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Monday, May 31, 2010

Today....

Is Amanda's birthday!!! And I (Brian her husband) wrote a blog for her!

So, go check it out on my blog @ www.brianwjoiner.blogspot.com

Happy birthday, sissy!

Happy birthday to my twin sissy and bestest friend- LYLAS!











Love, Amanda

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rebels without a cause

I just about suffered from a mild heart attack this morning, and those of you that have dogs will no doubt be able to relate:

I was pulling out of the driveway on my way to work when I noticed a dog running around in our front yard. For a split second, I wondered which irresponsible neighbor was allowing his/her dog to roam freely throughout the neighborhood... until I realized that dog was one of ours and that irresponsible neighbor was apparently us.

Buster was romping around without a care in the world, until he noticed me getting out of the car and came running over to greet me as if it was totally and completely normal for him to be unleashed in our front yard. I asked him what on earth he was doing in the front yard, but surprisingly he didn't respond. I assumed he had skillfully dug his way out from under the fence like he did the first day we moved in.

I opened the front door and he followed me through the house and into the backyard. It was at this point that I noticed a certain white-haired dog that ceaselessly patrols the backyard was NOT there to greet me. I ran towards the side gate and realized, much to my dismay, that the gate door was wide open, and there was no Noah in sight.

And much as I imagine it does for a parent when your child wanders out of your line of vision for a split second in a crowded place, panic set in.

And in case I wasn't freaking out already, just guess which little brown-haired dog decided at that moment to make a break for it and sprint out of the gate in pursuit of his long lost brother? It was as if the light bulb went off and he all of a sudden realized that he, too, could leave our property if he wanted.

I ran back into the house and screamed like a crazy person to Brian that the dogs had gotten out and he needed to wake up NOW. I ran back into the front yard and began yelling for both dogs, only to be answered by silence.

Brian joined me moments later (with no shirt on, mind you) to assess the situation. Without exchanging words, we both hopped into our cars and went in opposite directions. I circled the block twice with the windows rolled down yelling for Noah and Buster in hopes that they would hear me, and also in hopes that I wasn't yelling so loudly that I was waking up the neighbors.

I decided to go back to the house in case either one of them had grown a brain and decided to come back home, and as I pulled into the driveway, I noticed that our front door was open (we must have left it open when we left). And if you know either of our dogs at all, then you will not be surprised to hear that I saw Buster sitting in the front entryway wagging his tail, smiling at me as if to say, "Why are you freaking out, mom? What's the big deal?"

As a side note, the last time Noah ran away at our old house, Brian came home to find the gate wide open but with Buster still sitting quietly inside the fence. And it is for this very reason that I secretly consider Buster to be the smarter of the 2 dogs, because at least he realizes how good he has it and knows not to mess with a good thing! He also eats grass, poop, and anything else he can fit his mouth around, but that's neither here nor there.

Back to the story.

Relieved, but still very frazzled, I marched Buster over to the kennel and locked him inside. He seemed hesitant to go in, but I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that rather than want to go out and play some more, he was just really concerned about Noah and wanted to help find him. Because dogs are altruistic like that, right?

I went back out the front door to continue the search for his big brother, only to see Brian's truck turning the corner towards our house. I held my breath for a moment wondering whether or not he had had any luck finding our remaining renegade, until I noticed Noah's head pop up from the bed of the truck.

As Brian pulled up to the house, I approached the truck to give Noah a piece of my mind... but as luck would have it, our neighbor came outside with his two (much smaller and daintier) dogs. And yep, you guessed it, Noah bolted out of the truck to investigate the new friends. Fortunately, he did not try to make another run for it... I think he knew better at this point.

Brian herded him into the backyard, latched the gate shut, and informed me that he found him exactly where he expected- by the lake. So apparently it's safe to say that Noah likes the water, because this is not completely unlike the last time that he ran away when one of my mother-in-law's co-workers found him soaking wet as a result of romping around through someone's sprinkler. Such a special dog, isn't he?

Anyway, I then asked Brian to please secure the gate so that they wouldn't be able to get out again, and in the same breath pondered out loud how on earth they were able to get it open in the first place. It was at this point that Brian casually mentioned that he might have left the gate open last night when he was checking to see if our A/C was working. Might.

Surprisingly, that actually made me feel much better because it meant that I wouldn't spend the rest of the day worrying about how they were able to escape. And Brian also had it in his favor that I was so relieved and thankful that they were both safe and sound that I wasn't going to waste my energy on getting upset about the gate. So Brian, consider that bullet to be dodged :)

Needless to say, this was an eventful start to my morning, and one that I hope not to repeat again in the future. But hey, at least it gave me something (not all that entertaining) to blog about, right?

Monday, May 24, 2010

The way to a man's heart... whether I like it or not

So as some of you might or might not have recently read on Brian's blog, he is on a Food Network kick. I attribute this in no small part to the fact that the loss of our beloved DVR (a moment of silence, please. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ok, done.) has left him without countless recorded sub-par movies and episodes of Man Versus Wild to watch.

I really shouldn't complain about his tv show choices considering that I spend the majority of our tv time looking at facebook and compulsively checking gmail, but I just feel that it's necessary to inform you all that I don't really like tv shows about food.

My first issue is obvious- watching shows about food makes me hungry. Being hungry is ok if it's first thing in the morning, or right before meal time. Being hungry is not so ok when you have already eaten dinner AND dessert(s). And while I'm sure that you indeed have located the country's greatest cheeseburger, I really don't appreciate you making me lust after one 30 minutes before bedtime.

My second issue (check out my third grade writing skills, by the way) is that describing food in such detail is really not necessary. Food is either good or bad. It is tasty or gross. I can even understand saying that it is overcooked or undercooked. But there is simply no need to refer to food as "dispelling myths" or "possessing a flavor that you never imagined possible." Because first of all, I don't believe you. And second of all, I just don't care, because in reality, I will never have the opportunity to eat at the restaurant you are raving about, and I really don't appreciate you rubbing it in my face.

I also think it is really boring to watch people cook. Maybe it's just me, but when it comes to food, I am really more interested in how it tastes (but again, not in great detail) than how it looks. And perhaps that's because I have never actually been able to make a meal look pretty (unless you think symmetrical turkey sandwiches are pretty).

And I realize I should probably take tips from these famous chefs on how to more efficiently and effectively prepare food, but let's be honest- I'm stubborn, and I will likely continue to improperly slice onions for the rest of my life no matter how many times Martha or Paula or Emeril show me otherwise.

Nonetheless, while 90% of the rest of the women out there are indulging in the season premiere of The Bachelorette, I am currently enduring some terrible show about food critics' favorite fried food.

And I kid you not, as I type this very blog, Brian is actually recording voice notes into his iphone about Guy Fieri's pick so that he can attempt to make it himself: "Plantains... peeled... fried... then he mixes it with fried pork skin..."

Help me. Please.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

In denial

Can someone please tell me how my sweet little niece has already gone from this:


To this?


Emma turned 5 today, and I am pretty much in denial about it. She was born about a week after I graduated from college, so I think my issues are as much with the fact that she is already halfway to being a 10-year-old as they are with the fact that I have already been out of college for 5 years. Seriously, where does the time go?

I just remember when she was a little baby, and I was so impatient for her to start talking because I really wanted to know what she was going to sound like and what her personality would be like. Now she is a full-grown little girl, and there are admittedly times where I wish she would forget how to talk and just go back to being a baby :) But fortunately, at least when I'm visiting, her sweet moments still seem to outnumber her sassy ones... although her mommy might say otherwise!

Until her baby sister is born (due July 20!), Emma will continue to be my most favorite (and only) niece. Sadly, I don't live in Austin anymore, so I won't get to be around baby Mary Frances to witness all her firsts like I was with Emma. But thankfully there are cameras and many trips home to make up for that!

Anyway, I realize this isn't the world's most exciting post, but hopefully you will just indulge my obsessive aunt tendencies this once.

Happy 5th birthday, Emma! Love Always, Aunt Da-da :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Talking about just one topic would have been boring anyway

I recently watched what must have been a marathon of the Hoarders: Buried Alive show on TLC. First of all, can I just tell you that it made my heart race just to watch? If I get upset about the couch cushions not being pushed back into place after every use, you can only imagine the horror that struck me upon seeing people intentionally live underneath piles and piles of junk.

Anyway, after watching a few episodes, I felt an immediate need to take a shower... and then to clean the house compulsively. I also took some time to paint my toe nails, and thanks to a few hours with Hoarders, I am proud to admit that the bottle of nail polish that I had been holding onto since sophomore year of high school (no lie) is finally where it belongs- in the trash.

I'm not sure why the fact that I purchased it for the sole purpose of matching my soiree dress that year and never used it again wasn't reason enough to toss it until now, but for some reason I kept convincing myself that I just might need maroon nail polish. And apparently convincing myself that I wouldn't be able to afford a bottle that was produced after 1998... but anyway, it's gone now.

In other very uneventful news, we experienced (and survived) our first thunderstorm in the new house on Friday night. I think it's safe to say that it didn't hamper our big plans one bit, considering that we had finished eating our dinner AND watching our Netflix movie by 5:45 pm. What did I ever do before half-day Fridays at work were in my life?!

Anyway, we finished off the exhilarating evening by watching a 2-hour episode of Dateline in bed, but sadly, we both fell asleep before finding out whether or not Miriam was convicted guilty of murdering her husband. What a waste, I know.

I also wanted to share with you all that in addition to my husband, 2 of my favorite friends (and coincidentally, 2 of my favorite brides-to-be) have also recently joined the blog-o-sphere! One of them is my pal, Beth, who is getting married in November, and the other is my friend, Risa, who is getting married in June.

Fun fact about Beth: She was raised in Rosenberg. I have always been jealous of her townie roots.

Fun fact about Risa: I predicted that she and her fiance, Jared, would one day get married before they ever even met! It's true. I totally called it.

S0 make sure to head over to their blogs right this very minute.

I also wanted to update you all on what's new with the church plant. But in honor of its recent debut, I thought I would let our new landing page do the talking.

Make sure to check it out, and if you look hard enough, you just might find some more thoughts from yours truly... and from some other pretty great peeps, if I do say so myself. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A very unexpected visit

Sooooo I can't decide if the following scenario (which did, in fact, occur today) was actually a little on the unusual side, or if it's just me. You be the judge.

So I was sitting at my desk at work this afternoon when one of my co-workers came back from the front desk to announce that Olivia was here to me. "Who is Olivia?," I asked. I hadn't scheduled any interviews with an Olivia, and I didn't know of anyone that worked at the company named Olivia.

She responded by saying that whoever Olivia was, she sure as heck knew who I was and had a rather large gift basket with her that she wanted to give me. I then assumed that this Olivia must be an from an outside agency who just wanted to drop off a card and a gift of some sort to win our business. I really was not in the mood to endure a sales pitch, but I figured the person wouldn't leave until I at least came up and acknowledged the gesture, so up to the front I went.

So I walked into the reception area and saw a woman who looked vaguely familiar holding a - just as I had been told - rather large gift basket. I really still had no clue who this woman was, so I just smiled, walked up, and said "hi" and shook her hand. She greeted me by name and then said, "We just wanted to give you this gift basket to say thank you for everything that you do and for all your support!"

Ok. What? Who are you and what did I unknowingly do to support you?

I was still really confused, but hey, she was offering me this big gift basket and seemed to know who I was and apparently really appreciated me, so I just tried to sound gracious and said, "Of course! And thank you- this is really sweet of you!"

She then said, "Oh sure! We just wanted to give you something to thank you... you know, from everyone at Dr. Masera's office."

Who is Dr. Masera, you ask? He is my dentist. Still confused? That makes two of us.

In fact, I think it only confused me further, because it was much easier for me to rationalize why some random agency was thanking me for something I hadn't even realized I had done rather than figure out why a representative from my DENTIST'S office was swinging by on a random Thursday afternoon to give me a gift at work.

Smooth operator that I am, however, I immediately tried to play off my very obvious sense of bewilderment and pretended that it all suddenly made sense as soon as she pointed out where the gift was from. "Ohhhhhh gotcha- Dr. Masera's office! Of course! Thanks- how nice of you!"

But then it suddenly dawned on me that, um, someone from my dentist's office was at my workplace. I didn't mean to sound rude (especially while I was holding my new gift basket), but I said, "So how did you know where I worked??" She then informed me that I had put it down on my application, which really baffled me, because I also did not remember applying for a job at my dentist's office. Fortunately, she quickly corrected herself to say that I had written it on my new patient form.

I thanked her once again and we parted ways, at which point (after recovering from the sheer randomness of the whole event), it dawned on me that we had recently received a thank you note from the dentist's office for having referred some friends to him. So I'm assuming that was the reason for the thoughtful gesture. But still- a gift basket? At work? Now that is some serious customer appreciation.

I then called Brian to tell him about the gift, and more importantly, about how awkwardly I behaved during the incident. So I started off by telling him that some random woman showed up asking for me by the name of Olivia. And get this- his IMMEDIATE response? "Ohhh, Olivia from Dr. Masera's office??"

Seriously?!

Somehow my husband, who forgets to make the bed on a semi-regular basis and who recently left his keys in the front door of the house, has a better recall of people than I do. How very humbling.

Anyway, I felt so bad for not recognizing her that I then called the dentist's office and asked them to please tell Olivia how much I appreciated her stopping by. She returned my call an hour or so later, and while she was clearly trying to make me feel better, I only ended up feeling worse when she proceeded to tell me that it kind of drives her crazy that patients recognize her everywhere she goes, so it was nice to have someone not recognize her at all. Good thing that got less awkward, right?

So here are my questions- do you know the name of the receptionist at your dentist's office, and would you recognize him/her in public? Also, would it make any sense to you if that person showed up at your work place to give you a gift basket?

I'm just curious as to whether or not I'm alone in this one.

Also, for those of you who are curious, the gift basket included a variety of coffee products, muffins, and the like. No free toothbrushes or travel-sized floss, sadly.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Meet the other half of the Joiners

So apparently you all don't have much to say about inappropriate car decor... either that, or you all sport it yourselves and I have embarrassed you thoroughly by pointing it out.

Regardless, I would love to transition into a topic that would stimulate more of a response, but given the fact that the best thing I could come up with to say to a stranger who happened to be leaving my building at the same time as me this afternoon was, "Well... looks like summer is coming and there's nothing we can do to stop it!" Really creative subject matter, Amanda. Your ability to relate to others is very impressive.

But in all fairness to myself, it was the end of a long work day and the only thing my brain could really focus on was getting home to change into my pajamas so that I could plant myself mindlessly in front of the tv. And if I was feeling more motivated, I would get up from the couch that I'm currently sitting on at the next commercial break to go grab my camera and take a picture of myself as proof of just how focused I was on that goal. I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.

Anyway, regarding news that you all might actually care about, I am excited to announce that my husband started a blog! Given his affinity for all things sports and video game-related, I would say that there is a very good chance that our blogs will have little to nothing in common. Nonetheless, I think you would all enjoy seeing the world from Brian's perspective, if for no other reason than to get a good laugh at how strikingly different (read: more pleasant and less structured) it is from my own.

So go ahead and be a good friend by heading on over to At the End of the Day to see what my sweet significant other has to say.

And if you don't believe me when I say that he is sweet, then you should know that as I am typing this, he is periodically feeding me spoonfuls of his ice cream. I know- every girl should be so lucky.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Making a statement

You might recall the time that I blogged a few months back about the pick-up truck that I saw sporting a giant decal of a pile of skulls. I have still yet to come to a conclusion as to what kind of statement that driver was attempting to make, but I have recently been reminded that he is not the only person out there using his vehicle to communicate his point of view to the world.

Enter example # 1:
Ha ha this one just makes me laugh. I see nothing wrong with showing a little townie pride, and especially if you reside in Rich-Rose (represent!), but don't you think this is a tad understated? I might be wrong, but I think that the point of decals/bumper stickers is generally to portray a message in an eye-catching way... which is exactly why the guy with the truck doesn't have a sticker on his window written in Arial font that simply says, "I like giant piles of skulls." But maybe that's just me.

Enter example # 2:
I think it is safe to say that this is perhaps the most repulsive display of vehicle-decor ever. Are you so concerned that your manliness is not evident enough in your daily life that you need to advertise it to the whole world by making your truck anatomically correct? For your sake, I hope that you are married or in a serious relationship, because I will tell you right now that there is not a girl in the world that is impressed by or attracted to "truck nuts."

And while we're talking about things that are wildly inappropriate, can I please share a pet peeve with you? I have talked about this before, but it really irritates me when businesses/signs intentionally misspell things for no reason other than to make them seem more "catchy." I get it if you are really trying to force the alliteration thing (ie: Kanakuk Kamps). I do not get it, however, when the intentional misspelling serves no purpose.

With this in mind, you might understand why I go insane every single time I open our new refrigerator and pull my apples out of the drawer labeled "FRESH LOK." SERIOUSLY?! LOK?! There is really nothing catchy about leaving the "c" out of "lock." It does not make me trust more fully in the drawer's ability to keep its contents fresh. In fact, if anything, it makes me a little nervous that our not-so-inexpensive refrigerator was created by a company whose employees sincerely think it's a good idea to intentionally misspell very simple words.

Rant over.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

House arrest

Good news, everyone. The lady-from-the-court-house mystery has been solved. Apparently she came back to knock on our door this morning, and fortunately Brian was home to greet her this time. And I am happy to report that she is not, in fact, looking for either of us, but instead is hunting down some guy named Jimmy.

Jimmy, if you're reading this, I'm sorry that court house lady is after you... but not that sorry, because you totally embarrassed us in front of our new neighbors.

On another note, Brian had a great 27th birthday, in spite of the fact that he spent a good portion of it at home alone. We had a fun lunch date at Mission Burrito, and although I had grand plans of eating light and just getting a salad, I most definitely ended up stuffing my face with a burrito the size of a small toddler. And of course, I had to share a cookie (the size of my face) with the birthday boy. It was well worth it, however, because everyone knows that the success of a birthday is directly proportional to the amount of food consumed.

We finished off the night by cooking out with his family and a few friends, and then promptly passing out as a result of our food comas. And guess what... with Brian's birthday behind us, that leaves the rest of the month for me to count down the days until my own birthday! Nope, your eyes/google readers are not deceiving you, I really am that shameless. (27 more days to be exact.)

Anyway, I really have nothing else exciting to say today EXCEPT that our free mattress set is scheduled to be delivered tomorrow. And on that note, I think it's safe to say that I have found an upside to my husband's unemployment- there is always someone home to greet the deliverymen. Oh, and the fact that dinner is always ready when I get home from work. Maybe I could get used to this after all... :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Happy birthday to my other other half!

It's safe to say that as an identical twin, I was born with a literal other half. Thankfully, God saw it fit to give me another other half when Brian came into my life... and today, that other other half turns 27!

Happy birthday, Brian!

Enjoy being my elder for the next 4 weeks :)





I love you!
Amanda

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Adventures in camping and how not to impress your new neighbors

The Joiners and Olivers went on yet another joint trip this weekend, although this one was much closer by than vacations past. We had always talked about how he wanted to go camping together, and even planned to go last spring for Wade's birthday, but true to Texas fashion, the weather did not cooperate, and our "camping trip" consisted of going on a hike and grilling out at Allison and Wade's apartment complex pool.

So it was decided that this past weekend would be the next attempt. We reserved a camp site in advance at the North Shore Park on Lake Bastrop, and Allison and Wade were very thorough in getting together all of the supplies and groceries that were needed. The forecast called for a little rain, but we were determined to make it happen regardless of the weather.

So we packed up on Friday and left from our respective hometowns to meet in Bastrop. Brian and I were trucking right along down Highway 71, when all of a sudden, it dawned on me that I had forgotten something. Namely all of my toiletries.

I guess if you are going to forget your toiletries on a trip, a camping trip is the best one to do it on, but still, I think all of you girls can relate to the horror and fear that took over my body at that moment. How was I going to brush my teeth? And although I knew my sister would let me borrow her face wash, what was I going to do without using my apricot scrub for a whole weekend?!

Worst of all, I quickly realized that inside of my toiletries bag were also the bandaids and Neosporin for my recently injured toe, as well as our allergy medicine and another medicine that I was recently prescribed. Long story short, we decided once we met up that it would be ok for me to miss one nightly dose, but that it would probably be best for us to cut the trip a night short and come home on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning.

We were all bummed (the boys more so than the girls, because let's be honest, we weren't too terribly upset about not having to spend a 2nd night sleeping on the ground), but pressed onward with the trip nonetheless.

Thankfully the weather DID cooperate, and the only rain we had lasted for about 15 minutes on Friday night. We spent the rest of the time eating s'mores and a variety of other foods via Wade's dutch oven (seriously, he is hardcore- he even brought THREE head lamps!), taking pictures of bugs (because that's about as exciting as the wildlife gets in this part of the country), and laying in hammocks. Rocky, as predicted, also provided a great deal of entertainment, particularly when he got to ride along for our hike in Allison and Wade's backpack.

I will say, however, that while I did have a great time (and would gladly go again), I think it is safe to say that I am more a fan of the idea of camping than of actually camping. Don't get me wrong, I have a special place in my stomach, er, heart for s'mores, and I actually do enjoy going on hikes, but the not showering part and the sleeping without any air conditioning part are not really ideal when you're on a vacation.

I have a feeling that this love-hate relationship with the outdoors is typical for most girls, as evidenced by the fact that Brian's mom's response when we told her we were going camping was, "Why?!", and my own mom's was, "Why are you going camping? Watch out for ticks." Two very wise women indeed.

Needless to say, when we arrived back home last night, we were both in desperate need of a shower, some Allegra, and a good night of sleep. Before we were able to tackle any of those tasks, however, Brian noticed that his keys were on the kitchen counter next to a business card from a local policeman.

He flipped the card over and saw the following: "Your keys were in the front door" and the person's phone number written beneath it. Well isn't that special. Apparently when Brian and I packed for the trip, we left our brains behind.

He called the policeman (who happens to live a few doors down) and thanked him, and both of us breathed a sigh of relief that no one had walked in and taken any of our stuff, particularly one of the larger, more expensive items we own: Brian's truck.

I thought it was strange that someone had even noticed the keys in our door, because that's really not something you would notice unless you walked right up to the door, but Brian didn't seem to be concerned, so I just blew it off.

Well as luck would have it, when we were washing our cars this morning, our neighbor came by and told us that a woman had knocked on our door looking for us on Saturday morning, and when she came over to tell him that our keys were in the door, he pointed her to the policeman's house, who then came over and put the keys inside.

We thanked him for pointing her in the right direction and I tried to hide my embarrassment that we, the lame new neighbors, were already making fools of ourselves by leaving our keys in the front door while we were out of town. But little did I know that the embarrassment was only just beginning, because it was at that point that he told us that the same woman had actually been by several of the past few mornings, apparently banging incessantly on our front door, and that she said she was from the court house.

Awesome.

Of course Brian and I both looked confused and said we had no idea why someone from the court house would be looking for us, but if you had random new neighbors move in, and realized that someone from the court house was hunting them down, would you believe them if they said they had no idea why?

Anyway, I am hoping that based on the fact that the same neighbor invited Brian to play golf with him a couple of hours later, he doesn't suspect that we are ex-convicts running from the law. Nonetheless, I am going to try extra hard to put on our "we are totally normal middle class citizens" front for the next couple of weeks just in case.

And by that, I mean to say that I will probably just bake them some cookies and call it good.