Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Who Has Access?

I was just trying to backup all the data on my office computer so that I could upgrade from (cussed) Vista to Windows 7. I selected a folder on my hard drive to copy to the backup external drive and a little screen popped up that said, "You do not have access to this folder."

Excuse me?

It's my computer . . . as in, I own it. As in, I'm the only administrator with any rights whatsoever as to this computer.

Which begs the question . . . if I don't have access to that folder . . . who does? And when are they accessing it? Do they come in the middle of the night and log on, do some work, and then leave before I saunter in around 9:30?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Meet Tim

Let me introduce you to Tim. Tim is our new bass player for Coffeehouse. He's the guy on the left there in the white shirt. Note the two narrow windows underneath the lyrics.

We love Tim. We also love Dez, Brian (the acoustic guitar player in the photo) and Jim (the electric guitar player in the photo), but this blog post is about Tim. Maybe Brian and Jim will get their own blog posts one day (Dez gets enough press here already), but not today. This one's about Tim.

We did not find Tim via our normal talent search method (stalking musicians at other churches and then ambushing them in the parking lot) -- he actually came to us through a friend who attends Tim's church. I think Tim played with us for the first time about four weeks ago shortly after we lost our previous bass player. It was apparent from our first practice with him, that Tim is not only a talented musician, he also has a heart devoted to God. Tim has pastored a couple of churches in his not too distant past and also was a worship leader.

A couple of weeks ago, at the end of Coffeehouse, Pastor Mike announced that Tim would be preaching last night. Quite frankly, I wasn't even aware that the Pastor had spent any time talking to Tim and thought maybe he was just picking people out of the band to preach on random Saturday nights. Dez and I were upset that we hadn't been asked yet.

(If you're a Southern Baptist, that last bit was a very very funny joke -- if you're not, you'll just have to trust me and laugh anyway so you won't feel left out).

Last week, when we were without a worship leader, Tim stepped in and led worship in very strange circumstances -- the only people he had in his band were me on keys and Flamingo Joe on the bass. And Flamingo Joe doesn't play the bass -- not very much anyway. Dez had pneumonia. Tim also doesn't have an acoustic guitar, so Flamingo Joe went and bought an electric guitar at Sam Ash (no, that doesn't make sense to me either, but FJ assures me this happened as a result of a miscommunication regarding what kind of equipment Tim owned). So FJ was on bass, Tim was on electric, and I was on keys. Remarkably, we survived the evening and Tim did a fine job.

So last night, we were all excited about hearing Tim preach because we knew going in that it was going to be good -- Tim is one of those people that can tell you some stuff about God while swirling the grounds around in the bottom of his coffee cup, so we were ready for some great insights into God's word.

Jamie was leading us last night and did a great job as usual -- so we sang the first four or so songs, took the offering, and went to sit down while Tim put his bass guitar down and stepped up to the microphone. Dez and I were at the coffee table in the back of the room during Tim's opening prayer and were still standing there with our back to the rest of the room when the prayer ended.

When I turned around from the coffee table, half of the room had gotten up and walked out of the service. Apparently, during the prayer, someone's child had come in from outside (where the kids were playing a highly spiritual game of kickball) and notified the pastor and some other adults that a house behind the church was on fire, so the Pastor, Assistant Pastor, and three or four other adults had gotten up during the prayer and walked out of the service to see if they could help. Keep in mind that this is not a service where we have 70 to 100 people in attendance -- in this service, when 6 or 7 people get up and walk out, the room has dwindled to barely a handful of people. So poor Tim opened his eyes after his prayer and half the room was gone.

I went over and sat down and happened to pick a table with a clear view of the narrow window behind Tim (see photo above). I couldn't help but be distracted by the approaching sirens and the garage outside the window that was now engulfed in flames. Huge, huge flames. And lots of smoke. Every 3 or 4 minutes, someone would either come back in the room or get up and leave the room. Poor Tim, who had no idea there was an inferno raging outside the window behind him just kept on preaching. Those of us who stayed in the room were doing our dead level best to stay focused on Tim while we watched the firemen arrive and start climbing ladders. When I asked him later, Tim said he thought that the service was just so casual that people were in the habit of strolling in and out because they didn't think it was a big deal.

About 15 minutes into the sermon, Tim read the verse about Christ's yoke being easy and his burden being light and he asked the group if we knew what a "yoke" was -- Dez piped up and said it was the middle part of an egg -- so while we were all laughing (Dez has been on a lot of medication these past two weeks -- it's possible she will have to re-develop her inner monologue), I tried to tell Tim that there was a fire going on behind him. But he was so focused on trying to keep everyone's attention that he didn't really understand me and told me later he thought we were messing with him/encouraging him. It wasn't until the service was completely over that we convinced Tim that there really was a fire and we weren't trying to tell him that he was "on fire." I know he was relieved to know that even though half the room wasn't listening, it wasn't because half the room is never really listening during a sermon.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Trains and Obscene Flora

Okay people, today we're making all your vacation dreams come true and taking you with us on a big trip to Folkston, Georgia. So make sure you've got plenty of water, and your fanny pack stocked with appropriate number of diabetic test strips, bandaids, and neosporin -- don't want to be caught down there unprepared. Here's the itinerary:

First up, the Folkston Funnel. As any diehard trainwatcher knows, the Folkston Funnel is where two sets of train tracks come together and go through the town of Folkston. While that may not sound very impressive to you, it's impressive in this little town because 40 or so trains come through every day. They've built a deck there where you can hang out with the other trainwatcher people and, you know, watch the trains go by. Surprisingly (to me, anyway) there were actually two other people there watching trains when we got there. One of them snapped this picture of us:

We had promised Mace trains and he was already watching for them instead of looking at the camera. I made a cute little slideshow of him watching a train go by, car by car, but I couldn't figure out where the "rendered" file saved to on my computer and I lost patience, so here's just one of the photos that was in the slideshow.

We saw at least four trains while we were there and we also visited the Folkston Train Museum, which is in an old train station there. There's not really much in the museum, but there is this collection of model trains:

Mace kept saying, "Buy dis one! Buy dat one!" And I would say, "Mace, sweetie, those aren't for sale, they're just to look at." So he would try to negotiate (which is what he was doing in that picture), "Jus' one, buy jus' one." We were in the museum for 15 or 20 minutes but he never left that case to look at anything else.

Outside the museum, Pop Pop gave Mace a lesson in train signals and switching devices. Casey wasn't listening -- he was running from wasps -- I don't have a picture of him running around, screaming and flailing his arms, sorry.

The Folkston Funnel can only entertain a 2 3/4 year old and a 7 year old for so long. So we moved on to the Okefenokee Swamp (see itinerary above). We visited the National Wildlife Refuge's visitors center and it had some pretty cool exhibits:

Should you ever stand underneath the water in the Okefenokee Swamp, this is what you would see when you looked up -- of course, if you were standing underneath the water in that swamp, you'd better look up quick so you could get a glimpse of that before this ate you:

My children weren't very impressed by that alligator -- Casey said, "Don't we have a bigger one than that at home?"

After soaking up all that swamp knowledge at the visitor's center, we took a hike into the swamp to the lookout tower.

On the way back to the car, Casey spotted one of the plants he'd seen a picture of at the visitor's center and actually remembered the name of it: Hooded Pitcher. It's not notable because of it's slightly obscene form -- it's notable because it's carnivorous, which is of course why Casey remembered it from the visitor's center.

I hate to leave you with that particular image (very unfortunate camera angle -- I do apologize).

So I'll leave you with this nice panoramic family-friendly shot:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Weekend Update

It's been a busy weekend as usual, so let's start at the beginning.

Yesterday, Flamingo Joe went roller skating. He's been under a lot of stress and roller skating helps him to relax.

He did take a couple a few kids with him to give him credibility. They had fun, too.

It was Ben and Kate's first time skating. Ben did pretty well, but Kate . . .

Kate is a roller skating diva! She got frustrated because her wheels were too tight, so we got them switched out with some looser ones and she skated and skated and skated until the very end. Mace, on the other hand, lasted about 10 or 15 minutes longer than he did last week and then pulled me back to the carpet so he could run around in his socks.

So after skating yesterday afternoon, it was the usual Saturday afternoon prep work for Coffeehouse and then Coffeehouse itself. This morning, we went to church (the highlight of which, depending on your perspective, is the video at the end of this post).

And then (brace yourself) it was time for Mace's 3rd birthday party. For the past month, he's been telling everyone who could understand him, "My bud'day comin' up!" And it came -- officially it came yesterday, but the party itself was today.

Flamingo Joe was in charge of decorations, so he took that to mean that we needed 80 balloons blown up with the air compressor:

The photo above reflects only a small cross-section of the total number of balloons blown up for the party.

The esteemed party guests included Dez (who came even though she has pneumonia), Adam and Lucas (and their mother Ahlem), and Mace's girlfriend/babysitter, Sweet Kari.

I was in charge of the cake. I'm always in charge of the cake, actually. I've decided that I'm always in charge of the cake because I'm the only one willing to spend three hours making the cake and only succeeding in creating something both attractive and edible in one out of six attempts. This year, I did not use salted butter in the buttercream frosting; so, as opposed to my last attempt at buttercream frosting (click here for: catastrophic salted buttercream fiasco), we could actually eat the cake.

Most importantly, Mace could actually tell what the cake was supposed to be . . . maybe you can, too (but don't tell me if you can't or I'll cry -- that's already three hours of my life I'll never get back):

Don't laugh . . . that's Thomas' good side. We're definitely not in any danger of Thomas the Tank Engine's lawyers suing us for trademark infringement anytime soon. But Mace thought he was very cheeky even though he didn't have a nose or, for that matter, cheeks.

We had to sing Happy Birthday twice and have Mace blow out the candles twice 'cause Flamingo Joe (who was also in charge of taking the pictures) didn't quite catch the candle-blowing-out the first time. Mace now thinks you get everything double at birthday parties. He opened two or three presents twice -- but that was mainly because he didn't seem to understand that once all the presents were unwrapped, there were just no more presents. He kept trying to negotiate for more presents, "Jus' one more?" -- and he'd hold up his #1 finger for emphasis -- "Jus' one?".

The one real problem with making black icing for a birthday cake is the goth-tinged pictures you get during the present-opening phase of the big event:

And perhaps you were wondering, like I was, just why Flamingo Joe decided we needed 80 balloons blown up for the party.

Wasn't learning to shoot a BB gun the perfect ending to your 3 year birthday party?

As promised, here is the video highlight from church this morning. Please forgive the camera angle, I couldn't get Casey to turn and face the congregation. And during the second time through when we get to the chorus, I was just as surprised as you will be that Casey dropped down to sing the harmony part I'd never taught him.

Friday, March 19, 2010


A few years ago while visiting YaYa and PopPop, when Casey was three or four years old, I think, we bought him this Step 2 pedal car so he’d have something to ride whenever he visited them in Georgia. At the time, he showed about 2 minutes’ worth of interest in it (once I finished the two hour assembly process) and then ignored the car until we arrived at YaYa and PopPop’s this past Sunday afternoon.

The car is obviously not made for an 87 pound 7 year old, yet here he is pretending it’s a bobsled (of course). He rode that car around YaYa and PopPop’s driveway for three days this week, racing himself in time trials and trying different positions for better aerodynamics.

It’s becoming clear to me that we are keeping this poor child from his true calling as a winter sports enthusiast by living in Florida. We can arrange for ice skating lessons and put him in ice hockey classes, but I haven’t found anywhere in central Florida that offers bobsledding, luge or skeleton classes. And maybe you’ve picked up on this, but I am not a fan of cold weather, thus, I am not really a fan of any winter sport that takes place outdoors -- unless I can watch said sport while looking out of a large picture window from the comfort of the lodge while sitting in an overstuffed chair in front of a roaring fire. So I’m really hoping Casey’s path to the Olympic Winter Games takes more of an indoor route. Speed skating or ice hockey would be okay, but I've heard some meets up north are held outside and if Nationals or the Olympic Trials were in Michigan or something and held outside, then Casey might have to cheer himself on while his mom waited in the car depending on the wind chill.

I have heard there’s a curling club somewhere down in St. Pete. Maybe I'll give them a call.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Skating Lesson

Saturday morning I took Casey to the local skating rink for a beginner’s skating class. Flamingo Joe was busy cleaning up the Great Toilet Overflow of 2010 so he couldn’t come with us. I figured getting the kids away from the GTO 2010 was a way to be helpful since Grandma was at the church setting up for Coffeehouse – the kids are semi-helpful for about 3 minutes in a manual labor scenario, then wander off to throw rocks in the water and look for the hand-truck. So it seemed best to just get them away. As it turned out, while I was gone with the kids, Grandma returned and held an 8 foot sheet of drywall over her head while FJ screwed it into the ceiling, so at the end of the day I still had to feel guilty.

When we got to the skating rink, the lady asked me if I was paying for two for the class or just one and she looked at Mace. I asked her if he was too young and she said no, her daughter had been skating since she could walk, so I said sure, let’s try it. I was not looking forward to chasing Mace around the arcade while Casey was skating anyway, so I rented his cute little skates and began reciting the Roller Skating Courage Litany for Two Year Olds (it goes something like this: “WOW! You have on SKATES, just like the BIG KIDS! Aren’t they GREAT?! You are SO BIG! I am SO PROUD! Let’s go out here and find Casey – No? Well we’ll just skate across the floor then and sit on that bench by the wall so we can see him better. Oh SURE we will, it will be FUN! WOW! You have on SKATES, just like the BIG KIDS! . . . .”).

And somehow the force of momentum kept him in that thirty-minute class for a full 15 minutes, which the teacher said was a great accomplishment. She told me at the beginning that if he made it ten minutes, it would be great for a two year old, so I was very proud he made it 15 minutes with no tantrum. At one point, to avoid an impending tantrum I told him he had trains on his feet and that kept him in the class for another 5 minutes. I’m starting to catch on to this parenting thing now that my womb is closed for business (never to reopen). Mind you, Mace will turn 3 this Saturday and still sleeps with pacifiers and has almost zero interest whatsoever in potty-training, but I can make him keep roller skates on his feet for 15 minutes, so I get a Mommy Award.

But Casey was the big story of the day. He was one of three kids in the 25-kid class that had on in-line skates and he got right in there and skated his little heart out. Keeping his skates on every waking moment for the past two weeks seems to have given him an edge up on the other beginners because he really caught on to everything very quickly and only fell a few times.

He “graduated” at the end of his class and gets to go into the Super Skater I class next week. He still skates like a 92 year old man shuffling to the dessert line at Piccadilly, but maybe they’ll work that out in Super Skater I class.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hurricane Drill

I am not going to find this funny for another 6 weeks at least. But on the off chance that perhaps you can find humor in it, I am posting it for your delight and edification so long as you promise not to try to make me laugh about it.

You may recall that my office is on the ground floor of our house, with the rest of the house raised above it (with the exception of the Man Cave, which is right next door to my office). What you will not recall (because I have never told you) is that there is a bathroom directly above my office. When we renovated this house, we pretty much took all the toilets that were already in the house and moved them around because Flamingo Joe convinced me that they were all $500 toilets.

The toilet that is directly above my office is possessed. It backs up for no reason and threatens to overflow on a regular basis, so you have to watch it carefully after you flush. And while it's not really high-class to have a plunger sitting right beside the toilet, it has saved us on more than one occasion.

At about 4:00 this afternoon, Casey used the bathroom (and only because it's pertinent information for you to have later, I will tell you that he only went #1 and nothing else). At about 4:20, I was in the kitchen and Grandma was in the den. I heard Mace go to Grandma and say, "Gamma -- water!" So Grandma gets up and walks down the hall to the bathroom. I hear her say, "Oh yes. That's water. Uh-oh. Where? Oh no." After the first "Uh-oh" I was rounding the corner and there was a river of water a foot wide flowing down the hallway toward the den and the bathroom floor was covered with water. The reason I don't have pictures is because I was too busy trying to find the mop bucket and wringer and yelling at Casey to go upstairs to get towels.

As we were finishing cleaning up the bathroom Joe came in the front door so I asked him to go downstairs and check my office. He did, and when he came back upstairs, he said, "Leave this, your office is a disaster."


Here are the towels we used to catch the water pouring through the ceiling:

Here is a very angry Flamingo Joe who is having to spend the weekend repairing the damage. Note the ginormous wet spots on the carpet:

Here is most of the contents of my office relocated to the "foyer":

Here is the water pouring out from underneath the wall where it had eventually found its way after ruining all the ceiling drywall in the front half of my office:

Where's my ceiling?

Oh right, here it is:

I'm sorry, I don't have a picture of the new client who showed up at 5:00 this afternoon. It's hard enough maintaining a professional atmosphere in your home office without the ceiling pouring toilet water on your clients, much less taking pictures of them while it's happening.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Drag Triplet Royalty

You'll be distressed to hear that I've been flipping through old journals again. In one of my old journals, somewhere between February 1996 and 2003 there is an undated entry that I recognize as a numbered list of the reasons I loved my husband. Keep in mind that we got married in August 1996, so when this journal is published posthum-- posthumous-- posthomus-- after I'm dead, it will obviously be entitled: The Flamingos: The Early Years. It's a little light on content, however -- it covers 1996 through 2003 and several of the pages have been removed for scrap paper. Might not be a best seller.

Regardless, here is the numbered list of the reasons I loved my husband at some point between 1996 and 2003 exactly as they appear in the journal (in reverse order):

11. He reads (I'm not sure why I thought this was remarkable at the time -- but I'm pretty sure that during our entire four years of dating, I never saw him read).
10. He stayed home for my entire pregnancy and took care of me -- one night he brought me five boxes of Lucky Charms home from the grocery store (this is true -- not that I would lie in a journal -- that would be lying to myself -- not that I don't occasionally lie to myself -- but I'd have no real reason to in this journal).
9. He makes sacrifices for me and doesn't remind me of it later (I wish I'd made a more specific note of this, but I imagine he would remind of how he did move to Macon, Georgia so that I could go to law school -- and we lived half an hour from Home Depot -- that was definitely a sacrifice).
8. Monty Python is always funnier when he's doing it -- "He's not dead. He's resting. He's stunned. He's pining for the fjords."
7. He loves his mother.
6. He likes 100% cotton, 200 thread count sheets. (I didn't even know such things existed until we got married).
5. He can tell a joke with a straight face. (Sometimes I have to laugh really loud so that everyone else in the group will know it was a joke).
4. He hugs me more than he used to.
3. He fixes things.
2. He makes dinner. (Okay, this one just makes me laugh now -- you'd never know he's the one who taught me how to cook).
1. (And the number one reason I loved my husband at some point between 1996 and 2003 was . . .) If I ask him to, he will tell me the whole plot, complete with dialogue and scenery, of a sitcom I missed. (As I recall, he was really really good at re-enacting Friends episodes).

But I have a new reason to love him. On the way home from dinner Saturday, we were talking about the Coffeehouse service at church where Joe, as you recall, plays the drums. He was asking me if I'd heard him playing some drummy-thing he did during one of the songs and me, being extremely drum-lingo literate, said of course I did and he was freakingfantastic. Then he said, "I was drag triplet queen in high school." And after he realized what he'd said, he started laughing so hard I thought he was going to cry.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Too Many Words for a Wednesday

Since moving from Idaho several years ago, I had forgotten some things about the effect cold weather can have on a person. For example, cold weather makes you shock yourself on car doors, handles on doors going into buildings, and your two year old's fingers (much to their amazement -- where did mommy get these new superpowers?). Cold weather also makes your skin very dry, so that your normal moisturizer just doesn't cut it and you have to break out the Mary Kay Super Duper Hydrating Night Cream as your everyday moisturizer. And let's not forget what a lack of moisture can do to the inside of your nose -- (I'm trying very hard not to use the word booger in this blog post but am finding it difficult to do) -- cold weather causes a severe lack of moisture in your nose that can petrify your normal mucous secretions into painful pointy rocks. And that's all I'll say about that -- but it keeps your kids forever digging around in their noses trying to get them out.

And lastly, the cold weather can make your kid cough to the point that he wakes himself up one hour after he's been put to bed -- and he coughs and coughs and coughs until he projectile vomits whatever chocolate treat Grandma had given him at dinner all over you and all over his room so that dad has to come in and clean up the vomit while you try to convince your kid to take a drink of water so he'll stop coughing and there's no Delsym in the house but could you even give him Delsym if he just had Claritin an hour and a half earlier and you still need to go to Wal-Mart to buy the food your other kid's first grade class needs for Team Day tomorrow morning and it's already 10:30 and you're not really keen on going by yourself to Wal-Mart at night so you were going to make your husband go with you but now someone in addition to Grandma who is already asleep has to stay with the coughing two year old in case he starts vomiting again so your husband will have to go it alone at Wal-Mart and should you even ask him to get Delsym or would the Dimetapp that you just gave the two year old in addition to the Claritin have some sort of nasty reaction with the Delsym and create a purplish-orange projectile vomiting nightmare?

I'm done with cold weather.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Gold Medal Aspirations

Casey is mourning the closing of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. During the Games, he was particularly drawn to the speed skating events and is now trying to figure out how he can become a speed skating gold medal champion while living in Tampa, Florida. He's already asked me if he could move to Minnesota for training and live in a dormitory like the Chinese athletes.

Flamingo Joe brought home some in-line skates on Sunday that someone from the church had thrown in with the Relay for Life stuff (along with a few other choice items on which he exercised first dibs and went ahead and wrote his check -- Mace is now the proud owner of a lovely neon green makeup bag that he insisted on taking to school with him today -- Flamingo Joe keeps trying to tell us it's a lunch box, but lunch boxes don't have mirrors glued inside).

Even though the skates are size 8s and Casey is a size 1 (or he may be a size 3 by now -- all I know is that the last pair of shoes I bought him were a size 1), Casey saw his gold-medal opportunity and seized it. For the past two days, he has spent no less than 6 hours on those skates. Here he is in starting position:

No -- he did not just land a graceful triple lutz (why would you even say that?)-- he just has a very dramatic starting position. He worked all afternoon on proper skating form -- in fact, he was so focused on commencing his training that he forgot to wear pants and was skating around on the front porch in his underwear. I finally had to make him put on pants for the pictures and video so that he could review his technique with his coaches and staff later in the week (you can thank me later). So here he is zooming up and down the porch (watch carefully now or you may miss him flying by in your screen):

Given that he basically just scooted himself across the floor on his behind yesterday while wearing the skates, I think we're making great progress. Watch for him in 2014. He'll be the one with no pants.