Wednesday, December 19, 2007


There is no such word as "nother".

The word "another" is broken down as "an-other". Should you wish to emphasize your point by inserting the word "whole" into "another", the correct format would be "an-whole-other". Because "whole" does not begin with the vowel sound, the "n" in "an" is rendered unecessary, and thus should be removed. Therefore, the correct phrase is "a whole other".

Thank you.

Monday, December 10, 2007

What is That Smell?

I love Christmastime, and the weeks leading up to it. In the footsteps of my mother, I spend much of the advent season plastering the outside of my house with Christmas lights. This year, in spite of adding several new elements to the display, I finished a full day early just before the rain came. The lights fared surprisingly well in the deluge, each connection carefully protected in Saran wrap, so I thought that my lights had withstood the test and would now shine uninhibited for the rest of the Holiday season. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.

Each night I have gone to turn them on, something has gone wrong. Some nights I plug them in and nothing happens. Other times they come on but only momentarily, as if playing some cruel joke, and then go off again. Still other nights parts of the yard are aglow with luminous splendor while select trees and shrubbery remain stubbornly in darkness. Matthew and I spent about a week of this fiasco running extension cords to different outlets, hitting the reset buttons, and flipping breaker switches to no avail. But Saturday night was a turning point.

All of the outlets on the exterior of our house are what is called “GCI Protected”, which basically means if something goes wrong it automatically shuts off to prevent you from burning your house down. They are also connected to all the bathroom outlets, so whenever the Christmas lights go out, Matthew’s electric toothbrush doesn’t charge either. This, I believe, has been the added motivation needed to secure his assistance through it all.

Thinking that perhaps the rain had gotten into the exterior outlets, we tried running everything into indoor outlets without the GCI sticker on them. We plugged them in and viola! They worked! We had finally solved the mystery. It would be a hassle to have to unplug the washing machine every time we wanted to turn on the light display, but at that point I was just thrilled that they were on. Satisfied, I made a run to Wal-Mart and Matthew did some work at home. I returned about an hour later and regrouped with Matthew. As we chatted in the kitchen, we both stopped and looked around. “What is that smell?” Matthew asked, sniffing the air. We went to the outlet where one of the extension cords lay coiled around its plastic spool. The spool was melting. It wasn’t turning into a puddle of orange plastic, but it was warm and squishy to the touch. This was not good.

Needless to say, we have shut down the light display until further notice. Maybe it’s a faulty strand, or maybe it’s a bad connection. Maybe it’s electricity’s way of saying “Hey, crazy lady- scale it back a little!” In any event, we have a little more troubleshooting to do to solve this problem. Until then my house sits in Scroogely darkness, and the city of Phoenix power grid rejoices.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A True American Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims set anchor at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. The Mayflower was overbooked and the Midnight Buffet had been a bit of a disappointment, so everyone was a little edgy when they arrived. They hadn’t pre-purchased any land excursions and the shopping looked pretty slim, so they got right to work setting up the colony. Their first winter was extremely difficult, especially because their electric blankets were not compatible with American power outlets. It was a long and cold season, and only about half survived.

But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. And the surviving colonists decided to celebrate with a feast-including 91 Indians who had helped the Pilgrims to survive their first year. The Pilgrims had barely made it through the winter because they had great difficulty working the land and growing adequate food in the cold weather. The Indians, on the other hand, had lived through many winters and assisted the Pilgrims with their agricultural knowledge, survival skills, and abundant gaming revenue.

The feast lasted three days and was quite extravagant. The menu included wild fowl, boiled pumpkin, fried corn fritters, fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums, all of which were also available in a low-carb wrap. They spent days in preparation, and took many precautions to ensure the survival of the remaining colonists. Everything was prepared with zero grams of trans fat and the turkey deep-fryer was placed outside so as not to burn down the already tenuous settlement.

The meal was a wonderful time of enjoyment and community for both the Pilgrims and the Indians. To keep the atmosphere festive, they were careful to avoid potentially awkward topics of conversation like religion, politics, and Christopher Columbus. After the meal, everyone was stuffed. The men headed back inside to catch the big match-up between the Redskins and the Patriots, and the women, delighted that Starbucks was open on Thanksgiving, went out for Gingerbread Lattes.

The first Thanksgiving was a wonderful time had by all, and a tradition we all do well to keep.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Write About Jesus 2007

A Couple Cool Moments from Write About Jesus

It was Saturday morning and we were having a praise and worship time after breakfast. We were all singing our guts out to “Here I Am to Worship”, which is a song I’ve sung a hundred times, but this time the Spirit applied it in a new way. As I was singing I was able to say to God “Here I am, in St. Louis, at Write About Jesus, to worship. To worship by using my talents, by writing songs, by building relationships, by serving others.” We always talk about how worship isn’t just singing, but it’s a lifestyle. So it was really cool to connect the singing and the living in that moment, as God reminded me why I was ultimately there: to worship.

I had a moment this weekend that was potentially head-swelling, and I realized that as soon as it began. I sensed that it was a moment that would reveal to me a lot about where I was with the Lord and songwriting, so I was very attentive to how I would respond- not in action, but in my heart before God. So while this moment was happening, I began to pray that I would be faithful and have a heart-response that was glorifying to God. I thought I’d try to turn this blessing back to Him, so I started to thank Him for allowing me to write songs and for giving me this particular song. He promptly interrupted and spoke as audibly as he ever has to me (which isn’t audibly at all, it's just in my head). He said “It’s not about you. It’s not about the song, or even that I gave you the song. It’s about what that song says about Me. It’s about the truth, and it’s about My glory.” Instantly my prayer expanded, like a camera lens focused on a single blade of grass pulling out to reveal a sprawling countryside. My thoughts shifted from what God had done for me or in me or through me and I just starting praising Him for who He was and for the truth about Him in the song that was playing on the CD player.

A Few Things I Love about Write About Jesus

I love how nobody there dresses to impress. We’re all in tee-shirts and jeans and whatever we feel like. I love it that I can wear the same pair of jeans all weekend and not feel judged for it!

I also love how you never know a songwriter by the looks of them. I’m continually surprised! We had a winner that was in high school and a winner that could have been my grandmother. That is way cool.

I love being around people who really get me. I forgot how much I enjoy the company of several of the people there.

I love being able to feel things again. Seems like at home with the way life is, I just go and do and try to keep my head above water. It wasn’t until maybe Friday afternoon, but I remembered what it’s like to feel and to drink it all in. I plan to change that about regular life if at all possible.

I love writing songs, and if I want to keep loving writing songs, I need to make sure I only write songs because I love to write songs. If that makes sense to you, than you are SUCH a songwriter. :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Amazing and Wonderful Matthew

Feeling very restless today. I get on a plane Thursday morning and head out to St. Louis for Write About Jesus, a songwriting workshop that I’ve attended for a couple years now (for more on that, check the archives. I think I wrote about it last summer). I don’t know if it’s having three kids this time around, or if it’s not having gone to Estes in August, but this year the thought of three and a half days away seems even more refreshing than in years past. I’m anticipating a great weekend of freedom and creativity and spending time with like-minded friends. Best of luck to the babysitting team that will be here at home, handling the three-ring circus while I’m gone.

I was talking to my friend Hayley on the phone a few minutes ago about the trip. She commented on how wonderful of a husband I have that he would enable me and encourage me to do things like this. I must say, she is quite right. Matthew is wonderful indeed.

A lot of folks have heard our crazy story of how we met and began dating, about how I ran and ran and ran and Matthew just pursued and pursued and pursued. It was pretty simple from my end. I didn’t want a boyfriend because I didn’t want a husband. From where I was standing at the time, seventeen years old and full of angst, getting married meant giving up your freedom, limiting your ministry, compromising your dreams, and possibly even losing your identity. Not interested, thanks.

A lot of that pursuing that Matthew had to do was actually convincing and proving. Convincing me that my view of marriage was perhaps a bit skewed, and proving his love for me was a love that would never want any of those things for my life. I was scared of losing myself, but he reassured me over and over again that he wouldn’t let that happen. He would protect me. He committed to support and even cultivate my passions and dreams, and he has more than lived up to that commitment ever since. Of course I gave up some freedom with marriage, and especially with having kids. But I know I’m more to this world than a dishwasher and diaper changer, and Matthew makes sure of it.

This weekend while I’m out basking in creative fellowship, he will be here, knee-deep in diapers, eating out of the freezer, and driven mad by toddler talk. He’ll have some help from the grandparents, but the majority of the burden will fall on him. So if you see him at church on Sunday and he looks a little frazzled, it’s because he is an amazing man and a wonderful husband who is fulfilling his promise to his bride. Feel free to tell him he is amazing and wonderful, and I will be sure to do the same.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

If This Were the Mob, They'd All Be Goners

In a couple of hours we’ll be heading out to game 2 of the National League Division Series to cheer on the Diamondbacks. It’s been a wild ride on the MLB train thus far, and we expect nothing less from the post season. Should be a great game.

The problem with baseball was in my first sentence. I had originally typed “our” Diamondbacks, but quickly changed it to “the”. I wish I could say they were my Diamondbacks, but honestly, it’s tough to get to that level in our relationship anymore. I have trouble attaching, trouble bonding, to my home team because every year they are an entirely different group of guys. Just when you spent all season getting to know every player on the roster and his strengths, weaknesses, and quirks, they pull the rug out from under you and trade those guys like they all have “Upper Deck” embossed on their foreheads.

I think this is particularly a problem for female fans as we tend to get more interested and involved as we get to know the players and their lives. Once we get to know them, we grow pretty fond of them, and soon, we want what every woman wants: commitment. I want to know that when I turn on a game, it’s going to be relatively the same bunch of players that I know and love. I want to know that they’ll be there, year after year, ready to make another run at a championship. But at the start of every season, I have to deal with a flood of betrayal when I turn on the TV and see my favorite players wearing other team’s uniforms. It cuts like a slider down and in, I tell ya.

I don’t want to root for a name or a logo or a mascot. I want to root for people. It used to be an identity, what team you were on. You were a Cub or you were a Brave. But it seems now that the only thing that makes you a team anymore is wearing the same color. So I find myself adapting, trying to get behind the team without getting too attached. I end up rooting for players on all kinds of teams because they were Diamondbacks once. So I guess it’s okay. Not ideal, but what can you do? Buy your ticket, eat your peanuts, and hope the jersey you just shelled out $75 bucks for will still be good next season.

Go D-Backs!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Little Laugh from Grandpa Lewis

This afternoon I spent some time on the Reader’s Digest website. I love Reader’s Digest, though I’m beginning to wonder if anyone else in their twenties subscribes to it. I just have a feeling that I’m not the target market for a magazine filled with ads for hemorrhoid creams and Medicaid. If you’ve spent any significant amount of time in a waiting room or sitting on your grandmother’s couch, you’ve probably at least picked up a copy of Reader’s Digest and maybe come across the monthly section they have dedicated to jokes submitted by readers. I went on the site today to submit some jokes for the section.

They weren’t my jokes. I’m terrible at jokes. They were jokes that Matthew’s late grandfather, Lewis, used to tell. Grandpa Lew died a little over a year ago back in Illinois. I didn’t get to know him very well because of the distance, but he was such a sweet, funny man. He had thick-rimmed black plastic glasses, bushy eyebrows, and one of those perma-grins that kind of says “I’m up to something”. I have to smile every time I see him in our wedding pictures, hunched over in his suit and tie and Sea World baseball cap. He was the kind of man that was always full of stories and music and of course, a timely joke.

I know Reader’s Digest is inundated with submissions so his jokes may or not be selected, but I think it would be so cool if his stuff were to be published. I’ll just have to wait to hear back from them, but in the meantime, here are a few clean selections from Grandpa Lew’s original jokes for your enjoyment.

-What kind of car would a missionary drive?
A convertible.

-Where do Tailors live?
On the outskirts of town.
Where should podiatrists live?
In the foothills.

- The wind was blowing so hard the other day that a hen laid the same egg 13 times.

-What expression must you never say when out hunting?
“I’m game.”

-This man worked for the circus and was shot out of a cannon. He went to the circus manager and said “I quit!” The manager replied, “You can’t quit. Where am I going to get someone of your caliber?”

-What do you call popcorn that has a lot of left over kernels?
Confederate popcorn

-What sound does a grape make when an elephant steps on it?
It whines.

-My wife was on a diet of coconut milk and bananas. She didn’t lose any weight but boy can she climb a tree!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Herman and the Second Life

By now, most of you have probably heard of Second Life. For those of you who haven’t, it’s basically a website where you create a character and build it a life; a second life, if you will, complete with income, housing, friends, and yes, even church. It’s unbelievable how into this thing some people are and the amount of money they pour into a fake life, but I’m not going to go into it. I do have strong feelings about the site and its users and what I feel are the philosophical, sociological, and spiritual issues surrounding it, but I’m not a rant-blogger. I’m not a rant-blogger because I don’t like to read rant-bloggers because they make me feel angry inside. I’m plenty angry as it is, so if you need something to get angry about, go to the website, check it out, and write your own rant about it.

All that to say that Second Life got me thinking the other day about what I would do if I had a second life. Not an online life on a ridiculous website, but another real life to try anything or go an entirely different direction then the one I’m living now. Kind of like when I was a kid playing Jeopardy! on my computer (yeah, nerdy, I know). I would tell the computer that there were two people playing, when really it was only me. I would set up my player “Kristie” and I would buzz in on all the questions I was sure I knew the answer to, and then I’d set up another player “Herman” or something and use him for all those questions that I wasn’t sure about. Herman was my second life. I could roll the dice with Herman and not put my real self at risk. If Herman got a question wrong, it was no big deal. It wasn’t really me, after all. It was just Herman.

It’s one of my favorite questions to ask people: what would you do if you had another life? But you can’t take it too seriously or else it’s no fun. I ask some people and they think about it so carefully you’d think I could actually grant them one. My list is long and seemingly random, and probably impossible to do it one additional life. I would like to try being a missionary, especially aboard Mercy Ships or something of the like. I would like to get a degree and become a high school English teacher or maybe go into advertising and marketing. I could move to Nashville and try to make it in the music business. I’ve always wanted to open a sandwich shop, and maybe serve breakfast too. Maybe I’d get one of those crazy spiky haircuts that look so good on some girls. The possibilities are endless.

It’s crazy when you start playing Marty McFly on your life and asking “what if”? What if I never did this or did that, how it would completely alter the course or your life. My biggest one is what if I didn’t decide to learn to play the guitar? I wouldn’t have found a niche in the youth group by joining the worship band. I wouldn’t have been drawn out and given confidence by the band’s leader. I wouldn’t have started writing songs. And most significantly, I probably wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to get to know Matthew very well, and go on to marry him. Where would I be without my guitar? Perhaps an unmarried English teacher with a spiky haircut.

All that said, no second life could ever compare to my first life. I am incredibly blessed. Matthew and I always say that if we ever won the lottery (which would be astonishing since we never play), we wouldn’t change a thing. Well, we would probably get a hot tub, but other than that, life is perfect. After all, you only get one. So here’s to living without regrets.

If you don’t mind putting yourself out there on the world wide web, I’d love to hear what you would do with your second life.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I Should Be Sleeping...

...but I just can't bring myself to spend the precious naptime hours asleep, no matter how tired I am. Not nearly as tired as last month before Benjamin started sleeping through the night. Wow, am I glad that part's over. Those first few weeks are killer, but soon the smiles come and the laughing and pretty soon you're just falling in love. There's that initial love that's present the moment he's born, holding him for the first time and looking into his eyes. But somewhere along the line, about a month into it I'd guess, it grows into a love that is fierce and overwhelming to the point that you can start crying just thinking about how much you love him. I hit that point a few weeks ago, and I'm just having such a great time with my little Benji-man.

Other than cuddling with the baby, just trying to keep up with the other two. Harper is on a ridiculous reading kick where she basically follows you around the house with a book in her hands chanting "Read, read, read". Bethany started preschool two days a week. Very strange feeling to drop my little girl off at her classroom and get in my car and drive away. But she has a blast, and I love the drive home when I get to hear all about her day. Apparently, Thursday was Peter's birthday. Happy Birthday, Peter. I've also been going to the gym most mornings, trying to get back into shape and my favorite old jeans. I actually can get into them, but it isn't pretty. So I guess my goal is not only to get them on, but to wear them in public again.

Been spending a little more time in prayer lately. It seems like God has been giving me a lot of things to deal with that are beyond my control so that I'll actually come to Him once in a while. Of course control is an illusion in the first place, but when we feel particularly helpless we tend to hit our knees. Just learning to make prayer a first resort rather than a last resort, I guess. I was also convicted at the gym a few weeks ago as I powered through my second set of crunches. I was feeling pretty good about myself and my ability to push myself even though it was hard and it hurt and that's when the Spirit whispered "Why aren't you this disciplined when it comes to being patient with your kids?" It's true. I give in so easily to sin. Just a little pressure and I cave, while at the gym I take pride in driving myself to my limit and then some. All of those athlete analogies in the Bible have been coming alive to me since then. If only I could channel that energy into my relationship with Christ. If only I could care as much about being holy as I do about being skinny.

Well, I've got to feed Benjamin now, otherwise the whole delicate schedule of our day will collapse. Hope to be back sooner then later.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Vacating Arizona

Monday evening we returned from our family vacation, or "holiday" for my one reader in Great Britain. We had a ton of fun. Thursday morning we loaded up the minivan with four duffle bags, three kids, two strollers, one grandparent, and a partridge in a pear tree and headed for the coast. Our goal was to make it to Yuma before Benjamin woke up and realized he hadn’t eaten in 4 hours, and by the grace of God and a pacifier we rolled into the Carl’s Jr. parking lot just before meltdown. The girls played on the playground and ate their lunch with dad and gram while I fed Benjamin, and we were off again without a hitch.

The next three hours were occupied by Mark Driscoll, Disney Princess Sing-Alongs, and a stop at a Subway located inside a gas station. We were a little hesitant about buying sandwiches and petroleum from the same establishment, but the people making the subs were wearing official Subway green polos, so we ordered some to go and headed out for the last leg of our journey. As we came through the mountains the trees became greener, the air grew heavier, and the surrounding cars got more expensive. We had made it to California.

Our hotel room was great. It was on the second floor and every time we came and went Bethany got to push the buttons on the elevator, which she got quite a kick out of. That afternoon we took naps and got settled in, then went swimming and had BBQ by the pool. (Author’s note: Wherever the concept of “naps” is mentioned, please note that it is always in reference to children and/or a combination of accompanying adults, but, unfortunately, never to the author herself). Friday morning two more grandparents flew in and met up with us at Sea World. We all had a blast touching bat rays, checking out the animals, and sitting in the second row of the “soak zone” at the dolphin show. We retreated to the hotel for naps in the afternoon, then returned in the evening to make sure we got our 50 bucks worth. We left after the Shamu show around 10:00 pm, exhausted but beaming from our marine adventures.

Saturday we headed for the beach, joined by still more family flying in; our sisters and their husbands. Matthew dropped us all off, along with about 200 pounds of beach gear, and we set up camp on the first available patch of sand. While Matthew circled the globe looking for a parking spot, I fed Benjamin and watched with great amusement as the three grandparents attempted to assemble a beach cabana that looked more like an oversized kite. It was only after Matthew arrived and took over that it began to resemble the picture on the box. Once base camp was set up, we spent the day throwing the football, frolicking in the waves, and trying to minimize the amount of sand that our children ingested. Once again, we returned to the hotel exhausted.

We spent Sunday at a park on the beach, having a picnic and playing games until the kids and the parking meter expired. After dinner, we hung out in the room and fell into bed for some much needed rest. The next morning, with a sense of victory, we packed everything up and took off for home. Our family vacation had been a success.

It’s tricky traveling with small children, but we were ready for it. Expectations were set low and patience was stored up for those inevitable difficult moments. We set out to have a chaotic, exhausting, fun-filled family adventure, and that’s exactly what we did. It wasn’t relaxing by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s just something about packing up your little populace and taking them to a new, exciting place and watching their world get a little bit bigger. Something well worth the trip.

The day after we got home, I asked Bethany what her favorite part of the vacation was. I wasn’t sure if she’d enjoyed Sea World more than the beach, or perhaps going out to dinner with family or playing at the sea-side park. She paused thoughtfully for a few moments before giving her definitive reply: Riding the elevator.

Next year, we're going all out: Downtown Phoenix Chase building. Thirty-eight floors ought to do the trick.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Welcome to the World

Benjamin James Braselton
Born Monday, June 18th at 1:30 pm
8 lbs, 2 ounces 21.5 inches long

"Behold, children are a blessing from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who's quiver is full of them!" -Psalm 127:3-5

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Waiting for Baby

So I figure I should blog now since it’s been well over a month. I don’t have anything profound or entertaining to expound on, but I can always just ramble on about my life. After all, isn’t that what blogs are for?

I spent Memorial Day weekend at a songwriting retreat in Indiana. It was an amazingly wonderful time, though constantly in the back of my mind was the thought that my son could be born thousands of miles from home. Happily, he hung in there and I made it home as pregnant as ever. Since I went through the whole “nesting” phase before I left, I’m now simply in the waiting period. Only 2 weeks left according to my doctor’s little date calculator thingy, but in light of its uncanny resemblance to a cereal box decoder ring, I don’t give it that much credence. I’m ready anytime, although Matthew is really pulling for me to make it past Sunday seeing as I’m scheduled to run sound for him for three services and there’s no one to fill in if I’m out of commission. I told him I’d do my best, but no promises.

Nesting was interesting this time around. It was mostly organizing things, like going through all the girls’ clothes and pulling out anything epicene (I subscribe to “Word of the Day”, and that was today’s. I’m so excited I get to use it). Then his cradle had to be cleaned out. Over the past year and a half it had somehow morphed into the gift-wrap storage center, so all of that had to be relocated, along with about an 1/8th of an inch of cat hair accumulation. Gross. Of course there was the cleaning. I had the carpet and the couches shampooed so they’d be ready for a fresh batch of spit-up. Double gross.

All the while my belly is just getting bigger and bigger. Either that or my clothes are getting smaller and smaller. It’s a minor inconvenience, but inconvenient none the less. I can no longer park next to a car that’s on the line, nor can I successfully look out the peephole in our front door (which is always a challenge for me anyway). I have to take extra care when spitting out my toothpaste and be sure to get a sufficient trajectory that will clear the protuberance, otherwise I end up changing my shirt before I even make it out of the bathroom. One of the particularly endearing things that Harper, our 18-month old, makes a habit of is following you around with her arms in the air imploring you to pick her up. It’s gotten to the point that if she gets too close to me, I lose sight of her completely in the shadow of the bulge and the only thing that notifies me of her presence is the sweet little voice incessantly chanting “Ahp! Ahp!” I find that pretty amusing.

Wow, this has been some captivating material. Positively riveting. Sorry to have to cut it off, but Dora the Explorer is over now so I should really get back to being a parent. We’re off to the park to soak up this rare day of double-digit temperatures. But take heart- odds are my next post will be very exciting indeed. Maybe it will even include my first photo post! I know you all wait with baited breath. Until then, I’ll be here like always… being mommy, waiting for baby, and trying not to spit on myself.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Free Melody

Due to the number of recent inquiries about Melody the Suicidal Beta Fish, I thought I'd better post an update on the situation. Melody has been set free.

Clutching a blue Tupperware dish and escorted by her father, Bethany carefully made her way to the banks of the lake marking the entrance to the Phoenix Zoo. There had been a family discussion the night before regarding Melody's current state of depression and loneliness, and we came to the conclusion that little Melody would be much happier where she could swim freely in open water with other aquatic friends.

Bethany stood at the edge of the water while her Daddy pointed out all of the wonderful features the lake had to offer Melody: Sun, room to roam, other fish to play with, and of course all the turtles.

"Do you want to put Melody in her new home now?" He asked.

"Yup!" replied Bethany eagerly, and with one fluid motion she pulled the top off the Tupperware and dumped out its contents, only missing the lake by a few feet. But Melody, the ever-resourceful and resilient fish, flopped her way down the remainder of the bank and plopped into the algae-covered water. We took this as confirmation that she too was on board with the decision to relocate. We all waved to Melody calling out our farewells, and proceeded to enjoy our day at the zoo. And on the way back to the parking lot as we crossed over the lake, Bethany stopped, looked through the railing, and called out "Bye bye, Melody! We'll see you next time!"

Best of luck to you, Melody. We'll see you next time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fish, Interrupted

Wow. A couple more days and it would have been two months since my last post. That's pretty pathetic blogging if you ask me. Two months since my trip to Bath and Body Works and the pet store. Actually, just to the right of me on the counter sits a reminder of the pet store that I left out of my blog story. Not only did we come home with the birthday gift, but also a little blue Beta fish that Bethany picked out and named Melody. She's a nice little pet, but I must admit I thought she'd be dead by now. In all honesty I bought her as more of a novelty then the long-term commitment she has become. I'm getting kind of tired of changing her water and remembering to feed her, especially since the kids have long since lost interest (something I'll have to remember in 5 years when they're begging us for a dog).

I think my mistake was in passing up my original idea of buying the 12 cent feeder fish, who would certainly have been flushed by now, and going all-out on the two dollar Beta. After bringing her home and doing a cursory Google on Betas, I learned that they are bred to be lab fish so they are a particularly hearty species. This would explain her remarkable tenacity, even in the wake of two suicide attempts. The first was the most traumatic. Matthew walked in the door and saw an empty fish bowl and little Melody laying motionless on the kitchen counter. We had no idea how long she'd been out of the water, but we guessed at least 25 minutes. She was dry as a bone and we were sure she was a goner. Nevertheless, we plopped her back into the water and gave her a couple light finger flicks in lieu of a fishy defibrillator and hoped for the best. While she clung to life in her glass ICU we again consulted Google. Had we failed as fish parents? Was her bowl just too confining? Had we been ignoring tell-tale signs of emotional trauma? What if all of those trips to the surface when she would mouth incessantly at the face of the water were not signs of hunger at all but actually silent cries for help? But before the guilt could really set in, we soon discovered as we read a little more in depth that Betas are notorious jumpers, and we were not alone. There are actual fish chat rooms where owners tell their tales of woe and offer suggestions on how to keep your Beta in the bowl. At least we could sleep at night knowing she was predisposed to this kind of behavior and we would just have to do our best under the circumstances.

After resting at the bottom of the bowl for 24 hours, losing part of her back fin, and changing several different colors, Melody did go on to make a full recovery. She once again attempted to take her own life just a few weeks ago, but was only out of the water for a few minutes. We've since moved her to a slightly larger bowl with a lower water level and given her a live plant to swim around and eat off of. She seems to be pretty content at this point, but I still check the bowl every time I walk by to make sure there's still a fish in there. This is definitely a bit more than I signed up for that January afternoon, but I think it's safe to say that Melody the Beta fish is here to stay.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dollars and Scents

As a proud consumer of Pert Plus, I’ve always considered myself a pretty simple person when it comes to beauty products. You can be sure I’ve got something special going on that day when I break out the separate shampoo and conditioner. I use my Dove bar soap in the shower, and my lotion is purchased at the pet store, designed for the hooves of horses. Needless to say, it is on the rarest of occasions that I set foot in a store like Bath and Body Works. One such occasion was last week.

My sister Kelly’s birthday was on Wednesday, and traditionally we simply go back to the items leftover from her Christmas list to find gift ideas. I chose this strategy and acquired a list of supplies from Bath and Body Works that hadn't turned up under the tree. There’s a Bath and Body Works location close to my house and since I didn’t have much to spend, I figured I could zip in there, pick up something small, and be on my way. So with a list of desirable items, a ten dollar bill, and the kiddos in tow, I headed out the door.

It took all I had to actually enter the store that I typically don’t walk past without holding my breath, but as I lingered by the open door my body began to acclimate and the sensation of passing out subsided. Upon entering, I was pleasantly surprised that a sale appeared to be going on. I had my doubts when I began reading price tags, but the enthusiastic signage assured me that this was indeed a “sale”. Had it not been for this bit of provident fortune, I would have headed home to gift-wrap a tube of lip balm.

I started at the top of my list under the heading “Shower Gels”. Looking up from the paper, I found myself standing before three bins of sale-priced shower gels. This would be easier than I thought! I dug through the bottles looking for either Peony, Tropical Passion Fruit, or Magnolia Blossom, but to no avail. Apparently Kelly had popular taste. I moved on to the next sub-heading: “Wallflowers”. What was a wallflower? Did it come in a bottle? Did you spray it, smear it, or lather it? Facing far too many unknowns, I decided against questing after this option.

I then saw that there was one item on the list that stood alone, no scent listing, no sub-category: “Aquatanic Spa Vitalizing Marine Body Tonic”. Intimidated though I was by its formidable title, I had already made visual contact with the “Spa” section of the store and began moving in that direction. As I stared up at row after row of Aqutanic Spa product, the last item on Kelly’s list became more and more enticing: “Gift Card”. But determined to get her a 3-dimentional birthday present, I pressed on.

As I began to wonder if I would ever breath fresh air again, the sales clerk must have taken note of my split-ends and unscented aura and quickly recognized my plight. “Can I help you find something?” she asked sympathetically. At first I read items off the list to her, but soon she had taken the list and was zipping around the store in search of a match. I did my best to keep up with my stroller and mesmerized two-year-old but soon realized that much like chasing a butterfly, it was best to wait for her to land on something before attempting to approach her. I watched from a distance as she scanned labels on a shelf and when she turned around she had two bottles in her hand. “Black Raspberry Vanilla Shampoo and Conditioner.” She stated with a satisfied nod.

“How much are they?” I asked, fearing her response.

“They’re on sale!” she gushed, “Two for ten dollars.”

“Perfect!” I exclaimed. “I’ll take them”.

Remembering her sales training, she held up a small metal can. “Would you also like the matching Body Butter?”

As tempting as it was, I only had ten dollars. Kelly would have to churn her own. We headed to the checkout desk, made the purchase, and stepped back into the real world. It didn’t smell like Gardenia, Coconut Lime Verbana, or Sensual Amber. It smelled like a combination of exhaust, French fries, and the adjacent Petmart store. We headed toward the latter establishment so the girls could look at the fish. “While I’m there,” I thought to myself, “I may as well pick up some lotion for myself, too.”

Monday, January 01, 2007

More Than Okay

Here I am! I’m okay! I’m not dead or anything. Just slacking off. But I appreciate everyone who emailed to check for signs of life throughout my silence. I’ve simply been in a creative drought for the last few months, as I’ve mentioned in several of my “recent” posts. It’s just been really difficult lately to think beyond the here and now, much less write about it in a cognitive way. On top of that, I’ve been unusually tired and my brain hasn’t been firing on all cylinders. I forget things I normally remember and am more easily confused. I know with symptoms like that, it doesn’t sound like I’m doing okay. But actually, I’m more than okay. I’m pregnant.

This is my third time around, so I’m no stranger to the “pregnancy fog”, as many women call it. I forget things at the store, forget to order things off my sandwiches, I struggle to write songs, and I don’t cook as well. It’s a very real thing, this fog, and it’s caused by an actual slight decrease in oxygen to the brain. This condition was a bit disheartening to learn about in my first pregnancy, but I know now that it’s only temporary. At least, I think it is. As far as I can tell I seem to go back to normal, but maybe I should retake the SATs after this baby is born, just to make sure.

Anyway, enough excuses for not blogging. All the women reading want to know the stats. Well, I’m 16 weeks, due on June 21st. Our ultrasound is on the 11th, and yes we’re finding out, and yes we will tell people. The name, however, will remain a secret as usual. But it’s already picked out, so while you’re welcome to throw in your suggestions, know that it will not be considered. (especially you Wajonians… I’ve seen your name suggestions beforeJ) We’re very excited about it, and Bethany talks about it all the time. She is very clear that she wants a baby girl, not a baby boy, and she wants to name her Melody, which is the Little Mermaid’s daughter’s name. She also takes her plastic stethoscope and listens to the baby’s heartbeat. It’s all very cute.

So, as Matthew says, we’re preparing to move from man-to-man defense to zone, if one can really prepare for that. I’ve gathered from other moms that the jump from 1 to 2 is somewhat difficult, from 2 to 3 is the hardest, and after that you kind of just lose count. So we’re gearing up for the challenge, feeling incredibly blessed by the wonderful kids we already have and the privilege to be given another. Hopefully I’ll blog a little more consistently, but no promises. If I do disappear for a while, I’ve probably just chosen to spend my free time doing something else, like resting, napping, or eating ice cream from the carton. Now, if I can just remember where I put that spoon…