I'm Cool
July 31, 2007

By this afternoon, I was so totally sick of being cooped up in the house. I still didn't feel 100%, but I really had to get out. So right after nap time James and I headed for the YMCA, since that's the only place in Texas that will watch my kid for free. I didn't care if I sat in a shower stall for two hours and listened to the little day-camp girls make armpit farts, I just had to do something.

I dropped James in the kid care center and I was feeling surprisingly good, so I decided to go for the gusto and lift some weights. As I got off the leg press machine, I noticed that the guy with the Penn State tattoo was at the gym today. I've seen him a zillion times, but I have no idea who he is--all I know is that he's not ugly and he does appear to be completely normal.

After my leg presses were finished, ambition got the best of me, and I headed for the most intimidating machine in the joint--the crossover machine. That's a picture of it. Scary, huh?

Just as I went to adjust the settings, I noticed the Penn State tattoo guy standing on the other side. I turned down my Salt n' Peppa, took the headphones out of my ears and asked, "Oh were you gonna us this machine?"

He replied, "Oh no, that's ok. You go first."

I smiled and said "Thanks."

Much to my surprise, the conversation wasn't over. He followed up with, "So, you come here a lot, huh?"

And I thought to myself...'Oh my cow. I think I'm being flirted with. No one has flirted with me since my glory days in '01.'
But I casually said, "About as much as you do I guess."

Then, obviously not realizing that the child on the other side of the plate glass window who was gnawing on the rubber-slice-of-pizza belonged to me, he said something like, "Well I'm glad I finally got an excuse to talk to you. You're getting pretty fast on the treadmill."

Knowing full well that I'm a married woman, I felt completely befuddled and awkward. I thought to myself... 'Dude, you have no freaking clue that the stretch marks on my stomach make me look remarkably similar to a road atlas.' Then I giggled like a schoolgirl, tried to make my 2 inch long pony tail do a sexy little flip, and said, "Oh....thanks....hehehe."

Now here's where it gets interesting. Take a look at that picture up there. If you check out the top right corner you can see a little black rope thing hanging down. Do you see it? Well, those are hand grips and they're interchangeable. Instead of the rope thingy, the machine at the Y had a big metal grip bar attached to it.

Can you see where this is going?

Much to my relief, he turned to walk away. Just as I was about to say something cool like "see you around" I pulled the pin out of the weight stack and the big metal bar came crashing down...right on my big fat head. I'm guessing that the tattoo guy turned around to see what the clanging sound was, but I never looked up so I don't know for sure.

It was one of the more embarrassing moments of this month, but praise the good Lord for cutting that conversation short. Afterall, I'm a happily married woman and I really didn't want to crush that poor man's heart.
And Cue the Violins
July 30, 2007

99% of the time I really enjoy being a mother. The 1% of the time that I don't enjoy motherhood is when James is using his wiffleball bat, and when I'm sick. Well, I'm sick. I have a cold...and it's a bad one.

Today alone I've used up an entire jumbo roll of toilet paper just by wiping my nose. Unfortunately it's the cheap stuff. You know the kind--the generic blue box of 44 rolls at Sam's Club that says "Discount toilet tissue--suitable for offices, churches, and nursing homes." There's no mention of angels or clouds, and there absolutely shouldn't be. This stuff will sand the first layer of skin off an elephant's rear, so you can only imagine what it does to my delicate button nose.




My nose hurts.

If you're interested in hearing more of my childlike self pity, then by all means, read on. But if you're looking for something a little more uplifting, just click here. It's a happy place.

I'm not in a happy place. My nose is drippy. And my head hurts.

I think the only thing that's worse than being sick, is taking care of a toddler when you're sick. They don't know how to bring you ginger ale in a cup with a straw, they can't heat up the stove to make soup, and they have no idea how to behave.

I have, however, learned that children's DVDs will automatically play and repeat without pressing any buttons (I bet a mom with a cold came up with that feature). I've also learned that James can watch TV for seven and a half hours straight and be pretty happy about it. And last but not least, I've learned that James is a very, very thoughtful two year old boy. He fed me his applesauce today with a kid sized spoon.

I've never seen him share his applesauce with anyone. It's his favorite.
What's Your Favorite?
July 28, 2007

It sure is a bummer when you buy a rotten watermelon from the grocery store, isn't it? Well, not for Jared. Right now, as I type, Jared is putting the entire ten pound watermelon down our circa 1970 garbage disposal. Jared is convinced that this method of watermelon disposal is far easier than the conventional method I like to call the 'trash can.'

Obviously, the garbage disposal is Jared's very favorite kitchen appliance in the whole, wide world.

What's yours?
What's your favorite small kitchen appliance?
The garbage disposal
The ice cream maker
The George Foreman Grill
The 'set it and forget it' rotisserie oven
The toaster
Free polls from Pollhost.com
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago
July 29, 2007

I'm the new Assistant Nursery Leader at church. That means I take care of fifteen toddlers for about two hours, and somewhere during that time span I attempt give them some sort of lesson about Jesus related things. I like it.

Please know that I am not the Assistant Nursery Leader because I'm good with children, I'm the Assistant Nursery Leader because my Bishop asked me to be. That's the funny thing about being Mormon--you get no say in what 'job' you'd like to do at church. No, no...that would be too easy. That would make too much sense. Instead, you get called to the Bishop's office, the door gets closed behind you, and you are helplessly dealt your fate.

Much of the time, the new assignment makes no sense whatsoever. A bus driver might be asked to be the ward accounting clerk, while the the tone-deaf accountant might be asked to lead the music. An elementary school teacher could be asked to hand out programs, while some high school punk is busy teaching the five and six year olds. And the woman who regularly wakes up in cold, terrified sweats because she dreamt she's having a second child (me) gets asked to work with the toddlers. It's one big beautiful mess--and somehow, the Church rolls on.

I was recently released (read: fired) from my position as the church secretary. Well, no freaking kidding. I am the most unorganized, crumfuddled mess of a person that I have ever met. So of course I was a fantastically horrible secretary. I lost records, I missed meetings, I messed up copies, etc, etc, etc. So now, instead of being a secretary, I'm the Assistant Nursery Leader.

This morning, the Sunday School manual had me scheduled to teach a lesson about obedience. In a moment of inspiration, I had the bright idea to tell the kids all about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. For those of you who aren't on top of your Old Testament stories, S, M & A were hurled into an extra hot furnace by an evil king because they boldly refused to worship a statue. And of course, God rewarded the three amigos for their obedience by sending an angel their way and sparing them from a fiery death.

I explained this to the kids and showed them a picture very similar to the one in the corner up there. It never occurred to me that fiery deaths might be a little too much for toddlers to handle. One little girl sat in shocked silence with her mouth hanging open, lip quivering, and tears pouring out of her eyes. Another little girl tried to run right out of the classroom. James was busy making fire truck sounds. And the Bishop's son? The Bishop's son loved it*. He crawled right up to the picture, studied it so closely that his nostrils were leaving condensation on the lamination, and was saying things like, "Awww riiiight." and "Ohhhh yeaaaahhhhh." and "Burn 'em up fire, burn 'em up."

So place your bets, my friends. How long until I get canned from this job?
*This is the same child who previously informed me that 'We Are The Champions' by Queen is his very, very favorite church song. Obviously he's my favorite.
Congratulations Beth!
July 27, 2007

Congratulations to my good friend Beth. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy sometime last night. Please don't get too excited about the picture of that baby over there. That's not him. I have no clue who that baby even is. I got him off of Google, and I think he might be of Asian decent.

Beth called last night around 8 o'clock to give me an update, and called again around 11 to let me know that the baby had been born. She woke me up from a dead sleep, and I wish you could have heard our conversation--it was awesome. She was totally groggy from pushing out a baby, and I was all groggy from sleeping. The phone rang and I knew it was Beth from the caller ID, so I picked it up and this is what happened:

Me: Yup?

Beth: I had the baby.

Me: Oh, that's good Beth.

Beth: Seven seven.

Me: Seven is a lucky number. Guess you have a lucky baby.

Beth: Yeah, and he was born in July of '07. That's another seven seven.

Me: Whoa. Very, very cool.

Beth: Ok, bye.

Me: Wait.

Beth: Ok.

Me: What does he look like?

Beth: He's light. Light brown hair. You should see him.

Me: Yeah, I want to.

Beth: Ok. Bye.

-dial tone-

When I woke up this morning I realized that I failed to find out a few of the details--like the child's name. Luckily I walked by Beth's house this morning and there was an "It's a Boy!" sign telling me everything that I needed to know, so here's the scoop...Caleb John weighed in at 7 pounds 7 ounces and is a perfectly proportioned 20.5" long. Most importantly, Beth and Caleb are both doing well.

Only in the Big D
July 27, 2007

I took the boys to the Frontiers of Flight Museum today. Aside from the fact that James has started sitting on top of Garfield* in an effort to get his way, it was a lot of fun.

The boys were off playing in a little airplane, when I heard them both start to scream. Garfield was all, "Off! Off! Off!" And James was shrieking, "Nooooooooooo!" I was going to let it slide, but every mother, nanny, and senior citizen was looking at me, so I decided to handle it. I peeked into the porthole to see what was going on, and sure enough Garfield was sitting in the pilot's seat and big old 36 pound James was sitting on his lap.

I walked up the mini stairs to the mini aircraft and squeezed my size 10 ass through the size 5T door. Then I crawled up to the mini cockpit to try and reason with two mini humans. Guess who won?

Not me.

My attempts to explain the benefits and joys of taking turns fell upon deaf ears, so I decided to give up, let them work it out, and vacate the aircraft. Unfortunately the stairs were jammed full of toddlers who don't understand words like 'move' or 'now' or 'please,' so I had to use the rear exit, which happened to be a slide. Fantastic. My day was just getting better and better.

A whole bunch of mothers were waiting at the bottom of the slide with their camera phones ready, wanting to catch the look of rapture on their child's face as they slid out of an airplane for the very first time. Most of them were surprised/disappointed when I came bumping out instead.

But one of the moms was completely frantic. As I stood up she rushed over, put one of her hands on each of my shoulders and closely demanded, "HAVE YOU SEEN WALLET?!"

I backed away a few inches and said, "No, but I wasn't looking for one. What does it look like?"

Then she backed away from me (thank goodness) and addressed the whole group of camera toting moms, saying, "He has brown hair, blue eyes, he's three years old, and he's wearing a shirt with a pirate on it."


"Well..." she exclaimed like a crazy woman..."HAS ANYONE SEEN WALLET?!?!"

-More silence-

Then she let out a frustrated huff and ran off yelling, "Wallet!!! Wallet!!! GET OVER HERE NOW!!"

Who, you might wonder, would ever dream of naming their child something like Wallet? A 30-something Dallas mother, with blond hair, high heels, and designer jeans...that's who.

We all stood, with mouths hanging open, as Wallet's mom ran from security guard to security guard. Then a European nanny took it upon herself to break the silence. She turned to the group of statuesque moms and in her very German accent said, "Vat in da hell do you suppose is her name? Pocketbook? Heh heh heh."


I love this city.

*That's the boy I babysit for--not his real name, thank heavens.

Ok, that's an ouchie.
July 26, 2007

A few weeks ago I noticed that James didn't have a word in his vocaulary like 'ouchie' or 'boo boo.' We have no kid themed band-aids in the house, because James has never actually used a band-aid. It's not that I have a problem with ouchies, we just don't play into it so much in our family. If he falls, he gets up and keeps on going. If he bumps his head, I give him a quick pat and off he goes.

But yesterday I had a lot of sympathy for James. This little gash is actually how we started our day from down under. We were getting ready for our babysitting job, and James was climbing into his stroller as usual. Somehow he slipped and banged his eye on the stroller's metal foot rest. And this is the result.

Don't worry [Mom], James is fine. The dad of the family I babysit for is a doctor, so he took a look and gave James a clean bill of health. And today, he seems totally ok. As I type, James is sitting on the couch feeding chocolate milk to his stuffed dog and to his garbage truck--like usual. And every time I metion his cut, he squints his eyes and clenches his teeth, points to the other eye and says, "ow. it uts."

Try again, ya little faker!

Did somebody say popsicles???
July 24, 2007

Dude. What is up with Oprah's audiences? They get so unbelievably excited over the smallest things. I swear to you, on today's show Oprah gave away popsicles and all the ladies in the audience lost their freaking noodles over it.

Oprah was like, "Today, each and every one of you is getting a POPSICLE!!! POP! SI! CLES!!!!"

Did you see it? If not, you should have. Ladies were grabbing their chests like they were going into cardiac arrest, friends were fanning friends in an effort to keep them from fainting, and of course, Oprah got a 60+ second standing ovation.

These women were looking so satisfied that you would have thought they had just finished getting freaky with Brad Pitt on his futon. Seriously, had Denzel Washington personally licked each and every popsicle? No. Was the popsicle wrapper actually a gift certificate for a Brazilian butt lift? No. Could you drive the popsicle? I don't think you could.

And the best detail? The popsicles were coconut flavored. Doesn't 87% of the human race hate coconut? I think they do. But more importantly, 99.9% of American women love Oprah, including me. So yay for POPSICLES!!!!
Jizzle LaWizzle (aka Jared Lawson) Likes Rap
July 23, 2007

If you ever want to get to know someone on a more intimate level, borrow their ipod. Chances are, you'll learn some things that will really, really surprise you--even if you've been married for five years.

Today, as I headed out the door to the gym, I realized I had forgotten to grab my own ipod. Not wanting to search high and low for that freaking little piece of magic, I took my husband's. It was fun to listen to someone else's music for a change, because even that super sassy Pink woman gets old after a while.

For the first little while, I wasn't at all surprised by what I was hearing--lots of Dave Matthews Band, some Beatles, Counting Crows...you know, the normal stuff. I got a little lost in Jared's music as I trotted along on the treadmill, and eventually it faded to nothing more than background noise as I began to check some items off my mental to-do list.

Just as I checked off 'buy more bananas' I was snapped back into reality by some slammin' hip hop beats. Apparently, my husband likes the song 'No Diggity.' Who knew? But he doesn't just have the normal, radio version of 'No Diggity' on his ipod, he has some special mix version that features many of the more significant rappers of our day.

I guess Jared likes to roll hardcore with Lil Kim, Diddy, Fitty Cent and all those other gangsta b**ches. I had no idea. Apparently he also likes to roll with Simon and Garfunkle, because that lame ass song about parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme was the next one to come one. Weird combination.

Anyway, I don't know how to speak rap, but I'm going to learn...for Jared. So far I can say, "Yo, yo Jizzle! Creep into my pad. Is hangin' good in the hood. Word."

That means, "Hi Jared. Come in. I'm glad you're home. Word."
The Real Me Likes the Real Her
July 23, 2007

I totally hate to admit it, but I like daytime TV. I especially like the small-claims court shows like Judge Mathis, Judge Joe Brown, and most recently, Judge Maria Lopez. Dang y'all, that little lady is as tough as nails...and a fellow New Englander I might add. She can barely see above the bench, but she has this low, raspy voice and I would never want to meet up with her in a dark alley because she could totally kick my trash.

I don't know how it's happened, but in recent weeks I've been planning my days off around this shiz. When I'm watching Judge Lopez I make sure not to multitask at all--I don't eat, I don't fold laundry, I don't paint my toenails, and I definitely don't answer the phone--I focus. I've even been known to decline a play date or two so I can spend some quality couch time with my girl in black.

I've learned so much from this show, and the commercials, too. I've learned everything you need to know about bail bonds, I've learned all about the educational programs available at Remington College, and I've learned which lawyer to call if I ever get in a car wreck--1-800-the-dawgs (very easy to remember). Oh, and the suspense today with the certified gemologist was something else...my armpits are still sweaty from the tension of it all.

I'd really love to be able to say that I spend my days immersed in the classics, listening to orchestra music, and forming opinions based on NPR's political snippets, but that would be a total bold faced lie. I spend my days off listening to Aerosmith CDs, watching Judge Lopez, and snacking on store brand oreos.

I do like the art museum and I take James there from time to time, but I'd really rather chill in the gerbil section at Petco. I think I could sit through the ballet, and it would probably be really good for James, but I daydream about taking my kid to the next monster truck rally.

I guess I'd like to be more sophisticated, but I just can't help these behaviors. This is the real me, there's no denying the real me, and I love the real me.

But I've got to admit, if I had known how much I'd be outing the 'real me' on this blog, I would have thought twice about starting it.
"Mommy, Dabes a dooted."
July 21, 2007

Kids go through phases, and my kid is no exception. Right now James is going through two phases simultaneously--the 'Mommy, I deeed eet' phase and the 'Mommy, Dabes a dooted' phase. For those of you requiring translation, that's 'Mommy, I did it' and 'Mommy, James tooted.'

All of the sudden, James is getting ridiculously excited about doing things that he's always been able to do. He'll shut the refrigerator door, run in my direction and shout, "Mommy, I deed eet! I cwose da dooh!!" Or he'll jump down the stairs and scream, "Moommmy! I deed eet! I dump on da stay-os!!!" He's been able to do both of these things for a very, very long time, so I'm not sure where his extreme excitement is coming from, but of course I play along. He's too cute not to.

And then there's the good old 'James tooted' phase. For some reason, my child feels like it's his patriotic duty to inform his mother every time he passes gas. It just happened a minute ago. As I was sitting at the kitchen table writing this very post. James walked into the kitchen and informed me in a very quiet and serious tone, "Mommy, Dabes a dooted." I was like, "Ok James, that's fine." And he stoically walked back into the living room and resumed acting like a monkey. He'll stop whatever he's doing to let me know about one little fart...I don't understand.

Yesterday at the park I watched James on the play scape. He cautiously walked down three steps, used the slide to reach the ground, walked to his friend's tricycle, rode it over to the bench I was sitting on and said, "Mommy, Dabes a dooted." He waited for my reply, as he always does, and then he rode the trike back to the play scape and kept on playing. I thought to myself, "?", because that was a whole lot of effort on his part.
Really though, this kid is adorable, and so are his phases. I'll gladly take these over the "James likes to make out with his girlfriend" phase and "James likes to drive his mother's car 90 miles per hour" phase. But I don't think he'll ever be interested in those types of things anyway.
Wicked Tacky
July 20, 2007

People talk to us about money...a lot. Probably because we have none. You see, up until a few months ago we were living completely off of student loans--and trust me when I tell you that those lenders don't give you a whole lot of money to live off of. Pretty much if you were a single person, who hated to eat, living in an efficiency apartment in 1967 you'd be really impressed with our loan check every semester. But if you're anyone else, the loan check would either make you snarf or you'd be like, "whaaaaa????" Of course the tides have turned in recent months now that I've landed my high-earning position as an executive babysitter (that was sarcastic).

Anyway, when people hear about our current financial situation, they usually react in one of two ways. They're either like:

"Wow, you guys are penniless morons!" To which I usually reply, "So are you." Because, let's face it guys, most people are.

Or they're like"

"Wow, I'm so impressed with your financial management skills and self control when it comes to spending." And I usually say something like, "Yes, I know. We're very proud of what we've been able to accomplish." And up until last night, I genuinely thought I was being sincere with that reply.

And then I had a bit of an epiphany.

I was lounging on the couch, watching some TV while Jared was at his softball game. I was flipping through our 7 channels, and stopped on that special about Victoria Beckham moving to America. You might want to spank me for saying this, but I think she's absolutely adorable. That girl has impeccable taste. Seriously you guys, she makes Paris Hilton look like a Garbage Pail Kid (remember those?). And that's when it hit me, like a thunder bolt from the heavens above....

I'm a very tacky girl.

And not just compared to that ex-Spice Girl--I'm tacky compared to most everyone. We don't survive off a dollar a day because I'm a good money manager. We survive off a dollar a day because I'm so wicked tacky, that my dollar can buy every single thing I want and then I still have some change to spare.

I'm serious you guys, I don't have my parent's kitchen table from the 1970's because we can't afford a new one. I have that table because I think it looks good.

I dress James in screen printed character tees with matching shorts on purpose. It's only an added bonus that they go on clearance for $4 at Kohl's. I think kids who only wear clothes from places like J Crew and Gap are getting totally ripped off by their moms. Because in my world, nothing says style like a Spiderman polo shirt coupled with a clunky pair of light-up Elmo sandals.

I don't drive an '89 Chevy Blazer because it was free, I drive the Blazer because it looks nice. Seriously, every time I see it sitting in a parking lot all rusted out I think to myself, "Amy, you're such a bad-ass, and you have one bad-ass car to prove it." I basically drive the 1980's version of 'Mater' from the movie cars--and I feel really, really good about that.

I know a lot of people like to spend a portion of their paycheck on a nice dinner out. Yo, not me. I swear to you that last Friday I deposited my check at the drive through teller and got $3 cash back. I drove right to CVS and used my cash to buy a big old bucket of those little puffy cheese balls. The bucket says "FLAVA PUFFS" in this big, bubbly, ghetto writing--and even though the flava puffs are long gone, I kept the bucket. It's my new favorite piece of tupperware.

Yeah, I'm tacky. I know it. I've got the orange flava puff dust around my mouth to prove it. I wasn't raised that way. My best guess is that it's a direct result of living in Central Maine all those years. I just can't wait for my husband to start making some money, because when he does we're gonna invest in some Flava Puff stock.
Oh. Yeah.
On Choosing a Nursery School
July 19, 2007

As most of you know, I've been a stay-at-home-mom since James was born two years ago. I've had other obligations during his little life (like graduate school and babysitting gigs), but I've never relied on any type of formal childcare.

Well, the time is fast approaching that we'll join the rest of the free world and put James in some sort of program. You see, if you want to get really technical about it, I'll be working two jobs when we move back to Maine this fall. I'll be doing some business management stuff for my friend's dental office, and I'll be helping launch our very own chiropractic practice.

Most of this work will be done from home, so I suppose that I could continue to stay home full time, but I think it's time for a change. If I'm going to be busy all day long, I'd much prefer to have James learn his letters and numbers from an actual teacher, not some furry red puppet on the TV. Although I must admit, James can count to fifteen and I've never taught him to do that, so I do think Elmo stays current on his teaching credentials. Also, James loves to be around other kids, and seeing as there are no siblings in his near future, I think he'd have fun with a group.

Ok readers, fear not. This post is not about the age-old stay-at-home-mom vs. working-mom debate. I prefer to steer clear of controversy in all forms. This post is about something much cooler. Donkeys...miniature donkeys if you want to get really technical about it.

When I realized how hectic my life will be after Jared's graduation, I began to research the preschools in our (probably) future town. I did some googling and clicked on the first link that popped up. I was really, really happy with what I found on the web page--a big old white farm house (they're not in short supply up there), a fully equipped playground, and happy teachers sporting jeans, wool sweaters and Birkenstocks. That's just the way the Lawsons roll. Cool.

So I googled the name of the actual school to see what else I could find about it. I read a few reviews and started to piece the info together. Here are a few of the tidbits that I uncovered. They have a spring festival...cute. They have a garden and a huge field...cool. They do a little play each year...fantastic. They have a barn with a petting zoo...a w.h.a.t?! Wait a minute. Hold the phone. This school has it's very own PETTING ZOO?! Holy guacamole, I've struck gold.

I immediately emailed the director. I'm sure most parents' emails ask detailed and thoughtful questions about the child care philosophy, the daily schedule, registration and costs. Not mine.

My email was like:

Dear Director,
I heard you have a petting zoo. Is this true? Are the animals cute? Are they friendly? What are their names? Are the parents allowed to play with them, too? Can I see your barn?
Thank you.
Amy Lawson

Ok, it was a little bit longer than that...but you get the idea.

I got a reply from the director the following day. She gave me the details about class size and registration and went on to mention that they have birds, rabbits, goats, chickens, pot-bellied pigs, and some miniature donkeys. She also sent me the link to the school's web album. It featured tons and tons of pictures of preschool children wearing bicycle helmets while riding the miniature donkeys, and an entire sub-album entitled "Jose Goes to School." Jose is--you guessed it--one of the donkeys. And Jose was chilling in the classroom, thoughtfully listening to a story with the kids.

And that's when I felt an intense sense of joy, and peed myself because of it.

I replied to her email and said something to this effect:

Dear Deborah,
You had me at 'miniature donkey.' Where do I send my deposit?

So that's it. Easy enough. The decision has been made. James is going to school where the donkeys are, and I will bring them carrots every afternoon.

Oh, and stay tuned for many, many pictures of me wearing a bike helmet while I ride Jose. My feet might drag on the ground, but I don't care. I can't freaking wait.
Please Note
July 19, 2007

Please note that I really do know how to format a blog and I know when to start new paragraphs. Blogger just won't let me. Much like my two year old, Blogger likes to make me look kind of dumb and often leaves me helplessly exasperated.

Thank you.
Shout Outs!
July 18, 2007

Today, I just feel like doing some shout outs. I'm in a great mood, I'm feeling pretty happy about the people I know, and I just feel like telling the whole friggen universe about it. I'm thinking about turning Shout Outs! into a bi-weekly or monthly thing on this blog, so let me know what you think. Who knows...maybe you'll do something spectacular enough to make it into the next edition.

So here we go...some Shout Outs! to my old friends and new friends, my near friends and far friends, and of course, my cyber (aka I don't even know if they really exist) friends.

Shout Out! numero one goes to an old, long lost friend (drum roll please):


Courtney and I went to high school together. We both played in the jazz band, and we were on the track team, too. It turns out that Courtney had some genuine musical talent, and is a real-deal musician who is currently on tour. You can also download her stuff on itunes. I mean holy-freaking-cow you guys, that's cool. I don't care if she's eating pinto beans straight out of the can and sleeping in the trunk of a Buick, in my opinion, Courtney Robbins has arrived. You can learn more about my long lost friend by clicking here, or here. She'll be in Utah, Colorado, California and a zillion other places--so go get a babysitter and listen to a girl who can beat the crapola out of an acoustic guitar. Oh, if you do go see Courtney in concert, tell her I say 'whatup.' Just don't give her a hug from me, she doesn't like hugs--she much prefers the old fashioned belly bop.

Shout Out! numero two goes to a freaking hilarious cyber friend:


Vanilla is the brains behind the radical running blog called Half-Fast (how's that for a play on words?). I don't know Vanilla in real life and I actually don't even know what his name is, but I'm holding out hope that his mama didn't name him after her favorite ice cream flavor--because seriously, who likes vanilla the best? That would be lame-o. Anyway, I don't know this man, but if we lived close by and drinking wasn't against my religion, I bet we'd have a hell of a laugh over a beer or two. Vanilla doesn't have any songs on itunes, or any musical talent that I know of, so that's not why he earned the Shout Out! He gets the honors because his most recent post (the one with the picture of enormous middle finger) had me snarfing for oxygen in Starbucks. So get reading.

And the final Shout Out! of the afternoon goes to a friend in Dallas:


Never in my life have I met a grown-up who's so excited about wearing her pink shirt, slithering like a snake, standing like a tree, and dancing to The Wiggles. I freaking love this lady, and the fantastic story hour that she puts together every Wednesday morning. Infants love her, pre-teens love her, nannies love her, grandmothers love her, and James love her. Today she did this crazy Five Little Monkeys bit that involved a furry glove, lots of jumping, mini monkeys getting thrown all over the library, and two zillion screaming kids. Miss Suzy was all like "Forget the books. Books are booooring. Let's get crazy!" I was sitting right in the middle of the chaos just thinking, "Miss Suzy, I love you. Can you come home with me?"

So there ya have it guys. Go click some links and if you live in Dallas, bring a coffee to Miss Suzy--she loves Starbucks. And of course, a big ass Shout Out! goes to all of my readers. And an even bigger one goes to my commenting readers--I have left each and every one of them a prized possession in my will. See? You should be commenting, too.
Where I've Been
July 17, 2007

Jared and I are getting there. What I mean is that he's less than six months away from graduation, and we're officially in the planning stages of his practice. We've settled on a few areas that seem viable for a chiropractic office, and we've started investigating available properties. So far, there are three promising places: a farmhouse on a main road in a small town, an empty storefront in a strip mall, and space in a professional building. We're true-blue New Englanders, so of course, we're leaning towards the farmhouse.

The cool (or uncool, depending on the way you look at it) thing about the farmhouse is that we would live and work out of the same building. It's zoned for a business and there's plenty of living space upstairs. The very cool (or strange, depending on the way you look at it) thing about the farmhouse is that it's actually nice. Not just decent, but really nice. It's a circa-1900 building that's been updated with a gorgeous kitchen, new walls, new ceilings, and we'd even get to pick the floors. Unbe-fricking-leivable.

You see, Jared and I have always lived in what some might refer to as 'substandard housing.' The possibility of living somewhere, ahem--nice, really has me reminiscing about our past homes. If I ever have access to a scanner I'll post some pictures--you'll probably poop yourself laughing.

When we met, I was living in an apartment with some college roommates, Sarah and Kristina. We had an enormous three bedroom apartment with more square footage than Donald Trump's daughter, and I swear to you we thought we were royalty. Looking back, I'm not sure why.

You had to walk up a two foot wide, winding staircase to get up to our place, so we never invited hefty folks over. It's not that we had anything against bigger-sized people, they just simply couldn't fit. That staircase was so narrow that when you'd buy a new pair of shoes you'd have to haul the shoebox up though a second story window with a rope. Ok, not really, but it was almost that skinny.

We had sweet plywood counter tops, and one of those smooshy toilet seats that let out an airy sigh of relief whenever you sat down to take a whiz. But I think the best part of that apartment was our insane-o downstairs neighbor, Allen. Allen was one angry fool. He came up our staircase one night at 2:30 and banged on our door. He was all, "That person has got to stop jumping!"

We were like, "What?"

And he was like "It sounds like a 200 pound person is doing jazzersize right above my bedroom!"

My roommate was like, "You're nuts," and shut the door right on him.

He was nuts. Sarah, the roommate who lived above Allen weighed about 92 pounds, soaking wet with boots on, and I never once saw her do aerobics, or jumping jacks, or anything of that nature. And besides, judging from the sweet nothings that we could hear being whispered into Allen's ear as he got it on with his girl (and other sounds that I'm trying hard not to remember), those apartments weren't very soundproof.

After we got married, Jared and I moved into an old house that had been divided into apartments--seventeen of them. We had no kitchen cabinets, the oven was too small to hold a cookie sheet (literally), and the floor was so sloped that the computer chair would roll away backwards as you typed. One set of neighbors smoked dope around the clock and the guy under us had some sort of note attached to his door about how much he didn't like Mormons (or J-dubs, or vacuum cleaner salesmen). What can I say? It was home!

After that we bought a house--for less money that we could have bought a mini-van. Literally. It was 800 square feet and two stories. I'm still not sure how that worked. Our master bedroom was 7x11, a previous owner had insulated the laundry room walls with men's clothing (seriously), and somehow it cost $500 a month to heat this smurf sized house in the winter. My favorite feature of this place, besides the 1985 rusted out Cutlass Sierra that our neighbor perched on some blocks, was the triangle room. The triangle room was the biggest room in the upstairs of the house. The walls weren't straight at all, the shape of the room followed the pitch of the roof and the whole thing was shaped, well, like a triangle--almost like being inside of an army tent. If I stood up very straight my head touched the 90 degree angle that I will loosely refer to as the ceiling.

I actually loved this house and cried like a baby when we moved from it. But we sold it 'by owner' for the price of a tricked out Lincoln Navigator--so I think we made out like bandits in the end. We took the profits from that place and moved to Texas. With the exception of a flaming air conditioner and some poopy smelling water, our apartments in Texas have actually been fine, so I won't go into detail about those.

It just blows my mind that we might actually move in to somewhere nice...it may or may not work out. But really, if it does, I worry that I might get a little bored with it. Going in and out of a convenient front door seems so, I dunno, regular. I might just build a fire escape to use as our primary entrance--just to mix things up a little bit. I'm also considering using an outhouse in the winter instead of indoor plumbing--it could be fun! Or maybe, just maybe, we'll finally start to feel like the hardworking grownups that we are, sit back, kick our feet up and say,"You know? We've worked really hard and we deserve to live somewhere just like this."
Random Ramblings
July 16, 2007

Yeah, so other than trying to figure out the logistics of the chiropractic practice that we'll be opening in about six months, I don't really have anything going on today. I woke up this morning feeling motivated to lose ten pounds. Breakfast went pretty well, and if you're ok with potato chips, then I stayed on the wagon for lunch, too. But of course, it's all been shot to hell with a brownie sundae. Whatever. Who cares? I didn't want to look all skinny anyway. Everyone knows that skinny girls are boring.

What else? I'm starting a new 5k training plan today. So pack up your "Go Amy" foam fingers, because I've officially stepped down from half-marathoning until the summer is over. I like this training plan because it only has me running 4 days a week, and recently I've been nothing more than a lazy sack of sha-dingz-nit, so every other day is good. I haven't been nearly as motivated to run as I usually am, so I think I need a goal--something to work toward. It's going to be an Elvis themed run on August 18th. I checked out the pictures from last year's event, and the winner looked remarkebly similar to Elvis in his chunky days, so I don't think it's a super competitive event--just the way I like it. I'm going to wear some rhinestones, and to quote myself, "I'm gonna win me a trophy." At least I hope I do, because I'm a serious hardware ho.

And other than that, I received a blog-topic request from an old roomate this morning. My friend Sarah messaged me on facebook, kindly suggesting that I write about the apartment we shared in college. This, my friends, is a very bloggable topic. So stay tuned, because this co-ed palace had ply-wood counter tops--cha ching!
And, as always, if you ever have and bloggable topic suggestions, go ahead and send them my way. I also give fantastically reliable stock-market advice.
Ok readers, gather round! Who wants to hear the story of the year? I think you're really gonna like this one...

My Husband is a Saint
(Friday) July 13, 2007

This morning, when I arrived at my babysitting job, Garfield's mom suggested that I take the boys to the science museum (remember--names have been changed to protect the innocent). I can barely handle one child in public, never mind two--but the woman pays me well, so I happily obliged.

We actually had a really fun time. James sat contentedly in the stroller while Garfield rode around in the sling. We saw dinosaur bones, we went into a giant mouth, and I constantly dispensed toddler snacks. Somehow I managed to keep all of my sha-da-dong in place.

As we left the museum--in plenty of time to eat a healthy lunch before naps--we talked about the animals we saw, we tried to sound like them, and we sang the ABCs. But all of the foo-foo-la-la happiness came to a screeching halt when we got to the car. I couldn't find my keys, my fricking keys...anywhere.

So I called Jared.

Within ten minutes he was in the parking lot with our spare set of keys. And despite the notable inconvenience and the fact that I woke him up from a very well deserved nap, he was smiling. We put the boys in their car seats, and Jared ran into the museum to see if he could recover what had been lost.

Heaven bless this patient man of mine. While he searched we were on our cell phones, and the conversation went almost exactly like this:

J: Ok, so where'd you go first?

A: We did two laps around the mechanical T-Rex.

J: Ok, I did two laps. No keys. Where to next?

A: Take a left and go down that big hall. Then take another left into the bubble exhibit. James loved the bubbles.

J: Ames, I don't see bubbles in there.

A: That's because you have to walk through the maze to get to the bubbles.

J: A maze?! I'm so bad at mazes, Amy.

A: This one's for kids, you can do it!

J: .........Ok, I'm going, I'm walking....damnit, I hit a dead end. Ok, I'm turning....damnit. Ok, I'm just about to the bubbles.....DAMNIT. I hit another dead end.

Anyway, Jared checked the bubbles, he checked the farm, he went into the giant mouth, he sat in the hand chair, he waited in the elevator line, and he walked through the hacienda. No keys.

At that point, both of the boys were sleeping in their car seats, and we decided to take them back to our place since Garfield's house key was missing, too. So Jared followed me home. I pulled into the parking lot first, waited for Jared, and hopped out of the car as he was climbing out of the Blazer.

Just then, our eyes met, and words didn't need to be exchanged. He was exhasperated, and I was ashamed. Sitting right there, on the roof of my car, were my keys. Before Jared could utter a word, I said, "Welp, crisis averted! Check ya later, Jare!" and I jumped into the car and burned rubber out of there.

I swear you guys, I'm such a flaming jack-ass. If my head weren't screwed on so tightly I'd probably never lose it but I'd make Jared go looking for it all the time anyways.
My husband deserves many, many treasures in heaven.

[side note: no, this most definitely is not the first story about keys on the roof of my car to be featured on this blog]
July 12, 2007

Living in a moderately trashy apartment complex is weird. The all-American neighborly dynamic just isn't there. You know how it goes when someone buys a house--neighbors bring baked goods, bbq invitations are swapped, and cups of sugar are lovingly passed through kitchen windows. That is so not how it goes in complexes like mine.

Every single weekend we see a new U-Haul pull into the parking lot and few guys unload the truck. Usually within three or so months, the new tenant gets dumped and/or deported and/or evicted and/or arrested and/or just realizes how yuck-o these apartments really are and hastily moves out. Go ahead, call me a flaming biz-natch, but most of the time I feel like it's just not worth the energy to learn most of my neighbor's names.

But here's what makes things totally weird. We share walls, ceilings, and floors with these people.

A lot of times I'll see one of these nameless neighbors in the parking lot and be like "Hey You!" And I'm really thinking "So. Who do you think should have won that argument last night? Don't you think I had some valid points?" or "How'd I do with that time-out for James?" or "Do you like my singing voice?" Because you know they hear every word.

Yesterday I had one of these encounters. I was walking through the parking lot when my neighbor yelled off his balcony, insisting that he could teach my eight year-old dog to sit. He bounded down his stairs, handed me his crystal goblet of wine-in-a-box, and began the sitting lessons. Listen --I don't know this guy's name, but I can guarantee that it's not "The Dog Whisperer." Gracie wouldn't sit.

Anyway, after his failed attempt(s), Mr. Sit and I started chatting about who-knows-what. He mentioned to me that his company is transferring him to New Jersey...right out of New York City. After a few go-rounds about New York I said, "It's expensive up there, huh?"

He kind of guffawed and replied, "Trust me, I'm not at all worried about that."

And that's when I thought to myself, "Dude. Get real. I saw your Jetta get repossessed yesterday."

Maybe he hasn't realized that it's gone yet. Oh well. But damn you guys--that repo man had some mad skillz. That car went from parking space to flatbed and was out of there in 45 seconds flat.

Oh apartment life--you just can't hide anything...except your name.
Living Away
July 11, 2007

People often ask me what it's like to live thousands of miles away from my family. My parents live in Connecticut and Jared's parents live in Maine, so it's far.

You know, most of the time it kind of stinks. It's not because we don't have free babysitters at our every beckon call, and it's not because our spontaneous visits are planned half a year in advance. It's mostly because we miss out on so many of the little things.

We miss the birthday parties, we miss the baby blessings, and unfortunately we miss out on various family members' impulse buys. And speak of the devil--my father-in-law just made one this week.

For the last little while, my father-in-law Robb has been wanting to be more active. Over the past year we've heard talk of Robb starting a walking program, buying a treadmill, or joining a gym. But I suppose that none of those options were quite inspiring enough for my dad-in-law. Finally though, after a year of imagination and careful consideration, the inspiration bolt finally struck--in the form of 350 horsepower.

A few days ago Robb was driving down the road when he quickly pulled over to check out a boat. Thirty minutes and a few thousand dollars later, Robb drove away with a 1988 twenty-three foot cabin cruiser attached to the back of his truck. A similar vessel is pictured above.

Who cares if he's not a nautical man!? Why should it matter that he doesn't know how to turn the engine on?! So what if the whole family is prone to motion sickness? I say 'GO BIG OR GO HOME!' And Robb went big--because let's face it, reasonably sized boats are for sissies.

My poor little heart is just bleeding. How can I possibly stand to miss out on this new chapter of my family's life?

  • I want to be there to hear my sweet, Mormon dad-in-law compose his first-ever string of swear words.
  • I want to be there to experience Robb's reaction after plowing into a dock full of innocent vacationers.
  • I want to be there to hear my 5 year old nephew, Nathan, scream in unadulterated fear because Grampy is driving all crazy.
  • I want to be there when Robb hurls his toolbox off the port bow in a moment of mechanical frustration.
  • And I reallly want to be there to see my mother-in-law take a stab at water skiing.

This is so not fair. I want to go home.

Self Confidence--You Either Have It or You Don't
July 10, 2007

I'm a real black and white kind of person when it comes to self confidence. I either have it or I don't. For example, I've always had a lot of confidence in school. I've found it to be absolutely no problem-o. Seriously, I never cracked a book during my undergrad and I still managed to get out of there with the words Magna Cum Laude stamped on my diploma. I stepped it up during grad school and did about 45 minutes worth of the assigned reading, and boy was it worth it--I walked out of there with a 4.0. Insane.

Now you'd think that my school confidence would carry over into employment confidence. Wrong-o, nope. I am thoroughly convinced that I'm unemployable, or destined to be a babysitter for the rest of my life--and in my book they're pretty much equivalents. Seriously guys, my freaking resume must get converted to Mandarin Chinese when I press send, because I never ever hear back. And on the off chance that I do get an interview, I usually giggle or fart or tell the HR lady that my name is Joan-of-Arc instead of Amy Lawson--it's not pretty.

Marriage? I go back and forth with my confidence as a wife and our mutual compatibility as soul mates. I either feel like Ken and Barbie (sexy and successful) or Adam and Eve (you know...eating the apple and suddenly we're getting evicted by God himself)...it just depends on the day. But I never feel anywhere in between. I'd imagine that it would be nice to feel like Flintstones or the Rubbles most of the time, but I wouldn't know.

But for some reason, one major area where I've really never lacked confidence is mothering. I know, that sounds totally stuffy and self-righteous, but it's true. I like being a mom and I think I'm pretty good at it. From the second they put James in my arms, I was all, "Oh yeah, I can do this...stop sewing me up and take my picture, Doc! I'm good at this and I don't want to forget it!" Even things that would make most people feel like a mediocre mom can't shake my confidence. Here's an example for ya:

About an hour ago, James asked for an apple. We don't have any apples right now, so I let him look through the fridge to see if there was anything else that tickled his fancy. He was taking forever in there...wanting the broccoli and then changing his mind, wanting some yogurt and then changing his mind. Finally I looked at James and just said, "You know what Buddy? Have at it. The fridge is yours. Mommy's going to watch CyberChase on PBS."

10ish minutes later, after my cartoon was over, I went to the kitchen to check on James. There was a bite out of a pepper, a squash, a block of cheese, and the cellophane on the turkey cold cuts. The top was off the tub of butter, and James was sitting on the kitchen floor licking the gunk off of the neck of the ketchup bottle.

Now most moms probably would have been like, "I'm such a loser, why did I let my kid do this?"

But not me. I thought to myself, "Wow, this is an awesome idea. That counts as dinner, James! Why didn't I think of this sooner?!"
So there you have it--I feel good about letting my two year old do his own meal planning, I don't care if there're mini-bites out my diary products, and I probably need a major reality check. But that's just the way I am.
How to Parent a Two Year Old
July 9, 2007
There are a zillion and ten parenting books on the market. If you're a mom then I'm sure you've heard of at least a few--Love & Logic, Toddler 411, The Happiest Toddler on the Block--I could go on forever.
I've never been the parenting book type, as I prefer to fly by the seat of my pants in every aspect of my life. And besides, I'd rather spend my down time looking up Brittany pix on the internet...James will eventually pull it all together no matter what I do.
Anyway, the woman I babysit for has an extensive collection of parenting material, and I do flip through it from time to time. I've got to admit, I think it's all a bunch of flaming crapola. The bottom line is this:
There are two ways to parent a toddler. You can either:
1) Get all stressed out about it, try to control your child, and resort to hurling yourself out of a third floor window. Or...
2) You can accept the fact that it's impossible to reason with a two-year old, start viewing gross and/or embarrassing things as funny, and glide through life until Junior is old enough to go to kindergarten.
I've chosen the second approach--thank goodness.
Here's a good example. About an hour ago James and I were walking through the park headed back to our apartment complex. James was pointing out his favorite objects, and I was praising him over-enthusiastically for his very limited vocabulary.
So we were walking along and he was like, "Mama...dog! Mama...guck! Mama...kids!" As I pushed the stroller along at a pretty good pace we came up behind a (very, very, very) heavyset woman doing some laps around the park. She was working so hard, bless her heart, and wearing a purple sweatsuit-type outfit. All of the sudden James whipped around in his stroller, pointed enthusiastically, and yelled, "LOOOK Mama! Is BARNEY!"
If I had been a type-one parent I probably would have begged the poor woman for forgiveness and then keeled over and died. But I'm a type two. So I kept my cool, and sweetly answered James by saying, obnoxiously loud, "Yes honey! That's our dog and her name is Barney. I love her, too." Then I turned to my greyhound Gracie, gave her a firm pat on the haunches and shouted, "Oh Barney, I love you so much and I'm glad you're my dog. You're a good girl....Barney. Let's go....Barney."
And then we passed the real Barney on the right and high-tailed it out of there.
He doesn't know it yet, but James is grounded for 14 years.
A Man and His Chair
July 8, 2007

Geeze louise...I'm trying to be funny, but my dang husband won't stop talking about fly fishing. I'm glad he has a hobby, but in my opinion, the only thing on this planet that's less funny than fly fishing is a puppy dying of heatstroke.

But I shall persevere, and try to think of something amusing while Jared clammers on about bugs made out of feathers and other junk like that.


This is my Unce Bill. And that is his favorite lawn chair. Depending upon your point of view, it can be classified in one of two ways--vintage or white-trashish. We all remember these chairs from the 1980's--when they were already old. They make that alarming crackling sound when your ass hits the mesh, the metal armrests either singe or freeze the skin off your forearms (depending on the weather), they take up half the trunk space in a Crown Victoria, and they look particularly nice in front of a 30 year old trailer home.

When I arrived at the Fourth of July parade last Wednesday, my Uncle Bill was happily planted in his beloved chair sipping on a coffee.

I was like, "Uncle Bill...you still have that chair?!?!"

He said, "Oh yeah. This is a good, strong chair Amy. And I wrote my name on it with permanent marker. I've never lost it after all these years."

So I took out my camera and said, "Ok. Well, sit right there, I want to get a picture."

As you can see, he happily obliged.

Then I said, "Now stand up, I want a close up of the chair all by itself."

Uncle Bill deeply chuckled and asked, "Why?"

And I answered, "Because I want the world to know that ESPN's Vice President of Productions, sits in a chair like this. I think they'll be surprised."

Yes, you read that right. My Uncle Bill has one of the most rockin' jobs in the universe. He was one of the very first employees at ESPN, and has grown with the company ever since. I'm assuming he's broken the $25,000 mark by now--so you can see by his chair that he is quite humble...and thrifty, too!

No, he won't get you a job.

But if you're interested, here's a very fitting quote of my uncle's that I found online:

"The Holy Grail for TV facilities [or lawn furniture] has always been reuse," says Bill Lamb, ESPN’s VP of systems engineering and electronic maintenance. "You make [or buy] it once and you reuse it as many times as effective."

**the words in the brackets we're added by me, but I'm quite sure that Uncle Bill would endorse them wholeheartedly**
July 6, 2007

I've been on vacation this week, and I've been so unbelievably unmotivated to blog. I think my lack of inspiration can be blamed on several factors. First, there's virtually no internet access at my mom and dad's beach house. I mean, every once in a while you can grab a quick wireless signal from a friendly neighbor, but those lucky moments are few and far between. Pretty much every morning, I walk out of my bedroom to find my beloved brother-in-law standing on a kitchen chair balancing his brand new Mac Book two and a half above his head—and nine times out of ten my father is standing behind him rolling his eyes. C'mon dad, why should Rob call his parents when there's a one in a zillion chance that he'll get a strong enough signal to email them? And why would he ever take the conventional route of reading the newspaper when he might just be able to read his Paris and Nicole gossip on the internet?

Geesh, those baby boomers are so unreasonable I'll tell ya!

Anywho, wireless connections do exist Cape Cod, so I don't think that's the primary reason behind my recent blogger dropout behavior. Most of all, I haven't blogged because I'm suffering from a major lack of material this week—in other words, my life is great. Family members are fighting each other to change James's poopy diapers, my mom can't help but buy me all sorts of fabulous gifties, I've eaten at least one donut every day, and I've gained two pounds of pure flab. This, my friends, is the good life.

I kind of miss being funny, I really do. Seriously guys, I miss my material—Like my downstairs neighbor who speaks no English, but tries to lure me into her apartment to measure me for a new bra every afternoon (at least I hope that's what she's implying when she uses her hands to cup her boobies like that). Or my other crrrazy neighbor who has a professionally diagnosed home shopping addiction—I should know, the UPS man drops by my place every afternoon so I can sign for her packages from QVC (note of caution: the collectible dolls must not look as nice in person, because my neighbor is pretty much a biz-natch). And somehow, I even miss the guy who lets his dog take a doo-doo on my staircase from time to time.

I'm surprised to say that I'm actually looking forward to getting back to Dallas. It's just so much easier to write about tripping over a homeless man on my run than it is to write about untouched beaches, smiling wildlife, and clear blue skies. Give me my smog. Give me my traffic. Give me my Botoxed grandmas. Give me back my mild case of clinical depression.

Give me the Big D!

And when we moved back to Maine in a few months, I guess I'll just have to take up needlepoint or pie-baking, because I know I’ll be happy…damnit. I'll just have to cross that bridge when I come to it.