Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Only In America

When I was in 7th grade, my long-term boyfriend ("long-term" meaning more than a month) broke up with me over the phone so that he could hook-up with another girl at a neighborhood slumber party. I was heartbroken. It didn't matter that he was nice enough to at least break-up with me before he cheated on me....all that mattered was that I had no one to write notes to, no one to talk to on the phone, no one to trade Swatch watches with. My world was torn apart. My heart was in my hand. For a few hours, anyway.

Being that it was my first official break-up, I did what any heartbroken 12-year-old would do.....I shut the door to my room, turned off the lights and listened to Journey's, "Open Arms" over and over again on my cassette player. Then I cried until my body wouldn't produce any more tears because this was the worst pain I had ever felt in my whole life, and my life would be forever in shambles.

Okay, so obviously I recovered from that heartbreak, but one thing remains with me to this day: the Open Arms of Journey consoled my wounded heart. I was a faithful follower from that day on......

Cody and I traveled to Dallas this weekend with a few friends to see Cheap Trick/Heart and Journey in concert. I had no idea that the original lead singer for Journey, Steve Perry, was no longer with the band. I found this a little disappointing, but we had already paid $75 a ticket and equal that in babysitting fees, so I was riding this pony as far as it would go.

The concert was pretty amazing, and I'll tell you a little more about the lead singer in a minute....but first, let me say that the people who attended the concert made Journey look like a sideshow. Seriously. We saw numerous people who have yet to leave the 80's. Maybe it was the 50 year old man with large, long, permed hair who wore a Mavericks basketball jersey with bicycle shorts....or the 40 year old woman who came dressed to impress in her one-piece bathing suit and combat boots. And I can't forget the bleached-blonde lady with the sleeveless, velor, mock-turtleneck shirt in hot pink. I swear she dug that shirt out of her Jr. High closet. I should know, I had one.

I really, really wanted to approach several interesting attendees to ask if I could take their picture, but I just wasn't bold enough. Plus, if they asked why I wanted their picture, I would have to be honest and say that I intend to make complete and total fun of their attire on my blog. Hmmmmm.....I'm not sure how they'd take that.

Here are Cody and me at the concert.....we obviously left the 80's in the 80's. My pinch-rolled, acid washed jeans are thanking me.

Okay, so back to Journey....the lead singer most of us are familiar with is Steve Perry. He was replaced (due to a degenerative hip disease and blown vocal cords) with another singer named Steve Augeri (rhymes with Perry.) After Steve #2 blew out his vocal cords, Journey was left without a singer. The guitarist took matters into his own hands and set out on a search for a replacement and found someone on......you guessed it, youtube. This guy's name was Arnel Pineda and he was from Manila. The story is simply amazing as Arnel was at one point homeless and living on the streets of his hometown.

Hear his story here.

Now you guys know that not only do I love Journey....but I also love Asians (part of my heritage), so Arnel was like the best of both worlds for me! I mean, who doesn't want that "Pretty Woman" ending? Street prostitute turned wealthy man's wife. Of course, it helps when you look like Julia Roberts and when it's a Hollywood script. But Arnel Pineda is, like, real life. You know this guy is waking up everyday saying, "Pinch me.....I've got to be dreaming!" (As a side note, I kind of wonder what Steve Perry is thinking when he realizes that he's been replaced not just once, but twice, and that Journey continues on as successful as ever. That thought can't be good for the ol' ego......)

Only in America.......

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Physical Beauty

I have been blessed with three beautiful daughters. I am simply in love with the attributes that are unique to each of them: Kellie-Laine's muscular figure, Landrie's sparkling eyes and fair color, Emerie's dimples and round face. Of course, ultimately I pray for beauty that comes from within: a heart of compassion, mercy towards others, pursuit of God, humility, boldness of spirit, strong moral compass, etc.

But today my post focuses on physical beauty. Primarily, the physical beauty of my almost-thirteen year old. Here she is:

I know that in the depths of our mother's heart, we ever-so-slightly desire for our kids to be pretty (or handsome). It's a truth that isn't easily admitted. It's also a truth that is at the bottom of a long list of things we wish for our kids. Nevertheless, beauty is on the list.

But just yesterday, I found out that beauty can have its drawbacks.

This week is Youth Week at our church....a week filled with daily activities and a time to welcome the incoming 7th graders, which includes Kellie-Laine. I was so excited the week before thinking about how fun this new phase of her life will be. I have some fond memories myself of youth groups and youth camps, and since I didn't grow up in a christian home, these groups and camps were a significant part of my spiritual journey towards a relationship with Christ.

So Monday morning was the youth paintball tournament, and I woke up and found myself struck with fear. I was worried on so many levels, but the main fear was that I was sending my first-born child into a group of 7th through 12th graders....girls AND guys.

Let me back up and explain for a moment that up until this point, we've had Kellie-Laine in a pretty tight bubble. She attends a small,private school with peers she's known since Kindergarten. While the normal guy/girl relationships have increased as the kids get older (I'm talking, like, one couple in 8th grade--out of the whole school), it's still a very immature process. These guys feel like brothers to the girls, so there really isn't much "coupling" as I like to call it. Aside from summer camp, Kellie-Laine doesn't have much interaction with those of the opposite sex. She doesn't IM; she doesn't own a cell phone; she doesn't have email. The one short-lived "relationship" she had at the beginning of last year consisted of nothing more than a few hand-written notes and lots of ignorning each other in the hallway. Nothing says "I really like you," than being ignored, right? As soon as the relationship started.....it ended, and you best believe that mommy and daddy were VERY involved in the "relationship".....(I shudder to even call it that.)

So, back to paintballing.......after I picked her up, she reported that she didn't like paintball all that much, but did spend a good deal of time talking about a boy and a few of his friends who were trying to convince her to "go out" with the aforementioned boy. Are you kidding me? I tried to listen with an open mind, but I kept thinking how weird this feels to listen to my little girls talk about these boys crushing on her?....macking on her? What do you call it these days?!

I know it was innocent, and I know this is totally normal behavior for this age. I don't want to sound like a crazy momma....but I called our precious youth minister to get his opinion, and he was very kind and patient with my crazy ramblings. (I'm certain, however, we will not be invited to future youth activities.)

So I know I'm kind of rambling about this, and my sister thinks I'm completely naive....but I need to ask you readers a question. Please give me some feedback here. As I'm approaching this new territory with my almost-thirteen year old.....what kind of advice/rules/guidelines/boundaries did your parents give you regarding dating? What worked and what didnt'? For you mothers who have gone before me: what advice can you give me that you currently use with your own children?

I had very lenient parents who didn't impose many rules on my sister or me, and I've got numerous mistakes to prove it. While many of the trials I went through as a teenager proved to become character building opportunities, I do not plan on using their same leniency with my own girls. Times have changed, and I adamantly feel parents need to be more involved now than ever before.

So I'm asking you all for some mom-to-mom advice on what worked or didn't work in your own lives or in the lives of your kids.

I'll be twiddling my thumbs in the meantime waiting for my beautiful daughter to return from the youth group bowling party.....

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Child Spoiling 101

For the first time ever, my sister, Flo, allowed me the honor of keeping her daughter, Grace, for three days while she and her youth-minister husband romantically traveled to New Mexico for a mission trip and stayed in a homeless shelter. I wanted to update Flo on Grace's happenings.....

Dear Boog and Flo:

Grace's visit to the Beeler household was successful. She may indicate to you that she would prefer to live with us, which is what usually happens when we allow other children in our home and feed them lots of candy. Although it may seem that spoiling your child and breaking every rule you've ever implemented was one of my goals, I assure you it was not one of my goals. It was my only goal.

Monday morning was spent at bible study, and the girls enjoyed our church's large outdoor and indoor playground. Grace was rather impressed with the size of the playground equipment and asked why we "lived so close to the church?" I explained that people in the big cities oftentimes purchase a home close to their jobs, churches and schools, and that people in the country spend their time stepping around cow poop. She seemed rather satisfied by this explanation by saying, "we have to drive a long, long, long way to go to my church." Well, Jesus is worth it, sweetie.

Did you know that your daughter likes gum? Did you know that my gum tastes much better than the gum you give her because I let her chew it in the car? It is a well-known fact that I always have gum. And because I always have gum, my kids always want gum (especially when we get in the car). Grace was not going to be left out of that party....so I grinned an evil grin when I heard her say, "My momma never lets me chew gum in the car." I replied, "You poor baby. Aunt Ang will let you chew gum in my car any time you want, pumpkin." Or something like that.

We took a trip to the splash water park....which was really a fun time for all. The little girls took turns chasing Kellie-Laine around and pouring water on her. Grace was all smiles and giggles. Emerie's typical fearless spirit was in full force, and she occupied herself by seeing how long she had to hold her face in the water before I'd start running to perform CPR.
The grand finale of this outing was meeting another mommy at the park who had the most beautiful dog with her. "He won't bite and he's extremely gentle," she called to the girls as they ran to pet him. Then we introduced ourselves and turned around to find her dog murdering a squirrel with his mouth. The girls were fascinated with the lifeless squirrel who was sent to squirrel heaven by the non-biting, extremely gentle dog. The mommies assured the girls that the squirrel was only sleeping and that he would frolic away happily once we left him alone.

"He's dead." Landrie said. "Let's go swing!"

How do I argue with that?

We also visited Jumping Party. Grace loved it and even exclaimed, "I've never been to a place like this before!" when she beheld the giant blow up jumping houses that filled the warehouse. I have video of the slide that she and Landrie flew down. And I literally mean "flew down." Jumping Party is known for its super slippery slide, do you know why? Armor-All. They spray it on their slides, no joke.
Our final trip was to the pool at the Y, and we arrived just in time to see the lifeguards command everyone out of the pool because of floating poop. Oh, how I wish it was a Baby Ruth from Caddy Shack! But no....it was floating poop. Once the sanitation crew was finished, it was back to business and Kellie-Laine gave Grace and Landrie private swim lessons in the deep end, "without my floaties" Grace pointed out.
Just a few more tidbits for you:
--your child calls me "Miss Ang." Listen, I know she goes to daycare, but could you please explain to her the difference between her teachers and her aunt? I never corrected her, but at one point she said, "Get me some juice, Miss Ang" and I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
-- Grace was intrigued with the fact that I let my kids unbuckle themselves when we pull onto our neighborhood street. (Bad habit, I know, but my girls love hanging their heads out of the window like dogs!) Grace informed me that her "mommy never lets me unbuckle until we get home" to which I replied, "To hell with your mom!" And then we all cackled loudly as she climbed the roof of the suburban to do a little car surfing.
--Grace can play with baby dolls unlike anything I've ever seen. Even Landrie grew tired of the imaginative play and said, "Let's play something else, Grace." And Grace replied, "But my baby's still sleeping." So they continued on.....for three days straight.
--Grace is pretty convinced that you're having a boy and she wants to name him Trevor. I thought you'd be pretty ecstatic that she chose the name of your high school boyfriend.
--the trip home provided much insight into Boog's parenting skills. Out of the blue, Grace said, "My daddy says be a dog, and I be a dog. My daddy says be a turtle, and I be a turtle," For five minutes I heard everything from turtle, to dog, to pony, to bird, etc. Grace is one obedient child -- I would have given up on Boog's animal game after turtle.
In all seriousness, I really enjoyed having Grace around-- although at times I felt as though she and Landrie were merely tolerating me. She was kind and happy. She slept well and ate well. I'm so glad she and Landrie had the opportunity to bond as cousins, and I'm hoping that she'll come back soon.
I miss her already.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

So What Is A Stay At Home Mom Exactly?

Last week I got "Facebook-ed" by a friend, and the elusive world of technology, IMing, myspace-ing, and AIMing dropped like a rock into my lap. Suddenly, people I knew from high school, many of whom I haven't thought about or heard from since the day I graduated and quickly got the heck out of dodge, appeared on my computer screen.....twenty plus years older. I was fascinated. As I read through their profiles, whereabouts, and current happenings, my own life seemed to become less and less exciting. These people-- with whom I traded crayons, shared lockers, wandered back roads, and toilet papered houses--are, like, really successful. They have important careers and lucrative businesses. They are dating or working with famous people, in grad school, or vacationing in places I cannot pronounce.

And then there's me. My Facebook profile reads " Um, yeah, like, I stay at home all day with three girls who attach themselves to my ankles as I walk around the house picking up princess shoes, Little People, and cereal from yesterday morning. I like to blog. I can also recite every word to all 241 Barney episodes, and I have a fairly extensive knowledge of barbie anatomy, wardrobe and accessories. Yea me!"

So that got me thinking about my job as a STAY-AT-HOME-MOM.

I started pondering the issue of what it means to be a stay-at home-mom these days. I have been immensely blessed to have a full repertoire of friends who do a fantastic job of being at-home mommies. Their example has provided me with encouragement, motivation, aspiration....my own how-to manual. I know that God purposed these women into my life because I was not fortunate enough to have a mom who stayed home with my sister and me. We were your typical latch-key children of the 70's.

But the question isn't to work or not to work. The question is what does a stay-at-home-mom do? What does she look like? What is her daily schedule? I have noticed that many moms are transitioning from "moms at home with their children" to "house wives." Do you know the difference? Let me explain.

A few months ago, I was at the park with my playgroup where I met a new mom who was pushing her twin boys on the swing. We covered the usual introductions: where do you live? how old are your kids? where do they go to school? how long did you breastfeed? how much money does your husband make? do you have any communicable diseases? etc. and then she asked if I stayed home with my girls.

"Yes, I do," I replied.

"Me, too," she responded, then paused and said, "Actually, I'm more of a house wife.....I stay home, but my kids go to daycare."

Then, I did what any stay-at-home-baby-wearing-mommy would do: I judged her. My judgement was not nice.

And there it was.....her honest answer met with the judging thoughts of my opinion.

Anyway, from that day forward I have thought about this mom and about what it means to be at home with my kids. I've noticed that more and more these days, many stay-at-home-mommies are becoming quite busy with things that pull them away from the duties of mommy hood. I was guilty of this same busy-ness last fall. In an effort to have each day planned, I signed up Landrie for pre-school and Emerie for two days of Mother's Day Out. I added a Monday morning bible study. I scheduled a play group for Fridays. I enrolled Landrie in gymnastics on Wednesdays. I decided to work out twice a week. And somewhere in the midst of that busy schedule, I realized that most of my day was spent away from my children. And then a question popped into my brain: at what point is a stay-at-home-mom sacrificing the "mom" part of the job for her own "stuff"?


I took a deep breath, a step back, and realized that something had to be cut out. So I ditched the work outs (lucky me). I dropped one day of Mother's Day Out. We gave up gymnastics. I basically scaled back the schedule, and even cut out some of my personal hobbies like digital scrapbooking and designing....all of the things that bit-by-bit chipped away at my time with my girls.

Listen, I love free childcare. I love play groups. I love Mother's Day Out. Don't get me wrong....sometimes the Monday morning bible study with free childcare is the only thing that gets me through the day. But as with everything, being a mom is a discipline. It's choosing what is needed over what is wanted. It's giving up something for yourself for someone else. It's saying "no" to countless volunteer opportunities. It's accepting that body flab is okay and that your children will not need psychotherapy because you aren't up to date on their scrapbooks. Being a stay-at-home mom requires balance. A "no" for every "yes".... a hand that spanks but also hugs...."me" time as well as "we" time....and daily dying to self, over and over and over again as we choose to put our kids first. It's a hard, sometimes thankless job, that God has prepared and purposed me for. And I accept His challenge.

I choose this job....for them.

It may not make an exciting Facebook profile, but these girls make my job so very, very worth it.....

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Waco Water

For those of you who live in Waco, I'm sure the mere title of this post makes your blood start boiling. We could actually start an entirely new blog titled "Sucky Waco Water" and it would probably acquire more readers that the Waco Tribune Herald online.

As much as I want to go there and address the health and safety concerns that plague Waco's water system, instead I'd rather talk about how cute my kids were swimming in it.

The Beelers haven't seen much of the boat this summer for a variety of reasons, and Cody was all but ready to sell it because our kids were so apathetic about the very mention of "going to the lake." But when push came to shove, we drug the kids out to Lake Waco, and would you believe they actually had f-u-n?

Here's a bit of Beeler Boat History for you: I am what you call a "boat accessory." I don't ski, swim, tube, wake board, etc. I ride in the boat and soak up sun. Occasionally, I will sprinkle myself with water if I get a little too hot or re-apply sunscreen to those who need it, but pretty much my main "job" on board is to work on my tan. And hold the wiggly child, Emerie. Cody is the boat chauffeur. Landrie is the boat snob....for her, the boat is always too hot, too windy, too wet, too loud, etc. She is a "boat accessory" in training. Kellie-Laine is the boat-doer. She tubes, skis, wake boards, knee boards, and has tried wake surfing. She does it all and is good at it all.

Then there's Emerie. (Keep in mind that Landrie has yet to fully submerge herself in the water....even though we've had the boat for almost three years.) But yesterday we gave Emerie the chance to get acclimated to the murky Waco water and here's what she did: (sorry for the poor video quality...it was taken with my cell phone.)

We could not keep her out of the water. She really didn't care if anyone was around to hold her....she was content to flip herself on her back and kick, kick, kick. She then spent the next few hours finding ways to get off the boat and into the water. Or eating Doritos.

Cody found a rope swing attached to the bridge off of Lake Shore drive and the kids had a blast climbing up the concrete infrastructure that holds up the bridge....then jumping off. I had numerous heart attacks, and I prayed a thousand thankful prayers that I don't have boys. Take a look here at the adventure:

Even dear ol' daddy attempted to scale the rope and jump off, which was comical for many reasons which I won't go into here out of respect for the love of my life. Let's just say Cody is now stuck with the name, "Grandpa Bootie." Enough said.

Guess What?

Guess what's coming to Waco??

It's true. The shopping gods have looked upon me and smiled.

(We're also getting a Hollister, Build-A-Bear, and a Steve and Barry's. Go Waco!)