Friday, September 26, 2008

Thanks for the memories

Last year at this time, we were trying to adjust to life in the Philippines. We were severely plagued with jet lag. We slept all day and stayed up all night for at least a week. We were excited about the opportunity of living in a foreign country. We were still in awe and looking forward to the possibilities.

Right now, I miss living in the Philippines. It was exciting and different and made us see life from a different perspective. It made us value the people we love in the USA. It made us value our country. Even though we complain about our government and so many things here, I still feel that America is a truly great country. We have opportunities others only dream about. Freedoms (for now anyway) that some can't even imagine. I was reading an article the other day about the billions of pounds of food that is wasted yearly in our country. In the Philippines, they were rationing staple food because there just wasn't enough. Children were left to beg on the streets. The elderly and handicapped had to fend for themselves in a country that doesn't provide for their special needs. There aren't nursing homes there or homes for special needs or rehab centers like we have here. If your family can't support you, then you have to just find a way to make it day by day.

Truthfully, I sincerely hope we are given another chance to live abroad. I would go without hesitation unless it's the Middle East or Nigeria. I would go to Dubai though. Really, Dwayne wouldn't even have to discuss it much with me. Just let me know when to pack. I love to travel. Living in Asia allowed us to visit many areas in the Philippines and Hong Kong. We probably would've never gone to those places if we never left.

Dwayne has already informed the higher ups at his job that he wants another expat assignment. Actually, he told them that before we came back to Houston. The only drawback is leaving our family and friends here. We really missed y'all...even the ones we don't see very often.

Every expat woman I met while away told me living in a foreign country is addictive. None of them were itching to get back home. One lady had been an expat so long she felt like she no longer had a home. She was originally from Virgina but had lived in Rome, Cairo, Poland, Manila, and maybe somewhere else. Believe it or not, she said Rome was the worst assignment. Her three children were all born abroad and don't really consider themselves Americans. They're what's called "third culture children". They have no country that truly feels like home. The earth is their home.

Anyway, we are open to whatever God throws our way. If we need to stay here, then so be it. But, if he sees fit for us to hit the friendly skies and get away, we'll see you all later. And, you can all visit.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Politics

For the first time in my life, yesterday I wore a shirt endorsing a person running for office.



What I didn't expect was for random strangers to just come up to me wanting to talk about it. The first lady told me how she ordered some t-shirts, posters, yard signs, and something else from his website but it hasn't come yet. So, of course, I had to brag about how I got my shirt in less than a week. Another lady said I didn't know you could get campaign shirts in maternity sizes. Several other people wanted to actually discuss the election with me. Of course, I was in Walmart with my kids so the timing and place wasn't really conducive for that type of discussion. I really didn't expect that reaction though. I've seen people walking around campaigning for people all my life. It never made me want to engage them in a conversation though.

On a side note, Danae doesn't know who the actual president is. If you ask her, she'll say President Barack Obama is the president. She doesn't even know W's name. Bad mommy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Favorite Child

This is something I've always wondered about. Do parents have a favorite child? My parents did. It was me. I was also the only child so there was no competition. But, what about families with more than one? Like us.

I've been accused of having a favorite child. They say it's Danae. That's kinda funny to me because if you saw us at home, you would think opposite. When we sit to watch television or read a book, Brayden is always curled up in my lap or on my shoulder while Danae would prefer to sit with her daddy. But, he's not my favorite. He's just a mama's boy and she's a daddy's girl. We have no idea where #3 will fit in.

By the way, my due date is supposedly February 22nd but I don't think that's accurate.

Anyway, my stepmother clearly has a favorite child. And, she doesn't mind sharing that information. You would know it as soon as you walked in her house. She has tons of pictures of one child while you have to hunt for the pictures of the other two. Of course, my dad has pictures of me around too. My stepmother has 3 children, 2 daughters and a son.

Her favorite is her oldest daughter, R. She is a widow with no children, is very successful, and has quite a bit of disposable income. So, she treats her mom a lot. For instance, they just went on a Mediterranean cruise last month, she bought her a car, and they go on at least one vacation yearly together. Her other daughter, D, is a lesbian (which her mother disapproves of) and a minister (she was fired as a pastor because of her sexual orientation). Basically, she has proven to be a disappointment in her mom's eyes. Her son is an average guy. He's divorced with two children, isn't rich but also isn't in poverty. The last time he visited he told my dad he doesn't believe his mom loves him as much as the others. Isn't that a sad thing for a child to say?

So, guess which child visits the most? Yep, it's R. The other two don't. She and R talk daily while the other two are lucky if they hear from her once a week. It's a huge discrepancy. But, I'm not judging the situation. I'm very curious. Will this happen to me one day too? My hope is that I have a special bond with each child. I know we naturally cling to people who are more like us and share our interests but does that apply to our kids as well. I guess only time will tell.

Have any of you experienced this or seen it in other families?

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Big Boy!

The other monumental even from last week was my baby's birthday!!! Brayden is now 2! Even though we were without electricity most of the day he still had a fabulous day! He played with his friends all morning.


He was so tired when he came in for lunch that he fell asleep at the table.



After his nap, he played with his friends more. The sweetest thing happened that day. Our neighbors from across the street brought over a Hostess cupcake with two candles in it and sang to him. He was so happy! This small gesture was really touching because they didn't have to but they wanted to make sure he got to celebrate his birthday since the original plans were ruined. Never mind the scarf on his head. It was totally his idea. I think it's cute in a Pirates of the Caribbean kinda way.



His friends brought over a gift for him too. He's sitting on it.


That evening we went to Applebee's for dinner. It was probably the worst meal ever because they didn't have much there. But, Dwayne was happy because he watched a little TV.



He also got some cool big boy toys from his mommy and daddy. He has a NBA kiddie basketball goal, a hot wheels race car track with extra cars, and a baseball and bat. He is such a boy! Oh yeah, daddy purchased a cake for him but didn't think about getting candles so we have a big candle off to the side for him to blow out. Bootleg!!!


I have to end this post with a few pictures of him over the last two years.

The day he was born


He used to hate bathtime with a passion. Now, you can't get him out of the tub.


His first birthday party in San Ramon, CA

His first haircut



Old Ike

So, in the grand scheme of things, Ike didn't hurt us too badly. We lost most of our fence and had a lot of tree branches in the yard and Dwayne thinks we lost a couple of shingles off the roof. We were only out of power for a few days. It was restored on Monday evening. Our water was only out for one day. Some people have lost everything and I can't even imagine what they must feel right now. A lot of people in Houston and the suburbs still don't have electricity. Our church is in the same boat. We had to use a generator this weekend but it was still good.

I actually enjoyed our few days in the dark. Thankfully, God sent a cold front through so we didn't have to deal with extreme heat. Our family spent a lot of uninterrupted time together. There was no television to distract us. We all slept in our bed together. Every night, we just talked until we fell asleep. We realized just how silly and goofy our kids are. Danae likes to make up songs and Brayden is just nuts. We also spent a lot of time outside just enjoying the cool breeze. The neighborhood kids had a lot of fun together. Dwayne was off work for a week. It was nice!

Sometimes, life moves so fast and there are so many distractions that we tend to lose focus. We forget how to just sit and talk. We forget how to go to bed earlier so we're not so tired and unfocused the next day. Ike brought a much needed break from our normal lives.

Here are a few pictures from our Ike experience.

Our neighbor called us at 4:30 am to tell us his tree fell.

Branches from the pine trees in our front yard.

My car made it! It sat in the driveway because there's no room in our garage.

Backyard fence down

Fence again

My kids playing with some of the neighbors

Pile of branches that's still sitting in the same position today.

The day after the Ike, a horrible thunderstorm came through. Our street was flooded.

More flood

Fence on the side of the house.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My daddy is 67!





My daddy celebrated his 67th birthday yesterday. I just realized he's very close to 70. To me, 70 signifies old. So my dad is getting old. The good thing is that he's in great health. He's in better shape than I am for sure. His two favorite things to do are to play softball and sing. And he's pretty good at both! He was so happy yesterday because both of his grandchildren sang to him and held a pretty lengthy conversation with him. Usually, one of them won't be in the mood to talk on the phone. My dad is the epitome of laid back so he didn't want to do anything for his birthday. He went to Walmart to buy some things for the house and spent the rest of the day practicing a song he's leading this Sunday at his church. He spent last weekend in Cincinnati playing ball. All in all, life is good.

Here's another happy birthday to the old man! As you can see from the pictures, Danae holds a special place in his heart but then she is his first grandchild.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ike

is going to mess up our plans for Brayden's birthday this weekend. If we don't get to go to Sea World like we planned, I guess I'll have to come up with something for next weekend. In comparison with Danae, he has already gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to birthdays. He's going to look at the pictures when he gets older and feel like the redheaded stepchild.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Kid Salesmen

School just started and the kids are already selling junk. Yesterday, our doorbell was ringing off the hook. All the neighborhood kids came by to show their little booklets. I didn't buy anything because I'm tired of it. Actually, I stopped answering the door. I do not need another $20 candle or $15 box of candy or wrapping paper or random kitchen utensils. When will this mess stop? If our government would stop cutting education funding then the kids could focus on doing their homework in the evenings instead of their side jobs as door-to-door salespeople.

Last night, I left to go to the store. One of the kids who I ignored was pointing at me and telling his friend "I knew she was there." That made me laugh. These kids are gangsta! He looked like he was going to come and beat me up. Nah, baby, I ain't buying nothing. Well, I would buy something from our next door neighbor only. She's so sweet and cute and I couldn't resist her. But, she hasn't come yet.

When I was a little girl, we didn't have to sell things for school or maybe I just didn't participate. The only thing I ever sold was Girl Scout cookies and that took no effort on my part. In the months leading up to the sale, everyone would say don't forget my Thin Mints or Tagalongs or whatever they wanted. Most of my sales were made in the projects where my aunt lived. It was quick and painless.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Random

I stayed up watching Serena win the US Open last night and claim that $1.5 million check. Danae wants a tennis racket. With those payouts, I just might have to get her one. I'm sure this is a good time to teach her or have someone else do it. If she starts learning at 3, she should be pretty good at 13. Right? Anyway, I love to watch Serena play because she's so strong and competitive.

I didn't leave my house at all yesterday and it was pretty nice. I cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner, did some schoolwork, and relaxed. Even though I'm home every day, I don't get to relax every day. I'm usually refereeing fights, cleaning, teaching, and slaving away in this house.

I'm so addicted to Big Brother, it's not even funny. I can't wait to see who wins this year but I will be so pissed if it's Jerry.

My baby is almost 2 years old and I can't believe it. Time passes so quickly! We're taking him to Sea World to celebrate. It should be a lot of fun for him since he really likes fish and dolphins and water. He's also getting a basketball goal because he loves basketball. He'll watch a game before The Backyardigans and he loves them.

I am so tired of strangers talking to me when I'm pregnant. With Danae, a lot of people would say "Are you sure it's not twins. You're pretty large." With Brayden, people said "I don't think it's a boy, you're carrying it like a girl." "You sure it's not twins?" This time, when people see me and the kids, they say "Oh, you're having a baby. You're really going to have your hands full." I already have my hands full. I don't need their extra commentary. And, really, what's the point of that comment? Surely, it's not meant to make me feel better. What should I do? Maybe I'll say, "You're right. Do you know where the nearest abortion clinic is?" That will probably shut them up.

Okay, I'm tired of typing now. That's enough randomness anyway.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Just Dreaming

During my pregnancies, I have the most vivid and crazy dreams ever. Last night, I dreamed that I found out my mother wasn't actually dead but was in prison instead. I don't know what she did though. So, I confronted my dad to ask him why he lied to me and why he had to be so dramatic about it (meaning going through with a funeral). He said when she committed her crime, she was dead to him and he thought it would be easier for me to just think she was dead instead of knowing the truth. For some reason, he never told me about her crime and I didn't ask. I just kept trying to find out where she was so I could go and visit her.

The even crazier part is that I actually woke up wondering what if my dream is true. I know, I know, let's just blame it on pregnancy and keep it moving.

I had another crazy dream the other day that a celebrity died. It's an old school singer whose death would have a whole lot of folks upset. I won't utter his name though.

Speaking of prisons, I have two young cousins who are in prison. I write them from time to time. It really breaks my heart that they've gone this route, especially because I feel part of the reason for their bad choices stems from others' actions. Let's talk about them, shall we.

The first one we'll call J. He's about 23 and has been in and out of trouble for most of his life. I think it started in elementary school. The thing is, he's always in jail for something really stupid. His first run-in occurred when he decided to call in a bomb threat to his school so he could have the day off. He also called his sister's school too. He had all these policemen in Pensacola searching for bombs and crap. And, he almost got his dad locked up because they thought it was his voice on the phone. Yes, he called from home. Since then, he's gotten in trouble for many more silly things.

My other cousin, T is about 25/26 and received a 5 year term for cocaine possession and assault. He beat up his brother's father-in-law about something that he should have stayed out of and no one would've gotten hurt. The FIL has injuries that will last for the rest of his life. He too has been in and out of trouble as of late but mostly related to drugs. The sad thing is that he didn't do his best in high school but then turned his life around and became a good member of society.

So, what went wrong for these two? Well, J was born addicted to crack. Both of his parents were using when he was conceived and his mom used during the pregnancy. As a result, he's always made stupid decisions. It's like he really can't think rationally or logically. He's a very sweet person who loves hugs and being with family, he just doesn't stupid stuff. T joined the Army to get his life together. He went to Iraq for a year and came back with some serious mental health issues that the army did not treat. He witnessed and took part in some stuff over there that will have your head spinning and he won't even tell us the real heavy stuff because he doesn't want to burden everyone else with the images he replays in is mind. He was also dishonorably discharged so now he can't get any help from his own country. He turned to alcohol and drugs and you see what happened.

I'm not quite sure what these two separate topics have to do with one another but this is what was on my mind today. My aunt has told me since I was a child that I should write a book about my family so I can be rich. They're crazy antics are very entertaining and sad at the same time.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Orman Preaches

I was watching Suze Orman on TV recently. I love to watch her. She is so honestly brutal with the people she comes across. I think she is absolutely fantastic. This day, she was giving advice on spending money as normal and two of her statements really struck me.

I believe that God gives us messages in many forms and using many people. He knows that most of us don't diligently study his word. Yes, we may read a scripture now and then but we don't deeply search the scriptures. Please note that I said most not all. However, He doesn't want us to remain ignorant about anything because of His sincere love for us.

So, two of her statements immediately made me thing about the Bible. The first one was:

"Money is the physical manifestation of who you are."

I immediately thought of the verse that says: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:19-21

A few years ago, I heard a sermon by Elder McKinney where he said you can tell a person's spirituality simply by looking at their checkbook or bank account. Neither McKinney nor Orman said it's wrong to buy nice things or luxury items. However, both said it's wrong to make that your priority.

Her next statement is when making a purchase we should only purchase things that fit the following categories:

"Whatever is kind, necessary, and true"

That made me think of this verse: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just , whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."Philippians 4:8

Orman said when we make a purchase we should ask ourselves if it's kind to us meaning won't cause us future heartache because of unnecessary debt or overextending ourselves. We should see if it's a necessary purchase or are we just frivolously spending money on something that will not add a benefit to our lives. Lastly, if we have to put the purchase on a credit card because we don't have the money to purchase it outright, then it is not true.

Anyway, I couldn't help but see the similarities between her advice and God's advice to us. I just thought I would share.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Crazy People Scare Me

So, we were at the library today when I noticed a strange young woman there. By the way, I did not almost pass out this time. It seems that my blood sugar levels have gotten back to normal.

Anyway, there was a young Asian woman in the children's library (which is really nice) just wandering around by herself. She had a messenger bag and a rolling computer bag. So, my kids were at the coloring table when she walked over and just started talking to another mom there. "How old is your daughter? What about your son?" The mom says she doesn't have a son. Crazy Girl: "Yes you do. I saw you with him." Mom: "I'm sorry you have me confused with someone else." Crazy Girl decides to stay and argue with the woman about whether she has a son or not. The mom eventually closed her mouth. Crazy Girl continues to randomly walk around. A little later, we were in a different section playing with some toys. Crazy Girl comes near and starts talking to another mom. She asks about her children, how often she comes to the library, what time she comes, etc. The mom was very nice but obviously annoyed as she was trying to keep watch over her own two small children. Crazy Girl then starts saying to anyone who will listen: "I'm a student here. I was in the class of '06." No one acknowledged her.

Sidenote: The library is a part of Lone Star College which I'm guessing she attends. I think she graduated high school in 2006.

A little later and it's my turn. My kids are using the toddler computers. Danae is playing a Sesame Street word game and Brayden is busy with a game that teaches colors, shapes, animals, etc. They're both clearly enjoying themselves with headsets on. She tries to talk to them and is ignored because they can't hear her. There was another little boy at the computer next to Danae who is unsupervised. Shame on his mommy! Crazy Girl asks me if Danae is my daughter. I say yes. She asks if Brayden is my son. I say yes. She then asks if the little boy is my son. I say no. She asks if he's my friend. I say no. She then asks him what his name is. He says nothing and looks at her like she's crazy. She then asks me for all of his info: name, mom's name, where he lives. I told her I don't know and she should leave him alone. She asked him if she could pick him up. He said no. She proceeds to try anyway and the little boy scooted past her. I tried to stop him but he is clearly shaken. He eventually finds his mom looking through the bookshelves. She asks me when I will be at the library again because she likes me. I told her I'll be there when I feel like it. She said she needs to know the day and time. I told her NO. She walked off.

That fool was CRAZY!!!