Rae Ann + Dreads = WRONG

Until I was 30 I had straight hair. And I don't just mean straight, I mean stick straight. I mean hot-rollers-only-put-a-slight-wave-in-it straight. I mean you-couldn't-even-backcomb-it-with-gel straight. And then my thyroid quit.

Suddenly my hair had a slight wave in it. It held a curl a lot better. After I had Z, I noticed two things about my hair: a.) it was a lot darker (wah!) and b.) it was a lot curlier. But really only in the back. The front was just wavy. This made me crazy. Now, after Q, my hair is darker yet and has become full-on curly. The curliest parts are on either side of the nape of my neck.

What the hell?

After a life spent in pursuit of curly hair, now that I have it, I have no clue what to do with it. Unlike straight hair, brushing makes it look worse instead of better. I have a LOT of hair. I turn into Rae Ann of the Large Hair Clan if I come near it with a brush. A white girl fro is a fashion don't.

I am not a daily hair-washer (I don't manage regular showers, let alone hair washing!), so there are times when I will go for several days without brushing my hair. Also, I don't have bangs, so I have gotten into the habit of wearing my hair in a ponytail when I go to sleep. Surprisingly, this seems to make my hair more tangled than sleeping with it down!

So this morning I take my hair out of my barrette and run my fingers through it. Imagine my dismay when I discover two largish clumps of hair on either side of my neck that seem to have fused into nasty blondish ropes. YIKES! I practically had to get out the dogs' Furminator (mat comb) to get them out.

I told T that I guessed I was going to have to move to Jamaica and wear one of those crocheted hats if my hair was going to act this way. He said he was sorry I wanted a divorce.

Clearly some priorities need to be changed around here. Personal hygiene should not be a luxury. I am joining Kristen over at Motherhood Uncensored and declaring 2009 to be the Year of the Mom.

button for MU
Care to join me?


Three Columns!

Today I totally geeked out and figured out how to add another column to my template. I wanted a narrow column on the left side of my blog so I could display all of the cool buttons I see out there in Blog Land. I say that "I" figured it out, but really I just Googled "3 column Ms Moto" and followed the directions at The Blogger Guide. Ms Moto is my template. I am sure if you looked yours up, there would be instructions for that, too. The internet is an amazing place.

I am totally tickled with how it turned out. Drop me a line if you have a button you would like to share!

Coming soon: A Critical Mass button! I have made several for other sites, I guess it is about time to make one for mine!


Read Any Good Books Lately?

I am apparently blog stalking Jennifer over at Rundpinne. I am following her lead and joining in on a few bookish pursuits.

The first is My Friend Amy's Book Challenge 2009. This challenge is designed to encourage the rediscovery of the joy of reading, while supporting the authors who bring us books.

There are two levels or choices for this challenge.

1) The first option is to simply buy one book and read it. The book should be a book you have chosen for pleasure. It should not be work related. Books read to your children don't count!

2) The second option is to buy one book a month and read it. This is for those of us who will have read a book by January 2! Books can be on your other challenge lists, it is only necessary that you buy them and read them!

The challenge will end December 31, 2009. Amy will post a Mr. Linky for reviews on January 1st. If you plan to join in, please leave a comment and please consider spreading the word about this challenge - especially among your non-bookish friends.

At the conclusion of the challenge, Amy will draw a winner from each level to win a 10 dollar Amazon gift card. (Woo hoo! Free book money!)

I made the button in my sidebar to spread the word. I sent the code to Amy, so she may post the code at her site. If not, I'd be happy to send it to you.

Secondly, I have decided to join the Sound Mind, Sound Mom Book Club at Simple Mom. I have wanted to join a book club for a while now, but the pickin's are slim here in Small Town, Texas. I like the idea that the books are aimed at helping me do a better job and be happier staying home.

So here's the drill: Each Thursday, new questions will be posted in the Club’s online forum, specific to the previous week’s reading assignment. You can answer questions, start discussions, and reflect with your fellow readers all the next week, and anytime thereafter.

The reading assignments and calendar are set in stone, but you can join in at any time. Discussions about chapter one will remain posted throughout the entire book assignment, and possibly longer.

The tentative plan is also to have a live chat once per book, probably at its end, for final reflections and application.

The Book Club is open to anyone and everyone, though the discussions and application will be geared towards moms, home managers, and women in general.

The first book is Your Money or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. I'll let you know what I think!


Untrimming the Tree

Several of my bloggy friends have been writing about the chore of putting away all of their Christmas decorations. As I read their posts, I thought, "Wow! How organized of them! Too bad I'm not that way."

Fast forward to dinner time. I am in the kitchen nuking Christmas leftovers when Z brings me a tiny ornament. Broken. "Q took this off the tree. I took it away from him." I make a beeline for the living room. I find Q there with a tiny shard of glass ornament on his lip. Holy sheep! I asked Z if Q had put the ornament in his mouth and she said that he had it his mouth when she took it away. YIKES!

A phone call to Dr. Dad-in-law later, my freak out level came down to reasonable levels. Anything that small would get bound up in the stuff he ate and come out fine. Okay. I can deal with that.

But I guess it is time to take down the tree.

Got Thyroid?

Today when T got up, I told him I was going back to bed as soon as I had made the kids' breakfasts. He grumbled his consent then said, "I think you need to get your thyroid checked again. You have been sleeping an awful lot lately."

Wait. Huh? "I'm sick!" I replied incredulously. I had gone to bed after him and gotten up before him.

"Still? I was sick, too, and I am going to work today." (He took the last two days off.)

What kills me about this statement is that a.) he had a much milder version of the OMG-please-kill-me-now cold I had; b.) he took two days off of work to lie around and channel surf while his mom catered to his every whim; and c.) while I was sick I did the holiday baking, ALL of the Christmas shopping - even for his parents, wrapped a kajillion presents, played Santa, fed/bathed/clothed the kids, and made Christmas dinner. Without a single day off.

Because moms never get a day off.


12 Days of Christmas Wrap Up

One very laid-back Christmas.

Two super excited children.

Three overnight guests - Mom-in-law, Dr. Dad-in-law, and Scout, the giant golden retriever. Also? the number of family members who were actively sick for the festivities.

Four friendly dogs underfoot and in the way, lethal tails knocking ornaments off the tree.

Five kinds of dessert: apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, peppermint bark cookies, chocolate covered potato chips. The pies were courtesy of Mom-in-law. Her apple pie is the BEST.

Six pounds of smoked beef tenderloin from Miiller's Smokehouse. It was delicious and so tender you could cut it with a fork.

Seven exhausted adults at the end of the day.

Eight new toys that make SO MUCH NOISE. The living room now sounds like a casino. Thanks family!

Nine for Christmas dinner: our family, T's parents, Sister L and her husband Bro R, and Bro R's mom, Auntie C. I served tenderloin, horseradish potatoes (thanks, Sister L!), Brussels sprouts with bacon and pine nuts (put enough bacon in it and even my veggie-hating husband will eat it!), cranberry salad, and hot rolls.

Ten matching Christmas stockings, made the first year I was married to match the ones my sisters had growing up. Green for boys and red for girls. They have angels on them with hair to match their owners'. Even the dogs' stockings match. Actually, we made 16 in all. One for every member of both of our families so they would always have a stocking at our house.

Eleven new books for the kids' libraries. I just love new books! We even managed to only get one repeat.

Twelve billion of presents (Z's phrasing) under the tree - and we cut back this year!

All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas. I even managed to get in a shower and put on make-up! This is an improvement over last year where I never made it out of my Christmas PJ's! The holiday meal was great, and so low stress. My fabulous guests even cleaned up the mess. My family ROCKS.

The big thrill this year was the Fisher-Price Power Wheels Jeep Grandma and GanGan gave to the kids. Z drove it all over with Q as her thrilled passenger. She didn't run into too much stuff! Q got several wheeled toys and spent most of the morning opening gifts from the front seat of his little Flintstone car - you know, the kind you push with your feet. That car was the only thing that got the poor sick little guy to stop crying.


A Little Something for Everyone

I came across the BEST post over at She's Just Another Manic Mommy. I'm still a little under the weather, so I am reproducing it here. Enjoy!

God Bless Us. Every One.
I wanted to give each of you a little something as a thank you for everything you've given me this year. Well, it didn't arrive in time for Christmas. We're all moms here, so I know you'll understand.

For my friends, the someday moms: May your eggs be viable and your uterus be hospitable. Or may you find another way.

For my friends, the gestating moms: May the first and last trimesters go by with ease. May you take the sleep when you can get it. May you savor the miracle.

For my friends, the laboring moms: May your OB be on duty when you go into labor and free with the drugs. May your baby's head be small. May your partner know his place is to shut up and shovel ice chips.

For my friends, the brand new moms: May your baby latch on like a champ and sleep in long stretches. May you shower most days. May your husband have a great paternity leave policy.

For my friends, the mothers of newborns: May your child find a schedule. May he take a bottle, when necessary. May you be there for her first smile.

For my friends, the mothers of infants: May your child sleep through the night. May she be allergy-free. May he be an "easy baby".

For my friends, the mothers of toddlers: May your child not figure out how to open the child proof locks. May she not share food with the dog, then put it back in her mouth. May he not hit the terrible twos before his first birthday.

For my friends, the mothers of preschoolers: May potty training last days, not months. May she not suffer from separation anxiety on the first day of preschool. May he always like you better than his teacher.

For my friends, the mothers of kindergartners: May your child adjust beautifully to big kid school. May the teacher recognize the uniqueness and individual gifts of your child.

For my friends, the mothers of elementary schoolers: May your child neither bully nor be bullied. May she love learning in all its forms.

For my friends, the mothers of tweens: May your child find his own moral compass. May friends, music, and movies not steal the precious years of childhood innocence.

For my friends, the mothers of high schoolers: May your children's deeds make you proud. May you be their mother first and their friend, second.

For my friends, the mothers of college students: May your children remember your lessons as they take their first fledgling steps to independence. May they make good decisions and know their own minds.

For my friends, the mothers of adults: May your children grow to be intelligent, loving, kind, good, hardworking, humorous parents. And may they take good care of us as we grow old.

For all of us: Though the days are long, the years are short. May we treasure the good ones and run down the clock on the bad ones with humor and love and friendship.

It was either this or a fruitcake.


Merry Christmas to All!

A time of hope.

A season of love.

A year of abundance.

Wishing you glad tidings this holiday season and always!

With love an laughter,

The Critical Mass Crew



Today I am thankful for:

1. My mom-in-law. LOVE. She has done my holiday baking, chased after my kids, cleaned my kitchen and so much more. She is the very best. I am so lucky to have her.
2. That I did not die from my sinus affliction.
3. Ibuprofen. How did people live before this wonder drug?
4. Margarita machines. There was one at T's party. I walked on the wild side and had two before switching over to Diet Cokes, which I also love.
5. That I got to sit with L at the Christmas party. She is so much fun! I wish our busy lives let us hang out more.


So I did not die from my sinus-induced misery yesterday. But it was a close one. I woke up today without the exploding head, but with the addition of a raw throat and missing voice. Ever notice how hard it is to get your kids to stop hitting their sibling/climbing the Christmas tree/rolling in the clean laundry/unraveling the ribbon spools when you have no voice? Good times. Of course it doesn't help that Z is wired for sound and every third word out of her mouth is, "Is it Christmas today?" I was still feeling pretty crappy this morning, so it is hard to know if her behaviour was really so bad, or if my tolerance levels were just extra low. If it was the latter, sorry Z!

Despite all of the afore mentioned buzzing around on the parts of both of my children, I did manage to get some things accomplished. My Christmas cards are officially in the mail. Winkflash is the devil and I will never use their services again, but the cards are in the mail. For those of you just tuning in, I started trying to order my cards on December first. They sent me this hideous (not what I designed) card. They were very nice about the money-back-guarantee. All you had to do was return the cards, no questions asked. So then I re-ordered, making absolutely sure that the card was right. For whatever reason, their equipment wouldn't print my card. So I uploaded the card for a third time and placed another order. Optimistic of me, huh? Those cards arrived yesterday. AND THEY WERE WRONG AGAIN. They cut off the bottom of my image. I couldn't believe it. At this point I had no choice but to send them out (I had already stamped the envelopes), but I am appalled by the quality/appearance of my cards. I wrote them a scathing e-mail about how disappointed I was, but they have not replied. Bah, humbug!

On a happier note, after mainlining some ibuprofen I felt human enough to attend T's office Christmas party. It was held at this little hole in the wall restaurant we love. The food was fab and I talked myself hoarse(r). It is so much fun to get to socialize with the other wives. The guys' schedules are such that it makes it really hard to get together outside of work. We had the best time.

I even felt good enough when I got home to complete a batch of peppermint bark cookies, a recipe of my own devising. They look so pretty and taste good, too!

At this rate, maybe I will be well for Christmas. Here's hoping!



Today I am thankful for (wishing for death version):

1. TheraFlu.
2. Mom-in-law is here to chase children.
3. Cold orange juice.
4. Carbonation on a sore throat.
5. Jersey sheets and a plush microfiber blanket so soft it makes me want to pet it like a kitten.

Bad Timing

Greetings from the house of the plague. The cold I was grumbling about a couple of posts ago? Is now trying to make my face explode. When a nail through your cheekbone sounds like a viable option, you are in trouble. The one bright spot? Mom-in-law is here, so I was able to sleep uninterrupted from 2:00 this afternoon until 8:00. I guzzled down some chicken soup (Jewish penicillin!) and orange juice with a TheraFlu chaser, so I am hoping to be unconscious in the very near future. Merry Christmas to me.

Oh, and Winkflash is the devil. More on that when I don't feel the need to gouge out my eyes.



Well, we are taking a last minute overnight trip to Ginormousville, so here is a little short to keep you entertained until I can write an actual post. Simon's Cat is my FAVORITE. It makes me laugh until I cry every time. When I looked it up last night, I found that there were two more cartoons since the last time I checked. Like a little present just for me.

So I guess this is what I am thankful for today:


2. Simon's Cat - Let Me In
3. Simon's Cat - Cat Man Do
4. Simon's Sister's Dog - Fed Up
5. A good laugh.



Today I am thankful for:

1. That with the addition of a few chemicals the pit of despair our pool is an acceptable shade of blue.

2. A new Christmas treat re-created from my past: chocolate covered potato chips. Yum!

3. That there are at least a few ornaments on our tree.

4. T's hard work in getting the yard in shape.

5. A playdate set up with Z's best friend, Z, and his mom, the Lovely S.

6. Instead of the mini-cold the kids got, I got the full blown sniffing-sneezing-coughing-stuffy-head version.

Okay, I am not really thankful for that last one. I just had to get a little gripe in.

Speaking of Money

Cops have great job security, so we have no worries on that front, but I feel for everyone else out there. At Sister L's company, they laid off 200 out of 230 people. Yikes! (Not Sister L, though. Phew!) Even though I keep my head in the sand a little as far as the economy goes, I thought this was clever.



Today I am thankful for:

1. How gorgeous the the sun coming through the fog was this morning.
2. That T and I discussed last night's fit of pique and everything is forgiven.
3. Snowball the cockatiel at Z's school. She will sit on my finger and sing to me. LOVE!
4. Christmas Crunch.
5. That I am good at data entry and got three months of books taken care of in one afternoon.


Before we were married, my husband somehow got the idea that I was not good at handling money - despite the fact that I had lived on my own from the time I was 18, worked a good bit of that time and had purchased a house. (cough, cough, while he lived at home until we were married, cough) Once we were married, it was decided that he would handle the finances. This was fine with me. While I am capable of doing the family accounting, I had no burning desire to do so.

This arrangement has worked fairly well. Until today. Up until now, T kept me up to date on our account balances and we haven't had any problems. Well, with all of the studying/hunting/anything-else-he-can-think-of-ing, he had fallen behind on the data entry. Like several months behind. For my part, I toodled along buying Christmas gifts, shower gifts, cute but unnecessary clothes for the kids, and way too many books without consulting T about the balance. Clearly it was a breakdown in the (faulty) system and we were both at fault.

When T went out to run some errands today, his debit card was declined. He came home all fired up about where had the money gone? How much had I spent on Christmas? Blah, blah, blah. Now we still had money in the bank, so we didn't overdraw or anything, but he was steaming mad (at the situation, not at me. He agrees that we were both at fault). Honestly, I am surprised that it didn't happen before now.

So now we start a new era, where we are partners in our finances. This has to be a better arrangement. Besides, I get to geek out on Excel with spreadsheets and graphs and stuff. It will be good to know where all the money is going. I suspect Wal-Mart, as it is the only place to shop here in Small Town. Damn Wal-Mart.

Definition of Ironic

My "office" is literally a walk-in closet off of the kitchen. It has a built-in desk and some utilitarian shelving. And a really ugly '80's builder special light fixture. I don't know what it is about this light, but it is where all manner of creepy crawlies come to die. The first year we lived her, we found three(!) dead scorpions in it. Today, it was merely a collection of spiders.

When I came into my office yesterday morning, the light did this weird power surge deal, then died. So I unscrewed the screws that held the enclosed glass shade and took the filthy thing to the kitchen. As I mentioned there were a bunch of crispy spiders in there, along with what appeared to be baked on spider threads. Yay!

I let the nasty thing soak soak all day, then scrubbed it out after the kids were asleep. I had just gotten the worst of the bug goo off and thought to myself, "Man this thing is ugly. I wish I didn't have to put it back up." And what happened next? When I flipped it over to rinse the outside, I lost my grip, fumbled to catch it, then watched it shatter in the sink.

Guess I should be careful what I wish for!



Today I am thankful for:

1. Z's fabulous teacher, school, and the fun Christmas party they had today.
2. Free lunch!
3. I didn't have to go to Mega-Hell Wal-Mart today.
4. Christmas cards from old friends.
5. A clean kitchen - a post Christmas Crunch miracle!

Rage Against the (Sewing) Machine

My husband is a good guy. A good husband even. But this evening I could cheerfully stab him with a fork.

He seems to be stuck in some freaky 1950's microcosm where he believes that his responsibilities are over when he walks through the door of the house. Not exactly the helpmate one might wish for. It all started off innocently enough. He was cheerful when he got home from work. He'd had a good day and doesn't have to work tomorrow. He suggested we order a pizza. Nice. I love any meal I don't have to cook!

Things started going downhill when he got back from picking up the pizzas. We were having family date night (a movie and pizza on the couch). He came in, fixed his plate and sat down on the couch. Then he got all miffed when I had the audacity to make him wait while I got the kids' dinners ready. Grrr! So sorry I want to feed my children a vegetable or cut their food into smaller pieces so they don't choke to death.

Dinner goes without (much) incident. Z had been hounding us to put "ornderments" on the tree, so we let her put on the non-breakable ones. When she was finished, she came over and flopped on the couch next to T. Not one to be left out, Q walked over and leaned against his legs. Sweet, right? Well, T gets up and huffs about going somewhere where people aren't crawling all over him. Uh, what? YOU ARE A PARENT. YOUR CHILDREN ARE GOING TO CRAWL ON YOU. Perhaps this is a newsflash to him.

At this point, it was bedtime anyway, so I asked him to watch Q (who had been bathed earlier after an exploding diaper incident) while I gave Z a bath. "Oh, all right. But hurry. I was thinking about going to bed." It was 8:00. Poor pitiful Pearl. He was too tired after his long day of making phone calls and writing reports to sit on the couch with a 22-month-old. Really?

Let's compare days, shall we? Up at 7:00, make breakfast for everyone, put in a load of laundry, all with two kids and two dogs under foot. Create gift tags for Z's gifts to her classmates, print, cut, attach said tags to a dozen ornaments. Box up Christmas Crunch for Z's teacher and wrap the rest of her gift. Pack up cookies for the class, Z's (late) homework project, classmate gifts and teacher gift.

Hustle kids upstairs and get both dressed, including doing Z's hair. No time for a shower! (When was the last time I showered?) Take a bird bath standing at the sink, throw on appropriately Christmas-y clothes, slap on some make-up. Herd children into the car. Speed to school because despite your best efforts, you are running late. Again. Remember half way there that your camera is not in your purse. No time to go get it.

Arrive at party as other kids are starting to sing their Christmas songs. Corral Q, who was stealing the show and/or distracting the class. Help distribute food. Put gifts and cookies into cubbies. Keep Q from running out into the hall. Help clean up. Drag reluctant offspring to car once party is finished.

Drive home. Put uncooperative children down for naps: reading, rocking, singing, shushing. Re-hang garland on tree. Address 90(!) Christmas cards and 11 packages. Surf a little. More laundry. Find Q standing in his crib with poop running down his legs (we've got that constipation problem beat!). Attempt to clean him up on the changing table. Give up and give him a full bath in the tub. Prepare snacks for grumpy post-nap babies. Scan photos from others' Christmas cars for digital photo album.

And T says he's tired?

After I got the kids down for the night, I came down to start on the housework I had been putting off all day. T shuffled off to take a shower. (Sure, I can't remember the last time I showered and he bathes at least twice a day.) He redeems himself a little later. He came down and gave me a hug as I was doing dishes and apologized for being tired and cranky. He then asked if I was coming up to bed. I told him that I wasn't because my kingdom was a disaster and I needed to clean. Then he blew it by saying, "I just walk around the house with my eyes closed, these days. There is just no way you can keep it clean," and he walked back upstairs.

What? No way to keep it clean? Really? Maybe you could put a dish in the dishwasher once in a while. Or pick up a toy. Or, god forbid, change a diaper. Aaarg! I was seeing red. So he went off to bed and I stayed up and cleaned the kitchen. And living room. And did laundry.

And blogged. Thanks for sticking with me through this rant.

Since I am feeling all rant-y, it makes me wonder if my meds need tweaking. (My depression manifests as anger.) It is a stressful time of year. That's the sucky part about The Crazy. It makes you second guess yourself. Was T really so unreasonable? or was it just the depression rearing its ugly head? I'm pretty sure it's the former. But I'll pay closer attention.


Uh, About that 100th Post

I had planned to do one of those 100-things-about-me posts for my 100th post. Since post 100 came and went some time ago and I have come to realize that no one really wants to know 100 things about me, I have decide to give you one fact for each year of my age, 38, and add one factoid for each post past 100, 17. So I give you:

55 Facts About Me

1. Love black olives
2. Hate green peppers - they are one of very few things I don't eat. Uh, hence the weight issue. They make everything they touch taste like green peppers. Blech.
3. Love animals: originally, I was a cat person, next came big dogs (big old dogs in particular), then I came to love small dogs of any variety, but Pomeranians in particular. Pretty much anything with fur. Not tarantulas, though. Ick.
4. I am a military brat. The highlights: born in Korea and went to jr. high in Italy. Lowlights: I graduated from high school in North Dakota.
5. I only applied to one university. Go Longhorns!
6. I have never tried any recreational drugs. Not because I am all holier-than-thou about it or anything, but my sophomore boyfriend got busted for dealing and dragged out of physics class. It makes an impression.
7. When I was young, I had a thing for scary skater boys. Dig the Vanns!
8. I know how to weld.
9. I was 30 when I met T. 33 when we got married. 34 when I had Z. 36 when I had Q.
10. My favorite movie is When Harry Met Sally. I first saw it by accident. The theater was running a surprise double feature. We paid to see one of the Karate Kid sequels.
11. I never went longer than a month without a boyfriend from the time I started dating at 16 until I broke up with my college fiance at 21. Then I had two consecutive four-year dry spells (yes, that's eight years) divided only by a couple of unfortunate dates.
12. I screwed up my right knee doing a head roll in dance class when I was 16. And required surgery on the left one after a series of unfortunate events involving a bouncy house, swing dancing and a dunking booth.
13. My favorite book is The Eight by Katherine Neville. I am totally psyched that after 20 years she has written a sequel. Too bad I am too cheap to buy it in hardback.
14. I had both of my kids without painkillers. Even Z, who was induced. I am not a rock star or anything, I think I must just have a high pain tolerance and/or a pelvis made for pushing. Oh, and because my dad said I was too much of a weenie to have any babies at all, let alone naturally. I had something to prove.
15. Purple is my favorite color. Has been for most of my life. There was a time in jr. high when I could wear a different purple outfit every day for two weeks. Now I just have purple couches.
16. I taught myself how to sew so I could make costumes. I love me some costumes. I made my first elaborate one in the 7th grade: a can of Campbell's soup. Now I have a closet stuffed with them and two more people to make them for!
17. I am a night owl. This makes my chosen careers of teaching and parenting a bit of a bitch.
18. I have worked in broadcasting, advertising, and teaching. It took me a while to find a good fit employment-wise.
19. My first car was a loaded 1984 Chrysler Le Baron. I loved that car and cried when they towed it away after I totalled it.
20. My dad says there are two things everyone should do once: have a pool and drive a convertible. He was right about the pool, but not the convertible. I had to sell mine when Z was born, but look forward to buying another one when the kids are grown.
21. My biggest fear is that I will get early-onset Alzheimer's Disease like my mother.
22. My dogs' names are Griffin, Isabella (Izzy) and Blackie. Guess which one I didn't name?
23. I hate my birthstone, yellow topaz. It is the color of urine. Do all of those cool colored topazes count as a November birthstone?
24. I bought a house on my own when I was 31. My father and I did a studs out remodel of the kitchen. It was SO awesome.
25. I bought a coffee pot so I could ask a guy back to my house after a date. I didn't drink coffee at the time. I do now. I was thinking yesterday that "Mama Needs Coffee" would be a good name for a blog.
26. My hair went from stick straight and blond to downright curly and brownish after I had babies. Having pursued curly hair my whole life, I am now completely clueless about how to deal with it.
27. I follow 40 blogs, with more added almost daily. I hate it that I get so behind when I travel - which is ALL the time!
28. If money were no object, I would be an interior decorator. Though now that I think about it, any money at all would be more than I am making now, so maybe is should go for it!
29. I have a low level fear of doctors. But not needles. Huh.
30. It took me six months to figure out that I had post partum depression after Z was born. Those six months were hard on everyone.
31. I have three+ degrees: BS in Radio-TV-Film; MA in Broadcast Journalism; a teaching certificate (that is the plus part); and a MEd in elementary education. School is what I am best at.
32. I LOVE to read. But I mostly read fluff. I have enough serious in my real life, I look to books for an escape.
33. I taught in a huge urban school district for 5 years. I was one of only 11 white people in the whole building. It was a whole new world every day.
34. Being a mom is harder than I thought it would be. I spend a lot of time feeling like I am not doing a good enough job.
35. Though my friends don't believe it, I am pretty shy. I am the life of the party in a group of people I know, but if I don't know anyone, I am a total wallflower. So Frat parties in college? Nightmare.
36. I was in a sorority. Alpha Phi. If I had college to do over again, I would be more active in it and live in the house.
37. There are beach people and mountain people. I am a beach person. T is not.
38. We went to Kauai on our honeymoon. I might sell an organ to go back.
39. I am hoping to get pregnant again in the spring. T is not entirely on board yet. Z has requested a girl.
40. If I could afford it, I would pay someone to clean my house.
41. My favorite food is Korean barbecue, Bulgogi. Our housekeeper in Korea gave us the recipe.
42. The only recipe I know by heart is Cranberry Salad, a family holiday staple.
43. My favorite blogger is Jen Lancaster. I want to move to Chicago, stalk her, and become her new BFF.
44. My husband totally doesn't get the whole blogging thing, which I find frustrating.
45. I have been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans five times. I got lots of beads. Don't ask.
46. I made a recipe called Christmas Crack today. I changed the name to Christmas Crunch because I don't want to feed crack to my kids. But the original name is appropriate. So. Good. 4 boxes cereal (I used CoCo Puffs, Kix, Wheat and Rice Chex), 1 bag of pretzels, 1 bag of M&M's, 2 packages of almond bark. To. Die. For.
47. Happiness is a warm puppy? So true.
48. I am a better mother of infants than I am of pre-schoolers. Once they can talk back, my skill levels drop. I am hoping that I will get better as the kids get older. I did teach elementary school, after all.
49. I am not afraid of spiders, but cockroaches make me scream and dance around flapping my hands.
50. I am a chocolate purist. Which is to say that I only really like it in candy form. Cake, ice cream, or cookies? I would rather have vanilla. Not that I wouldn't eat the chocolate cake/ice cream/cookies, I would just pick something else if I had the choice.
51. I enjoy music, but I am not a "music person." I own maybe 12 CDs and do not own a MP3 player. I did not get a CD player until 2002.
52. My favorite kind of music is alternative/new rock. Small Town radio sucks, so I am not up to date on any songs.
53. I am a passable singer.
54. I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.
55. I would rather be too hot than too cold. Good thing I live in Texas!

And two to spare:
56. I am a huge fan of animal print. I have a chaise lounge in my living room that is leopard print. So cute! I have zebra print seat covers and also carseat covers. I would have preferred leopard print, but they wouldn't match the inside of my car.
57. I am a mediocre speller (thank goodness for Spell Check!) and a grammar Nazi. I don't mind breaking the rules for style purposes, but if it is just sloppy writing, it is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday


Kali: Goddess of Destruction

Lest you think I have gone soft with all of my ooey-gooey, mushy-gushy, spread-the-love posts of late, let us return to our regularly scheduled programming.

I misnamed my firstborn. Instead of Z, I should have named her Kali after the Hindu goddess of destruction. (Actually, we briefly considered Kayleigh as a name. Coincidence? I think not.) Whatever the situation, Z's first impulse is to tear things up.

It started out with price tags. She couldn't resist trying to get them off, and ripped many a book cover in the process. From there she moved on to tearing off any loose piece of paper she happened upon. She picks decals off of toys. She stretches her clothes until the stitches pop. She bites her nails. Until they bleed. Even her TOES. (Blech.) If it will fit in her mouth, she chews it up. (Man, it sounds like she is orally fixated, but we nursed until she was 18 months! Shouldn't that have taken care of that?)

I am at my wit's end. Why is my smart and lovely daughter hellbent on destruction? I am trying to go the natural consequence route (Books/toys are ruined? Too bad. They won't be replaced.), but it doesn't seem to have much effect. I correct/redirect her until I am hoarse. What else can I do? Is this just a normal almost-four-year-old thing? Suggestions, please!

Comment Your Balls Off!

I came across this great idea from Danny over at Dad Gone Mad called Operation: Comment Your Balls Off (or boobs depending on your gender). The post made me laugh and inspired me to create my very first blog button.

I am such a geek that I am totally grooving on learning all of the code. (Thanks to Jenieshell for demystifying the process!) Interestingly, the hardest part was constructing the scroll box under the button so others could get the code and use the button.

Anyhoo, the idea is that in these uncertain economic times, rather than give gifts to your bloggy friends, give them crack LOTS OF COMMENTS. Isn't that what we are in this for anyway? Well, you know, apart from that whole sharing your voice with the world thing. The Operation will run from now through the beginning of the new year.

I am typically more of a lurker than a commenter, but I have resolved to make at least five to ten comments per day. It only takes a second, and can really make someone's day. As for me, I love evidence that people are reading what I have to say. I just uploaded a follower's widget yesterday, and am THRILLED to have three followers already. (Thanks Dana, Mel and Meglyn! You made my day!)


Today I am thankful for:

1. Learning something new every day. Today I learned how to make blog buttons. Button Exchange, anyone?
2. Despite icy conditions, T only had to work a couple of wrecks. So both he and the population of Small Town were safe.
3. Z and Q have finally started playing well together. It used to be all Z ordering Q around/stealing Q's toy. Today they were laughing and chasing each other around. One of those moments that makes you glad you decided to procreate.
4. I am officially, really and truly, finished with my Christmas shopping. Wrapping, baking, cooking, cleaning? Not so much, but that's for another post!
5. Z's pre-school teacher. She's an experienced teacher who knows how to handle my, erm, spirited child. Oh, and school book orders! We got a sack full yesterday! I am a Scholastic book order junkie.



Today I am thankful for:

1. LOL Cats/I Can Has Chezburger - I just added them to my blog reader and they make me laugh every time. Since I can no longer have a cat (darn allergy-prone husband!) this is a way for me to get my kitty fix.
2. Sticking with the cat theme, Q has discovered his sister's Fur Real Pet, which is an animatronic kitten. He wags it around everywhere, meows at it and laughs out loud when he makes it purr. SO. CUTE.
3. I don't care what the Surgeon General says, children's cold relievers are a gift from god. (I only give them at night, so I know I won't give them too much and it insures all of us get a better night's sleep!)
4. White chocolate covered pretzels. An impulse buy at the grocery store and so yummy. Salty and sweet together? Perfection.
5. Darling little girl pajamas. Z's class at school has adopted a girl from the local homeless shelter and we signed up to give her PJ's. The pre-Christmas selection was excellent - so. many. choices. I got her two pairs and one pair for Z. I had to use some serious restraint not to buy more. I love me some jammies.



Today I am thankful for:

1. Everyone sitting down to dinner together. A rare occurrence since T works odd hours.

2. Christmas trees.

3. The miracle of finding the MS Office install disk in the pile of CDs that I had let the children destroy play with and it only had a single scratch (and a bunch of fingerprints).

4. Productive nap time: solved a blog glitch (check out my new buttons!); scooped a billion of leaves (Z's phrasing) out of the pit of despair; hung the garland on the Christmas tree; got the kitchen all sparkly; got all of the (week old) laundry put away. Phew!

5. Perfect weather for playing outside after nap time. Not too cool, breezy. Lovely.

Backseat Parent

Q has recently become proficient enough at drinking from a cup that I give him an open cup at meal times. The first time I presented him with a big boy cup, Z wanted to know why. I told her that he had to learn how to use a regular cup.

Spills are still a regular occurrence, however, so I only give him milk or water in an open cup. This morning, I was serving juice with breakfast, so I put it in a sippy cup. As I set their breakfasts on the table, Z said, "Q will never learn to drink out of a cup if you don't let him do it."

Ironically, after a cup of spilled milk at lunchtime, T said, "You have got to stop giving him regular cups."

Everyone is a critic.



1. Lazy days spent in pajamas. Z, Q and I didn't get dressed until late afternoon.

2. Both kids took naps AT THE SAME TIME!

3. I am done Christmas shopping except for one pesky bro-in-law

4. The beautiful purple velvet dress Chica got for Z. Just gorgeous.

5. The Holiday in the Square that our town holds. We went an sat on Santa's lap. No one cried! Got some great pictures of Z, but Q was very wiggly. Luckily, we took our own photos, so we got to take several.

Job Blah

T just finished another round of promotional boards. Three exams. Three panel interviews down in Austin. Nothing. I am so frustrated on his behalf. How can they not want him? He is smarter, harder working and more ambitious that any other officer I have ever met. To say nothing of better educated. It's like they have picked out who is going to promote before the interviews even take place. But of course, don't we all think that when we don't get the job? Blah.

Luckily, there is always another job. He sent in an application for yet another position today. With any luck, we should know some thing by the end of the week. If he gets it, the job would start right after the first of the year. We would be moving back to Ginormousville. In a lot of ways this would be a best case scenario. Close to family and friends, closer to the ranch, lots of enrichment opportunities for the kids, T working regular hours. On the other hand, the position doesn't sound very interesting to me. I don't know how long the novelty of not working weekends and holidays will last.

T is a little freaked out at the prospect of moving. He doesn't handle change well - even good change! I am more freaked out about selling our current house. SO many little projects left half done. Several big projects that need doing. Holy overgrown flower beds, Batman!

Oh, well. I guess we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves. No counting chicks and all that.



1. I am SO releived to be home again. My own stuff, my own bed, my own mess? Heaven.

2. I am athrilled that I cleaned up the house before we left so it was nice to return to.

3. Tivo. Today's menu: Pushing Daisies, Private Practice and The Starter Wife

4. I finally got the Christmas lights up.

5. The beautiful fresh wreath Sister L gave me.


Square Marbles

Around our house, when we talk about bad days, we say that our marbles just won't roll. We have abbrieviated that to square marble days. Today was the quintessential square marble day for me.

It started out well enough. The kids let me sleep until 7:00 or so and ate their breakfasts without much complaint. I got on the (SLOW) internet at my in-law's and found the directions to the warehouse where I get to pick up T's big Christmas gift. When the printer was out of ink, I should have known what I was in for.

I hurriedly scribbled down the directions and herded the kids into my car. I had done some rudimentary measurements and decided that a recliner could fit into the back of my Ford Freestyle. I figured that as a worst case scenario I could scoot a carseat over and fold 1/3 of the backseat down. No problem.

The day was clear and traffic was light. We made it to the warehouse without incident. Well except that Q fell asleep. No nap for him! We went in and the gals at the counter were very nice. Even when the afore mentioned napless toddler had a tantrum on the floor then went to the water cooler and made a giant mess. Soon they had me sign a paper and we were off to the loading dock to get the chair. Wow, that was easy!

Um, except the box they wheeled out was the size of my first car. The guy was very helpful, and even took it out of the box to see if we could shoe-horn it in that way, but no dice. It was simply too big to fit into the back of a small-ish SUV.

So we had to drive all the way back home to get another larger vehicle to go retrieve the chair. And unlike Small Town, all the way home was 22 miles or so. And there was a wreck. The formerly clear highway was at a standstill. It took us over an hour to get home. Ack! With Z asking about every 30 seconds if it is time to eat yet. Imagine that episode of the Simpsons where Bart and Lisa are asking to go to the amusement park. I never felt so much empathy for Homer!

When we get back to Casa de In-law, I have to install carseats into the grandparental car, which took an age. I am not used to their baby seats, but I didn't want to take ours out of my car. When I get that done, I change Q's diaper and load the munchkins up (again).

Z requested McD's for lunch, but we had eaten there two days previously and I just wasn't up for it again. I decided to head to the food court and the play area at the mall. We were cruising the parking garage when we started smelling a terrible smell. I was thinking to myself, "Wow, there must be a sewer leak. I'll have to be sure to park far away from it."

I park and pull out the stroller and open the door to unload Q. OMFG! My beautiful little boy has turned into a pretty little poop machine*. Danger! Danger! He has dug both hands into his diaper (damn his big boy Levi's!) and has rubbed it all over his belly, up his arms, on his seat, and all over his clothes. Of course, since I had just changed him, I had forgetten to throw in the diaper bag, and there wouldn't have been a change of clothes in it in any case.

The stroller goes back into the car and we head back to home base. Upon further inspection, there was nothing for it but that Q had to be bathed. Oh, the humanity! His skin was absolutely stained with poop. Even after a very thorough washing, I kept getting whiffs of merde. Lovely. And we get to drive home today. Yay!

Back to the mall. Eat lunch. It takes some doing, but both kids eventually eat a decent meal. Or at least as decent as is available at the mall food court. Z flat out refused to go see Santa, which was a pity because there was NO line to speak of, and we headed over to the (germ infested) play area.

In a departure from the rest of the day, the play area was great. Not too crowded, but with a number of kids just the right age for Z and Q to play with. Q did manage to escape a time or two when I was talking to Z, but he didn't get far. Turns out I can run if the situation demands it! I'm sure my knees/boobs will tell me about it tommorow.

The fun ended when it was time to go, both for the children and for me. Z decided to engage in some flat out defiance and refused to come get her shoes on. Q kept jumping out of the stroller and trying to run back into the play area. I finally browbeat the two of them into the family restroom - which was awesome! Grown-up and tiny potties! - and discover that I had, erm, intestinal distress from eating too many apricots. Great.

By the time we are bound for furniture pick-up it is 4:00. Ginormousville rush-hour traffic is starting to ramp up. In spite of this, we make decent time going accross town, but let us just say I was in a hurry to get there. I was afraid to fart. The ladies at the warehouse are surprised to see me back, but I assure them I don't want to pay $80+ for delivery.

The loading dude wheels out the gigantic box and takes one look at the Expedition and shakes his head. I was all, "But I called and the guy said it would fit! Can we take it out of the box?" We did. And it fit. Barely. Whew. My kids would have learned some new words if it hadn't.

We crawl back home in stop-and-go traffic. I feel crippled because I can't see out of the rearview mirror and the giant SUV has blind spots that elephants could walk through. Yes, I was the one in the giant copper-colored car putting on my blinker a mile before my lane changes and hoping for the best as I eased over. Good times.

When we at last return to Grandma's house, I discover that Q has had another blowout. And then another. And another. His baboon butt is back and he howls with each wipe. It became clear that we were marooned in Ginormousville for one more night.

I am totally bummed. T was finally going to be home and I was looking forward to a great big hug. As it is, Z will miss school tomorrow and T will be at work when we get home. The world was just agin' me today.

The good news? Tomorrow has to be better.

*How hip am I? Slipping in a little NIN reference.

Birthday Greetings

Happy birthday, Sister K! And congratulations on your (much deserved) promotion to SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT. You rock! I hope your birthday is as much fun as you made mine for me. I love you!


1. librivox.org - Public domain book recordings FREE! I have been listening to an old serial drama, The Grand Babylon Hotel, and it is the only thing keeping me sane in Ginormousville traffic.

2. I am done Christmas shopping for my immediate family. Now I just have to figure out something for those pesky sisters!

3. Target.

4. Foam coated play areas at the mall. It must have been Q's first time at one and he was SO excited. Z, for all her bossy-ness, makes friends immediately. A joy to watch.

5. Giant in-law vehicles at my disposal. T's Christmas present wouldn't fit into my car (more on that later), but there were plenty of large vehicles at home to choose from. Mission accomplished.



I was scrambling around yesterday(as usual) before we were to leave for Ginormousville. We had no real deadline to get there, but I did want to get to the post office before the lunchtime crowd. I hustle the kids and the dogs and the packages into the car and set off at glacier speed.

The Small Town post offices are conveniently located on the opposite side of town from where we live. Luckily, the opposite side of town isn't all that far in Small Town! When we got there, I rounded up all of the junk supplies I would need to mail my packages: two boxes; a sharpie; tape; return address labels; wallet. Wait. Wallet?

No wallet. I frantically dig through all of the usual places I stash it in the car. Not in the purse, the floorboard or the console. I vaguely remember getting it out of the car to get a customer service number off of one of the cards. Damn! I must have left it sitting on my desk next to my computer.

Trying not to have a temper tantrum, I load everything back into the car, grit my teeth and answer all of Z's where-are-we-going? and why-do-we-have-to? questions. We drive all the way back to our house where I jump out to go grab my wallet from my office.

Guess what! No wallet. At this point I am more frustrated than frantic and march back out to the mom-mobile. Surely I looked everywhere before we returned home, didn't I? I go to the passenger door and am greeted by a bushel of fur with assorted noses, legs and tails sticking out. Izzy and Griffin are entwined and completely cover the passenger seat.

Could it be? Using a crane, I heft Izzy's big ol' butt off the seat and what do I find? My wallet. Arg! It should be noted, that I carry one of those giant grandma wallets with a checkbook, photos and a million receipts inside. It took some serious fur to cover up that puppy (no pun intended!). I couldn't help it. I totally cracked up.

The happy ending to my story is that even though we made it back to the post office in the middle of the lunch hour, it was all but deserted. We hardly had to wait at all. I guess it was payback for not losing it when I found my wallet under the dogs.

Post 100: Missed It.

I had big plans for my 100th post, but with all the excitement of 365 Days of Grace in Small Things and traveling, post 100 came and went without my noticing. At least I was writing about things I was thankful for and not poop or dog pee! Anyway, I am traveling right now, so I will post my 100+ post when I get back to Small Town (where using the computer is not such a chore!).


1. I got to see Chicklette today! Yay! She is as gorgeous in person as she is in her pictures. I didn't get to hold her, though. Her Grammy outranked me. Boo!

2. Z and I got great new haircuts. Hers is in a chin-length bob that is the cutest. thing. ever. Our stylist did some magic over my hair that makes it curl better without frizzing. I will really be thankful if I can duplicate it!

3. Play areas at McDonald's. A life saver when you are traveling.

4. Adventure Kids Playcare. My mom-in-law wasn't here to look after the kids, and I didn't think Q could sit through a doctor's appointment and my haircut in one day, so I checked Adventures Kids out. Awesome! Z loved it and asked if she could go back tomorrow!

5. That the ug-ug-ugly moles on my neck were removed today - and that the shot to numb them hurt more than the removal.



1. Sister L is an AMAZING aunt. The kids clamour to see her and when they get there, they all roll on the floor puppies. Best. Aunt. Ever.
2. Cheap gas! $1.49 per gallon. I filled up my car today for $20! Practically free!
3. High speed internet. I am at my in-law's house. They have dial-up, which makes me grateful for my set-up at home.
4. Homemade chocolate chip cookies in the cookie jar. My mom-in-law ROCKS!
5. My hair stylist had two appointments available tomorrow so Z and I can get our hair cut before the holidays! Yay!


Poor Little Prize Fighter

Q had a rough day yesterday. By the time he went to bed I was afraid some one would call CPS! It started when we were playing outside. Q picked up a little sprinkler head and was playing with it. Since Z's favorite game is to snatch what ever Q is holding, she grabbed it. Having witnessed the whole exchange, I told Z to give it back. She gave me a look and threw it over her shoulder. Where it promptly gouged a divot out of Q's right eyebrow.

It was one of those injuries where he sucked in a huge breath and held it for what seemed like a whole minute, then let loose with the bloodcurdling screams. Luckily, it was just a gouge and no stitches were required.

After a series of unfortunate choices, Z was banned from the tub and Q was in the tub by himself. He was reaching into the toy bag and his great giant head overbalanced him. He bashed into the side of the tub. With his ear. It ballooned up and was clearly painful. Great. Cauliflower ear. Then, on the way out the tub, he slipped again and hit his chin. It didn't break the skin, but there was a big scrape.

Poor little guy. It just wasn't his day.

Z's behavior cycles from challenging to an-ice-pick-in-my-eye-would-be-more-pleasant. Things have been running pretty smoothly lately, but with all the time we have spent traveling in the last month, she is ramping up to almost unbearable levels. Even though I am the primary care taker, she is keenly missing her dad.

I am totally tired of the single parent thing. I feel this way every hunting season. Throw in my trip to California and going down to see my folks and I think we have spent maybe five days with everyone in the same house this month. Blah.

Oh, well. T will be home on Thursday, and I think we will be together until after Christmas, even if we are taking another trip out to the ranch. I am even looking forward to that. I miss my hubby. I miss having someone to shoulder the load - however temporarily. Someone to help referee our little prize fighters.



  1. 1. Plastic pitchers so that when you drop the orange juice, the mess is merely sticky and not dangerous.
  2. 2. Swiffer Wet Jet. See above.
  3. 3. Tivo
  4. 4. Clorox. I noticed some scary grunge in the removable vent-y part of the sippy cup that was unreachable with scrubbing implements. Clorox cleared it right up.
  5. 5. That Q is fianlly old enough to play with Z on not just be tormented by her.

1/365 Days of Grace in Small Things

I saw this cool project over at Zoot and Paper Napkin: 365 Days of Grace in Small Things. Basically, you write down five things you are thankful for every day for a year. I like this idea because it is so easy to get bogged down in minutia that you forget all of the many good things in your life. I'm going to give it a shot, though I make no guarantees that my 365 will be consecutive or in a single calendar year!

1. The kids are both asleep.
2. My Pomeranian, Griffin, is sitting on my feet under my desk.
3. The lovely comments I have been getting since joining Blog Stalker!
4. The microfiber blanket on my bed.
5. That Sister K and I talk on the phone more often than we used to.


Z has been really jazzed about the prospect of decorating our Christmas tree. We have the tree in the stand, but have been slow to drag the ornaments out of the attic. When I finally managed to get them out, Z was just beside herself. When I opened the box containing the much desired angel tree-topper, she exclaimed, "Wow! There are a lot more ornaments in that box than I thought. They look just splendid!"

Whoa. She's three. Yay for smart babies!


Playing Doctor

The other night at bedtime, Z and I were snuggling in her chair before I tucked her in. There must have been some lead in, but in retrospect it seems like this statement came out of nowhere. "Mama, my teacher says we can't play doctor because of privacy."

Oh, hell no.

Trying not to wig prematurely, I asked her if some of her classmates had been playing doctor. She said, "Yep. One girl got in trouble because she kept playing and my teacher said we couldn't play doctor because of privacy." Uh huh.

So the next day I asked her teacher about it. I tried to couch it in as non-judgement terms as possible. I told her what Z had told me and asked what was up. She said that she had caught some of the kids looking under each other's shirts. She nipped that in the bud and told them they could look in ears and eyes but not under clothes.

I told her that I had noticed one of the other girls seemed a bit too worldly for a three-year-old and that I assumed she had older siblings. She kind of cringed and mumbled something about a 'family situation.' That she had caught two girls lying on top of the other and one was saying, "I'll be the boy and you be the girl." Holy crap.

Here in the county where I live the rates of child molestation are astronomical. My husband is a cop and my next door neighbor is a victim advocate. I know just exactly how awful people can be. I hate that any part of that world is brushing up against my sweet baby.

No wonder so many of my friends home school.


Good Thing She's Cute

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But the carpet's so delightful.
Since I know that you love me so,
On the rug, on the rug I will go.

Now that winter has officially begun here in Small Town, the indoor peeing season is upon us. Izzy, the smallest/fattest dog in our herd, is what we like to euphemistically call unreliably house-trained. Her little Pomeranian self is very low to the ground and she really prefers not to have anything brushing her underbelly. God forbid she should get cold or wet!

I guess she is smarter than we are, because every summer we think, "Wow, she's doing really well. I haven't seen a puddle in the house in weeks!" We pat ourselves (and Izzy) on the back and hand out lots of treats as she trots out to the short, dry grass to do her thing. Then, at the first cold snap, Izzy says, "Um, I think I'll just stay in here and pee on the nice wool rug, thanks."

We are SO trashing that rug when we move.

You would think, what with us being at the top of the food chain and all, that we would be able to outsmart (or at least out wait) one tiny little fur ball. You would be wrong. She is wily. At all of eight inches tall, she disappears behind a bush, the retaining wall or a particularly lush (read: unmowed) clump of grass. We go out with her and hang around until all the other dogs have done their thing - or until our lips turn blue and our feet freeze to the deck - and (stupidly) assume that Izzy has, too.

We'd just leave her out there and come back into the house, but out here in the country there is the very real possibility that something could EAT her. (I know for a fact that we have a pair of large owls in the woods behind our house and coyotes are regular visitors to our area. I'd way rather bust out the Nature's Miracle that spring for (another) dog casket. (We lost Izzy's sister when I was seven months pregnant with Z. Horrible. But that's a post for another day.)

So I am resigned to cleaning up puddles until it gets good and warm again. At least she confines herself to one rug in one room. Blah. It is a good thing Izzy is so cute. Otherwise she would make a fine slipper.

Winkflash;) Must Die

I was so proud of myself. I created the entire graphic for our Christmas card this year and placed the order on December 1. Winkflash ;) had the best price out there, and I have to say that the quality of the card I received was great. But this is what came in the mail today:

Seriously? Like I approved this design and paid almost a buck per card for it? Really? There were a bunch of glitches on the site when I was designing the card, but I put it down to quirkiness on the part of my machine. Silly me.

As soon as I opened the (beat to crap) package, I flew to my computer to send a carefully worded e-mail that essentially said, "WTF?!?" in the politest possible terms. Customer service opens tomorrow at 9:00 a.m., and I am fully prepared to throw a white trash scene to get my card put to rights, but I thought I would at least start with an opening volley of civility.

But mostly? I'm so mad I want to spit and/or use words that would make your ears bleed and your hair ignite. Or possibly cry a little. I am only managing to refrain because my dad (Hi, Daddy!) reads my blog.

I am sure it will be all right in the end. I hope. I'll keep you posted.

Chicklette Pix

Could you not just EAT those cheeks? Nom, nom! Chica is settling into a nice routine. Chicklette is only waking up twice per night. Mr. Chica is a totally hands-on daddy, so they are splitting the feedings. Lucky Chica! LOVE!


One Clever Tuna

Z and Q were in the bath. Z was playing an elaborate game of pretend involving a pet fish. She looked up at me and said, "This is my little pet fish. His name is Sushi."


Chicklette is Here!

After seven long years, Chica has a baby. Chicklette* made for the very most thankful of Thanksgivings. She arrived on Thanksgiving night weighing in at six pounds, eleven ounces and measuring 20 inches. (Coincidentally, exactly the same size as Z! Or, as T would say, a fine trout.) They brought her home on Sunday and have settled seamlessly into parenthood.

In the lament of type A mothers everywhere, Chica said, "But I wasn't ready! This wasn't how I planned it." Welcome to the club, my friend. Welcome to the club.

*If Chica says it is okay, I will post a picture of Chicklette tomorrow!

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday

This is why we loathe our pool. It is a leaf MAGNET. I think it imports leaves from other counties. HATE. Check the emerald green water. Nice, huh?

They Win

The prize for the first holiday card of the year goes to my cousin and his wife from west Texas. Their card arrived on December 1. They must have sent it the day after Thanksgiving. Which means they were thinking about Christmas cards before Thanksgiving when I was all, "Christmas cards? Huh?" More power to them! Their children are gorgeous! A nice kick off to the Christmas card season!


Worst. Wife. Ever.

So for Thanksgiving I tootled of to south Texas, leaving T behind secure in the knowledge that come Turkey Day, he would be celebrating with fellow law enforcement officer Auntie M, who also got the shaft had to work on Thanksgiving. Well, long story short, Auntie M had a change of plans that made it impossible for her to do turkey dinner with T. So as I was sitting down to delicious desserts with family and friends, he was headed home to have his solitary Thanksgiving, er, burrito.

Oh, the guilt! I had intended to buy him an old fashioned turkey T.V. dinner with all the sides carefully segregated as kind of a joke, but I managed to drop even that pathetic ball. (I didn't do the laundry before I left, either. There. My list of wifely sins is complete.)

For his part, T was remarkably cheerful in the face of both working and not getting to gorge on gourmet goodies on Thanksgiving. He did, however, request that I make him a pie upon my return. "No problem!" I said, and set to work as soon as I got back to Small Town.

I may have mentioned it a time or two, but I am not a domestic diva. I am the kind of homemaker that lets eggs spoil in the refrigerator. So lately I have been purchasing Eggbeaters (egg substitute) instead. But I even managed to let homogenized egg-like liquid spoil in the fridge, so the last time I bought some I carefully froze it into cubes. By my measurement, three cubes should have been the equivalent on one egg.

So I whipped up a pecan pie right quick, using nine egg cubes in place of the three eggs the recipe calls for. Everything looked fine, so I put the pie in the oven and never gave it another thought until the timer went off an hour later. Imagine my surprise to find all of my carefully arranged pecans standing up on edge a la Jiffy Pop because the custard portion of the pie had expanded like a souffle? The custard was a pale yellow color instead of the more standard caramel-y color pecan pies usually are, so I put it back in the oven for 10 more minutes. When I took it out, the custard/souffle started to compress, so I just nudged the pecans back into position and hoped for the best.

Fast forward to dessert time: I cut into the pie... and the custard is runny. Blarg! So I decide to cook it for a little longer. And a little longer. And a little longer. Finally, after 30 more minutes, I was afraid that I had created a confection capable of pulling teeth, so I took it out. The custard was still light, but seemed a bit more normal.

The pie's innards, while tasty, were still pretty runny and slightly oily. The pecans around the edge were bordering on burned and would yank your crowns if you weren't careful. You would never know that I had pulled off an entire Thanksgiving meal just days previously. Of course, my dad made the pecan pie.

T said it was the thought that counts - through teeth glued together by overcooked Karo. Sigh.


Crusty Chuckledoodle*

For a dose of silliness, follow the instructions to find your new name. (The following is excerpted from a children's book, Captain Underpants And the Perilous Plot Professor Poopypants, by Dav Pilkey, in which the evil Professor forces everyone to assume new names.)

1. Use the third letter of your first name to ; determine your New first name:
a = snickle; b = doombah; c = goober; d = cheesey; e = crusty; f = greasy; g = dumbo; h = farcus; i = dorky; j = doofus; k = funky; l = clicky ; m = sleezy; n = sloopy; o = fluffy; p = stinky; q = slimy; r = dorfus; s = snooty; t = tootsie; u = dipsy; v = sneezy; w = liver; x = skippy; y = dinky; z = zippy

2. Use the second letter of your last name to determine the first half of your new last name:
a = dippin; b = feather; c = batty; d = burger; e = chicken; f = barffy; g = lizard; h = waffle; i = farkle; j = monkey; k = bouncy; l = chicken; m = bubble; n = rhino; o = potty; p = hamster; q = buckle; r = gizzard; s = lickin; t = snickle; u = chuckle; v = pickle; w = hubble; x = dingle; y = gorilla; z = girdle

3. Use the third letter of your last name to determine the second half of your new last name:
a = glop; b = star; c = face; d = nose; e = hump; f = breath; g = pants; h = shorts; i = lips; j = honker; k = head ; l = tush; m = chunks ; n = dunkin; o = brains; p = biscuits; q = toes; r = doodle; s = fanny; t = sniffer; u = sprinkles; v = frack; w = squirt; x = humperdinck; y = hiney; z = juice

Feel free to share your silly pseudonyms in the comments!

*Thanks to high school BFF, Gren, for sending this to me!


The Big Head

Overheard at dinner tonight:

T: Z, you are so smart! And pretty. Are you pretty?

Z: Yep.

T: (laughing) And modest. Are you modest?

Z: Nope.


The Wedding Story - Part 2

So now that I was properly shod, we went back to SSS's house to get ready to go. The funny thing was that both of the girls were ready to go before e even got in the shower. We were totally waiting on him. When he finally made his appearance, we headed out.

The traffic gods had been against us all day, and the trip to the wedding was no exception. We had to get from one end of town to the other on the busiest cross-town road. Arg! When we arrived at White House Ranch, the ushers were immediately upon us telling us to RUN! The wedding was about to start. It is not nice to tell a woman non-accustomed to heels to run anywhere. We ducked into the garden with all eyes upon us, though we were only the next to the last people there. Of course, there were no seats together, so I sat with e and SSS found a seat further up.

When the groomsmen came in there was a guy with gray hair standing next to the preacher. Never having met the groom, I thought to myself, "How sweet! The groom asked his dad to be his best man." Nope. He was the groom. Ooops!

The bridesmaids were lovely in dark purple gowns. Each selected a gown that suited them best. SSM was a vision in strapless cream chiffon. She wore a fingertip veil over gorgeous loose curls. Just beautiful. I love weddings! Everyone looks so pretty! It is nice to have an occasion to to gussy up for.

The service was very nice; sort of non-denominational. The bride is Jewish and the groom is Protestant. There wasn't a chuppa, but they did stomp the glass and yell moseltov, which was a treat. Afterward, we adjourned to the house for the reception.

The White House Ranch is a beautiful house that used to be a private residence, but has since been converted into an event center. We were all agog at the sheer vastness of it all. What could the former owners have possibly done with it all? And the cleaning? Forget about it. But I suppose if you owned that sort of house you would have minions to do your cleaning. Interestingly, the kitchen was kind of a disappointment. It was all '80's laminate and cheap painted cabinetry. I am sure it was cutting edge when it was built, but it seemed incongruous given the grandeur of the rest of the house.

The wedding was small-ish; under 50 if I had to guess, but I'm not sure that is a good estimate. Immediately after the service, everyone hit the bar. Much to the bride's chagrin, the red wine was gone in a matter of minutes. I think the keg made it all the way through, but since I don't drink beer (or wine, for that matter) I can't be sure.

The food was great and the cakes were pretty. The groom's cake was an homage to the University of Texas, which was the alma mater of many in attendance. It was shaped like the state of Texas with a U.T. longhorn in the middle. It was surrounded by white chocolate-dipped strawberries with a tiny U.T. logo on them. The perfect cake for the guy that put the fan in college football fanatic.

The music was a little too easy listening for my taste, but there were some fun songs, too. In a stunning display of loyalty to U.T., they played U.T. fight song, and the school song, The Eyes of Texas are Upon You. We all sang and flashed the hook 'em horns sign. Afterwards, a very earnest woman - who was a complete stranger - came up to me and corrected my hook 'em etiquette. It seems some woman in some obscure U.T. history text said that you were supposed to keep your hand still during the school song to show your unwavering loyalty to the school. I was all, "She can't be serious." She was. Seriously? unclench. This gal seemed to not be picking up on many social cues, but she did notice that my reaction was incredulity. She kind of mumbled, "But you can do what you want." and slunk off.

Finally, the other sorority sisters and I gave SSM a candle light (a silly but harmless sorority ceremony) for her in the foyer. There is singing and the passing of a lighted candle, so I was glad we didn't have to do it in front of everybody. It was sweet. The same girls gave me one at my wedding, so I was happy to return the favor.

The bride and groom left in a cloud of bubbles at the early hour of 10:00. That left us with a fair bit of time for visiting. SSS, e, and I stayed up ridiculously late chatting. Or more accurately, SSS and I did. e fell very soundly asleep on the couch next to us. At 4:00 a.m. we finally cried uncle and crawled off to bed.

My body is totally unaccustomed to all-nighters, so I felt like death in the morning even though a.) I had only had one drink; and b.) there weren't any small people demanding breakfast at the crack of dawn. Left to my own devices, I woke up around ten. We decided to do Ugly Breakfast (when you go to breakfast without doing anything more than getting dressed) before I headed back for my dad's house.

After what seemed like a million delays (I may or may not have had to drive back and get my cell phone), I was finally on the road. I got back around 3:00 to find that Daddy had accomplished the near impossible: both kids were napping at once!

They had a big time while I was gone. My dad's Rotary Club held an adoption awareness picnic on Saturday, so he took the kids along. There was a bouncy house, a scary clown (whose bright idea was that?), hot dogs and toys. Did I mention it was held at the local zoo? Z was in heaven. I made my dad promise not to give my babies away, even if there were days where I felt like that would be a good idea. Z and Q played with the kids that were there to meet prospective parents and had a blast.

That night, Daddy and his buddy MFS took to kids to Chuck E. Cheese. They had a big time. Q like anything with a steering wheel, whether or not it is moving. Z ran from game to game and raced around with all of the other kids. The only downer was that someone swiped her fancy flashing mouse cup and all of her tickets, but they got the cup replaced. I wonder how you wash something that has a flashing light in it. It doesn't seem like it would be dishwasher safe. On Sunday, MFS took Daddy and the kids to the Tokyo Grill for lunch. That is a good place to take kids because the cooking of the meal is great entertainment. All in all, they had way more fun than they ever have with me! I guess that's what grandparents are for.


Happy Turkey Day!

Work, work, work, work, work.

Eat. Eat. Eat.

Work, work.


Work, work, work.

Collapse in tryptophan induced coma.

The end.

Hope you had a Thanksgiving as filled with love and laughter as mine was.


Stop the Insanity*

Visiting my dad is exhausting. It's all the work of parenting (alone) without any of the convenience items. Why does Z get so wound up when we are visiting? She is much wilder here that she ever is at home.

That said, I have two words for you: n@ked gymnastics.

Last night before bath time, Z stripped down to her birthday suit and turned somersaults across the living room floor, flashing her girl bits at us once per flip. Just showing off for F.A., I guess.

*The rest of the wedding trip is coming. I just need a little sleep first.


Big Balls in Cow Town

This will shock you, but I loaded up my kids and drove across the state. Oh, no shock? Yeah, me neither. I think the shocker would be if I were ever to stay home!

The occasion this time was the wedding of my sorority sister M (SSM). SSM lives in Houston along with a large group of our friends from college who work in the aerospace industry. (Can you say NASA? Yeah, my buds are mission control. How cool is that?) The wedding fell on one of T's rare weekends off, but I was not foolish enough to think he would be making the trip with me. No, he would be off looking for the mean deers.

Originally, he was headed out to the ranch, and Grandma was going to watch the kids for me so I could make a weekend event of the wedding and really catch up with my college friends. But plans change, and T decided to go to the lease. There is talk of letting the lease go after this year, so he wanted to get in one last hunt. Now the problem with the lease is that it is not kid friendly. No plumbing. No insulation. Open flame gas heaters. It's the deer lease of death! So I was stuck with responsible for the kids. Not that I was bitter, or anything.

I was struggling for ideas for who I could pawn them off on trust them with. I was coming up with nothing. I thought maybe Z could stay with lovely neighbor S - with four kids already, what's one more? - and I could lug Q down with me and get a sitter. Finally, inspiration struck. I was headed down to see my dad for Thanksgiving anyway, so why not drop the kids off there, then zip over to Houston for SSM's wedding? Genius! Lucky for me, my dad was agreeable to this plan. Yippee!

After the goat rope that was Z's party, all went smoothly on the trip down. Well, except for that little stop in the thriving speed trap metropolis that is Jewett, Texas. Thank you Mr. Nice Officer, sir for only giving me a warning. Honest! I missed the reduced speed sign. Z finally fell asleep right when it was time for dinner, so we drove on through to my dad's, arriving at 8:30 or so. Man, that drive is a beating. But at least I get to drive for two and a half more hours the next day!

Stellar parent that I am, I stuffed my sleepy/cranky children with McD's and hustled them off to bed. I actually fell asleep while playing 'possum to get them to sleep. I probably would have slept through the night right there on the floor if my dad hadn't accidentally set off the fire alarm when he got home from the theater. (It is a weird alarm sensitive to the light a fire makes, so it goes off if you turn on the hall light at night. Charming, huh?) Daddy and I stayed up until midnight chatting, which is unheard of for a former farm boy such as he.

I wasn't in any particular hurry to hit the road in the morning, but even so, I had a really hard time getting out the door. First I forgot my keys. Then I forgot the Librivox book Daddy had burned for me to listen to on the trip. I made it all the way to the gas station before I realized that I had left my purse at the house. When I came back to get it, my dad asked if I had separation anxiety!

Finally, I was on the road! By early afternoon, I had arrived at Casa D, my sorority sister S's (SSS) house. We sat in the living room and got all caught up, having figured out that it had been over four years since I had been down for a visit. (The last time was when I was pregnant with Z! Man, kids sure put a crimp in your social life!)

Finally, I declared myself to be starving and we headed out for soup, salad and bread sticks. Unfortunately, the wait there was half an hour. At 2:45! In a recession! Right before Thanksgiving! We had no time to wait because the shoes that matched my wedding ensemble fit my pre-babies feet, and were so old that both of the heel caps shattered when I tried them on. Also, I needed pantyhose. Not like I have a lot of call for those staying home with the kids! Thank god!

So rather than soup, salad, and bread sticks, we grabbed snack bar nachos at Target. The good news? The shoes I found matched my skirt perfectly and were SO pretty. Black and tan spectator pumps? with ankle straps? and black patent leather that matched my purse? Totally worth the agony of the unaccustomed 3+ inch heel. The pantyhose? Were made for female basketball players. I am not height/weight proportionate, so those suckers were so long that I could tuck the control top under the band of my bra. And I did. Who needs Spanx?

Wow, I am taking a long time to tell a relatively short story. I am officially too tired to finish this epic tale tonight. Tomorrow I will bore thrill you with wedding details: the dress; the food; the strange girl with no social graces. Stay tuned.


Hunter Love*

T: Sweetie, your eyelids are all glittery.

Rae Ann: Is it gold glitter from Z's project or eye shadow?

T: Glitter. It's pretty. Like a turkey feather.

High praise indeed.

*1. Eww! Not that kind of love
2. This entry is for CCF, my biggest fan. I wrote this after Daddy and I stayed up late talking because I knew you would notice if I didn't post!


Thanksgiving Heartburn

Z had her school's Thanksgiving feast today. I dropped off Z and the cupcakes in the morning, and was to return to help out at 10:45. In the meantime, I needed to get packed up for a week-long trip to visit my dad, straighten up the house so it wouldn't be a mess when we return home, and wash off several days accumulated stink. (Again, my standards of personal cleanliness? Low. Shameful.)

Now, I would like to blame it on T, who called needing paperwork that some brain trust in the department had misplaced, but it was not his fault. I simply couldn't get everything done in the allotted time frame. So I was late. And not just a little late either. Not only did I not arrive early to help set up, but I arrived late enough that the songs had already been sung and the kids were sitting down to eat.

I was just sick. When Z's teacher told me that they had already done the singing, I almost popped a tear. It is my whole job to be there for all of Z's stuff and I had missed it. Z didn't seem phased or disappointed at all, so at least there is that. A couple of the other parents took photos, but no one took a video. So for this party, I get a great big parenting fail. Boo.

I did redeem myself slightly by staying until the bitter end and helping to clean up after a horde of sugar crazed three-year-olds. I would have done that in any case, but still. Sigh.

* ** *** ** *

In different but related news, I met Z's best school friend at the feast. What can I say? Oh, noes! I totally understand why Z is friends with this little girl. She is as precocious and verbal as Z is, leaps and bounds ahead of the other kids in the class. Where the other kids are still speaking practically in grunts, Z and her friend are on a polysyllabic spree.

Where Z's chatter is bossy, but innocent, somehow her little friend seems far too worldly for pre-school. Like she came to their class via pre-school juvie. Like maybe she was grabbing a quick ciggy in the girls' room. For example, as I was helping to clean up the feast, I watched this little girl drag a little boy over to a corner and make him kiss her. OMG! She's three! Now Z has been known to give kisses, but she doesn't demand that the other kids kiss her. There was just something about this little girl that shot up my antennae.

But what do you do about it? It is not like I can tell Z not to play with this girl - that would just make her more irresistible to my hard-headed offspring. Plus she is the only kid in the room with whom Z could hold an actual conversation. She doesn't seem like she'd have a mom who would call me up for a playdate, so Z is only seeing her three mornings per week. I guess I just want Z to stay little for as long as humanly possible.