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!


Outdoorswoman? No.

Want to know what doesn't get more fun with repetition? Peeing outside. When I had been dating T for less than four months, his mom had to teach me what to do when we Jeeped to the land that plumbing forgot. What's not fun about dropping trou with your future MiL? That isn't embarrassing or anything. At all. Good times!

On one particularly memorable Jeep trip, I looked up from my damp shoes and precarious position on a fallen tree to see almost a dozen geriatric full moons as the ladies did their thing on the mountainside. Those old gals are WAY tougher than I am!

I just never get any better at it. I always manage to whiz on my shoe or worse, my pants, or I end up with bark or moss in my panties (comfy!), depending on whether I used a tree or a rock to assist with the festivities. Even more fun? My DiL is always somewhere in the vicinity, on the other side of my tree/bush/rock, which gives my bladder performance anxiety.

Z, on the other hand, would almost rather do her business outside than in! When we lived in Small Town, she was forever getting in trouble for ducking behind a tree. These unassisted forays always resulted in the need for a change of clothes. And possibly shoes. Like mother, like daughter!



Parenting a daughter? Fail.

I know that everyone thinks that they have a strong-willed child, but Z has really been showing off her stone-like head lately. While we were in Colorado she had a tantrum of such cataclysmic proportions that her grandmother was round eyed with shock and asked in hushed tones of horrified awe, "Has she done this before?"

Unfortunately, yes.

It all starts so innocently. She asks for something and her request is denied for whatever reason. Then she reacts completely out of proportion to the denial. Which leads to her refusing to do as she is told. She is told the consequence for not following instructions. She not only does not comply, but escalates the behavior, then is shocked when the afore-mentioned consequences follow. Once it becomes clear that I am not going to back down, she switches tactics and demands something else that she can't have at that particular moment and continues to spiral out of control until I am on the verge of tears.

Lather, rinse, repeat. During calm times, she will do this once a month or so. Like she just needs a refresher course on who is in charge. During rough times (ie: now), she will blast off several times per week. Each occasion leaves me kicking myself and doubting my parenting skills.

I long for the simple parenting solution. I hear those radio commercials for the program that "Guarantees that it will turn your child's behavior around or your money back!" but I can't imagine what it could entail that I haven't already tried. Discussing it? Yep. Time out? Uh huh. Take away toys? She never even asked about them again. Take away privileges? Punishes me as much as it does her. Take away dessert? Works, but I hate to use food as a motivator - she'll inherit enough food issues from me as it is! Spanking? She hates it (duh), but it doesn't make her change her behavior.

I feel like I am on her all. the. time. I am so tired of fighting this battle. Surely some wonder mom out there in the blogosphere has conquered this villain(ous behavior). Help!


Happy Blogaversary to Me!

A little over a year ago, I was searching the internet for what to do about my dog's blackened lady parts.* I stumbled on an entry unlike any I had seen before. It was a blog. (That I found when searching for 'dog vulva') By the time I finished reading about his trauma, tears of laughter were rolling down my face. "What a neat thing this blog is!" I thought to myself.

Shortly thereafter, my sister introduced me to the genius that is Jen Lancaster. I inhaled Such a Pretty Fat in a single sitting and was desperate for more. Wait. What's this? She has a blog? I read her entire blog archive in a matter of days. Loved it. And was inspired by it.

One year ago today, I started my bloggy journey. I thought it was going to be a weight loss tool, but it has turned out to be a lot more. And less - I haven't lost an ounce. In fact, I may have added a pound (or ten) since I declared myself at Critical Mass last year. But along with those pounds, I have gained a creative outlet, a place to vent (so much cheaper than therapy!), a new business, and friends I never would have 'met' otherwise. I am in such a better place than I was this time last year. (Mentally, not physically - Small Town was great!) Laughing more. Crying less.

Ironically, I have come full circle.

Q and I were at Home Depot today getting paint for Z's room. I am going to do the walls in a pale, pale pink. The lady in line behind me asked, "Oh, is that for your baby's room?" As Q is anything but girly, she clearly thought I was pregnant. And was comfortable enough in her assumption to actually inquire about it. Yikes. Personally, I try not to ask about a stranger's pregnancy unless I can actually see the baby coming out...

So here I am again, having reached critical mass. For real this time. I know the weight isn't going to get any easier to lose. I need to do it now. For my kids and for myself. Wish me luck.

*Turns out she was just really dirty.


Wow. It has been so long since I sat down to write a post that I practically have forgotten how! The vacation was great, but it is always great to get home - even if 'home' looks like a college apartment! For a little change of format, I will be writing about my trip in the form of Top 10 Lists!

Top 10 Reasons Colorado Rocked:
10. Yeah, yeah. All the pretty mountains.
9. And the cooler weather (even if I did get more sun burned there than I do here).
8. Getting to see Blackie. I have missed her while she has been at Camp Grandma. To torment T, I got her a hot pink bandanna to wear. She looks adorable! T rolled his eyes and then dug up a red one for Scout so he wouldn't get jealous.
7. Not having to cook for two whole weeks. My MiL is an old school/Donna Reed type wife. Not only did she do all of the cooking, she let me do very little of the clean up. It was like being in the best bed and breakfast EVER.
6. Feeling safe crawling over mountains in the Rubicon. T did a great job restoring the Bronco, but it never felt very secure going over the mountains. Give me functional seat belts and an air bag any day!
5. Seeing so many of our good friends. We had a fun Favorite People Picnic, even if several key people couldn't make it. For the first time in five years we didn't get rained on!
4. Getting to sleep in (almost) every day.
3. There was a bumper crop of marmots this year. On our first trip to our friend's house to feed them, we had almost 20 marmots eating from our hands and sitting in our laps. Even the kids. I got to go feed them three times. If the rest of the family would have let me, I would have gone to feed them every day.
2. I got to take a 2-night trip with just the hubs! We went to Pagosa Springs and soaked in the healing waters of the mineral springs. I don't know if the water did any healing, but 48 uninterrupted hours with the spouse was like a miracle.
1. WE SOLD OUR HOUSE! For a good price, even!

Top 10 Reasons I Am Glad to Be Home:
10. No more altitude headaches!
9. There is actually oxygen in the air in Texas.
8. I love my in-laws, but I don't want to spend two weeks with my own family.
7. I am no longer a Sasquatch! The shower we use in CO is tiny and frequently occupied by creepy crawlies. Needless to say, I didn't do much shaving there. After we got home, I actually had to shave my legs twice to get them to be smooth again. Shudder.
6. Two weeks of loosey-goosey schedules/grandparent discipline produced children who were getting less pleasant to be around by the second.
5. No more mice using my bite guard case as a bathroom.
4. No fear that the local rodent population might eat my dog. T left a bag of dog food downstairs. After a week it was ALL gone. We dubbed the marauding mousie Hellmouse.
3. No more hot dogs! We ate hot dogs at every picnic. We went on picnics every day. It would be okay with me if I didn't eat another hot dog until we go back next summer.
2. My bathroom is on the same floor with my bedroom. In CO, T and I stay in a garage apartment. To save money, they built the bathroom down in the garage instead of up with the living quarters. Picture this: You wake up in the middle of the night and have to go. To get to the bathroom, you must wake up enough to walk down a steep flight of stairs without breaking your neck and walk across the bare concrete garage floor to get to the bathroom. Arg! Then make your way back up the stairs to bed. Due to the lack of air in the air, you are sucking wind like an asthmatic on a treadmill by the time you make it back to bed. Your heart is beating so hard when you lay down that you are afraid you will wake your husband and/or stroke out. So conducive to going back to sleep!
1. Indoor plumbing! I hate peeing outside and yet every year my vacation is full of it. Ick.


Things to Do

Here are some fun things we have done over the years in no particular order:

4-wheeling. Check the p*rn star 'stache on T. Nice, huh?

Climb a mountain. So about the safety.

Discover lost relics from old mining towns. Here? An old log sled up Sawmill Pass.

Take a carriage ride/historical tour of Lake City. Unfortunately, the high cost of living drove this nice couple elsewhere. Rats.

Ride a horse until you walk funny.

See the innards of the Old 100 Mine. What did I learn on this tour? That I am SO not cut out to be a miner.

View gorgeous horizons with your grandfather. Priceless.


OMG With the Picnics!

Here we are at Carson Creek. We could hardly keep Z out of the water. Q wasn't quite as enthusiastic, but got into it eventually!

This pic isn't great, but it was taken by a three-year-old! Z was so proud!
Hair by marshmallow.


... More Picnics...

Red Mountain Gulch is a quick drive from our home base, so we always get in a picnic or two there.

Deer Lakes also get a lot of action. We fish in the afternoon (and by 'we' I mean T and his dad) then cook out at night. Last year we even had my MiL's birthday party there - complete with visiting wildlife!


... Picnics...

For me, the best part about Colorado (well, next to the animals!) is the people. We know tons of folks here in our tiny summer town. Most of them are at least 30 years older than we are. Does that say something about us? To ensure that we get to see everyone, we have what we have dubbed our 'Favorite People Picnics.' Everyone brings a dish to share and we provide hotdogs and all the fixin's.

Here we are at Owl Creek Pass. Stellar parents that we are, we got up there with no coat for Z. So we suited her up Jedi-style in Grandma's polar fleece.

I'm ready for my photo, Mr. DeMille! (Or 30 doting septuagenarians. Whatever.)

Yep, I'm that girl. The one who was willing to nurse in front of said 30 septuagenarians on Blue Mesa.

The hat thing? Must be in the genes. Q loves a hat almost as much as his Daddy!

Mmmmm! S'mores!


Pretty Colors

This gorgeous photo was taken on the way up to Sawmill Park. Don't let the pretty colors fool you... I was the sickest I ever was during both pregnancies on this trip that took forever. Before we left I asked if it was a long trip. My mom-in-law said, "No, it is only three miles or so." Okay, it took us FOUR hours to make those three miles. I was barfing up stuff I had eaten the week before! I was mad at my family for days after that and still refuse to make that drive again.



Every moment we aren't strapped into a Jeep and hanging precariously onto the sides of mountains is spent picnicking.

Here is Z, chowing down after her idyllic adventure of swimming with leeches.
Yes, leaches. Gah!

Here we are at our fave wild mushroom hunting spot.

Grandma is holding the chair so that Q doesn't fall off the slope. We are all about the safety. Not pictured? Open flames. And sharp sticks holding lots of ill-refrigerated processed meat. Parents of the year.


Last Day to Enter!

It's not too late!

Get on over to Kids... Me & RAW III
and enter Jamie's blogaversary contest!

Win cool graphics from The Button Box!

Do it!




Before I met my husband, I thought Jeep was a noun. It was only after my first trip to Colorado that I learned that it was also a verb.

jeep - verb (lower case) - the act of driving on really rocky, unpaved roads, in a rugged motor vehicle having four-wheel drive and the ability to climb up vertical walls; extra points for bad shocks and uncomfortable seating; is not necessary for the vehicle to actually be made by Jeep.

My children spend 3/4 of their time in Colorado strapped into their car seats, driving over mountains.
Clearly, this thrills them.


Gratuitous Baby Portraits

In the rich and time honored tradition of over-photographing your first born, we had portraits of Z taken every month of her first year. These were taken in a privately owned garden that is open to the public.

Here's my girl eating some dirt!
I had this trio framed and gave it to all the grandparents,
and kept one for myself. LOVE!

Here she is thinking so hard that her brain exploded!

A precursor of things to come? Check the evil gleam in her eye. I love this shot!

In the rich and time honored tradition of the second child getting the shaft, I only managed to have Q's portrait made six times. I have yet to get any of them framed.



We are one dog shy of being weird dog people. The pack travels with us everywhere. We lubs them.

Scout, the gentle giant: (all these pictures are of Z. Z was too mobile when Q was a baby for him to nap on the floor)

Izzy, the snuggle puppy:

Griffin, the guardian:

Blackie, the clumbsy: (In this pic she has frankenstitches on her knee from where she impaled herself on something sharp while chasing something down the mountain. The collar/chest strap thing is so she can't lick. Dorky, but a step up from the cone of shame.)
See? Griffin and I are bonded at the molecular level. We are like transformers who can morph into new and exotic creatures. Behold! GriffRa, the dog-headed woman!



To tell the truth, I could care less if I ever see another mountain. But the critters? That's what I'm talking about! I am SO in it for the critters. The list of animals we have sited includes:

a moose;

a mule deer in the middle of Ouray;
camp robber birds (real name Hudson Bay Crow). What you can't tell from the pic is that I am SITTING in the chair while that bird came to eat Fritos off my knee;
mule deer at Grandma's birthday picnic;

LOTS of chipmunks;
three spotted fawns bedded down together next to our driveway;

and MARMOTS! Lots and lots of marmots!

Our friend's yard is an unofficial animal sanctuary.
Visiting her and her herds of semi-tame marmots is the highlight of my trip.
Every year.
Z may have learned at the hands of the master (me), but she has surpassed even my freakish skill when it comes to feeding the fuzzies. She is the Marmot Whisperer.

Not pictured, but sighted: Golden mantled ground squirrels; mountain lion; grouse/prairie chicken; feeder birds of all sorts; bears (AT OUR HOUSE), weasels/ermine; pica; beavers; and swarms of humming birds that dive-bomb your head like giant mosquitoes.