Christmas, Five years, and so much more.

It's strange that Christmas was a few days ago. You wouldn't know it to look at our house but for the dramatic increase in toys and a bowl of candy canes and Christmas cards taped up. Usually I leave everything up for DAYS because I just can't let go of Christmas. This year everything came down on the 27th. I feel cleansed and purged. I think moving into our house in the middle of December, combined with a baby coming very soon really got me motivated to get things going.

We are thirty six weeks and one day along. My OB said she may induce early since Johnny was such a large baby and your 2nd is larger. Hmm, not sure how I feel about that. I like large babies (8#, 11 oz is not THAT big) , would love to actually go into labor and things arent' ready yet! We haven't even got the crib and there is so much to do with the house. On the other hand, my body is tired of pregnancy and I am surely looking forward to crunchy shrimp rolls and a mint mojito (if anyone wants to bring these items to the hospital after delivery, feel free!). Of course, we can't wait to meet Aubrey!

We did have a marvelous Christmas, though. Saturday was spent in Soso, MS with my Dad's family--lot's of cousins, heaps of food and good times. Sunday was church and my folks came out for lunch. Christmas Eve, we lounged, wrapped last-minute gifts and went to "Christmas Eve in the Country" at Hopewell Pres. Johnny sat though the whole service and did very well. He did say baby out loud a few times (appropriate for Christmas), and belched. He also sang, which is his new thing. I figured the folks from Mt. Olive and Hopewell could handle a bit of noise in exchange for us handling the noise and excitement of their kids every Sunday night! It was a communion service which was wonderful, because for some reason or another, we haven't been at church when communion was served since Easter. It was very, very good.

We trekked to Mrs. Dorothy's house after church and spent the night with her, Daddy Morris and Sonny--so fun! Tuan and Sonny played Lord of the Rings Risk until 4 am. We got up early and had Christmas with them, ate breakfast and headed to Mt. Olive for Christmas with my family at my sister's. We've had a baby boom in my family and it was fun with four grandkids, my brother, Uncle, Granny, and parents. We ate a lot and opened gifts. Johnny gradually got into the whole gift opening thing and by the next morning (our family Christmas) he was a pro.

Tuan and I decided to establish our family tradition of celebrating Christmas morning the 26th. It spreads things out a bit and means we don't have to rush around or miss out on time with extended family. We cook a cholesterol laden, sugar topped breakfast and open our stockings and gifts. It was really fun. Having a child just changes your life and while it's not always easy, it just adds so much more fun and joy to life! I am thankful for Johnny, for Tuan and for this forthcoming little one (finally, dolls in the house!)

So, here we are. I'm trying to get things done so our house is somewhat finished, while also struggling with what things are necessities and are not. Is it wrong for me to want curtains when we have blinds? How can I justify buying fabric to make curtains when some people can barely feed their children? I confess, I feel guiltily blessed when I see my sweet Johnny in his clean, new pajamas, going to sleep in a safe, warm bed, knowing that not every mother has that luxury. Oh, I am so grateful for God's blessings--I only wish everyone had them. With this Christmas season, the longing for Jesus to come back grows. Wrong will be made right when Aslan comes in sight . . . Come, Lord Jesus!


christmas letter

“Oh, Mr. Bennett, God has been very good to us.”
“Yes, so it would seem.”
Pride and Prejudice

Dear Family and Friends,

It has been a blur of a year! I feel as though I just wrote last year’s letter and now we are at Christmas time again. A decided advantage to aging is that due to time’s flying faster, so Christmas comes sooner!

We have had a good, uneventful year; despite that, this is going to be a long letter, so prepare to dig in and read or feel free to skim!

Winter and spring consisted of slow daily living with an Easter trip to visit my parents, who live outside of Destin, Florida. Tuan finished his second year at Twin Lakes and continues to love his job as Hosting Director. It has been neat to see how God has grown him through his daily work. Tuan has felt especially blessed this year by the quality of his staff and their service--many thanks to the fabulous Twin Lakes hosting staff!

Johnny turned one in May and we had a fun “sock-monkey” theme party with lots of family, friends and honorary family in attendance. He started walking right around that time and hasn’t stopped since!

Although, I am mostly a housewife and mommy, I still love summer camp, and after last Christmas, I signed on for another summer as the program director for Twin Lakes. I spent a good bit of the spring preparing for this summer’s theme: Noah. It was quite a challenge to figure out how to present Noah’s story over five days and how to build an ark at Twin Lakes. Noah had 120 years and lots of resources. We had a week and a tight budget, but God truly blessed the program this summer and children came to Christ through it. This was my third summer in this capacity and my seventeenth in camping. What a joy it is to get to work at a job I love so much and have Tuan and Johnny so close by! Johnny especially enjoyed camp this summer: he liked to watch the campers sing and would clap along with them. He also thought the lake was fun. Sitting in his float, he’d laugh at the campers and staff playing on the water trampoline.

The second week of camp, I felt sick and exhausted--lo and behold, we found out that I didn’t have a strange tropical disease but instead, we were expecting number two! Suffice it to say, we were pleased and excited.

Tuan and two close friends spent a week during camp backpacking in North Carolina. He slept on top of a waterfall and enjoyed 40 degree temperatures in the middle of summer; to quote Tuan: “can it get any better than that?” At the end of his trip, I was given several unexpected days off and Johnny and I met Tuan on his way back and enjoyed some time with friends in North Carolina and on our own in Atlanta. We were truly innocents abroad--particularly when it came to navigating the MARTA, but once we figured out how to purchase tickets, we navigated the downtown area like natives and had lots of fun at museums and the famed Varsity drive-in. Johnny had a lot of fun at the Georgia Aquarium--he loves fish! It was a blessed break from camp and we returned truly refreshed.

Once camp ended for me, Tuan’s busy season kicked in. Twin Lakes hosts many, many groups between the time our camps end and Labor Day. This summer’s busyness was compounded with readying our house for renovation. We live in the original caretaker’s cottage at Twin Lakes which dates back to before, well, Twin Lakes! It has a lot of character, but character can only go so far with no laundry, one bedroom, one baby and another on the way! After much prayer, God provided the means for our house to be renovated and enlarged. In August we moved into one of the guest lodges since our house would be uninhabitable during renovation It’s been exciting to see the house progress and we are so very excited about moving back into our home and getting settled before the baby comes.

By the way, the “baby” is a girl. Aubrey Sue La is due on February 1st, 2008. Judging by the ferocity of her kicks, I think she may not be as much like Tuan as Johnny is. In fact, I fear another strong-willed little version of me is on the way! Johnny has learned to say “baby” and says it all the time. Sometimes he points to my belly and other times to his. His pronunciation is more like “be-be” which I love to hear. He’s developed quite a vocabulary and it is so fun to hear him talk. In a few days he will turn nineteen months and every day with him is a blessing. Some of his favorite things include talking on the telephone with his “Nana,” playing with his animals and going on golf cart rides. He is excited about the trappings of Christmas this year--the Christmas lights and giant inflatables at Wal-mart are a very big deal to him, which makes the season even more fun for us!

As I reflect on this year, I am grateful for the uneventful, common life we’ve enjoyed. We are deeply satisfied in marriage and family and vocation and could ask for little more. Tuan and I are especially grateful for the grace that God has given us as individuals and in our marriage---grace so underserved and yet so plenty! I think of the proclamation of the Angels to the shepherds in Luke 2:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men, on whom his favor rests.”

By Jesus’ coming so long ago, by his death and resurrection, true peace--peace between God and us!--is possible. I wish for you, friends and family to know that peace and joy that comes through trusting in Jesus. I am reminded of verses from two of our favorite hymns:

Let us wonder; grace and justice join and point to mercy’s store;
when through grace in Christ our trust is, justice smiles and asks no more:
He who washed us with his blood has secured our way to God!

Comfort, comfort ye my people, speak ye peace, thus saith our God:
Comfort those who sit in darkness, mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load.
Speak ye to Jerusalem of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover and her warfare now is over. .

Grace and peace to you all this Christmas!

Tuan, Paula and Johnny


tyranny and mortal stars

Tuan and I try to have family worship together. The key word is "try" because we're not terribly consistent. We love to sing, so we'll often sit with the beloved red Trinity Hymnal and go to it. I grew up in a church that sang LOTS of great old hymns and Tuan is always willing to try. It can be funny at times because I'll randomly begin singing how I think it should be sung, or the "old words" (like thees, thous, etc) or we both end up off-key, or sometimes Tuan will just sing the wrong words. Tonight, we were singing "Angels from the Realms of Glory" and instead of the line, "ye beheld his natal star," Tuan inserted the word "mortal." The idea of a mortal star just got me giggling which led my thoughts to another instance of misplaced words. Consequently, I laughed every time we got to that portion of the tune and Tuan had to sing solo while I giggled.

The "mortal star" mistake took me back to an RUF Christmas party some years ago. I volunteered to type up a song sheet so we could all sing Christmas carols together. "O come, O come, Emmanuel" is laborious to sing a capella, but we were all gamely trying to keep the tempo, when a terrible mistake was realized.

Instead of:

O come thou Rod of Jesse, free thine own from Satan's tyranny

I had typed:

O come thou Rod of Jesse, free thine own from Stan's tyranny

I think the song went to pot at that point. A tyrannical person named Stan just doesn't inspire the same longing for freedom as satan's.



Oh, happy day. We are in our house for the first time tonight! We've been moving since Wednesday and the past two days have been especially long, but we are just so glad to be home. The house is really a joy and blessing. The space is just right and it is incredible to have a room for Johnny and not just a closet! A lot remains to be done, but thank God my mom is here. She is such doer and project person and she's been working non-stop, too, which keeps me motivated. We are currently getting things out of the lodge and cleaning it. Hopefully that will be done tommorrow--good bye old lodge! Then, we just have lots of settling in things to do, and there are a few big items that remain: some lighting,the washer/dryer, closet rods/shelves (shelves? in a closet?) just putting accessories out and finding bookcases.
The Northpark mall commercial keeps coming on reminding me of how few days I have until Christmas! It's scary, because we've been so busy with other things and then delayed with the house that I feel as if Christmas were slipping away so quickly. I will post pictures on, soon of the house and also our Christmas letter for those who aren't getting it snail mail. Thanks for all of your prayers for us. Good night!



We have been in the lodge for three months. Three months of uncertainty, unsettledness, dark paneling and stairs. I am homesick, homesick, homesick, but ever so grateful for the larger Lake house that will someday be re-occupied by us! I cleaned the lodge and hung some curtains and brought a lot of lamps over when we moved, but my mantra has been: "this is not our home, this is not our home--do not settle in." It's a nice metaphor for the Christian life, but in real-life it is frustrating for the domestically inclined. I've been trying to occupy this time in sewing, planning for the house and tackling other projects. I made a slipcover for our couch which I am very proud of and have purchased fabric for curtains, but can't quite decide what style to make them. Anyway, I am aching to be back in our house, and with all of our combined families coming for Thanksgiving I really want to be out of the Lodge--please say a prayer for us in this matter--that our house will be done sufficiently before Thankgiving and that if it is not, I would rest in God's sovereignty!
We found out last month that we are having a girl! Aubrey Sue will be the name and she is due around Feb 1. I am looking forward to her arrival as it will not only bring a precious baby girl, but the ability to sleep on my back, eat real sushi and consume adult beverages once more! She and Johnny will be sharing a nursery and I am anxious to see how that will work out. Johnny is at such a good age right now. He is growing self-sufficient and has such a good disposition. He is fairly obedient and still naps twice-a-day. I hope that lasts with the baby's birth! I can't believe what a blessing he is and Tuan is such an incredible Father.
I think of a thousand things to blog about over the course of a week, and internet time is so scarce. Until we are moved back in and have access at home, I'll continue to be intermittent. Thanks to all of you who read this and pray for us!


catching up

It's been an eon since I last blogged. We've been out of our house and without wireless internet, so any internet time I get is at Tuan's office in very brief snatches. It's aggravating, but a small price to pay for the extra space that is coming at us. We've been living in another lodge on the property for about four weeks. Having four bedrooms and a laundry just feet away has been so incredible. i think the lodge could probably hold all the places we've lived since we were married--so fun. The downside is that the lodge is all wood and very dark at night. I have lamps everywhere, but am definitely looking forward to having white walls again! The renovation is going well. The new living room is framed and sheathed, and the kitchen/porch should be next. I am thankful that God is providing us with this much needed space, especially because . . .
La no. 2 is on the way! I'm sure most of you who read this blog know already, but I'll say it anyway! I'm 19 weeks along and due January 30th. Tuan and I were wanting to have another baby and are very excited. The hardest part was that I found out I was pregnant during overnight two of camp (I was about six weeks along, then). I felt really awful one Thursday and took a test (positive). Once the camp doctor checked me out and ruled out any other illnesses, I reckoned that I had the first trimester woes. :) I don't get morning sickness when pregnant, but I do get very, very tired--and a whole four weeks of camp remained, plus I couldn't/wouldn't tell hardly anyone before I had seen my OB and was 12 weeks. I honestly wondered if I could make it, but God was very gracious in helping me get through those weeks (particularly Fridays--Scott can attest to how hard Fridays were!). I was also very grumpy and irritable--not a good camp attitude, there. I am thankful for his grace this summer and excited about our forthcoming La--pray the house is done well before the baby comes!
Tuan and I are finally on vacation! My parents live outside of Destin and we are down here for the whole week--so fun. My four year old nephew came with us as well and he and Johnny are quite a pair! We took them to the beach and to this really fun playground. Tuan and I have eaten at Moe's twice already (sad day in Jxn when they closed) and are glad for a glorious five days of vacation remaining. It's good to be away from TL.
We did have an incident this morning, though. Tuan and I were going to go to some thrift store and realized that my phone and wallet were missing from the car (along with his Mp3 player and some CDS). Apparently there was a rash of these sort of thefts last night. Grr. . . Lots of pertinent things were in my wallet, and we immediately called all the proper bureas and companies and banks. It made me especially mad b/c I had a huge spa gift card in my wallet that I was hoarding until I could get an appt and baby-sitter. Thankfully, we had our computer and camera in the house. They are loaded with precious pictures that I don't want to lose! A Deputy Sheriff came and we had to file reports and swear things and make lists. I surely hope the guy gets caught.
I should like to "kick him in the nads" as Tuan says. He will be witnessed to, however, because he stole a bunch of indelible grace CDs. He also will be greatly disapointed by the contents of the Mp3 player as it contained an audio version of Treasure Island and a short story by Isaac Asimov! The thief apparently did not need a car seat, booster seat, size 11 chacos, or pricey raingear. Nor did he lust for Jan Karon and Clive Cussler books or a biography on Paul. He also apparently can recognize costume jewelry, because he left my bling sno-flake ring and doesn't have chapped lips because my chapstick was left. Odd thief. I still want to kick him in the nads.
Momma is convinced I am stressed out over this. My 13 year old brother tried to persuade me that even though I say I am not stressed out, "in times like this you are even though you don't realize it." He is an old soul. This is what happens when people have children at an older age, when their first two are older.
I am actually very thankful. We were not in danger, Johnny was never threatened, nothing super valuable was taken that will have to be replaced and I think we were able to curtail the damage to our accounts in time. I do ask that you all pray that my identity is not exploited and that this person is held accountable.
That's life for us in a nutshell right now. I feel very pregnant suddenly and just want to waddle and wear a mu-mu. I'm going to get off now, having updated in a not-so-timely fashion and enjoy my vacation!


I bet you think this post is about you.

Isn't it funny how out-of-the-blue things come into your life in spurts, and then disapear?

The Carly Simon song, "You're so Vain" keeps popping up in my life! I don't think I've ever actually heard her sing it. I only know it because Liv Taylor did a banjo version of it on his great hit, "Songs that Should Never be Played on the Banjo." Anyway, it's popped up on the 'net, in conversations and I picked up a CD the other day that had it. Perhaps God is trying to tell me something?

Yesterday, Johnny was being a "poisonous viper in a covenant diaper." In short, he was an especially sinful little covenant
child. I said something about, "O, he's just full of sin like the rest of us." My Aunt replied, "naahh." I wish I'd pursued the conversation, but it ended there. Later, it lead me to think through the concepts of original sin and how the idea that a baby being a sinner (and the full implications of that) could be a terrifying thought depending on your presuppositions. I believe that the Bible teaches that I am no more capable than a baby of willingly turning and believing in God. Salvation comes entirely from Him. Surely, if God can change my wicked heart and draw me to him, he can do that with a baby!

I was writing all of this not to spark a debate about infants and salvation, but because ultimately, I was reflecting on how our presuppositions affect our entire outlook on the world. Lord-willing, the Bible is at the root of what I believe and I think that affects my political views, too. Take for instance the whole idea of poverty and wealth. It seems liberals want everyone to be comfortable and get an education, but God forbid they should make too much money with that education! Granted, I want to be comfortable and I definitely have "caviar taste on a beer budget," but ultimately, whether rich or poor, I know that I deserve none of my blessings! I also know where my treasure lies.

It also makes me think that totally free enterprise doesn't produce humane results. There have to be laws to ensure that employees are treated fairly, because man is sinful and without guidelines will ultimately do what is most profitable for him, and not his neighbor. Along this same vein of the sinful nature, I am convinced that world peace is impossible. Even if the whole world were converted, until Jesus comes back there will be no peace between man and man. Not even in his church (as we have daily proof).

I'm sure this is full of error and fawlty logic, but these are the thoughts of a flawed human being! Let me know what you think, reader.


Fail-safe cookies.

The other day when three of our church kids were over here, Abby decided she wanted to make cookies. Abby didn't like chocolate or oatmeal (my standbys) and we had pretty limited ingredients on hand. Voila! It was time for "Paula's Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies." That's what the recipe in the Collins Pres Cookbook is titled. They were a favorite from childhood, are absolutely easy and fail-safe, and, they contain NO FLOUR! I know some folks can't have gluten, etc . . . So these are a good thing for them. Organic, all natural PB works just as well as cheapo GV PB. Tuan, the kids and myself devoured them! Here's the "receit."

Paula's Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Mix and drop by spoonfuls onto a greased or non-stick cookie sheet. Flatten cookie and bake for 10-13 minutes in a 350 oven. They don't brown, but do make sure they don't overcook and dry out. I cooked mine a little over 15 minutes because I was too impatient to preheat. : )


Inspired by Caroline, I made a Simpson's avatar of Tuan. Wouldn't it be fun to do all of the TL staff?

These past few weeks, I've been resting, cleaning and especially mothering. I was briefly sad when camp ended, but having a change of pace for seven weeks made coming back to everyday life so sweet. It has been wonderful to play with Johnny, read books whenever he wants, play "piggies" with his toes and go to the pool without having to worry about camp duties! Even the first grocery run to wal-mart was fun. I was thinking to myself: "I am at wal-mart and am not looking for fifteen cases of gatorade, ten containers of tennis balls and a ph test kit for aquariums--I only have to buy milk and eggs--this is great!"

We move out of our house on August 15 and into the lodge--that's when renovations begin on our house. I've designed the kitchen and am so excited about it! Imagine, having a kitchen just how you want it to be! I feel very blessed. I began packing the other day (we have a lot to store) and am trying to leave out essentials. All of our glassware got packed, with the exception of a few mugs and some asstd plastic cups. Yesterday, out of desperation, I drank milk from a coffee mug. This was a huge moment for me. I NEVER drink milk from a non-transparent glass container, nor do I drink anything but hot beverages from a mug. That's one of those things that personally disgust me to the core. The glass thing is due to paranoia about the cup being dirty and me not realizing it until I drain the last drop. That happened at a friend's house once. They were scrupulously clean people but the cup had some dishwasher residue in it and, well . . . there you go. As for the mugs--I really dislike mugs (even ones that match my dishware).

We had kids from our church out yesterday for a before school bash (john, abby and camille for those of you who know them). Mrs. D. kept Johnny in the morning and I took them swimming in the pool and the lake. It was really fun to have them. I laughed a lot and enjoyed having a chance to play with older kids. We also went for a golf-cart ride and they played Uno and canoed with "Mr. Tuan."

Johnny stayed with my Mom and brother last night (they are up at Melissa's) and I was planning to sleep in--wouldn't ya know, I woke up at 7:30? There are some things I've been wanting to do that aren't so easy with Johnny, so today I'm going to go to the library, run errands and maybe even brave the Hudson's on Terry Road (scary).

Where does dispensational housekeeping fit into this? Well, I've been a little lax about wiping down my cupboards and mopping my floor lately. I mean, they are about to be torn out and destroyed, right? I was telling Zack Owens about this new philosphy and he compared me to a dispensationalist who doesn't worry about social justice/work because Jesus is coming back really soon. (something like that) So, for another 13 days, that's just what I'll be: a dispensationalist housekeeper.


Riding the Wave

Wow. Two more days until all of the Summer Stafff arrive. I can't believe it's almost here. We've had sort of a pre-training week this week as the horseback staff, some ropes folks, and some R/A people have been here, along with Scott and sundry others. I came into the week tired, but today I feel (physically) like camp has just ended. That's not good! I was doing pretty well, until a terrible allergy attack, followed by medicine that knocked me down and then kept me up all night before falling into something resembilng sleep around sunrise. I am so thankful Mrs. Dorothy had stayed the night with us. She kept Johnny while I tried to nap and fulfilled a few obligations. I'm taking Sudafed which dopes me up almost as much as zyrtec, but without it my nose would be running like an elf (unlike the dwarf-like runny nose which is a natural sprinter and only lasts a short while--see, I told you I was drugged up). So anyway, here I lie, with a dirty house, program to run, laundry to wash, cookies to bake and two days left. : ) Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise as I am physically resting, if nothing else.
This will probably be my last post for a while, so I wanted to share a few prayer requests with readers and lurkers, alike. It used to irk me when folks would share "unspoken" requests, but I actually have two that I can't detail except for this:

1. Pray for a situation with two friends. Pray for wisdom, sanctification and healing.
2. Pray for me about a situation. It's relational.
3. Pray for our church. There are several things going on under the surface and it seems that any little thing is about to just make things explode.
4. Pray for camp in general, but specifically for me: that I would not neglect my primary responsibilities/joys (Tuan and Johnny), that I would be wise in decision making, that I would really get to know the staff and that I would truly minister to campers and staff this summer. (with my job, it is easy to just view staff/campers as a mass that you move around in order to accomplish the task)

Thanks for all your prayers!

The allergy attack yesterday was begun by something indoors, but then I went horseback riding and that really got it going! I don't regret the ride at all, because some very good things happend for me personally. Several years ago, right before camp, I was riding with some staff and we were galloping down the levee. It was exhilarating, but then I realized my saddle was loose and I was leaning far to the right. Having heard some stories of previous staff who had stayed in the saddle and ended up under the horse due to a loose saddle, and not feeling confident of stopping in time, I decided to jump off. I ended up in horrible pain and had to ride in the ambulance to the hospital.
I've ridden many times since then, and it's been fun, but approaching even a canter has been nerve wracking (especially in open spaces). On yesterday's ride, however, everything changed. I had a good, obedient horse (gandy), for one and we ended up leading some on Twin Lakes road. Trotting in the lead, then slipping into a canter (although only for a few seconds) and being able to slow down because I said so (not because the other horses were) was a huge help. Finally, we reached the levee. Ashleigh, who is such a good friend to me, suggested that I canter on the levee. (Talk about recreating the scene--scary) It was now or never. I agreed and (leading, again) let Gandy go.
Now, for an experienced horseperson, all this was nothing, but for me it was huge. I made it down the levee trotting and cantering (Ash says we galloped a bit, but I think she was just being nice) and passing the spot, I almost cried. How incredibly freeing it was to do that and I absolutely cannot wait to ride again and do some more.
Sonny, Ry and some others raced on the levee and down Twin Lakes road--talk about a beautful sight. Ry, especially, since he was riding Boo bareback.
So that's enough for now, please, please be praying for us!



Gulp. There are forty-two odd days until staff training begins. I have so much to do before then it's not even funny. Noah is our theme this summer and we are turning the TL barn into an ark. One (only one) part of my job is filling this ark with non-live animals (Matthew is taking care of the live ones, thank goodness). Tonight, I drove through the barn and kind of realized how big it is. I mean, it's huge! I hope that Scott, and the support staff are ready for what lies ahead! Please, please, keep me in your prayers. Program is a lot of thinking and planning, teaching and then executing and that has to take second place to Tuan and Johnny. Somewhere behind that is housework, etc . . . although not pre-eminently important (to me, at least)--it surely makes life nicer. There's a lot to balance. Someone was trying to get me to take on a separate project and I just had to say, "sorry, I'm swamped." It's hard to say no, when you want to seem like you've got it all together, but necessary.

So, I ask for your prayers. Please pray that I would place a high priority on prayer and seek God before I tackle these projects! Please pray that God would give a lot of grace between Tuan and myself as he is about to enter a SUPER busy season. Please pray that I would be a good mother to Johnny and that he would thrive during camp. Please pray that the staff would just embrace Noah and get the gospel message that is in it. Please also pray that the gospel would be taught/seen through all this stuff and that I would place a higher priority on that than program perfection.

It's amazing that Johnny will be eleven months tommorrow! Wow. Anna V. had her b-day party today (she's two!) and it just seems like yesterday that I was at her one year old party. Johnny is changing so much and every day is more and more fun. He has learned to say star and to point to my nose. He is also trying to walk. Wow.

Today, after the party, Johnny went down for a nap and I had intended to do some more housework (should have been doing program!), but all of a sudden I was possessed by the urgent desire to paint. "PAINT!" said my inner voice, and I frantically ran to and fro, gathering supplies and searching for a subject to satisfy the urge to "PAINT!" I found a photo of Johnny at the beach with my aunt in the background taking his picture. As I've written before, I never took painting in college and am trying to learn how to now. Today, I was very methodical (but loose, Caroline). First, I used a grid to get my proportions right and to do a pencil sketch. I wanted to focus on value, so I worked from a black and white photo. The first layer of paint, I blocked in light/dark and forms, using colour. Then, I worked on background to foreground and then began to zero in on applying colour to my subjects. As a result, the painting is very vivd and high contrast. I'm really happy with the way it is going and plan to post pictures of it on Monday after I finish it. When I took "drawing two" we did everything in pastels (which I loved) and my teacher forbade the use of black. (this, I believe is a wise thing--except in graphic design--but even now I have an aversion to using black type, I usually go with 90% or less). I love getting dark-darks and shadows out of colour combinations (particularly red/green). It irks me when people use black to do shadows.

Aren't I silly? Anyway, it was a blessed afternoon. Johnny slept long and hard and then played well while I finished up. I was able to paint for about 3-4 hours straight. Tonight, after supper, I was able to work on program, while Tuan cared for Johnny.

Oh, and in between all this, I'm reading Jane Eyre again (it's been years--and I don't remember much about it). Personally, I don't care for her as a character. She rather annoys me. I'll write more about this later when I finish the book.

Lastly, happy birthday to my dad!! He's fifty (but still cool). Dad, I thought about you all day. Hope you had a good one.


Buterflies, Pirate Patches and other La Happenings

I have recently been informed by several people that they read my blog, but don't comment. Hmm . . . I have to confess that there are some blogs I read, but don't comment on either--but, anyway, I'm glad someone's reading it!

I saw a t-shirt today. It had butterfly shapes filled with patriotic patterns. The caption on the shirt read:
Butterflies . . . . An American Tradition.

HUH? It goes without saying that that didn't make much sense.

So, anyway, we've had a crazy week and a half here in La-land. A group of ladies and myself at church stealthily re-wallpapered our church nursery and painted all the furniture black. : ) The combination of wall-paper dust, pollen and general fatigue from the previous weeks just knocked me down cold with allergies and a sinus infection. Johnny had been a bit sniffly and then Tuan came down with it. Ugh. To top it off, we had our leadership meeting for camp and a kid's program at church that weekend. I spent all of last week taking care of Johnny and sleeping when he slept. Tuan was wonderful about the lack of deep housecleaning that went on and encouraged me to rest. Things were still a bit sniffly but starting to get better when on Friday, Johnny whacked me in the eye (not the eyelid, the eye). My vision was a bit blurry, and the sun seemed glaringly bright all day and when the evening came, my eyes were so tired and hurting that bedtime was a relief.

Saturday, however, I woke up and couldn't open my eye. It hurt to even open the good one, because the light would make both eyes dilate, and as Clint Wilcke says, "that's bad." We truly thank God that Miss Dorothy was able to come up at a moment's notice to watch Johnny (literally, I couldn't) and that Craven and Bassett were able to host. We went to MEA (I was actually wearing a sleeping mask at that point, to control the pain/dilation, which probably looked suspicious to folks we passed on the road). The doctor found that Johnny had just very thoroughly scratched my eye and put a patch on it. The rest of Saturday was spent asleep, blissfully doped up with pain meds and antihistamine. Sunday, it got better little by little and today I've been able to keep my eyes open, although my vision is blurry, very blurry. A man drove by on a golfcart not ten feet away and I honestly couldn't tell whether it was Matt or Andrew--and that's bad.

Things are better, Johnny and Tuan are well, I'm getting over the crud (thanks to antibiotics that the sympathetic doctor gave me) and Tuan has a few days off coming up. Oh, and the rain has washed away the pollen!! Also, the medicine amped up my obsessive compulsiveness so I got our new kitchen designed in my head when I wasn't sleeping.

Johnny is at this stage where he learns something new every day. He's been working on Dada and saying other words. The other night, Johnny saw the stars for the first time, today, he learned to wave! That's big, folks. He's also been testing his boundaries--my parents can tell you where that hard-headedness comes from--and trying to walk. Johnny's most recent obession has been socks, but they may be soon passed by for plastic easter eggs--the perfect cheap baby toy--88c for 12.

I'd love to wrap this up with a wonderful closing paragraph, but frankly, I'm just not inspired. I hope everyone is doing well!


conspicuous consumption

It's hard not to feel biased against greeks (the college variety, not the actual Greek people). I'm not sure why I feel this was as I know a lot of wonderful folks in sororities--people I truly adore. But after a day of shopping down here in Florida, amongst greek spring-breakers (ole miss, state and gt were some of them), I felt a glimmer of smirky satisfaction as we where whisked ahead of them to our table at the Red Bar. It pays for your dad to be a local. I went into the bathroom at the red bar and this girl had the contents of her purse scattered across the vanity and was cleaning it--"my id is ruined!" she was bemoaning. It came out like, "Maa, eye-dee ius ruwened." Funny.
If anyone who is in a sororoty/fraternity reads this, I'd really like your opinion about it all.

My dad is a contractor down here and works on some amazing projects. One of his condos was in Coastal Living last summer. This morning, he called us to see a condo he was finishing up. Wow. There is a couple from Birmingham whose condo (but I should say "condos" for they have several--all on the same floor). Anyway, they have a suite of condos that dad has been working on and today the designer was putting in the furniture and accessories--I mean, everything was brand new. Walking into the units was like walking into a coastal version of the Pottery Barn catalog. Sigh. I loved it. It also inspired me to re-decorate.

The couple that owns the condo are very well-off (although very nice folks) and sent TONS of furniture that was in the condo to mom and dad's house. Mom and I were so excited when we heard that two trailer-loads of furniture were coming. The crazy thing was that most of it was hardly used, but the designer didn't want to use it. So we're picking through furniture right now. I have no room for anything, and most of it doesn't fit in with the Pottery Barn goes to the Beach look, but it is beautiful and I am trying to figure out how to work two armchairs and an armoire into the addition. Anyone out there need furniture?

Coming to Florida just fuels my inner decorating fire. I get all excited and anxious to paint and slipcover everything. While our house is being worked on, we'll be in Milner lodge and I plan to learn how to slipcover then--I bought fabric for our couch.

But anyway, conspicuous consumption . . . . There's a lot of consumption down here. Granny asked, as we were driving through watercolor and seaside today--do people live here? I think she is amazed that folks have these houses and don't live in them. I'm glad they own all these second homes as it gives my dad a job, but it is amazing at how much money is poured into everything down here and how disposable stuff is--just go to the thrift stores and you'll see pricey furniture discarded because it's gone out of style. There's nothing wrong with having a vacation house. I'd love to myself, but I often wonder how many of these folks who have half million or more dollar second homes tithe or give even close to that amount to missions? Are they (who profess to be believers--and a lot do) doing the work of the church before satisfying self? When the old things pass how many will have a mansion in heaven? I guess these are "fruit" issues more than salvation things, but it bears thinking. It also prompts me to ask if I, although nowhere near these people in income, but still really blessed, am being a good steward with what I have.


On the road again--watch out for momma bears

We're in the midst of a travel binge. Baton Rouge last weekend, then tommorrow Tuan and I are going to Louisiana with Matt and Andrew to the 3CA (Christian Camping and Conference Association) sectional conference while Johnny goes to Nana's. 3CA sectionals are so fun--it's neat to connect with other people in camping. We return home on Friday, then Tuan leaves for Athens, GA to participate in Wilderness First Responder training. I'll be heading out of town, also, on Sunday evening to Florida. Granny and I are going to go see my folks. Tuan and I have never been apart for so long (eight days!) and I'm already dreading it. Packing up is crazy with Johnny's clothes, paerphanalia and sheets of instructions (yes, I'm a bit thorough with instructions).
I'm learning how deep my love for Johnny is. Today I left his bottle at the house and made it to church with plenty of formula, but no bottle. He was fine until I picked him up from nursery (Tuan was home sick) and started fussing--no wailing--for the bottle. We dashed to the Mt. Olive Dollar General--they had no bottles but I didn't really think I could make it to Magee, so I decided to buy a sippy cup. At that point I was pretty frustrated that the store was out of bottles and more upset that Johnny was hungry and I couldn't do anything about it. I hurried up front and there was a woman waiting to check out and no one at the cash register. In the emotion of the moment I did something I'd probably wanted to do before, but never thought I would. I yelled. Loud. "COULD SOMEBODY PLEASE COME CHECK US OUT!" I belted out before I could stop myself. It got results. I then had to apologize to the poor manager who had no help. But, really, it is a pet peeve of mine when stores have no one at the check-out--I mean, don't they want people to buy their stuff or just steal it?
That wasn't the end of the story, but Johnny ultimately got fed and my motherly anger/guilt were quenched. It's kind of ironic that that whole experience followed a powerful sermon by Andy Berg on sin amongst church-goers and our need of revival. I sort of proved the point with that and other actions. Funny, I was sitting in church thinking, these folks need to hear what Andy is saying, and although I was mentally acknowledging that I did, too, it sank in further after I, the lone person in the dollar general wearing church clothes, went beserk.


Dang Cafe, Dang Quesadilla

We went to Baton Rouge last weekend with Caroline to see Livingston Taylor (brother of James Taylor) perform. He's just incredible. What a gift for performance that man has! Caroline reviewed the concert on her blog here. Many thanks to our generous benefactor who supplied us with tickets.

Going to Baton Rouge with Caroline was especially fun because she got to experience some of the culture of Tuan's Vietnamese Dad/Stepmom and family. They are very hospitable folks who kept Johnny while we were at the concert and then Tuan's dad entertained us a bit on Friday morning. Daddy Khanh took us to eat pho at the Dang Cafe. Hee, hee. That was such a funny name. I'm sure "dang" is a proper name in Vietnam, but it sure got me tickled. We then hopped across the parking lot to the Asian grocery. The Asian groceries in Jackson just don't compare to the wonders to be found at this one. I think Caroline and I could have wandered the aisles for a good while--there is so much to see! I had to content myself with walking through the store at a brisk pace throwing necessities and curiosities into the buggy.

Napoleon Dynamite has forever ruined my pereception of quesadillas. Everytime I make or think of one, I have to think or speak, "make yourself a dang quesadilla." I thought of it today as I whipped up a black bean/chicken and cheese quesadilla for Johnny. "Whoaa," you may say, "a quesadilla for a 9 month old?" I would have thought so, too, but the other night I picked up _What_to_Expect_the _First_Year_ and afterr reading the seven and eight month chapters (which was a little late, since we were already into the ninth month), I discovered the culinary possibilities for feeding Johnny. With the okay for adding whole milk and eggs to Johnny's diet from Dr. Flowers (YES! No more formula!), we have hit the ground running (and chopping into very small chunks). Here are some of the things Johnny eats:

Applesauce with flax seed and wheat germ
Oatmeal with raspberries
Wheat bread spread with strawberry yogurt, sprinkled with flax seed and wheat germ, then rolled up like a cinnamon roll and diced (he loves this one)

Cauliflower/Broccoli soup
Turkey Burgers
Black-eyed peas
Peas, green beans and carrots
Mashed sweet and white potatoes.
Chicken broth

Cheerios by the dozen

Johnny repeatedly rejects bananas. Sigh. I can't blame him. Bananas make me feel funny, too. Those little bananas they sell would have been so convenient. He also isn't very into juice or the sippy cup. But we're working on it. I'm so thankful he's feeding himself that I can handle taking a while on learning to sip. My attention span is not very conducive to spoon feeding every meal, and this new phase of picking up food on his own is wonderful. Johnny is also
off the pacifier. We lost all of them and he never blinked an eye. I think he thinks he's older than he is. Supposedly I was like that too. My hopes for a child with Tuan's disposition may be thrown out the window. :)

Sorry I don't post photos, but I'm impatient with downloading. Tuan has some on his blog. If you click on the photos section, you can see them.


Spiritual Warfare and Thankfulness

There is some real spiritual warfare going on at our church. It's not exactly a boiling fiery mess, but more of a very long-cooking simmering stew. Small church problems are so uniquely different from big church ones. (At least from my perspective) I talked to an older woman about it last night and no. 1 It made me very thankful for my circumstances and 2. It spurred me to pray fervently. I am beginnning to see just how God may use Tuan and myself at our church in the long-run. John Piper once said:

"Until we believe that life is war, we'll never know what prayer is for."

Spiritual warfare is something that I, as a Presbyterian, tend to dismiss or not think of, but it is oh, so real. And the verse about "the sins of the fathers going down to the third and fourth generation" is so very true.
Whenever I get discouraged at Mt. Olive, or just plain tired of driving that far on Sundays and forsaking my beloved Sunday afternoon naps, God either gives us a really great breakthough or a pointed something that persuades us that we belong there. It also keeps me connected to Granny and gives us time with her. There are days when I long for the comfortable bliss and ignorance of being one in several hundred at a large church, but then I think about our church kids and the incredible opportunity we have, well . . . .

I am so thankful for my family--both immediate and extended. We are a messy group of people, but we love each other. I think that we being aware of our "messiness" (to a point) is a good thing. There's no delusion of perfection there.

God, save me from delusions of perfection, so that I would always realize my need of you.
Constantly show me my sins, refine and purify me so that I would be more and more like Jesus.

I am also thankful for Tuan and Johnny. We have a happy, joyful home. When I think of the blessings heaped upon us, it's just amazing. Perfection we lack profoundly, but joy we possess. I love my husband and baby so much.

We've been teaching the kids at our church the Mo Leverett version of "Who is on the Lord's Side?" They LOVE that song. "Let's sing that long song" they are always saying. It's always interesting the songs they really like ("Fruit of The Spirit", "O for a Thousand Tongues", "Come, Christians Join to Sing", "He is Exalted"). When we sing it together, I get very teary-eyed.

Who will stand for justice
in a time of need
Who will hear the poor man
and his children plead
Who will heal the rich man
of his poverty
Who will tell the homeless
of eternity
By Your love and mercy,
and Your grace divine
We are on the Lord's side
We are on the Lord’s side—
Savior, we are Thine!

So, here are the ramblings of Paula La. I have a lot of more trivial and fun things to write about, but this was most pressing on my heart. Please pray for our church.


Valentine Blues

Tommorrow is a dreaded day for most of America. Sonny calls it Singles Awareness Day. Singles dread it because it's a reminder of Singleness, Men fear it because they either forgot about it or don't know what to buy and are aware of the chunk of money about to fall from their pockets. I suspect that even florists, while anticipating the massive profits V-day must bring, shudder at the sheer numbers of bouquets, balloons attatched to stuffed animals and/or coke bottles, etc . . . that must be assembled and delivered. Then there are the restaurant managers who must schedule and manage waitstaff who either hate V-day because they are single and don't want it rubbed in their faces, or are desperately in love and desperately angry that they have to work on V-day.
So who actually likes V-day? Jewelry stores, Victoria's Secret, hot air balloon folks, newlyweds, newly datings, and popular people.
I personally have mixed feelings about. I was thinking about V-day and my own life experiences and wanted to share them with you.

Birth to 9th grade. Life was simple. My sister and I always got a delivery from Southern Florist from my Papaw and Dad--a rose, or a coke/teddy bear with attatched balloon. Fun cards, heart-shaped doilies attatched to pink construction paper, and a box of those conversation hearts from my Granny were satisfying and nice. For sure, Jr. High brought with it some longings for a sweetheart and anticipation of the future, but it wasn't a big deal.

10th-12th Grade. AHH the torment. I was on Yearbook staff which was supervised by the Librarian who supervised the receipt and delivery of HUNDREDS of Valentine gifts during that day. When the local florist is on the Board of Education, these things will not soon be banned. Valentines found me, the eternal singleton, in the Library all day, viewing each and every arrival that every popular, unpopular and attatched person recieved (K-12). I had to see my friends get absurdly expensive bouqets and roses and gifts from boyfriends and secret admirers. I remember desperately wishing that one of the arriving bouquets would be addressed: To: Paula Blackwell, from your Secret Admirer or Boy X (whoever I liked at the time). But alas, Boy X was always dating a friend of mine. The only consolation was coming home and knowing that my Papaw or Dad would have sent me something.

Freshman year. I don't remember much about that V-day except being asked out for a date by this peculiar guy who had been at Jones for a while. I'm not sure if he was an idiot-savant or what but he lived in this reality that was much like a WB show (dawson's creek, Buffy, etc . .). It actually was a compliment because he was always after the "hotties"--you know, the beauty pageant types. I think I told him that I was practicing Biblical courtship and couldn't accept.

Sophomore Year. One of my best friends and I hosted a Valentine party. We spent an entire day making heavy Hors doevres and had a non-alchoholic cocktail bar. It was a lot of fun and full of mishaps (we had to call everyone and tell them to drive around for a while because we were having issues in the kitchen and weren't ready for guests). The best part of the evening was that two of our guy friends brought us rose bouquets. That was the highlight of my life at the time. I'd never gotten flowers from a non family member, and even though it was platonic, it just felt so good to be thought of. I put the accompanying card in my journal and kept the roses until they died.

Junior Year. My crazy roomate and I stayed up all night the night before and I made Valentines for the folks I worked with. I remember something about our Eurpean tennis team neighbors coming in and out of the apartment, inadverdently using racial slurs and offending a guy whose adopted sister was Korean and then getting a call really late from Tuan, asking me to be his Valentine. :) I was laughing so hard from all the chaos in our apartment that I didn't take very seriously what Tuan had asked. (we were still just friends) But, I did walk around all the next day in a Meg-Ryanish sort of way, thinking, "I have a Valentine." It was nice.

Senior Year. Tuan and I were four months into dating and we went to Red Bluff and exchanged Valentine happys. He gave me a vintage Valentine Card he'd ordered off of E-bay and one of his T-shirts. I gave him a mix CD (that poor sonny had to burn) and a card. It was nice and simple.

Married V-day 1. We kept the Wilckes V-day weekend and after wondering why I felt so bad, I came down with Mono and Strep Valentine's evening. Tuan had to eat both our steaks while I laid in the bathtub moaning. Tuan then had to wait on me hand and foot for the next three weeks as I couldn't move without aching. Poor Guy.

Married V-day 2, 3. One year, I just can't remember and another involved Sonic, Ultimate in the rain, a Map of MS backroads and babysitting for my sister.

This year I am in charge of V-day and as it is a surprise for Tuan, it will be a surprise for you, too, dear readers. It's nice to not have to deal with Valentine blues and just enjoy it, but it's definitely not the big deal it always was. I hope all of you, single, married, or otherwise engaged, have a marvelous Valentine's Day.


I'm not sure what it is about our son, but whenever Tuan and I go to ethnic restaurants, he is absolutely adored by the wait staff. A few weeks ago we were at El Ranchito in Richland and our waiter and the hostess hovered over Johnny and even picked him up out of the high chair and passed him around. The same thing happened at Ichiban (which is a GREAT sushi buffet, by the way). Our waitress picked up Johnny (without asking, but it was okay) and carried him around and even took him to the host stand to show him off (she did ask to do that). I don't mind people holding him at all, but I do watch him pretty closely. I've seen too many movies that I'm paranoid Johnny will be whisked into the kitchen and out the back door to a waiting car, sold to rich people who desperately want a baby . . . I have a way too overactive imagination. :) That is why I do not stay the night at our house alone, it is also why Tuan has promised to never ever try to scare me as a practical joke. I just can't handle it.

We are having an Italian night here, I am baking foccacia and we are going to make homemade Alfredo sauce for the first time ever. It's quite exciting.

We also went to the barn to scrounge for manure. I have a flower bed that I built which needs something besides hard clay in it. I'm too cheap to buy soil for a yard that I don't own, so at least yearly we go to the TL barn and return with cartloads. Last fall, when I was three months pregnant I hauled about eleven tubs of seasoned manure to our flower beds and it really has made a difference. I think I nested early on in pregnancy.

Isn't this weather wonderful? We've had the windows open all day and Johnny jumped in his jumper which we hung outside on the porch. He likes the outdoors. Good thing, too because he'll be outside a LOT this summer.


There but for the grace of God go I . . .

I hope that is the right way to say it. I was thinking about how I, with my personality, could go a bit rampantly beserk with my impulses and ideas but for the marvelously, restraining hand God lays upon me. For example, two Sundays ago at church--during the hymn--I glanced behind our pew and saw a young man of sound body and mind with his mouth closed, clamped, zipped! That is one of the greatest pet peeves of mine: men who profess to be believers (and even OFFICERS in the church) who don't sing during worship. I have no sympathy for claims of shyness, inability to sing or this bizarre excuse: "men of that generation don't sing." Especially since God, in his word, tells us to sing to him! As I write this, I am thankful that it is God's business to deal with and not so much mine. In the heat of the moment, I was however, a bit idignant (shouldn't Christians be zealous to see God properly praised?) and had these wild ideas of making a sticker to go on the back of our car and perhaps my guitar case (which floats around the church) and maybe even a few t-shirts or baby onesies that read, "REAL MEN SING DURING WORSHIP" or something like that. I'm not sure how Tuan (or more, importantly God!) would feel about that, but even as I write, I'm once again getting inspred to passively-aggressively prod people with graphic design.

There but for the grace of God go I . . .

Yes, lurking beneath the surface of my already unique self are some odd tendencies and even struggles. One particular struggle that wars within is the result of my mom and dad coming from families that deal very differently with their possessions. In one corner of the ring are the Blackwell's. They are not attatched to stuff. It is easily replaceable--if it breaks, or gets left outside--buy a new one. If you move and the chair is too bulky to fit on the truck, leave it behind and get a new one. Every time my Blackwell grandmother moves, new sheets, comforters, pillows, etc . . . are purchased and her house is always fresh. I love this except . . . another part of me--the Calhoun side which is in the other corner of this "ring" is saying, "no, no, no that is perfectly good don't throw it away, keep it and repair it and store it." See, the Calhouns are possesed by Scottish thrift--NOTHING is thrown away--not pillows, not blankets, not even some trash. If a toaster oven is replaced by a new one and there is the chance that the old one might one day be repairable if a certain part in England is located--keep it.

So, here I am--torn between two extremes. I long for everything to be fresh and clean and smelling good, but I TRULY, TRULY hate waste and feel that if something can be fixed--after all, a penny saved is truly a penny earned. That is why I keep leftovers. The battle came out this week, however, as I began to feel that our bedroom smelled musty. Ignoring the fact that our mattress ( a hand-me-down from the Landrums who let missionaries sleep on it (not that that means anything) and were given it by the Griffith's whom I assume purchased it new, but as far as I can understand when Ben came home from the hospital this mattress was there) is old, I realized that it was probably time for new pillows. They are almost ten years old and have gotten lots of wear. On went the battle:

Blackwell: These pillows are old, they probably have an odour
Calhoun: No, no, but they are Ralph Lauren pillows . . .
Blackwell: Who cares, you shouldn't sleep on stinky pillows
Calhoun: If they smell, you can febreeze them
Blackwell: It won't work, you know. You need new pillows.
Calhoun: Fine, you talked me into it, but keep these pillows and if you ever have a guest bed or when Johnny gets a "big boy" bed he can use them, after all, they _are_ Ralph Lauren pillows . . .
Blackwell: Puh-lease! You paid ten dollars for them at TJ Maxx--they smell and do you really want your guests or SON sleeping on stinky pillows? SEND THEM TO GOODWILL AND LET THE POOR (ER) SLEEP ON THEM.

The Blackwell side won that battle. I ordered a set of four feather pillows from Overstock.com. But you see, dear reader the perilous line I walk daily, struggling between two extremes, as I make domestic decisions.

There but for the grace of God go I. . . .



Wow. I'm meeting with Matt and Andrew some time tommorrow to start talking about program. Usually, I am well into planning, but I didn't decide to do program until after Christmas and "having a baby changes everything." In some ways, I'm not too worried--after two years of being program director I'm learning just what has to happen before camp and what is non-essential. However, there's always the challenge of making things fresh and fun and every year is a year of improving program and coming up with ideas to make camp better. Plus--NOAH--what an undertaking.

Camp becomes a little bit weirder every year. For one, the folks who remember the old days are increasingly diminishing, especially the folks I used to hang out with. Having lots of new blood is wonderful, but it is sad when old traditions slip by the wayside. "Let Us Come Together" is one example. We used to sing that song constantly and at all closing ceremonies, but somehow it went the way of the dinosaur this summer. And the bugaloo! The folks leading it never seemed to get the concept that you ALWAYS end it with the Cockroach because having all the campers laying on the ground pretending to be filthy vermin is just the way to end a song.

During family worship tonight, Tuan and I found a staff picture of last summer in his Bible--we had a lot of fun talking about folks, laughing and wondering about next summer. I'm really getting excited. Before long we should have our leadership meeting and then the days will really fly by and next thing we all know, it will be the end of camp, and we'll all be tired and eating barbecue. What fun.

I'd like your ideas about camp. Even if you never comment on this blog, I do want to know how to make camp better.


absurd purchase, insomnia and nineties music

Sounds like a Lemony Snicket warning. "Beware dear reader as this post contains an absurd purchase, an insomniac and music from the nineties. (10 minute interval) It also includes an insomniac baby who likes to taste things, and a husband with an eye mask on and a pillow wrapped around his ears."

I can't sleep and now Johnny is wide awake. He is playing with a toy in his crib and I am blogging. It's always a bit silly to blog when sleepy--you may say something you regret but here goes.

On Saturday, Tuan asked me to swing by this antique store in D'Lo to see if they had any chests of drawers. I returned home with an enormous rocking chair with a rattan seat, instead of the needed piece of furniture. It is beautiful. The chair also expanded on the way home and in our living room it dwarfed all the furniture but the couch. That necessitated rearranging the bedroom to fit the rocking chair in and then Tuan was highly motivated to reform all the storage beneath our behemoth of a bed. I'm really glad he got into this however, as I was trying to "make do" with an assortment of storage pieces and old cardboard boxes. Instead, he (being his very Tuan-like self) measured the dimensions under the bed and bought exactly the amount of storage containers at wal-mart to fit perfectly under the bed. Tonight, we organized and stored and the area beneath that which we sleep upon is now clean, orderly and matching. It's a "good thing."

My husband has a gift for packing and storing. He can just make things fit when I cannot. In college, he could move from one apartment to another in one trip with just his Jeep Wrangler. That is one of the reasons I married him. Way before Tuan and I were mutually attracted, we were good friends. He was the "guy friend" who was around. The attraction increased over about a year's time, but the thing that really caused me to make the decision that, yes, I did want to marry him, was that he had a lot of great qualities that I didn't and I could spend time with him and not "grow weary." I guess you could say it was both a pragmatic and a passionate decision. I knew Tuan for about four years before we started dating. During that time, I twice had my heart broken and really despaired of ever being found by "the one" and getting married. All that time he was right in front of my nose!

I guess what I am trying to say is that girls, don't be too hasty to dismiss the nice dependable guy who you're "just friends" with because he doesn't fit some ideal you constructed when you were fifteen and foolish. Give them a chance! It could turn out better than you could concieve. I will also say that when I brought out the "list" of what I (at fifteen) wanted in a husband, Tuan fit the essentials perfectly. No, he doesn't play guitar (bass and trumpet instead) and no I didn't meet him at TL (but we did meet at another camp), but he can cook like nobody's business, makes me laugh, and can sing like Louie Armstrong. I am also thankful that there is only one guitarist in the family and that I'm not a pastor's wife (wasn't that #6 on the list?). Mostly, I am thankful to be married to a godly man who is truly my best friend.

I didn't make it to the nineties music. A hazard of choosing the title before you actually write the blog. Shouldn't they have the title thing at the end of the blog?


true first word

I ate lunch with "the girls" today: Caroline, Leigh and Anna at Caroline's house. Johnny played on the floor. At one point, I leaned down and said,
"Johnny, say Daddy."
"Da-Da" He promptly replied!
How cool was that. It wasn't a fluke either, as he has responded to promptings all evening with a definite "da-da."
Big steps indeed!

He also has this leapfrog toy that we keep in his crib. You press buttons and it will light up and play music or say things. When Johnny wakes up, he'll play with it. Sometimes we hear it go off in the middle of the night or way after bedtime. We've found that he'll wake up, hit a button and go back to sleep! It cracks us up. Last night we picked him up from the Vincents (who had kept him so we could have a date night) and Johnny didn't go to bed until around ten. Thirty minutes to an hour later, I went in to check on his heater and lo and behold, he was sitting up, grinnning and playing with that toy. Parenthood is such a joy.

true first words

I ate lunch with "the girls" today: Caroline, Leigh and Anna at Caroline's house. Johnny played on the floor. At one point, I leaned down and said,
"Johnny, say Daddy."
"Da-Da" He promptly replied!
How cool was that. It wasn't a fluke either, as he has responded to promptings all evening with a definite "da-da."
Big steps indeed!

He also has this leapfrog toy that we keep in his crib. You press buttons and it will light up and play music or say things. When Johnny wakes up, he'll play with it. Sometimes we hear it go off in the middle of the night or way after bedtime. We've found that he'll wake up, hit a button and go back to sleep! It cracks us up. Last night we picked him up from the Vincents (who had kept him so we could have a date night) and Johnny didn't go to bed until around ten. Thirty minutes to an hour later, I went in to check on his heater and lo and behold, he was sitting up, grinnning and playing with that toy. Parenthood is such a joy.


painting, crawling, cleaning

I spent two afternoons this week working on two paintings of my family at the beach. The photos would not upload, or I'd post them (in progress). I've been painting them simultaneously and trying to be "loose." It's hard to be "loose" with paint. It's much easier to do that with charcoal or pencil. If I had not gotten a degree in art, perhaps I could be a folk painter, but that degree leaves me a bit shamefaced. I shied away from and never took painting in college, I have an art degree and a shameful secret--I can't really paint. Our painting professors were really difficult and with graphic design as my emphasis, well, I never had time for additional time-consuming classes. Instead, I took a LOT of ceramics. :) So, now I am trying to learn how to paint. Wish me well.
Johnny is crawling and trying to pull up. He likes crawling, but he likes to stand up even more. He is very happy to be put in his playpen standing up. He will grasp the rails and hang on for a few minutes before dropping. I can't believe he is growing so fast! He'll be eight months on Wednesday! That's really hard to believe.
Tuan and I spent New Year's in FLA with my folks. We like to hit the thrift stores and stock up on bargains and books while down there. The only real non-book bargain I found were baby/toddler sandals (one pair tevas and one pair teva-like) they were ten cents for both! How cool is that? We did buy LOTS and LOTS of books and here are a few:

Library Editions of:
The Silmarillion
Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers
A Jeeves book by PG Wodehouse
Mariel of Redwall
Auntie Mame

Among others, we picked up a Clive Cussler, the Story of the Trapp Family Singers, Play With Your Food, etc . . .
Tuan has been wrapped up in this novel called, Shogun (it's about Ancient Japan, I think). I've been reading a collection of suspense stories and also just finished The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. I read this when I was little and at some point picked up a copy of The Five Little Peppers All Grown Up, which was unreadable. I did remember loving the former, though and while it was definitely a trip down memory lane, the writing was a bit funny. For example, the characters rarely "say" anything, as in "Phronsie said such and such." Instead, they either "scream" or "cried." The writier uses "screamed" for anytime a voice is raised, whether in excitement, melancholy or urgency. The children (and adults) cry out rather than speak which means the reader is in constant confusion about the true emotions of the plot. Also, one of the main characters, Polly, a young woman who cooks, tends the house, baby and small children while their poor, widowed mother is out sewing (amazingly capable for someone under fifteen), can't seem to handle any emotion strain without crying, fainting or collapsing. It's pretty funny, but leaves me longing for some L.M. Montgomery.



I like the idea of posting the first few words/sentences of each month's entry--to sum up the year--here goes!

Whoo-hoo! I am so excited. Tuan and I have finally decided what we're doing for his vacation next week!

Tuan and I were riding to church this past Sunday and listening to Jesus Freak. Although Joseph Craven made me feel VERY old when, as he gave his testimony this summer, he referred to DC Talk and Audio Adrenaline as "old school," Jesus Freak and Free at Last are still two of my favorite albums.

Charles Spurgeon is one of my favorite preacher/pastors. Here is an excerpt from one of his sermons on Exodus:

Other PCA Sightings Two are confirmed, the other one sure looks like him . . .

A joke
Man: Doctor, my wife thinks she's a refrigerator.
Dr: Well, that's a pretty common delusion, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
Man: I wouldn't either except she sleeps with her door open and the light keeps me awake.

walk like an egyptian
Well, camp is going great! We have a marvelous staff--from ACs/Counselors to leadership and support, I am daily encouraged by this group of folks

Thou knowest my great unfitness for service,
my present deadness,
my inability to do anything for thy glory,
my distressing coldness of heart.
I am weak, ignorant, unprofitable,
and loathe and abhor myself.

The website snopes.com is a great place to delve into urban myths and lore.

I tried to find an appropriate quote from "little town on the prairie" to begin this entry, but couldn't find the one I imagined was there.

I wish I could think of really great titles for my posts like Caroline, but I do everything hurriedly and titles are not a priority.

I am so tired I can barely move, and were it not that Tuan is still up and on duty, I'd be out cold.

This morning Johnny began babbling some consonant sounds. He said "da-ma" which will forever pacify both Tuan and myself who have both been vying for first word.

So, I'm not sure what to make of these. I could probably sum up the year in a better way than this, but instead I will ask you all to pray for the possible addition to our home--contentment with whatever is decided and an answer soon!