Friday, March 30, 2007

so we got a new treadmill

There are 3,500 calories in a pound of body fat.

After two walking sessions on the new treadmill (23 minutes & 30 minutes):

123 cal. + 210 cal. = 333 calories burned

209,667 calories to go to burn 60 pounds of fat off my body

That means I only have to walk on the treadmill 998 more times!

Oh, yeah, and that's if I don't eat anything between now and then. Big IF.

(Just kidding. If you think I'm actually considering starving myself, you don't know me very well.)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

pollen palooza

The weather here has been absolutely beautiful - spring has sprung! And with it has come a very thick layer of pollen. There's yellow dust everywhere outdoors. Literally every surface is covered. It's in Every. Nook. And. Cranny. No joke.

I even saw a video on the news tonight of pollen falling like snow. (Eewww!) The kids have been having pollen-ball fights and building pollen men in this pollen wonderland. Seriously, there's more pollen on the rooftops and cars just this week than the total amount of snow we've seen in a year and a half here. I don't normally say this, but for once, I just wish it would RAIN!

I just know that I keep forgetting about the pollen when I walk outside in my bare feet, and they get SO itchy! I can't stand it! Oddly, though, it hasn't affected my nasal allergies as much as the pollen in AZ seems to. Guess it's because there are no olive trees here, and I'm not allergic to sweet gum trees ... yet.

(Pine, oak, sweet gum, birch, & sycamore - today's pollen count was 3905 particles per square meter, down from Monday's count of over 5499... but keep in mind that a pollen count of 120 is considered "extremely high" in the Southeast.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

WFMW - Movie Reviews

I love going to the theater to see a good movie. And I love sharing that experience with my kids. The smell of buttered popcorn, the way your sneakers stick to the floor, the laughing together or jumping out of our seats at the exact same moment. But there's nothing worse than taking my kids to a movie that ends up disappointing or surprising me (as a parent) in the worst possible way.

I've always used Plugged In to determine whether I should allow my children to see a movie in the theater. Or any movie that I want to see, for that matter. It's a great Christian resource I discovered through Focus on the Family. They give a detailed synopsis, and a summary of any good or bad elements, like spiritual content (Christian or other - like new age), sexual content (including nudity), drugs/alcohol, foul language (ex: used the word "ohmyg*d" seven times), etc. You can go to the movies and enjoy the experience without being afraid of any unwanted "surprises" popping up on the silver screen. They have great archives too, so if it's a movie on TV or DVD, you can still look it up and read the review.

But I also recently discovered
Cinemama. I found it on It focuses mostly on current movies that kids or teens would want to see. And it's written from a mom's perspective. She has written several articles and posts video interviews and trailers on this site too. So far, it seems pretty solid, even though it's not necessarily based on a Christian worldview.

Here's an excerpt from her article entitled, "Why It's Not JUST a Movie":

For kids, movies aren't simply means of passing time, zoning out or getting a vicarious scare or giggle. Stories in books and movies help children understand how the world works and what we value as a society.

Stories matter to kids, and in the deepest of ways. They literally become the fabric of their beliefs about the world. This is why we owe it to them to demand excellence.

Anyway, since it's not exactly practical or cost-effective to actually preview movies myself before heading to the theater as a family ... checking out movie reviews online before I take my kids to see them - that's what works for me. Visit Rocks in my Dryer for many more resources and tips.

***UPDATED to add a couple more sites recommended to me in the comments section: Screen It! and Kids-in-Mind. I haven't had much time to check them out personally, but they both looked pretty decent at first glance.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

their anniversary

Today is a day to remember. My Mom has only been gone for a few weeks, but today is my parents' 39th wedding anniversary. So, I just thought I'd take a minute and say that I'm so very proud of my parents. They have shown the world how it looks to be committed to another person in Christ - for life. And that's no small feat. Even in a great marriage like theirs, there are days - or seasons of life - that aren't so easy.

I was reading Rob Bell's newly released book (Sex God) last night, and as I came across this passage, I thought to myself, "That's exactly how I would describe my Dad!"

The author is describing a couple who is going through a tough time because the wife has cancer. He says of them, "She's amazing - the strength of her spirit, her faith - but I'm always struck as well by his attitude toward her. His body language, the way he looks at her, his involvement with the doctors and the tests and procedures - you can't be around the two of them for very long before you become convinced he'd take the cancer for her if he could."

So Dad, if you're reading, I just want to say that I'm still so amazed at the way that you took care of Mom's every need all those years, but especially when she was sick. I know it wasn't easy, but I also know you couldn't have done anything less. Mom was your top priority, above anyone else, even before she had cancer. And while you couldn't take away her physical pain, you took care of everything else the best way you knew how.

They say the greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother. Dad, your love for Mom has always been apparent, but never so much as the past year and a half. I'm sure I always took it for granted that you would love each other forever, (which was a gift in itself), but I had never seen you depend on each other quite like that before.

Thank you, Dad, for living out the meaning of "All my love, All my life." Thank you for being such a wonderful real-life example and teaching us all what it means to be a husband - for your daughters and our husbands, for your grandchildren, for your friends and family.

So, today, on your 39th wedding anniversary, I know you'll miss Mom so very deeply, but please be happy when you remember how much she loves you.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

what can I say?

Because I just lost my Mom, people keep asking me two questions. The same two questions. (Please don't misunderstand - I am not complaining, just wondering why. I really don't mind the questions. It's better than people avoiding me because they don't know what to say.)

- First, they usually say "I'm really sorry to hear about your mom." (Yep. It sucks.)

- Then, "How are you doing?" (my answer is usually, "I'm OK, until someone asks me how I'm doing." BOO-HOO!)
- And, "Is there anything I can do to help you?" (I really don't know what to say to them at this point. Tissue please...)

The other night I talked to Bryan about this, and he asked me what my first thought is when people ask me if there's anything they can do for me. Well, quite honestly, the one thing that I would really want someone to do for me can't be done. My Mom died. No one can change that. So, my consolation prize would be.... what? Swedish meatballs, of course!

Seriously, though, I know they're sincere, and I am always gracious because I truly do appreciate the love of my friends and neighbors. I am keenly aware that this is Christ's love being shown to me through the people in my life. It's also their way of reaching out to me. Plus, my mother would be very upset with me if I took a sarcastic tone with someone who was only trying to show their concern for me.

I know my Mom's death hasn't affected my friends' lives all that much. It's not reasonable for me to expect it to, especially because most of my friends here never even met her. It's hard because everyone else's life has gone "back to normal," (if it ever hit a bump in the first place), yet my life has been forever altered. I hope someday I can catch up to feeling normal too. I just wish I didn't feel as if people were scoping me out or waiting for me to fall to pieces.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

my gigantic present

A while back, I wrote a post about an episode of "Men in Trees." I'll admit I was feeling more than a little bit selfish. And I was wondering about the impact I've had on the lives of those around me. And I was questioning whether I would ever reap what I've been sowing. I was asking God, "When do I get my gigantic present?" I know better than to think that anything in life is all about me; so I should have known it would come back to bite me.

Fast forward to last Friday night. We were just returning from our difficult trip to Arizona, and saying goodbye to my sweet Mom as she left us to take up residence in heaven. Our best friends in Georgia came to pick us up from the airport, and on the way home, Tricia said to me with a mischievous little gleam in her eye, "We have a few surprises for you when you get home." Little did I know the understatement she had just made. This was more than Southern hospitality, people. And there was not even a drop of sweet tea involved. I swear.

We drove around the curve, and as our house came into view, instantly I could tell that I was going to be overwhelmed. Stewart had done all of the yard work that we had been neglecting. Trees and bushes cut back, grass evened out, sidewalks swept and probably even pressure washed.

Then, as we walked in the house and looked around, there were flowers on the kitchen island, cards on the kitchen table from all of the neighbors and friends who had helped clean the entire house and stock our fridge with meals that will last us for a good while. Oh, and don't forget the added touch of a giant SpongeBob doll in the recliner. Stewart & Tricia walked through the whole house with us as we marveled at the things our friends and neighbors had done for us while we were away. They dusted. They swept and vacuumed. They even cleaned my bathroom, and the kids' rooms and bathrooms.

As soon as we got done with our little tour of how-our-house-looks-when-it's-all-clean-at-the-same-time, Stewart said, "Open up the fridge." Not only was it cleaned out from when we had left it a couple weeks prior, but it was RE-stocked. Groceries - milk, juice, cheese, lunch meats, and fruit - as well as chocolate milk, popsicles, and Danimals yogurt smoothies for the kiddos. Oh, and not just groceries, but MEALS! I didn't have to worry about going to the store or figuring out what to feed my family. Y'all - this was SO huge! I had NO idea how many people cared about us enough to take this kind of action. If I think about it, I'm actually really humbled. I've only met some of these neighbors a couple of times, and one I hadn't ever met before. But they helped clean my house, y'all. Trust me - we left here in such a hurry, that it couldn't have been an easy task. And if you know me at all, you know that I'm not the greatest housekeeper in the first place.

So. Ahem.

Let's just say I'm still writing "thank-you" notes. But the real "thank-you" goes to God, for showing me what I needed to see about how He cares for me, using friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and strangers. He has also been showing me the kind of thing I need to keep investing my life in - reaching out to other people. Because it really does make a difference.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

so here's a tough question...

My 11-year-old must really be thinking these days. Today he asked me,
"If I had something to cure cancer, and I could go back in time and make Nana better, would it be like taking her out of heaven?"

It's so tempting to want to want to bring someone back, isn't it? We love her so much. It's just not fair that she had to suffer and leave us. We want her here with us. Sounds a little selfish, I realize, but on the other hand... it's impossible to imagine living in a world without Nana.

I definitely feel his pain.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

a special tribute

My Mom passed away two weeks ago. Here are some thoughts I wrote down about her for the dear family friend who officiated her memorial service.

How can I tell you my feelings about my Mom in just a few simple sentences? I can’t do her justice … but I’ll try anyway. This won’t even scratch the surface…

Aside from teaching me all of the typical, practical things I needed to know to succeed in life – like tying my shoes, and driving, and doing laundry, and cooking her favorite recipes, Mom showed me the value of being fully present in the lives of the people I love. Growing up, she was at every choir concert, piano recital, sports or school event that my sisters or I were part of. We created so many wonderful memories as a family, and Mom knew exactly how to make each memory even more special. It’s what she loved to do.

I always cherished the fact that she was so active in my kids’ lives. When we lived in Phoenix, she talked to them nearly every day. She always listened so intently to what they had to say, took the time to really know them, and she took such great joy in each of their personalities. She knew what they liked to do, and she made a special point of doing those things with them. She truly delighted in them (and looking back at photos of my childhood, I can tell she delighted in my sisters and me the very same way.) She constantly took them to plays and movies; she always gave them gifts chosen especially for them, and she loved seeing the looks on their faces; she played games on the floor with them; she attended every event that the kids were involved in – musicals, plays, sports events, and dance recitals (see the pattern here?). She made each grandchild feel so special that NANA was always the FIRST person they would want run to and tell EVERYTHING!

She could see things from the kids’ perspectives, and her communicating that to me has made me see that parenting isn't about me, it's about my children. And leading by example, she helped me learn to be a great mom by offering guidance and calm assurance when I was overwhelmed.

Mom always saw the best in people. She could tell what their special interests and talents were, and what made them “tick.” She knew how to talk to people and really listen to what they needed. Therefore, she also knew how to give them what they needed – whether in words or practical help. And when she helps someone, she doesn’t just go half-way; Mom put everything she had into helping other people.

My Mom had such a great sense of humor. She knew how to have fun, and she loved to laugh. She was always playing jokes on people at work; she loved to surprise people. I remember her telling me countless stories of the hilarious things she and her "partner in crime" (who shall remain nameless, to protect the not-so-innocent) would do to the other staff members in the church office. Just to make the new ones feel welcome and accepted, of course. ;)

Not many people can say at the end of their parent’s life that they don’t have regrets about things left unsaid. I am really fortunate that my Mom has always expressed her love to me, and told me that she’s proud of me – every step of the way. I honestly couldn’t ask for anything more. They say the two lasting things we give our children are roots and wings. My Mom did both of those things. She completed her mission in a way that no one else on earth ever could. That's why I will miss my Mom every day, until the day that I see her again in heaven. She is so very special to me.

I’m so glad that my Mom has taught me everything I know about passing those gifts on to my children too. I just wish I could repay a fraction of her love, care and blessing to me. But I know I could never come close. I'm a Mom now too, and I've come to realize that motherhood is a gift that you give yourself, as much as it is a gift you give your children. In other words, motherhood is its own reward, in some ways. You get out of it what you put into it. My Mom was blessed to be surrounded by her adoring husband of nearly 39 years and her 3 beloved daughters when she entered into eternity. We couldn't have been anywhere else. She put her whole heart into being my Mom (and Nana to my kids), and in doing so, she has made herself a home in our hearts forever.

That is my mother's legacy...all I can do is pass it on...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

stewart's favorite

Last spring break when we took a vacation with our friends, Stewart nicknamed our kids "Red One," "Red Two," and - you guessed it - "Red Three." Every time we would do a head count at a restaurant or Universal Studios, he would call them by their new nicknames. They adore him, and they loved the nicknames so much that they have stuck for all this time.

Fast forward nearly a year, and we were traveling back to Georgia from Arizona this weekend. The kids knew that Stewart was coming to pick us up at the airport. So, as we're walking to Baggage Claim, Hayden asks, "Mom, do you know what kind of red is Stewart's favorite?" Caught off-guard by her question, and having no clue as to which direction this conversation was headed, I replied, "No. What?"

She looked me straight in the eye and said, "Three." It's really true - that little girl has "Big Stew" wrapped around her little finger. It's just cute that she knows it, I think.