Oh, yeah. Blogs!

Since the trouble this fall I have gotten out of the habit of reading blogs. Maybe because my blog reader was telling me that I had 1000+ posts to wade through... It didn't seem to matter how much I weeded the list, it was too daunting to tackle. And of course there is the problem with not wanting to miss any of my favorite blogs' posts. I couldn't possibly delete those! Despite my valiant efforts, I have not been able to get the number of posts awaiting my attention down to fewer than 300.

I don't know what clicked this week - pre-/post-Christmas procrastination? - but I am back on the blog-reading horse. In the time that I have been MIA, multiple babies have been born. It seems like Amy was just getting her cerclage yesterday, and today she has a bouncing baby girl.

Ah, my imaginary friends on the internet! I have missed you!


...and then there were FOUR

For years I have introduced our family as "one dog shy of being weird people." If this statement is true, I am now officially a weird dog person.

T called me at the crack of dawn on Christmas Eve from a weigh station in the middle of nowhere. Once I was awake enough to answer the phone and form coherent sentences, T asked me if I had been serious the night before when we discussed the (distant) possibility of another large dog to keep Blackie's separation anxiety from destroying our house while we are out. I warily asked him why.

"I was around back going on a tree when this huge chocolate lab ran right up to me. I practically peed on her head!" (Like the fact that he had almost marked her was somehow a selling point.) "She's super friendly and can already do tricks! She sits and shakes! If I just leave her here, she will get hit by a truck on the interstate. I guess I could take her to the pound, but they don't keep them very long before they put them to sleep. Can I bring her home?" All of this is said very quickly, six-year-old-begging-for-candy-style.

My response? Well, don't let her get run over.

So now we have another dog. Another BIG dog. T brought her home before I had even made it out of bed. When the dogs started freaking out, I jumped out of bed and treated T's partner to a show (imagine a fat, bra-less, squint-eyed, wild-haired woman in a ratty night shirt and a bite guard. Pretty.) and saw the most gorgeous brown dog I have ever seen. She stole our hearts immediately.

I called around and found a vet open on Christmas Eve to check her out and make sure she wasn't going to give my other hounds the plague. Oh, and to see if she was chipped so we could give her back to her real owners. Yeah, like that was going to happen. They would have to have a really good reason why she was dumpster diving next to an interstate before T would relinquish her. Anyhoo, no chip. We got her wormed and vaccinated. She weighs a whopping 82 pounds. The vet estimates her to be two or three years old. He gave us the wormer for free since we were adopting her on Christmas and all. I think he was half hoping I would let him have her!

So far, she has done remarkably well. She seems to be fine with letting the tiny male pom remain the alpha dog - even though she could eat Griffin in two hairy bites. When Izzy barks at her, she is fascinated rather than annoyed. She lets the kids climb all over her. She did eat a stick and a half of butter and the beginnings of a breakfast casserole off the counter on the first day. There were, ahem, digestive consequences for that in the middle of the night. Blech.

Last night she hopped up on my bed with me to snuggle while I was on the phone with my fam. So. very. sweet. So, weird dog people it is - though T says we only have one dog per person, so we are still one dog shy of weird dog people. Whatever. I'll take it!

UPDATED: We named her Holly. Holly Berry actually. A nod to both the season and another gorgeous brown girl. T is trying to stage a mutiny and is calling her "Brownie." I am not going to have it. (Blackie and Brownie? Uh, no. Blackie is bad enough - everyone assumes the kids named her.) Besides, her real name has already been recorded at the vet's office!


Merry Catmas!

Nothing says merry Christmas like a bunch of ticked off cats! Enjoy!

Ho freaking ho. This is why I barf in your shoes.

I posted this one last year, but it still makes me laugh out loud.
I hope your holiday was filled with lots of laughter - and no cat barf!



I am addicted to crack. Christmas Crack, that is. It is the sweet version of Chex Mix, and it should be illegal. Actually, I renamed is Christmas Crunch so that there would not be any unfortunate misunderstandings involving family services or jail time. I stumbled on the recipe here, and made a few modifications that make it just that much more addictive yummy.

Rae Ann's Christmas Crunch

  • 3 pounds vanilla candy coating (aka: Almond Bark)
  • 1 box each: Coco Puffs, Kix, Corn Chex, and Wheat Chex (or generic equivalents)
  • 1 bag stick or ring pretzels
  • 1 bag Christmas M&Ms
Mix all of the dry ingredients together. This recipe makes about a bushel, so I usually do it in three or four batches. Melt candy coating and pour over cereal mixture. Mix to coat. Turn out on waxed paper and allow to set. Store in air-tight containers. Would keep forever if you could keep your children from snarfing it down like they are starving.

There you go. Now you can be an addict, too. You're welcome!


The Naptime Decorator Strikes Again!

I am so tickled with myself! I managed to get my curtains all sewn and hung in the living room, dining room and kitchen. I got the idea for the curtains from a fall issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine (I'd give you the issue and a link, but I can't track them down. Rats!)

I made them out of burlap. As in feed sack material. It sounds weird - or at the very least trailer park chic - but they turned out impressively well! The fabric has a good texture with nice body and looks like linen when the sun shines through it. Best of all? It was cheap! I bought 13 yards for just under $40. Awesome!

I could have make it easy on myself and just hung them with curtain rings, but that wasn't quite the look I was going for. Instead, I sewed a four inch seam across the tom and put in back tabs for a fuller, slightly more formal look.

I am probably not finished with them yet... I am planning to add some kind of fancy trim to contrast with the humble burlap. I am toying with multiple ribbon bands, some kind of dangle-y beaded trim, or a wild loop fiber trim. I haven't come across the perfect trim yet, but I will know it when I see it!
It is amazing to me how a few curtain panels make a room look so much more finished! Now, if I could just get these last few boxes unpacked!


Ho Freaking Ho

The Christmas season is officially kicking my rear this year. I have managed a few victories: getting the tree inside (and lit); taking the kids to see Santa; going to see the gingerbread houses at the Children's Museum; finishing my holiday shopping. And yet have suffered ignoble defeat at the hands of getting the tree decorated, the making of the Christmas goodies and getting my Christmas cards in the mail. Forget about getting the presents wrapped!

The decorations on the tree only go up about two feet. With about three ornaments per branch. One sad specimen is weighed all the way down to the ground. The rest of the ornaments are waiting hopefully in their boxes - down from the attic, at least! - behind the couch. I keep waiting for T to be home so we can decorate the tree as a family. I am too stubborn to just cave and do it myself. We are going to have some family fun, dammit!

It almost goes without saying that the house won't be completely put together in time for the festivities. Just close enough to make me crazy. @#$%! It is so tempting to spend my dwindling hours until the big day cranking out curtains for the public areas of the house, but somehow I don't think that would be a wise use of my time. Better to corral the massive herd of dust bunnies and get the spots out of the carpet than worry about finishing details so far from the finish!

This year, for the first time, I can see why my mom was always such a crab at Christmas. I'd better get a lid on myself or it will be bay leaves and melted butter for me!

And now for gratuitous offspring pictures!


The Tinkle Has Landed!


We have been in the pre-stages of potty training with Q for a while now. He likes to flush the potty and pull down his pants to get on the potty, but actually sitting there? Not so much. We set him up there and he'll sit still for about a nanosecond and then he is ready to be doing other things.

So tonight, during the pre-bath-time wind-up, I didn't expect for things to go any differently. He got himself undressed. He pulled up the stool and situated the potty seat. By himself. ('By himself' has been a key player in our house lately.) He accepted a little assistance to actually climb up on the throne.

As expected, he was ready to get off as soon as his tush hit the seat. I told him to wait a minute and see if anything happened. Before the words had even completely left my mouth, his eyes got all round and there was a tiny splash in the pot. He looked up at me in awe and said, "I did it!"

Years of cheerleader training kicked into high gear. I squealed and congratulated him. I bounced around. I went and got T and shared the big news. Then he cheered and congratulated him. Q was very pleased, if somewhat nonchalant about the whole thing.

After the congratulatory hubbub died down, Q walked over to the toilet, flushed, and said, "Bye-bye tinkles!" like he'd been doing it his whole life. Wow.

If you had asked me before I was a parent if I could get this excited about a bodily function, I would have laughed my head off. Who knew!?


I Never Thought I'd Do That

First, get your mind out of the gutter. All clear? Okay, then.

I was in my closet getting dressed for the day when I heard the thundering hoard (aka: my children and dogs) explode into my bedroom. I called for them to go back to the living room and I would be out in a minute. Seconds later, the screaming began. Z had taken it upon herself to enforce my rule and Q was protesting vehemently. (The dogs had wisely abandoned the fray.)

Without thinking I went into my room and told her, hands on hips, "It is not your job to enforce the rules, Z! Take care of yourself and I will take care of Q!" It was only then that I realized that I was starkers.

I'm guessing my authority was somewhat undermined by my wobbly bits jiggling in time to my shaking finger. I had to leave the room before busted out laughing.


Bah Humbug.


The following post involves money and bickering and other assorted whining. It is a buzz kill. If you are feeling chipper, move on. I'll see you tomorrow.

Ah, the Christmas season! The tree! The lights! The annual fight about money! Good times. Seriously, I might just have an aneurysm if T whines about buying gifts for my family again. No, wait. He already did! Arrg!

Like I'm just throwing money out the window! I have a budget for each person and I stick to it. I look for good deals. I use coupons. I. am. responsible. with. money. This year I even cut WAY back on purchases for the kids. Of course, it is easy for him to complain about my spending because he is completely excused from Christmas shopping for the masses. He is only responsible for me and any armaments/hunting gear that his dad might need.

He even came back and apologized after the initial freak out. I imagine it did look like a lot all at once. But even so, I had a full head of righteously indignant steam going for most of the afternoon. On the plus side, you can now get two cars into our garage. I worked off my mood viciously culling the flotsam that has accumulated in the garage since the move.

Also? I unpacked the liquor. I may need it.



The good news? My new on sale super-cute (gray and purple!) light hikers/sneakers didn't give me blisters when the kids and I took and extra long walk around the neighborhood this afternoon.

The bad news? I think I might have pulled a hammy when the GALE FORCE winds forced me to run at speeds these boobs this body was not meant to reach. Seriously, the wind caught my bulk like a sail and made. me. run.

Did I mention I was pushing Q on his trike? Z was on her bike. The kids thought the wind was great until we had to go against it. At one point, the wind was blowing so hard it pushed Z backwards and she didn't have the leg strength to stop.

Gotta love west Texas.

*I totally stole this title from my cousin's Facebook post. She is so clever!


Below the Belt

Backstory: Our lab, Blackie, has separation anxiety so extreme that she is anxious even when we are home. She follows me from room to room everywhere I go. If she could insert herself under my skin, or bond with me at the molecular level, her anxieties might possibly be eased. As both of these options break the laws of physics, I guess I am stuck with my furry shadow. This wouldn't be a problem except that a.) our kitchen was designed by a sadist and becomes impassable if more than one person enters it and b.) Blackie tends to lie down about three inches behind my feet when I am working at the counter, so when I take a step back she gets stepped on and I take a header into the counters. Good times.

So today I had a brainstorm and placed a little rug in the kitchen, but out of the traffic pattern, for Blackie to lay down on. When she gets in my way, I tell her to go to her rug and pat/praise her copiously when she does. I am guardedly optimistic that this plan could keep us both out of casts.

Anyhoo, back to the below-the-belt-y-ness. When T got back from his weekend of hunting (no resentment here! Nuh uh! Bring on the single parenting!) I told him that I was trying a little experiment in the kitchen.

Completely deadpan, he looked me in the eye and said, "What? Cleaning?"

And then didn't understand why I didn't think that was as funny as he did. Of course, I am the first to admit that I am not a good housekeeper, but when he added insult to injury by tacking on "I've cleaned the kitchen more than you have this week!" it was all I could do not to pinch his head off (to borrow a phrase from my mother).

I guess he thinks magic elves come and put the dishes in the dishwasher and then unload it again. And that he has accomplished something amazing by putting his (many) dishes near (not in) the dishwasher. Does he think that dishes don't accumulate over the day and that maybe that plate sitting out is from lunch and not the night before? Aaaarg! That I have loaded the dishwasher today - possibly multiple times! - but those darn kids just insist on eating regularly? What really irks me is that I produce less than 20% of the dirty dishes but take care of well over 95%? Isn't there another adult in this house who could run the dishwasher?

I'm all bent out of shape, but I know that he didn't mean for me to take his seriously. He thought he was being hilarious and cracked himself up for ten minutes. Still. Humph.


Could It Really Be This Easy?

Z has a special little friend, G, at school. On Monday, her friend's mom stopped me in the carpool line to give me an invitation to her daughter's birthday party. It was a Barbie party, and Z was as excited about the Barbie she got to get as much as spending some time with her friend. (Until yesterday, we had yet to enter the world of Barbie. I am afraid that now that it has been breached, there is no turning back!)

So we get over there this morning (brilliant planning, by the way - the party was from 10 to noon, so the kids were less likely to be crabby) and G's mom took me under her wing immediately. She was so excited that Z had come, and it clearly made G's day. They were joined at the hip for the entire party. If Z was out of G's sight for longer than 30 seconds, she started calling for her. So cute!

I guess G's enthusiasm spilled over to me because she introduced me to everyone there (who all clearly knew each other) and stuck with me unless party duties called her elsewhere. Her friends and family were awesome, too. I don't usually do well in a crowd of strangers - it brings out my inner wall flower - but her friends were totally warm and welcoming.

When we were saying out good-byes, I mentioned the playgroup that I have on Mondays after school. She was so excited to come! And did I mention she has a son Q's age? How perfect is that! And (and this is truly bonus material) her husband went to school at LSU - the same school as my other new playgroup friend! (Makes for better blending.)

I am just amazed at how much more smoothly the friend making process is going here in Wester than it did in Small Town. If it hadn't been for the Lovely S, I don't know that I would have had any friends for the first several stay-at-home years. (Of course, once I had awesome friends there, I moved. Boo.)

I am quite proud of myself for putting myself out there instead of sitting around pining at home, as is my natural inclination. I am still pining for Chica and KK's Mom (among others!), but at least it is a start. Go me!


Makes It All Worth It

While the kids were napping this afternoon, I put the lights on the Christmas tree. This is officially my job because T loves the tree, but the decorating? Not so much.

Q took an unusually long nap and woke up in a mood. He wanted nothing to do with me getting him out of his crib. (He has recently entered a virulent 'I-do-MYSELF!!!' phase.) And changing his diaper? High treason. So after I did the dreaded diaper deed, I left him squalling in his room.

Some time later, he deigned to grace us with his presence and immediately noticed the newly lighted tree. His eyes grew big and he exclaimed, "Chrisim lights! Boooful." (translation for those of you who don't speak two-year-old: Christmas lights! Beautiful!).

And my heart melted.


A New Fairy Tale

After dinner this evening, Z was bouncing around begging her father and me to listen to the story she just made up. When all eyes were upon her, she began:
Once upon a time there was a princess who wanted to see her grandma. So she went off to her grandma's house through the deep dark woods. The princess met a wolf while she was in the woods, but he left her there and went to her grandma's house. Then he ate the grandma. The End.

It does not pay to be old and slow in Z's world.


Snow Day

We woke up this morning to great giant snowflakes falling at an alarming rate. A quick call to T confirmed that we should probably just stay home. Of course, Z was crazed to get out into it. Unfortunately, by the time we got her dressed in all of her layers, the snow had stopped and the melting had commenced.

This didn't thwart her one bit. She went out and stomped around in the slush for around 20 minutes only to come inside and tearfully complain about the cold. She was easily cheered up with a cup of hot chocolate and a Christmas special on Tivo.

Speaking of Christmas, we bought our tree over the weekend. I tried to throw a little business into the local economy at a little corner gas-station-turned-nursery, but they had clearly been smoking their merchandise. They wanted $129 for a Noble fir. Crazy. We ended up finding a lovely Frasier fir at Lowe's for half the price.

We got it into the stand yesterday. Nothing like putting up your tree to get you in the Christmas spirit make you fight with your spouse. T is in charge of lifting the tree and I am in charge of tightening the screws that hold it into the stand. Unfortunately, something about holding up the tree renders my husband mute and rather than giving me instructions, he grunts at me monosyllabic-ly. Meanwhile, Z orbits us like a crazed comet bent on self destruction. By the time we are finished, the adults are grumpy, the kids are oblivious and the dogs are scared. Good times.

Z is obsessed with the tree. After the kazillionth time of asking if we are going to decorate the tree today (we weren't), she decided that she would arrange every. single. toy. she. owns. underneath it. She was determined to get toys all the way around the darn thing in spite of numerous warnings not to get behind it/not to knock it down. Once she had enough toys in the living room to constitute a fire code violation, we finally convinced her that maybe it was time to get the toys back into her room. So she dumped them in Q's room (it is marginally closer to the living room). When I commented on how nice it was of her to give all of her toys to her brother, she finally got everything put where it belongs.

It is only the first day of December. Please tell me that every day from now until Christmas isn't going to be like this! I might have to break out the big gun: Santa is watching! Make sure you are on his 'good' list!


Immediate Gratification Victim

One of my secret not-so-secret addictions is free stuff for Photoshop. So when I started working on my little Thanksgiving image from a couple of posts ago, I was looking for some interesting fall-y layer styles to use for my background. I found a promising one at Adobe Exchange and immediately downloaded it. I have become quite proficient at adding new brush sets to Photoshop, so it never occurred to me that adding a layer style would be any more difficult. I unzipped that puppy into the Styles folder of the Presets menu and thought I was ready to go.


Well, okay. I would just make a call to the Computer Guru (aka: Daddy) and fix that right up. Nope. Turns out that Photoshop is like the only place in cyberspace where I know more than he does. Rats!

No problem! There is always the University of Google, right? And there was. Lots and lots of info on loading layer styles into Photoshop Elements 6 and 7. I use PSE 5. Arg! After wading through countless tutorials on the convoluted process of adding layer styles in XP vs. Vista/creating XML files for ASL files so that they would show up in drop down menus and special effect palettes/deleting db3 files to force the rebuilding of databases and following them meticulously, I still didn't manage to make them appear in Photoshop.

Finally, I stumbled upon a review of PSE 8 that said it was more forgiving of adding new stuff. Fine. Happy birthday to me. I downloaded PSE 8. It was on sale for a steal, so I was totally patting myself on the back. Until I tried to load the layer styles. Still no love.

After briefly beating my head on my keyboard, I waded back into the tutorials and found a little hiccup in my previous interpretation of the instructions. They all warn that you have to be careful what you mess with or you could completely screw up your Photoshop, so I gave the new instructions a whirl in PSE 5. Success! Huzzah!

So I trotted my new technique over to PSE 8. Just. kill. me. now. It still didn't work. I could get bits and pieces to show up, but not in the right drop down menu and you had to jump through an inordinate number of hoops to get there. I finally broke down and purchased/downloaded a cool little gadget called Add-O-Matic that promised to load everything into the right directories in PSE 6, 7, and 8 with very little effort on my part. And once I worked out the kinks it did.

I also found that in the three days since I had purchased the new version of PSE, they had re-released the Add-O-Matic for PSE 5. If I had just waited a few more days, I could have just coughed up the $11 bucks for that instead of the significantly more for PSE 8. Sigh. I know I would have upgraded eventually, but I just hate that I did it before I had to.

Darn instant gratification got me again.


An Embarrassment of Riches

On this Thanksgiving I am thankful for:
  • my husband who loves me through thick and thin (literally!)
  • my children who are the most beautiful creatures I have ever met - even if they do occasionally make me nuts
  • T's job, which provides for us, but more importantly makes him happy
  • friends, old and new
  • family, near and far
  • having family close enough to celebrate the holiday together
  • not having to clean my house for company!
Hope your day was lovely, too!

Gobble, Gobble!


Ah, San Diego

I don't know what has gotten into me lately. It is like I have a mental block about writing about my trip. Maybe because writing about it will just remind me that I don't get to go for another year? Or maybe because all the relaxation of my day at the spa vanished when my husband left for hunting and training and the kids and I got food poisoning? Good times. The most likely candidate in the Why Isn't Rae Ann Writing competition? The time-sucking vortex called Kindle. (But I've read at least 10 books in the last month!)

The really good times were to be had on my trip! Which was awesome! And filled with all things girl-y and sister-y. Considering that I had to be at the airport so early - we left the house at 6:30 a.m.! Blech! - the flight was really quite pleasant. Since cheapo US Airways charges for bags, everyone on the plane was trying to cram their weekend into a carry-on. The up side of being in the fourth/last boarding group? They gate checked my bag all the way to San Diego, so I didn't have to lug it around my layover! Oh, and my Kindle? To DIE for on the plane. Man, I love that thing. Best. present. ever.

I arrived in sunny California starving (again, cheap airline = no peanuts), so Sister K and I decided to go find some bait sushi. Picky T would never eat anything so exotic - if Wester even has a sushi place! - so this was a real treat. We went to Sushi Itto, which had a totally cool Asian/modern vibe. We got the rainbow rolls and the dot com rolls. The dot coms were the winner. Amazing!

Our next adventure was to go see Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair. Sister K is an Oprah addict, so she was interested from what she saw there. I worked for a long time in an all African-American elementary school, so I knew more about black hair than Sister K, but the movie was still eye-opening. I guess it must have been a good movie because we kept talking about it for my whole visit. We were disappointed that there wasn't a stop-action-animation of someone getting a weave so we could see what all went into that.

After the movie, we finally went back to Sister K's house. She had just completed a remodel that was supposed to be finished in time for my visit last year. The anticipation was killing me! Oh, my. It is GORGEOUS! It looks like something out of a magazine. Just wow. The really amazing part is just how different it is from its previous incarnation. Every surface had changed: walls, floors, counters, cabinets. The transformations was nothing short of amazing. Maybe someday I will have a house that is all grown up, too!

That night Mr. B cooked dinner for us out on the (new) built-in barbecue. Sister K and I enjoyed sitting by the fire pit and getting waited on!

No trip to San Diego would be complete without a trip to the zoo. This year, we went to the Wild Animal Park. I just can't get enough of that place! Our big adventure this year was the zip-line tour. Called the Flightline, it is supposed to mimic the flight of a California Condor. So. very. cool. I wish we had gotten some pictures of us in the harnesses - they were quite the contraptions. We got up to speeds of 60 mph as we flew across the savanna; picture cheeks flapping like you see in cartoons. We were both really glad we were wearing sun glasses! We also had a great time with the lorikeets. We purchased nectar and they ate right out of our hands! It was kind of like the pigeons in St. Peter's square, but not so overwhelming or flying-rat-y. Check the little-old-Asian-lady visor. I am one good looking woman.

Saturday was a relaxed girlie day. We went to brunch. We did a little shopping. We saw a movie. (Two in one weekend! Will the wonders never cease?) We went to see Julie and Julia. We thought we were going to be the only ones in the theater, but it got a respectable crowd. I enjoyed it, but was disappointed to find out that Julie divorced her husband in real life. Humph. That night we went to dinner at my fave Italian restaurant, Cafe Luna. As ever, it was delicious!

On Sunday we went to brunch (along with the entire population of San Diego) at the Hash House a Go Go. With a name like that, how could it help but be good? The restaurant is right in the middle of the arts district, so the people watching was primo. And the food? Holy moly, I might need a moment alone before I can even describe it. First off, it comes on plates big enough to sleep on. Sister K and I split two items and left as much food as we ate: banana cream dipped french toast; farm scramble with bacon and avocado; a biscuit the size of your head with homemade jam; bananas foster frozen latte. Heavenly.

Adventure-wise, Sunday afternoon was the highlight of the trip. We went on a guided Segway tour of the Gaslamp District in downtown San Diego. When we got there, we had to watch a safety video and sign the I-won't-sue-you-if-I'm-a-dumbass-and-fall-off waiver. The video was a RIOT. It was narrated by the Seguay inventor dude in a super thick Boston accident. He said things like, "If your Segway does blah, blah, step off and calm the hell down." and "If you do blah, blah you could get hurt wicked bad." We laughed the whole way through it.

Next we had a quick lesson on how to use a real Segway. They are amazing machines, but not quite as step-on-and-away-we-go as you might think. You do most of the controlling with your feet. About ten minutes in, I had what felt like shin splints on the soles of my feet. I was thinking, "Two hours of this? Oh, noes!" But after I stepped off and calmed the hell down (read: relaxed), all was well. We rode around downtown and got a bit of history/local color from our superlative guide, Ike. He was totally cool and super interesting in his own right (he'd lived a bunch of places and done a bunch of cool jobs), as well as being a fun guide. We buzzed down to the harbor then up the hill to Balboa Park. Too fun!

The piece de resistance of the visit was the trip to the spa. Each year we try a different spa. This year it was The Spa at Rancho Bernardo Inn. Love! We started out with facials. Lots of calming rose products. Ironically, my favorite part of this facial was the hand massage. Mmmm. Then, we had lunch movie star-style in a cabana by the pool. Ahi tuna sandwich with sweet potato fries? OMG. Best sandwich ever.

Next, we had 80-minute(!) massages. Sister K had the hot stone massage and I had an outdoor relaxation massage. I was in a private outdoor room, surrounded by trees and the sound of running water. It was, bar none, the best massage I have ever had. I was so relaxed that I think I dissolved into the table. I may or may not have passed out for the last 20 minutes of it. I love it when all the knots in my shoulders are gone!

We finished off our day sitting in the outdoor waterfall whirlpool. The water is saline instead of chlorinated, so it isn't bad for your hair and didn't leave you smelling like Clorox. Such a great day. All of that relaxing must have been hard work, because we could barely keep our eyes open through Dancing with the Stars. We were in bed, sound asleep by 9:00! Which was a good thing, as I had a 7:30 plane to catch the next morning.

And just like that (snap) my visit to California was over. No matter how long I stay, it isn't long enough. Thanks, Sister K, for my wonderful birthday visit. You are the best! I love you! I am counting the days until next year!


How to Hug a Baby*

Instructions for properly hugging a baby:

1. First, spy a baby.

2. Second, be sure that the object you spied was indeed a baby
by employing classic
sniffing techniques --
if you smell baby powder and the
wonderful aroma of wet nappies this is, indeed, a baby.

3. Next you will need to flatten the baby before actually beginning the hugging process.

**Note: The added slobber should help in future steps by making the 'paw slide' easier.**

4. The 'Paw Slide': Simply slide paws around baby and prepare for possible close-up.

5. Finally, if a camera is present, you will need to execute the difficult and patented
'Hug, Smile, and Lean' so as to achieve the best photo opportunity.


*Thanks to Chica for sending this to me.
This is not my baby, but I am confident no babies were injured in the production of the above cuteness.


Still Not Dead

Got the dreaded voice mail from Chica today:

"Hey, Rae Ann! You haven't blogged since November 12, so I'm just calling to make sure everything is okay. Everything is okay, right?"

Everything is okay. I am just swamped. Observe:
  • T is in Austin at (yet another) training.
  • Z and I got food poisoning/stomach flu (who can tell the diff?).
  • I am making a Herculean effort to get the main living areas all gorgeous (or as gorgeous as they can be with a serious layer of dog fur on them) before T gets back from the aforementioned training. This involves sewing curtains and hanging (A LOT) of pictures, as well as the expected box hauling and trash collecting.
  • I have caught up on the appalling backlog of design work from when my computer died. (Sincerest apologies to Laura and Katie! Again!)
  • I MADE A FRIEND TODAY!!! Which is to say that the MeetUp group that I started finally had someone besides me in attendance. And she brought a friend! Maybe I can stop wearing my 'Will You Be My Friend?' t-shirt. It is getting tattered.
Actually, I have tons to blog about - I still need to recap my fab trip to San Diego! - I just am not managing my time well enough to do it! Soon, Chica. Soon.


Kid? What Kid?

I guess I'm having a bit of trouble getting back into the parenting groove after my AMAZING trip to California. I managed to pick Z up on time, but after lunch, I got caught up in an internet research project for the hubs...

I was watching the clock like a hawk and it seemed to be going very slowly. Then I hit pay dirt and was finding the info T wanted. I looked at the clock and it was holy-crap-I'm-late-o'clock - otherwise known as 2:04 when I am supposed to pick up the boy child at 2:00. Yikes!

Luckily we literally live on the same street as Q's school. I broke all land speed records to get there. He was the last one there. Again.

I am so awesome.


Number 39

Nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh! You say it's your birthday?
Nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh! It's my birthday, too, yeah!

Well, the 10th anniversary of my 29th birthday passed quietly and without fanfare. I got my (awesome) present last week and my party the week before. But it was a very nice day. The kids were both in school, so I had some blessed time to myself. Which I used to renew my driver's license (probably time I took care of that since I'm married to a trooper and I have been illegal since 30 days after I moved here. Whoops!), drop off my sewing machine to get repaired and a quick trip to Target (where I left with only a toilet seat and a curtain rod. Such restraint!)

T left a bouquet of flowers and birthday cards for me to find when I got up. There was one from the dogs, one from the kids on which Z had laboriously written 'happy birthday' and a silly one from T that he wrote enough mushy stuff on to make my cry. The kids were relatively well behaved all day, so that was nice, too.

Our sitter fell through, so instead of going out, T made dinner for me. Funny how when he 'makes dinner' all he has to do is cook meat over flames. I still set the table, make the sides, fix the drinks, clear the table and do the dishes. Oh, well, I'll take what I can get!

This is the first year since we have been together that my birthday wasn't on the opening weekend of deer season. Since I had the audacity to be born in early November, I am usually competing with a mythical 40-point buck for my husband's attention. This is the first birthday in YEARS that I have actually spent with my husband/family. Usually, I am in California enjoying the tender ministrations of Sister K while my hubs is out hunting for mean/giant deer.

This year, I get the best of both worlds! I am leaving today for Ginormousville where I will drop the kids off at Grandma's. I leave for CA waaaaay too early tomorrow morning. It is the only time in recent memory that I have been excited about getting up early! I get back next Wednesday. I am sure I will be full of stories!


Rottin' Luck

No, that isn't a misspelling in the title. I am referring my great compost experiment. In our new yard, we have a little fenced area that the previous owners had used for a garden. I thought it would be fun/educational for the kids if we planted a garden, too. In all the craziness of the summer, we didn't manage to grow anything but a particularly lush patch of weeds and stickers.

What I did manage to accomplish was starting a compost project. I have a little scrap crock that I keep by the sink and about once per week the kids and I dump it into the bin. I was a little worried that my ratio of green (wet food scraps) to brown (dry leaves and grass) was skewed and the magic of composting wasn't going to happen - or at the very least, would be slowed WAAAAAY down. But when I went out to deposit this week's collection of food scraps, my compost bin was generating its own heat. Whee!

By spring I may have enough for a tiny corner of my garden! Sigh. I never said I was efficient!


Halloween Recap

Happy Halloween!
We had a great Halloween. It was the first event that Z and Q got to do with their cousins. We started out at my aunt's house for chocolate and photo ops. Q fell asleep in the car on the way over, so he was a bit of a grump. But chocolate soothes the savage beast and soon he was having a ball. Our next stop was a Halloween block party. There must have been 100 kids and their parents there. We ate hot dogs and too much candy sitting on the lawn.

Half the time we couldn't see where our kids were, but the cool part was that my cousins knew everyone there so we didn't have to worry.

Q stole his baby cousin's sword and was the happiest flying monkey on the block. Here he is running away from Mama and her pesty camera. He absolutely refused to put his hood up and look monkey like. You'd think he was two or something. Oh, yeah - he is!

Z's cousin asked her if she was the Wicked Witch of the West (she was). Her response? No, I'm the Wicked Witch of ALL the Directions!

Here he is with his hood up! This trick-or-treating is serious business!

We had a great time and were exhausted by the end of the night. I was hoping the munchkins would have a sugar crash on the way home, but we had no such luck.


Happy Halloween!

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VERY Scary

My dad sent this image to me. It is not for the faint of heart, so if you scare easily, DON'T SCROLL DOWN!

No, really. Quite disturbing.

Okay, you asked for it!

Happy Halloween!


Why Now?

In true Rae Ann fashion, I put off the construction of Q's Halloween costume until the last possible moment. His school Halloween party was today and they got to wear their costumes to school. He is going as the flying monkey to Z's Wicked Witch of the West (her choice, not mine. The irony is free of charge.) I had turned the design over and over in my head, so I was confident that it would come together quickly and easily.

That was my first mistake.

It all went pretty well until I got to the head. If you recall (I didn't), the monkeys from The Wizard of Oz were blue and sported a kind of funky mohawk. I was determined to replicate this with the faux fur I was using to trick out Q's light blue sweat suit. It took a lot of time and came out looking somewhat like a tumor. Awesome.

By this time, it is past midnight and I just need to wrap things up. So I decided to chuck the hat and vest for the moment and concentrate on finishing the monkey part of the costume. He could just wear his wings by themselves. I did some pretty awesome soft sculpture ears and was left with just the tail. I pin it up and am zipping in the last seam when my bobbin ran out. Rats!

How inconvenient, I think to myself, as I mechanically remove the bobbin and set it up for winding. I was literally six inches away from my stopping point. I tap the pedal with my foot. Nothing. I tap a little harder. Still nothing. I move stuff around and flip switches, but even though I have disengaged the needle, the bobbin winder isn't winding. Arg!

Normally this wouldn't be a problem. I have a million bobbins. The problem is that I haven't unpacked them yet and have no idea where they are. Panic! The short term solution was safety pins. I pinned up the last six inches and pinned the tail to the costume. But I still have a LOT of sewing to do to wrap up both his and Z's costumes (hers needed hemming). Defeated, I trudge off to bed around 2:00 a.m.

Once I have the kids deposited at school, I start calling sewing machine repair places. We have two in Wester. The first one I called said he could fix it, but it wouldn't be ready until late tomorrow afternoon. The next one said that their repair department had a one week turnaround. More panic! Luckily, the gal at the second shop sensed my desperation and told me to come on in and wind my bobbins on their demo machines. Whee! Problem solved! Guess who will be getting my repair business?

All's well that ends well. I got Q off to school in his monkey costume. It turned out a little more roller-disco-king than I was anticipating, but was still pretty cute. (Pictures to follow once I get the vest and hat completed.) He looooooooves it. I got Z's dress hemmed so that she could wear her costume to Q's party. Whew!

Somehow I didn't feel up to sewing after we got home from the party. Guess I'll have to get on it tomorrow... And so the cycle of procrastination starts again. I never learn.


Lucky They Survived

I am a single parent again. T went off for more training in Austin yesterday, though luckily just until Thursday this time. So I was by myself for dinnertime this evening. We were having a pleasant meal (chicken in garlic sauce with pasta) that met with everyone's approval. As we were finishing up the meal, nature called.

I hustled off to the bathroom secure in the knowledge that Q was trapped, I mean strapped in his chair and could not do any harm to himself or others. Z has been so well behaved for the last several days that I was beginning to wonder where my daughter went.

Shows what I know. She's baaa-aack! Evil Z flew in on her broom with her sidekick Cruel Q close behind while I was on the pot. I heard them fussing at each other, but thought little of it. When I came around the corner to the kitchen, Z jumped back and couldn't start talking fast enough.


It took a second for my Evil-to-English translator to understand the meaning: Q stabbed the table with his fork and then scratched it up. Before the translation even had time to register, the proof was right there before my eyes.

When we moved to Wester, the kids started using regular utensils. (I figured it would improve their meat/veg stabbing abilities, which it did.) Unfortunately, the stabbing skill seems to also apply to antique Duncan Phyfe formal dining room tables that have been pressed into service as kitchen tables because we don't have a formal dining room in this house and the steel and glass breakfast table can go on the screen porch. (My brain was screaming, "See? See, T? This is why we needed a casual table for the dining area even though the formal one fits just fine. See?!?)

I scooped a very startled Q out of his seat, gave his rump a swat and deposited his crying self in his room with the instructions not to come out. Lather, rinse, repeat when I came back to the kitchen and further examined the damage. I saw that even though Z was quick to point the finger at her brother, there were stab wounds on parts of the table only she could reach. Off to her room with her.

At this point, I call T to simmer down and complain about the trials of parenting while flipping through the Yellow Pages looking for the local gypsies to come take my beasties children away. Once I had calmed down, I decided that even though bed time was hours away and it was full light outside, the children needed to go to bed NOW.

I didn't even let them come out to brush their teeth. I brought their toothbrushes to their rooms with no-fluoride toothpaste so they didn't have to spit or rinse. Brush, book, bed in ten minutes flat. No singing or tickle fights. I did tell them that even when I was mad - and I was MAD - I still loved them.

Sometimes it is just a little more difficult.


Weekend Wordles - Closet Construction Edition

Join the fun at The Asylum, aka Last Shreds Of Sanity, to participate in Shan's Week~End Wordles. She has Mr. Linky up and running. For instructions on how to participate, go here.



Say what you want about in-laws, but my in-laws ROCK! They are in town this weekend and not only did they kid-wrangle and build a play set, they threw me a surprise birthday party! With cake and presents and everything.

The kids were thrilled because I got to blow the candles out twice (our videographer {GanGan} wasn't ready the first time and the candles would have melted too much if we waited for him!). If I had done it one more time, it would have almost equalled the number of candles that should be on my cake. I will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of my 29th birthday next month.

They said they weren't going to see me until after my birthday, so they wanted to surprise me now. I won the in-law lotto.


Just Kill Me

When I picked Q up from Mother's Day Out today, his teacher asked me if I knew he, erm, played with himself. A lot. Clearly embarrassed, she was looking everywhere but at me. You could have started a bonfire from the flames I burst into.

Of course I know that he does it at home, but I hadn't thought about his doing it at school. We have tried everything from putting a onsie under his clothes to snapping a onsie on the outside of his pants, but he still always manages to get to the goods. We even have verbal shorthand to make him quit. When we see him digging in his pants, we say, "Hands up!" and he stops. For like a second. I swear, I have to say 'hands up' so often that it sounds like I'm holding up a convenience store!

Until he went to Mother's Day Out, he had hardly ever been out of my sight, so I know there hasn't been anything inappropriate going on. I even asked my doc about it and he said that some boys are just like that.

I don't want to give him shame issues where his parts are concerned, but I would like to get him to ease up on the joy stick thing. Any suggestions? Halp!


Best. Present. Ever.

Or at least I think it is. I don't actually have the gift yet, but I am anticipating that it will be the best thing since sliced bread.

Back in April, he totally dropped the ball on the whole anniversary/Mother's Day thing. He told me that he was researching Kindles vs. Sony E-readers, so I got all excited, but when the actual day arrived, he'd waited too long to get what I wanted and so gave me a resin chicken instead. Awesome. Don't get me wrong, I liked the chicken, but it was NO Kindle. It wasn't even a promise of a Kindle to come.

So my jaw hit the floor when T got back from his training and told me that he was getting me a Kindle for my birthday next month. He wanted to make sure I had it for my trip to Cali to see Sister K. Actually, he told me to order it for myself (he loses points for that) so that I would get exactly what I wanted. He made up for the points he lost, however, when he told me to go ahead and get all the accessories, too. Yippee!

He didn't have to ask me twice! Right away I ordered a Next Generation Kindle with a purple pebbled leather cover, matching book light and leopard print protective skin. Estimated arrival date: October 28. I can hardly stand it! I'm like a kid waiting for Christmas.

I have already ordered my first several books. I got the next two installments in MaryJanice Davidson's Queen Betsy vampire series. I can't wait!


I Could Be on TV!

You know in the decorating shows how there is always that last minute rush to get finished before the time is up? I totally did that in the master suite yesterday. I literally swept tools/hardware/old stuff I'd removed/extra parts from the new stuff I installed into a laundry basket and shoved it into the garage.

Let me back up. As I have mentioned, T has been in Austin for training. For three weeks. I thought it would be nice to surprise him with a completely new 'man's closet,' updated bathroom and finished master suite when he (finally) came home. So once I got over my close encounter with the flu bug, I really had to get my rear in gear.

I found these really cool closet systems by ClosetMaid at Lowe's. You start with a tower of shelves and add rods between the walls and the tower. You can add all sorts of accessories like shelves, drawers or shoe racks. I kept it 'simple' with just drawers and shelves. And hooks. LOTS of hooks. (My house would collapse with out 3M Command hooks.)

I constructed his closet in the strange little office off of the master bathroom. It was supposed to be my office, but it really wasn't practical for my office to be so far away from the hell spawn children. So I took one for the team and donated it to the Closet Cause.

For his closet, I used two towers, 16 and 25 inches wide. The way the room is set up, with a door on three walls, I could only put hanging rods on one side of each tower. But he ended up with something like 16 feet of hanging room. I put drawers in the wider tower to accommodate the man's ridiculous number of socks. (On average, T changes his socks three times per day and I don't do laundry quite as regularly as I should, so he has a LOT of socks.) He has nine shelves to contain his equally huge collection of t-shirts. (He has shirts dating back to the '80's. Think giant technicolor prints of wolves and elk and woodland scenes. Shudder.) I even put in a special shelf over the hanging rod to fit his cowboy hats.

There are hooks for every purpose, too. I put hooks on the back of the door for him to hang his sweaty running gear. I am so relieved not to have to look at his grungy, erm, support garments all day! There are hooks for his baseball hats, too. He has at least three in rotation at any given time: one for working in the yard (read: sweaty and gross); one for wearing around the house (to keep his shorn head warm); and a 'fancy' one for wearing out. Hooks for all! Plus one to spare. Also hooks for his lounging/pre-bedtime ensemble that doubles for the clothes he plans to wear again the next day. I think I covered all the bases!

In the bathroom, I hung the medicine cabinet, which I had embellished with clear glass pebbles to hide the fact that I had messed up the face when I was attaching the mirror. It hung in Small Town for five years with the tips of the screws showing. I also hung up the TP cabinet in the throne room. It is nice not to have to make the drippy dash for more paper if the person before you didn't change the roll! I also removed the dusty ivy/flower garlands that the previous owners left for our enjoyment over the bathroom mirror. I totally understand why they had them up there, but they are totally not our style.

It is funny how the smallest changes can make the biggest difference. I have complained about the pink porcelain in the bathroom. It extended to the pulls. 20 pink porcelain pulls. Blech. I removed them all and replaced them with some brushed nickel egg-shaped knobs and some simple arch handles. SO much better. It changes the whole feel of the bathroom! Ironically, T didn't even notice. Even with the obvious patches where the old holes had been. Men!

In the bedroom, I got rid of all the boxes, hung the curtains, added art work, and brought in plants. It looks like something out of a magazine (if I do say so myself)! All it lacks is the headboard I have been meaning to make since 2002. I have big plans for a totally cool piece of antique pressed tin. I have the design all made, but I just haven't ever gotten around to making it. Hopefully, it will happen before we move to our next house.

T was suitably impressed with my industry while he was away. He loved his new closet and was completely surprised. As for me, it is SO nice to have a retreat from the chaos that is the rest of the house. Someday the rest of the boxes will be vanquished, but until then I can retreat to my lovely bedroom and ignore the rest of the house.


Proud Parent

My sweet son has developed a swearing habit. (Hangs head in shame.) He uses it appropriately and not at all to get a reaction. He says it any time he gets frustrated or when things aren't going his way.

Deem it! (That is how is sounds, but I'm pretty sure that isn't what he is trying to say.) At first I tried to tell myself that he was aiming for 'dang it,' but that 'm' sound on the end is quite clear. Sigh.

I blame his father.


Moving Weirdness

  • I keep all of my holiday stuff in labeled boxes in the attic. After the movers had left the house in Small Town, I noticed that the box marked 'Easter' was empty and sitting in the middle of my bedroom. I guess that box didn't suit them because they unpacked it and repacked the contents into two smaller boxes and a catch-all wardrobe box. The stuff in the wardrobe box? Packed next to the poop shovel. Nice.
  • The new house has more cabinets but less storage.
  • There is not a good place to put the TV in the new living room. The fireplace sticks out into the room a little, so it is hard to see if you aren't sitting directly in front of the set.
  • The carpet absorbs stains out of the air. What were the previous owners thinking installing almost white Berber carpet in the land of blowing red dirt?
  • As a military brat, I have heard of/lived through lots of stories about the crazy things movers will pack. As a kid I remember unpacking a trash can complete with trash. My sister had a potted plant wrapped in paper and stuffed in a box. I did not escape this fate. I opened a box and noticed a smell. My first thought was to blame it on dog farts, but as soon as I picked up the offending item, I knew what had happened. Remember that little mouse problem I had a while back? After I caught the mice, I placed the traps under the sink. Apparently, one of them was set and caught a mouse. That was then wrapped up and placed in a box with my Tupperware. Yeah. I boiled every item in that box. Shudder.


Good News/Bad News

Good news: I'm back online!
Bad news: My old hard drive is completely trashed.

Good news: I hadn't downloaded any pictures off my husband's camera since last November.
Bad news: I lost all of the pictures from January through June from my camera. And every last scrap of work from The Button Box.

Good news: The sale on the Small Town house is complete!
Bad news: We found out halfway through the eight hour drive that the closing wasn't going to happen as scheduled. Even though she knew their loan wasn't supposed to fund until the end of the month, the buyer's realtor scheduled the closing for the 15th in an attempt to get the seller's bonus. Um, no. We were going to close by fax from Wester, but through a blunder on my part that didn't happen. Nothing says fun like 32 hours in the car with kids and dogs in one week.

Good news: The house was pristine when the new owners took possession.
Bad news: The 'friend' who cleaned the house for us didn't even take us to dinner before she screwed us. I could have bought a lot of granite counter tops for what she bilked us for. Yep, the house was really clean, but all we wanted was for her to vacuum, dust and haul off the boxes in the garage - not detail the entire freaking house. Lesson learned: do not let T make the cleaning arrangements.

Good news: Husband is gainfully employed at a job he enjoys.
Bad news: He has been in Austin for training for two weeks already and won't be home for another week. Single parenting sucks.

Good news: Z is a brilliant child who knows what she wants.
Bad news: What she wants is always diametrically opposed to what I want. She may not survive to adulthood. And now Q is picking up on her bad habits. Wah.

Good news: My normally susceptible husband managed to steer clear of the swine flu that is sweeping the academy (4+ confirmed cases).
Bad news: The kids and I did not. Z and Q started showing symptoms the Tuesday after T left for his training. Just about the time they had recovered enough to resent not being allowed to go outside or play with friends, I got it. Ugh.

Good news: The children are completely recovered.
Bad news: Just about the time I decided that I wasn't going to die from the flu, I stumbled across another germ that has me talking like I regularly gargle with Clorox as I reach for a never ending stream of Kleenex.

Good news: Blackie is back from Camp Grandma.
Bad news: Blackie is back from Camp Grandma. Since her arrival two weeks ago, she has destroyed Q's security object (a small plastic sword), strewn the bathroom trash across the house (mmmmm, feminine hygiene and diaper snacks!) multiple times, eaten a box of tissues, and put a hole in the screen door.

Good news: The boxes are about half unpacked.
Bad news: The other half are not.



Since we moved to Wester, not one, not two, but THREE hard drives have gone to their great electronic reward. First my Tivo, then my computer, then the drive I bought to fix the Tivo. All were plugged into serge protectors. Is my new house directly over a magnetic field line? Are there some serious power lines going through the back 40 that I somehow failed to notice? Did someone feed the Gremlins?

I am going into electronic withdrawal!

On the up side, bad things happen in threes, right? Besides, there aren't any more hard drives for the evil forces of Wester to consume at this house. You know, besides this


Not Dead

No, I am not dead. Exhausted? Yes. Dead? No. But my computer is. I still haven't been able to try the last couple of alternatives before I have to get a new hard drive, but that little moving thing has been totally cramping my style. Hopefully, I will soon unearth the box with my Vista disk in it and will be able to get my show back on the road. Until then, wish me luck!



When I got up (unnaturally early - 6:30) this morning, my computer was frozen. No big, I say to myself. I'll just reboot. Except the magic key stroke - control-alt-delete - did not do its thing. Disbelievingly, I hit it several more times to no effect. Finally I resorted to unplugging the whole shooting match.

When I plugged it back in and hit the power, I got a doom-y black screen and this message: no boot device available. Panic stricken, I reach for the phone to call my computer guru, Daddy. Then I realize that it isn't quite 7:00 and even if my dad did grow up on a farm that was too early to be calling.

So I cooled my jets until 8:02 and hit speed dial. He had nothing reassuring to say. But following his advice, I Googled my error message to see if the great internets could help me. They had a few low tech suggestions and a lot of high tech ones that I was afraid to try. Unfortunately, there was no easy fix.

The sad new is that my less-than-a-year-old hard drive is dead. There is still the possibility of the Vista repair utility, but I am not hopeful. Now I am faced with the dilemma of whether to try to salvage the drive and its contents with a disk fixer or to just give up and buy a new drive. Of course I haven't been backing up my system. I think the last time I did it was in January. Arg!

Luckily, I have been so frazzled that I haven't had time to download pictures from our cameras, so the loss there would be minimal. Even so, I am loath to just chuck all of my graphics work. This was not what I needed in the middle of moving!


Patriot's Day

My husband went to an elementary school today in celebration of Patriot's Day.  They gave him a framed copy of the Pledge of Allegiance.   It is a good reminder.

In other 9/11 news, one day after my boxes arrived from Small Town so did a house guest.  Yes, you heard me right.  My husband, in his hunting season euphoria, invited his uncle to stay with us ONE DAY AFTER THE MOVERS BROUGHT MY BOXES.  He is sleeping on a mattress on the floor in Z's room.  The sheets?  From four mismatched sets.  The blanket?  A crappy polyester comforter left over from college days.  Does it make me a bad hostess that I can't work up enough energy to care?

Perhaps a call to my shrink is in order.  Signs of my depression (read: anger) are breaking through my meds.  Or maybe my husband is the one who is crazy.



Moving is hard.  That is all.



Events transpired against me and my painting clock ran out of time. Rats. We leave tomorrow for Small Town to get our furniture (YAY!) and the rest of our junk (not so yay). My in-laws left this morning, so I thought I would get at least a good start on Q's room, but it was not to be.

First, I had to move Q and Z out of there and into Z's room. This would have been fine, but Z doesn't have light-blocking shades for nap time. Q has a hard enough time sleeping with his sister singing/banging toys/actively disturbing him without having to contend with light, too.

So off I went to Home Depot for a roller shade. Easy peasy, right? Well, it might have been if I hadn't managed to pick up the one shade on the entire shelf that was missing one of the end pieces. After a return trip to the store to exchange the shade, we were back to the house to install the blind.

I am a girl who has my own power tools, so I know my way around a drill. My dad and I remodeled a kitchen from the studs out. And yet somehow I was defeated by a dang roller shade. I installed the first bracket without a problem. Then I measured and marked for the second bracket. So far, so good.

When I drilled the holes in the wall, the screws missed the stud and were just spinning. No problem, I'll just insert a wall anchor. I have never ever had a wall anchor spin. Until today. I guess the walls had been repaired with toothpaste or something, but it would not hold an anchor. The second anchor was holding, so I figured I was okay.

Until I tried to hang the shade. I somehow managed to install one of the brackets backwards/upside down. That shouldn't matter, should it? Well apparently it does. Those little flimsy pieces of tin bent all to pieces when I tried to hang the actual shade. I managed to get it hung up after working myself up into a full-body sweat and teaching the kids a few new vocabulary words.

So now I can put the kids down for their naps... except that they are wired for sound from all the installation excitement. The only way I can get them to lie down is to lie down with them. There goes my painting time.

And to top it all off? When I tried to open the blind? It fell on my head. If T loves me he will re-hang it while I am gone and we will never speak of it again. Unfortunately, that isn't how things work around here. He will re-hang it, but then he will tease me about it until I am dead. I can hardly wait.



So yesterday was the opening day of dove season. For those of you just joining the party, my husband is a rabid hunter and we whatever he shoots: dove, ducks, deer, turkey, hogs are the usual suspects, but he has shot and eaten more exotic stuff, too. Luckily, that was before my time. Shudder.

He and his dad had the most successful hunt they have had in years. T is wildly excited about his bird lease - and I'm wild about it being 10 minutes away. I can put off the hunting-season-widowhood until November and the start of deer season. Yay! Anyhoo, between them they managed to get 17 doves. Enough to make a decent meal for four adults.

So that means we had to eat them. Blech. I have managed to escape eating them for the last four years because the hunting has been so crappy. Except for a tiny little muscle the size of a pencil eraser under the breast, doves taste like organ meat. And in Rae Ann world, organ meat = barf.

The hubs has a secret sauce that he swears by and every time he makes dove, he swears that this time I will like them. Perfectly cooked, dove is a really dry - dessicated even! - tiny little bird as tender as jerky? Tasty? Um, no.

And he burned them.

The sight of 17 tiny charred carcasses on a serving plate was really pitiful. The outer layer of the breast had actually formed an almost impenetrable crust of carbon-y badness. We had to scrape meat off the inside of this shell like we were eating shellfish. Mmmmm. Dove-y.

Luckily, the incinerated outer layer protected the minuscule morsel of white meat. After eating four doves I probably had a total of two ounces of meat. We decided that if we had to live off of doves that we would be really thin. Luckily, we were saved from a low calorie meal by my mom-in-law's pecan pie. At least that part of the meal tasted good!


My Life According to R.E.M.

My friend from way back in elementary school tagged me for this on Facebook. I thought I'd give it a shot... with lots of help from Google. Who knew R.E.M. was so prolific? I found multiple answers for almost every question!

Using only SONG names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. You can’t use the band I used. Try not to repeat a song title. It’s a lot harder than you think! Repost as “my life according to (band name)”

Pick your Artist:

Are you a male or female?
Just a Girl

Describe yourself
Perfect Circle (I need to get to WW!), Pale Blue Eyes, Femme Fatale (ha!)

How do you feel?
Shiny Happy People (or possibly Crazy, if you listen to my shrink!)

Describe where you currently live
Near Wild Heaven (followed closely by West of the Fields)

If you could go anywhere where would you go?
I Remember California

Your favorite form of transportation
Airportman (but High Speed Train and Catapult would have been good answers, too)

Your best friend is
Half a World Away, Laughing, and possibly Oddfellows Local 151 (just kidding, Chica!)

What’s the weather like?
Burning Hell or Lightnin' Hopkins, very little in between

Favorite time of day
I Don't Sleep, I Dream, Nightswimming, Gardening at Night (are you seeing a theme?)

If your life was a TV show, it would be called?
Welcome to the Occupation, The Worst Joke Ever, Final Straw

What is life to you?
Bittersweet Me, Dangerous Times (4-year-old on a rampage anyone?)

Your fear
Bad Day, Everybody Hurts, It's the End of the World as We Know It

What is the best advice you have to give
Begin the Begin, I Believe

My motto
Living Well's the Best Revenge, Why Not Smile



Barbie's dream house has nothing on Casa Critical Mass. I finished painting Z's room today and, boy, is it pink. Of course, I knew it was going to be pink as I was the one who picked out the paint. I was envisioning a pink so pale you could barely tell it was a color. That was how it looked on the paint chip. And in the can. On the walls? Not so much. It isn't obnoxious or anything, just very, very pink.

I got this very cool/funky zebra and pink leopard print comforter set at Target. On its own, it is a little grown up for a four-year-old, but I have big plans. When I was helping Chica with Chicklette's nursery, so introduced me to this fab fabric site. They have the fabrics arranged in collections. I am going to use some fabrics from the Tres Chic and Twister collections to embellish the store-bought comforter and possibly the bed skirt.

Yep, that is giant ric-rac on the skirt and pom-pom fringe on the edge of the comforter. Apparently I am from the 'more is more' school of decorating! Luckily, since I am sewing it myself, I can take some parts out if it gets to looking like Cirque du Soleil threw up.

I am very excited about the curtains, too. I found these gorg faux silk pinch-pleat curtains at the mother ship. And in my too-much-is-not-enough way, I plan to gussy those up, too. I am going to add a polka-dotted sheer to the bottom along with some black ribbon. I plan to cover a box valance with coordinating fabrics from the comforter. I hope it will turn out something like this:

I am super excited about this project. I will post pictures when I am done!

Oh, and about that pink? In my Psych 101 class they said that they painted the walls of asylums pepto-pink because it had a calming effect on the inmates. Maybe it will work on Z?


The Nap Time Decorator

I kind of didn't make a big deal about the biggest news in our lives lately: WE SOLD OUR HOUSE! Whew! It is a great house, so I knew it would sell eventually, but I'm glad 'eventually' came sooner rather than later. So now that the news has sunk in and I've had time to catch my breath, it must be time to... PANIC!!!

The movers are coming on September 7th to pack everything up. They will drive out the next day and unload the next. Yikes! That gives me just under a week to get the kids rooms painted. But have you ever tried to paint with a two- and four-year-old running around trying to 'help'? Let's just say that Q managed to get paint on his new shorts in under three minutes. Z thus far remains paintless, but she buzzes around me pestering me to let her paint, too. Now this is the kid who can somehow manage to get finger paints on the middle of the back of her dress while wearing a paint smock. I shudder to think about what damage she might do if given a bucket of pale pink primer paint. Eeek!

This leaves me with approximately 90 minutes of daylight in which to get my house painted. As soon as I get the kids settled down for naps, I put on my paint clothes (I am a très messy painter) and bust out the rollers. It took me over a week's worth of (non-consecutive) nap-times to get my room painted. I am hopeful that Z's room will go a little more quickly. She doesn't have 10-foot ceilings and the new Behr paint and primer combo is amazing. It even covers the hideous '80's burgundy/navy/hunter green design on the wallpaper. Huzzah!

Today's nap time yielded most of the edge work. I just have to edge the ceilings and I will be ready for rollers. I am a total spaz with a paint brush, so it is a miracle that Z is not now the proud owner of pink spotted carpet. I am finally getting the hang of painting around the trim - it only took me four implements to find my groove. Sigh. So much touch-up work to do!

When I think about it, I pretty much decorated my entire house in Small Town during nap times. I painted, tiled, sewed curtains, hung curtains, painted and installed wainscoting and constructed furniture (I built a kick-a$$ ottoman that looks like it came from a furniture store). Nap time is also when I work on design stuff, take care of my internet commitments, clean house (Ha!), bathe, call my friends, email and waste time on Facebook.

I'm pretty sure I could rule the world in under two hours per day. And I know I am not alone. Just think what we could accomplish if we focused our collective nap time energy on world domination!