Girls only

Last week, my good friend, TRACEY JACKSON, marketing guru and group activity coordinator extraordinaire, brought to my attention that I had been participating in far too many painful activities (triathlons, camping, assaulting urban areas on bike) sans her. In an attempt to rectify this situation she proposed an afternoon of movie-watching involving attractive men (Ocean's 13), a bistro lunch (with crème brûlée, of course) and....ahem....depilation. This is where the pain comes in. Take all the pain involved in training for and participating in a triathlon (including a hurt foot and knees), or riding 25 miles through Austin and concentrate it all down into one 15 minute period of time. Tell me, how could I turn THAT down?

The movie was entertaining after I suspended all disbelief and just went along for the ride, but I was surprised to see that actors I consider to be among my peer group look so old. Brad Pitt isn't the same youngster he was in Kalifornia, circa 1993,

which is the first movie where I consciously remember seeing him (and practically smelling him). No matter how old he's gotten, he's come a long way since Early Grayce.

These photos included for the sake of TRACEY JACKSON...
she knows why.

The lunch was fabulous (Nordstrom Bistro...yumm!), but my highly developed sense of decorum prevents me from going into too much detail about subsequent activities. It was absolutely Girls Only.


Where's my camera when I need it?

This is one of those posts that I will not be proud of later. It will be one of those entries where I am less than generous in my observations of others. You may think I can sometimes be not nice. You may also think my life is a little dull if this is all I have to write about. Maybe so.

But it was just too much....something...to let it pass by unnoticed. And I may want to remember it one day when I need to gain some perspective on my OCD tendencies or just need a smile.

CCC and I, both lost in our iPod worlds while we sweat and plodded along on the treadmill today, noticed a woman gathering a tree worth of paper towels to clean off her treadmill before she could use it.
This hording of paper towels and meticulous cleansing of all surfaces of the treadmill alone was enough to draw my attention, but then a closer look at her caused me to study her with very great interest. Now, let me preface by saying I am POSITIVE she is a very nice person. Probably super nice and friendly and willing to do anything for you. But....

The first thing I noticed was her perfect coif. Anybody remember the beehive? Maybe it was in honor of Hairspray. It was so tall (how tall was it??!) she must've gotten someone else to do it for her because her hands wouldn't reach that high. Crazy tall. And it was perfect. Not a hair out of place.

The rest of her ensemble was perfect too. The flawlessly creased khaki shorts and crisply pressed, sleeveless tuxedo-type button down shirt complete with big puffy ruffles in the front. Remember the Puffy Shirt?

Like that, only sleeveless and blue. At the gym. While she was walking on the treadmill. Oh, and with giant, 3" hoop earrings.

It was all the kind of perfect that one can expect at the annual Southern Baptist picnic where everyone stands around eating macaroni salad and chatting about how much better the world would be if Pat Robertson had been elected President. That may be some of my own Southern Baptist-tainted childhood seeping into my predispositions, but what can you do?


News Flash

Floods in Texas

Some of you may have missed this on the news tonight!

Crawford, Texas -- Recent flooding destroyed the
personal library of President George W. Bush at his
Crawford, Texas home.

The flood began in the presidential bathroom where
the books were kept. Both books were lost. A
spokesman said the president was devastated, as he
had almost finished coloring the first one.

The White House tried to call FEMA, but there was
no response.

Fancy Moves

Little A finally had a long-awaited opportunity to practice his Skills yesterday when The Short One and he got to play after almost a week apart. I can't say how nice it is to have a great friend living right down the street. It is everything I daydreamed about while I was growing up on a secluded farm with the closest humans being a world away.

Little A will poke his head out on the front porch to see if The Short One's car is in the driveway and vice versa. It's fabulous how our doorbell rings at the perfect moment. Just when I run out of anything remotely interesting to do or his toys / computer game / terrorizing his sister... are starting to seem beyond lame, The Short One stops by to breathe new life into whatever is going on or they head back down the street to beg for more popsicles and play with NEW toys.

They got to practice their Skills here with some hand-to-hand combat.

The Short One checks for signs of life.


Jumpin' and Slidin'

There was much of both of these things at Big M's 3rd birthday this weekend. All that AND the biggest, pinkest, strawberriest birthday cake I've ever seen, of which I had a huge piece since it had been a long time since breakfast and I'd been counting on pizza, a fruit & veggie tray, cardboard with melted cheese...something. I gave my sister a bit o' the bidness for leaving me hungry, to which she told me Tough $#!t, Have a Piece of Cake, Shut Up & Could I Please Serve the Drinks?

The Bubble Kids had a great time. They get limited time with their cousins since we live 350 miles apart, so when we're in town it's All Cousins, All the Time. They go fast and furious from bright and early 'til late, late at night. We've got Big Boy Cousins, NP and MP2; a Really Big Boy Cousin, MP1 (much too cool to be seen gorging on pink cake and crowding the big inflatable chair although I suspect he secretly wanted to); and two Little Girl Cousins, Little M and Big M. Fun, Fun, Fun, I tell you. There was so much slipping & sliding, trampolining, battery-operated car driving, swimming, movie-watching, etc...that the Bubble Kids will still be recovering next week.
Little A with Birthday Girl, Big M. She can sign just about any food or animal you can think of. It's quite impressive and really, really cute.
Big E with NP and MP2. I'm telling you there was lots'o'energy on that side of the table. You can practically see it oozing out of them.

I'm not a doctor...

...but I get to play one when one of the kids get hurt.

As we frolicked poolside at Uncle D's backyard oasis on Sunday, Little A got the Splinter from Hell in his foot. Aunt A and I saw the whole thing happen and I still cringe when I think about it. The carefree running and skipping, the sudden stopping with confused look of What the HELL just happened to my FOOT!!!?? look on his face, the realization that whatever it was, it was BAD, and the scared, limping run to his mommy.

Little A has a long history with picking up splinters so I was well-prepared with my splinter-removal kit but this one was different than most. It was really deep and had gone pretty much straight in. Alternating between holding him down and trying to extract the thing it was misery for everyone for a while until I went to Google some magical tip that would cause the piece of wood to move a little toward the surface. White glue or duct tape wouldn't work because we're talking DEEEEEP here. I read somewhere that a piece of onion held to the wound would cause it to ease it's way up a bit so we could at least grab it. So, I strapped on a slice of onion and we went home smelling like burgers. Still no go. So, we put on some Neosporin, slapped on a band-aid and socks and forgot about it for a couple of days.

Last night I decided I could no longer pretend it wasn't in there so Little A took a long soaking bath and reluctantly held his foot out for me to see. Lo and behold, the darn thing was sticking halfway out of his foot (a delayed reaction to the onion, perhaps??). It was a big bugger measuring in at 9 mm. BB and I had a wager....I said 1 cm, he claimed 8 mm, so we were both equally wrong. No back massage required.


Exit Strategies

The little Bubble's and I made our own exit from OKC today and had a smooth and easy trip back to Austin. We missed out on a weekend of rain....awww, shucks. Bubble Boy was a busy little bee and built a new desk for Big E's room re-do, and cleaned the garage. That boy's as handy as a button on a shirt! He even managed to finish one book and get halfway through Harry Potter 7. Big E just about lost all control of bodily functions when she came in and saw the book. She's got just a little of her mama's OCD tendencies when it comes to reading and she's worn the previous 6 books to flimsy shreds, so it's good that she's going to have something to occupy her time for tomorrow. She will be useless to me for all the slave labor I had planned for her.

Between the birthday partying and various other family activities I didn't have much chance to read about goings-on in the world but somehow ran across two articles of particular interest regarding Iraq and I just haven't been able to let them go. The first was this article about President Bush's plan to send Transformers to Iraq. And then there was the rumor about the man-eating badgers in Basra.

I love fake news. I'm not ashamed to say that a great bit of my news comes from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. What I love about fake news nowadays is that it is almost, and sometimes more than almost, believable. It is not beyond the realm of my imagination that GWB would think, and subsequently say (whether joking or not), that it would be totally awesome if our tanks could get up on legs, pop out some arms with gigantic guns for hands. He'd call it something like Operation Transforming Freedom. I mean, that wouldn't even be remotely surprising anymore, would it? You could even throw in The Fantastic Four for good measure. Imagine what they'd think of The Thing!

But with our luck, all the Transformer soldiers would be recalled due to the lead-containing, radioactive paint job they received from the Chinese factory they were built in. In an effort to save face, Hasbro would send in Buzz Lightyear and his army of space rangers but all the traction gained would have been lost by that point and the Bratz dolls would have to go in for serious negotiations. Personally, I think everybody would get the greatest kick out of a massive army of Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! characters. Is it just me or are they absolutely adorable?

There are lots of possibilities though...this is just one. Better idea? Anybody? Please???


Olden days

The little Bubble people figured out for the first time late this week that we no longer have tv. Before we left for our little holiday Bubble Boy took both cable boxes and returned them with Inexpressible Joy to Time Warner. I'm confident we are now the owners of the most expensive tv with no tv signal on our street. I'm not ashamed to say that I am technologically challenged, as you may have picked up on in the previous post, so I am very proud that I've finally outsmarted all the black and shiny silver boxes in our entertainment center and been able to create moving pictures AND sound through the DVD player, despite their ongoing conspiracy against me. Big E's first question upon me telling her that her loving father had decided we didn't watch enough tv to justify the $100+ bill and thought we'd try it without for a while, was "HOW COULD HE DO THIS TO US?!?", as she collapsed into a heap. She said this in much the same tone she informed me that spending time in the kids room (see how I carefully didn't call it the DAY CARE) at the gym was "ABSOLUTE TORTURE!". She has a wonderful flair for the dramatic. I'm sure it will serve her well.

The biggest obstacle I'm experiencing is the sudden urge to watch all these things on tv I would never have contemplated previously. For example, when reading this I feel dispirited that I won't be able to see it for myself. It's true that we just didn't watch much tv. I've seen one episode of American Idol (please don't tell anyone), 2 of Dancing with the Stars. I dropped Grey's Anatomy after one season because I couldn't watch Ellen Pompeo waste away before my eyes and my weekly tv commitment had grown to 4 hours between The Daily Show, The Office and 24. A few years ago BB and I had a brief and intense few weeks with Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and now that option is gone for me and I feel a sense of loss.

The Road

Back on it. Again. This time we headed to OKC for neice # 1's third birthday. I was the official photographer and got such good photos of her emergence into this world they could be used for a childbirth class (or I could possibly be charged with some kind of felony if they were found on my hard drive). My sister has respectfully asked me not to share such photos in this forum. I've been to all her birthdays since (all two of them) and was determined to make the third, despite Big E being invited to one of her best friend's birthday party all afternoon. I managed to pry her away from the party a bit early and we headed out of Austin. Unfortunately for us it was raining (yes, AGAIN...or is it STILL?) and it was rush hour on Friday. This is a combination that usually has Austin public officials encouraging people to remain in their homes and not to stray out for any but the most urgent of emergencies. So, off we went. I'm not a commuter. Even before my Stay Home days I worked off hours so I didn't have to deal with heavy traffic. I witnessed a minor car accident on the way out. The car behind me (which had been making me mucho nervous for many miles as she felt compelled to drive with the front of her SUV between my shoulder blades) failed to stop in a timely manner since she was apparently thinking of something very serious, like all the clever wit over at go fug yourself, I'm sure, and forced me to the side of the road to avoid being hit and then she was subsequently hit from behind as she slammed on her brakes once she finally recalled Oh Yeah! I'm driving a car right now. The thing that bothers me the most about this (besides the long sentences and being guilty of Comma and Parentheses Overdose) is that she will probably not get a ticket for anything but she played a huge part in causing the accident. I think it's true that only the Rear Ender gets the ticket, not the Rear Ended. Correct me if I'm wrong, please. I will sleep better tonight if I think there is some justice in this.

I took a picture of the ridiculous traffic as we left Austin, but alas, I forgot the little cord that allows me to magically transfer photos from camera to laptop. I still think there are tiny elves living in the cord that run back and forth between the camera and laptop carrying bitty pictures. BB doesn't like it when I talk that way. He's quite insistent about bits and bytes, electrons and other sciency things he likes to try to enlighten me with. But whatever the reason, I have no photo so you'll have to take my word for it...there were a lot of cars and big trucks. Oooh, I hate trucks. I-35 is loaded down with them and I just can't completely express my disdain for them. Especially when I read things like this. I mean really...how can a tire just fly off? Doesn't somebody check that kind of thing? If airplanes were dropping debris wouldn't somebody do something?

We're here now and the kids are sleeping. I stayed well caffeinated for the trip and am ready to knit a sweater or paint the kitchen. We'll see what I can manage.


Getting caught up

So, I'm still trying to get caught up on posting a few of the great pictures from California. It's still less than a week that we've been back, which means I'm way ahead of my usual schedule of being at least a week late on keeping this blog synchronized with my life. Now, on with the show....

These are photos from the lovely carousel atop Yerba Buena Gardens in the SOMA district (or is it the Mission?) of Fran San Cisco (as Little A calls it and we've found ourselves adopting). The funny thing about this particular carousel that I don't want to forget was the music. The first song they played was "Hotel California". The second song was "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix. I can't remember the rest but they were equally as unexpected. I guess they think (correctly) that the parents need a little entertainment too. Good call.

Next we have the obligatory Rice a Roni picture hanging off the cable car. It's the least we could get for a $40 trip up the street and back. If you look closely you will notice the shoes I am wearing. They may not look extraordinary, but let me assure you that they are quite so. You see, they have the special talent of being able to squeak, puff, and fart with every step. I didn't even have to pay extra. The irony here is that I went to buy new, comfortable brown sandals especially for this trip with CCC. She was the one who really wanted these shoes, but alas, they weren't available in her size and, being the good friend I am, knowing she'd rather see them on my feet than some stranger's, I snapped them up right before her eyes. I was thus cursed with gassy shoes throughout the whole trip. Lucky me.

One of our last days in Fran San Cisco we were able to celebrate Uncle K's birthday with him and many of his friends and get this scary photo. Don't trust the candles on the birthday pie. He's much older than 6.

On to Yosemite. One of the first things we did was hike to Lower Yosemite Falls. Big E and BB made it all the way over the big boulders to the lovely pool and were able to bathe in the falls themselves. Being the evil nemesis I am, I had to turn Little A around about 3/4 of the way there because he was a little too convinced that he was Spiderman and leaping to and fro among the boulders the size of Jupiter's moons. But you can see here that he had really turned into a giant and was ready to stomp on and crush those tiny people in the corner of the pic.

Lovely verdant valley.

Photo from top of Sentinel Dome. I had a mini-breakdown up here, again caused by Little A's irreverent attitude toward windy heights, death and leaping around uncontrollably like a lemur on amphetamines.

The gang at Glacier Point as we all try to open our eyes against the brilliant sunset in our faces.

So, those are the highlights. We got a bit off course a couple of times. Ending up in Lodi on the way there which meant I had that CCR Lodi song in my head for days and can only remember a line or two of it anyway, so it was the same 2 lines, over and over and over. The campsite was great although not very conveniently located to the Valley. Who knew Yosemite was the size of Denmark?

All caught up now, I think. Bags unpacked. Laundry done. California sand out of everyone's ears. Blog done. Cheers!


Innernet Fun

It's about time that The Simpsons have come out with a movie. Many times I've watched and wondered how our Bubble Family would fit into a nice town like Springfield. Well, I don't have to wonder anymore and neither do you. Click here and you can create your own Simpsons character. What did we DO before you came along, my lovely Innernet?

Bubble Boy

Bubble Girl

Big E

Little A

Angry A

This is what Little A looked like for much of the time we were on vacation. Now don't take what I'm about to say wrong, because he can be a real sweetheart and a charmer. But, I don't think I'm telling secrets when I say that Little A has his moments of general contrariness. This tendency doesn't improve much when he's sleep-deprived, asked to walk farther than 15 feet without ice cream at the other end, or when forced to spend 14 non-stop days with a big sister who can sometimes be...uh...less than supportive. I couldn't resist the opportunity to portray this alter-ego and how I felt after 14 days of it.

Crazy Lady.



We're home. We took a chance and took to the skies on Friday the 13th. I know it lacks all logic and as a semi-educated person I should not believe in superstitions. And it's not that I actually believe, it's more like it's just there, in the back of my mind anytime someone says "nothing more can go wrong" or I see a black cat, or when I think I have a moment of ESP. It's just that I live life looking for the foreshadowing. BB, being part Vulcan and thoroughly logical, doesn't accept my gift of The Sight. HE hasn't had a ceiling fan fall on him in the middle of the night after nights and nights of that exact premonition.

Despite the unlucky day to travel, we made it home with no glitches and are pretty much unpacked, laundry underway and lolling in the memories of cool California. As the plane approached Austin it looked like we were heading into a swamp. Water everywhere. When we stepped out of the airport it was thick, hot and soupy. Welcome back to Texas. Had I mentioned there were no mosquitoes in San Francisco? Fire ants either. Oh, and the food. Good food. That I didn't have to cook. Or clean up. Bliss.

Yosemite was awesome. I'll post some photos from there soon. BB has them all on his computer and he's not giving it up quite yet now that I have my own little white iBook to play with. I missed you iBook. I was almost sucked in by BB's shiny, silver, backlit-keyboard Powerbook which moves at lightning speed. But now that I'm back with my cozy, comfortable, broken-in laptop, I wouldn't trade it. Not yet anyway. I've been through a lot with this baby and it might be bad luck to kick it aside just yet.



I must've upset the Fairy of All That is Open For Business Thursday because every time I turned around one of my destinations was either closed or close to it. I purposely went out and bought a 2007 guidebook since the book I had from when we lived here was possibly out of date. We were doing the Fisherman's Wharf thing that day, one of those must-do's that I grit my teeth and bear even though I hate dealing with those throngs of tourists and fighting my way through what some developer decided a pier should look like, namely lots of gaudy, over-priced restaurants and shops selling gaudy, over-priced trinkets. Clearly, they're targeting the 8 year old in everyone because Big E was in heaven. In an attempt to avoid some of the hype we went to the Maritime Museum to tour some of the big, historical ships. All but one of the old boats were closed due to restoration projects. Next we headed to Ghiradelli Square for lunch and fought our way through the crowd to a Belgian-style restaurant that was no longer in business. Tried the open diner across the plaza and they were so busy I stood in line for 10 minutes and a hostess never came once to take anyone's name. Forget that (putting it VERY nicely). Find a Mexican place with immediate seating, scarf some semi-acceptable tacos and off to the Exploratorium which we discover is due to close in one hour. After a quick trip into the fog to get an up close look at the Golden Gate Bridge we decide on an early dinner in Pacific Heights and locate a highly recommended, fun-sounding place in the 2007 Recently Purchased Guidebook. Fighting rush hour traffic and managing the next to impossible feat of street parking, we get there to find not a bustling, energetic staff, but a Big Ol' Padlock on the door. Out of Business. What the #$%!?
Luckily, there are no shortages of restaurants so we manage to get some food and get home earlyish to end the Cursed Day (doesn't every vacation have at least one?).

I'm a little behind on pictures so here are a few from the last few days. Above is at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. We got really lucky here and 30 minutes after arrival all rides were one ticket, as opposed to 5 or 6 (at $.75 each) so we were able to make ourselves sick on twisty, twirly old-fashioned amusement park rides. Much Fun.

This is Lone Cypress. A point along the 17 mile drive in Pebble Beach which leads from Monterey to Carmel. Beautiful, even if you do have to pay $9 per car just to drive there.

The kids waiting patiently for CANDY! Did you know they threw CANDY at parades!??!

Our view of fireworks on 4th of July. We were high in the hills behind Oakland and were able to watch fireworks for as far as the eye could see.

At Golden Gate Bridge. Really Big Cables.


Checking in

It's been a crazy couple of days here in fabulous California. Man, I see why so many people want to live here. The weather is AWESOME, no mosquitoes, no flies, no scorpions, no fire ants...the list goes on. One thing there is a lot of though, is people. That's the one drawback. They're everywhere. And there's not a spray for them (that won't get Homeland Security after you, anyway). Luckily, they don't usually leave itchy, splotchy welts.

Saturday we went to Chinatown and the Randall Museum. Chinatown is THE place to buy your San Francisco souvenirs and the Randall museum provided a nice hike up to the second highest point in the city.

The wind was incredible and the views were fantastic.
Then we visited the old homestead, which always makes me think of that John Mellencamp song "Little Pink Houses" and vice versa. It was also referred to as the Mary Kay House because all the tile work (and there was a lot) was pink in addition to the outside paint job.
the beach we frequented,

drove the coastline up through the Presidio,

and BB had dinner at his 1999 favorite Thai spot, while I took the kids across the street for a tamer, Italian meal.

Sunday we drove to Stinson Beach and lolled for a few hours with BB's brother, KS and a
couple of his friends who are visiting.

Twisty, curvy roads along the precarious cliffs made me a little carsick but the views were worth it. Then we went to Muir Woods for the kids to see their first Redwoods.

We lost Little A for a few minutes and I was FREAKING OUT remembering horrid stories of little kids wandering away from the group in national parks and being found naked, living among bears or wolves 20 years later....or worse. He had attached himself to another family with a 4-ish year old kid - Logan, and all was find except my frenetic heart rate and adrenaline-induced walking coma.

The last two days we've been doing what my guide book refers to as the Central Coast. We drove down to Monterey and went to the aquarium on Monday. Spent the night in The Monterey Hotel, did the 17 mile drive around Pebble Beach, visited Carmel, went to Santa Cruz and did the boardwalk there (the kids' favorite thing so far) and got home last night. I was BEAT.

I haven't posted for a few days because we've basically been going full throttle all day long and by the time Big E and Little A are in bed I don't have the strength to wrestle the laptop away from BB. Today we're hanging around here, taking a picnic to the local parade, and recovering. I will post some photos of all the previously mentioned activities soon.