Thursday, February 19, 2009

Safe distance

You know all those warnings that come with the Wii, like "have plenty of space around you... don't stand too close to anyone or anything..." Well, this is why:

Tuesday afternoon, Jenna was playing Wii when it was time to pick up Julia from school. I had told her not to start another game, but she started one anyway. I decided not to fight it and thought I would put her shoes on her while she played. So I was putting her shoes on her while she played baseball and she must have knocked one out of the park because her Wii remote and my eyebrow made contact with so much force that I didn't know what had happened for a few seconds. Then I heard a combination moaning/sobbing sound, which I then realized was coming from me. Then I drew my hand away from my eye and saw that quite a bit of blood was involved. At this point, poor Jenna FREAKED. She not only hit Mommy and made her cry, but made her bleed, too! She was devastated. So, while choking back sobs and running to the bathroom, I was yelling, "Don't feel bad! It wasn't your fault!" Because really, I shouldn't have been so close to her while she was playing. In the bathroom, I frantically grabbed a wad of toilet paper while dripping blood all over the sink and counter. (Which I had to clean up before house church that night, lest anyone think really weird things are going on at our house.)

I got Jenna in the car and drove with one hand to the Julia's school while keeping the almost-soaked toilet paper wad on my eyebrow. Julia got in the car and her mouth dropped open. I must have looked like I had been shot. When I told her what happened, she said, "I've always told you Jenna was strong." (Julia has been the victim of Jenna's brutality -- intentional or otherwise -- for 4.5 years.)

Two days later, I've got an inch-long gash under my eyebrow and a bruise covering my eyelid. Make-up and strategically-placed bangs help cover it up pretty well. I probably should have had it checked out to see if it needed a stitch or two, but Chad was out of the country (which he says is proof he did not do this to me) and I had to do two phone interviews as soon as I got home with the girls. If it scars, I'm hoping it will just make me look cool.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 15, 2009


We went back to Christ Church tonight for the Compline service. Compline is a traditional prayer service that you can learn more about here.

Compline is like no other Sunday night service I’ve previously attended. For one thing, it’s so quiet. Jenna tried whispering to us between songs and she may as well have been yelling, it was so quiet in there. It was kind of like a funeral, without all the sadness. The service is sung by the Christ Church Compline Choir, which is unaccompanied, but so different from the a cappella singing Chad and I grew up with in the Church of Christ. The two are worlds apart musically, and many of the hymns we grew up singing spoke more to each other (“Farther along, we’ll know all about it”) than to God. The Compline choir sings centuries-old prayers, like this one by John Milton:

“Lord, for they tender mercy’s sake lay not our sins to our charge; but forgive that is past and give us grace to amend our sinful lives; to decline from sin, and incline to virtue, that we may walk in an upright heart before thee this night and evermore.”

The service also had “Versicle” and “the Collects,” new terms to me. And another profound difference was the absence of social interaction. No one stood around talking after it was over. That’s not what this time is for. It’s more of an intimate time between God and the faithful. I like that. I just wish that it hadn’t been so short. Compline typically lasts 15-20 minutes, quite a switch for those of us who are used to settling in for at least an hour of church. Even 4-year-old Jenna whimpered “But I don’t want to go home yet.”

Lately I’ve been thinking about what it means to belong somewhere. As a minister’s kid, I moved around a lot growing up until we finally settled in Beaumont, TX, when I was 12. Beaumont was my dad’s hometown. His parents had moved there during the Depression. There have been Hambys in the Beaumont area since around 1930. I remember riding down 11th Street and seeing my last name on the sign outside my grandfather’s accounting firm: “HAMBY, FUNCHESS & WHITE.” The sign reminded me that I had roots in that town. I belonged there. It was my home.

Beaumont is a very different place now, but I’ll always think of it as home, in a way. All four of my grandparents are buried there, in a cemetery thick with grand oak trees strung with Spanish moss on the banks of the Neches River. My parents will be buried there someday, too. I’ll always find my way back to Beaumont because that’s where “my people” are – living and dead.

Now I live in another state where, except for a great-grandmother from Pine Bluff and some distant relatives associated with Harding, I have no familial connections. It’s nice here. I like it. I can see staying here for a long time. Belonging here is another story, though. I guess I don’t have to feel like I belong somewhere to like living there. It’s a feeling I’m not used to, though. I don’t know how to get used to it.

But tonight, in that church I’ve only visited on one other occasion, I belonged. We all did. That entire roomful of strangers. The man behind us who muttered all the words to the service along with the officiant. The woman on the kneeling bench who was oblivious to everyone around her. We clung to the common thread of being sinners who long for upright hearts; who reach upward to a Father who ever reaches down to us. Maybe church is only supposed to be about one relationship – that relationship that sin should sever but there, amid the candlelight and ancient words, is whole and complete.

I probably could get used to that. I just need more time, though. Any churches out there with three-hour Compline services? That would be a good start.

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Like Mommy

Every morning, if there's not a mad rush to get out the door, Chad and I like to enjoy a longish kiss before he takes Julia to school. This usually takes place in the kitchen while I've got a dishrag or cereal bowl in my hand. It's not like we're shoving the dishes off the table like in that scene from "Fatal Attraction" (although that might be fun some time). It's just a nice little moment to share before we're apart the rest of the day. A moment that rarely happens without Julia's complete mortification.

So yesterday, I was leaving to go somewhere and Jenna ran up to give me a kiss. As I bent down to kiss her, she closed her eyes and tilted her head to one side.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"I want to kiss like a mommy," she said.

I have a 4-year-old who wants to kiss like a mommy. I don't know how I got on this train, but I need to back it up. And fast.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

25 Things

I posted this on Facebook, but for those of you who missed it, here are 25 random pieces of information about me. Enjoy!

1) My Garfield lunchbox got stolen in 6th grade at Taylor Middle School in Lovington, New Mexico.

2) Once in college, a girl had done something pretty vindictive toward me. So I called her (before Caller ID), told her she was fat and hung up. Pretty immature for a 19-year-old, I know.

3) All my life, I have had a deep, inexplicable fear of being alone in a swimming pool. If it’s an indoor swimming pool (which makes the water darker) it’s a lot worse. My fear is not of drowning. It’s too weird to tell anyone, really. But it’s marine mammals. Large ones. I’m afraid I will brush up against a humpback whale or something. The very thought is making my heart beat faster as I type this because it freaks me out so badly. In my logical mind, I KNOW marine mammals cannot survive in heated, chlorinated water. And even if they could, and if they somehow got into a swimming pool, I know they would not do anything to hurt me. This is what makes it a phobia, people, it’s completely illogical. I’ve even forgotten about this phobia and gone swimming by myself, only to get halfway across the pool and completely freeze up with the most dreadful feeling of fear that I’ve never experienced in any other situation. I’m fine, though if anyone else is around, even if I don’t know them. They don’t even have to be in the pool, just where I can see them. I probably need therapy, meds, the whole bit. To make it weirder (as if it needs to be), I’ve never had a traumatic experience involving water or a large marine mammal.

4) My dad was a youth minister and when I was in late elementary school/early junior high, I had a habit of developing mad crushes on the guys in my dad’s youth groups. To the point of sobbing myself to sleep if one of them ever brought a girlfriend to church.

5) When I was about nine, I had a dream in which I saw a white van turned over on the side of the road. Since then, I’ve always been leery of traveling in white vans. Our church in Baytown had one and I was never comfortable going on long trips in it.

6) I have never mowed a lawn in my life.

7) I believe my deceased grandparents (dad’s side) have spoken to me in dreams.

8) My best guy friend from high school was best friends in college with the guy who is now married to my husband’s sister’s best friend from high school.

9) I love my husband’s blue eyes. And his dark hair, especially when it starts getting too long and curls a little behind his ears. (But then he always gets it cut, because it bugs him.)

10) Everyone seems to think I need to write a book, but I think I’m too ADD to do that. I like writing magazine and newspaper articles and then never having to think about them again.

11) A guy in my dad’s youth group accidentally killed my gerbil when I was in 6th grade.

12) I’ve always wanted to bobsled. Like in the Olympics.

13) I’ve never wanted a new car – even as a teen , when everyone does – because I figured then (and now) that I could never have one.

14) I have recurring dreams about Princess Diana in which we go out to lunch and complain to each other about our mothers-in-law.

15) I love my C-section scars and would never dream of doing anything to reduce their appearance.

16) I can truly say that I never want to be rich or famous. Money complicates things, and I was famous in one small town for four years and that was enough. A nice and fun experience, but enough.

17) I was on WIC (Women, Infants and Children – a government assistance program) after Julia was born.

18) I’m still in touch with the mother of the guy I dated all through high school.

19) Juice can give me a headache within minutes of drinking it, so I never, never do. Something’s probably up with my blood sugar. Apples do the same thing. But candy bars don’t bother me at all. Go figure.

20) I had the ultimate budget wedding. My dad had lost his job and my grandpa gave me $1,000 for the wedding, and that’s all we had. My mom can find bargains like nobody’s business, plus she’s a great seamstress and she was able to make my dress. So we still pulled off a nice wedding. I’ve been to much more elaborate weddings and they are certainly nice, but I’ve never regretted anything about mine.

21) There are two things I love so much that I rarely talk about them because I don’t want people to think I’m crazy: music and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

22) I wish I could have been a journalist back in the old days of counting headlines and setting type.

23) When I was three, I drew all over the family dog (who had a light brown coat) with a bright pink magic marker. My parents had to take him to the vet to get it washed out, and I didn’t see my markers for a month.

24) In high school, I was able to lose weight very easily, and I used to go for a day or so without eating just to see how little I could get. Knowing what I know now, I could have easily slipped into anorexia and I’ve always been thankful I didn’t.

25) I hated dolls when I was a kid. If I ever got one as a present, I threw it into a box in my closet. By the time I was ten or so, I had a box full of poor, sad, unwanted dolls.