Happy Turkey Day!

This video makes me sad for the turkey, but it made me laugh anyway.  I hope you have lots to be thankful for this year!


A Month of Thanksgiving: Days 23 and 24

23.  I am thankful that I was able to go to the crazy over-crowded grocery store unaccompanied by my lovely children.  Something about the combination of my kiddos and the shopping makes me want to grind my teeth.  You know, more than I already do.

24.  Today I am thankful yet again for my girlfriends.  They came over today to help me tame the squalor that is my house.  We got distracted by chit-chat, so no actual squalor-taming was accomplished, but I was super glad they came anyway.


Mid-quilt Squee!

After moving the sewing machine into the (boxes-from-Daddy's-house-filled) game/craft area, I continue to wrangle the quilt through my tiny sewing machine. 

Perhaps this should be a new Olympic sport.  Amish women the world over could compete in Quilt Wrestling!  There could be different divisions!  Hand quilting!  Machine Quilting!  Hand Tying!  Oh, the excitement!  Or maybe not.

Anyhoo, I love, love, lovity LOVE how the quilt is coming together.  It's not done yet, but I had to share a little mid-quilt photo because I'm so stinkin' excited!

A Month of Thanksgiving: Day 21 and 22

21.  I am thankful that I got to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with my aunt, cousins, and their children.  I love having family close!  Also?  I am thankful Cousin N liked my Cranberry Salad enough to keep the leftovers.  I am making it again for Thursday, and there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  Unless that thing is pie.  Which is a whole other story!

22.  I am thankful my friend and her kids joined us for a play date at McD's.  Her daughter is Z's best friend, and her son is just Q's age.  And?  She is delightful!  Also, I am thankful for the two new moms who came to the play date for the first time.  Meet Up just keeps working its magic!


Trick My Comforter

I (finally) finished the topper for Z's souped-up comforter set.  I could have a TV show like that car show where they take the plain car and make it crazy cool, but for inexpensive bedding!  Trick My Comforter!

The next step, actually quilting the topper onto the comforter, was at hand.  I have never quilted anything in my life.  I just jumped in like I usually do, assuming I could do it.  After a quick consult with Google, I was off and sewing.    How hard could it be, right?

Really hard, as it turns out.

The first seam was easy-peasy: just a straight seam across the top.  No problem.  Then I ventured into quilting territory.  I had no idea quilting was a full contact sport!  I actually worked up a sweat wrestling the comforter through my machine to attach the center panel!  My machine is on a desk next to a wall.  Trying to get a full sized comforter through the tiny inside area of my machine and then running into the wall?  Insane.  Clearly, I didn't think this plan all the way through!

In true Scarlett O'Hara fashion, I decided to think about it later.  Instead, I finished pin basting the layers together (safety-pinning the layers together).  See how I used that quilting term like I know what I am doing?  Thanks Google University!  Then I pinned the edges down and figured out how to work the corners.  I had hoped to do mitered corners, but my imprecise sewing made that impossible.  It took a couple of hours (as measured by Tivo'd programs), but I finally got everything to lay flat and look nice.

Today's plan?  Sew the straight seams then take another run at the interior quilting.  I'm sweating just thinking about it!  I think I will move my machine to a table with more space around it.    Pictures soon!


A Month of Thanksgiving: Days 18 - 20

18.  I am thankful for my Thursday lunch date with my girlies.  Especially since I am kid-less with Q in Mom's Day Out!  I am also thankful for Z's dance school.  Great instruction and age-appropriate choreography.  Yay!  Can't wait for the Christmas mini-recital next month!

19.  I am thankful for TheraFlu.  It's a miracle in a mug.

20.  I am thankful for the lovely fall weather that allowed me to send the kids outside to play this morning.  It let me rest my plague-ridden body on the couch while they burned off energy beyond my range of hearing.  Yay for free-range children!


A Month of Thanksgiving: Days 15 - 17

15.  Monday I was thankful for a play date with my friends.  Gotta love getting Q all tired out while having some adult conversation!  The Big Mac didn't hurt, either.  (Did I mention that since I got back from my dad's my resist-er is broken?)

16.  Yesterday I was thankful for being a stay at home mom.  I got to chaperon Z's kindegarten field trip.  We had big fun in the corn maze and on the hay ride.  Getting squirted with fresh milk - straight from the cow! - was an unexpected bonus.  The whole day was a welcome reminder that leaving the classroom was a good move on my part.  I need to save my patience for children who share my DNA.  Finally, I am thankful that my friend Jules could pick Q up from school with only last minute notice.  Such a good friend!

17.  Today I am thankful for a quiet day at home so I can work on getting my house presentable for Thanksgiving!  Unfortunately, I am feeling drawn to projects upstairs instead of the more pressing downstairs ones.  Oh well, they have got to get done some time, right?


Feeling Forty

Boy, once you hit 40 things go downhill fast!  I threw my back out this morning.  While I was sleeping.  Seriously, I was fine when I went to bed and crippled when I woke up.  Awesome.

Apart from random sleep injuries, the first weeks of being 40 has been good.  My birthday was big fun (yay!) even if I didn't get to make the annual pilgrimage to San Diego to visit Sister K (boo!).  It started out like any other Wednesday.  Q and I headed out to story time at the college.  Education students practice their read-aloud skills.  The day's story was If You Give a Pig a Party.  The students had us all wear party hats.  Very festive!   They read several pig books and we sang and did pig activities.  We both had a great time.

Mid-day, I had a mini 'significant birthday' morbid melt-down.  I made the mistake of doing the dismal Alzheimer's math:  if I follow in my mom's foot steps, I only have 20 years left before I start losing my marbles.  Z would only be 25.  Gah.  Luckily, Chica talked me down from the ledge.  Whew!

Bun took the afternoon off from work and once I had picked Z up from school we went to get pedicures.  She presented me with a sparkly tiara and a button that says 'It's all about me!'  Love!  On the way we stopped for bubble teas.  I haven't had one of those since I lived in Ginormousville!  We had spa pedicures with the works.  I even got an extra 30 minutes of foot rubbing.  Aaaaah!  Bliss.  I just wish I had gotten the guy pedicurist.  The teeny tiny gal that did mine couldn't work up much pressure with her teeny tiny fingers.  But still!  A foot rub!  Awesome!

Once our toes were gorgeous, we headed out for dinner.  T had made a reservation at Genghis Grill.  he picked it out without any input from me - and it was exactly what I would have chosen on my own.  Good husband!  The gals and their husbands met us there.  Unfortunately, one of the girls had a stomach bug so they couldn't make it, but the rest of us had a great time.  An evening without kids?  What's not to like?  All through dinner we kept saying, 'This is so fun!  Why don't we do this more often?'

We ended the evening with a fabulous Italian cream cake courtesy of Chica.  It had swirls and polka dots!  Does my girl know me or what?  So. Much. Fun.

I found out after the fact that Chica was the puppeteer orchestrating my birthday from all the way across the state.  She was burning up the phone lines the whole week leading up to my birthday.  When Bun was telling me about Chica's machinations she turned to me and said, "Chica really LOVES you.  She was determined that you would have a great birthday!"

With friends like these how could I help it?


A Month of Thanksgiving: Days 13 and 14

Man, I stink at this posting-every-day business!  I have totally gotten out of the habit.  Here are the next couple of days of thankful!

13.  I am thankful Q's cold/allergies haven't triggered a full-on asthmatic episode.  Who knew you could be thankful for sniffles?  Also?  Thankful for the good drugs in his nebulizer and his willingness to take his treatments.

14.  Today I am thankful for a mostly uninterrupted afternoon playing on Photoshop.  I designed a quilt for Q's big-boy-bed.  I will be using pieces of western shirts that belonged to my dad.  I will probably cry a lot while I am sewing it, but when it is finished?  Wrapping up in it will be like getting a big Daddy hug.  More detailed post on that later!


A Month of Thanksgiving: Day 11 and 12

11.  I am thankful that T got home from a week of training in Austin and rescued me from a week of single parenting. 

12.  I am thankful that Z's school schedules fun and educational field trips - and that they have the sense to cancel them when the wind is blowing 30 miles per hour and the temp is below 60 degrees.


A Month of Thanksgiving: Days 1 - 10

As it has been a hard couple of months here at Casa Critical Mass, I decided that I would put some effort into seeing the things that are good in my life.  Each day this month, I will post something for which I am thankful.  Since I am good at ideas and slow at follow-through, I will do the first ten items today.  Feel free to play along!  Grab the button from the sidebar.  Gobble, gobble!

1.  I am thankful for the good man that was my father.  In all that he said and did, he taught me how to be an honorable person.

2.  I am thankful for my sisters.  Laughing or crying, life is better with them by my side.

3.  I am thankful for my husband.  He has loved me through thick and thin thicker.  Clearly, he loves me for what is inside - a rare and precious gift.

4.  I am thankful for my two beautiful healthy children.  Enough said!

5.  I am thankful for my in-laws.  I truly won the in-laws lottery.  They love me like I am theirs and don't hesitate to drive all the way across the state to help out/attend a soccer games and/or dance recitals/give the hubs and me a chance to go on a date.  Wow.  Just wow.

6.  I am thankful for extended family the next town over.  I love that Z and Q get to hang out and spend holidays with their cousins.  I always wished for that kind of relationship with my cousins and am glad my kids get to experience it.

7.  I am thankful for my friends, old and new.  They fill my life with laughter and are WAY cheaper than therapy!  In that vein, I am also grateful for Meet Up.  It led me to my great group o' gals here in Wester.

8.  I am thankful for my small herd of dogs.  They are shed-y and slobber-y and ill-behaved and wonderful.  I love that my smallest dog thinks he is big and and my biggest dog thinks she is small.  Mostly I am thankful for the buckets and buckets of unconditional adoration.

9.  I am thankful for my health.  As a middle-aged-out-of-shape-round person, I am lucky I have good genes.

10.  I am thankful that soccer season is over, if only for a little while.


Losing Daddy

So.  My dad didn't make it.  I have been working my way through the stages of grief.  The denial part was done as soon as he was gone, but I seem to be spending a lot of time commuting between anger and depression. 

I feel robbed.  It seems to my never-been-to-med-school self that if better decisions had been made my father would still be here.  Why did they continue the chemo so long?  Shots to boost his white blood cell count followed with another round of chemo the next week.  WTF?  Why did they give him such crazy high doses of steroids?  Why did they remove his spleen without ever identifying the source of the infection that hospitalized him and delayed the surgery?  Why, why, why didn't they listen when Sister K said he was getting weaker?

Next stop?  Depression.  I have been hyper-vigilant about taking my crazy pills, but it is hard to tell if I am slipping.  This is what sucks about the crazy: it makes you completely question the validity of your feelings.  Am I eating like a linebacker/sleeping 14 hours a day/losing interest in things I enjoy as a completely normal response to my father's death?  Or is it just that I need a pharmaceutical adjustment?  Gah. 

I am managing some semblance of normalcy.  I managed to get Z's costume sewn and the pumpkins carved, but despite my mom-in-laws best efforts, my house looks like squatters live in it.  My cooking skills have regressed to early college student.  Lots of frozen pizza and mac and cheese.  I do manage to get a fruit or vegetable into the kids at every meal, so at least I don't have to worry about scurvy.  (Or is it rickets?  I can never remember the difference.)

At least once a day I start to pick up the phone to ask my dad a question.  He was my own personal Google.  My dad knew everything.  He was an engineer and a computer programmer and a gardener.  His moral compass never failed.  If he didn't know the solution to my problem (rare), he would think it over and call me back when he figured it out.  I can't believe that resource is gone.

Daddies are supposed to be immortal.  He was so alive right up to the end.  I didn't really believe his time could be so short.  I had already gotten his Christmas present. 

So sad.


Letters to F.A.

My in-laws felt pretty strongly that Z and Q shouldn't come for Daddy's memorial.  As memorials go, his was more of a celebration of his life rather than a lament of his death but I could see where they were coming from.  At any rate, I didn't feel strongly enough (or possibly strong enough?) to fight them on it.

Even so, I felt like the kids needed some kind of ritual to mark F.A.'s passing and say their good-byes.  (My dad named himself F.A. - short for Favorite Ancestor - when I said that 'Jefe' (spanish for boss) was not a suitable grandpa name.)

Almost four years ago, I lost my friend Heather to scleroderma.  I had just had Q, so I was unable to attend her funeral.  Heather requested a balloon release at her funeral.  I released a balloon in her honor from Small Town.  It made a real impression on Z.  Even at two, she seemed to really grasp that I was sad because Heather had gone to heaven and wouldn't be coming back.

I figured this was as good a way as any for the kids to tall F.A. good-bye.  We drew/colored pictures and wrote notes to F.A.   We tied the notes to helium balloons and released them into the sky.  I told the kids we were sending letters to F.A. in heaven.

We watched the balloons float up into a perfectly clear blue sky until we couldn't see them any more. 

Good-bye F.A.  You were a great grandfather, father and man.  We miss you.



My father was the best man I ever knew. His early years on a ranch in west Texas taught him the value of hard work. His education in Civil Engineering and Aeronautics put his intelligence and creativity to good use. He joked that he could build an outhouse on the moon.

A devoted husband, his 50-year marriage to his high school sweetheart revealed his softer side. He was a loving and loyal spouse. A man with high standards, he expected a lot from his three daughters, and was endlessly proud of all their accomplishments. He was relentlessly fair; all, especially his children, were treated equally.

Thirty years of Air Force service, as both a pilot and an engineer, showed him to be both patriotic and disciplined. He returned to college in his retirement, earning an MBA. His lifelong love of learning fit perfectly with his passion for computers. From his earliest TRS-80 to powerful PCs he built himself, he continued learning new skills his entire life.

In 1992, he joined the Rotary Club. In Rotary, he found an organization that lived up to his high ethical standards. While in Rotary, he was a driving force behind his club's Sporting Clay shoot, which raises thousands of dollars for the Boys and Girls Club of America. He developed and maintained web sites for the his Rotary Club, his Rotary district, Theater Victoria, and Red Cross.

Diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in 1997, he developed complications over the summer and died Tuesday, October 12, 2010 after a valiant fight. He is survived by his wife, his daughters, two grandchildren and two sisters.  He was 72.

A memorial was held on Saturday, October 16, 2010. In lieu of flowers, we requested donations to Rotary’s efforts to eradicate Polio.  Even in his death, he is making the world a better place.

He will be missed.


He's a Fighter

My dad is sick.  Really sick.  Like put-your-affairs-in-order sick.  I haven't written much about it because it didn't seem like it was my story to tell.  Now?  My head is so full of it that I think I need to write about it just to relieve the pressure.

Thirteen years ago, my dad was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.  If you have to have Leukemia, this is the kind to have.  It has few symptoms and you usually die of something else before it gets you.  And for a long time, this was true for my dad.

Then his white blood cell count started getting crazy high, so they did chemo.  The chemo did just what it was supposed to do and all was well.  For a little while.

A year or so later, he had to have chemo again.  And since then, the intervals between treatments have gotten shorter and shorter.  Until, at last, the treatment triggered a cascade of scary medical side effects that have kept him in and out of the hospital since June.

First, there was hemolytic anemia.  His already abundant white blood cells started attacking his red blood cells and eating them like Pac-Man.  He had a LOT of blood transfusions and took steroids to boost his red blood cell production.  The chemo continued.

He kept getting weaker and weaker.  Finally he took himself to the hospital on the brink of a diabetic coma.  The massive doses of steroids had caused his pancreas to shut down.  They had a hard time getting his sugar in order, but finally that was under control and Daddy started his new life as an insulin dependant diabetic.  The chemo and blood transfusions continued.

And still he kept getting weaker.  He took himself to the hospital (again) with desperate shortness of breath.  It turned out that he had multiple blood clots in his lungs.  No wonder it was hard to breathe!  He had to have a filter put into his femoral artery to screen out future clots. 

He couldn't take the regular medicines for the treatment of blood clots because his blood chemistry was so wonky, so he just had to wait for the clots to dissolve by themselves.  This left him easily tired and often out of breath.  For a 30-year military man, this was unacceptable.  The chemo was finally discontinued, but the transfusions continued.

Finally, it was decided that he needed to have his spleen removed.  The spleen is where your body destroys red blood cells, so if they removed his, his red blood cells should be able to remain ahead of the killer white blood cells.  They yanked it and he looked like he was getting better.  His blood counts were right on target and looking more and more normal.

But the further out from the surgery he got, the more tired he became.  Finally, he started having trouble working up enough energy to speak.  Though Sister K kept reporting his decline to the nurses, they kept saying, 'He's just tired from the surgery.' and 'His blood counts are normal!'  Finally, he became disoriented and stopped making any sense.  Then the medical staff started taking her seriously.

By the time they figured out that he had and infection - and no immune system to fight it - he was septic.  That means that the infection was in his blood and therefore throughout his body.  The sepsis caused his kidneys to shut down, his lungs to fill up, his pulse to speed up and his blood pressure to drop like a stone.  He has been in ICU for over a week.

In the last few days, he has made some infinitesimal improvements, but with a million different IV fluids going in and no kidney function to get it out, he has blown up like a balloon.  They put him on dialysis to lower the fluids in his body.  But dialysis lowers blood pressure and his is so scary low (even with BP increasing meds!) that they aren't able to remove as much fluid as they need to for there to be room for the medicines that could save him to go in.

We are in the world's slowest race: dialysis output v. IV fluids in.  At some point, all we are doing is prolonging his discomfort with no satisfactory ending.  We aren't there yet, but we are getting close.  At this point, Daddy is still completely lucid and able to direct his care.  So far, his iron will has been working in his favor.  I am very afraid what will happen when his will turns away from living.

I hate this.


RAW(e) Photo Competition: Girly

When I saw the theme of this week's competition, I just had to enter!  I have lots of girly photos of Z, but this one remains one of my favorites.

PS - You can play along here.

Room Mothering

A million years ago, when I was a classroom teacher, I always dreaded party days.  I taught in the 'hood and there was never any parental involvement.  So in my mind, class party = lots of extra work, 22 sugared up kids, and no help. 

With this in mind, I have always told my kids' teachers that I would be happy to help out with whatever they needed help with.  When I mentioned this to Z's kindergarten teacher, she said the position of Room Mother was open, if I was interested.  With visions of bringing in cupcakes a couple times a year, I agreed.

Then I got a note home about the Room Mother Orientation meeting.  Wait, wha...?  Orientation?  A mandatory meeting?  WTF? 

Once I got over the shock, I arranged care for Q (Thanks JC!) and gamely attended the meeting.  How bad could it be?

Let me just say, these women are hard core.  There was a bound Room Mother manual.  With tabs.

I quickly figured out that these were the type of women who would cut you over a position on the PTA.  Like something out of a Lifetime movie.  Not that any of them were anything but nice, nice, nice!  I did have a moment of high-school-like panic about being in the room with the 'popular' girls, though. 

At Z's school, the Room Mom's primary job is to set up/run a booth at the Fall Fun Day (aka: Halloween Carnival.  Shhhh!  Don't tell!).  There is fund-raising and letter writing and money collecting.  We have to find a (cheap) Christmas ornament with a place for a picture that relates to the continent our kids are studying - for the entire grade level.  Australia, in Z's case.

Luckily for me, there is another mom on the kindergarten team who makes my alpha-mom aspirations laughable.  Before the meeting was even held, she had selected our theme for Fun Day and painted a brilliant sign that looks like it came from a professional sign maker.  Wow.

I am so out of my league.


It Lives!

Turns out that cycling is a whole lot easier when you have air in your tires.  How about that?  The one-mile ride to Q's school was a piece of cake.  When I started feeling a bit of quad strain on the way home, I had a moment of panic - until I notice that I was on a slight incline and had a head wind.  Whew!

Apart from fitness, riding the bike had some other unexpected side benefits.  Q is in the midst of some terrible-three-type control issues and wanted nothing to do with going to school this morning.  But when he found out we were going in the bike?  He could hardly wait to leave!  I even got compliments from another mom when she saw me getting ready to leave.  It boggled her mind that I could bike him to school.

I have decided that my pink mom-bike needs a name.  Something as prissy and silly as she is.  Penelope rides again!


Dog Days

"Daddy, there are too many dogs at my house," I announce on our semi-daily phone chat.

He paused for a minute and replied, "That is a sentence I never thought I'd hear you say."

It feels like a kennel here at Casa Critical Mass.  I have my usual crazy complement of four and have added some to the mix. I must have lost my mind!

Scout the Golden Retriever is making a guest appearance while T's parents finish up their last month in Colorado.  He is old and slow, so he doesn't require much work, but he is the size of a Shetland pony - I have tumbleweeds of Scout-colored fur blowing around the baseboards to prove it!  He's been here for almost a month and may be staying well into October.  Not a hardship as I am his favorite person in the world (much to Grandma's chagrin!).

We also have Bun's dog, Lucy.  I promised to take care of her months before I knew Scout was coming to stay.  Lucy is a spastic little Golden-Greyhound mix.  Sweet and well behaved, but very high strung.  She is the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak.  The other dogs are laid back and lazy and Lucy gets them whipped up into a frenzy.  She's not doing anything wrong, but she has tipped the scales on the rest of the dogs behavior.

With SIX dogs in the house?  Every bird is barked at.  And car.  And neighbor that dares to leave his house.  Every lap is competed for.  Has your lap ever been the field of battle between 200 pounds of Labrador Retriever? With a little fat pom vying for your shoulder at the same time? Every kibble is scarfed up. In record time lest any of the other dogs try to get a bite in edgewise.  Every surface is covered in fur.  My Dyson can't keep up!

And the backyard?  A minefield of dog bombs.  Blarg.

Ah, but when they are all sleeping peacefully around you, you can't help but love them.



Well, not really.  Z has had two soccer games and lost both of them about a million to three.  At the first game, I'm not entirely sure our team, The Ladybugs, understood that the objective of the game was to get the ball into the goal... By the end of the third quarter, a light seemed to have come on for a couple of the girls. Does it make me a bad parent that I am glad Z was one of the players who sucked the least?

In our defense, none of our team has played soccer before.  Both teams we were against played together last year, too.  And were hard core.  We are in the five-year-old league and those teams have gone out and found sponsors to buy fancy uniforms.  Wow.  And I thought I was being all alpha-mom by making bows for the whole team and ordering funky soccer socks.  (Red with black polka dots!  Squee!)

And now?  Pictures!  Of my little soccer star!



Feeding Anger

I just ate a handful of peanut butter pretzels because I am mad at my husband.

Yeah, that'll teach him.


Warrenty Expired

Yet another fun-filled doctor appointment, optometry-style.
  • I have yellowing of the lenses.  Diagnosis: pre-cataracts.
  • My macula (of macular degeneration fame) isn't all sparkly like macula are supposed to be.  Diagnosis: pre-macular degeneration.
  • There is a giant hole in my field of vision, a symptom of glaucoma, that caused me to flunk my peripheral vision screening.  Luckily(?), it is probably caused by a small growth on my left optic nerve.
  • I have some kind of health issue (blood pressure/cholesterol/diabetes/thyroid) causing me to have massively dry eyes, which leads to
  • Calluses!  On my eyeballs!  On the up side, the calluses probably keep me from feeling how uncomfortable my contact lenses are.  Um, yay?
  • For the first time ever, having my eyes dilated rendered me close to helpless.  I was safe to drive my car (distance vision wasn't affected) but couldn't see to sign my name to pay for my appointment.  At my weekly lady's lunch afterward, there was much razzing about my blown pupils and did my policeman husband know about my recreational drug use?
The only good news is that I have not contracted presbyopia from Sister K, as I previously suspected.  (I know that you can't catch presbyopia, I just started noticing symptoms after Sister K described her new-found need of/resistance to cheaters.)   And, I don't need bifocals.  Barely.  For now. 

On the down side, my contact prescription is so wacked out that they don't have anything even close to my prescription in stock.  They sent me home in two ill-fitting contacts that make me squint worse than my outdated prescription did!  The special order trail lenses have yet to arrive - a week after the appointment!  Blah.

I also discovered that Wester is where every pair of boring glasses frames goes to die.  When I finally found a pair that flipped my skirt up, they were CRAZY expensive and the shop didn't take my pidly insurance.  More blah. 

I guess I'll be experimenting with a little internet frame shopping.  I just hope I can find something to accommodate my massive cranium.  As most women's glasses make me look like I wandered into the kids' department, that will be yet another adventure.  I am hoping to find some really funky cat-eye frames.  Rhinestones a total plus! 

What the heck happened?  On the inside I'm still just a kid!  Will someone send the memo to the rest of me?  Thanks.


Funny Fail

epic fail photo - Banner FAIL
see more EpicFail

I think this church might need to be a little more 'of the world'...


Progress Report

  • Diet is going well, but I sabotaged myself with a trip to Sam's today.  Hard to resist yummy snacks purchased for the kiddos.  Luckily, I bought lots of gorgeous produce, too.
  • Exercise?  Not so much.  Was thwarted by the lovely pink bicycle.  But cleaning house burns calories, too, no?
  • Weight lost since the horrible 'before' pictures:  12 pounds.  
  • Yahoo!


Duck Season

Happy hunting season!



The inevitable has happened.  I knew it was coming, but it still took me by surprise.  I have become a soccer mom.  I do not, for the record, drive a mini-van, so there's that.

I signed Z up for soccer this fall.  Our first practice was on Tuesday.  So far?  I am not really impressed with Z's coach.  She didn't attend the coaches meeting, so we were the last ones to hear from our coach.  She put off reserving a field until she just had to take what was left: a field so far away that it is practically in the next state.  Oh, and she didn't show up for our first practice.  Awesome.

Z and I drove out to BFE and found the soccer field and waited for everyone to show up.  And waited.  And waited.  Did I miss a memo?

Luckily, I was the mom prepared for everything.  We had brought Z's shiny new (pink!) soccer ball with us, so we had a practice just the two of us.

My girl has mad skills.  Seriously?  I knew she was a pretty good kicker, but I had no idea she would be a good dribbler and passer.  I played soccer in high school, so I ran her through some drills.  She mastered all of them in no time at all.  By the end of our 45-minute 'practice' she was good enough at ball-handling to steal the ball away from me!  You go, Z!

And since nothing says 'proud mama' like shaky low-res cell phone video with crappy audio?  Enjoy!

Widow Season

It's that time of year again, the time when T takes it upon himself to protect the world from the ravages of small-ish not-very-smart birds.  That's right.  It is dove season.  I mean, seriously?  A bird that is dumb enough to get run over by a car deserves to be food, right?  The question (for me, anyway) is why would you want to eat them?

At best a whole dove makes four bites - and those bites can vary from charred to raw on one tiny bird.  Not to mention the danger of ruining your very expensive dental work chomping down on a bit of bird shot. And the fact that they taste like liver.  Why do we eat these things again?

Z won T's heart forever by declaring dove meat (carefully selected by her father) to be delicious.  Between the two of them, they picked 15 tiny carcasses clean.  Me?  I am on a diet.  A diet that doesn't include liver-y teeth-endangering game birds.

As if dove weren't enough (in)edible game, duck season opens this weekend.  But only the tiny ducks (teal).  One size up from dove and just as organ-y.  Yay!  So T will head out after work to hunt dove, then get up obscenely early to go stand in the water to shoot ducks. I don't know whether to hope his hunt is successful or not!

Oh, did I mention that they have spotted a 12-foot alligator in his duck pond?  If he's not careful, I'll be more than a hunting widow!  Awesome.

Flat Line

Doctor, the patient is dead.

This would be very sad if I weren't talking about bicycle tires, huh?  After Tuesday's debacle, T (optimistically) filled up my tires on his way to work this morning.  He warned me to check them before I left and if they had lost any air to abandon all hope.

The tires seemed firm enough when we loaded up, but I was understandably skittish.  My quads still ache!  So this time I decided to take a test run.  Fool me once and all of that. 

Out of the gate, everything felt fine.  We made it to the end of our cul de sac before I started to feel the tell-tale drag.  I hopped off to check the back tire and, sure enough, it was a little mushier than it had been in the garage. Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor - or in this case, caution is better than burning thighs and long walks in the rain - we high-tailed it back to the house.

So I dropped Q off in the trusty mom-mobile and I am off for slime tires.  Better luck next week, right?


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Pre-School

In keeping with my new better 'life style,' I decided that I would take Q to school on my shiny new bicycle.  I got it for Mother's Day and it was just what I wanted: retro styling, big cushy mom-seat, no gears.  I love it!  It is so PINK!  Squee!  (The no gears thing isn't as crazy as it first sounds.  A.) I am a spaz and would never use the gears; and B.) we don't have hills in Wester.)

We have been riding bikes - or, in my case, pulling a wee chariot -  all summer on pleasant evenings when there was no danger of getting struck by lightning.  Which is to say, not very often because west Texas seems to have evening thunder storms more often than not.  All of this is to say that I felt quite confident that taking Q the mile up the road to his school should be no sweat.  (Pun entirely intended!)

With lunches packed and cameras in hand, we packed up the bike trailer like we were setting out on a cross-country expedition.  Q could barely peek out from beneath the purses and nap pads and first-day-of-school flotsam.  It was with bright hearts and big smiles that we took off down the driveway toward Q's education destination.

About a quarter of the way:  (breathing hard) Wow!  It has really been a while since I went for a bike ride! 

About way way:  Huff!  Puff!  Man, I am seriously out of shape.  My legs are on FIRE!  Pant!

About three-quarters of the way:  Gasp!  Sob! The pain!  Make it stop!

As I turn in to the parking lot: (Catching a glimpse of the rear tire as I check on Q)  Is that...?  No. Way.  My @!#$% tires are flat?  ALL FOUR OF THEM?!!?

And then it started to rain.

The end.


D Day

When we got back from vacation, I uploaded these pictures to my computer:

I. had. no. idea.  I barely recognized myself!  In the first picture, especially, I thought I was looking good.  I was planning on using a picture from that day as our Christmas card, for heaven's sake!  Every single picture from our vacation was a contender for the 'before' picture in a weight loss ad.

So.  Where high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and elevated blood sugar weren't enough to get my (big) rear end off the couch and on a diet, maybe two weeks of vacation photos where Jabba the Hut could have been my stunt double will be.

It has begun.  Again.  For real this time.  No, really!

To be continued...

Neighbor Kid Redeemed

Z and Q were playing out front while I was messing around in the garden.  I was raking leaves out from under our bushes (about time - they were last year's!) in preparation for cedar mulch and the installation of a micro-sprinkler system (more on that in another post.  It is SO freakin' cool!)  Z sees NK and asks if she can invite him to play.  In the front yard, sans dogs, natch.  I said sure and went back to my obsessive raking.

I finished raking and watched NK go by on his Ripstick (a twisty skate-board-y thing) pulling Z in the wagon.

I finished pouring out the first bag of mulch and watched NK go by on his Ripstick pulling Z in the wagon.

I finished pouring out the tenth bag of mulch and watched NK go by on his Ripstick pulling Z in the wagon.

Fearing that Z had roped NK into a life of indentured servitude, I called out that maybe he didn't want to spend his entire afternoon pulling her around in her wagon.  Perhaps they could find a different way to play.

NK replied that it was okay, so I told him I didn't want him to feel pressured to cart her around.

His reply?  "No, really!  I don't feel anything!"

Okay.  Maybe he's not that bad.


Gratuitous Moose Pictures

As promised, here are some pictures from our Colorado moose encounter.  I think T took about 200 pictures (literally), so there were quite a few to sort through!  What does it say about us as parents that we take many more pictures of wildlife than we do of our kids?  Hmmm.
Adolescent pair...
handsome and...
FLIRTING with me!
Then, OMG, then, a cow and twins(!)
Who swam across the lake!  Right to us!
Moose Mama munching some grind-age.
And this little gal looks like a stuffed animal! Of course, if I tried to hug her, she would hoof me to death.  


Mah Bay-bee!!!

Holy cow!  Could she be any gorgeous-er?  When did my baby get to be so big?

You can tell from her half-hearted smile that she is feeling a little nervous.  Interestingly, even though she did look so grown up, and in spite of T's predictions, I didn't shed a tear.  Z did.

On the third day of school when she got out of the car in the drop-off line and walked into the building all by herself?  Sobs!  She looked so little!  And her backpack was as big as she was!  And she ran in without even looking back!  Sniffle!

I am super proud of my big school girl!  She is doing great!

Oh, she wanted me to mention that she picked out her first-day-o'-school dress ALL BY HERSELF.  She was tickled to pick out the accessories, too!


Not a Moment Too Soon

Well, kindergarten happened.  Thank goodness!  The last few days before school started had me hanging on to my sanity with an increasingly tenuous grip.  But I have to say, this back to school thing?  Is kicking my butt.  Phew, I'm pooped!  Z, on the other hand, is not.  School seems to have revved her engine!  Um, yay?

So, here's a breakdown of first day adventures:
  • We had to park several blocks away and walk to the school.  When I got Z situated in the cafeteria with her class, my normally intrepid offspring turned to me with big scared eyes and attached herself to me like a leech.  Wha... huh?  My girl who isn't scared of anything CRIED!  I ended up sitting cris-cross-applesauce with the kindergartners until the morning assembly was finished.  The only reason I was able to escape was because the principal dismissed the parents.  When Z started to cling and cry, I told her I had to go - the principal said so!
  • School bus = fail.  Not that Z rides it, but I thought it was funny:  The school bus didn't get the new parking memo.  It got trapped in the inside lane and had to make a sharp right turn.  It missed.  And hit the school.  Turning the already crazy morning drop off into a total fuster cluck.  Welcome back to school!
  • Clearly, lunch in the cafeteria wasn't explained to Z.  (Or she wasn't listening, a distinct possibility.)  She followed her classmates to the table then noticed that she didn't have anything to eat.  She reported indignantly, "I had to go get it myself!"  Poor little princess!
  • Do they make hearing aides in kindergarten size?  At the end of the day, parents putt-putt through the pick-up lanes while the teachers radio ahead to your kid's section and yet another teacher escorts them to the cars.  I made it all the way up to the front of the line and still no Z.  We ended up holding up the line for five minutes or so while they tracked her down. (Spoiler alert: The same thing happened again the second day of school!)
  • End of the day report?  She. Loved. It.  Yay!  They had big fun on a scavenger hunt/tour of the school!  There are several kids from her preschool in her class/grade!  She got to drink pink milk!  Just like Lola!  She got a good behavior stamp!  She needs a new full-sized backpack to carry all of her important kindergarten homework!
  • Yep, homework.  You have to expect that the talented and gifted magnet would be big fans, huh?  Though on the first day?  I had WAY more homework than she did.  I swear they sent home a dozen forms for me to fill out.  I am getting writer's cramp just thinking about it!
  • Last words before she went to sleep:  "Oh, boy!  I get to go to kindergarten again tomorrow!"
Speaking of going to sleep, I need to head that way myself.  The 6:45 alarm comes so. very. early.   Zzzzzz.


    Construction: Day 4,893,339

    Attic still not done.  Just kill me.

    We are down to maybe a dozen small-ish items on the remodel.  And have been since before we left for Colorado.  If I had a dollar for every time the contractor said, "We'll get this knocked out tomorrow,"  I could have PAID FOR THE WHOLE FREAKING PROJECT.  Unfortunately, the biggest thing yet to be completed is the attic.  We have tons of stuff hanging around upstairs waiting for attic space to live in.

    Just yesterday, he showed up to see what needed to be completed in the attic.  (An hour after he said he would arrive, but who's keeping track?)  First, he said if T would help him, he would deck the whole attic and not charge us.  Huh?  If the homeowner does the work himself... what?  Then he said he didn't realize how much room there was up there and he had to go get a crew, but would be right back.


    We never saw him again.

    That evening, a neighbor over at the in-law's new place called to say that the garage and gate to the property had been wide open all week.  T called the contractor to find out what the heck was up.  He said he'd left it open because he was expecting some deliveries, but that he would swing by and close it that evening.  Oh, and was 9:00 too early to start work on the attic Saturday morning?  (The house was still wide open when T swung by on his way home from his shift.  At midnight.)

    Guess who was not here at 9:00?  Or at all?

    I have a houseful of company coming next week, so I finally broke down and texted him about it.  He said he would be here as soon as he got a hold of the floor guy.  I promptly texted him back that I was more concerned with the attic, thankyouverymuch.  He said he would come over and do it himself in the morning.  Just call him when we were ready.

    Are we taking bets on whether he shows up?


    Summer? What Summer?

    Where has the summer gone?  It seems like I blinked and it was time to get Z registered for kindergarten.  She is SO excited about starting 'real' school.  After all the angst-ing I did about where she was going to go to school, I kind of dropped the ball on relating our good news.  She got into the Talented and Gifted Magnet.  Yay!  Of course, I knew she was bright, but don't all parents think that?  Nice to have a little validation and to know that she will be getting the best possible start our school district has to offer.

    Our summer was consumed with construction, unplanned dental-related-travel, parental health concerns, play group and our extended family vacation to Colorado.  The growing season is over and I never even managed to get hanging baskets for the front porch purchased/hung up.  At least the majority of the construction debris has been removed from the porch.  We no longer look quite so Sanford & Son!

    I got some amazing moose pictures while we were on vacay.  I'll bore you with them as soon as I get a little more time and/or energy.  So, say the fourth of never?  Yeah.  That sounds about right!


    And Now I Feel Like a Jerk

    Frustrated with the utter lack of progress on the last few piddly items of the remodel, I sent the contractor a tacky text:  Anyone?  Bueller? Bueller?

    He texted back that he was at the hospital with his uncle, but would be by in the afternoon.

    Around three o'clock, I lost patience and texted him again:  Please come finish my house.

    He texted back almost immediately:  My uncle died.  We were very close.

    I? Am such a jerk.


    A Long Time Coming

    Twenty-two years ago, a man broke into an apartment near Houston and brutally murdered two men.  One of the victims he didn't even know, he just had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  That victim was T's cousin.

    This evening at 6:00, the killer was executed by lethal injection.  T and his uncle were in attendance.

    People feel a lot of things about capital punishment: from 'an eye for an eye' to 'execution is just another form of murder.'  I know how I feel about it, but I wouldn't try to change someone's mind if they disagreed with me.

    Here's what I do know:  aftershocks of the murder are still rippling through this family's lives. That one act of unspeakable violence sucked the spirit out of a family.  They will never recover.

    I hope they have some peace now.


    A Life of Moderation

    I recently changed doctors.  My previous doc had to be chased down and hog-tied to get my lab results.  It was just too much work.  So I switched to my neighbor.  He's a good ol' boy and full of down home bonhomie that makes getting poked and prodded just a little less unpleasant. Mostly I was there to make sure the prescriptions for my crazy pills didn't run out, but I also needed to get my thyroid levels checked.

    We started out on the scale.  OMG.  It seems that my self delusions know no bounds.  I was shocked - SHOCKED! - to see the number on the scale.  The highest ever except for when I was growing a whole other person inside me.  Then my blood pressure was high.  Well, high for me.  I think it still qualified as right in the normal range, but I am usually around 115/70 and on that day I was 130/80.  Maybe it was the shock of the GIGANTIC numbers on the scale.  More likely, it was that my children had chosen that morning to test the boundaries of how badly they could behave without me beating them in public*.

    The nurse called me with the results earlier this week.  Ironically, my thyroid levels were stable.  It was just everything else that was screwed up.  Cholesterol? Yikes!  Triglycerides?  Eek!  Blood sugar? Not terrible, but not good either.  With all of my dad's health issues lately, the blood sugar thing is FREAKING ME OUT.


    I have known for years that I needed to make some, ahem, lifestyle changes.  In fact, it was the driving factor for starting this blog.  I had all these flowery notions of getting healthy to set a good example for Z and not pass on my weirdness about food.  A good thought, but ultimately the effort fizzled.  Now?  My weight is going to seriously threaten my life if I don't do something about it.  Maybe the good news is that the bad news will get my a$$ in gear?

    So.  What to eat?  Well, I have decided that I need to feed myself like I feed my children: balanced meals with limited snacking in between.  I am the queen of late night snacking.  I prefer to do my snacking alone, which is a great big flashing neon sign o' dysfunction.  Solution: No more secret snacking.

    I already eat a pretty good diet, I mostly need to eat way less of it.  Portion control has been my nemesis for as long as I can remember.  I am a woman of many enthusiasms.  Food is one of them!  I have a hard time stopping when the food still tastes good.  Solution: The rule of 80%.  I will try to stop eating when I am 80% full.  No second helpings just because it is there.  A little bit of everything - even ice cream! - but nothing to excess.

    More fresh fruits and veggies.  Less processed food.  More whole grain.  Fewer simple carbs.  It is so easy to get sucked into serving prepared food because it requires no thought at the end of a marathon day.  The kids like it.  My husband likes it!  Hell, I like it.  Solution:  Home made versions of stuff we love.  For instance, I have an easy and awesome recipe for whole wheat pizza dough.  The kids love to make their own pizzas and they taste great.  It's win win!

    Oh, yeah.  And exercise.  Lordy, how I hate to sweat!  But we have been riding our bikes all around the neighborhood.  It is amazing how much more work it is when all the tires are low!  Whew, my tush is sore!  I plan to take Q to school on my bike in the fall.  That will be a sight!  I also have a date with the elliptical trainer upstairs.  We finally got it moved out of the garage/back porch and into the air conditioned weight room.  Now I just need to get on the darn thing.

    It is funny how a few little numbers can do what vanity alone could not.  Wish me luck!

    *I don' beat my children in public.  Or ever.  It's a joke!  Chill!


    All the TV Finally Pays Off

    In the not too distant past, I finally got around to filling up the kids' sandbox.  I purchased the sand from Lowe's.  It was labeled 'play sand' but a more accurate name would be '50-50-mix-of-sand-and-gravel-that-is-impossible-to-build-with.'  That rolls trippingly off the tongue, yes?  Suffice it to say that Q often come inside with pockets filled with pebbles.

    He was particularly proud of one 'shiny' pebble (translation: smooth) and presented it to me as a gift.  It was promptly knocked off the table and lost forever on the remarkably pebble-colored carpet.  Except that it wasn't.  I located his perfect pebble and put it back on the side table for him to find.

    Fast forward to dinner prep this evening.  T and I were discussing his whirlwind trip to the ranch when Q came into the kitchen.  I honestly can't remember what he was saying - a lot of his narrative is difficult to follow - when the words "rock in my nose" jumped out and set off maternal alarm bells.

    Sure enough, upon further inspection, his shiny rock was shoved impressively far up his right nostril.  I had a moment of blind panic when I contemplated swooping him up and rushing him to the ER for immediate removal of the offending nostril nugget.  Then I remembered a similar situation on a Royal Pains.  The PA dislodged a nose noodle by covering up the other nostril and blowing into the boy's mouth.  She was immediately successful and not the least bit covered in snot.

    It didn't go nearly that smoothly on my end.  The blowing into Q's mouth, made him laugh like crazy, but didn't move the pebble.  I finally just covered up the other nostril and told him to blow his nose.  He moved it down a little and I squeezed it out like a zit.  It was like his nose was giving birth.  Shudder.  Man, skin is stretchy!

    So I guess that was a milestone.  I was going to throw the nasty thing away, but T made me save it.  Well, wash it off and save it.  He wants to keep it for Q's baby book.  Can you imagine that scrapbook page?  Boys are so weird.


    Spitting Mad

    Neighbor Kid is at it again!  Today when he came to play in our back yard - because we have cool stuff to play on - he got Holly all wound up.  Again.  And went crying home when she got all jumpy.  Again.  This time, instead of threatening to sue us, he told Z that if Holly 'attacked' him again, she would be taken away from us.

    I want to throttle this kid!  So now, not only is he bossing my kids around in their own yard, he is threatening to have their dog taken away.  Grrr!

    I understand that there aren't a lot of kids out here in the sticks and my kids are the only game in town as far as playmates go, but if he is such a sissified scaredy-cat, he needs to quit coming over to the no-weenie-zone that is our back yard.  Big dogs live here.  Over-zealous dog-affection is the price of admission to the fun toys.

    Neighbor Kid has now announced that his 'family rule' is that he is only allowed to play with Z and Q in the front yard.  Z and Q are only allowed out front if T and/or I are out front, too.  Maybe that will squelch Z's fascination with all things NK. 

    Because the other day at McDonald's?  She asked me when she would be old enough to go out on a date with him.  I told her that since he will always be three years older than she is, she will never be old enough to date him.  Z totally didn't buy it.  She said she would just wait until she was a grown-up and go on a date with him then.  Just! Kill!  Me!


    Happy (Belated) Fourth!

    Things are funny here in Wester.  Instead of celebrating July 4th on, say, the fourth, the powers that be declared that the big fireworks fun should be held on the more convenient third of July.  To maximize the opportunity for folks to get wasted and drive around after the fireworks, you couldn't possibly set them off on a Sunday! Humph.

    Anyway, we planned accordingly.  The in-laws planned their swing through Wester on the way to Colorado to coincide with the fireworks display and T invited the night unit to come have steaks with us. 

    Enter the rain.  My fam has long compared me to Rob McKenna from Douglas Adam's So Long and Thanks for All the Fish:  a "Quasi Supernormal Incremental Precipitation Inducer," aka: a rain god(dess).  Having recently been to east Texas, I apparently soaked up moisture like a sponge and brought it home with me.  Wester is now the wettest desert known to man. 

    The fireworks were canceled because the (beer) vendors couldn't set up shop safely in the standing water at the fair grounds.  Awesome.

    Our dinner was great, but somewhat anticlimactic.  It certainly didn't end with a bang!  (Ha!  Fireworks humor!)  After the required patriotic flag cake, everyone went home.

    The actual fourth was such a non-event that I forgot to put the kids in their cute July 4th outfits!  It was only after I started hearing the neighbors blowing up the horse pastures that we ventured outside.  The great thing about living outside the city limits is that fireworks are legal here.  I am personally too cheap/chicken to purchase incendiaries.  Lucky for my poor deprived (all-their-digits-having) children, my affluent neighbors have no such problems. 

    The local display started around 9:00 and continued until past midnight.  And not the cheap fire crackers, either.   Big, gorgeous, bursts lit up the sky for 360 degrees .  It was like theater in the round, but more explode-y. 

    The kids were entranced.  For about ten minutes.  Then they were entertained with the novelty of being allowed to run around outside in the dark.  Once they got whiny, we went back inside.  Unfortunately, the big free display going on around us did not take bed times into consideration.  I think we made it into bed sometime after midnight.

    Happy birthday, America!  Thanks for letting me sleep in today!


    The Never Ending Journey

    You may have noticed (or not, judging by the hits/comments!) that I haven't been around for a while.  It has been a cuh-RAY-zee month around here.  I have just gotten back into town and had to take a day to recover before I could even think about writing about it!

    It all started with me trying to up my mom-cred by making breakfast cookies bars.  Basically peanut butter cookies with oats, chocolate chips, Cheerios, and golden raisins.  It turns out that raisins trump chocolate chunks on my kids' will-they-eat-it-o-meter, so I was left with a couple dozen (delicious!) breakfast cookies bars.  (Not to be dissuaded, I will make them again subbing dried blueberries or cranberries for the golden raisins.  By my count those are both more exotic than the raisins, but my kids are used to them.  If you want the recipe, I'll be happy to send it to you.)

    Anyhoo, a week later found me finishing up the last of the now considerably tougher cookies.  I took a chomp and found something decidedly harder than chocolate chunks in my mouth.  What did the required mouth fishing produce?  A tooth.  More specifically, the most expensive tooth in my head:  cracked by my night-time 'angst' (what do I have to be angst-y about?  Who knows.  But I clench my teeth like a vise.), root canal-ed, crowned, and necessitating a fairly beasty (read: hideous and expensive) bite guard and now sitting grusomely in my hand.

    Luckily for me, our dentists back in Ginormousville are family friends.  I called Dr. M in a panic and she squeezed me into her schedule for Monday.  I know Wester has dentists, but they are not my dentist and they certainly don't let me call them at home on Saturday mornings!  Expecting to be gone three days tops, I packed up the kids stuff and headed for Grandma's house in Ginormousville.

    Needless to say, the course of good dental work did not run smooth.  The tooth couldn't be saved and would have to be removed.  Feeling like a hillbilly reject, I scheduled a round of appointments to get rolling on a dental implant (the other options too grim to contemplate).  I jumped through all of the appropriate hoops, but I had to stay through to the next Monday to have the tooth removed.  No probs!  I totally hung out with Chica and planned to settle in for the duration.  And did laundry.

    Before I was out of bed the next morning, I get a call from T.  Aunt Bibi had called looking for me because my dad had checked himself into the hospital again.  He was weak and his speech was slurred.  Yikes!  I called his cell phone, and sure enough, slurred non-Daddy sounding speech.  He said he was all alone with the nurse taking his history and that was all I had to hear.  I was off to see him.

    I had to juggle the kids and the dogs and the grandparents who were half-way to the ranch and Sister L who also wanted to go, but not until after her hair appointment.  That turned out to be a logistical blessing because by the time she was ready to leave, the grandparents had made it back home to take the kids and dogs.

    Five hours later, we arrived at the hospital just in time for the diagnosis: diabetes.  The treatment for another recent ailment had suppressed his pancreatic function and tipped him into a full-blown diabetic episode.  That slurred speech?  Yeah, that would be my stubborn-'ol-coot-drivin'-himself-to-the-hospital daddy about to slip into a sugar coma.  Nice.

    Luckily, diabetes is way less scary than the stroke we were all worried it was but were too afraid to mention out loud.  It took three days in ICU and two more on the regular ward to get his sugar levels anywhere near under control.  He came home Wednesday and got settled at home.  And I did laundry. Again.

    Sister L and I headed back home Thursday.  That night T gave me the verbal equivalent of puppy dog eyes and begged me to come out to the ranch for the weekend.  Seeing as it was Father's Day and his birthday, I caved in.  (Have I mentioned how much I loathe long car trips?)  We left Friday and came back Sunday.  Total hours in the car to this point: 24.  At least ten of them we sans kids!

    As soon as we got back to Ginormousville, we switched the car seats back into my Mom Mobile and headed to Small Town.  Z was going to day camp with her best-y, KK, and I got to play with KK's Mom.  So much fun!  So little sleep!  Five kids running wild!  And - wait for it! - more laundry!

    Camp was over on Thursday.  It would have been nice to relax and spend one last night with our friends, but that was not to be.  I had to get my tooth pulled the next morning.  Yay!  We finally rolled into Ginormousville again around 10:00.

    If there could be an up side to having a tooth pulled, it was that as soon as the narcotic haze lifted, I would be allowed to go back to Wester.  Um, no.  The doc insisted that I come back on Monday for a follow-up.  You know, something piddly like making sure the bone graft wasn't falling out of my head.  I got through the whole procedure without shedding a tear only to break down on the phone with T when I told him I wasn't allowed to leave until Monday.

    Come Monday, the second the doc said I was good to go, I packed up the kids, dogs, bags, giant bolts of fabric, sewing machine I swiped borrowed from my parent's house, assorted flotsam that accumulates on a THREE week unplanned road trip and headed west.  All we lacked was a rocking chair strapped to the roof of my car to look like the suburban version of Beverly Hillbillies!

    Six hours (the loooooongest six hours in history!) we rolled up on our little piece of west Texas.  Home, home, home!  I am so happy to be here!  I need to start some laundry.


    Q Speak

    Q has had a vocabulary leap of elephantine proportions.  He has gone from being my little man of few words to a delightful chatterbox in what seems like a matter of minutes.  He still has a way with words that makes me smile.  Here are a few of my current favorites:
    • Are you going to eat/use/wear two both of them? (in any situation where there is more than one of something)
    • In the bath, when asked if he was ready to wash up, he raised his index finger and said,very seriously, "Almost.  Just one second."
    • Mama, I have poopies inside my hiney! (when he needs to go to the bathroom)
    • He has this adorable little r/l confusion.  Whenever a word has an 'l' sound, he does a little r to l flip that is SO cute.  Ex:  screw = sker-loo
    • Instead of slippery, he says slippier
    • To describe how today's 103 degree fever was making him feel:  Mama, I have a broken-head-ache.
    Man, I love that kid!

    Childhood Colored Glasses

    The world is a pretty amazing place through the eyes of a child.  The kids and I were driving through the not-so-nice part of town to pick up my Craig's List wingback chairs.  We were passing a sad little used car lot when Z got all excited in the back seat.

    "Look, Mama, look!   That fence has swirls on the top!"

    My beautiful daughter could see the beauty in a chain link fence with razor wire on the top.  Amazing!


    Free 8 x 10 Canvas!

    My gal pal, Jamie, from Kids, Me & RAW III has teamed up with the nice folks over at Canvas People to promote their amazing free 8x10 deal.  You upload the pic of your choice and they will print it on canvas and gallery wrap it for free!  All you have to pay for is the shipping.  At first I couldn't decide which picture I wanted to use, then I remembered this gorgeous photo from our wedding.  Our photographer was the BEST!

    Of course, once I got there, I couldn't resist upsizing to the 11x14.  I can't wait for it to get here!


    Golden Anniversary

    Yesterday was my parents' 50th wedding anniversary.  It was bittersweet for me since Mom has Alzheimer's and Daddy was in the hospital.  It was hard to know what to do to honor such an amazing achievement.  Luckily, Sister K knew just what to do.  I hope she doesn't mind if I share her heartfelt letter here:

    Dear Daddy,

    As you can tell, your children are at a loss on how to commemorate this day.  No matter that Mom is in a home, it is a beautiful story that the two of you have created and should be celebrated.  To me, it's the stuff from movies- the kind that both of us like.  The quiet, handsome cowboy/officer falls for and woos the beautiful, intelligent girl.  He saves her from a small-town life and whisks her away to see the world.

    And that's just the beginning. The strong team that the two of you made created a strong sense of family and security for all of us.  I always get a kick out of the fact that it is so clear that you find Mom so attractive.  The love, affection, and respect you show her is a good model for what we should expect from the relationships in our lives.  Seeing a strong relationship in action is a gift that not every child gets to witness.  My only complaint is that the actual lack of arguments left me unprepared to have any with my own spouse.

    The love story does not end with the many happy times we all shared, which makes it even more poignant.  The great care and attention you have given to Mom since she became ill exceeds that in the greatest love stories.  Reading it in a story or seeing it in a movie does not compare to seeing the real dedication of a husband to his wife. Mom has been well loved for the last 50 years.  I hope you are proud of what you have given her and to all of your children.  I know that if she could tell you herself she would tell you that you have been cherished for being a noble, loving (and handsome) husband. 

    This love match has been a good one.  Congratulations on your anniversary.



    Ditto, Sister K.  I love you Mom and Daddy!


    Dining Room Dreaming

    When we moved to Wester, we lost a dining area.  The table from our casual dining set was not a good fit for the space in the new house, so we have been using our formal dining table.  For lack of a better place, my office ended up in the dining area - I can keep an eye on the kids while I am on the computer.  This seemed like a good solution, but the truth is my desk is ALWAYS a disaster area and it has contaminated the entire kitchen.

    Once we started on the attic renovation, it became clear that both the kids play area and my office would be moving upstairs. (Yay!)  This is going to leave my dining are really bare.  Also?  Since it is the only dining room in the house, I would like for it to be a little nicer than our former kitchen dining area, but still comfy and inviting. 

    I knew I needed to include more storage, even though my kitchen has a lot of cabinet space.  I have a lot of special occasion dishes (that it would be nice not to have to go spelunking to get to) and I would like to display at least some of my china and crystal.  Also, I need more/more flexible seating.  I need to be able to accommodate large groups for holidays and still have seating for the ways we use the kitchen.  T doesn't like to eat at the table because he says the chairs are uncomfortable, so I need to work that in somehow, too.

    Here is what I came up with:

     Here are the design high points:
    • Two 'hutches' made from semi-custom cabinets.  Drawers on bottom, glass doors on top.  Black, but distressed to let the wood show through.
    • Built in banquette with long willow baskets for storage underneath.  A great place for my place mat collection and also a good place to collect odds and ends from kids projects/homework.
    • Wing chairs for the grown-ups.  I found a set of two for $100 on Craig's List.  I could so totally recover them.  I love me some leopard print, and I think it can function as a neutral, so I think I will go that direction for the upholstery.
    • Bench seating for the side of the table closest to the kitchen.
    • Large harlequin paint treatment on the walls.  Tone on tone, probably flat vs. gloss.
    • A selection of art by Rodney White.
    I spent WAY too much time messing around with this design on PhotoShop today, but I love the result?  What do you think?  Any suggestions?

    Lazy Saturday

    I had some girlfriends over this morning. They are the very best kind of girlfriends in that they don't expect my house to be clean when they arrive, but are complimentary if it is. They know what I'm like and like me anyway. Heaven!

    Anyhoo, Bun has recently started working, so I am not seeing nearly enough of her lately. She and CJ have been getting together on Saturday mornings for a while so I asked them both over to my house this week. Moms and sons arrived around 10:00 this morning. As it was noisy inside (David the contractor working on my stairs. On a Saturday, no less!) and lovely outside, we adjourned to the screen porch and let the kids run wild.

    There is usually some kind of breakfast involved on the Saturday get-togethers. Ever an over achiever, I decided to make my sister's recipe for Apple Puff Pancake (recipe to follow). It has easily been ten years since I made it last. I had forgotten how good it was! It was a hit with the moms, but not so much with the kids. Luckily, we are well stocked up on cereal, dried blueberries, granola bars and milk. No one starved!

    We talked about decorating and frustrating husbands and funny children and everything else under the sun. All too soon, the little guys were tired and my friends had to go home. Why is it that the kids are always ready to leave before the moms are done visiting? I am already looking forward to the next time!

    Apple Puff Pancake

    6 eggs
    1½ cups milk
    1 cup flour
    3 tablespoons sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
    1 stick butter
    2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
    2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar

    Mix eggs, milk, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt and cinnamon in blender until well blended.  Mixture will be slightly lumpy.  Melt butter in 12-inch casserole dish in oven.  Add apples and return to oven until butter sizzles.  Remove from oven and pour batter over apples.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 425° or until puffed and golden.  Yields 6 to 8 servings.


    Photo Finish

    At long last I have pictures! Ta dah!  Z's room:  now with more animal print!

    Here is a comparison of how I had pictured them in my head next to a picture of the finished product.  Impressive, no?  I SO love it when things turn out just like I see them in my mind's eye!

    Next I will be digging into the panel that I am going to add to the top of the bed-in-a-bag I got from Tar-zhay.  That sounds simple enough, but I have decided that I am going to make a border with ruching and piping.  Wouldn't want to make it easy on myself!

    Luckily, my fab mom-in-law had a gathering foot for the sewing machine, so I am hoping that once I learn how to use it, it will do most of the work for me.  Of course, I am expecting a Lucy-and-Ethel-like adventure (misadventure?) before I have it mastered.  I watched a how-to video on YouTube.  She made it look easy enough.

    Luckily, if it isn't easy?  I have lots of extra fabric!


    Rats! Foiled Again.

    With only a few false starts, I was able to complete the valence for Z's room.  It is so gorgeous I can hardly stand it!  It turned out exactly like my drawings.  I love when that happens!

    I have been mulling over how I was going to hang this behemoth valence for weeks now.  My dad built and hung valences just using nails.  I knew this method would give T a stroke so I decided to be all structurally sound and put up a cleat (2x4s screwed into the studs) and expected it to hang like... something that hangs beautifully.  (My simile skills seem to have abandoned me.  Darn.) 

    What I didn't expect was for my gargantuan valence to practically LEAP off the wall once I got it hoisted up onto the cleat.  Yikes!  Mah baby is going to be sleeping under the darn thing.  I really don't want it to fall off the wall and decapitate her in her sleep.

    The force of instant gratification was pulling me to figure out another way to get the dang thing on the wall without killing my firstborn, so I called my dad.  Engineer Daddy had several excellent and non-grandchild crushing ideas.  Most of which involved a trip to Lowe's.  Now, I love me a trip to Lowe's, but I really wanted to get it up now.  As in before bed time.

    We hit upon a plan that didn't involve the purchase of more hardware, but I decided it would be prudent to wait to hang the potentially dangerous window treatment tomorrow while Z is at school instead of right before she goes to bed.

    Man, I wanted to finish this project today!  Pictures tomorrow after I successfully adhere that puppy to the wall!