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!