Monday, October 31, 2005

The Secretary Speaks!

My good friend, Adele, works at an employment office in Summerland that helps people find work and assists them in creating an effective resume. They host workshops for people to come to and learn about computers and job interviews and career opportunities. She was doing some planning for an upcoming seminar where they would have some guest speakers from various fields of work come and give presentations on what they do. I jokingly said, "I'm sure you could use a church secretary's sage wisdom. Do you want to me give a stellar presentation? Ha ha."
"OK," she said. "That would be great. See you next week at 1:00."
Pardon me?
I was kidding.
What useful information do I have to impart?
Get married when you're 19, drop out of University, hop aimlessly from job to job in the retail industry, then finally cave and go to Sprott-Shaw Community College (oh, the shame) with strung-out weirdos for the better part of a year, then ka-boom, your church takes pity on you and lets you answer their phone and pay you for it.
Yes, follow my lead.

Amanda Brown at 2:02 PM

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Part of HIStory

Last night was the 100th Anniversary banquet for Summerland Baptist Church. They packed 250 people in the gymnasium for a delicious dinner and a nice program, full of reflection and memories. I have only been attending the church for about three years, so it's amazing to hear about all of the history.
At the end of the evening there was a slide show. It began with images of the pioneers who started the church in 1905, then it went on to capture the tale of a church that's been around for a century. I was touched by photographs of so many smiling faces, through the decades. The hairstyles and fashion evolved, but people were always looking like they were a part of a loving family.
Eleven years ago the old church building was demolished and a new, much bigger, church was built in its place. When I saw pictures of men hammering nails into beams, and women painting walls as the church was being finished, the images looked so magical to me. With music playing in the background, I almost got a little teary at the thought of how much time and energy and love people have poured into this church, into the building and into the members. The pictures on the slide show looked like they held magical moments.
But I am sure that as the men were working in the heat of the Okanagan sun, nailing and sanding and framing, they did not feel like they were in a magical moment. They were probably sweaty and hot and tired, and just feeling like they were in the midst of a normal day. But that normal day is now a part of history, part of one of the chapters of the history of the church. And it made me think that even though each day for me feels like just another normal day, it is actually a part of history, and when I look back on pictures of my life and what I did, I will see that they were magical moments indeed.

Amanda Brown at 8:29 AM

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These Three Remain:



Bo Pee, Woody and Rolo.

Amanda Brown at 8:25 AM

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Few More Spooks

Everyone had great costumes! It was a lot of fun to get dressed up, eat a truck load of candy, carve pumpkins, and watch a freaky movie (this year's selection was Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho"). Thanks, everyone, for coming! We'll see you again next year!The Invisibles Made an Appearance
A Doctor and His Fairy Queen
The Siamese Twin
Sorry Angella and Alison, I didn't get a good picture of your costumes. I am sure that one of the many other photographers will be posting them on the internet in no time.

Amanda Brown at 9:23 AM

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Fright Night

The Third Annual Brown Halloween Party was a smash hit. Here are a few of our guests: A Laundry Hamper
Choir Members From Down South
Rainbrow Bright and Robot Man
Homer and Marge Simpson
Woody and Bo-Peep

Amanda Brown at 9:15 AM

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Friday, October 28, 2005

One of My (Least) Favourite Things

Sitting down in a bathroom stall that someone else has pooped in a few moments earlier. The air is just a tad too thick and the lingering scent of turd makes you gag. I know, I know, I'm no better than the person who occupied the stall before me. We all poop. I think it's because we live in a fallen world. I wonder what Adam and Eve did before they sinned. Did they poop? Or did their bodies utilize everything perfectly so there was no need for waste? Or if they did poop, did it smell nice and all Garden of Eden-y, like lily of the valley?
A while back I was talking about poop with my mom (yes, it's a fairly common topic for us), and I said, "I have heard that changing your own baby's diaper isn't as bad as other kids'. Like you know how you don't mind the smell of your own toots. You think, 'Man! That's a ripe one!' but it's OK because it came from you. So that's how it is with your kids, right?"
"No. It's not at all like that, " she replied.
Thanks for the reality check, mom.

Amanda Brown at 2:23 PM

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I'll Laugh Politely, But...

A parenting workshop was held at the church this morning. All of the moms dropped their kids off in the nursery, which is but a few doors down from my office, before the class started. I saw Ben and Megan, and Nathan, and Jocelyn, and all of the cute little faces that I have come to know and love.
Then the screaming began.
From down the hall, I could hear the wails, the sobs, the sniffles, and the mournful howls of toddlers whose moms had left them to rot in the dreadful church nursery.
One of the moms popped into the nursery and commented on the screaming, "Listening to that is probably a pretty good form of birth control for you, hey?"
I laughed politely and said yes, but deep down I was thinking, "No. I am ready for a baby. And it's probably going to be one that screams louder than all of those toddlers down the hall combined. And I will be proud of my little screamer*. Bring it."
*I know that I will eat these words when I actually do have a baby, but for now it's fun to just talk big.

Amanda Brown at 11:04 AM

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Just Me and the Pooch

Steve is away on business for the rest of the week, so I have been adjusting to the quiet of an empty house, the chill of a lonely bed, and the responsibility of stoking the fire. It's weird not having Steve around, but I don't mind being alone when I know that he'll be home again soon. This fall has been a busy one, and I haven't had much time to myself, so it's kind of a treat to curl up by the blazing wood stove with Rolo and a good book and just have cheese and crackers for dinner.
I obssessively-compulsively checked all of the locks in the house before I crawled into bed for the night, and I forced Rolo to sleep next to me, even though he wanted to be free from my smothering arms and just go sleep on his doggy chesterfield. "STAY, Rolo! Mama needs your love."
Steve gets home tomorrow, and I look forward to his return. He will be arriving mere moments before the Halloween party begins. I have left his Woody costume folded in the spare room in the basement and I told him that he has to sneak in quietly and get into his outfit, because how lame is it to show up at a Halloween party at your own house not wearing your costume?! Very.

Amanda Brown at 11:22 AM

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Gimp, Through and Through.

So, I think I have developed carpal tunnel syndrome, or perhaps just tendonitis of the wrists. It's LAME. I have been working at a desk job for almost two years, and now these annoying problems seem to be popping up. I suppose that I should't really be surprised, though. I have always been a gimp; there is almost always something wrong with my body. Usually something minor, but very annoying.
I have a bad back that seems to get thrown out a few times a year and I have to have a chiropracter crunch my spine back into alignment; I have plantar fascitis, so if I take up running, my heel gets so sore that I can't bear weight on it (I went to see a podiatrist and they did a video analysis of my stride. He told me, "You walk like a duck. Now pay me 60 bucks for the diagnosis."); I get canker sores when I am stressed out; my neck goes all wonky if I sleep on it strangely, but it takes a week of immobility for it to go back to normal; I have had toe-nail fungus (sick, I know); I have broken both of my arms and sprained both of my ankles (not at the same time, thankfully); I have bad vision and should wear my glasses more often; I had impacted wisdom teeth and had to get them surgically extracted; I had moldy tonsils that grew cottage cheese tumours.
And the list goes on.
So, this nagging wrist pain is just a variation on the theme of my life.
But you know what? I am so thankful for all of the things that are going on correctly in my body. It's a miracle that I've got a beating heart, lungs that are being filled with air, veins laced through me coursing with blood. And I have legs that work, and eyes that work, and ears that work.
I am really thankful for all of those things.

Amanda Brown at 1:15 PM

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Eliminate This, Mr. A!

Elementary school can be a tough place for a chubby kid. There's the teasing at recess, the lack of boys who want to dance with you at the Spring Fling, and the year that leggings were cool and you decided to wear them, even though they were the most unflattering fashion choice in your life's history. But from your teachers you should gain support. They are the mature individuals in the building who appreciate your potential, regardless of the girth around your mid-section. They invest in you and teach you, realizing that you are capable of greatness. They make you feel accepted.
Well, at least that's what they are supposed to do. When I was in the fifth grade, I had a terrible teacher named Mr. A (I won't disclose his full name, because he is probably reading this right now, since my blog is world-famous).
He was terrible. And I really do mean that. He was sexist, rude, and boring.
He was also addicted to Phys. Ed. Whenever there was a spare moment, he would cart us off to the gym and he would make us run like a herd of cattle. The worst of his "games" was a little relay race he liked to call Elimination Sprints. We would all line up at one end of the gym, and when he blew his whistle we would all have to run to the other end of the gymnasium and back. The first person back got to sit out. Then the remaining students would run the laps again. Out of that heat, the first kid back would get to sit down. And so it went, until you were down to the two slowest kids: the chubby girl and the weird guy who ran like a bow-legged duck.
In case you were wondering, I WAS THE CHUBBY GIRL.
It was humiliating.
I would be so exhausted from running 40 laps in front of my peers, but I would have to keep going. I grew to despise gym class and loathe Mr. A with a fierce passion.
I managed to survive grade five with minimal emotional scars. But whenever I drive past a school yard and see a chubby kid trying to keep up with her classmates, my heart breaks a little.

Amanda Brown at 6:00 PM

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Five A Day

"Amanda, did you have any vegetables with your dinner tonight?"

"No."

"Did you have any vegetables at ALL today?"

"No."

"Did you just have noodles and iced tea and mini chocolate bars today?"

"Maybe."

Amanda Brown at 5:53 PM

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Faulder-Licious!


Hooray! Super-Mom and her blonde babes are back in their home, thanks to the hard work and perseverence of Super-Matt! You guys have done so well, sticking it out through the hard times, and we wish you happy trails as you get things finished up.
We're going to throw one mean housewarming party when you're ready for us! Brace yourselves!
Love you!!

Amanda Brown at 5:13 PM

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Oh, the Humanity!

I read quite a few blogs. I read blogs of people who live in California, Utah, Regina, and many other places. Some of the writers I know, others I just feel like I know because I gaze into their personal lives almost every day. I know the names of their children; I know their struggles with infertility, or depression or unemployment; I know what they eat for breakfast. This may be strange to some, but I think it's a really amazing way to share yourself with the world, and feel connected and as though you are not alone.
So many people are blogging these days, and I was thinking what it would be like to read everything that was posted in a single day. I'll bet that this month, millions of people have written about autumn and how it makes them feel. Perhaps they wrote about the beauty of it, the poignant transition of the seasons, or they posted pictures of their loved ones frolicking in the crunchy leaves.
We are all just human beings, wandering around this crazy planet, savouring the experiences that shape us, and dreaming of what lies ahead.
Here are some obligatory fall photographs. (They were taken last year. I'm hoping to snap some current pics this weekend.)

Amanda Brown at 5:00 PM

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Emerging Dog

While Steve and I were out traipsing around Vancouver, Rolo stayed at Aunt Jane's house and caught up on some of his reading on post-modern Christianity. I am reading "The Story We Find Ourselves In" by Brian McLaren and am finding it a delightful and thought-provoking book. Rolo finds its theology a tad too liberal, but he is open to discussion. How pomo.

Amanda Brown at 4:05 PM

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The Coast Was Kind to Us

So, Steve and I made a quick trip to Vancouver this weekend, and it was just lovely. We arrived early Friday evening to a nice home-cooked meal at Aunt Jane's house, then got the grand tour of Trevor's new home, which is in the middle of huge renovations. It was nice to be back in the rainy city, as there are many memories held there from when Steve and I were dating.
On Saturday we went to Tom Lee (basically the hugest music store I have ever seen) and Steve yakked with the sales guys about synthesizers, recording equipment, and software for hours, while I twiddled my thumbs and tried not to break the $30,000 guitars. Steve was in heaven, so I waited patiently. Later that afternoon, Steve and his dad went out shopping for a gift for Bruce (Steve's uncle; Bob's fraternal twin brother) and they dumped me off at the Village at Park Royal, where I gleefully spent a few hours meandering through the shops, making the all-important stop at Old Navy (I bought two pairs of pants. One was $7, the other was $2...it was just dandy!)
Finally, the evening of the big soiree was upon us and we drove out to West Vancouver where Bruce and his wife, Lori, live. Neither Bob nor Bruce knew that such a big party had been planned; they were expecting a quiet family dinner. Bob's wife, Sue, and Lori had done a wonderful job of inviting all of the Brown brothers' old business friends, and Carey Hall buddies.
Bruce and Lori's home is unbelievably gorgeous, and everyone fely very welcome and happy to celebrate the big 6-5 with Bob and Bruce.

The dinner was catered and it was scrumptious. As you can see, Steve was enthusiastic about it.

This was Rolo's first trip to Vancouver, and he slept the whole way, there and back, on my lap. Usually I have to coerce him into cuddling, and hold him down with force, but he just hopped in my arms and nuzzled in. Protest I did not.

"One was fair and one was dark," quoth Grandma Brown.

All in all, it was a great weekend, and it was a treat to see so many great friends and family members.

Happy 65th to Bob and Bruce! We love you!

Amanda Brown at 3:48 PM

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Friday, October 21, 2005

On the Road Again


In mere moments we will be heading out for a drive to Vancouver, where we will spend the weekend celebrating Steve's dad's 65th birthday. It will be nice to connect with Steve's family and have some fun in the rainy city. Steve wants to go to all of the big music stores and squander our savings on new guitars, speakers, keyboards, and the like. If I have my say, we will make a stop at Old Navy and IKEA. If we both get our wish, we will come home with lots of loot, but no hope for our future. :)
Happy birthday to Bob (Steve's dad) and Bruce (Steve's dad's twin brother)!

Amanda Brown at 11:37 AM

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Old Crushes Die Hard

So, my friend Stephanie did a post on her blog yesterday about celebrity sightings, and how one of her friends served a bagel to Jonathan Taylor Thomas (JTT). For those of you who don't know, he played the (HOT!) middle child on the sitcom "Home Improvement".
You could say that I had a rather unhealthy infatuation with JTT during my preteen years. I purchased every article of the BOP! magazine and pored over the glossy photographs of him in them. I plastered my walls with posters of him, and there was one headshot that I kissed goodnight every evening. (My lipgloss stained the poster and it was rather embarrassing when friends would come to my room and see my wet lip print on the poster. But I did not take it down.)
I was honestly convinced that, given the right opportunity, he would totally fall in love with me. I had dreams of us meeting, going for walks, and having him realize how wonderful I was, then we would marry and live in a Hollywood mansion.
As I got older, I overcame my infatuation, and took down my posters and bid farewell to my hopes of wooing the teen star.
But do you want to know who I dreamed about last night?
JTT.
All it took was one mention of him, and that part of my heart opened up again and there he was in my mind's eye all night long.
In my dream I was at some sort of conference and I saw him there. I circled the building repeatedly so as to "casually" walk by him and hopefully catch his eye. The last time I walked by, though, he was gone. All of a sudden he came out on this stage and was playing with this band. He was going crazy on a keyboard, and he was looking hot. I tried to scurry up as close to the front of the stage as I could, and at the end of the performance, an announcer said, "The band will be in the foyer after the show, so fans can go and get autographs if they wish."
I hopped up on the stage and looked JTT in the (smoldering) eyes and tried to say something witty that would make him realize that he was looking at his soulmate. So I said, "What about fans who used to have posters of you all over their walls and would kiss your image good night every evening?"
He gave me a funny look, like I was a weird stalker and he was ready to call security. Then I woke up.
JTT, you've broken my heart for the last time.

Amanda Brown at 9:11 AM

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Variations on a Theme

Upon browsing through my photos, I found quite an extensive collection of bizarre pictures of me, Kristen and Erin. What is it about blogging that makes you want to post hideous photos of yourself, for the universe in its entirety to browse?!
I do not believe that you are adequately prepared for this gelatin.
("I don't think you're ready for this jelly" quote taken from Bootylicious by Destiny's Child)

Amanda Brown at 6:31 PM

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One of Those Ones That Never Made it Into the Scrapbook


Maybe it's the look of disdain on my face, maybe it's the fact that Erin is sniffing my bosom, or maybe it's that Kristen looks pretty content nuzzled into my body...but this photo never made it into my scrapbook. One of those funny pictures where you ask yourself, "who was it that suggested this pose?!"

Amanda Brown at 6:27 PM

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Mitzi Got Her Mullet Trimmed


This is Mitzi, the long-haired chihuahua that has stolen the heart of my mother. Although Mitzi is skiddish and scraggly, she is compiant enough to sit on my mom's lap for hours on end and just be petted. This is what my mom has dreamed of for years. We have always had animals in our home, but they usually just never clicked with mom. She would chase our cats around the house, finally snag one and force it to cuddle with her, before it writhed in agony and scratched her eyes out in escape. Poor momma needed some animal lovin'.

When my Oma was ill and living with my family, Mom thought it would be nice for Oma to have a little pet to hold, to make her feel better. So, they found an ad for Mitzi in the newspaper. She was a defective breeding chihuahua, meaning she was unable to carry her pregnanies to term, so the owners were selling her for a very cheap price. My mom jumped at the opportunity and brought the skinny little rat home for Oma. But Mitzi never really bonded with Oma; instead she was attached to mom from day one. Since then, Mitzi has reached princess status in the Olsen abode, and I fear that she will be given a large portion of my inheritance one day.

I was talking to my parents on the phone tonight and asked them what was new. My mom said, "The dogs got shaved."

I know that Nipper, our other old dog, got periodically shaved, but I was having a hard time picturing Mitzi as a hairless rodent.

My dad interceded, "Well, Mitzi didn't get shaved. They just trimmed her mullet."

Amanda Brown at 6:16 PM

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My Momma is Neat-O!

So, my mom is pretty much the best EVER. Today I got a notice in the mail that there was a package for me at the post office. It's not my birthday or any other special occasion, so I wasn't sure who it was from or what it could be. When I went to retrieve the parcel, I saw that it was from my mom. She had sent two beautiful table cloths for me; one with rich, autumn colours, the other a festive Christmas one with burgundy and gold. She is so sweet. She is always doing stuff like that for me, and I love it. On every birthday, Valentine's Day, and Easter, she never fails to send out a care package for us filled with yummy goodies, a home-made card, and fun trinkets.
Thanks, Momma! I appreciate it so much, and I love you!

Amanda Brown at 11:35 AM

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Dinner Date

We have been friends with Matt and Angella Dykstra for well over a year. It has been so nice to get to know them, and their cute little blondies. Angella has been to our house many times, as the girls often meet there for Bible study, or what have you. But Matt had never set foot in our home before! Terrible, I know. We are all busy people, and we had been trying for the past year to get together with them for dinner. They had graciously invited us to their home a few times, but it didn't work out. So finally we nailed down a date the worked for us all, and they planned to come for supper on Tuesday of this week.
I was happy we were going to be hosting them, but then I started to think about what our menu should consist of and I started to panic. Angella is one of those super-moms who always has a cookie jar full of freshly baked goods for her husband's sweet tooth, there is always something delicious simmering in her crock pot, her kids are always dressed in cute clothes and playing happily, she works part time as a certified accountant, she's a devoted blogger, and she manages to do all of this while looking HOTTER than HOT!
What do you serve a super-mom for dinner?!
Do you try a new and exotic recipe, and take the risk that it might turn out to be inedible? Or do you stick with a classic dish and risk being thought of as a boring and untalented cook (which I may very well be, but only Steve is supposed to know that!). I started combing the internet for menu ideas, but was coming up with nothing. The dinner date was fast approaching, and I finally decided on what to serve. It was a new recipe. And one that I had kind of made up. Potential for disaster, right? But it all worked out all right.
The Dkystras arrived yesterday evening to a table set with with Chicken Pesto Lasagna, Focaccia Bread with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar, and Salad Greens.
It was yummy, and I was thankful for that. Even better than the food was their company. It was so nice to just sit and talk, and watch Graham and Nathan chase Rolo around the ottoman.
Thanks for your friendship, you guys! We love you and look forward to when you're back in your house again! Have a great visit with your mom, Angella!

Amanda Brown at 11:00 AM

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Monday, October 17, 2005

My Name is Amanda Bread. I mean Brown.


I had lunch at Christy's house today and while the Ellen Degeneres Show was on a commercial break, we started to flip through this amazing cook book. It was a book devoted to baking. There were glossy photos of every cake, scone, muffin, and square you could imagine. The best section of the book was all about BREAD, though.
I love bread. There is something so simple and pure about it, something so comforting about the smell of a freshly baked loaf, something that makes me want to ram an entire baguette down my throat. It's magical, really.
Take one look at my thighs and it's easy to tell that I am a bread lover. Always have been; always will be. I tried Atkins for two weeks a few years ago, and it felt like Chinese water torture. Bread is a staple of my diet, and I have learned to enjoy it in moderation.
I love the many different kinds of bread. How there are unique breads to each culture: pitas, naans, foccacias, bagels, and the list goes on. It is something so common, made of a few simple ingredients, and it becomes something that provides such satisfying sustenance. Oh, bread.
Bread is delicious, how I love it so!
Straight from the oven, with piping hot dough.
Slathered in butter, just to be safe,
I eat so much that my lips begin to chafe.

Amanda Brown at 1:36 PM

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Old School

This photo was taken eight years ago.
Every Christmas we would host a cookie decorating party at my house and smear globs of dyed icing on sugar cookies. It was great, messy fun.
I look at the young girls in these pictures and it blows my mind that the dark-haired beauties, those Payette girls, all have baby girls of their own now. And Marla married Maury, that guy that Kristin thought was cute at Youth Conference. And Amy was engaged to a guy for a while, but they broke it off and now he's marrying someone else. And Dauna is pursuing journalism. And Kristin decided not to be an artist and is studying social work, and has left a trail of broken hearts in her wake; men who were ready to marry her, but she is following her heart and waiting to find her soulmate. And I married a fruit farmer and live in the Okanagan.
I wonder what each of these girls in the photo would have said if we were given a glimpse of our lives, eight years later. Would they be disappointed? Surprised? Excited?
In the past eight years we have all experienced our share of joy, pain, adventure and discovery. It makes me sad that I have lost touch with many of the girls at that kitchen table. A lot can happen in eight years. It makes me wonder where I will be in another eight years.

Amanda Brown at 9:29 PM

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My Former Self

I grew up with a great friend named Amanda Brown. She was a few years older than I was, and her friendship was one that I cherished. We spent hours in her bedroom devouring Seventeen magazines and daydreaming about the boys we had crushes on. She was always kind and generous with her time and resources.
My maiden name was Olsen. So there Amanda B. and Amanda O. and together we were Amanda Squared. We were comrades in Bible quizzing and youth group. She was a wonderful friend.
When I got married to Steve and took his last name, Brown, it took me a solid year to think of myself as Amanda Brown, and not think of my friend. Amanda married a tall, dark and handsome man named Nick Franks the same summer I married Steve, so we no longer have the same surname. It still took some getting used to.
Amanda now lives in Calgary with her hubby and her sweet baby girl, Isabella. Even though we (or should I say "I") can be inconsistent with our corresponence, she is one of those friends who you think about and smile. She has just started her own website, and I will be sure to include a link to it on my page here very soon. Check it out and take a peek into her life.
Amanda, you said you wanted to get on my blog...your wish is my command. :) I feel so lucky to have been your friend while we were growing up in Regina. You always made me feel loved and cared for, and I know that you continue to do that for the people in your life today.
Hurry up and come for a visit to Summerland, OK? I've got to meet that little Belle before she's a teenager!

Amanda Brown at 9:18 PM

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Can You Feel the Love Tonight?


So, we had a little family reunion here at our house tonight. Rolo's brother, Alex, came to town. Alex lives on the coast with some people we know, and they are visiting for the weekend, so they dropped Alex off for a play date with Rolo.
Contrary to what the above picture may suggest, the two brothers had a lovely time together. There was running, there was wrestling, there was snapping, and there was even some air humping (I am told that it establishes dominance?). They hit it off and I really think that deep down they know that they are related. Rolo barked, and I think in doggy language he said, "Greetings, friend Alex. I sense a deep connection with you, and you make me remember a time when I was young and innocent, suckling at my mother's teat. Yes, that is it! You were there while I was suckling! You were suckling too! YOU ARE MY BROTHER!"
Family. It's a beautiful thing.

Amanda Brown at 5:41 PM

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Makes Me Smile

You know what I like? I was reading my friend, Christy's blog and someone had commented on one of her posts. When I clicked on the comment I saw that it was my friend, Jen, who had commented. It's cool that my friends are connecting with my friends (if that makes sense?!). Jen is someone that I grew up with and she knew me when I was a rowdy teeny-bopper; Christy lives in Summerland and knows the present-day me (still rowdy, just older and chubbier). But through the blogging world, they know so much about each other's lives. I like to think that if Jen came to town tomorrow, just out of the blue, that she and Christy and I would go for coffee and it would feel like we've all been friends, the three of us, for years. Christy would meet Abby and feel like she's already been watching hew grow up; Jen would meet Ben and Megan and see how cute they are in person. It would be swell. That's one of the cool things about blogging. It unites the various spheres of your life.
But then Jen and Christy would probably hit it off a little too well and would realize that they don't need me. Then they would make my babysit their kids while they went to the spa and out for lunch. And they would train their kids to fill their diapers five minutes after they get dropped off. Then I would think that maybe having my friends meet through blogging was actually pretty lame. And to retaliate, I would sabotage their friendship by posting mean comments on their blogs, posing as either Jen or Christy. "Jen, this post was dumb. You are not cool. Why don't you just go hang out with Amanda?...from Christy" and "Christy, I know I said we were friends and stuff and that we don't need Amanda, but I have realized the err of my ways and have decided to be best friends with Amanda and break all ties from you...from Jen".
Not sure how I got off on that tangent.
Happy weekend to you all!

Amanda Brown at 3:46 PM

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Hello, You Fool. I Love You.

"I know what would be the perfect outift for us to wear when we perform our song in the school-wide airband competition: floral short-alls, and white capri tights with lace around the ankles. Then we'll tease our bangs until they reach the sky, and we'll be ready to win this contest!" Kristin enthusiastically explained.
"Yeah, that sounds wicked! And the song we're doing is sooo amazing! Everyone's just going to love it!" I hollered.
Rae piped in, "Ya! Roxette rules! We are so going to win first place...our air band is going to be so rad. Let's keep practicing, though. Since we're only in grade 4, we have to be extra good to beat all of the big kids."
The ghetto blaster started pumping out the tunes, and we danced our hearts out while mouthing the words to "Joyride". Rae was a dancer and she taught us some sweet moves; we made microphones out of old toilet paper rolls with a ball of tin foil on top; we were going to be wearing floral short-alls; we were unstoppable.
The day of the competition came, and we were pumped.
They called up our group to come and perform. As the music filled the room, and we started letting the rhythm move us, I was filled with pride. We were so cool that it almost hurt.
At least, that's what my altered perception of reality was.
In actuality, we made complete fools of ourselves.
During the course of the song, I fell flat on my butt while trying to do this cool dance move where you lean back and touch the floor, Kristin forgot the words to the song during her solo, and Rae ripped the crotch of her shortalls when she slid into the splits for our closing pose.
We were convinced that we had nailed it, though, and were sure that we were going to win.
We did not win.
Some big, cool grade eight girls who sang "Love Shack" got first place.
We got ripped shorts and a sore butt.
I am still glad we tried, though. The song "Joyride" always takes me back to that day.
"She said, 'Hello, you fool. I love you. C'mon join the joyriiiiiide. Join the joy-ryyyeeeed!'"

Amanda Brown at 1:53 PM

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

It's Cool To Be Freaky.

My good friend Jen just wrote a post on her blog about how she and Jordan are so weird together; how they chase each other around the house naked, calling each other weird nicknames in deep voices. It made me wonder what it would be like to be a fly on the wall (hopefully a blind fly...I don't want to see nude body parts flapping down the hallway) and hear all of the crazy stuff that makes them laugh. And I wonder about every other married couple. Are there some that are just always rational and composed. Or are they all weird and quirky in their own special ways?
I think that of the Steve and myself, I am definitely the goofier one. Many times I will just bust out in a wild jig in the living room and start shaking my groove thang like there's no tomorrow and he just kind of smiles and rolls his eyes at me. But let me assure you that he has his moments.
After we had been dating for a while, we both started talking in this weird little voice to each other all the time, and we still do. And now more weird voices have been added. Whenever Steve calls me at work, I answer the phone, "Good afternoon, Summerland Baptist Church." Then there is this long pause. And then I'll know it's him and he says, in this high-pitched breathy voice, "Goooood afternoooon!" It gets me every time.
And when his radio alarm goes off in the morning and he's not quite fully awake, he will just start bopping his hips up and down to the beat of the music. Then I will join in. We won't even have said good morning to each other yet, but we will be shaking our bums to the music, sometimes for a few minutes.
And we write songs. When Steve got a new lap top a while ago, we were playing around with the functions and it had the funny drum beat that would repeat, so we wrote a song for it.
"Steve is swell, I know him well.
This makes me glad. He's good not bad
In life and in bed. He has a good head
on top of his neck,
We will through life trek, together...yeah.
Together...yeah."
We still sing it all the time.
And then there's what we do to our dog. Rolo has been given so many nicknames: Sharkman, Mister Man, Lolo, Lickman, Batman, Pirrhana, Mister Blister...the list goes on.
We still have tickle fights. Steve will pin down my arms with his knees and then tickle my pits until I scream in agony. It's terrible. Or if one of us toots in bed, then the other person gives their bum cheek a really hard pinch, which turns into an all-out pinching war, and the neighbours think I am a battered housewife, what with all the screaming.
So, all you married folk out there, tell me some of your weird quirks! It's kind of nice to know we're not the only bizarre people out there. I think that Jen and Jordan take the cake though!

Amanda Brown at 3:25 PM

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Revelations

In the course of my 23 years, there have been certain truths that have just struck me. Some profound, others simple. A lot of them were learned at a young age. Allow me to share...
- Clouds: they MOVE. I remember laying on my back on the front lawn and looking up at the sky. It was a windy day, and the clouds were thin, and I saw them being swept across the sky. I thought I was the first person to ever realize that clouds move.
- People keep on living their lives, even if I'm not around to see it. I remember driving around late one night with my parents. It was dark and the houses that lined the street had their lights on, so I could peer inside and see people watching TV or eating dinner or playing board games. It was then that I realized that, contrary to former belief, I was not the centre of the universe. That one is still a little hard to swallow. Donald Miller, in his book Blue Like Jazz expresses a similar thought when he writes about how he always thought that life was just a movie about him, and he would get annoyed when other "actors" interfered with his plot. As selfish as that sounds, I can identify with it.
-The person looking back at me from the mirror is ME. I remember brushing my teeth at the bathroom sink, looking at my reflection and all of a sudden I was like, "Wo. I am a human being, and I exist, and I can see myself in this looking glass." Again, this is one of those things that I STILL find weird. Life is so strange, really.
- Cats tongues feel weird. I got my first cat, Misty, when I was eight years old. She was a tabby who had been rescued from the street and I loved her fiercely. The first night I brought her home, she curled up on my lap and was purring contentedly. Then she licked my hand, and I freaked out. I thought something was wrong with her...her tongue felt like a dagger. A dagger made of sandpaper. I got used to it, but was scared at first by my mutant cat.
-Kissing involves the exchange of saliva. I know, sounds like an obvious thought, but I was caught so off guard by the slobbery, slippery mess of a first kiss I ever had. It was at Stoney Lake Bible Camp and I was 13. Seriously, I wanted to throw up in my mouth. So much spit. Kissing is much better now, though.
OK, that's enough wisdom for one day. I trust you were enlightened.

Amanda Brown at 2:08 PM

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

On the Path

Today is one of those days when I am extra aware of the fact that I am a living human being, with legs and arms and a body that fills with breath every few seconds. As I walked down the streets of my little town, feeling the cool air on my legs, I had the distinct feeling that I was on a journey. I was just strolling down to the post office, but it felt like more than that. I was aware of the exact moment I was standing in. I felt my age, I felt my lungs fill with cold air, I felt my legs propel me down the hill, I felt that the moments were escaping far too quickly.
They are.
I read a beautiful quote the other day by Donald Miller in his book Through Painted Deserts:
"It occurs to me, as it sometimes does, that this day is over and will never be lived again, that we are only the sum of days, and when those are spent, we will not come back to this place, to this time, to these people and these colors, and I wonder whether to be sad about this or to be happy, to trust that these hours are meant for some kind of enjoyment, as a kind of blessing."
That captures what I was feeling today.

Amanda Brown at 5:42 PM

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My Skinny Little Doggy


Sometimes Rolo looks like one of those starving street dogs from Mexico. But in a cute way.
I woke up a few mornings ago to see Steve and Rolo. They were spooning. Rolo's head was resting on Steve's pillow, and Steve had his arm around Rolo's little furry body, drawing him near. A bit much? Yes, but it was cute, in a weird, "I'm obssessed with my animal" kind of way.

Amanda Brown at 5:10 PM

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A Crazy Girl's Home-Made Photo Booth





All work and no play makes Amanda a nut job. This is how I spent my Saturday night, while the paint dried, and the fumes I had been inhaling all day finally caught up with me.

Amanda Brown at 4:55 PM

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Let Us Give Thanks

There was turkey, there was stuffing, there was pumpkin pie. And there was paint. The majority of my weekend, aside from a delicious meal with family and friends on Sunday evening, was spent painting our kitchen. What a job! The walls were in terrible shape, so most of Saturday was spent mudding, waiting for said mud to dry, sanding off the dries mud, then mudding some more. It took so long, and I wouldn's have been able to do it without Steve's help. (Thanks, Stevie!)
Erin dropped by on Sunday afternoon and graciously helped me out by cutting in around all of the corners and cabinets. Thanks for your help, Erin! What a swell pal.
Gone are the drab, white walls of yesteryear. The kitchen is now bathed in a lovely shade called "Late Wheat". It is warm and inviting and me likie. Definitely worth the mess, the sweat and the tears. (Actually there were no tears in this painting adventure. Unlike The Hallway Incident of September.)
Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. How blessed are we all, beyond measure!

Amanda Brown at 4:42 PM

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Good Night


Well, I think I have polluted the internet with more than enough rambling and unnecessary photography, so I will bid you all adieu for tonight. Here's a final self-portrait to tide you over until tomorrow.

Amanda Brown at 8:30 PM

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I've Trained Him Well

Rolo and I both have long snouts.
But at least they are good for something.
To waste ice cream is to sin against nature.

Amanda Brown at 8:24 PM

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Almost 525,600 Minutes Ago

(Here's is Hayson, bringing us the 11:00 news.)
Here are some photos from last year's Halloween bash. May they serve as encouragement for you to dress up and have a ball!

Even costumes can't disguise our hotness.


This shot was taken before the tea light on the window sill lit his cow suit on fire.

Sweet lovin' from the ever-angelic Christy (his wife!)

Amanda Brown at 8:08 PM

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Steve's Long Lost Brother

Woody (from Toy Story)!

Don't they look related? I think so. So naturally I am forcing Steve to dress us as Woody this year at our annual Halloween party. It's going to be great. I am going to try my darndest to get a Bo Peep costume together in the next few weeks so we can both be Toy Story characters. Wish me luck!
PS: All you Summerlanders, spread the word about our Halloween shin-dig. It will be at our place on Friday, October 28th at 7:00. Everyone is invited; the only rule is that you HAVE to dress up. There shall be jack-o-lantern making (hopefully Dustin won't catch fire like last year), pumpkin seed roasting, a spooky (and sufficiently cheesy) spooky movie, and more candy than you'll ever see again in this lifetime. Come one, come all!

Amanda Brown at 7:57 PM

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The Story of Us

Capernwray Memories...at the swing dance.
As a young girl growing up, I had always dreamed of going to Bible school and meeting Mr. Right. After I graduated high school, I planned to head off to Thetis Island to take a one-year Bible course at Capernwray Harbour. I was 18 and love starved. I was looking forward to seeing all of the eligible (and godly!) bachelors. I would have my pick! I kind of harboured the secret thought that upon my arrival, I would see this amazing guy there, and we would lock eyes and in my heart I would know that I was looking at my future husband. It was with great anticipation that I left the ferry and set foot on Thetis Island. Let the man hunt begin!
I was sorely disappointed.
I remember phoning home to my parents after a few weeks of being at Capernwray and whining, "There are no men here...they're all BOYS." It was tragic, really.
There were no guys that I automatically clicked with, and it basically became a year to celebrate female friendship. I made some amazing girl friends that year and wouldn't trade those memories for the world.
Sure, I had a few pseudo crushes on some guys, but that was just out of desperation, not genuine affection. I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to die a spinster. No biggie.
After Christmas break, I decided that I was going to stay in BC for the summer. One day I was walking across campus and I happened to cross paths with this guy named Steve Brown. All I knew about him was that he drove a green thing that looked like a Jeep and he had a blonde girlfriend who lived far away. We had said 'hi' to one another maybe a few times in the past, but that was the extent of our time together. On that one day, however, we stopped and actually chatted for a few minutes. He asked how my Christmas break had been and I said it was good and then went on to blabber about my plans to stay in BC for the upcoming summer. Maybe I would be a camp counsellor somewhere, maybe I'd stay and work at Capernwray. Then Steve piped up, "Well, I live in the Okanagan and if you want, you could come and live with me and my family for the summer."
Pardon me?
Who the heck is this guy?!
(This is the only picture I have of Steve from Capernwray. And his head is hidden behind a giant burger. Definitely frame-worthy.)
I thought absolutely NOTHING of his proposal, and totally wrote it off, thinking he was just being nice (or kind of freaky). I knew he had a girlfriend, so there was no alterior motive. But, I was intrigued. I had been to the Okanagan only once before and had fallen in love with the placid lake and the endless sunshine. It would be sweet to spend the summer there, for sure.
A few weeks later, Steve tracked me down and said that he had talked to his parents and they said I could come and live with them. Weird, I know. They just wanted to meet me to make sure I wasn't freaky. We met a while later and got along really well.
The term at Capernwray ended, and I boarded a Greyhound bus to Summerland. As I sank down into my seat, I remember thinking, "What the heck am I doing? Going to live with some guy I barely know? What am I getting into?!"
In the final months of Bible school, Steve had broken up with his girl friend. Meanwhile I had started dating one of Steve's roomates. The roomate he kind of didn't really get along with so well. Neat.
It was a tumultuous summer to say the least. I was doing a long-distance relationship with the roomate who lived in Oregon, so my life became an endless cycle of fighting on the phone with someone I was simply not meant to be with and feeling terrible. I didn't spend any time with Steve, because the boyfriend I was with also was quite jealous and would freak out if I did. Really neat. I ended up breaking up with the guy because it was obvious things were headed nowhere.
Even though I hadn't spent any time with Steve, I had still gotten to know him over the summer. When you live in the same house and share a bathroom with someone, you get to know them whether you want to or not. And I had come to admire this Steven fellow from afar. I was impressed with his sense of humour, his dedication to his work and family, his generosity, his patience, and his fun-loving ways. We started spending time together, and he made the last month of my summer in the Okanagan amazing. Almost instantly we sensed a deep connection. We understood each other in a special way and just clicked.

By the end of the summer we were in love. We made the choice to stay committed to each other as we pursued our educations in different provinces. I went to the University of Regina and he was at BCIT in Vancouver. After one semester of separation, I moved to Vancouver so we could be near, and within a few months we were engaged. We got married on July 20, 2002, in the backyard where we fell in love. It was perfect.

I love you so much, Stevie!

Amanda Brown at 5:12 PM

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Really Swell Momma

This is one of my favorite pictures of Jen's daughter, Abby. They called it "Abby Climbs A Tree." I call it "Abby Gets Wedged Between The Branches So Mom Can Take A Photo." It's SO CUTE!!
Jen was the first of my high school friends to have a baby. I still remember reading the email in which she told me she was pregnant. I was just so shocked! It seemed so surreal to me that she was going to become a mother. Well, a mother she became, and a wonderful one at that! Jen has blossomed in her role as a stay at home mom, and I can hear her immense love for Abby in everything she says. She makes homemade baby food, she bakes her own bread, she takes Abby to all sorts of classes to stimulate her development...she is the kind of mother I hope to one day be. Jen, I admire how you have done so well and become such a fabulous momma.
Abby is a darling peach and I am so happy for you and Jordan, your little family is so precious.
I love and miss you!

Amanda Brown at 2:17 PM

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It's Nifty To Be Thrifty!

When I was in my early teens, my parents started giving me a clothing allowance. Each month I was given $40 to spend on whatever articles of clothing I saw fit. It didn't take me long to realize that forty bucks didn't stretch too far at most stores. So I started shopping at thrift stores.
I remember walking into Value Village for the first time and being bombarded by the musty smell of used clothes. I have always wondered about that smell. Clothes don't reek when they're in someone's own closet, but as soon as they get donated and are hung up on a rack in a thrift store, they stink the place up with that old, stanky stench. Owell, I have come to associate that smell with finding delightful treasures.
I have always been one to enjoy the thrill of the hunt when it comes to clothes shopping. When I go into any store, I immediately make a break for the sale rack, and see what goods are lurking there. I think that's why I get along so well with thrift stores. I could spend hours searching for that perfect hidden gem.
Today I am wearing a black velvet skirt I got from the Summerland Thrift store for two dollars. I can tell it is hand-sewn. I wonder who sewed it. Was it a high school home ec. project from the early 90's? Or was it lovingly crafted by a mother for her teenage daughter for a special occasion? I love to think of the stories that my thrift store clothes could tell.

Amanda Brown at 1:24 PM

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A Few Tweeks

Just thought I would play around with some new colours to give this blog a fresh new look. Any thoughts? Like it? Hate it? Does it make you want to throw up in your mouth or go hug a puppy? I welcome any and all comments.

Amanda Brown at 10:25 AM

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Falling

Autumn is such a beautiful season. But there is a quiet sadness to it. Such glorious shades of crimson and amber grace the leaves as they fall to the ground, but those vibrant colours indicate death. The once vital leaves, that used to be a brilliant green, so full of life, they shrivel and die. But there is no mistaking the beauty in their passing.
I also love the heaviness of harvest in the fall. The braches of the trees are drooping with the weight of the scarlett apples. The fruit has spent months on the trees, gleaning sweetness and size, and then the time comes when the tree can no longer support the fruit and it's time to harvest. Not unlike the human experience of pregnancy. A woman swells with the weight of her child, and the time comes when she can bear it no longer. The passing is painful, but through it we experience life's greatest gift.
I am struck by the fleeting nature of fall. In a few short weeks, the trees will be bare and the skies will be bleak. How many more autumns will I get to experience? Regardless of whether I get to see five more, or seventy more, one will be my last. Fall reminds me of my mortality. One day I will shrivel and die, and though the passing will be a painful journey, I know there will be a final beauty to behold.

Amanda Brown at 4:46 PM

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