Thursday, May 25, 2006

Intermittent at Best

I'm am gradually weaning myself out of the blogosphere. Sad, I know. I shall return at a later date, but I'm afraid I won't be able to post here for awhile. I'm in the process of training someone at work, so no time to blog there. I'm in training all next week, and then I'm on vacation for awhile. So, it will be almost a month before I'm back. I'll try to check in during the evenings, but I will probably just be commenting on your sites and not mine. I hope to be back around the end of June, and then will leave you again as I cross the "pond" to Scotland. I will return to our regular programming the middle of July.

Life has been good, just busy. Going to some weddings soon, have my training, going on vacation, going on a mission trip, starting school again this summer for the first time in 8 years. I put in for a new job that I am REALLY hoping to get. It's go time for me!

I will SO miss chatting with you as much as I want, but will check in as much as possible.

Take care my blog family!

posted by Amstaff Mom | 7:16 PM | 17 comments

Monday, May 22, 2006

Girls Day Out

I had some fabulous girl time this weekend. Saturday afternoon I attended a bachelorette lingerie party. Wahoooo! For the event,the girls rented a pontoon boat at the marina and had the party on the lake. With the wind in our hair and time on our side, we lounged, we talked, we partied. Such fun!

Seven of us attended, and none of us really wanted to claim the title of Skipper, so people took turns driving the boat. We finally decided to coast for awhile and so we turned off the engine and broke out the food and drinks. After feasting, the bride to be (wearing her Bachelorette hat and banner) opened her gifts. Little did she know that all the remarks regarding her gifts were being written down. After she finished, one of the girls read the quotes, saying that this was what she will be saying on her wedding night. Oh, it was too funny. For my readership's sake, I won't repeat them. (smirk)

We floated for about an hour and then decided to head off for a different area of the lake. Turn key, crrrrrrrnk. Turn key, crrrrrrrrnk. Nothing. The engine simply would not turn over. Try, try again. Laughter ensues. Now, we are 7 women on a party boat. When we left the marina, the "Skipper" wasn't giving the boat enough gas and we stalled about 4 feet from the dock. We saw the smirks on the fishermen's faces. Now here we are in the middle of the lake with an engine that wouldn't start. We had one paddle. And a cell phone.

So, one of the girls calls the marina. They make sure that we're doing everything right. Still nothing. So, they said they would send somebody out. "Where are y'all exactly?" they say. Response: "my back is to the dam". This is what they're contending with. Ha ha ha. We give them slightly better directions and they tell us that help is on the way.

45 min. later.

One of the girls has been waving her colorful sarong at fellow boaters, thinking they are the rescue team. It's clearly an older couple, and the woman is wearing a straw hat. Not exactly your typical rescue team. Man and son on Jet-ski. Wave of sarong. Fishermen. Wave of sarong. So, we call the marina again. We find out that the rescue team has been called to the dock because of a snake bite. Clearly this out-ranks 7 damsels in distress. They tell us to look for a boat with a blue flashing light. The sarong makes it's appearance once again.

Since the boat has been sitting for 45 min., the young twenty-something male on the other end of the line attempts to diagnose the engine trouble from afar. Crrrrrrnnnnnk again. Then the fun really begins. He instructs the Desperate Housewife on the other end of the phone to have one of the girls squeeze the gas pump. "I tried to squeeze it but it was hard!" "You squeeze it, you have more experience!" "Why does it get keep getting harder to pump?" It actually was all innocent conversation, until the Desperate Housewife began saying that she could hear laughter on the other end in the phone. The young twenty-something had "accidentally" hit the intercom switch and everyone in the marina was laughing at the conversation. It went on and on, but hey, it was a Bachelorette party, after all.

45 min. later.

We see a blue light. They clearly see us. The sarong is still waving. It's the sheriff's office, and they are greeted with a "can we take your picture?". All they give us is a puzzled/are you joking look. Suddenly the 7 of us are joined with two armed men. Party is over. Well, not really, they were really nice, and thankfully they couldn't get it started for awhile either. Finally, it starts. Then it dies. Then it starts again. Then it dies. Finally, we're up and running and begin to head back to shore.

After unloading all our gear and once again hear how the young twenty-something literally had tears in his eyes from the prior conversation, we headed home to get cleaned up. Later on in the evening, we headed to Johnny Carino's to continue the feasting. It was a fabulous day.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 6:40 AM | 20 comments

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Verse of the Day - May 18

"Instead of looking at the fashion, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it?.... If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers....don't you think He'll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you?"

Matthew 6:28-30 MSG

posted by Amstaff Mom | 9:14 AM | 5 comments

Parenting Isn't For Cowards

It's a book title, but it's also a summarization of my feelings. Last night I was able to voice alot of my frustrations with my parenting, as well as my fears of being a parent. This is such an accomplishment for me, as the skill of burying my feelings and emotions reaches epic proportions. I feel that if I don't learn how to express my feelings, I will never really be free of the baggage that I carry. But oh, is it easier said than done. So, as I struggle to express these feelings, I hope that they will begin to release their grip on me.

As I begin to write the other day, the words begin to spill out of my mind and into my fingers and I felt the need to read my own words to really see exactly how I felt. I think the chains are now broken, but the scars left behind must heal. Then I can begin to put this behind me. To not dwell on the past and bring it into my future, but to learn from it, to be a better person because of it. I don't want to have it hovering over my head that my childhood, specifically my teenaged years and early twenties were so difficult. My goal? To see the reality, but then move on. No, I don't want to dwell on my parenting all my days or use it as a crutch. But I simply must see it for what it was. Painful. Hurtful. Distrustful. Lonely. Chaotic. How do you reason with that which was unreasonable? I think that my mind is finally accepting that which encompassed years and years of feelings. I have shut them out, blocked them out for fear of re-living them.

I have done what I can to keep the peace these last several years. And for the most part, it has worked. But the truth is that it can also be an emotional rollercoaster of moods and conversations. You never know what the mood will be, whether there will be anger or disappointment on the other end of the phone, or a cheerful voice. You don't know if your decisions will be accepted with pride or with disdain. It's as if I am walking on a balance beam and have to defend a push or a shove as I walk. It seems that sooner or later I it is inevitable that I fall, or fail.

As I had a phone conversation the other day, another realization hit. Nothing has really changed. The control, the erratic conversations, the undefined questions. They are all the same. They have a different target these days, but for it to come back to me, all I need is the "right" scenario, and it would happen all over again. And this CANNOT be. How do I begin to protect myself? Do I know how?

Blogging has been very therapeutic for me over the last year. It is refreshing to see how other people deal with life. I have been able to meet some of these people in person and cherish their friendship. Others are miles away, and we will more than likely will not meet this side of heaven. When I was reading on how a fellow blogger responded to the unkind words of her mother, I was astonished at her response. Because she OWNED her feelings and what her mother said did not affect them. I will be 30 this year and I feel like I am finally discovering my independence when it comes to decisions and feelings. I am no longer hiding behind the curtain on the stage, I am building the confidence to stand in front of the audience without trembling.

Reading other people's stories also brings up feelings that I missed out. Missed out on making memories with my dad that I can cherish for the rest of my life. I have the memories of accompanying him to the photo lab. Him occasionally picking me up from school. I realize that having a dad is something that many others envied. I can't take that for granted, but it could have been so much more. I can count on one hand the gifts that I have received my from dad from the age of 5 to the present. A Music Machine record right before my sister was born. A bell from a trip to Canada. The Little Mermaid movie (which my mom thought was evil and didn't want us to watch). The movie Rear Window. Ropers for a western event in jr. high. I cannot think of a single time that he took me somewhere just to go. There was never "let go somewhere together" whether it be the movies, or dinner, or anything. Yes, there was love, but the necessary demonstration of that love was absent. I realize now how important that is to a girl, and how searching for it in others can never really replace it.

The pieces of my life are beginning to be glued back together. Yes, they were broken, by both sets of parents, but they are not ruined. I will not let them be. The pieces will instead become a beautiful mosaic, transformed and changed.

Thank you for being there for me as I go through this journey.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 8:25 AM | 8 comments

Monday, May 15, 2006

14 Years

I just wrote 5/15 on a message note for my boss. Click. A date of rememberance. Do you have those dates? Dates that are hold much more significance than just another turn of the page. Memories, emotions, photographs in the mind. As I sit here I try to sort out the feeling. It's a mixed emotion. Because something changed 14 years ago. The good came with the bad. The elation with the confusion. The joy and the sorrow. A turning point in my life.

I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately. The last few weeks have been a sorting of feelings and emotions. How do I really feel? Dare I feel? It's a relationship that began in the womb. But did it really? It's a bonding from the beginning of my existence. But was it really? It's complex and jagged and painful and yet... comforting. We all thought about that relationship yesterday, in some sort of way. Because yesterday was Mother's Day.

Oh, I've spent hours and hours and hundreds and hundreds of dollars trying to really understand what that relationship is. A mother to a daughter. But more importantly - MY mother. To me. But in the last few weeks it has solidified a little more. I understand it more. I think. It is such a complicated thing. How do you begin to trust that which has hurt you. And yet has loved you? How can those things go together? The answer is that they don't. Like oil and water are the emotions I received and that I now feel.

I have begun to realize that my optimism has come at a great cost. It has not allowed me to truly feel. But dare I? Dare I feel that which has both pushed and pulled me like a giant rubberband, snapping me in great pain, and yet pulling be back time and time again? I was not taught to really feel. Because feelings come from thoughts and thoughts and ideas can be different than those of others. And different from those of our parents.

As I was conversing with my co-worker the other day, she made a comment on how as you raise your children, you keep in mind that the purpose is to allow them to become more and more independent as they grow. Process. Process. Process. What a refreshing thought. Can it be true? Can parents strive for their children to be independent? Does it not always produce conflict, strife, guilt trips? How can it not?

From my experience, when an effort to control clashes against an independent thought, two things can happen. One, the dominant control wins, shattering the belief system, independence and confidence of the child. Or two, the independent thought wins, but the consequence of guilt and silence envelopes. So, is that really winning?

The first 15 years of my life, the Control was in control. On May 15, 1992, a window was opened. Like a beam of light into a dark room, a relationship began that opened my eyes to something different. It wasn't instantaneous, but time caused the possibility to become the reality. A different relationship began to grow. And as that one began, so began the downward spiral of the other one.

I had my first date 14 years ago today. No longer did I want to accept every decision my mother granted me. My feelings became more important. I began to realize that not every mother was like my mother. It didn't always HAVE to be that way. But my realizations were not made into a reality. Far from it. I attempted to deal with my frustrations, the best I knew how. Submission, silence, sneaking around. None of them healthy, but neither was the relationship.

As my feelings would build up, I would cover them up. Showing those feelings only brought more pain. Learning how to reverse that pattern would become a life-long process. Learning to shut down became a defense mechanism. An unhealthy one at that. The feelings of guilt and fear took their toll. The wounds became scars. Do you see those scars on me? I try to hide them well, but they are there. The fears are still real. Fears of repeating the parenting I received. Fears that the cycle will not break.

Looking back, I am still grateful for that day 14 years ago. The day another world was opened. But now I see a bigger picture of that world. One that I hope and pray will become more and more clear as the days go by. I think the scars are starting to fade with time. I pray they do.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 7:39 AM | 15 comments

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Strange Weather, Even for Texas

We've had the strangest weather lately. I've lived in Texas all my life and it never ceases to amaze me just how much the weather changes around here. One week it's 101, the next it's 50. One day it's sunny and hot (Tues), the next it's cold (last night I was FREEZING at my nephew's soccer game). In the last week or so, it starts out cool and rainy and then turns to sunny and 80% humidity. That's not even including the storms. 3 people were killed two nights ago from a tornado that was about 40 miles from my house. Two weeks ago something hit our house too. It was either straight-line winds or a tornado that didn't completely touch the ground.

We were watching our Judge Judy episodes on our DVR two weeks ago and had heard that there were storms southwest of us. Then, the tornado sirens started to go off behind our house. I was on the cell ph. with one brother-in-law while Brian was standing by the window. Lightning filled the sky, showing an eerie green color and then POW! something hit the window that was 2 inches from Brian's nose. We high-tailed it for the "potty room", grabbing Abby in the process.

I'm sure we were a sight - our master bath has a separate potty room, with a door, but it was not designed for multiple people. I was standing next to the toilet, still talking to Brian's brother (who was in their closet with his family). Brian was talking on the other phone to his other brother (who was in their bathroom) and the dog is looking at us like we're absolutely nuts.

It passed quickly and so we went outside to inspect the damage. Out of our entire neighborhood, only three houses were hit, ours and our next door neighbors'. It snapped fence posts and large branches like toothpicks, but didn't lift the cover of a sandbox. Very interesting. Thankfully, the damage was minimal...

Obviously Abby was in a full panic.

Fence posts snapped like twigs

Abby surveys the damage.

You just don't see branches wrapped around pickets every day.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 7:52 AM | 16 comments

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Reflecting - Today's Verse of the Day

Psalm 8:3-4 NLT

"When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers - the moon and the stars you have set in place - what are mortals that you should think of us, mere humans that you should care for us?"

just thinking.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 9:42 AM | 4 comments

Monday, May 08, 2006

97% More to Go....

According to this, I've visited 3% of the world's countries. I am crying "no fair", however, because I couldn't count the 3 countries in Britain that I've visited, it only counted as 1. Rats. (and beans). And I just realized Holland isn't showing either! HEY! I call foul!

So many countries, so little time.

create your own visited countries map

I'm doing better on the U.S. - a whopping 58%.

create your own visited states map

posted by Amstaff Mom | 9:47 AM | 8 comments

Friday, May 05, 2006

United 93

This was not a movie that I really wanted to see, per se. I was actually extremely hesistant in seeing it. As I expected, I was extremely emotional during a great part of this movie. I can't explain the emotion, I think it is different for everyone. Brian experienced nervousness and rage. I was sobbing.

Please go see it. I think it is important for every American to see this movie.

We must never forget.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 6:38 PM | 3 comments

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I'm listening to the soundtrack of Pride & Prejudice while looking at a photo of where I will be two months from today, God-willing. I am in the midst of planning for our group's mission trip to Scotland, and they sent me this pic yesterday. I gasped in delight!

I am so very content.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 5:00 AM | 22 comments

Monday, May 01, 2006

Big Difference

This is the effect that eating at Gloria's restaurant has on me. The moment that the scent of the warm black bean dip permeates my nostrils, a euphoria like no other descends on me. My work group took me to lunch on Friday, and this is the result....

This is quite opposite the effect of Brian eating black beans like my grandmother used to make. Especially when he would lock the windows in order to "seal in the pleasant odor". Rage, anger, and malice all combusting simultaneously was the effect it had on me.

Big difference. K-T and Cat know, just ask them.

posted by Amstaff Mom | 6:56 AM | 11 comments