Back from Camp

We just picked up our dog from summer camp. Yes, Blackie goes to summer camp. My in-laws (LOVE!) have a summer home in Colorado. They spend three months a year there with their giant (100 pounds!) Golden Retriever, Scout. While they are up there, they are gone almost every day hiking, fishing or Jeeping. (Did you know "Jeep" could be used as a verb? I didn't before I married into this family.) Anyway, they were worried that Scout would be lonely (read: destructive) while they were out, so it was decided that Blackie would go with them. Apparently, two big dogs are significantly less trouble one.

Blackie had grand adventures while she was there. Dad-in-law took the dogs on two hikes per day up the mountain behind the house. There were deer, squirrels, chipmunks and the occasional bear to chase and chase them she did. The dog I sent up there was fat and happy. The dog I got back was sleek and gorgeous! She had shed over ten pounds! Oh, the guilt! My dog has lost more weight than I have! I guess this is good motivation for me to take her on daily walks instead of just letting her run around the yard.

The summer was not without mishaps, however. It seems on one walk in July, Blackie impaled herself on something pointy (we never saw what) while she was off chasing some little woodland creature. When she returned to dad-in-law, she was favoring a rear leg a little, but didn't seem to be in much pain. He (a doctor) decided that she must not be hurt much and finished their hike. It was only when they got home that they discovered that the puncture went really deep. Mom-in-law (a nurse) said she thought she could see tendons in there. Eek!

They loaded her up in the truck to drive the hour to the nearest town big enough to have a vet. He said that she had punctured the capsule surrounding the knee joint and that there was also exposed bone. Luckily, this is all fixable. Not so luckily, stitches right on the front of the knee are easy to pull out, so he had to use wire for the stitches. Frankenstitches! Adding insult to injury, Blackie is a licker and had to wear a special collar to keep her from lacerating her tongue on the metal stitches.

She is now so fully recovered that you can't even tell where she got her stitches. She is such a good dog that she never squirmed or growled or anything while we were messing with her sore place. It hardly slowed her down at all except for the day she got her stitches. Then, she was good and drunk.

We are so pleased to have her back. She's a sweetie. My most prolific shedder, but I love her none the less. Our family just isn't complete without her.

Weighing In

So is it "starve a fever, feed a cold" or "feed a fever, starve a cold?" Just to be safe, I have been following the "feed a fever, feed a cold" philosophy since I came down with this viral circus - sore throat! Drainage! Coughing! Fever! And mucus, mucus, mucus! You would think that feeling so rotten, I wouldn't be interested in eating.

You would be wrong.

Actually, it's not that I was eating all the time, just that I was eating the same garbage I was feeding the kids. If you could nuke it or make a sandwich out of it, we were there. A fair bit of fast food, too. And while Wendy's makes a mean salad, I'm pretty sure the Frosty on the side isn't helping matters (though it did feel good on my scratchy throat).

I avoided the scale altogether last week. Bad Weight Watchers member, no cookie for you! I reluctantly dragged myself onto it this morning. Conditions were only fair, but I got on anyway. The news wasn't as bad as I had feared. I am up .4 pounds. Considering all the crap I have stuffed in my maw in the last two weeks, it is a miracle that I didn't gain more. Hell, I probably have .4 pounds of junk in my lungs. Once I hack it all up I'll be on the right track again. (Can you get activity points for coughing? How about nose blowing? Jeez, I'm ready to be well again!)


New Record

We set a new land speed record on crossing the state today - the slowest on record, that is. We left the ranch around 10:30 this morning and pulled into our house at 6:30 p.m. I'll do the math for you: that's eight hours. For a six hour trip. With only one potty stop! Blah!

I guess it could be worse. We could have had car trouble or run over a cute woodland creature, but it was nothing like that. We were car shopping. Like we need another car. T has so many that I refer to them collectively as the fleet. I think we are up to eight? nine? I lose track of all the Jeeps... Of course, most of them are pre-1970's vehicles that T has lovingly restored over the years. He always says he is going to sell them, but he never does. And now we will be adding another Jeep to the fleet.

So, that extra two hours? Spent sitting in the parking lots of two different dealerships. Let's recap this recipe for fun: one husband inside wheeling and dealing, one crabby wife, two kids under 4 (all with miserable colds), three dogs, one truck, and way too much time with nothing to do. Fun for every one! At the first stop, I finally took pity on the kids and brought them inside. Then I became that parent who let her kids crawl all over the inside of the model cars pushing buttons and flipping visors. At least Q didn't set off the panic button as he did at a restaurant last week!

The next dealership didn't even have cars in which to let my children to behave badly. It had wet paint! Which Z immediately stuck her hand in on her father's watch. So then were exiled to the picnic tables on the lot, where all of the employees go for smoke breaks. And they smoke like fiends! So while T is inside in the air conditioning, I'm all, "No! Don't touch that nasty cigarette! Stop! That table is covered in bird poop! Q, stop hot wiring that golf cart! Z, do not play SuperGirl into oncoming traffic!" When I had finally had all I could take and was stuffing the kids back into the truck, T emerged victorious and pleased with his progress. At least one of us was having fun!

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I'm too brain dead to do it now, but I will write more tomorrow about our exciting times at the ranch!*
*Not sarcastic at all. Okay, maybe a little sarcastic. Or a lot. Whatever.


Ill Fated Journey

And here's yet another sad story of a family roadtrip. It seems I have a lot of these. I'm sensing a theme.

Going to the ranch is always a bit of a chore. It is six hours away, after all. But compounding the joy is that my husband can be a blinding pain in the posterior when getting ready to leave. He has a mental travel itenerary (to which I may or may not be privvy) and if we are even a nanosecond behind, he turns into a surly bear. The good news is that he packed his stuff into the truck the night before and we got off in record time. Yay!

So, I may have mentioned my love affair with our portable DVD player. Unfortunately, speaking aloud of this love angered the gods and they struck my beloved DVD player down on my last road trip. You know, like last week. So, good husband that he is, T braved MegaMart the night before to get a 12V plug adapter for the DVD player. He's a car guy, so he got the cheaper/more power version from the auto parts section. This thing was so powerful it could practically take over and drive the truck for us! But it had stuff that had to be connected to other stuff, and there were screws and washers and lock washers, and a body open to the circuit boards, and a really bouncy diesel truck. So of course the lock washer jumped off the screw and dived into the body of the adapter. I could hear it rattling around in there - and then I couldn't.

DVD player: fail.

Happy husband: fail.

So we pulled over and he got a screw driver out of the back of the truck and proceeds to dissect the darn thing on the tailgate, to no avail. He finally threw his hands up in disgust and stalked off to the cab. Enter the silent, jaw-clenching, surly bear version of my formerly sunny spouse. I'm there in the passenger seat trying to get more parts loose so I can get into the heart of the thing as he shoots me sidelong glances and grinds his teeth, helpfully huffing, "We'll just pick up a cheap one at the truck stop," or "I should have just gotten the cheap one," or "We'll just throw it away. We can't use it with that washer in there." I die a little with each comment, feeling like I had spoiled his whole weekend - he was so tickled with himself for remembering to buy it in the first place. I finally had to tell him to knock it off because his "help" was making me suicidal.

Happy ending: When we stop for lunch, we go in shifts so someone can stay with the kids and/or dogs. I took Z in first, so T had some time to kill. When we finally emerged, T was triumphantly putting the adapter back together. He had taken the entire thing apart, removing every screw, until he finally found the lock washer. We were a little afraid to plug it in, but when we did it worked like a charm. Yay for handy husbands! Road trip saved! The happy husband was back - at least until viruspalooza pulled into his sinuses. Then not so much.


No More Whining

My last few posts have been pretty whiny, so I thought I would make an effort to be a little more positive by stealing this idea from Zoot. Instead of (justifiably) complaining about things that suck, I am going to focus on the things in my life that rock. I plan to revisit this topic from time to time as I am inspired and/or need to be reminded that I have a great life. Here is a start of my embarrassment of riches:
  • My kids. They make me crazy sometimes, but I love them better than air. They are so smart and funny and amazing. If I didn't have the stretch marks and sagging boobs to prove it, I might not believe they came from me.
  • My husband. We are just like Dharma and Greg, only my Greg is a pseudo-redneck outdoorsman. Who knew they were keeping the good guys in the hunting department? Differences aside, he is my best friend and can always make me laugh. He loves me literally through thick or thin. He is the best.
  • My family. My parents set a great example for marriage and child rearing. My sisters are amazing. Smart and successful. Wow. I wish I could be them. Z and Q can't get enough of my sister who lives in Ginormousville. And I am excited to be headed out to sunny CA to see the other for my birthday!
  • My in-laws. Jokes aside, I have the best. in-laws. ever. My mom-in-law will drive the 100 miles from her house to Small Town at the drop of a hat. They make sure that T and I have plenty of date nights and help to keep our relationship strong.
  • My dogs. We are one dog shy of being weird dog people, but there is nothing like a three dog salute when you walk through the door. I love every slobbery, inadequately house trained hair on their little (and big) dog bodies.
  • Grey's Anatomy. 'Nuff said.
  • Okay, not enough. I lurve that the fall TV season is finally starting! Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty, Private Practice, Pushing Daisies. I have something like 65 shows Tivo'd. Shameful, yet fabulous!
  • After many difficulties, my BFF and her husband are adopting a baby girl. I am so excited for her. She's going to be a great mom. Welcome to the club, Chica!
  • My neighbors. They are the best, best, best. They watch our house when we are gone - which is often - and they have a son, Z, who is the same age as my Z. They are betrothed. They do not have a choice. Up with arranged marriages!
  • Viet Namese imperial rolls. The holy grail of restaurant food: deeelicious and very, very healthy. Also, I met T for the first time at Mai's in Ginormousville at BFF Chica's birthday party.
  • Lexi. She was the greatest cat on the planet. Of all time. She's gone now, but I was lucky to have her in my life for 16 years.

Wow! That's a lot of great stuff - and I have only scratched the surface. It's good to be me. What's great in your life?

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PS - I am leaving bright and early for the ranch tomorrow, so I won't be posting until next Tuesday when I get back from the land of No Havum Technology.

Warm Spirit

My friend Dana has started a new business endeavor selling Warm Spirit all-natural, spa quality bath products. I guess the physical and mental rewards that come with taking time for yourself every day can help you be a better wife and mother? I wouldn't know. Time for myself? What's that?

I am an unnatural woman who doesn't go in for candles or scented smell-good stuff, but I thought I would pass this along for those of you who do (you know, like every other woman on the planet). Check out the website and contact Dana Nolte (707.718.7105) if you are interested in buying anything. She can ship to where ever you are. Enjoy!


I hab a code

Let the whining continue! Upon returning from my epic road trip, I wake up to chills, fever, body aches, a sore throat and the inability to breathe without moving the copious amount of badness in my sinuses. My sister, K, says I sound like the sit-com version of a person with a cold. Blah.

For once, it seems that the kids and I (oh yes, Z and Q have it, too. Good times.) picked up our little viruspalooza from my dad. This is ironic because my father has charmingly called my children "carriers" (as in germ carriers) since birth. His advice? Gargle. A lot.

The good news is that for the first time in four and a half years I can take cold medicine. The bad news? They seem to have taken all the good stuff off the market since I was last able to partake. Where are my 12-hour relief formulas? What is this take every four hours garbage? I want my good old fashioned Contac capsules with the little beads inside! I guess some criminal from rural Oklahoma bought them all up to make meth and ruined the cold relief for all of us. Hanging is too good for them!

I'm off to make some Thera-Flu. It tastes a lot better if you mix it with hot tea. Or, you know, rum.


B-I-N-G-E and Binge-o was her name-o

I struggle with depression. This galls me because I think of myself as a basically happy person. I'm happily married. I have two great kids. I have the luxury of staying home with my children - even if I don't always love it. The first bout was a pretty cut and dried case of post-partum depression after Z was born. Zoloft worked like magic from almost the minute I started taking it. I got off of it when Z was about nine months old. It was rough for a few weeks, but then I got to be my old self again.

Somewhere around this time is when my mom got the official diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. She had been getting more and more forgetful, so the only real surprise was how quickly it was progressing. At Thanksgiving, she was pleasantly dotty, by Christmas she had tanked. At this point I am seven months pregnant with Q, fully into the cocktail of crazy that is pregnancy hormones and the situation with my mom was the straw that broke the camel's back. My particular brand of depression manifests itself with an irrational desire to kill my husband. So once I started plotting his death, I knew it was time to talk to my doctor. Turns out that depression during pregnancy is a thing. Something like 10% of pregnant women have this problem. Taking the Zoloft presents less of a risk than a depressed mama, so I got back on it. Again it worked like magic.

Q's first birthday came and went and my symptoms didn't appear to be waning. My OB/GYN referred me to a shrink because my depression could no longer be characterized as post-partum. Big love to Dr. A! She let me know that I was one uncontrolled episode of depression away from lifetime membership in Club Crazy. She added Wellbutrin to my anti-depressant arsenal and I finally started to feel like myself again. T and the kids released a collectively held breath and we got on with things.

My mom continued to deteriorate and by summer she required more care than my father could give her on his own. We made the brutal decision to move her into an Alzheimer's unit. Then I would go for a visit and I'd be on the roller coaster again. Dr. A and I started scheduling my appointments to shorty follow trips to see my folks. In the year after my mom went to "her new place" as Z calls it, I have put on 25 pounds. Better living through chemistry? Bah! That's for sissies. Better living through Hostess! Then you can be depressed and fat!

So all of this is an excessive lead in to this act of idiocy: I made it to my dad's house without my meds. I tried to get a partial scrip to hold me over, but crappy state insurance and the mouth breathers at MegaMart were agin' me. They wanted to charge me $500! Apparently, my insurance card doesn't talk to my prescription card any more. But that's a whole other rant. So I gritted my teeth and hoped for the best.

The best didn't happen. Mom doesn't have good days any more, but before the Ike evacuation she had been having less awful days. Not so for my visit. Each visit was sadder than the one before, culminating with us dancing to the music on the radio and me bawling my eyes out. Though she had no idea who I was, she didn't want to let me go and was clearly feeling very sad. Brutal.

The kids and I left for home shortly after. I have had car trips across Europe that took less time. Two hours in, we stop to fill up and Z knocks over the DVD player, killing it dead. So here we are looking at a minimum of seven more hours in the car with no entertainment. I got stuck behind some huge farming implement going 50 mph in a 70 mph zone. For hours. I was like the thirteenth car back behind some machine the size of my first house. Z finally gave up and went to sleep, but Q decided that this would be a good time to randomly shriek until an icepick through my ear would have been sweet relief. Figured out that a blown fuse was the culprit in the non-functional movie player, so I stopped and bought a package at a gas station. They were the wrong ones. Stop at two more stations before I find the right ones. Systematically try - and blow - every one of them. Give up on movie. Feed children crap and try to keep moving, arriving home at 10:30.

And the cherry on the sh!t sundae that was my day? Aunt Flo paid me a visit after a two-and-a-half year absence. Joy.

It's enough to make you start drinking. Or if you are me, binging. I fell off the diet wagon in a big (mac) way. Gardetto's? You bet. Big Mac Combo? Only if you get a shake, too! Cookies? Bring it! Throw in some Zebra Cakes and it would be a full on reunion. Blah. I dread weighing in. I am my own worst enemy.


Never? How about never?

I'm still at my dad's house. Shortly after dinner the phone rings. Caller ID shows that it is a credit card company he doesn't do business with. When he answered the phone, they asked for my mother. He told them that she wasn't here. They asked when would be a better time to call. He said, "Never. She is institutionalized." The telemarketer replied, "Okay, we'll take her off our list for 30 days."

My mom is in the advanced stages of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. She has been in a memory care facility for over a year. In that year she has deteriorated to the point that even on good days she doesn't recognize her husband of 48 years, let alone her children or grandchildren. She cannot bathe or feed herself. She can no longer stand up straight and her balance is so poor that she regularly falls and has broken her nose and blacked her eyes. She speaks in gibberish, but is clearly anxious most of the time. She is 69.

I hate that this has happened to her. I know that it would just kill her if she were aware of her situation. I hate that my father is having to suffer through watching his smart, articulate, capable spouse disintegrate before his eyes. But mostly I hate that my kids will never know her. That their only memories of her will be of that kind of scary old lady at that place that smells funny. I hate that she can't share her encyclopedic knowledge of all things pediatric medicine when one of my babies is under the weather and I need some parental hand holding. I hate that I can't run stuff by her anymore. I hate that she's here, but not really here. I hate that this could happen to me in fewer years than I care to think about.

I hate that I am so poorly equipped to deal with any of it. Awash in the sea of post-partum depression, there is only so much help pharmacology can offer. But a big tub of ice cream? Now there's a drug I can get behind. Which brings me full circle back to why I am here at Critical (of)M(y)ass in the first place. Arg. Because it's all about me. Jeez, like I'm the victim. Sometimes I get so tired of myself.

But at least if I do completely lose my mind, I can still get a credit card.


Eeek! Cooties!

I am not typically a germphobic mom. At our house, the 3-second rule is the if-it-doesn't-get-up-and-crawl-away rule. Luckily, the dog pack keeps the amount of food on the floor to a minimum. If the kids are motivated enough to beat the hounds to the table scraps, let them have them, I say. But even I have limits.

The kids and I are down in south Texas visiting my parents. The post-Ike weather is pleasant, so we headed off to the park. Our first mission was to feed the ducks. Z was much more interested in petting the zillions of chihuahuas that were also visiting the park. I had no fear of exposing her to strange dog cooties and/or drawing back a nub from the notoriously bite-y doglets. Once the Oaty O's were gone and Q had been grabbed by the overalls to keep from diving head first into the soggy bread duck filth, Zoe started collecting duck and goose feathers. Other than hoping they didn't go in her mouth, no germ fear there. Then we head over to the play area. Z is running and playing and grabbing and collecting any number of germs from the petri dishes called playground equipment and this doesn't bug me either.

What does set the alarm bells to ringing? The park drinking fountain. We drink out of water fountains all the time. The one at school is a must-stop location on the going home tour. We got drinks out of the fountain at my mom's memory care facility just today. But somehow the thought of Z drinking out of the fountain at the park totally wigged me out. I couldn't even put my disgust into words when she asked me why. Amorphous visions of hepatitis, trench mouth and pink eye were buzzing around my head. Blarg! So I just herded her into the car with promises of chocolate milk with dinner (because, of course, I am the kind of mom who never remembers to bring water to the park.)

So as I watch Z eating M&M's off the floor, I wonder to myself what makes that okay with me, but not the park water fountain. I guess I it's just the whole the germs you know thing. If they are our germs, how bad can they be?

Do you have any irrational germ fears? Do tell!



I knew it had to happen some time. In fact, I am surprised that it hadn't happened before today. Z came home from school today with a report of misconduct from her teacher. It seems that my delicate flower was hitting and pushing the other kiddos in her class, then mouthed off to her teacher, Ms. C, when she was called on it. Turns out that Z has been sassy a number of times, but Ms. C had let it slide.

I knew there was danger of this. Her teacher last year was wonderful, but very young. She was way too impressed with how smart Z is. (What parent doesn't love to hear that their kid is smart? In my former life teaching the talented and gifted program in Ginormousville, all the parents loved me because I told them that their babies were smart.) Anyway, she regarded Z as a teacher's aide, and Z came to see herself that way, too. (Catty side note: Z really is smarter than last year's classmates. I swear some of them are still speaking in little more than grunts.) Now that all of the kids are a little older and smarter, they don't really want to let Z be in charge all of the time. And, surprise! neither does Ms. C. I can see how this might be confusing/frustrating for Z, but she is just going to have to get over it.

I had to go a little old school on her. When I was in school, if you got in trouble at school, you got in even bigger trouble at home. So that was what I did, minus the beating*. Usually when Z gets home from school, she gets a treat and watches a little Dora and Diego before heading off for her nap. She was quite shocked when she did not pass go, did not collect $200 and went straight to jail. She had to stay in for longer than usual, too. Z hates being denied an audience, so this was the best (worst?) consequence I could come up with.

She was appropriately contrite when she emerged hours later. She promised to be nice for ever and ever. And I believe she was sincere. You know, until the next time.

*I was never beaten. I was just exaggerating for effect. Spanked? You bet.


Sloppy Kisses

Q has reached that adorable age where he is giving kisses on demand. Unfortunately, I think he learned his technique from the dogs, as there is a lot of slobber involved. So here's the drill: while he is sitting in my lap, I pucker up and ask, "Give Mama kisses?" (I know, I know. Baby talk is terrible. How will he ever learn to talk? Blah, blah, blah. Whatever.) His face lights up and he slowly brings his great giant head toward your cheek. Then he keeps going right on past to plant a smacker right on the lips. Growing up, we were not a family of lip-kissers. Heck, we were hardly kissers at all, so the baby boy lip lock took a little getting used to. He hasn't learned the fine art of puckering, so he comes at you with his little mouth in a big O and latches onto my puckered lips like a Remora. Usually, I make the kissy sound and move away. If I am not quick enough, he will gently bite my lower lip. He will usually kiss me three or four times before losing interest. Invariably, I need a mop to soak up the accumulated spit. On one hand, eew! But on the other hand, too sweet.

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Pant! I went (gasp!) to the gym. Huff, puff, huff, puff. My new - OMG, am I having a stroke here? - instructor (pant, pant!) is killing me. I think I might love him.


Weekly Weigh In

I lost another 1.1 pounds this week. Huzzah! With the no exercise in cahoots with the evil cobbler, I had little hope for a downward trend. On the other hand, the new guy teaching my water aerobics class (don't laugh! I am part fish and swimming is the only exercise I will do voluntarily.) is awesome! A few of the people I used to go with have made it through the 3+ instructor changes since I quit going after Q was born. Man, that thing they say about exercise being more fun with a buddy? True. Huh, go figure. I am half a pound away from my weight starting with another number. This is very exciting. Regular-sized clothing, here I come!

Last night's frog exhibitionists left me with two great big clumps of eggs this morning. So that was my what, fifth? trip to the pond. I think even my soft heart will calcify if this keeps up.

Greetings from Green Acres

Can't sleep. Cows too loud. Seriously.

Oh, and there is frog p*rn going on in my swimming pool. I've gotten into the habit of flipping on the pool light when I take the dogs out for the last time just to see what late night partying might be going on in the pit of despair. On stage tonight: two frog couples swimming in a synchronized water ballet of procreation, both with a tiny little guy frog on top, desperately clinging to a giant frog gal's back. So I guess ship size... ocean motion... well, you know. It is kind of like watching a live nature documentary. Only with more money shots.


I Heart Fever

Let me start off by saying that I would never wish a fever on Z, but I am not above enjoying the perks when she does. Something about a fever over 101 just burns all of the ornery right out of her. You see, Z only has two settings: 1. So sweet/smart/funny it makes my heart hurt; or 2. Have to restrain myself to keep from going to jail. A bit of fever completely removes the second setting.

I grew up in a family where you practically had to be holding your severed arm in your remaining hand in order to go to the doctor (which probably wasn't a bad thing given the quality of military dependent care). Also, when I was a very new parent, I read an article that really resonated with me about the benefits of letting your kid have a fever instead of pouncing on them with a bottle of Children's Tylenol. All of this is to say that I have a pretty high fever tolerance in my kids. (Now that time when Q's temp went up to 106? That was panic inducing.)

So here's the up side: Z is all cuddly and sweet; if we happen to make eye contact, she tells me that she loves me; she's too lethargic to bug Q; and her usually iron will softens to somewhere near manageable. The down side is that this is the third relatively high fever she has had since June when she was laid low by a double ear infection while we were at a college reunion down in Austin. This picture was taken in a house that contained 11 other children. Poor baby.

Because Z is allergic to all the good antibiotics for ear infections, the fluid in her ears never cleared up entirely and the infection has come back once. Could this be those nasty bacteria rearing their germy heads again? Are there tubes in her future? If so, at least swimming season is past! Or is it a UTI? She's complaining of pain in her lower abdomen, but it could just mean she needs to visit the restroom. (She is currently involved in some personal contest to see how long she can hold it. Sigh. I can't force her to pee. But that's a topic for another day!) Probably it is just a virus she picked up from one of her germy friends at preschool. What ever it is, I am going to try to just relax and enjoy the snuggles.

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FROG UPDATE: Apparently, weather influenced by hurricanes puts frogs in the mood for love. In with all the other flotsam and jetsam blown into our pool were no fewer than four clumps of eggs. I toyed with letting nature take its course (aka: letting the pool sweeper suck them up), but in the end was too softhearted and transported them to the pond.

When I was out walking the other morning, I encountered another walker from around my neighborhood. She stopped me and said, "Aren't you the one that has been putting something in the pond?" She was very curious about me and had about decided that I was there testing the water. She was incredulous when she found out about my amphibian mission of mercy.

BIG LOVE UPDATE: Literally as soon as I finished posting about how gooey my heart was over my hubs reading to Z at nap time, a poop storm erupted. T, having never actually done the nap time ritual, thought Z was trying to delay going to sleep by asking to cuddle. Z, who has cuddle time before every time she goes to sleep, was understandably upset. There was yelling and crying. Too bad. It was almost perfect.


Stellar Parenting*

And the award for making the best out of a bad(ish) situation: Me! Despite the fact that T is (bored out of his mind waiting to be put to work) on hurricane relief duty down in Houston (or a high school gym/cafeteria in Houston, whatever) and that mean ol' Ike has dumped a steady/heavy rain all day on our little house in the swamp, today was a great day at home with the kids. This was a great relief as there have been a lot of days lately when I feel like the worst. parent. evah.

What was special about today? Nothing much. The kids spent the morning in front of the neglect-o-matic (TV) with a minimum of carnage. (Note to self: write the Disney Channel a thank you note.) I made these cool zucchini pizza boats that I thought were pretty yummy (I'd link to the recipe, but I changed it too much to make it worth your time) and were WW friendly. The kids ate the innards and left the zucchini part of the boats (Z told me she would like zucchini when she was grown up), but the joke is on them. The inside parts that I scraped out of the zukes were cooked and reinserted as filling. Ha! I snuck in a green veggie! I rule!

Then (cue the choir of angels!), Z and Q took naps at the same time! Unprecedented! Usually they are tag-team sleepers and one is awake at all times. This is probably the real reason I had a great day: two hours of uninterrupted time to myself. Also unprecedented.

When my munchies woke up - in good moods, no less - Z pressed her nose against the window and looked longingly outside. We'd been cooped up for a couple of days because of the rain and she desperately wanted to go outside even though it was raining steadily. So I said, "Why not?" and herded children and dogs alike out into the garage. Daredevil that she is, Z ran directly out onto the driveway and did spins in the rain. Q was a little more timid, but when I stomped out into the puddles with the dogs, he followed. It took him a minute to warm up to it, but once he decided that playing in the rain was big fun he giggled and splashed. Too cute. Something about getting wet brings out the feisty in Pomeranians, so both of them were buzzing around on little wet chicken legs and barking at the splashes. They were clearly having an awesome time. Me, too. My one regret was that T wasn't there to catch it all on film. He would have stayed nice and dry in the garage, thank you very much, but would have been an awesome camera man. I want to hold on to the novelty and wonder of playing in the rain with my kids for the first time.

After we came in, the kiddos hopped into the tub to clean/warm up. Once they were dried off and jammied up, we trooped downstairs to make homemade pizza. Earlier, Z had helped me make the pizza dough from an awesome recipe I found in Wondertime Magazine. I have a bad track record with yeast breads, but this one did its yeasty thing and puffed up in no time. Sweet! Apart from an unfortunate deployment of the smoke alarm (I was a little over enthusiastic with the corn meal you use to keep the pizza from sticking to the pan and it burned - but just the corn meal, not the pizzas!), they turned out great. Then we all cuddled up on the couch to watch a movie together.

Then the babies went to bed and everyone lived happily ever after. Or not. When we got upstairs to read books before bedtime, Z felt hot to me. Yep, 102.3 degrees. Sigh. I knew it was too good to last.

*For once, totally not sarcastic!


Cobbler is the Devil

Before I got married, I threw parties at least three times per year. Big parties with themes and fun food. We registered for tons of cool serving ware because I just assumed that this level of partying would continue after we were married. Hey, we had twice the friends! Then we moved from Ginormousville to Small Town. It took years for me to make enough friends to even consider a party. So this week, for the first time in the longest (maybe ever in our marriage), we had people over for dinner. It was a casual grilling out party where everyone brought something to throw on the grill and a side to share.

I had such good intentions when I went to the grocery store. I was going to make a delicious Caprese Salad. Light! Yummy! But the road to hell is paved with BBQ potato chips, cobbler and margaritas. My inner (trailer park) Martha Stewart wouldn't allow me to only provide a salad. What if everyone brings salad? What if the pot-luck stuff was too exotic for my picky husband? So I went hog wild at the MegaMart. I just couldn't help myself. I got the afore mentioned chips and the stuff to make both margaritas and a blackberry peach cobbler - with ice cream, of course.

The party was big fun. We totally enjoyed hanging out with a bunch of guys T works with and their families. We indulged in meat cooked with fire, fabulous sides and strawberry margaritas. (This is the first time in four years that I am not pregnant or nursing. Margaritas! Squee!) We finished off with the cobbler. So all's well with party eating. I had budgeted points for the party and didn't lose my head entirely in the face of so many good things to eat. I had been to the gym, gone grocery shopping, cleaned the pool and cleaned the house that day, so I had racked up enough activity points to eat with out guilt.

Then everyone went home and left me with half of a cobbler. It is an evil cobbler. It whispers to me sweetly every time I walk by the fridge. "Oh, Rae Aaah-nnn! Rae Aaaaah-nnn! Eat me, eat me! Eat. me." I made the dang thing, so I know full well that it has an entire stick of butter in it. I'm guessing that if I give in to my baser impulses and snarf the whole thing down in a buttery, crumbly, gooey fit of excess that the total number of butter sticks I have shed would decrease exponentially. Darn. I might as well smear its berry goodness right on my butt.

And while that idea might have some appeal for T, I think I will give it a pass. As a matter of fact, the mental picture it generates has put me right off cobbler. For now. Until the next time I walk by the fridge.


Hurricanes Blow*

You would think that as far away as Small Town is from the Texas coast that I wouldn't have to worry about hurricanes. Au contraire! Many of my college friends live on the south side of Houston (people I know work at NASA!) and my parents live about 30 miles inland a little further west. My mom is in a memory care facility and had to be evacuated to a sister facility in Austin (man, I wouldn't have wanted to be on that bus).

But my biggest worry is T. As millions of people are fleeing the coast of Texas, he was ordered to drive directly into the storm. He got called in today - on his day off - and had to be in Houston by 7p.m. So far the weather has been okay, but the meteorological poop is supposed to really hit the fan on Saturday. Sometimes it is hard to come to grips with your husband having a career that puts him in the way of harm in such a big way. I know that cops risk their lives every day, but somehow a hurricane seems like a bigger threat than a speeding soccer mom. You can't shoot the hurricane if it gets out of hand and all a flying tackle would get you is wet.

So I sent him off with snacks and a cot, bottled water and beef jerky. I will worry quietly here and be cheerful on the phone. I'll give another shot at explaining where Daddy has gone to Z. She heard me on the phone with my dad and can't understand why we can't go visit. Hopefully it will turn out to be a tempest in a teapot and T will return home disgruntled from all the driving but none the worse for wear.

*Pun entirely intended


Big Love

I am puttering around in the kitchen listening to my hubby reading nap time stories on the baby monitor. I am all melty. Before she went upstairs, Z grabbed my hand and said, "You can come up and give me a hug and kiss when Daddy is through." So sweet. Though there are the occasional off days (awful, terrible, no good, very bad days! - Judith Viorst said it best.), I love this little family right down to the core of my being.

Especially when they are sleeping.


Wrong Side of the Bed

Today was a study in stellar parenting. (Read: crappy parenting.) Have you ever had one of those days where you just couldn't shake your bad mood? Today was that day for me.

It all started last night when I neglected to check if Z used the potty before bedtime (she didn't) which resulted in her having an accident in the wee (no pun intended!) pre-dawn hours. Which, for the record, was the first time she has wet the bed since we started potty training around two years ago. Anyway, I had to get up and change the sheets. This wasn't a big deal. Z went right back to bed and so did I. What seemed like a nanosecond later I heard Q waking up some time prior to 7:00. I. am. so. tired. And in this house, a tired mama is a MEAN mama.

I dragged my sleep deprived self out of bed and began the morning routine. I just couldn't move fast enough to suit Z and so started the hounding. I asked her to let me have a few minutes to wake up, but that seemed to translate to her having to follow me around, getting under my feet and tugging on my clothes.

"Is breakfast ready yet? When will it be ready? I'm hungry. Can I have my breakfast? No, I don't like that kind of cereal. Yes, I do! I WANT it! Give me a peach! I don't like those peaches." Imagine this on an endless loop at a volume that makes your ears bleed. It just went downhill from there. Before long, she was grabbing things from her brother and he was howling at decibels audible from space.

Meanwhile, the hubby slept. That didn't make me feel resentful at all. He didn't get off work until 1:00a.m., so he went to bed an hour or two after I did, but he was not at all disturbed by the early morning commotion and slept peacefully on until 10:30, leaving me silently seething and becoming crabbier and crabbier until he finally got up. So now I'm cross with the children and the husband. Good times.

Luckily, the planets were aligned correctly today so both kids took a nap at the same time. I fell into bed the minute I closed their doors and slept like the dead. I'd like to say that everything was all goodness and light when we woke up, but that would be a lie. But I do think that my little nap did keep me from permanently scarring the children. Z's not going to remember this, right?

Weighing In

In spite of the fact that my children were tag-teaming me at the butt crack of dawn this morning (Z had an unheard of bed wetting accident that required a sheet change and Q has apparently decided to be be a rooster), I managed to get my sleep deprived, scantilly clad, recently relieved self on the scale this morning. Success! Dispite four days of the mom-in-law's fab cooking, I still managed to lose weight. I lost 1.4 pounds this week, bringing my weight-loss total to 5.6 pounds of buttery lard. That's like 22 sticks of butter! Go me!


Falling Off the Wagon

Travel is in so many ways my nemesis. While I love being other places, I am always so totally out of my groove when I return home. It takes me days to get back into the domestic swing of things, so dishes pile up and laundry threatens to take over the house. (Yeah, that's it. That's why my house is perpetually sub-par.) So too it goes for dieting - I mean healthy lifestyle changes.

Having just returned from the middle of Nowhere, I have slipped out of the habit of recording what I am eating at the WW site. I was diligent about writing everything down while I was away, but haven't forced myself to do the data entry now that I am home. I am totally slacking and snacking. Arg! I think I ate a grape or a piece of sliced peach every time I walked through my kitchen today. I guess it could be worse, but if you eat a pound of grapes you aren't doing yourself any favors! Must. log on. to Weight Watchers.

Out of my hermetically sealed bubble I have yet to develop the control I need to "just say no" to foods I am better off without. My mom-in-law is a food-is-love type of gal, so the weekend trip to the ranch involved lots of yummy stuff that I SO would have avoided at home. Because portion control? is not my friend. And that WW saying, "Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels," is a bunch of hooey. A cookie (homemade by someone who made them just for you!) tastes way better. If it is a choice between being thin and eating the cookie, the cookie wins every time.

Oh, and I totally forgot (no, really! I did forget!) to weigh this morning until after I had eaten something. I'm a little OCD with my weighing ritual. If it is not first thing in the morning, with me practically naked and preferably with an empty bladder, I just am not willing to get on the scale. Today I overslept a little and so was in a rush to get Z off to preschool and my weight was the last thing on my mind. Oops. At least I finally made it to the gym today. Hopefully that will be reflected in my weigh-in!


Back From Nowhere

I married into a family of latter day gypsies. We spend what little time off we have traveling from place to place throughout the state, never staying anywhere (including home) for very long. I have just returned from our monthly trip to the family ranch in the middle of Nowhere, Texas.

It is a long boring drive. Have I mentioned that portable DVD players are a gift from god? Laaa! (That was the angels singing.) The purchase of the DVD player has allowed us to keep our total number of children at 2 by preventing me from killing my firstborn after she asks, "Is this Grandma's road?" or "What number will it be when we get there?" one too many times. We pop on Finding Nemo or Lilo and Stitch (aka: baby crack) and, TAH-DAH! up to two hours of relative peace and quiet. Lest you think I am a cold and heartless mother for not wanting to hear my daughter's sweet voice, bear in mind that it is a six hour drive from Small Town to Nowhere - one way. And that we spend, on average, 20 hours per month driving off to Somewhere Else (not including tooling around town, of course). As an added bonus, the movies give me a chance to actually finish a conversation with T, which is a rarity given the weird schedule cops keep.

This is all a long lead up to why I haven't posted lately: I was in the middle of Nowhere with no phone, cable or internet. Eek! What we did have? lots of fine red dirt that permanently stains clothes, herds of deer (including little tiny spotted fawns!), catfish so large they are practically evolving into land mammals right in front of your eyes and so fruitful that you could almost walk across the pond on their backs, snakes (!), bulls who were always, ahem, WAY too glad to see me, and many, many 4-wheel drive vehicles. We also had my in-laws (LOVE!) and the entire herd of dogs from biggest to smallest.

The best part about visiting the ranch is all of the animals. This ranch is primarily for hunting (we are raging carnivores. Get over it.) and the diversity of wildlife is amazing. There are deer, wild turkeys (who are much smarter than you would think), dove, duck, quail, armadillos, foxes, bobcats and coyotes. If you can eat it, my husband will shoot it (not that we eat armadillos, foxes, coyotes or bobcats). I'm not too wild about game birds, but deer are just good eats. (I have no part in the transition from woodland creature to table food and like to believe that deer just comes in the nicely shrink wrapped package.) There are also cattle. The ranch is used as a nursery in the spring and the calves are just adorable. Another great thing about the ranch is that my mom-in-law is the uber grandma and allows me to sleep past the crack of dawn and to eat an entire meal without getting up from the table.

On the down side, there is no phone, cable, or internet. And lots of the "fun" stuff to do at the ranch is remarkably like manual labor: filling feeders, building blinds, maintaining T's fleet of ancient Jeeps. And of course, the demands of parenting are all still there, minus the conveniences and schedules of home. Ack! Z is wired for sound from the moment we arrive until days after we get home, fueled on Grandma's cookies and staying up past bedtime. Q sleeps the whole drive there in preparation for never sleeping again once we arrive. T and his dad do everything together, totally getting on each other's nerves by the end of the visit, which sends his mom into a tailspin. By the time we leave, T is grumpy, the kids are whiny and we have a six hour drive ahead of us.

I am glad to be home.


Exercise... Fail

We got our share of the hurricane rains today. This far inland all we had to show for it was a much needed steady rain. And while this is great for trees and flowers and junk, it wreaks havoc on an outdoor exercise program.

So instead of pursuing physical fitness, I spent the day pretending to be a housewife. What's that you say? I am a housewife? Then why is my house such a wreck? Oh, because I am a bad housewife. That explains it.


Bad Mama! No eating the children!

Sometimes I am amazed at our species' continued existence. I am the mother of a brilliant, funny, exasperating daughter, but there are days when I understand why some animals eat their young. Lately, it feels like I am feeling that way a lot.

I am the youngest of three girls. We are wildly different in many ways, but there is one way in which we are identical: we are pleasers. If our parents told us to jump, not only did we do it, but we asked if they would like us to jump on one foot? in a circle? while barking like a dog? The idea of defying our parents' wishes just didn't occur to us. Even as adults, we can't wrap our brains about what would have happened if we had. We would tell them how lucky they were that we were so easy and they would respond, in all seriousness, "It's not luck. It's skill." I took this as gospel.

Imagine my surprise when I was blessed with a child who had no desire to please me from a really early age? Like at 10 months. She knew what she wanted and that was that. This is a great thing in an adult and I am sure it will serve her well in her future. But for now? It. is. killing. me. The twos were hard enough, but the threes have been even harder. Even my father has acknowledged that maybe luck did have something to do with temperament. For someone who isn't trying to push my buttons, she is remarkably proficient at it. And it leaves me angry. I find by the end of the day I have a harder and harder time letting go of the day's transgressions. I hate that I am so relieved when she and her brother are in bed. Sigh.

Update: No frogs in the pool today. Whee! Unfortunately, that may be because my vicious (ha!) Pomeranian ate half of the star crossed couple. Ick. No kisses for him.

Another Update: Weigh in day: success! I lost another 2 pounds this week. Just 53 more to go! I anticipate that I may have an increase in weight loss after next weekend. Q is scheduled to be weaned that weekend and when I stop nursing my points allotment goes way down. Yay losing weight! Boo losing points!