Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Annual Christmas Attack

By the title of this blog, one might concur that a "christmas attack" would be a negative thing. Oh contrare monfrare (or whatever that phrase is). It's quite positive. Christmas attacks for me began as a wee lass when the culmination of all things Christmas would strike and my heart & brain could no more withhold the excitement. Typically my Christmas attacks would be preceded by one of my brothers' own attacks. Witnessing an attack tends to bring one on more quickly.

What does a Christmas attack entail, you ask. Well, thanks for asking. First of all, the lightbulb goes off (figuratively, folks, not literally) and you can see the attack coming just by looking in the eyes of the attackee. All things Christmas have culminated. This means a true realization that Christmas is approaching quickly, that many presents will be received (ok, and given), that delectable food will be devoured (specifically LOTS of monkey bread and sausage balls), that families from afar will come together, that the true Christmas Spirit has come upon you. Then is begins. A little jumping. A little crazy eyes. A little loud grunting. A little arms flailing...and then look out. This is where a couch or bed comes in handy because the attack causes a person to levetate off the ground and ram oneself into the nearest cushiony environment (i.e. couch, bed). Over and over the ramming continues until sweat engulfs and oxygen levels decrease. Then, the attackee rests. The attack has subsided and normal life can continue (although it's usually followed by an attack of a witness).

Haven't had mine this year. I'm getting worried since it's already December 11th and I'm 99% finished with my shopping. Where is the attack? Why is this Christmas culmination not "clicking" yet?

I think I might go put on "It's a Wonderful Life" and sip a cup of hot cider by the light of the Christmas tree. That may speed things up.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dave for President!

Most who know me also know that I am a Dave Ramsey follower and/or junkie and/or devotee and/or aficionada and/or disciple and/or pupil and/or what have you (see www.daveramsey.com for further details). I earned my doctorate and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Financial Peace University where Dave is the prez. Ok, maybe not, but I did "graduate" from FPU (a 13-week course) and if there had been a doctorate program or Summa Cum Laude grads...I would so be there.

In FPU, I learned some very common-sense strategies for bargaining. I have always considered myself pretty street smart with a healthy dose of common sense, but I really never believed that bargaining was 1) allowed in this country (all I knew was that Jamaica was good at it) or 2) that it could actually work. I'm a buckler. I buckle under pressure...or I should say I used to. Now I bring the pressure on and force the bucklage from the other player. Oh, it's beautiful. And all those thoughts I had of "Well if I ask for less, then their company or their commission (thus their dinner on the table that night) will suffer, etc etc." are NO MORE! America is overpriced and I'm going to do all I can to reduce the cost when at all possible (obviously I don't do this at the grocery store or the gas station).

The number one strategy emphasized is the "Walk away" strategy. If seller doesn't reduce to your asking price, walk away. Don't "buy" the item in your heart or mind because it will be written all over your face and you will lose the bargain battle. Remain neutral. Never buckle.

Our first opportunity to try this out was with our car. We spotted one that met our needs, kept an eye on it for a few weeks, noticed it wasn't selling, and walked in. Johnny CarSalesman showed us the price, we drove it around, never showed attachment and when he went for the Lets Make a Deal handshake, we said "That price there, sir. Yeah, not good enough." He says ok, let's talk, what can you afford? No sir. Not allowed to ask that. We simply stuck with, "See that price on the sticker? Not good enough." He got nervous, said a new price. "Not good enough". I believe he was dumbfounded. Came down again. Nope, not good enough. Says he can't come down anymore and we walk away. He chases us, begs. Nope, not good enough. We then show the cash (green bills make Johnny CarSalesman swoon) of about $3k less than lowest price he'd said. SOLD!! A beautiful transition.

Today's case in point: Bought a Christmas gift for $30 at "Store" where there is a strict no-return policy. Found a better gift at Target for nearly same price. Purchased. Went back to "Store" to attempt a return. She says "Sorry, it's store policy." (Note: I have both kids with me, currently well behaved and dressed identically: thus, much cuteness). Let the bargaining begin (and with much respect I must say). Without too much detail of what I said, $30 came right back over the counter to me. A beautiful transition. She was good folk. Maybe it's the Christmas season, or maybe it's the FPU education. Either way, I'm a happy camper who's $30 richer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


It happened again. I thought I could put this childhood nightmare behind me, but it came right back and bit me in the butt.

Today was a gorgeous morning, so Sister and I headed out to the backyard to play (and by the way, we were both in shorts and yes, it's November...ahhh, South Georgia). She opted for a game of hide-n-seek which has become quite competitive between the two of us. A couple of rounds of hiding and seeking and it once again became my turn to hide. I needed a good spot. It's hard to find in our near-barren backyard. I'd done the usuals - under the slide, behind the adirondack chair, beside the trash can. This one needed to be unique - a never before trodded upon hiding spot (and no, I do not find the 27 year age difference to be a concern in my need to compete, although the Husb begs to differ).

As I heard the counting approach number 10, I made a mad dash for the side of the house and found a perfect little alcove that I scrunched down into. I wiggled into the fetal position as I anxiously awaited the "Ready or not, here I come!" charge. And of course, as soon as I heard the charge, I realized my bladder was near explosion. Ugh. That ALWAYS happens at the most inopportune times. I was NOT giving up that easily. I'd found the perfect spot and by golly, I was staying until the mad dash for "base" became available. Since I couldn't see around the corner, I could only rely on hearing the crunch of sticks and hard breathing to know that Sister was nearby. I waited. Then I waited some more. I decided against the mad dash for base because any quick movements would not have been good for the bladder at that moment. I got a little more comfortable leaning against the house to take some pressure off and waited some more. Then I thought I'd throw out some hints. "Pssssst!" Nothing. PSSSSSST!" Nothing. I managed to get up into a standing position (very carefully) and peeked around the corner. That's when I saw it. My childhood nightmare had come back to haunt me again. Sister the Seeker was not on a mad search for me. She had filled a bucket with water and was "painting" (with a stick) Mr. Biggles, our beloved cat-dog. She had given up. I was hiding and there was no seeking. When I showed myself, I did not get so much as a nod or any type of acknowlegement for that matter. The "painting" was too exciting. I hung my head in shame, then made a mad dash for the bathroom.

Hiding with no seeking will just flat ruin your day. It always did when I was a kid. I'd have the greatest hiding spot in the world. I'd have a full bladder. And I would sit and wait...and wait...and wait...until finally I'd come out with the white flag only to realize the Seeker(s) had QUIT! Who invented that sorry game anyway? Blasted hide-n-seek.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Time Warp

At times, life halts for people. Almost as if it stops, but that would mean death and I don't mean it like that...maybe just a short (or sometimes long) hiatus...especially of the day to day normalcies. I learned this best when Little Man was in the hospital - first when he was born and felt the need to stay a week to strengthen those weak white-boy lungs and get rid of the pneumonia. Then life halted 2 months later when we did it all over again with RSV. The hospital was one of the loneliest places I've been in a long time. Especially because I couldn't leave - not even to get a Coke down the hall. I guess I could have, but taking the time to get a nurse to babysit while I left (and then feeling comfortable about it) seemed too much trouble. So I sat. I listened to ceaseless beeping of monitors. I looked at words on pages and tried to read books. I crawled up in Little Man's man-sized crib. I prayed. I brushed my teeth about 12 times a day because somehow that hospital air (or scrumptious hospital food) made my teeth feel like they had sweaters on. I stared at the door and tried to will visitors in. It wasn't necessarily that this was an overly traumatic circumstance (scary, yes. worrisome, yes. traumatic, nah...not in the grand scheme of things). It's just that life halted. But only for me (and my Little Man). Everything and everyone else continued along, just as they had the day before. It was such a weird feeling to know the world was going along just as before, while Little Man and I were holed up in a hospital room in the pursuit of clean lungs. Going nowhere.

These times were a great learning experience for me. I'm thankful that I can relate to others who are holed up in hospital rooms with their sick babies. I know how to pray for them. I understand how meaningful a visit can be. And I will never throw out the proverbial "Yeah we'll be praying for you" without actually doing it (yes I'm guilty of throwing that lingo around and not doing a darn thing about it...stinks...but true).

I use this as just one example of a life-halting situation. And I guess it's so fresh for me because I have some close friends who are halted right now. Death of a loved one, hospital stays, and even a positive life-halting situation (congrats on your engagement, Alicia!). All of which make you stop, look around, and wonder how everyone's life around you can be going along as always while yours is taking a break. Especially when noticing the petty stuff that people complain of day-to-day (traffic, attitudes, busyness, children, etc etc etc), when you're able to look at what really matters. When life halts, you can't help but re-prioritize EVERYTHING. And ultimately, you're changed by whatever situation that is, whether it was a negative or positive one.

I guess this is just a glimpse of those I've been praying for a lot lately: my friends who are halted. Their halts remind me to look at life differently than I did yesterday.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ode to Being Old

In honor of Kara's 29th Birthday.

I've always heard other (older) people talk about the time(s) when they really started noticing they were aging. I have never been able to relate as I have been ageless. Until now. Well, really it's been inching up in the last few years. Around age 26 I noticed I was unable to eat everything under the sun without it showing up somewhere in my hips. I finally had to stop eating Grands biscuits for breakfast and dinner daily (yes, daily) so I wouldn't gain 200 lbs. Up until that point I had enjoyed food with no worries as I had a metabolism that could challenge an elephant. I held the record of the most amount of garlic rolls eaten at Provino's while still finishing my meal (13. Yes, 13. And I still weighed 120 lbs when I left. Amazing.). Yeah, not so much anymore. And to top off the slowing metabolism, the aches and pains of oldness are creeping in. I had major back "issues" the other night and in commiserating with Alicia over email, realized she was dealing with back "issues" as well. Who has back pain? OLD PEOPLE. We would have never spoken of our ailing joints while in college. But now, 10 years later, that's our conversation: "How's your back?" "Well, not so good. I'm thinking about taking some Metamucil, watching Golden Girls, and doing some cross-stitching. Maybe that will help."

Really. If this is 30, what in the world is 50 going to look like?

Maybe I'll start the Botox now so I can look as good as Joan Rivers or Bruce Jenner at their respective ages. Would be an honor to look so...so ageless.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Am I even spelling that correctly? Aversions. Maybe I should use something easier, like repugnance. Either way, I have some serious loathings. I was reminded of what they were while flipping through the Walmart weekly ad mag. 3 of my biggest aversions lay on the same page. While Walmart itself is an unspoken aversion of mine (hello? TARGET!), it tends to carry large plastic toys (Aversion #1) - and lots of them. I'm not sure when this particular aversion began, but it wells up feelings in me I haven't experienced before. It must have begun when we moved (downsized) into our "cottage" - or "house" as it is formally called. Since it is hard enough to squeeze humans into this humble abode, the thought of large plastic accessories makes my skin crawl. We've had 3 sets of acquaintances drop off some hand-me-down LPA (large plastic accessories) while we weren't home on our doorstep. Meanness. Kitchens, ovens, refrigerators, you name it. And since they are labeled "tot size", one must not think the amount of room they take up seems much. However, the Akins cottage cannot hold em. I move them from our doorstep directly into the trunk and take them to Goodwill where they belong. I think maybe when we "upsize" to our next home, we'll build a loft filled to the brim with LPA for all the kiddies to enjoy. Just because we can. Until then...

Aversion #2: Clowns. I share this with my sister-in-law. Mom tried to start me a clown collection and all it did was give me nightmares that "It" from Stephen King was going to come after me in my sleep. So thank you, Walmart, for showing off your clown costumes. Only scary Chesters would want to buy them anyway.

And finally, the biggest of them all, Aversion #3: Feet. I don't even like writing the word. I'm serious. If there were medical things hooked to my heart and brain right now, they would be beeping out of control. This might require medication. And thanks to Walmart, I can see how Ashuanda's (store clerk) feet look in the open-toe slippers for $7.99. The closest I've come to a legitimate anxiety attack came on an airplane as a result of this aversion. No, the airplane wasn't experiencing turbulence. No, the oxygen levels remained in tact. No, the smell was manageable. It was Peter Passenger sitting right smack next to me. He was clothed in a t-shirt (acceptable), jeans (acceptable), and some stank nasty brown leather sandals with his toes crawling out the top. Did he keep his toes hidden under Polly Passenger's seat the whole time? Negative. He was a tall man who couldn't get comfortable and thought crossing his legs would help. It was a scene straight out of Planes, Trains and Automobiles and his "dogs" were in my direct line of sight. I already have to use the complimentary vomit bag on most flight occasions, but this one gave me no choice. I was hopeless. I did not get sick; however, some of the preemptive vomity coughs I made after downing a Ginger Ale sat him up a little straighter and leaning over to his other friendly neighbor. Hey, whatever works.

So, for Christmas, I think I'm going to ask for a life-sized plastic clown who's not wearing any shoes. Or maybe some sedatives in case that actually did happen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Prefontaine Shmefontaine

I'm so over running. During my sad attempt yesterday, the entire fam and I left the house: 1 in a stroller, 1 pushing a babydoll in a stroller, and us parents. I decided to run first. I took off (incredibly unmotivated) and after about 45 seconds I stopped, turned around and yelled back to Carter, "I'm done. Not feeling it." Thankfully, he wasn't buying my junk and told me to get on it. I started back again and began playing my mind games to get me back in the game. I thought about my new favorite show, Last One Standing. A group of ridiculously athletic guys travel around to lots of countries and compete with indigenous tribes at whatever sport the tribe excels in. The last episode they were in Mexico and had to run 27 miles (a marathon) on rocky mountainous terrain in sandals that looked like they belonged to the disciples while kicking a small wooden ball. Yikes. The blisters that these guys endured were ridonculous! So in my run I'm psyching myself up "Come on, Winner...you can do this in your brand new Sauconys, your fancy new Target running gear, your armband mp3 player, your flat terrain...what's the big deal?" I was at about 4 minutes strong when I saw our neighbors who just had a baby the day before. I slowed to speak (as a good neighbor should) and they invited me in to see the little booger. You should have seen the sprint to their door! Sound the winner's bell, I'm done! It was a good run. Should last me a good week or so before I get out there again.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The 6-Minute Hurdle

I have a new hobby. Yes, I know I've said that before fairly recently, and although decorating was a fun hobby for those 2 weeks, I'm on to something better. I'm a runner now (cough cough). One week and one 5K race down. This is, however, more of a revisitation of an old hobby. I used to be a runner. It's easy to run all over Timbuktu when you weigh a buck-o-nine. Not so much the case anymore. Thankfully, though, I am taking many of the lessons I learned in high school with me now...like the 6-minute hurdle.

I remember it well. The first 6 minutes of the run are deadly for me. So bad I can't even cuss about it because they don't make words strong enough. (That's when I start to make them up...like "crapindiculous"...which I said MANY times during the race yesterday..."What the heck am I doing running in this race - it's crapindiculous!" But I know that if I can make it 6 minutes, then I can turn on my cruise control for a while. I look at my watch about the time my breathing begins to regulate, my legs start feeling good, and it always says somewhere in the 6 minute range. At that point, I straighten my posture, put a little more bounce in my step, and speed up - - to just over a snail's pace. Now we're cruisin'.

And this hobby is fancy these days, too...the invention of traveling music! In high school, I never liked running with my 3 lb walkman tapedeck strapped to my umbros (how's that for 90's lingo?). Now I strap that tiny mp3 player to my arm and I've got some instant motivation. Currently it's Dave Matthews Band Live at Red Rocks. Crazy motivation. I kind of feel like I'm on Grey's Anatomy or some movie with this background music to my life.

Running is one of the few times I'm able to get inside my head and make a little sense of things. I can look at it almost from a neutral point of view - God's point of view. He shows me the areas that need a little cleaning (yeah, 'quick tempered' isn't one of the fruits of the spirit...I checked), and I can see the areas that are beginning to grow. By the end of the run I feel like a million bucks. Not only have I gotten my heart rate up and burned some calories, but I've done a little soul searching as well. Next week, I may be on hobby #3, but for now, my middle name is Prefontaine.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Crisis of Belief

Today is my spiritual birthday. I'm 19. I had Little Bit sing Happy Birthday to me all day. She loved it, but kept wondering why I didn't have any presents. I found the "spiritual" birthday was a little hard to define for the 2.5 year old brain. But I just told her I shared this birthday with Jesus and that seemed to suffice. She's a big fan of His.

Carter's comment, on the other hand, was "Oh, your 19? Hmph. I've been in the Book of Life 2 years longer than you!" Uh...thanks my sweet husb. I wanted to tell him my life expectancy was 2 years longer than his so we would even out, but I kept quiet. Didn't want to be the one-upper. :)

I've been sort of following a story (blog) of a lady I don't know, very near my age and stage of life, who has faced the most tremendous loss I could ever dream of - her child. I have been moved to tears, I've laughed my head off, and I've been given more to think about than anything I've read in a long time. I guess it's because it's her very real, everyday thoughts about her faith, or lack thereof on a lot of occasions, and God's triumph in her life. I have followed her story for a while now, seen the highs, seen the lowest of lows, and seen a faith I couldn't imagine. But what moved me the most was hearing her come to a complete crisis of faith. She quit believing. Quit loving. Almost quit life. But she kept her head in the game, so to speak, even though her heart took a timeout. She prayed to her "glass ceiling", she loved through gritted teeth, and she kept living. Eventually, her heart began to follow what her head hadn't stopped doing. She began believing again, loving again, living again. To see someone come through that, and even stronger, has challenged me (and my faith) tremendously. Is my faith strong enough to take a hit?

Then, within a week of each other, I've learned of 2 good friends in a current crisis of belief. Long ones. The ones that last years...that have lasted years. Completely numb, yet still aching, still wanting to believe, but unable to for various reasons.

Again this topic came up at my small group this week. Is my faith strong enough to take a hit so large it would cause a crisis of belief? Could I come out stronger on the other side?

I hate that this has been on my brain and in my heart so strongly in recent days. Kind of like when you figure out the car you want to buy and then you start seeing it all over the roads. People had been driving them all along, but until you put it on your brain as the one YOU wanted, you didn't notice it much. Or when you pray the forbidden "Lord give me patience" prayer and you're hit with anything and everything in the world to cause you to draw the patience card. That's how I'm feeling. So much in what I read or in who I talk to, this "crisis of belief" theme is all over it. I don't want to pull my crisis of belief card anytime soon. I really don't even want to be in preparation for it. That would require me to think of all those situations that could cause it...and frankly, things are going just fine....I like it that way.

Maybe it's a wake up call. Waking up my faith...not just to take a hit, but to learn to release what's out of my control into God's hands...and be ok with it. I think that's the key. To be ok with it. From the little stuff to the big stuff. And maybe to find strength with each release. To me, that's a truer sense of faith. I guess my 19th spiritual birthday would be a good place to start (or start again) releasing control of the big and the little.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Mercy, Grace, and Boogers

Before bedtime, Little Bit and I had a sing-song of our top 10 favorite songs. Ending the night was "Waves of Mercy" - the current fave. When it ended, a very theological conversation ensued...
Me: So do you know who likes it when you sing "Waves of Mercy"?
LK: No, who?
Me: God does. Did you know that song is about God?
LK: It is?
Me: Yep, it's about His mercy [here's where the theology went to pot]. God gives us mercy and grace just like the song says. Do you know what mercy and grace are? [uh, she's 2...what was I thinking????]
LK: Yep. [hmmm]
Me: You do? What is mercy and grace?
LK: I don't like grace.
Me: You don't like grace? Do you even know what grace is? [ok, here's where it really goes south]
LK: I know what boogers are.
Me: Yes, I know.
LK: I want some for lunch.
Me: Oh, you mean 'burgers'?
LK: No, boogers. I want boogers for lunch.
Me: You can't. It's not lunchtime. And besides, they're poisonous.
LK: Oh.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Glass Ceilings

You cannot impart what you do not possess.

I recently talked with a friend of mine who is hurting. She has built up a wall around her heart (past pains, cynicism, lethargy) and very little is getting through. She wants it torn down...but then again she doesn't....because that would hurt. And life is easier when you're not hurting. But not knowing how to break through that, and not feeling like she can pray through the glass ceiling above her, is taking its toll. The fact that it's taking a toll says, to me at least, that one of those heart bricks has fallen off and God has placed His finger there.

I have, at times, felt the same way. I very much know the "glass ceiling" prayers. Thankfully, before months turned into years, I fought against my instincts to move further out and prayed through the glass...where God had been patiently waiting.

One thing that struck me in our conversation was how much we agreed that we want our kids to grow up loving Jesus, to love being a part of a church community, and to own their faith - not ours. HOWEVER, we cannot impart what we do not possess. Sure, we could luck out with awesome kids who go full throttle after Jesus with no help from us. But considering the first 18 or so years of their lives will be spent under the guidance and example of ME...uh, wow. Unless I am going full throttle after Jesus, I shouldn't expect my kids to. And in that, I can only pray that they do.

For now, I will pray for my friend. I will pray that her glass ceiling shatters and that she can know, again, the love of Jesus. Not to know for her kids' sake - they'll get the spillover. To know for herself.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Out of the Mouths of Babes

After being told it was bedtime so go brush your teeth, Little One responded: "But I don't want to brush my teeth. Shrek toothpaste is too spicy!"

Upon seeing Little Brother attempt to eat the cable outlet on the wall, protective Big Sister scolds, "No ma'am, Buster Boy. NO MA'AM!"

Wanting Little Brother to come and play in her room, Big Sister beckons, "Buster Boy, come here! Here kitty kitty!"

Feeling excitment over the new babbles of Baby Brother, Mommy asks ever so sweetly:

Mommy: "Can you say MaMa?"
Baby Brother: "DaDa"
Mommy: "Where's the love? Come on, say MaMa."
Baby Brother: "DaDa"
Daddy (from across the room): "Who's your favorite?"
Baby Brother: "DaDa"
I don't like this game anymore.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Zippity Monkeys

I've got to give you a little background before pressing onward with the story of the day. I've got a tender-hearted little girl. She may not look it or act like it outwardly, but deep within that soul is straight tenderness....which leads to some heart wrenching tears on what some would believe to be random occasions. For instance, slow songs get her. One day watching Sesame Street, Norah Jones made a guest appearance and sang a song about the letter "Y" to the tune of "Don't Know Why" - a slow song. Well that just ripped her to shreds. The biggest alligator tears I've ever seen and all she wanted was for me to hold her. Dang...Norah's letter Y song almost got me too! Then there was the time I sang The Carpenters "Close to You" (which used to be the only song that would calm her down when she was a baby) on a long car ride to pass the time, and dang if I didn't look into the rearview mirror and see those same alligator tears. Big ones. Huge. No loud weeping. Just that frowny face we all get when trying to hold back a breakdown...and the alligators.

Well it happened again today. But this time I was unloading the dishwasher while the babes sat at the table finishing lunch, and I was feeling mighty chipper. I burst into song (as is typical when I'm unloading the dishwasher), and today's song-of-the-day happened to be "Zippity Do Da". I thought, in honor of the recent passing of Pavarotti, I would give it an opera theme. As I pranced around the kitchen toting utensils and dishes to their proper places while singing my heart out, I spun around to see it once again. The alligators. Dang. I've done it again. Apparently it had been going on for a verse or two because the alligators were everywhere and the frowny face was in full bloom. Who knew Zippity would make me cry too?! The best part was little brother's expression while watching his mommy & sister melt down to one of his favorite songs. Huh?

After picking up the pieces of her soul off the kitchen floor, I let the babes have some play time in the family room. While completing my dishwashing task I hear Little Miss Tenderheart say to her brother: "share the monkeys......Share The Monkeys........I TOLD YOU TO SHARE THE MONKEYS!!!!!" I couldn't help but laugh when I came in to see a 2 yr old losing her cool and her 8 month old brother laughing hysterically while winning the tug of war with a barrell of monkeys.

Advice to live on: When in doubt, share the monkeys.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Day at the Farm

Move over HGTV

So I’ve got a new hobby. Everything about my new hobby is completely and utterly against my personality. If I were to pick hobbies in line with my personality (of which I’ve already picked…the hobbies, that is…not my personality…that was innate), I would go the sporty athletic route and play softball (oh yeah, I do….with men…hmmmm) and I would play some musical instruments to be cool (oh yeah, I do…the guitar and djembe…whoops, must’ve missed the flute and clarinet day in 6th grade band), and then I’d throw in a little graphic design (not the really cool techie stuff…just an occasional brochure or t-shirt) to round out my crafty side. But I’m expanding now (well, yeah, I have gained a few pounds but people come on, I’ve had 2 kids!). I’m venturing into the hobby of decorating. Or maybe the hobby of people giving me ideas on how to decorate and then I get real excited and do what they say and then freak out because I don’t know what else to do and then must have them over to give me their second idea.

The reason decorating is completely and utterly against my personality is because it requires creativity (which I have, just pent up in some different arenas of my being)…but decorating creativity is different. #1…it’s girly. Of this, I am not. #2…there’s a tweed bit of perfectionism involved. Of this, I am not AT ALL. I am a dreamer. I am not a thinker. Thankfully I married one to balance me out. I love big picture. But don’t ask me to get you to that big picture because that would require details. And details get on my nerves.

That’s why I’m a spray painter. That’s why the thought of making a “picture arrangement” on my wall scares me to death. That’s why I haven’t taken up sewing…yet…lots of little tiny needlework when I would rather use glue or tape. I must quell this fear.

And that, good people, is why I’m venturing into this new world. With a little coaching, I may just place an “accent piece” in it’s proper place (notice: my vocabulary is already being strengthened by this new hobby…see below for further details).

Decorating Lesson #1: In the world of decorating, you must use the words “piece” and “space” a lot while waving your hands around in a flapping motion to interpret what your mouth can’t articulate.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Thursdays have always held some sort of significance for me. Growing up, it was The Cosby's that entertained me each Thursday night. And of course, in the summertime, I could stay up late and watch Moonlighting. Once in high school, my friend Karen and I would get together each Thursday and get DQ blizzards and watch The Real World at my house. Every Thursday in college for about 2 years I would go to the Taco Stand downtown in between classes. I ordered the same thing every week and read The Flagpole magazine. That was the only place I have ever been a regular. I knew I was "in" when, as I would walk in the door, I would hear the waitress say "Chicken enchilada, spinach dip, chips & a coke" to the cooks in the back. That was MY order and she would smile at me and say "Take a seat Suzanne". Oh yes. The Taco Stand...where everybody knows your name. It was also a Thursday that Doc told us to go home, eat supper, watch Survivor and meet back at the hospital to begin induction for baby #1. It was a Thursday that I went into labor only hours before a scheduled delivery of baby #2 (which came on Friday morning).

Now, Thursdays hold a different meaning. Staff meeting days. My employees and I get up early, dress in our business-casual attire and hold staff meeting following breakfast. We review our week thus far: playdates, new songs, new games, memorized Bible verses, lessons learned, etc. We tackle the duty of making lists - office supplies needed (diapers, rice cereal, replacement sippy cups, etc.), office rules, goals, as well as our vision for the company. Then we discuss our upcoming plans for the weekend: what we want to do and how we will carry it out. It usually involves the beach which requires a good deal of planning so we begin the delegation process. All hands on deck if you will.

It was a good meeting today. After reviewing the budget, it looks like our company is going to make it. We'll take the minutes to the CEO for further review.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Living in the Now

For most of my life, I have always wondered what was around the corner...what was next in line for my life. In high school, I always wondered what college would be like. In college, I wondered what the "real world" would be like. In my first real world job as a camp director, I wondered how long I would stay at that job and which job(s) would follow. And, of course, I always wondered when marriage and kids would come and what that would be like.

Now that I've hit all of those "milestones", I find myself no longer wondering much about the future. Of course, there are thoughts of adding another (or two!) little rugrats to the Akins clan, or what they'll be like when they get older, or when that day will come that Carter and I become millionaires (ha!)...but I really don't dwell on those futuristic things like I've done in the past. And it's not that I'm done hitting major milestones, it's just that I'm not looking for the big ones anymore. I've become very much a "today" person. My boy waves bye-bye for the first time...a perfect day. My girl asks me to snuggle with her so we can watch Meerkat Manor...a perfect day. My husband comes home from work gloating about how he loves his job (finally!! woohoo!!)...a perfect day. I can't even imagine life in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. And if I did spend my time wondering about the future, I would miss out on so many todays.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Raising a Granola

To have grown up with my favorite meal being fish sticks and mac-n-cheese, and my favorite snack being Cheez-Its and sweet tea (by the gallons), it seems odd that I would produce a granola (although mac-n-cheese is still enjoyed weekly...mostly by me). I realized yesterday after a full day of making breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack or two that my girl is a tree-hugger. Here's her favorite menu:

Breakfast: Kashi Heart to Heart cereal topped with fresh blueberries AND strawberries with a side of whole-milk Lactaid

Lunch: Black bean quesadilla on a whole-wheat tortilla

Snack: Kashi TLC granola bar - Honey Almond Flax

Dinner: Baked Mahi Mahi, Cous Cous, Baby limas

I realize I'm the envy of most toddler's parents right now as I'm currently raising the perfect child(ren).

Note: Ok, there was that one exception that my girl ate an ENTIRE bag of Cheetos in one sitting. And that other time she ate 3 bags of "fruit" snacks because I didn't realize she'd had the first 2 bags. Oh and that one time she ate an entire bag of goldfish to bring an end to the incessant fussing in the car. And yes, that other time.........

Ok, so maybe I have a different definition of "perfect" parenting.

I have a feeling my boy is going to be more of a meat & potatoes kind of guy than a granola like his sister. Just a guess.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Turn the dark on!

Living with a 2 year old is not only interesting, but darn right hilarious. Here's a sample of recent conversations:

Me: "Can you turn the light on for me?"
LK: "Sure."
LK retrieves stool. Stands atop. Turns on light.
Me: "Thanks."
LK: "Now I'm going to turn the dark on."


LK: "Mommy, I need to go potty."
Panic sets in as I am unable at that instant to accompany.
Me: "Can you hold it for just a second?"
Bends down, places hands between legs, tinkles a wee bit.
LK: "Ok, I'm holding it."

And finally...

LK: "Wanna go on a trip?"
Me: "Sure."
LK: "Well get your purse and shoes and put your necklace on."
I oblige.
Me: "Where are we going on our trip?"
LK: "We're going to drink at the party!"
Milk and OJ leftover from supper, mind you.

I love my job.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sunrises & Sunsets

I kept a journal every day of my engagement to Carter and gave it to him on our wedding day. It was titled "From Sunrise to Sunset" because our engagement happened while watching the sunrise over East Beach, and we were married at sunset almost 8 months later. We didn't plan it like that, but it's neat how it worked out...and it made for a sappy sweet title for my journal. :)

I had another sweet sunrise moment(s) in my life last week while on vacation in St.Augustine. My son decided sleep wasn't a priority and rose well before the sun each morning. Since our whole family shared a room, we all noticed his wakeful state. There was no where to go that wouldn't wake up the rest of the snoozed, so I threw on the Baby Bjorn and we left the condo...every morning...before Mr.Sun said it was time to arise. We hit the beach and the boy's arms & legs started going 90-to-nothing. He couldn't be more excited, not only to be awake, but to breathe the ocean air and watch the sunrise. Once my eyes focused, I started to enjoy myself as well. When else am I going to have these sweet moments with my boy, just the 2 of us?

We had talks. Just the 2 of us. I did most of the talking. He was a good listener. I talked to him about future girlfriends, and then that one special girl who was going to steal (I mean "take") him away from me to be his wife and how one day I'd try to like her (through gritted teeth). He thought that was funny; I could tell by the flailing arms & legs in the Bjorn.

I think this week is going to be one of those defining moments that I'll tell him about (I'm sure more than once) as he gets older. Especially those times when he's not being so sweet (which will probably never happen). I'll say "Son, you used to be sweet, and we had a moment at sunrise when you were 6 months old when we talked about your future and got your life figured out...so how bout stickin' to our plan?"

Sweet sunrise moments with the Boy. Now I need to spend a week catching the sunset with the Girl. At least I'll be awake for that one.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Deal or No Deal?

Is God concerned with the trivial? I've asked myself this question a lot over my short 30 year existence. I always hear people (Christians) say "It was a God thing" and a lot of times it has to do with purchases (some big, some small) or some sort of advancement like a new job or a salary increase...or even being in the right place at the right time (a "God moment" if you will). So as not to sound cynical (which I've been accused of a few times), I firmly believe there are those "God moments" and those "God things" that He truly steps in and guides us and/or those we're in contact with in accordance to His will. On the other hand, I think the phrases can be overused, and maybe even incorrectly used.

Or are they?

For example, is God concerned with me getting a good deal on a pre-owned (sounds better than "used") 2002 Mercury Sable? Or is His concern simply the provision of transportation? Or is His concern simply that I am walking with Him daily? I lean towards the latter.

So do I even bother to pray for that decision of which car to get, what price to settle for, etc? This is where I want to say "Yes, pray about everything" but then my cynical (or is it?) side says "Just follow Him and you'll make the right choices". If I am fully His every day, then He would lead me in His path, right? Right.

When I am in a close relationship with someone, I like to know all the details of what's going on in their lives (my favorite phrase after Carter gets off the phone with whoever is "Tell me everything WORD FOR WORD and don't leave anything out!"). So in that sense, I think God does want to know ALL about our lives, the details, the WORD FOR WORDS...even if I feel like it's not ultra-interesting or important. It's more than just keeping Him informed (He already knows it all, right?). It's about a close relationship. No secrets. No shockers.

By the way, I got a great deal on a SWEET 2002 white Mercury Sable station wagon. I'll hold back on calling this one a "God thing" so as not to link Him with my ride, though sweet it is!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Who is this King of glory?

I was asked to lead a prayer time for the Summer Leadership Team at Epworth (my old job) on the first day of camp. Traditionally on this day, the whole team is nervous, anxious, excited, tired and a bit overwhelmed. As I thought about what to share with them, I came across Psalm 24. After reading and researching it, I got so excited I almost couldn't contain myself.

Here's a little background: This Psalm was sung on the first day of the week, every week, at the Temple. It was written by King David and referenced the time when the ark of the covenant was taken up to Mount Zion to be placed in a tent (later, Solomon would build THE temple up there). The ark, representing God's presence, was HIGHLY revered and taking it up the mountain was no small feat. It called for a huge gathering of people with a highly worshipful atmosphere. In beautiful togetherness, they shouted "Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in." Then the priest, who was inside the tent, would shout "Who is this King of glory?" and they would respond in unison, "The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle." Imagining a multitude of people shouting this together just flat out gives me the goosies. But there's more...again, the crowd shouts "Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in." Just wait...here comes the priest with the question of the day, "Who is he, this King of glory?" In unison, loud as all get out, and full of emotion the crowd roars "LORD Almighty— he is the King of glory!" Dang.

What a way to start off the week. Calling down God's presence to break through the gates, the doors, our hearts, and dwell with His people. Working in us, through us, in spite of us. This King of Glory who comes strong and mighty, who is THE almighty. Dang.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Perfect Peace

I love Saturday mornings. Especially rainy Saturday mornings. The beach is not an option today and frankly, I'm ok with that. A day spent inside in "lounge wear" doing nothing with the fam...doesn't get any better.

Carter and I did a devotion series a few months back on the fruits of the Spirit. We looked at one fruit per week and found ways in our daily lives to make sure those fruits were evident, and then held each other accountable when they weren't. Peace stood out the most. When we looked at areas of our lives where we saw peace, we shared example after example and found we were on the same page. It wasn't in the big stuff. It was in the "if you don't stop to notice, you'll miss it quickly" places...like riding in the car singing praise medlies completely off key, laying on the couch snuggled up watching Sesame Street, hearing "I love you" from a 2 year old, rocking my boy who's growing up too fast in the rocking chair, going on a date with my husband, dancing to "Boondocks" on the big bed, starting family traditions...you know, all those times that when I did stop to notice, those tears of joy would plague my eyes. Some call it hormones. Nah, just a thankful mom/wife noticing God's simple blessings.

That's not only peace. That's perfect peace. Kinda like a rainy Saturday morning spent in lounge wear doing nothing with the fam.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Underground Blog Nation

I'm a silent blogger no more. The cat's out of the bag. I've been secretly reading blogs for months, but would NEVER tell people I read their blog for fear they would think I had nothing better to do than engage myself in their randomness. And if they don't update it regularly...oh heck...I have anxiety attacks. Silent anxiety attacks, albeit. Wouldn't want anyone to know their lack of updates darn near ruins my day. So I'll start a journey of my own. I'm hoping to be purposeful, to be reflective simply for my own embetterment, and maybe even entertain some other "silent" bloggers. I know you're out there. Your lack of "comments" will prove it. And maybe, just maybe, I can frustrate you with my lack of updates...that is, if you even exist.