The Gift

Big E finally worked up the nerve to go get her approaching-waist-length hair "trimmed up" last week. Somewhere between being practically bald for the first two years of life and growing this thick mane she has attached a Samson-like importance on growing her hair as long as humanly possible, ala Crystal Gayle. Wouldn't it be awesome if I could SIT on my hair? she'd ask. The thought of having to keep my hair out of the toilet has never appealed to me, personally. But Big E apparently found that need attractive.

But no matter how much she desired this Crown of Glory, she wasn't really into the effort required to maintain it. Brushing was a chore so when I'd finally break down and force the once a week thorough brushing, all Hell would break loose. YOU'RE HURTING ME! DON'T BRUSH SO HARD! All caps don't really capture the volume and shrieking nature Big E complains in. Imagine all caps times 10.

Needless to say, this got old rather quickly. I was devolving into a naggy old sock of a mother. Comb when you use conditioner. You can't sleep in your necklace because your hair will get caught. See? I told you your hair would get tangled around your necklace. Now we have to CUT it out. Don't leave hairbands in your hair during swim. See? I told you the hairbands would get tangled in your hair. Now we have to CUT it out. Sounds pleasant, no?

So I started gently mentioning Locks of Love a few months ago. Her most favorite teacher from 1st and 2nd grade donated her hair this fall. NO WAY! I'm letting my hair grow forever and ever! was the answer I got.

I guess the nagging and pain was wearing her down though, because a couple of weeks ago she up and said she was ready for a trim. Then a week later she agreed to collarbone length. Then we got to the salon and the stylist showed her it would only be a couple more inches and she could donate all that hair to a good cause. So she went for it. She was nervous and scared. It took a long time to grow all that hair. It seemed really short afterwards and she was a little regretful. But not really. After a brief reminder of the gift she had given she smiled, eyes a bit teary, sniffled and said Yeah. And it looks great. Way to go, Big E.


You can count on him

You can always count on Bush for some holiday cheer.

Jolly Christmas to One and All

Or Hannukah. Or Solstice. Just Happiness All Around to Everyone!

I love the holidays. I love having all these days off to just do whatever we want. Which usually means doing nothing. Sleeping in. Staying up late (like 'til 2 am for a five hour Dexter marathon....somebody help me). Eating food in quantities and sugar and butter content I otherwise restrict. Watching the Roomba. Maybe we'll fit in some ice skating at the Whole Foods plaza. I love ice skating when it's 70 degrees.

Enjoying company from faraway lands - sad that their trip took a whopping five days instead of one, but glad they're finally here. Basking in the glow of my new space heater. Bubble Boy couldn't take another year of me whining about my freezing feet, hands, nose, ass. He was probably tired of me sneaking my ice cold feet over to his side of the bed too. But the heater. It's lovely. As is the jewelry box he lovingly created in our cold garage just for me. It has swinging doors. And a special alarm clock for the nearly blind...that's me.

So many wonderful gifts from friends, generously given and gratefully received. The glowing faces of my family as they are hypnotized by the electronic gifts and games. Styli in hand. Who knew DS' could bring a family even closer together? They don't know it yet, but a big ol' trampoline to get them away from the electronic zombie-makers every now and then. Something that doesn't have to be recharged.

I even like the Christmas music. Of course, I purposely avoid Christmas music the whole season so I won't be ready to stab my eardrums with a skewer when I hear it on Christmas morning.

Kind reminders from friends when I was in the depths of despair about how ALL this could possibly get done in the given time frame, and why do we go to all this &@*% trouble, anyway? Reminders of how we'll look back on these days and remember the fruits of the labor, not the labor itself. The good times. THESE memories. And miss them. And never be able to recreate them. They are only now. And it all seems worth it today. Imagine how 'worth it' it will seem in 20 years.

The sun is coming out. It's going to be a beautiful day. Merry Christmas.


A Christmas Miracle

I consider myself a bit of a Laundry Maven. I'm OK at the cooking and the cleaning and the organizing. Get the job done, if not efficiently, then at least with brute force. But it seems that I have a knack for laundry. At least 'til the time for ironing comes, which I don't do. But it is a rare stain that makes it past me. Red wine? Please. Blood? Challenge me. Chocolate? Bring it on. Soy sauce? This is tough once it's set, but if you can get it early, it's doable.

While I generally check clothing for stains before they get tossed in the wash, I have gotten quite lax in checking pockets for anyone other than Little A, who has been known to contribute any manner of bug life, rocks, shells, legos, transformers, etc... to the laundry pile. Big E may throw in the occasional hair band or barrette, but it doesn't go much beyond that.

Thursdays are my usual laundry day for Big E, but I was behind (see previous posts regarding neglect of housely duties), so it wasn't until Thursday night between episodes of Dexter that I moved the first load of wash to the dryer. As I pulled out jeans, sweatshirts, socks I notice that something is hung up and twisted around something. Hmm? This looks like a cord. What? Is that an ear bud? Like to headphones? The 2.3 seconds it took for my eyes to travel to the end of the headphone cord and the realization that Big E's 10 week old nano was plugged into the end of that cord seemed long enough to see every item I've ever lost or destroyed flash before my eyes. My chest felt hollow and I was overcome with guilt and annoyance. How could she leave her nano in her pocket? How could I not notice it or the headphones when I was turning her jeans right side out? Stupid. Stupid! STUPID!

On the very outside chance that it might ever work again, Bubble boy put it in a warm spot (in the electronics cabinet with the Apple TV) to give it a chance to dry out. Right. We've had keyboards fritz out on us for sprinkles of water falling into them. How could an iPod work after going through the heavy-duty wash with vinegar and Tide? Then the spin?

But the Apple TV must've breathed some of it's Apple Breath of Life into the iPod because the darned thing works. The display is dark, but it's still visible. It plays music. She won't be watching any videos on it but IT ACTUALLY WORKS. It truly is a miracle. And we even used to live on 34th Street. Coincidence? I don't think so.


Early birthday

Facing a house that has received little attention other than the neglect and abuse we've doled out in abundant quantities this week I woke up this morning with the intent to get down to bidness with some serious FlyLadying and whip this house back into shape. Knowing how serious I was to get all the dust and grime out from under our feets, Bubble Boy could no longer sit on the gift he'd purchased for my birthday, which is in two weeks (hint, hint!).

I assume men are clued into a few of the Golden Rules of Marriage by other married men during the hazing process of induction into the Married Men Club. Such as how to answer the inevitable question of "Do these jeans make me look fat?", a gift of a bowling ball with their own name engraved is a big No-No, and never to compare certain attributes of their wives to their mother. Just as we women are schooled in the arts of making our men feel like Real Men by the appropriate use of "Aaah" or "You don't say?", when they tell us all the fascinating things they just read in Wired, Popular Science or slashdot.

Another of the Man Rules is to NEVER buy a gift that plugs in. Back a few years ago, Bubble Boy violated this rule by bringing home a DVR for Christmas. Dramatic tears and a couple days of silent treatment ensued until BB made it up to me twelve-fold by instituting the Twelve Days of Christmas with a new gift every day for twelve days. Turns out the DVR was one of the best gifts I ever received. It changed the way we watched TV and led us down the road of not even having television service (not even the local channels!). Something I sometimes miss but haven't regretted yet.

So today I got The Roomba. It's my new little pet and I will love it, and squeeze it, and pet it and call it Rosie. As we have all watched it with fascination I find myself thinking a fun evening would be to open a bottle of wine and watch the poor thing bump and bounce around the house.

I have to admit to a dark secret here though. It makes me think of the Helen Keller jokes that seemed to be so popular when I was a kid. Remember? What did Helen Keller do when she fell in the well? She screamed her hands off.

I'm not proud of making fun of blind/deaf people, HK in particular, seeing that she was such an inspirational figure. But. I guess I am that kind of person. And so a wine and Roomba party sounds like good times. Proud? Definitely not. Crass and insensitive? I guess. But at least I'll have clean floors.


The Golden Compass

About a month ago I received an email from a new friend warning me of the dangers of letting my children see this movie. Maybe you've seen the email. It mentions in very hissing tones the fact that the author of this story is an atheist. A "noted" atheist as a matter of fact. Which we all know must inherently mean he is an evil, devil-worshiping, pedophile who beats up old people and mangles puppies to get his giggles. This email is working to protect us and our children from the evils of this atheist by encouraging a boycott of the movie. We shouldn't expose ourselves to this debauchery lest we encourage more atheists to spout their propaganda and lure more children into immoral God-less sindom.

Well, being who I am (my parents can attest to my inborn rebellious nature), I felt that I should see this for myself. Dare I say I felt COMPELLED. So, we saw it this weekend.

I find it so ironic, delightfully, sweetly ironic, that the church has instigated this attempt at a boycott of this movie. The entire premise of this movie is the oppression of the Magesterium (forgive me if I misspell it...I've neither read the book nor any reviews, therefore my review here is untainted by other opinions...just purely Bubble Girl) and how they are "protecting the people for their own good". And that maybe it would be good if people were to think for themselves rather than let some self-proclaimed omnipotent organization tell everyone what to do and how and when. The value of free will. Remember that? I think that was pre-Patriot Act.

I enjoyed this movie so much more than I thought I would. I have to say that the previews didn't hook me and I hadn't heard of the book until the boycott email came to me. But the story was very good. The effects were very good. The girl was very good. Even Nicole Kidman was good, but I like her despite so many people's disdain for her. Who will ever know what went on between her and Tom Cruise? But I still think she got the raw end of THAT deal. Anyhoo....

The end was a bit on the intense side, so I can't recommend this for the young. Little A, who stomachs Star Wars, X-Men and Narnia with nary a blink, was in my lap. Big E tried to climb up there, but this lap just ain't holding a 5 year old AND a 9 year old. She had to look away. So watch with caution. But watch.


You know that old saying referring to using only 10% of your brain? I often thought that perhaps I was only using 7 or 8% in my daily quests to master the art of the perfect pb&j or conquer my fear of laundry once and for all and that the other 2 to 3% consisted of the tiny corners of my brain that was littered with wads of dustbunnies.

I feel fully confident that those dustbunnies have been efficiently swept away and those corners have been well-stacked with loads of worthwhile information such as emails I must send to various people who have signed up for various projects I am working on, wish lists for some 20 some-odd people, grocery lists and recipe ideas for the many different events I am attending or hosting, appointments, etc...

That info is filed away neatly on Container Store-like brain shelving that go all the way up to the ceiling.

Which explains how, when I took momentary possession of the lovely earrings mentioned in a previous post and noticed a teensy-weensy chip in one of the beads and the jewelry designer offered to take them home and switch out the damanged bead.....I completely forgot about that critical exchange. There was simply no more room. The 10% was maxed out.

Never during the picking through the garbage twice, or extracting all the paper from the recycle bin or the rummaging through every drawer in the kitchen (there are 12) or looking under all the furniture three or four times or interrogating my children with methods the CIA would find questionable as to the whereabouts of the earrings I'm sure they must've seen, did I recall those particular 30 seconds in which All would have been answered.

Luckily for me, the jewelry designer must not be using all 10% of her brain because there was a tiny percent of a percent that knew the answer as soon as I asked her. She almost managed to not make me feel crazy. Or maybe that was my own making. I still don't know where those DVDs are. But I'm confident that THAT is Bubble Boy's doing.

Time will tell. Hopefully.


The Abyss

A couple of years ago a pair of scissors that I was trying to fish out of the junk drawer fell out of the back of the drawer, over the edge. Simple enough, right? I open the cabinet below the drawer (to which it is completely open, no piece of wood between drawer and cabinet below) to get the scissors. Except. Not there. I took out every single thing in the cabinet. Every single thing in the drawer. Everything in the drawer next to that drawer. I have NEVER found those scissors. Obviously they broke through the time-space continuum and entered The Other Dimension. A suburban Twilight Zone. Some Alter Me is using those scissors 5 minutes before, or 5 minutes after the Now Me.

And now that Alter Me is prancing around (SHE prances...I do not) delighting in the beautiful new earrings I just bought from a friend who designs and creates lovely jewelry. Damn her prancing and pretty earrings. And she and her Alter-Bubble Boy are enjoying all the 30+ DVDs that are in the beehive that have plainly sought refuge in The Other Dimension as well.

Earrings?? I never even got to wear you! I'll be good to you. You'll have your own private compartment in the jewelry drawer. I won't submit you to the rigors of hard water in the shower or bend and crush you by sleeping on you. You'll have a good life here. I'll buy the matching necklace so you won't be lonely. Come back to the Now.

'Cause if you don't I feel a little crazy. You were in my hands one minute and then the next. Poof! Gone. Where? The OCD is coming out and I'm looking everywhere. Where are you!!??

40 days and 40 nights

It's been 40 days since the writers went on strike. 40 days since they said they weren't gunna be the Media Giants' bitches no more. 40 days since I've seen The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and I gotta be honest. It's wearing on me. How else am I supposed to know what's happening in the world without Jon Stewart and his band of merry, fake reporters to tell me the crazy stuff that's going on and make me laugh when I would really feel like crying if it weren't all so terribly full of the C-R-A-Z-Y.

Like this election. It makes me sad. Has the world always been this f*ed up and I'm just finally starting to wake up from the indoctrinated haze that was instituted upon me many a year ago? If Ron Paul pulls a Ralph Nader and ends up running as a third party candidate and ruining this election for Democrats I don't think I can be held responsible for what I might do. I understand the "idealists" POV. The problems with the two-party election system. Voting machines. That candidates that are actually electable are too moderate to be truly progressive and actually change the status quo...military industrial complex, the colossal mess we call our health care system and how to pay for it and maybe even improve it, civil rights, new, clean energy, efficient transportation. The issues are many and complex. I don't know the answers.

But I know what is NOT the answer. And that is throwing a third party candidate into the mix to steal votes away from people who might, just might, make a small dent and get things moving in the actual right direction instead of throttling full-speed ahead in the opposite direction.

And if that third party someone is Ron Paul, who believes the Dept. of Education should be abolished and would strangle the Supreme Court by preventing them from hearing any cases related to separation of church and state or abortion, we should be afraid. Yes, he disapproved of the Mess'o'potamia in Iraq back when Disapproval Wasn't Cool. Yes, he sounds like a breath of fresh air who isn't so Washington. Yes, he sounds reasonable on many issues like the war and civil rights. But be wary. He basically doesn't believe in the federal government. We are still a UNITED States. One nation. That's all I'm saying.

Back to the writer's strike. Media Giants! Get off your diamond-encrusted, gold-inlay Malibu / Manhattan high-horses and pay your writers. You're nothing without them. Even God decided that 40 days & nights was plenty, and you are so NOT God. Bubble Girl is facing serious DTs from Jon Stewart / Stephen Colbert withdrawal. I may have to start getting....gasp....real news. Do NOT make me do that.


Pump, Jump and Slide

Today was the day Little A had been counting down to for months. His first big birthday party. Oh, we've had family parties with cake and a few presents but today was THE party. I was unwilling to submit my house to a few dozen kids. The days of me standing over the mixer and sending BB out to get yet another tub of food coloring paste to get the icing just the right color of red for a ladybug cake or spending hours upon hours preparing all the crafts and games are so, so gone.

This was just fine with Little A, who had decided over a year ago that whenever he did have a birthday party it was going to be at Pump It Up, the birthday party factory. This place demonstrates that economies of scale can apply to birthday parties, except that it doesn't really seem to bring the cost down. Well, a birthday party factory was exactly what I was looking for this year.

One of the highlights of the entire process was taking Little A to the neighborhood HEB to choose his cake. He knew he wanted a Spiderman cake, but just which one? After paging through the catalog of every licensed character PBS, Nickelodeon, Disney or Dreamworks have come up with in the last 10 years, we finally settled on the double-decker Spiderman 3.

This cake was fated to be my near undoing.

When we arrived to pick up this little cake today a full 30 minutes after it's "due" time, they hadn't even begun to frost it...let alone get Spiderman to hang from the special, movable arm that extends from the top of the building. I hadn't built an extra 20 minutes into our schedule to account for this delay so we ended up being late for the party. Being late and crowds. I don't take well to being late for things. This has put BB and I at odds on more than one occasion since he doesn't feel time like I (or most other people, I daresay) do. I have to say this is probably our number one source of disagreements. I like being on time. His idea of on time is getting there before it's over.

Anyway. As I stood and watched our cake being decorated. I fumed. My blood pressure rose. I tried to fight it. Tried telling myself "it'll all be fine". In the big scheme of things.....this is nothing. Then I was angry with myself for setting the pick-up time so close (one hour) before the party. Big E couldn't get over the fact that no one even attempted an apology. Just a blasé answer of "we're running behind" given with a shrug and a "whatcha gonna do??" tilt of the head. Little A was happy looking at all the cakes. Look! The carrot cake again! It has CARROTS on it! Ha!!

We got to the party about 15 minutes late...it WAS all fine. The kids had a great time. We're herded from one room of jumpy things to another room of puffy slides. Then on to the party room. Where my purse promptly slammed into the front of the Damn Cake! By this point even I didn't care anymore. Little A blew out his candles, never mentioned the big gash of smeared icing smack in the middle of the front of the cake. All was happy with the world.

Team Toprope hits the Trail...

...of Lights, that is! Last night was the ## Annual Trail of Lights 5K run, but the 1st Annual Trail of Lights 5K run for the Bubble family (minus Bubble Girl...I was off devouring large quantities of Indian food and trading cookies like a good little suburban housewife).
Looking at everyone's pictures and hearing the stories it sounds like I missed a good time, but when I heard about the lines of traffic and strollers rolling over feet and people here and there and everywhere, it was just fine to hear about it second hand. I think we've documented my disdain for people already. Crowds and I don't mix well as they tend to bring me to brink of an apoplectic seizure. I know...get over it. I'm working on it.

Big E basking in the ethereal glow of her Nintendo DS. She wouldn't let something like a 5K run distract her from the dozens of hours a day she spends playing on her latest acquisition.

I think every girlfriend I had who had a little brother had at least one photo with the little brother sticking his head up in the middle of the picture. This will probably be the first of many.Ladies' Man.


Bueno or Not so Bueno

Close your eyes. Imagine November. November in Austin....yes, it's still that damn hot. But it's the Friday before Veteran's Day, so a long weekend is imminent. Oh yes, the first twinges of the SARS-like virus that put you in bed for two days and off your normally sharp game for two weeks, are starting to wear you down and you're tired. And yet, you drag yourself to your daughter's school to participate in the Veteran's Day festivities. A 45-minute sing-a-long of the best of Patriotic Songs KidJamz 10.

We open with the pledge..including the Texas pledge (do other states recite pledges to their flag?? "I pledge allegiance to the North Dakotan flag...", it just sounds weird to me), one class goes up to the stage to recite the Pledge in Spanish. Other classes recite poems etc...ask the veterans who are present to please stand so we can thank them for their service, applause, applause, the sing-a-long commences. Lots of purple mountain majesty, waving over ramparts, shores of Tripoli, and the old favorite about standing UP and saluting her still today.

Sounds like a lovely little sing-a-long, no? But wait. I hear some grumbling. A friend mentions she's not so happy to have heard the pledge in Spanish. Really? I say. I thought it was nice. It makes my ears bleed, she says. Highlights our Spanish program, I say. Hmmm.

Then I hear (our grapevine is quite the tangled web, make no mistake) of another acquaintance who has made it her current mission to obliterate the saying of the pledge in Spanish. Obliterate it, I say! Hmmm? This is getting curiouser and curiouser. This must truly offend more people than I thought. My finger isn't as tight on the pulse of current opinions as I would have some people think.

Skip ahead a couple of weeks and I'm sitting at a meeting of this little campus committee where I go and eat cookies and sign off on improvement plans and such. We have a visitor. We don't usually get visitors unless they have an issue or are wanting the committee to do something to help their cause. Wonder what he wants? as I munch a delectable molasses cookie. He's wearing a Marine Corps sweatshirt and a scowl. I'm thinking he's not here for the cookies. He doesn't take one even after I comment on their delicious-ness. Not a good sign.

We go through the agenda. I see Veteran's Day under Old Business. Oops...guess that should've been New Business. Yep. He's ticked. How dare we say the pledge in SPANISH? It's a desecration and a slap in the face to all who have worn the uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces. Not just him, but all the veterans to whom he's mentioned this profanity find it abhorrent.

Administrators attempt apologies and reasonable explanations. Educational relevancy. Innocent activity to showcase our Spanish program. No offense intended. Veteran's Day program is an optional program. Time taken away from instruction because it's felt to be a worthy cause. Two people speak up (NOT me....I don't 'speak up'), one in favor one most definitely NOT. Controversy.

Veteran pulls the combat card. Have any of us been shot at? Fighting for THIS country? Bullets flying? Finger pointing. Protecting our fellow brothers. Watching them die. Well? Have we? Because if we haven't, then we can't REALLY understand what The Pledge means. They're just WORDS to us...not REAL MEANING. We may pay lip-service to The Pledge, but unless we FIGHT for our country we simply CAN'T know what those words truly mean. He feels strongly.

Administrator steps in and stops the tirade. Strikes a compromise. Only after voicing her offense at his condescension. Breathing again. No more Pledge in Spanish at the Veteran's day event, but reserve the right to say it at other events. Diplomacy prevails.

I don't 'speak up', but I DO blog, so my thoughts are these.

Come on, Veterans. Why so cold? Why not loving anybody who will pledge allegiance to this flag you cherish so deeply? Can we not embrace all who would pledge fidelity, devotion and loyalty to this star-spangled banner without regard to the origins of the words, but to the origins of the sentiment? Must any would-be allegiance-pledgers pass a test? No allegiance for YOU because you didn't say it in English! NEXT! (why yes, I CAN work a Seinfeld reference into any topic).

Edited to add: The pledge was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892. I can't find anything that indicates he ever served in the military. Read more here. It's rather interesting.


Five year old Q & A

Out of the BLUE tonight:

Little A: Mommy, are you PREGNANT?

Me: Uh....No. No, I'm not not PREGNANT. [I KNEW this shirt made me look fat!]

Little A: How do you know? Can you get PREGNANT?

Me: Well, I cooouuld, but, ahem, uh, you know, I'm not.

Little A: HOW could you? How do mommies get PREGNANT?

Me: Well, uh, ahem....you need a mommy and a daddy to get pregnant.

Little A: I could be PREGNANT! I want to be PREGNANT! I have a mommy and a daddy!

Me: Well, no....not exactly....

Little A: But you said you need a mommy and a daddy and I have a mommy and a daddy! Yippee!! I'm PREGNANT! I want a brother!

Me: But you really, you need to have a part of the daddy and a part from the mommy to get together...

Little A: Inside the mommy right?? Oh yeah! Then the baby grows in the mommy's tummy! Right?? Well then, how does the daddy part and the mommy part get in the mommy's tummy?

Me: Well, umm, you know, they just do. They fit together.....ummm....like...like... a puzzle, yeah! That's the way. Like a puzzle. [Wisdom from a friend coming out of my back pocket!]

Little A: A sticky puzzle, right?

Me: How about a cupcake?


Something out of nothing? Not really.

Well, I sat down here to lay down some of what's been happening this week and find myself not knowing where to start. One reason could be that the week has been so ridiculously busy I have had regular feelings of falling into a deep pit filled with quicksand and 2-headed laundry monsters nipping at me from all directions and another reason is that nothing's going on. Seems a bit contradictory, No? I often wonder how an entire week can go by in a flash. A flash, I say! And I cannot relate to someone just what occurred to make it fly by, since we all know how fast time flies when we're having....fun, is it?

Here are the highlights from the week since the last post:

  • Absolutely fabulous meal with our own, personal The Finer Things Club meets Farm Life in Iowa book club and dinner meeting. We discussed the Pulitzer Prize winning "A Thousand Acres". I give it a solid 6.5 out of 10. I give the dinner a big fat 10. There were steaks and melt-in-your-mouth potatoes with fresh chives from the garden, a sinful apple pie, a real, live Jell-o mold, which added a beautiful splash of red to our plates, and a spinach/cheese puff. An All-American Meal. Plus, it was my first night out in what seemed like 14 years. And there was wine.
  • My first set of power hedge trimmers finally came out of the box and I let out a few tough girl grunts and felt the power surging through my veins as I chopped and trimmed the straggly mess that is our front yard. If ever you find yourself feeling weak and powerless, Power Tools are the answer! Forget self-help books and 12 step programs. Get a weed eater and start whacking! Grab a hedge trimmer and hack up some shrubbery. I don't mind getting dirty and sweaty when I can feel that engine rumbling under my hands. The adrenaline (or is it testosterone?) is intoxicating. No wonder men are so cocky. It's the tools. As absolutely fabulous as an immersion blender is, one has never made me want to say, "HoooYaaa!".
  • Lactic Acid Build-up. I have obviously been severely negligent in the muscle development of my legs, because after a workout of many squats and lunge type activities, I'm sure I look like I'm walking with a giant stick up my arse since every step zaps my legs and butt with what I am sure is 50,000 volts of high quality electricity.
  • The AIA hosted an open house to view the product of their hours of teaching at various Austin-area elementary schools. Big E's class was the only one to actually build 3-D models of homes, so in addition to the farms, igloos, huts, adobes, teepees, and Big E's Le Corbusier-inspired home, we got to see models of small cities, floorplans that included bowling alleys and laser-tag rooms, and house elevations. The architects were very nice and offered Big E a job. We're in the negotiation process now.
Can these guys even be out of college yet?

That about wraps up a week in the life of me. Aside from all the rest of the stuff .


The boy

Once upon a time there was a girl and the girl was going to have a baby. She already had a baby girl, and she felt very, very certain that the new baby would be a baby girl too. And then she'd have two little girls to lock up in the attic when they turned 15. She decided to go to the doctor and have the doctor confirm her irrefutable intuition. The doctor tried telling the girl that there appeared to be a penis in the ultrasound. The girl said "No...look again.". The doctor looked again and said it was most definitely a penis. The girl said "No, it must be the umbilical cord. I cannot raise a boy. Boys turn into men and I don't know how to make one of those". The doctor was not to be swayed from this opinion. The girl was nervous.

The girl told her little girl that she was going to have a new baby brother. The little girl said "That's OK Mommy, there's still time for the baby to change into a girl". The girl said "Hmmm..maybe".

Six months later the girl gave birth to the baby. It was indeed a boy. The boy grew. He grew and grew and grew. Before long the boy crawled and walked and climbed. The girl was tired. Then the boy would climb his little boy body up into the girl's lap and he would cuddle close. He was a warm, snuggly boy when he wasn't jumping and climbing. The girl was happy.

Then one day the boy turned Five. He was still warm and snuggly, but then he said things like, "Your kisses are slobbery". But the girl kissed him anyway. And he laughed his sweet, little boy giggle and gave her big, slobbery kisses too.

And the girl was happy.


Hormonal Wisdom

There must be some things that older women have taken an oath not to share with we younger women....I still count myself among the latter group, thank you....but I think I may have stumbled upon something, some tidbit of knowledge that may make the whole world a better place, and having sworn no oath myself I feel obliged to share it.

Here it is.

PMS does NOT cause us to view the world in an irrational way. I admit it can seem that way to wary onlookers, among whom I have been for many, many years. It is very much the opposite. The rush of hormones that flood our bodies bring us the GIFT of finally seeing the world with a clarity that normal human beings, aka men, children and non-PMS women, can neither see nor appreciate. The super-human PMS woman can see finally how absurd and ridiculous it is to cajole her children to eat their dinner. A perfectly nice, child-friendly dinner. Consuming food is a necessary bodily function! Why must a child be encouraged to eat? Do we fall overselves telling them "Way to go! You breathed all day today!"?

This revelation came to me last week as I sat at a favorite kiddie hot-spot enjoying the free Wi-Fi while Little A terrorized the bacteria tubes. The mom seated behind me was gushing praise over her two children for what a great job! they were doing eating their french fries. Really? Must praise be showered for consuming a french fry? A couple of days later, I found myself gently encouraging, cajoling, bribing, reminding my own children to eat their dinner. Then the hormones kicked in and I saw oh so clearly! If they don't want to eat what I put before them at night they can make their own dinner! Or better yet, not eat at all! They can take their behinds upstairs and go to bed hungry! Yes! It's just that simple. No more wrangling. No more pleading. Dinnertime bliss and a glass of wine.

I have PMS to thank for this eye-opening experience. I can hardly wait to see what pearl of wisdom next month will bring. I'm so excited. I know they are too.


Giving Thanks

We fooled all the other travelers by waiting until Thursday morning to begin our journey to OKC for Thanksgiving with my family. Except that when we stopped at That Coffee Place That Shall Not Be Named in Hillsboro everyone in the whole wide world was there too. The poor kids working there all looked like some unfortunate soul who has a crazy person shooting a gun at their feet while screaming at them to "DANCE!". I thought to myself that when my turn came I should be sure to be upbeat and cheerful, wish them a very happy Thanksgiving and leave them with a big fat tip to help make up for the living Hell they were experiencing on what is supposed to be such a nice day. But when my turn came up an hour and a half later I was doing well to remember what I was there for in the first place. While I'm fairly sure I managed to not be unpleasant I definitely forgot to tip which I realized about 10 miles down the road and then, the guilt. I'm hopeful that this semi-public confession will act as a small penance and even out my karma a bit.

Dinner at my parents' house was a delight. Big E and Little A had a MARVELOUS time with their cousins. Big E can hardly contain her energy and goes full throttle from the moment her eyes pop open around 6:30 am until she loses the battle to keep them open just one more minute around midnight. Little A found himself sleeping in his and Big E's old bed (which now belongs to Little M). A moment of sentimentality washed over me as I tucked him in for the night. Then I heard someone opening a beer and I gave him a quick peck on the forehead and a "'night!" as I raced out of the room for a night of Taboo. AmySooLoo and I make one HELL of a Taboo team, let me say! We were on FIRE! RW and BB seem to think it had something to do with us living together for 15 years and talking on the phone every day for the last 9 years, but whatever! They're just trying to look for excuses for their embarrassing, ego-crushing loss. So, I guess I'm thankful for kicking ass at Taboo.

Other things I'm thankful for....Big M and her awesome moves and skills and for letting me know that I don't HAVE to say "freakin' God", Little M actually gave me three kisses (a record!) AND let me get her tummy, AP's pumpkin pies, AmySooLoo's mashed potatoes (there better NOT have been cauliflower in there!) and a bed to crash on, Mom and Dad's turkey and gourd-shaped salt and pepper shakers (three complete sets!), Uncle D's lesson on the ring around the moon (right again!), RW is Johnny-on-the-Spot with the DP, Boy cousins who love to play Monopoly. Family. Friends. Health. Big E. Little A. Bubble Boy. Good times.



There are certain things that once mentioned or experienced will form a memory that will be forever linked to another experience or thought. This may occur out of repetition such as a child misspeaking a word so many times that in the future anytime you hear this word (or the word it was supposed to be) you will hearken back to the memories of their chubby little smeary face talking with grand enthusiasm about the asthma that oozes out of volcanoes. And you hate anyone who dares to correct them. Let them grow up thinking asthma comes out of a volcano. WHO CARES? It's adorable.

Or it can occur because it coincides with an important event. The morbid of these is when a death happens close to a holiday those sad events are inextricably linked forever. The happy of these is when you can connect something, like a birth, to an event, or a song, or a particular blanket, etc...Such as when Bubble Boy and I drove to the hospital to experience the horror that was birthing Big E we listened to a Smashing Pumpkins CD, so whenever I hear 1979 I will forever think of that chilly early morning drive. It invokes those feelings of uncertainty during my last moments as not-a-mom, The bladder-emptying fear. The bladder-emptying excitement. Or maybe that was just a big, 2 week overdue baby. Either way.

So, today when I began making the stuffing for the Thanksgiving dinner I pondered the making of the same stuffing five years ago. The recipe was new, from Mrs. E, who has since abandoned me for "family" and "no fire ants" in California. I was making a gigantic batch...one for a potluck, one for our dinner and one to freeze because Uncle K was coming to visit and it's nice to have a back-up. I was hugely pregnant with Little A (he weighed in at 9 lbs, 7 oz - no petite flower...I blame the Halloween candy), and was chopping and sautéing my little heart out when da! da! DA! my water broke. I was beyond elated to have had my water break. This was THE event I wanted to experience in my life more than anything else. Big E was 2 weeks late and even after an induction was loathe to enter the world (that stubbornness? don't know where she gets it and yes, it HAS lingered), so having the water break meant good things! I won't go into the whole birth story because really? who needs to read how it went really brilliantly and then we had a crazy-ass nurse who was convinced he had a raging infection and SHE was the only reason he was still alive? No one. So.....moving on.

Forever and always I will think of That Moment when I'm making that stuffing which I will make every Thanksgiving. And I want you to never make another stuffing either. Everyone MUST make this stuffing, so now you can all think about my water breaking when you make it. Won't that be nice? So, here's the recipe.

Pistachio Cranberry Stuffing

1 lbs bulk sausage
½ cup butter
1 maui/Vidalia onion
1 ½ cup chopped celery
1 T minced garlic
1 1//2 cup dry white wine (or drink the wine and use chicken broth)
1 lbs dried herb stuffing (dry)
12 oz dried cranberries (soaked and drained)
1 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
¼ cup Grand Marnier or zest and juice from one orange
2 eggs lightly beaten
salt and pepper

Cook sausage in skillet and put in large bowl. In same skillet, add butter and sauté celery, onion and garlic. Add wine and cook 2 minutes. Add stuffing, sausage, and sauté mix in large bowl. Add dried cranberries, pistachios, orange juice, and eggs. Mix well. Place mixture in greased casserole and bake at 350, 30-40 minutes. (Cover with foil).
Add chicken broth or OJ if too dry. (or amniotic fluid if you have any)


Family Project

Big E has had the privilege to have a group of architects come into her third grade class this year and teach the kids all about architecture. It's been a great experience and we feel very lucky that she's had the opportunity. What a great way for a business to do some community service and smarten up some kids! She's learned about details, scale, types of architecture, etc... They even had the chance to draw a blueprint of their dream house, although they caution against the inevitable bowling alleys, race tracks...you know, the kinds of things you see on Cribs (I'm thinking Tony Hawk's abode, specifically). So when she came home saying they needed to create a 3D model of their dream house, I wasn't particularly surprised. I was surprised by the fact that we only had one week to complete said project. Usually the assignments are given out in Plenty o'Time to accommodate other homework and activities. So, we set right to work. Loooooong story short, Bubble Boy ended up cutting a helluva lot of foam core since we didn't consider it prudent to put a razor blade in Big E's hands. Who knows what kind of long harbored ill wishes might come out? Big E did a lot of measuring and gluing and approximately 5000 hours later this is what we ended up with.

Yes, that IS an Olympic size pool. And a trampoline the size of my entire living room. We had lots of fun on this little project, so it didn't hurt quite as much as it could have when we found out that the project didn't actually have to be their DREAM house, it could be any kind of living structure, including teepees, igloos, huts, etc... And it wasn't quite as painful to discover when on the morning we carried this thing to school that the entire project was OPTIONAL. Maybe it'll be worth millions when she's the next Frank Gehry.


Swell Season Indeed

Thursday, when this current go-round of feeling like I'm breathing through toothpaste was just a little glimmer on the edge of the horizon, Bubble Boy and I had a living breathing babysitter come entertain the children with her finely honed abilities of texting faster than speaking. We hadn't had a hired babysitter (someone other than family) to go out at night for over a year, I think. We did that Sunday morning date back when Spiderman 3 came out but have been reluctant to go out at nighttime since our favorite sitter hiked her rates to [GULP] $14/hour and the Bubble kids have been well-trained to resist any effort to get them to go to bed. Their bedtime avoidance skills are among the best I've heard about and takes an assertive, nay aggressive, personality to prevent them from completely overpowering the situation.

SO, the circumstance for our diving back into the babysitter circuit was to go see The Swell Season. I've had them on the margin here as "being on my iPod" for a few weeks, because since my day of Skinny Dippin' a while back I just cannot get enough of their music. It was serendipity to find that they would be performing in Austin.

After scrambling to do my normal afternoon activities plus make myself stunning (I wore a skirt! boots with heels!) for a night out on the town I headed downtown to pick up Bubble Boy. I slowed down to slightly slower than speeding for him to hop in the car and we began the search for parking. How can there be so little parking? Isn't there a city manager or something to kinda make sure the city is workable? It's great to have this thriving downtown scene but how the hell can people get to it? Whatever. I was confirmed in my feelings that I am basically introverted because when it all comes down to it, I hate people. No, No...not you. Not individuals. Masses. Throngs. Crowds. I found myself starting to shut down and lash out. Finally got some food and a beer and things started to mellow, much to Bubble Boy's relief, because I think he was ready to start pretending he didn't know that woman who Hates People.

Then the show started and all was good with the world again. I didn't mind the fact that I had to stand the entire time, much of it on my tippy toes in my high heeled boots since I am one of smaller stature. I didn't mind the chill in the air. What I did mind was Texas Hair Blonde Woman in front of me who would not SHUT UP. She apparently felt the need to comment on every verse of every song to her much older boyfriend/husband/sugar daddy. Her hair was so big (how big was it??), she could've been hiding a week's worth of groceries in there, so everytime she leaned over to whisper something witty, entertaining, annoying to her man I had to take two steps to the right to see around her again.

But I didn't let it get me down. The show was too fun and good to let something like crowds and big hair ruin it for me. After the show we walked down 6th Street for a while to check out the goings-on. I enjoyed looking at the names some of the other bands performing at the many live-music venues. My favorite was Lyin' Bitch and the Restraining Order.

When we got home the kids looked angelic as they snoozed in their beds and the sitter gave a glowing report. I'm so happy to be back in the babysitter market.


Piling it on

I have broken the hearts of ten 8 and 9 year old girls.

For months I've had this day highlighted in my calendar as GIRL SCOUT CAMPOUT. The first time my friend and I were to take these little adventurers on a real tent camping trip. True, we were only going as far as her backyard. But! she has a large, undeveloped tract of land on the other side of her fence, so in reality it is more secluded than any of the campgrounds I've been to in the last year. The bathroom was closer, but other than that, it was to be truly roughing it. Well, except for the trampoline and playscape. But besides those things....hard core camping. I wasn't even going to take my air mattress or crockpot.

But alas, it is not to be. Despite my best efforts at denial over the last two days my body has succumbed to Yet Another Illness. It's not like I go around licking toilet seats and shopping cart handles. So what gives? Did I not properly cleanse my body of toxins TWICE this year? Yes I did. A total of 6 weeks of deprivation and herbal concoctions to boost my immune system which apparently now is about as strong as the dried up crispy wisp of a leaf that flew in the back door yesterday. I had a couple of weeks of feeling strong and healthy and here I find myself in bed hacking, sniffing and typing of my woes while Bubble Boy and children are off enjoying the last game of the soccer season and the trophy party. And I had to make the phone calls to inform the girls that the camping trip was canceled. I tried to blame part of it on the chance for rain, which is slightly more than slight. But we all know who the culprit here is. I will shoulder the guilt but I feel an overwhelming urge to go out and buy them all puppies and kittens to make it all better.



Not much going on today. Which translates into there's all kinds of crazy stuff going on today..and yesterday...and tomorrow. I try to not think about anything beyond the next 12 hours because that would send me straight into Shut Down mode with no hope of rebooting until Dec 1. Why is November so nuts? Of course, I will be thinking the same thing a month from now as I scramble to throw a festive holiday together. That'll be me rocking uncontrollably in the fetal position as I mutter recipes, party obligations, and tips on making those holiday traditions extra-special for your family or else you're a horrible person whose children are doomed to grow up to be the next Jeffrey Dahmer and it will be all because you didn't make a Gingerbread House with them.

Speaking of whom...that provides a nice segue into the topic of 1994. Remember then? Good times, when not all of us carried cell phones and those who did lugged large bricks with antennae around on their hips. Or when you actually had to go to the Computer Lab to do your college assignments that required a computer because no one had laptops. You were doing great to have a 12" color monitor that weighed in around 100 lbs with a computer that had something like a 20 MB hard drive? and maybe an internal, dial-up modem. And it was new to have the Internet in your very own home. Ah, AOL and your hourly rates for us to connect at 56K. Verra verra special indeed.

Which brings me to this. I may not have mentioned previously my addiction with all things CTU-Related. That would be Counter Terrorist Unit. CTU-Los Angeles, specifically. Workplace of none other than the venerated Jack Bauer (aka Kiefer Sutherland). I'm speaking of '24', of course. I know people rag about it being right-wing propaganda, but it's just so exciting! True, it's become a tad formulaic, but still. A better cliffhanger-show, I have never seen.

So, I'm a bit nervous at the prospect that it won't be starting up in January, as promised, due to the writer's strike. Obviously some other people are worried (and nostalgic for the good ol' days of '94) so they have created for our viewing pleasure, '24 - 1994'. I'm not savvy enough to embed the video here (meaning it wasn't available on YouTube and there was no pretty paragraph of code for me to copy), so it's a link. It's about 3-4 minutes and I promise will make you laugh at how much things have changed in just a few short years. Here's the link again in case you don't want to scroll back up to the first (or second) link. I'm helpful that way.


Taking a breather

Having already messed up my daily blogging attempt I feel no pressure to keep trying. It's like the healthy eating thing. If I make a small exception at some point in the day to eat, say, a piece of Halloween candy (which is quickly becoming a true addiction - somebody help me!), when I happen to stroll through the kitchen an hour later then it seems only acceptable that one more piece won't hurt, I've already lost today. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll be better. And later I go into the laundry room (where yet another stash is hidden), and figure Why Not Another? And so on, and so on. It all falls apart and goes to hell while I just shrug Eh, Whatever.


Bubble Boy's mom flew in from the Twin Cities for a quick visit this weekend. The kids enjoyed leading her through the house showing her various things. Look at my report card! See me throw this paper airplane? Check out my beads, Little Pet Shop, Hot Wheel collection, Webkinz, Watch me jump, Watch me hurtle off the stairs at a frightening speed, See how I can ride my bike with no hands? Look at me! No don't look at him, look at ME! Stop looking at HER and watch ME do THIS! And on, and on, and on, and on. I know she's a patient woman because I was ready to scream TAKE A BREATH! STOP TALKING FOR 15 SECONDS! GET THE DUCT TAPE! about 10 minutes after she got here.

But really it was a lovely weekend. Beautiful weather, soccer, parks, shopping, cooking and eating. Can't ask for much more than that.



I have spent the last nine years honing my Mommy Guilt Skills, along with my Martyr Skills, Passing on of Arcane Knowledge Skills, and Sneaking Chocolate Skills. I can summon guilt at the drop of a hat. Maybe I didn't give my kids one single green vegetable today. Maybe I borrowed another piece of candy from the kids' Halloween stash. Maybe we've skipped teeth brushing too many nights this week. I'm not saying any of that is true....I'm just saying Maybe.

But now, I have failed YET AGAIN. I set one teensy goal for myself, to blog every day in November, and already I screwed it up. I even created a little list of possible blog topics, something I hadn't done up to this point. I'm more a whim, fly by the seat of my pants kind of blogger. Some with idea starters from which I could expand and create a thoughtful, approaching-interesting post. Others just some of my favorite photos that Bubble Boy has taken of late from which I could make small comments. Now you've seen my game plan.

But as I crawled my tired bones into bed last night (still on the floor for 3 more days! but then on a real, live bed...well, hopefully not live - har, har, har), I realized that an entire day had passed since my previous post. And did I hop right up, march downstairs and throw something together in a haphazard way? No I didn't. Because that would be cheating. And I was too lazy.


Critical Examination

In the moments he's not scaling the walls of the house or jumping from the top of the swingset or otherwise training for his future career as a stunt man Little A can be quite a sensitive soul. He intermittently suffers from a nervous, sad, or tired tummy, the only cure for which is my tone-deaf rendition of Mary Had a Little Lamb. Do not waste his valuable time attempting to throw other songs into the mix. Twinkle, Twinkle? Nuh uh. Bananaphone? Please. Any songs we learned as we spent thousands of dollars on Music Together classes? Forget about it. It HAS to be Mary and her co-dependent lamb.

And so it is that he's heard the song so many times he's beginning to dissect the song and wonder Who is it who makes these ridiculously restrictive rules that a lamb should not be at school? Does that apply to the teachers also? Can other animals come...just not lambs? Why not lambs? Why does the lamb follow her absolutely EVERYWHERE? Even to the bathroom? That's silly! Does it sleep in her room or does Mary sleep in the barn? She should sleep in the barn. I would sleep in the barn. Where would you sleep, Mommy? In the barn too? It's probably cold in the barn. And lots of hay to make you sneeze. Maybe it needs another lamb friend to play with while Mary's at school so it won't be so lonely and have to follow her everywhere she goes. Why would it be so funny to see a lamb at school? Are the children laughing at the lamb? or Mary? That isn't very nice. Why are they so mean?

So glad his tummy feels better because my head hurts.


The Wurst photo album

I swiped these photos from SJ since neither Bubble Boy nor I were willing to schlep his ginormous camera and my camera is subpar at best. I can barely lift his camera when I'm fresh and all pumped up on the power juice (coffee counts?), so I wouldn't even consider it on a 62 mile bike ride. Anyway, I doubt BB would've wanted to risk his precious lenses that he lovingly gazes at on a nightly basis to the potholes of Hays County.

I felt really lucky to have friends from three separate groups participating in the ride, but sometimes had that feeling like I get at large parties that I just don't get enough time to spend with anybody 'cause I'm trying to spread the love around. I'm sure this is a very self-centered interpretation, since I am in fact very self-centered. Can we talk about me some more?

Team Toprope just before we all head out...

Can you tell by looking that it was a beautiful morning?

Bubble Boy got a little cocky with a barbed wire fence while searching out alternative bathroom sites. I guess it showed him. I prudently warned him of the dangers of flesh-eating bacteria and antibiotic resistant staph infections in my classic OCD fashion, so he doused it with ointment and we were on our way.

This was either right before or right after the barbed wire incident...it's all a blur. That cup in my hand is from drinking pickle juice. This is something I did regularly as a child. I'd stick a straw in the pickle jar and slurp it up. Mmmmm....brine. Little did I know I was preventing muscle cramps!

At the end of the ride. Still smiling! And that's even BEFORE the sausage and beer.


What's the proper etiquette?

I just came home from the lamest meeting in all the whole wide world and was feeling a bit overwhelmed looking at the pile o'stuff on my desk, and on the kitchen counter (FlyLady would call it my hottest Hot Spot among the many) and my Inbox and feeling like I'd just wasted all this time at that stupid meeting, then....Then.

In typical procrastination form, I took a seat to check out my sitemeter to see if my mother has read any of my blog entries lately (I'm watching you, Mom!) and Lo! and Behold! there's a reader from Paducah, KY. Paducah? You ask? Why, it's the home of Suzanne of Bizzyville, to whom I have been a dedicated lurker for lo these many months of my Blog Life.

Earlier this year Suzanne kept me awake all night long as I was atwitter with the knowledge that she had actually commented on one of my entries. I read her words over again and again, mentally caressing them with my fingertips. My little brush with a Blogging Hero. But now...now!!! Y'all. She linked to me. Bubble Girl is linked from Bizzy's site. And I don't know the proper etiquette. So, while I'm sure I sound like a blathering fool, I'm an honored, grateful, humble, giddy, blathering fool.

Was it Halloween?

I finally reached deep into the well of stored energy and made the arduous journey to Bubble Boy's office to look at the Halloween photos. Only to discover that there's not a single picture of just Little A as...as....as...darn. I can't remember the pirate name he gave himself. See what happens if I don't blog about something right away? How do I manage?? BB had mentioned this to me but it hadn't registered. No one's surprised by that, I'm sure.

I do have a group photo. This is a traditional picture we've taken every Halloween since we've lived with these stairs, so I guess the first would've been 2001. Some years only a few kids have graced these steps. One year they were jam packed from top to bottom with about 35 kids. That was a crazy year. The neighbors were truly frightened as they opened their door to three dozen kids screaming TRICK OR TREAT!!!

I really like this picture of CJ watering my pitiful, embarrassingly dead basil. When a 23 month old starts taking matters into his own hands because you have killed yet another plant, it's pretty bad. I'm not sure, but I think Bubble Boy was making a little statement when he took this picture.
Just remembered Little A's pirate name. Captain Cutthroat - because he's "a throat-cutter". How could I forget?


Remember, Remember, Remember

Laying in bed in the dark, early hours savoring the precious extra hour granted by Time Fairy. Little A, who has been sleeping peacefully in the make-shift pallet on the floor since 4 am, wordlessly lifts the blankets and slips quietly into bed next to me. He snuggles in.

His body is longer and leaner than it was just a few months ago. Sharp elbows and shoulder blades and long, muscular legs replace the soft, pudgy, cuddly toddler he was just last week, it seems. I enjoy the peace and quiet; the warm, gentle breathing.

He's not throwing himself off the stairs, shooting his webs through the air or shrieking at his big sister for looking at him cross-eyed. He's not squirting a brand new bottle of hand soap all over the bathroom in his effort to "help" me or jumping all over me and spilling hot tea all over my lap. He's just quiet and cuddly.

I stay in bed and really savor that extra hour.


Pick your cliché

The Wurst is over. For Better or for Wurst. When Wurst comes to Wurst. You get the idea. Bubble Boy, a multitude of friends and myself set off on the ride from Austin to New Braunfels this morning under a beautiful sky in the crisp, autumn air. This was by far the farthest (furthest?) I've ever ridden and I have to say it was really fun. Despite dropping my chain a couple of times (DRAT!) and a flat tire that really kicked my a$$ until I had my AHA! moment and realized that I was riding flat, it was a great way to spend a beautiful autumn day in Texas. We rode through small country towns. Some idyllic with lovely, tree-lined roads and cute little white churches and the storybook cemetery on the edge of town. Others, not so idyllic. Some with houses with more used tires in the front yard than a junkyard. And one house in particular that had more Little Tykes playthings in the huge front yard than the house itself was worth. As LO and KT say, You gotta love a man a WHOLE lot to live in some of those houses. Note to Hays County....fix your roads. Lord, there was more patch and pothole than good road left on some of those roads.

Oh, and let's not forget the beer and sausage at the end. Around mile 50, as my flat was being fixed (great service...thanks Bicycle Sport Shop!), CC tried motivating me out of my doldrums with the tantalizing thoughts of Beer and Sausage. I almost vomited on his shoes. That was the last thing I wanted at that point. Miles 40-50 were hard ones for me. But after we got on the road again, the body started working kinda like it's supposed to and I started feeling much better. And I have to say (not for the first time) that the Elgin sausage was THE BEST I've ever had and the beer was pretty darn good too. I scarfed them both down in absolute record time. It wasn't a pretty sight.

I don't have any photos yet, but soon I'm sure SJ will be blogging about this latest Adventure very soon and she's bound to have some good ones.


Day Two

Day Two of National Blog Posting Month and already the shallow well of Interesting Things to Say has run dry. I obviously didn't muster up the effort required to make my way to Bubble Boy's office to post photos from Halloween. I guess I'll save those for a day when I have absolutely nothing to say. Not like today when I can at least ramble about something.

So, even though nobody cares and Mighty Girl has educated me enough to know that Nobody Cares What I Had for Lunch, here's what I ate today.

Breakfast: yogurt with frozen blueberries and 1/4 cup granola. One mini Twix.

Lunch: Grilled chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-a with only the bottom piece of bread. Yummy waffle fries. One mini snickers.

Snack: I lost count of the number of mini candies. Maybe 7?

Dinner: God. This is a little embarrassing. I remember seeing broccoli and roasted red peppers, and asparagus, then came the pasta, chicken cacciatore, and slice of spinach/mushroom pizza, and finally peach crisp, coffee gelato, tiramisu cake and some sort of cream-filled puff dipped in chocolate. Cannoli Joe's is an evil, evil place.

I won't be having an evening snack. I think I'll just waddle upstairs and sleep before the big ride. Hopefully I won't still feel like a Weeble Wobble tomorrow morning.


Skipping over things for this

Well, I haven't been able to sit down and put together a post about our night of begging for candy or put up any of the fabulous pictures Bubble Boy took of the kids (ours or the ones who joined us for trick-or-treat fun). Those photos are on Bubble Boy's computer and that seems SO HARD to me. I don't know why this is. It's a Mac...it's even got a beautiful 24" screen and a wireless mouse and keyboard. So it's not like I don't know how it works. But it's in his office and it seems like so much effort to go all the way in there. Maybe I'll work up the energy to walk down the hall sometime tomorrow.

But until that happens, I just decided on a whim that maybe I'd try this. I have no high expectations for myself, but thought What the Hell? Why not me? Because obviously Quantity is more important that Quality, and since neither is currently happening here at least I can control the Quantity.

My parents rolled into town this evening because they're going to keep things moving here while Bubble Boy and I embark on our crazy quest to ride our bikes 62 miles to Wurst Fest. I haven't been on my bike in almost 3 weeks and it's reasonable to say I haven't been at the top of my game lately. For example, for our annual Halloween fest, I make my Uncle Whit's famous chili (from my autographed copy of The Texas Experience). It's a tasty, mild chili that is very family-friendly. But when one makes a mistake and puts in 3 tablespoons of cayenne pepper instead of paprika....not so much. Spicy doesn't really describe The Pain. The hole in my esophagus should be healed by Thanksgiving. Chili-making privileges have been put on hold until I can prove that I can be trusted with the spice rack again. All that to say, 62 miles may present a bit o'challenge for me, but SJ gave me a Team Toprope shirt and I plan to earn it.


Go, E, Go!

This weekend Big E joined a few fellow Brownies, classmates, old soccer teammates (and missed a couple friends too) and participated in her very first triathlon. CCC and I had chatted about what fun we thought our kids would have doing something like that and she turned up the Ironkids triathlon right in our backyard. The girls were totally "bring it on!", so we signed 'em up and started training. Except training didn't really happen as planned (does it ever?) and while she did get to practice a couple of times a month or so ago, she basically went into the thing with no training. And her original partners couldn't make it because CCC has been down with avian flu or ebola or something equally as miserable. But Big E still knew a few kids and was excited for the whole morning to be All Big E, All The Time, which is her goal for EACH and EVERY DAY.

I didn't really get to be a part of the night before because I was in bed with a raging fever, convinced I was the first victim in the next pandemic (WHAT the hell is going around???). So, if she was nervous or scared, I was blissfully unaware, because I'm pretty sure that writhing in bed with a burning fever is preferable to coping with Big E when she's all wound up.

The next morning she seemed excited, nervous and anxious. We got to the transition to get her all set up only to realize we didn't have her bike helmet. Seriously? The only thing as important as the helmet is the bike itself. I thought you were getting it...No, I thought YOU were getting it...that whole scene. Luckily, as I said before, we were practically in our own backyard so Bubble Boy shuffled home to get it. Not like some of the kids who traveled from Wyoming, Missouri, Mexico, or even Houston.

Then, no coffee. What kind of planning is that? Then, the WORST breakfast taco in the whole wide world. I am NOT exaggerating one teensy bit. It tasted like it had been cooked in a coal worker's shoe, then basted in salsa that had been put together in the same blender as a tasty anti-freeze/motor oil salad dressing. A friend's husband took blessed mercy on us and fetched some Starbuck's for us, then the poor soul's own coffee spilled. Sorry, dude. I've been sick..you don't want to share mine.

Back to the triathlon....she set off. The swim went great....

Then she went off on her bike for a 5K bike ride...

And bringing it on home in the 1K run finish...
Let me just say that I am so happy that she had a good time, because I had a GREAT time! I had to fight back the tears as she set off on her swim...What a big girl!? How is that MY daughter? Pushing herself, trying so hard, doing so well. I'm getting all verklempt again...

As we went from point to point, cheering on Big E and all the other kids, I remarked several times how much fun I was having until Bubble Boy thought the fever was coming back. You can take my word for it that it is much more fun to watch your kid participate in a triathlon than to participate yourself.

To make it all EVEN better (I didn't know it could get better!), much to the surprise of all of us, Big E came in 3rd place in her age category. Woohoo! Way to go Big E! I'm so proud of you.


Heavy Metal

In her ever-ongoing quest to GROW UP, Big E has joined Bubble Boy and myself among the ranks of the Barely Seeing. It's been like deja vu as everywhere she goes she comments on all the details she can now see. Like words. And leaves on trees. I remember that exact phenomenon when I was in third grade and got my first pair of glasses. Oh they were purty. Big, plastic marbelized frames. And no cheap plastic lenses for me, no Siree! I got REAL glass, nice and thick. And wasn't I so glamorous...so Laverne...to have my initials in scripty gold stickers on the bottom left lens corner. But besides the details of how beeeeutifull they were, was The Whole New World! I mean, did you know there were stars in the sky? How about actual words on signs? And the highways have these yellow and white lines that guide you where you're supposed to drive. OH! And clocks have these things called HANDS that point at what time it is.

It's been fun watching Big E rediscover all the details of her life that had obviously faded away from her recently. Plus, she loves them. She has embraced them with the same bursting-at-the-seams enthusiasm she does everything else. In a period of two weeks she's gone from our little 8 year old girl, to this big 9 year old, braces-and-glasses wearing, iPod toting, Webkinz working, 4'7" tween. As long as this is the most metal we have in the face area for a while, I'll be happy. If she starts asking for an eyebrow or lip piercing....well, let's just say that WON'T be happening. We're not getting THAT heavy metal.


Just a thought

"Exposure to a microwave popcorn additive linked to a deadly lung disease would be swiftly regulated under a bill passed on Wednesday by the U.S. House of Representatives, defying a White House veto threat.

The bill would order quick action by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to limit exposure to diacetyl, which is linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, or "popcorn lung," a disorder found in popcorn plant workers.

The House bill was approved by a 260-154 vote. No companion bill has been under consideration in the Senate, but Sen. Edward Kennedy praised the House and called for action.

"Too many workers exposed to diacetyl have become ill or even died. The Senate should pass the bill as soon as possible," said the Massachusetts Democrat.

The Bush administration said on Tuesday it would be "premature" to regulate diacetyl -- which gives microwave popcorn a buttery flavor -- as proposed in the bill, a view shared by some House Republicans."

You can read the full article here:

Here's what OSHA has to say about diacetyl:
Potential symptoms: Eye, mucous membrane, respiratory system, skin irritation; persistent cough, phlegm production, wheezing, dyspnea (shortness of breath); unusual fatigue; episodes of mild fever or generalized aches; severe skin rashes.

Health Effects: Irritation-Eyes, Nose, Throat, Skin (HE15); Suspected cumulative lung damage---bronchiolitis obliterans (HE10)

Affected organs: Eyes, respiratory system, skin

Mmmm. How I love to pop me up some warm, buttery-flavored, diacetyl-laced popcorn and enjoy a good movie.

I have an idea. It's a crazy one, I know. And I'm sure there's just a thousand reasons why it would never work, but how about this...how about using REAL, ACTUAL BUTTER to give popcorn a buttery flavor?

Just a thought.


We did it!

After two years and two months of sleeping Poor College Kid style, we have bought bedroom furniture! It's purchased! Ordered! Should be delivered and set up within 4-6 weeks!

A Bed. A Dresser. A Chest. Lordy! Nightstands! I'm thoroughly giddy at the thought of my very own nightstand! Dare I hope for a lamp too? Even a Mirror. It all matches. For those of you who like the mix & match style, goody for you. I have neither the eye nor time to devote to piecing together a bedroom ensemble...it took me two years to get THIS far! And did I mention A Real-Life Bed? The mattress will be elevated OFF THE FLOOR! Bubble Boy and I BOTH like it! At least he is convincingly pretending to like it, for which I am extremely grateful.

This is where I come clean and say that if it weren't for Bubble Boy, we'd be living in a tchotchke-laden, over-stuffed house (even more so), with row after row of Beanie Babies and thousands of Precious Moments figurines (not that there's anything WRONG with Beanie Babies and Precious Moments!). He's the half with the flair for knowing what we'll be happy with and what will ultimately look nice. Don't get too excited, BB, I'm still not ready to pare the living room down to a concrete bench, white fur rug, and giant red vase with a single twig poking out. And thank you to Bubble boy and all my dear friends and family out there who've listened to my woeful tale of bedroom shopping, purchasing, delivery failure, sleeping on a mat, giving up and trying again many, many times.

Aren't you all glad this seemingly neverending saga is coming to a close too?? I think we'll have a party once it's delivered. With hors d'oeuvres set up on the nightstands.


Houston, We have a problem...

Read no further if the topic of bodily functions offends you.

To sit or not to sit, THAT is the question now that there is a little boy in the household who has a tendency to run full speed in an all out panic to the potty at the very last possible second every time Nature calls. I'm guessing it doesn't take much imagination on your part to guess what the end result is and frankly, I'm tired of cleaning the floor, the porcelain god, the wall behind the porcelain god, the vanity, the baseboards, the rugs, etc...If I have to remove another shower curtain for washing and rehanging I just might curl up in the fetal position and rock uncontrollably for hours until someone notices I'm not doing dishes, laundry, vacuuming or cooking, or at least until Little A has to go to the bathroom again and his askew stream rips me out of my Happy Place and back to our urine-streaked reality.

SO! What to do? Instruct him on the finer points of sitting or hope his aim gets better? Throw down the Big Sponge and make him clean it up? Feel free to chime in on my little poll I'm trying out on the right margin.


Weekend in October

Little A received the ultimate honor of being Child of the Week at his little preschool, which translates into him being the Special Kid who gets to ring the 5 minutes bell (5 minutes to lunch, 5 minutes 'til playtime, 5 minutes 'til playtime is over, 5 minutes 'til hike time, and so on...which translates into a lot of bell ringing in my opinion), and also the caretaker of Squirt the Bear. First off, he hated that name, so a change of moniker was required. 'Cookie' seemed much more palatable and made the boy happy, so in his little section of the scrapbook Squirt is aka Cookie. I hope that doesn't throw off the other kids.

Cookie helped Little A make brownies, helped escort Big E to school via scooter, played games and really got into Webkinz. Maybe he recognized some long lost loves?? Little A was sad to have to return Cookie to his class today but relieved in the knowledge that he will again be Child of the Week in 7 short weeks.

This weekend marked Big E's 9th birthday. Nine years old! I'm not sure how it has happened that I am a parent of a nine year old who has braces and an iPod nicer than mine. It makes me happy that she still wants me to walk her to class, even if she does start walking 5 steps ahead of me once we get to within 20 feet.

This itty bitty, store-bought cake was the result of me feeling puny for the last 6 days. Isn't it a law that when the helpful dad leaves town then something has to fall apart? Last time Bubble Boy left town it was on Little A's 4th birthday and his car was broken into. He flew on his merry way to Seattle while the kids and I wrangled a friend (a VERY GOOD friend) into driving a car with no window or dash and broken glass all over the seat and floor, home in the November cold. This trip I came down with a funky cold thing the day he left and have been fighting it ever since. Therefore, no energy to make a cake and we ended up with this beauty from Whole Foods. You can see that I didn't even manage to put it on a nice plate. Martha Stewart is cringing and excommunicating me from The Club.

Big E handled the first year of no birthday party with grace and style. Since Little A is turning 5 and has yet to have a birthday party that included more than close family and I can handle only one party a season, the nod had to go to The Boy. Big E has since focused all party-planning energy on HIS party and I have a feeling I'll actually have to do very little other than show up. Sometimes it's really great to have a Type A kid.

We also spent the weekend shuttling the kids to their respective sports. Little A had a helluva soccer game. He was ON FIRE. I got some video, so if I get ambitious I'll try to put up a minute or so. The other team was the first team this season to actually give them a challenge and you could tell during the first quarter that they all were like "Huh?? Are those GOALS they're scoring? On us? Nuh, uh...don't think so!". So they turned on the magic and though the other team rallied a couple of times, The Dragons put those Pterodactyls DOWN. Which only makes sense, according to Little A, because Dragons can Fly and have FIRE...Pterodactyls can only fly. They really should've thought of that when they were choosing their team name.

Big E went to swim practice to break in her new swimsuit before we had a lovely, humongous lunch at Curra's, then bike shopping. This was our third time out looking for a new bike for Big E who outgrew her current bike about 18 months ago. We went a few places and I was starting to slide downhill rapidly when we walked into Buck's Bikes, I blurted out what we needed, he pulled it out and we paid for it. Easiest sale he's had in years, I'm sure. But we did end up with a lovely bike. She agonized over the color...metallic turquoise? Berry? Purple?? God! How to choose??? Honestly, this was like trying to choose between double fudge chocolate chip cookies and triple chocolate brownies.

Sunday we caught up on relaxing, reading, a little yard work, and even our two TV shows, The Office and The Daily Show. If you haven't seen the Jon Stewart interview with Lynne Cheney, take a few minutes. It illustrates how history can be and is skewed to meet political ends. Like we didn't already know that.