songs and why they're troubling.

1. Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
  • Lyrics: "You better watch out, you better not cry. You better not pout, I'm telling you why: Santa Claus is coming to town...He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake".
    • Talk about a creeper! Let's threaten our children that they better behave or an elderly stranger will stalk them. Somehow this doesn't seem like sound parenting advice.

2. O Christmas Tree
  • Lyrics: "O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree"
    • Um, anyone know any more words to the song besides those? Maybe it's just that I watched "Ernest Saves Christmas" too many times growing up, and so I learned this song from him. Ernest, by the way, just sings "O Christmas tree" over and over and over for the whole song. Sounds good to me, but how could someone really get royalties for something like that? Not fair. 

3. Jingle Bells
  • Lyrics:"Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh. Hey! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh"
    • Everyone knows the lyrics, but herein lies the problem: wouldn't you rather sing this?
      • "Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg. Batmobile lost a wheel and Joker took ballet/got away" <--- depending on your raising. Seriously, much more fun, and yet that version is never played on the radio. Boo. Hiss.

4. Joy to the World
  • Lyrics: "Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let Earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and heaven and nature sing"
    • Same issue as "Jingle Bells". I cannot sing these lyrics, because I'm always too busy laughing like an 8 year old singing this:
      • "Joy to the world! Barney's (or My teacher's) dead. We barbequed his (her) head! What happened to his (her) body? We flushed it down the potty. And round and round it goes, and round and round it goes, and round and round and round it goes" Why is the former version so much more popular? I'm at a loss.

5. Twelve Days of Christmas
  •  Lyrics: Aw heck no I am not typing that all out.
    • It doesn't matter how fast you sing this song, it's always too long. And who decided there were twelve days of Christmas anyway? Last time I checked we had one day of Christmas. Now, there are eight days of Hanukkah, so my guess is that back in the day a Christian songwriter decided to show up our Jewish brothers and sisters by claiming we had a holiday that actually lasts 4 days longer than theirs. Take that!
    • A sidenote problem I have is the same as the previous two songs... I am always tempted to sing my own lyrics. Of course "Jingle Bells" and "Joy to the World" have well known childish remixes, while the "Twelve Days of Christmas" rewrite is a Tracey original, circa 1994 if I had to put a date to it. Sorry in advance for the missing days- the song is so long that I can't even remember my own lyrics.
      • 12 plumbers plumbing
      • 11
      • 10 lizards licking
      • 9 bombs a-ticking
      • 8
      • 7
      • 6 cans of dog food
      • 5 Super Bowl rings
      • 4 cotton balls
      • 3 French fries
      • 2 toilet bowls
      • and the Partridge Family 
6. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  • Lyrics: "I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe last night... Oh what a laugh it would have been if daddy had only seen mommy kissing Santa Claus last night"
    • Of course we understand the cuteness of the song is that daddy was dressed up as Santa Claus. But this naive kid knows not. And if he THINKS it'd be a LAUGH if daddy walked in and saw mommy and Santa Claus getting busy in the living room, there'd be some serious holiday domestic violence, and I guarantee no songs would be written about it.

7. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
  • Lyrics: "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas. Only a hippopotamus will do"
    • Rude, spoiled, ridiculous child.  Even if it were possible, they're a little expensive. You try negotiating with the zoo in order to fulfill a Christmas wish! Santa has so many kids to worry about each Christmas, and this girl is busy asking for wild animals. Your house is too small sweetie, and the hippo would bite your head off at the first opportunity. Then all you get for Christmas is a trip to the emergency room. Happy holidays.

8. All I Want for Christmas Is You
  • Lyrics: "I don't want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need. I don't care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree. I just want you for my own, more than you could ever know. Make my wish come true. All I want for Christmas is you"
    • It is impossible to sing along with this song. I don't care how many times you listen to Mariah sing it, you will NEVER be able to trill and throw your voice around just like she does in the opening of the song. You may have a CHANCE of semi-copying her when you sing it by yourself, but it's futile to sing with her. Which is frustrating, because it's one of the most fun Christmas songs out there. We have a love/hate relationship.

9. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
  •  Lyrics: "Grandma got run over by a reindeer"
    • There's more. Lots more. I especially love the explanation: she was drunk! Cut grandma some slack guys. Could there really be a more problematic Christmas song than this? It speaks of reckless driving and alcoholism in one breath and wishes a Merry Christmas in another. Sad, sad, sad.

10. Santa Baby
  • Lyrics: Not the issue.
    • It's not even worth writing the lyrics out, because there is nothing inherently wrong with the lyrics to this song. The fact that it's always sung by someone who sounds like they're breathing heavily on a 900-number is the issue. Try singing it and not sounding like a stripper. Try it.

      You tried, didn't you? :)

Honorable mention: My husband says I should include "The Christmas Song"...
From Brandon: To all the men out there, have you ever imagined how painful it would be to have your "chestnuts roasting on an open fire"?
Gotta love him. 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all: enjoy your music this holiday season :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Today I'm Thankful for Music

Every day this month I've been participating in stating what I'm thankful for. This used to be difficult for me because we never really shared personal things like that growing up. But man, oh man, is it freeing to be able to talk about the blessings in my life. It fills me with joy to be able to speak positively every day and not focus on the problems and inconveniences in life.

Today I'm thankful for music. Music has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up going to church and singing, was in choir for three years, band for one (french horn, by the way), took a year of piano lessons (I'm not very patient, obviously. I never stuck with one thing for very long), and have an iTunes library that I'm extremely proud of. I stay at home with Brooklyn except for my one side job: choreography for the Needville choirs. Tuesdays and Thursdays with Soundsation are the highlight of my week. Brandon turns on Pandora on the iPad during dinner most nights and dances with me at a moment's notice. I am so thankful that Brooklyn is growing up loving music too, doing everything mommy does- clapping or signing along at church, singing in the car, and dancing every moment she gets.

When I think about music that has been influential or important in my life, there's one obvious answer that rises above the rest: The Beatles. Last night, Brandon and I went to the Paul McCartney concert at Minute Maid stadium. I've always had a hard time explaining to those who didn't grow up listening to Paul and the Beatles why their music is so powerful. I just always loved it. I remember the insanity that surrounded every Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, Target, etc. when the Beatles Anthology CD's came out. I'd never seen any kind of craziness over CD's before or since then. I loved when the John Lennon art collection was displayed in downtown Dallas and my Dad took us to see it. I was so impressed and enthralled that I decided to do my 4th grade biography project on John Lennon, much to the surprise and excitement of my teacher. When our family bought a much bigger TV for our living room, I can remember my sister, Lindsay, saying the first thing she wanted to watch was "A Hard Day's Night", because, as she put it, "I want to see some big headed Beatles!" The film, "A Hard Day's Night" is just one of many Beatles films. They showcased their music, of course, but also showed how incredibly silly these guys were. They were cute and likeable and instantly adored by people all over the world, even by an elementary school girl like me who was first introduced to them in the early 1990's, over 20 years since they disbanded.

It's always argued whether The Beatles or the Rolling Stones are the best rock band of all time, but to me there's no argument. The Rolling Stones have had 40 years to attempt to become what the Beatles did in 7. SEVEN years. They were a band from 1963-1970. That's it. The Beatles are the most covered band in the world- and not just by unknown, fan bands. "Come Together" alone has been done by Aerosmith, Michael Jackson, Joe Cocker and dozens of others. Their music is both simple and amazing- simple in that there may be only 3 chords in the main melody, but amazing in that no one else thought up so many hits, so much fun and so much beauty in their short time together.
"I Am Sam" used solely Beatles songs to tell the story's soundtrack. "Across the Universe" is a film that allowed Beatles songs to tell the story of the tumultuous 1960's. Who else has music so influential that it described an entire decade, told everyone's life story, and is still touching people today?

They aren't just a band. They are a phenomenon. They are known by their first names alone. They have their own version of "Rock Band". Saturday Night Live tried their hardest for the first 5 seasons they were on the air to have The Beatles reunite on their show... causing some hilarity involving the fact that they were going to have to split the $2,000 check between the four of them. George actually appeared on the show to laugh at Lorne Michaels for that one. It was pretty great.

They were followed by the whole world, and still are. I was amazed last night at the Paul McCartney concert to see so much variety and diversity under one roof. From babies up to grandparents, white, black, Hispanic, male, female, dozens of different languages spoken... it felt like a musical United Nations. And we were all there because we felt like The Beatles music spoke to us. How could one group know how to reach us all? Because they are the greatest of all time. And despite my comment at the beginning of the show that the only concert that could be better to see than Paul would be John... by the end of the night I was seriously doubting it. Last night was one of the greatest nights of my life. And by far the best concert I have ever been to.

Waiting for Paul!

Excited more than I can put into words waiting for the concert to start!

Okay, I could easily complain about the Houston traffic getting into downtown, the traffic once we were there, the fact that the show was scheduled to start at 8 and we didn't even find a place to park til 7:50 despite leaving Rosenberg at 6, paying $20 to park 1/2 a mile from the venue rushing to the stadium by way of bicycle-tip-guy, walking halfway around the stadium to find a line that wasn't absurdly long to wait in just to get inside, having to pee this entire time, finding the elevator broken so I had to walk up the ramp outside to the 400 level in the cold, all at 32+ weeks pregnant. So our seats weren't great. You can see the large tower obstructing our view of Paul. You can tell we're really far away... see, this was our first glimpse of Mr. McCartney. Towards the end of the show a leftover hippie decided to blow the smoke from his giant blunt all over us. I could easily complain about all of this. And yet this is a time to be thankful, and I cannot even BEGIN to describe how thankful I felt for Brandon at the moment we got this first sight of Paul McCartney. We had JUST bought this house and spent every bit of our savings to do so. We didn't (don't) have a disposable income for big ticket items like well, tickets, especially to huge concerts like this one. But Brandon knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and on my bucket list, so he agreed to shell out the extra cash and let this be my Christmas present. Best Christmas present ever. Best show ever. Best HUSBAND ever.

Loved the suit!

 He opened the night with "Magical Mystery Tour", followed by a Wings song I had never heard (but now love) called "Junior's Farm". Really fun, but it wasn't until the third song started that I felt transported to the 1960's and felt like I was at a real Beatles concert. The feeling is indescribable. But it left me giddy for the rest of the night. Here's part of "All My Loving".

 This is a great example of what Paul did a lot of during the concert: pay tribute to other great artists. This story is about Jimi Hendrix, and he told it right after he jammed out to Hendrix's "Foxy Lady". He asked the crowd to acknowledge the greatness of not only Jimi Hendrix last night, but also took a large chunk of time to allow us to applaud the work of John Lennon and George Harrison, both of whom are now deceased. I loved how genuine it all felt. Especially when he told the story of how we should tell people we love them while they are with us because we never know when they'll be gone. He followed that up with his 1982 song written for John called "Here Today".  No video of that one. I was too choked up and fascinated.

 "Paperback Writer". One of my all-time favorite Beatles songs. The harmonies, the jamming guitar solo... so close to a perfect song.

Paul (after his one wardrobe change :)) performing "Paperback Writer"

Paul at the piano: what I had been waiting to see since we first bought our tickets! This was during "The Long and Winding Road", but "Maybe I'm Amazed" was probably the greatest song to watch and hear him play on piano all night.
Paul at the piano

 This is one of his newer songs, called "My Valentine". Not only do I love this song, but I obviously LOVE that there are a man and a woman signing on the video screen behind him. Funny thing is that I told Brandon for some reason I was completely enthralled by the man and was only focused on watching him. Right after I mentioned that, Paul comes out and says that the woman was Natalie Portman and the man was Johnny Depp. No wonder I couldn't take my eyes off him. 

 Besides "In My Life", which I walked down the aisle to, "Blackbird" is my favorite Beatles song. I almost didn't even get video of it because I started crying when he started singing it. I then laughed at myself for always laughing at the girls in the audience who were sobbing during "The Ed Sullivan Show" when the Beatles performed. Yeah girls, I get it now.

SUPER fun song called "Dance Tonight"

Rocking out

Did everyone know that First Colony Children's Minister Jim Howard has been moonlighting as Paul McCartney's keyboardist for the past 10 years? :)

 This was Paul's tribute to George. He spoke of how "Something" is the most beautiful song George ever wrote, and how Frank Sinatra once came up to him and said this was his favorite Lennon/McCartney song. He laughed and told him he sadly couldn't take credit for it. George was apparently a great ukelele player, so Paul chose to begin this version of "Something" with the uke.

 "Obladi Oblada" is one of Brooklyn's favorites so I had to get a video for her :) Please ignore me and Brandon singing in the background. By this time we were having WAY too good a time.

 "Let it Be". Again, sorry for the extraneous singing... but we both decided it was MUCH more fun to sing with the real Paul than a record, so we joined in on just about every song.

"Live and Let Die"- best part of the evening. Bear with me- I turned the camera around after a few seconds. And notice the foolishly giddy laughter towards the end of the video. We didn't know what to do with ourselves we were having so much fun.

Hey Jude

Hey Jude

First Encore- Sir Paul comes out sporting a Texas flag. Very entertaining.

First encore- "Lady Madonna", "Day Tripper" and "Get Back". By this time the whole crowd was on their feet cheering him back on, so there was a lot of loud singing and dancing- total party. I also knew he was coming back for a second encore because he still hadn't done "Yesterday"!

The second encore began with "Yesterday", ended with the famous Abbey Road medley of "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End", and COMPLETELY rocked out with "Helter Skelter" in the middle.

So today, November 15th, I decided that I couldn't just place my day's thankfulness on Facebook. It needed it's own blog entry, entirely too long for most patient people to read, but I don't care. Today I'm thankful for Paul McCartney. I'm thankful for the Beatles. I'm thankful for the 1960's. I'm thankful for guitars, ukeleles, mandolins, keyboards, pianos, drums and tambourines. I'm thankful for talented, hardworking people who have the ability to make music that can touch us. I am so thankful for music!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Brooklyn's Vocabulary Decoder

Brandon and I have been very blessed by Brooklyn over these past two years. She took to a schedule easily as a baby, she sleeps 12 hours, enjoys napping, hasn't had a problem with transitions (we're in her third residence now- two apartments and one house), and is overall just a very sweet girl. She's kind and generous, wanting to help and share for the most part.

However, she's far from perfect, and never more obvious than when she's trying to talk. The girl loves to talk, loves to say things that she knows how to say. The problem is that she thinks she can say a lot more things than she can. Brandon and I often have to guess 6-8 words that sound close to the sounds she's making and still get it wrong. And if the two of us can't always understand her, what chance does the rest of the world she communicates with? She is smart, but enunciation is certainly not her strong suit. Therefore, I've decided to create a Vocabulary Decoder to have on-hand to turn to in times of need. You know, like a handy Spanish-English dictionary when you're in Mexico and trying to tell the taxi driver where you need to go.

Brooklyn's Vocabulary Decoder

Brooklyn's Word:Oh-oh
Possible definitions: Uh-oh, Open, Orange, Over

Brooklyn's Word: No
Possible definitions: No, Milk

Brooklyn's Word: Kuh-kee or Kuh-koo
Possible definitions: Pumpkin, Color, Costume, Cowgirl, Castle, Cracker

Brooklyn's Word: Tah-too
Possible definitions: Tattoo, Tower, Potato, Toy Story, Cheerios

More to come. It's a work in progress. But this should help with anyone who babysits her in the near future. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pictures With My Husband

This is a picture of Brandon and me at his cousin Haley's wedding this past weekend in College Station. Before this, the most recent photo I had of the two of us together was

this one, taken in San Antonio on the Riverwalk at the spot where Brandon proposed to me. This was over Easter weekend, April 2011 (funny- I'm wearing the same necklace). You have to go back even farther than that to find one of JUST the two of us. All the way back to

this one, from Kerie and Oscar's wedding in NOVEMBER 2010. That's right. Brooklyn was 1 month old when this picture was taken. 1 month.

We take plenty of pictures of Brooklyn and plenty of one of us with Brooklyn, but it's very challenging to find a way to take a picture of the three of us... who will take it: Sasha? LB? Cats aren't very good photographers, I've been told. They lack opposable thumbs. And when there's someone as lively and adorable as our daughter around, why take pictures of ourselves? We're old news. We go visit family and they say how much they miss Brooklyn! Aaaaand I guess they're happy to see us too, as an after thought. I get it!

But on the way to College Station this weekend I told Brandon I specifically wanted a picture of just the two of us because it had been months (I underestimated, it had actually been almost exactly two years) since we had one. I was prompted by my friend Wendi, who I notice always seems to take the time to appreciate her marriage to Wade by taking pictures when they go out on dates, to games, or for a getaway weekend. And she's got an ADORABLE 16-month-old little boy who could very easily steal all the photo ops. Wendi seems to be the one person I know who consistently remembers to document the joy of being married, not just the joy of being a parent. She obviously understands something that just recently hit me: if I didn't have Brandon, I wouldn't have Brooklyn. If I didn't have my husband, I wouldn't have my daughter. Isn't that all the more reason to want to love and brag on my spouse? Sure my daughter is cute, but so is my hubby! Aren't they both gifts and blessings? Then why does one get all my attention and the other so little?

It's funny... we just moved up classes at church from the Young Marrieds to the Young Families. No longer are we discussing how to treat our spouses, but how to raise our children... as if you can do one and not the other?? Just because we're parents doesn't mean we're not also spouses, and we still have to work on our marriage... even more so now, really, since we have a little one watching us constantly.

Some questions have come up throughout different studies I've been doing... does your daughter know how much you value marriage? Does she hear you saying positive things about her daddy? Does she see the two of you embracing and enjoying each other's company? I can say I hope so, but I'm not sure I can say 100% that I know so.

Taking pictures together doesn't fix anything, but it does show a priority I'm putting on loving my husband and wanting to remember special moments. Someday Brooklyn will appreciate all of these pictures because she'll grow up knowing that her parents are always going to be okay, always be together, and always be there for her. I suspect she'll like

this one most of all: this is the first picture ever taken of Brandon and me. It is from July 2003 at the end of a Little Kids Camp counseling session at Iron Springs Christian Camp. I had talked to Brandon before, but really got to know him and play around with him that week. I thought he was so cute that I decided I just wanted to get a picture with him so I could remember him better. We didn't go to the same church or school, so it would take some planning to get together and hang out... which never happened. Every time I called him he was busy with baseball or work so we didn't end up seeing each other for two more years. Enter another counseling session at Iron Springs Christian Camp and it's all history from there. We started dating, got engaged, got married, had Brooklyn and are now awaiting the arrival of Peyton. Funny thing is, I had completely forgotten about that picture. After that week of camp, I started my senior year of high school and got into a relationship that led me down some wrong paths and eventually made me very depressed and confused about my life in general, all the while God still periodically in a while planting small but fleeting seeds of "Remember that Brandon Strother kid? I wonder what he's up to" hints in my mind. When we got home from camp in 2005 and were talking, deciding whether or not we should start dating, I looked in my photo album from the summer of 2003, just to see if I had ANY pictures of him from that week at camp. Lo and behold- it all came rushing back as I stared at this picture of the two of us. Me: grinning ear to ear, grabbing him tightly for a friendly photo. Him: smiling almost awkwardly at why an older girl had her arm around him for a picture. It's my favorite picture of us, and I think it always will be.

That was the starting point of us, and eventually, of our family. I want more pictures like that to show how we've progressed along the way. He'll be 26 on Monday. I'll love him more on Monday than I do today. I want pictures of us when we're 80 and wrinkled, hair growing out of moles our glaucoma-ridden eyes can't even see anymore. I'll love him more then than I can ever imagine now. And I want pictures upon hundreds of pictures documenting that love for the rest of our lives.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Overachiever Syndrome

I've always been one to diagnose myself when I've gotten sick or hurt. For example, I've never had a doctor tell me that I am/was lactose intolerant, but I'm sure of it. When I was 16 and started getting really sick I kept a food journal and found that I always got sick in correlation to eating a dairy product. Stop eating dairy and voila, no more sickness. This would also explain why I don't like cheese, milk, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, and all other dairy items besides chocolate and ice cream (how can you not like those, right?). I figure it's something I've grown into and out of sporadically during my life, based on my 8-year-old self's entry in the Dr. Seuss book, "My Book About Me", in which I emphatically state that my favorite foods are hot dogs, ham and chicken, "But don't give me any pizza- I can't stand it!". Anyone know an 8-year-old who hates pizza? If so, I'll bet it's because they always feel sick afterwards! Regardless, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Why diagnose myself? Maybe it has to do with the fact that my family doctor growing up was a quack not too bright, in my opinion. When I went in with what I now know was a torn meniscus and the only way I could explain the pain to her was that it felt like my knee cap was out of the socket, she replied with, "What you're describing is impossible". I was sent home with a recommendation for Tylenol and nothing else. Nevermind that I was brought in screaming, crying, and in a wheelchair because I couldn't bend my leg. Or how about the time I cut my cornea and her idea of fixing it was to put a giant eye patch on my eye. This did nothing to the pain or the tearing up, but did luckily make me look like a special needs pirate, which was EXACTLY what I was looking for that day.

I'm better about trusting doctors now, especially since I had one I really liked in College Station and now here in Sugar Land. I've got a couple of very smart friends who are in or just finished med school and trust them too, but I doubt any of the aforementioned people could diagnose me with what I've decided that I've got:

Overachiever Syndrome.

There's got to be such a thing, there's just got to.

Symptoms include, but are not limited to:
  • Inability to relax
  • Fatigue
  • Sense of laziness
  • Aches and pains
  • Memory loss
  • A full calendar
  • An empty gas tank
  • A fleeting yet overwhelming sense of "What have I gotten myself into?"
  • A love for people
  • To-do list full of projects
Here's what a typical night of mine looks like: I sit in my chair and think, "Man, I didn't do anything today. Oh wait... I scrapbooked 14 pages of Brooklyn's birthday, 2-year portraits and our trip to Chuck E. Cheese. I went to Ladies' Bible class, I got groceries, I took a shower, I took a nap, I made dinner, I gave Brooklyn a bath, I read my Bible and I wrapped Brandon's birthday presents. I guess I did okay".

Every night I think that I could have and should have done more that day. Even on days like the one I just described, which was, I kid you not, my Tuesday. I know I've got a problem. Anxiety has always been a part of me. I'm on medication for it (couldn't self-diagnose that one. Needed help. Can't prescribe medication on my own). I have almost an inability to relax because I never want to feel lazy. I hate asking for help doing things because I am an independent person who can do things for myself, thank you very much. I love to help others who are in need of help because I am a stay-at-home mom with a flexible child, so I have the time that many others don't have because they have to work. I try to use that time to my advantage by getting things done. I'm constantly volunteering my time to bring food to people, babysit, work at church, etc. and when I look at my overly-organized, color-coded calendar I sometimes think, "What have I gotten myself into?" The thought quickly passes as I sign up for another activity (that's where the memory loss comes into play). Story of my life.

Here's what's different: I've never tried to make a change to this lifestyle. I like to be busy, I enjoy helping others, and I love the feeling of accomplishing something and being able to check it off my to-do list. Now I'm trying to change, and it's very, very difficult.

This entire pregnancy with Peyton has been harder than it was with Brooklyn. I have been more sick, more sore, and more exhausted. Blame it on the 25 extra lbs my body started out with from what I didn't lose with Brooklyn or blame it on Brooklyn being a typical toddler who runs and jumps and plays all the time. Whatever the culprit, I am feeling weak in body, mind and spirit.

I pulled my groin about 2 weeks ago. Self-diagnosis, yes, but Brandon seems to agree. Could just be extra stretching getting ready for baby, but it's contained to one side of my body so probably not. It's so bad that I can hardly walk sometimes. I lay down on the floor and can't get up. I cry out in pain when I try to roll over in bed. Lots of dramatic noises that I honestly can't help. I hold Brooklyn and walk down a hallway at church with her and feel like I'm about to fall over. I'm already waddling from being 28 weeks pregnant, now on top of that I've been limping too. Brandon says the best thing for it is rest... which is one thing that anyone with Overachiever Syndrome is not good at. Needless to say, the pain remains.

I've finally wised up though, and remembered what we learned in last spring's Ladies' Bible Class- someone else's need does not necessitate a response from me. Sounds selfish, right? True, we should be selfless and willing to accommodate others, but the point is that we stop doing so at our own expense. I've been selfless to a fault, and my body is kicking my butt for it.

Brandon and I used to argue over a fundamental difference between us: I see things that need to be done and I do them. Brandon is very willing to help if I tell him what to do, but he doesn't naturally look around and see what needs to be done. Flaw here is that I don't ask for help... see previous paragraphs. Now that I've come to the realization that I am only hurting myself by doing things the way I've always done them, I'm having to ask for help a lot more... which makes me feel lazy. Laying around resting my muscles feels lazy. What do I do all day? Play and take care of Brooklyn. Brandon teaches 200 kids and then coaches after school. I feel awful asking him to do things that I feel I SHOULD be perfectly capable of doing myself. But truth is, I'm not perfectly capable to do many things at this point.

 I don't think it's pride. I think it's that I like my busy life and enjoy the things I do.

Regardless, here's my vow:

I will not volunteer for anything else between now and Peyton's birth. Events I've already committed to are one thing. I'll keep doing choreography for the high school despite how ridiculous a woman in her 3rd trimester looks dancing to Lady Gaga and Abba. I'll be handing out candy when the kids go Trunk or Treating at the Pumpkin Patch party at church. I'll stay to help out in the preschool classroom for the 11:00 service on November 4th. BUT THAT'S IT. In an effort to keep myself healthy and sane and keep this baby in me til he's full term, for the next 2 1/2 months I will NOT be a babysitter. I will IGNORE all Care Calendar requests to make food for sick families or those with newborns. I will NOT travel any FURTHER than College Station and no LATER than Thanksgiving. I do not want to be forced onto bed rest, so I'm forcing myself to just rest.

It's going to be quite a challenge for me, and I don't think I'm going to enjoy it. Prayers are always welcomed. Who knows? Maybe the combination of prayer and a more simplistic lifestyle is the prescription I need to heal my muscles and my Overachiever Syndrome.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Return of the Crazy Dreams

I've been known to have a lot of crazy dreams in my time. They may not be any wackier than the average person's dreams, but I tend to remember mine and can replay them back as if watching a movie. I absolutely love movies, and I'm totally fascinated by dreams, so together I create a perfect storm while I sleep. Last night was no different. Surprising, since I realized I hadn't had any dreams of any kind for weeks now. At least none worth remembering, rewinding and reliving.

So I'm laying on a bench on Hollywood Blvd. Chilling, relaxing in the sunshine with my shades. All of a sudden, Jimmy Fallon and Lily Tomlin walk up to me and ask if I'd like to sit in the dentist chair. I'm like cool- improvisational, on-the-street sketch comedy! What fun! So they wheel out this bright yellow dentist chair and I start acting like I'm auditioning for Saturday Night Live, making over-the-top faces, goofy voices and slapstick comedy like falling out of the chair. I guess they didn't like me all that much, because they quickly moved on to something else, leaving me confused and sad that I didn't get the part.

On a nearby screen flashes a clip from the MTV awards, or some other equally lame and unimportant one. Dumb as it may be, I am impressed that the 3 guys who are introducing Linkin Park on TV at this show are my three ex-boyfriends, Ryan, JD and Jake. But in my dream I call Brandon and tell him that it's JD and JD and JD... because that was the only name I could remember. Luckily he knew who all I was talking about so I didn't have to ever bother remembering.

I walk across the street to this giant house that had staircases for storage closets. Seriously, and I thought it was the neatest thing, like something right out off Pinterest. They had a main staircase and then you turned to the right and there was a door. Open the door and you see that their stairs had been blocked off halfway up and at the bottom and there was all sorts of toys and junk being stored there. Ingenious in my dream, totally impractical now that I'm awake. But, you could stand at this railing and throw bean bags onto a game in the living room that connected to said staircase storage. That was fun. Or I dreamed the illusion of fun-ness...

Amos Gutierrez is there and he starts showing me around the rest of the house. Landon Speights and Sarina Grasham are hanging out there too. Makes total sense for us all to be in a fun house in California together, right? Brandon and Aja Speights showed up a few minutes after we started playing a board game of some sort and we all got Taco Cabana and said we were thankful we were married to our own spouses and not each others.

The End.

Jimmy Fallon
Lily Tomlin
 (Just in case you were wondering)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Effective Parenting

The Bible class we're taking on Sunday mornings is called "Effective Parenting in a Defective World". It's been really interesting so far- very Biblical and practical, reminding us that success of our children doesn't rely on how much stuff they acquire, what kind of job they have, the amount of money we have to give them or X, Y, and Z important items that society says are required, but more on providing ways to be independent, loving, Christians.

I'm also taking a parenting class on Tuesdays with the Ladies' Bible Study called "5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Son/Daughter". Lots of real-world application dealing with how we as mothers shouldn't speak badly against our bodies, lest our daughters overhear and think that they are fat, ugly, or in some other way not good enough.

So I've been focused a lot lately on how to be a good parent.

Yesterday, I asked Brandon if Brooklyn was such a good kid because she was born with that demeanor, or if it's our parenting. And as most good nature vs. nurture studies will agree, he said both. We get half credit, he says. I am willing to take half credit.

Yes, she got in trouble today for being ugly and loud during church. Yes, she got in trouble for not sharing and we had a struggle at dinner trying to eat before she got her milk. No, she isn't potty-trained and it looks like it isn't really happening any time soon. She's not perfect, not by far.

But last month she started giving me kisses and telling me, "I love you" without me asking her to. Just a day or two ago she began covering her mouth and saying, "Excuse me" when she burps. Except it sounds like, "Scusee", which is beyond adorable. Tonight when giving goodnight kisses, she kissed Peyton (my tummy) without us prompting her to. Melted my heart. Earlier this week she reminded ME to pray before our meal by suddenly putting her hands together and saying, "Pray?" And speaking of praying, in the past week we have been starting to ask her what or who she wants to pray for. Here are some of her favorites, from most frequently requested on:

Big Bird
Peyton (unborn brother, for those out of the loop)
Coco (Uncle Cody)
Aunt Lindsay
Sasha (cat)

I love that we have to pray for Big Bird every night. It's almost enough to make me write a thank you note to Sesame Street that would go something like this... You are teaching her to be thankful AND how to count to 20 AND how to recognize letters of the alphabet. You are amazing.

Basically, we don't have that difficult of a time raising Brooklyn and I'm so thankful for that. I know it will get harder and I have to remember the days when I just want to tear my hair out. There will be more of those days. She'll probably have terrible 2's or 3's, rebel as a teen, and go through some traumatic experiences that I will want to wish away with all my heart. I know I'll make a lot of mistakes as a mom, but for now I'm just glad that I must be doing some things right.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

He Bought Me Flowers

When trying to describe how I feel right now, the first few emotions that come to mind are positive: happy, blessed, excited, joyful, content, honored... I'm really glad that I can put these to the forefront instead of some of the other emotions that have been pulsing through me... jealousy, anger, bitterness, frustration, depression, anxiety...

In recent years I would have switched the order of all these feelings; I would let my negative emotions overpower anything beneficial or positive and cry pessimism. When Brandon and I first started dating in 2005 I was a cynical, rude, angry person and he helped me make some big changes.

First of all, he bought me flowers. A dozen red roses that he gave me along with a rewrite of Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" entitled "Stay Always". We had only been together one month but we both knew this was it. I had told every other boyfriend not to buy me flowers, and save for one time as an apology, every other boyfriend had easily agreed. Less money for them, right? I said I didn't care about chivalry or girly things and high school boys said shoot- sounds good. Brandon said whatever, I know you better than you know yourself.

I love flowers. LOVE them. And I didn't know it, but Brandon did. He wanted to do something sweet to break my shell and he did.

Am I still a stubborn, cynical jerk sometimes? Of course. But I'm not continually angry with the world and everyone in it anymore. Because of Brandon's help I was able to become a little more vulnerable and allow myself happiness without strings attached. It's because of him that I can see the good in this past week rather than the bad.

Our house still hasn't closed, and we may have to pay up to $4200 more in closing costs than originally stated. Rules with short sales and how contracts basically don't matter and long story short, it's a very expensive and frustrating situation. We can't use our car/renter's insurance agency for our house because of restrictions within Fort Bend County, and Brandon's school district is not going to hire the extra history teachers they said they would, which makes his job much harder.

And yet tonight I'm just happy. Why? It's football season. I got to go to the Alabama game last night. They played someone... I can't remember, some big school who was supposedly good, but I didn't see it... seriously, HOW FUN. Cowboys Stadium is not as impressive as everyone says (service, food, parking all SUCK) but I can't get enough of Bama football. I had a great time with my brother in law, my grandaddy and my dad, despite traffic, bad food and "drunk high-five guy" (video to follow at some point, I promise). Grandmother and Grandaddy are visiting from Alabama so we've gotten to spend time with them. Brooklyn has been SO sweet with all the family she has seen. I can feel baby Peyton moving around. Brooklyn told me tonight she would help with the baby and then said "I love you" to my belly without me asking. Papa has recovered so well from his stroke and I love seeing Mama and Papa living here with Brandon's parents. I got to go to church today and worship and had a really great time remembering to always be in AWE of what it means that Jesus is divine and the Bible is real. I got a 3-hour nap today. My life is good.

Even the fact that my paragraph about my blessings is three times as big as my problems shows how much my attitude has changed over time.

And my silly husband is on the other side of the living room, checking baseball stats on the computer while he chats about fantasy football on the phone and watches the US Open on TV. He's a mess. But he's so darn cute. And he bought me flowers, and it has apparently made all the difference.

May 2006

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Possible Blog Topics

So here's what's been happening lately.

We are about to close on our house. 10:30 AM tomorrow. We've already been in it a month renting and are trying to get everything done. This place is literally twice the size of our most recent apartment so it's taking quite a while to put everything where it belongs. So far Brooklyn's room and the kitchen are the only rooms completely finished, but on the other hand, our bedroom is the only one that is a total disaster too, so we're mostly in the middle.

We found out on Friday that we are going to be having a BOY on January 8th (or December 31st if I can convince my doctor to induce me for tax reasons... seriously). His name will be Peyton Glenn Strother- Peyton because we've both always loved that name (no joke- when we started dating we decided our children would be named Peyton and Brooklyn. God was kind to us in giving us one of each like we wanted!) and Glenn because that is Brandon's middle name...and his dad's, his papa's and his great-grandfather's. So: Peyton Glenn will be the 5th Strother boy to have that middle name. Always the first born son. Pretty cool.

Brooklyn is in the midst of potty-training, and I have never experienced anything so frustrating. My personal favorite as of late was when she sat on the potty and farted, then told me she pooped. Close kid, but no cigar. Or perhaps how she gets that she can pull down her pull-up and go to the bathroom, but doesn't understand that you can't just drop your pull-up anytime, anywhere... like when you're pooping, in your bedroom. *Sigh* Love that we happened to have company at the time, so Lauren and Brady Blanks got an eyeful. Be prepared- your little girl will be there sooner than you realize!

School just started back for Brandon, as did tennis, so he's gone all day til 5 which is bearable, but a big change from having him home all summer.

Brooklyn's birthday is on October 3rd and I'm in the middle of planning a Sesame Street party. We're excited to have everyone over to our house to celebrate, but holy cow the list of children to invite is ever expanding. Not sure how to fix this dilemma.

All of this is just to show how I've been a little busy, thus the lack of blogging. I did, however, get on my computer the other day to look at my Word document I keep on my desktop entitled "Possible Blog Topics and Other Projects". I wanted to take a break from my unpacking, potty-training, cleaning and other business to just write something interesting or funny. I was shocked to find this:

Top 10 lists
I want to start really writing
All's fair in love and war
A little prick, mother of pearl
Sayings book
Futuristic worlds
^That was my list of things to write about. Make any sense to you? Me neither!! I can remember what I was going to say for only two of these so-called possible blog topics. What was I going to say about Xanga? That I have terrible high school memories of it involving counselors and tricks on ex-boyfriends? No- that's not funny. Not at all. That sucked. All's fair in love and war? Well, it's not. So that one draws a blank too. I think the next one was about funny phrases that can mean totally different things... i.e. I'm going to give you a little prick with this needle vs. that guy is a little prick... or saying sweet mother of pearl! when you see something wild, vs. me telling you that my sister, Lindsay, is the mother of Pearl. The sayings book had something to do with what Brandon and I would do together on our first dates, rewriting philosophical sayings so they were humorous and/or inappropriate. And futuristic words? Beats me.

 It reminds me of songwriters who will get ideas while they dream, write them down in a notebook beside them so they don't forget what they thought up, and then go back to sleep. But half the time they wake up the next day and say, "What the heck??"

So I'm a little bummed that I can't figure out what I was going to write about, because that was like 5 blogs that could have enlightened your hum-drum lives. Of course I am writing about not writing about them, so at least you get one. Lucky you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Potty-Training Woes

It has been decided that we will not have two children in diapers at the same time. I never really cared about that one way or another before. Yes, it's cheaper because diapers are expensive, but potty-training is tough. And time-consuming (not sure if I am supposed to hyphenate that or not). It's much more convenient to have diapers so you don't have to stop what you're doing every 10 minutes and ask a toddler if they have to go.

However, the time has come. Brooklyn understands what diapers are, sometimes goes into the bathroom after she has dirtied a diaper, likes to sit on the toilet, grab toilet paper, and then flush... there's just one piece missing. So here we go: by January 2013 when baby #2 gets here, my child will be potty-trained. And I will not be discouraged in the process.

When showing her what it looks like to go potty, she stared in awe and told me, "Good girl!". When I asked if she wanted to try? "No, no". I will not be discouraged.

When preparing for bath time and I take off her diaper, then ask her if she needs to go tee tee (how DO you spell that?? TT? Titi? They all look so odd) and she pees on the floor, then says, "I tee tee!"... I will not be discouraged.

When we ALMOST make it to the bathroom before soiling a diaper, then sitting on the toilet to practice wiping, just to hear Brooklyn say "I potty!" and me having to tell her "No, honey, not quite"... I will not be discouraged.

On a side note, I always told myself I would just ask my children if they needed to pee, not tee tee... and now that I'm in that stage of life, "pee" just sounds so vulgar. Odd. Even this won't discourage me.

I'm not buying any more diapers. We're on a journey and shall reach our destination soon!  She is 22 months old and can count to ten, say countless numbers of words, even sentences (my favorite being "Mommy- eat cracker!"), she can figure out how to turn on the iPad, find Netflix and start watching Sesame Street, can dance, tumble, and calls the arm of my chair her "beam" (gymnastics in the Olympics really had an impact, obviously). She sleeps in her own room, in her own big girl bed without rails and has only fallen out twice. She can entertain herself with toys or movies and allows me a fair amount of "me" time to get ready each day. She has memorized portions of all her favorite books... in fact, I'm pretty sure she can read "The Spooky Old Tree" to me! She understands families and who goes together- asks everyday about Pearl, Lindsay and "Coco" (Uncle Cody). She's a smart girl who can do just about everything else I've ever asked her to do. We are totally going to beast this potty-training thing. I will not be discouraged!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bathroom Lessons

Here are some things I learned while on my recent road trip to and from Alabama:

When I use the restroom in a public place, I will only choose the handicapped bathroom if there is no one else in the bathroom with me, for fear of them looking at me with a "shame-shame" face. Nevermind the fact that I'm pregnant and/or changing clothes. But seriously- try to change clothes in a 2x4 stall and not drop something into the toilet. Still, I'll risk someone in a wheelchair coming in during my potty time and scolding me with their eyes than know it'll happen while someone else is in there washing their hands or something.

There are no acceptable restrooms at gas stations or fast food establishments. And no, I don't count Bucee's because that place is more of an amusement park than a gas station. And yet each restroom you go to there will be a sign that says something to the likes of "The cleanliness of this bathroom is extremely important to us. If you find this restroom to be unsatisfactory in any way, please let the attendant know". Umm, I don't have the time to tell you everything that is unsatisfactory, and I'd rather not waste my time doing it. I'll just try not to touch anything with any part of my body, do my business as fast as I can and run away before I can smell anything.

I know I learned more than that, but apparently I was a little single-focused on this trip.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Whirlwind July

On Sunday, Brandon, Brooklyn and I all took 3+ hour naps. It was amazing. While my definition of "nap" is that it is 3 hours long, Brooklyn very rarely will sleep that long, and Brandon never takes naps on purpose. His idea of a nap is if he accidentally falls asleep in his chair. This Sunday however, we all decided that it was naptime, and went straight back to our beds after lunch.

The reason for this absurdity? July 2012. I've never had a month like this before. The best way I can describe it is as "Whirlwind July".

If you notice, I haven't blogged anything since my 5th grade camp memories I put down on July 2nd. It's now July 24th, and this is the longest hiatus I've had between posts. Here's a timeline explaining why:

July 2nd- Our realtor, Butch Watterson, (who is awesome, by the way, and anyone selling or buying a house in the Houston area should use him) calls to tell us that we will not be needing to look at the two houses I had been mildly interested in, because the bank on the house we had been calling "ours" since the end of May finally accepted our offer and we started the ball rolling on owning our first home. I immediately start packing. Brandon doesn't help much, because he's focused on his first baseball head coaching interview at 4:30 that afternoon. Needless to say- BIG day.

July 3rd- We babysit Brooklyn's best little buddy Staci all day, having to drag both sub 2-year-olds around to Sienna to pick up our free lawnmower and a little play kitchen for Brooklyn (Thanks Kay Stacy!) We also find out that Brandon's Papa (his dad's dad) had a stroke the night before and is in ICU in Fort Worth.

July 4th- Independence Day cookout and fireworks at Matt and Jenna's house.

July 5th- OB appt where I get to hear Joker's heartbeat :) Our trip to Colorado that had been planned for a year with the Strother family gets cancelled because no one feels right about leaving Papa.

July 6th- Instead of driving to Dallas to then go to Colorado on this day, we decided to just drive to Fort Worth to see Papa and then stay in Dallas for possibly up to two weeks, depending on what we needed to do with the house in Rosenberg before then. Later this afternoon I receive word from our lender what all we will need to get to him in order to be approved for the loan. Luckily I had brought just about every piece of financial information we own to Dallas so I could work on this exact thing. Except that our 2010 taxes had disappeared. 06-09 and 11 are there, but no 10. Go figure. Brandon says don't worry about getting audited- they only do that to people who make money. And that's not us.

July 9th-12th- Brandon, along with 7 others, travel to San Angelo to pack up Mama and Papa's house. They had already sold their house in San Angelo and were planning on making a down payment on a house in the north Dallas area the day after Papa had his stroke. Needless to say, they didn't make that down payment and are not moving to that house. I stayed back in Plano with my family, had playdates with my beautiful niece Pearl and her friends, shopped online for all the things Brooklyn needs for a big girl bed (like a bed, and a mattress, waterproof sheet, rail, etc) and tried to track down our 2010 W-2's from our employers. Turns out we got the ones from Lamar and Needville and were missing income of 252.70 from somewhere. Super- that means Brandon's last Chick-Fil-A paycheck came in a year he didn't work in. Love when you work your last day in December and have to remember about it for the NEXT year's taxes because you're paid in January. Happened to me the year I had 11 W-2's to keep track of (no joke- including one from Texas A&M for 4.75 for the 45 minutes I wanted to be a bus driver).

July 13th-15th- We ask for the missing W2 to be sent to us, we fax the rest of the paperwork to where it belongs, and we learn that we'll be able to move into the house before we own it- we'll be leasing our house since we can't officially close til mid-August but the house is already vacant. Everyone at McDermott wonders why we're still in town for a second Sunday of church. We are too. We get to go to a small group devo and dinner at Evan and Rachel's house, which was awesome because we hadn't hung out with them in forever.

July 16th-7th- I take a little job entering some data into a spreadsheet and spend 8 hours doing so. Most boring thing I've ever done, but whatever. I love to work. It gives me a sense of importance and purpose. And I should get about $80 for it.

July 18th-20th- I spend my morning taking an ESL field test, making about $100 for doing so. AWESOME. Still in the Dallas area, we actually go to Dallas. Our 5-year anniversary is 3 days before baby Joker is born, so we figured it would not be wise to be traveling then for a getaway. Hence the two-night stay in Downtown. So many people would think our travels were boring... after all, what's in Dallas anyway? For us it meant eating out, relaxing in our hotel room (we were never back any later than 9 PM- we are so cool), going to historical museums (Old Red Courthouse- history of Dallas, and 6th Floor Museum- JFK) and not doing any kind of drinking... because I'm pregnant and he hates alcohol. Like I said, great fun for us, most would make fun of us. Whatevs.

July 20th- We got to hang out with Kerie, Chelsea and Brandon- that was one of the pluses of this day. The big NEGATIVE was we realized our engine fan finally bit the dust and guess what? The shop we always take our car to up in Frisco was too busy to take our car, so they couldn't get it til Monday. Well, we had to be back for the house inspection on Monday so that was not going to work. Also, we're going stir crazy because we've been here for TWO WEEKS and it feels like we live there again. NOT COOL. Luckily, our favorite mechanic, Jason, calls Brandon back and says he'll work on our van even if he had to get to it after closing. LOVE that guy. So we get it fixed, get a labor discount because he's awesome, and only end up spending about 6 hours worrying and 400 dollars total. AWESOME.

July 21st- Pearl's birthday party! She turned one on the 20th and Lindsay threw her a big birthday bash on Saturday that was so cute. The trip had obviously taken a toll on Brooklyn too, because she was so fussy she had to sleep in Pearl's crib and miss the entire party. So with our van packed to the brim with suitcases, 1/2 of Brooklyn's new bedroom furniture, 3 boxes of San Angelo keepsakes, acquired clothes and toys, moving boxes and packing material, we head to Fort Worth to see Papa in the hospital again. By now he has had another stroke but is out of ICU, had a temporary brain drain that didn't work so he had a shunt put in place, and he is talking more and hoping to get out of the hospital and into a rehab facility in Allen during this next week. We finally get home around 9 PM and all go to bed very soon after.

So for the past couple of days we've done the inspection, lots of packing, shopping for plastic and paper plates/silverware so we don't have to use any more dishes, change of addresses at about 10 different places already, and picked up the obnoxious number of boxes from Amazon, Target and Wal Mart that I had ordered while in Plano.

Can you blame us for the extended nap time on Sunday? We've still got a long road ahead of us- lots to do in very little time, including traveling to College Station on Thursday to pick up the rest of Brooklyn's furniture that has been sitting in the grandparents' garage for the past month or more. Friday is the Olympic Opening Ceremony party at church that we stupidly agreed to help host. I'm really excited about it, but we laughed about how dumb we are that we didn't realize we'd be insanely busy and stressed this week. Oh well. Our Bible Decathlon is going to be epic enough to make the work worth it.

Oh yeah, and we move on Saturday. UHaul on Sunday. Brandon has bus driver's training Monday-Wednesday and then I have an OB appt on Thursday on the way out of town to Alabama for a family reunion. Why does summer vacation not feel much like a vacation anymore? It's very fitting that Cynthia told me this on Sunday: "A trip to Target without the kids feels like a vacation. A vacation with the kids doesn't".

Maybe I'll just go to Target later.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Camp Classen

Well, we got the house we want! I cannot express my excitement. And just at the right time too- we had to give a 30 day notice to the apartment complex letting them know if we'd be moving out or going month to month for an expensive 170/month more. We will be moving by the end of July, so we've got a crazy 29 days in front of us. We're supposed to be going to Colorado and then spend some time in Plano, but who knows now. I just feel great knowing that I haven't been packing aimlessly but actually with some purpose! And since I got the call from our wonderful realtor I've packed as many boxes today as I had all month. Let's do this!

In honor of being so excited about this, I've decided to give you all something you've been asking for. For a while now people have been telling me I need to write. I have news for you: I do write. I write a blog. But you know this already. What you don't know is that I've been writing for years, since elementary school. In 3rd grade I wrote and illustrated a book called "The Phony Manager". In 4th grade I completed my autobiography, and in 5th grade I finished probably my masterpiece, "Barney in Jurassic Park". Not that I made these books of my own ambition- they were assignments. Which is crazy to think about now... I wrote more in a Plano ISD elementary school than most Houston schools do in a 4-year period of regular  high school academic classes. Talk about a disparity...

Anyway, since I've been packing anyway I rediscovered some of my classic elementary works and decided that I'm going to share them with you all, piece by piece, so you can see into the mind of Tracey Allen, 1994-1997. Today we begin with some 1996  work about Camp Classen. This would be fall of my 5th grade year. Every year the 5th graders at all PISD schools would take a weeklong trip to Camp Classen and stay in cabins with one parent. It was so cool to get away from school, our homes, and go on hikes, hunt for fossils, play on the lake. When we came back we had two writing assignments: one was to write a paragraph about our favorite Camp Classen memory for a 5th grade memoir. The other was to write a small chapter book about everything that happened at camp. You'll see my humor and enthusiasm for writing about the obscure and random began very early.

Hedgcoxe Fifth Grade 1996 Camp Stories

"My Most Memorable Moment at Camp Classen"

At Camp Classen, my most memorable moment was actually in my cabin. We had four imaginary angels in our bathroom. They were Joe, John, Moe and Will. We liked to pretend that they were there even though we made them up and we knew that they were not real. The angels stayed with us for the whole week. It was pretty cool actually. We pretended to talk to them when we were bored. They could not come with us, so they will stay at the best cabin at Camp Classen, Anthony, to meet the other people that will be coming in the years to come.

Story by Tracey Allen

(I'm a little surprised I didn't have to talk to the counselors about being in 5th grade and admitting to inventing imaginary friends).

Camp Classen

(I won't bore you with the details of every page in this oh-so-important novel. I'll include the noteworthy chapters with some 2012 commentary.)

On the Road- (I  made sure to write down who I sat next to, in front of, and diagonal from both to and from camp. Also, we apparently watched "Angels in the Outfield" and part of "Dragonheart" on the way there, "Homeward Bound" and part of "Fievel Goes West" on the way back).

Chow Time-
First chow time- I got 2 salads, 3 breadsticks and 1 cup of fruit punch. Second chow time I got 2 pieces of sausage, 1 cup of orange juice, 1 waffle and 1 bowl of cheerios. Third chow time... (and it goes on like that through the 12th chow time. Riveting.)

Cabin Counselor-
My counselor was Mrs. Ebling and she was very nice. She's Ian's mom and I am glad she was my counselor. She let us stay up on Halloween doing the laughing game and trying to make people float (some good old fashioned seance time never hurt anyone, right?).

Classen Comrades- (apparently I wasn't aware I was not living in the USSR during the Cold War when I wrote this. This is where I described everyone as "nice and" something. My adjective vocabulary wasn't great, obviously.)

Cabin Catastrophes-
1. Kerie thinks the fan is haunted- it keeps turning on by itself.
2. Stephanie, Kerie and I got stuck while in a John Boat on Lake Classen. (There is a picture of Kerie rowing saying "My arms feel like anvils", Stephanie saying, "We're gonna die!", and me saying "I wish I could row" with a big frown on my face. For being my best friend, Kerie sure was a bully!)
3. Wasps ate part of our pumpkin.
4. Our t-shirts and sweatshirts are smeared.
(Talk about your serious catastrophes!)

Bonfire Bonanza-
Our bonfire was fun... we sang John Jacob Jingleheimerschmidt (which I think is a pretty impressive spelling for a 5th grader, and probably the way I would still spell that song today).

And of course, my final page simply declares: We will all miss Moe, John, Will and Joe- the Angels in Da Bathroom (which makes a lot of sense now that I read we watched "Angels in the Outfield" on the way to camp. Inspiration comes from many places).

Tune in next time- there's more where this came from!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

1st Trimester

I was just thinking about some of my friends who have told me they are pregnant. Not necessarily recently, but just over the past couple of years, how they do it, when they do it, etc.

CLARIFICATION: how they tell about THE PREGNANCY, when they tell about THE PREGNANCY, not the "IT" that led up to it. That I don't want or need to know about.

I'm amazed and shocked at how it seems like so many of my friends will let the cat out of the bag once they are in their 2nd trimester already. Like "Surprise! I'm 15 weeks pregnant! We find out the gender next month!" Whaaaaat? How on earth are you able to keep it in that long? (That's what she said).

But seriously- how can you keep that a secret for such a long time? I've read that when you're a working woman you should wait until your 2nd trimester to tell your boss you're pregnant, because the most complications do happening during the first 1/3 of pregnancy. This is true, and makes sense. But there are some pretty tell-tale signs that I am simply unable to hide.

1) I'm already showing. Cynthia told me I started to look pregnant on Saturday. I was glad, because I just thought I looked chubby. Of course, Krytondra and Wendi both told me my face was thinner and it actually looked like I had LOST weight on Sunday. I guess my diet of fruit snacks is working for me. Reminds me of "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion"

2) I make far too many bathroom breaks. And all at inopportune moments. Climaxes of movies, middle of sermons, while swimming...you name it. Not that I relieve myself in the pool. I saw "Grown Ups"- I know the consequences. 

3) My variety of food is a little suspect. The first time I was pregnant, I kept sleeves of Saltine crackers and an entire loaf of bread on my desk and would eat some of both each class period. No wonder I gained 50 pounds. No wonder I felt nauseous but hardly ever threw up. My cravings weren't too weird last time either- just wanted ketchup and ranch dressing, which meant lots of french fries and salads. This pregnancy those things don't always sound so great to me. Instead, as I've mentioned before, it's fruit snacks. Gushers, fruit roll ups, fruit by the foot, etc. And varying cereals- Rice Krispies, Apple Jacks, Corn Pops...Yeah, yeah, I know- "What to Expect When You're Expecting" says to eat only the best. I say eat what won't make you want to get violently ill. Which is why I don't write parenting books- not many people would listen. Perhaps I'm a little controversial.

4) I'm asleep more than I'm awake. Okay, that's an exaggeration. But I've outgrown the small piece of insomnia I had at the beginning of this pregnancy and got back to where I am sleeping 10 hours at night and taking a 3 hour nap everyday. Wait- that's 13 of 24 hours. I guess I am only awake 11 hours. I do sleep more than I'm awake. Wow. I can't hide being exhausted. I wake up 10 minutes before church starts and keep yawning all the way through. I can't sit through an entire movie (which is a big deal, for me). I was awaken from a nap too early the other day and after driving 20 minutes to a birthday party I sat like a zombie for the first 20 or 30 minutes there too.

5) I'm excited. It is different with a 2nd child. There's not the same connection, I'm not as obsessed over being pregnant, but its also exciting because there's a new connection- wondering how Brooklyn will relate to the new baby. It's getting better though. I thought I felt a flutter today, but it was probably just gas. 

and 6) I'm angry. Brandon seems to think this is the most obvious 1st trimester symptom. I didn't remember getting upset much when I was pregnant with Brooklyn, but I definitely see it now. I snap, I lash out, and then I immediately realize what a jerk I'm being. Brandon thinks this is really funny- where I nag and pick on him, say something rude and then snap out of it and apologize very quickly. I'm a lot more picky now than I used to be, I find flaws in everything, I'm pessimistic and negative. Of course I'm also stressed out because I'm PREGNANT and trying to buy a house and am fruitlessly packing boxes without any idea of when we're going to get out of this place. And on top of that I don't know if this is a boy or girl and I don't know how people can wait and be surprised... I have ZERO patience for that. I think I want another girl, but I don't have a girl's name picked out because there were too many girls in middle school, high school and college I didn't like, so lots of names are unusable. It gets so frustrating looking at names I like one day and hate the next. Sometimes these angry times just end in tears. Again, Brandon laughs at me. He's sweet and holds me too, but he laughs at me because it really is so ridiculous.

Some people can hide their pregnancy until they're sure that their baby will more than likely survive the somewhat challenging 1st trimester, some don't get sick, some don't gain weight early, some don't have weird cravings, some are nice... anyway, it's clear I'm pregnant. Only 12 weeks. Still 1st trimester. Wishing, hoping, thinking and praying for the 2nd, followed by the 3rd, followed by another child and then to get fixed.