All for show

Certain things have had to be set aside these last few frantic weeks leading up to the Memory that was Christmas. It's a lot of work to make memories that (hopefully) will not be recounted years from now to my children's therapist as they try to move past their childhood scars. Now it's over, the kids seem happy and the floor is cleaner than it has been in a long time.

I'm starting to sense a theme to my Christmas gifts. Last year, I welcomed the Roomba into our home for a brief stint as entertainer, pet and sometimes floor cleaner, when she wasn't wandering drunk and disoriented, under the dining room table or running alongside one particular wall in the dining room that she held an unnatural (and perhaps unhealthy?) attraction to.

This year we say hello to the Steam Mop by Bissell.

Surely Bubble Boy isn't consciously issuing a commentary on my lack of floor care by inundating me with floor cleaning gifts, do you think? Surely not. Luckily, I believe we will have better luck with Steam Mop than we did with Roomba, who eventually earned her pink slip and was sent back to whence she came. Although not nearly as entertaining, Steam Mop gets the job done, albeit without attracting a crowd of onlookers watching the hilarity of a Jetson's-like Rosie with a short-circuit stagger through the house.

All this to say I am feeling pressure to write a bunch of posts before the month is over if for no other reason than to have more than two posts in December. No matter that the posts may have nothing to say (although there is SO MUCH to say....O' Irony - how you smite me!) - dammit, I shall post! Something at least. Even if just for show.


The Last Day

Today the kids went off to their last day of school in 2008 wearing their PJs. It was strange getting Little A out of bed and cajoling him to "put on your jammies". We didn't have PJ day back in the days when I went to school (Remember? The Big Chief tablet days?) We also didn't have Read-In days or Game Days. Or Bring Your Stuffed Animal to School Day. It was just work, work, work and More Work. And we liked it!

I have been saddened to learn Big Chief Tablets were bought out and shut down on my birthday seven years ago. (See how I slipped in a shameless plug for my rapidly approaching birthday? Smooth.)

So while they're carousing around the school in PJs I have six hours to do everything that needs to be done for the rest of 2008. Wish me luck.


The Heat is On

My little girl has become a lady. It happened so fast. Seems like only months ago we were bringing her home, all warm and soft and sleepy.

Juno, that is. See, time flies fast people...especially in dog years. It appears that I have piddled around and missed my initial window of opportunity to be a responsible pet owner and have my pet spayed or neutered.

And here's where the Real Ignorance comes in. Having never had an indoor female dog that was not spayed I didn't realize what being "in heat" really meant. I knew this referred to a time when love-crazed, pheromone-drunk he-dogs flocked to the she-dogs with feral tenacity. I've seen the movies with a pack of dogs (clearly representing rough and tough bad boys) as they chase after the pretty poodle (i.e. the damsel).

That's not all there is to it.

My first clues were a few drops of blood on the kitchen floor. Initially believed to have come from Little A, who, with relative frequency, injures himself and fails to mention that he's BLEEDING. A close inspection revealed no damage to The Boy and I was left pondering. Surely couldn't be Big E. We hear about it for days when she ALMOST hurts herself. Bubbly Boy denied any trauma and so I went about my business.

Needless to say we finally figured it out and I consider myself schooled. And I'll be calling the vet. Very soon.


The posts that weren't.


Hello there.

It's me. Bubble Girl. Been a bit busy-ish. There have been oh so many blog posts these last two weeks. Too bad they were all in my head, and now, now that I have 15 free minutes when I have slightly more than faint brainwaves, I can't remember them. That's how I roll.

Oh, they were good ones too. Full of wit and ironic humor about the day-to-day life of a suburban mom and her quest to keep her nostrils just above the surface of the water lest she be sucked into the underworld beneath her laundry room. Imagine my shock and relief when I discovered there are actually books written about this underworld. I thought it was only MY house.

Since I can't remember the wit and irony that would have blessed this blog for the past nearly two weeks, I will just give the quick rundown so later on, when I'm basking in the sun on the beach enjoying the rum and a sea scrub mud body masque, I will recall these hectic weeks and maybe even miss them. Maybe.

There was Thanksgiving, of course. Which coincided with The Boy's 6th birthday. Six. It's hard to convince yourself that six is still kinda toddler-ish. Pretty solidly into big kid territory. Family. Food. Games 'til all hours. LOVED that part. EVEN when I lost (and lost BADLY). The birthday resulted in a lot of remote control helicopters flying around the house. Imagine giant wasps on acid buzzing around the house. And into my head. Good times.

A few movies have been watched. Only one worth reviewing which I will save for a separate post. Another viewing of Twilight with Big E. She liked it fine but didn't go nutso over it. I'm so proud of her. Dexter. How can I be so fond of a serial killer? It's worrisome.

Science fair. God. Shoot me before science fair next year. Not a kill shot...just a wound.

Book fair entertainment co-mistress of ceremony. ME. In front of people in a public place. I managed not to melt into the carpet and beamed while Big E and Little A read their winning poems in front of the audience without showing any of their mommy's public speaking fears.

That sums it up. You're all caught up now. We'll start fresh again.....sometime....soon. -ish.



So, remember last year when the writers were demanding they be paid for their work and the studios were all "the internet doesn't count as your work" and were refusing and therefore the writers said "we'll see about that" and decided the internet (and everything else) could just do without their services for a while until someone decided the internet DID in fact count and thusly should be included in their paychecks? Remember that?

Well, I remember it VERY well. These writers and their self-indulgent insistence that they be compensated for their work deprived me of an entire season of Jack Bauer and the rest of the Counter Terrorist Unit of '24' (That and Kiefer Sutherland's 48 day stint in jail for some drunk driving or something...that booking photo could be a studio shot.). I sat every Sunday night lamenting the lack of any badass Jack Bauer beatings of bad guys and the twisted, manipulative stylings of the many bad guys (who maybe turned out to be good guys or vice versa??) Republican propaganda it may or may not be - I don't care - I've been hooked from season 1 and hooked HARD. Not necessarily a suprise since the OCD force is strong with this one.

The writers are looking for redemption with their latest effort to bring us all up to speed on what Jack has been up to lo these many months of script limbo. And redeemed they are. Two hours of Jack evading a Congressional subpoena on his torturous activities of years past and yet still trying to rescue a group of African boys from being kidnapped to fight in a rebel army did not disappoint.

O TV moguls! Why must you make us wait until January and tease us so mercilessly??

The Looming Fun.

I can feel it about to descend. I can sense it in the smells coming from the warm and steaming kitchen. In the subtle change in vibrations from the house.

It's coming.

The fun. The family. The crazy.

And I'm so excited.


Hill Country Camping

The laundry is done, the campfire smell washed out of the sleeping bags, the tent packed away 'til next time and we're all thawed out from our below 20 degrees night of camping.

That's right. Below 20 degrees. 18 to be exact. I don't care what anybody might have told you about 18 degrees, but it is most undeniably, COLD. Cold enough to conjure thoughts of a sweet suburban family of four being found frozen solid, herds of deer, armies of armadillos and a gang of wild turkeys roaming wild all around them.

Despite the cold Saturday night, the camping trip was a grand success. There was bike riding, fishing, kayaking, geocaching, touring around the park on a 1951 firetruck, cleanest bathrooms at a campsite ever, nicest park rangers at a state park ever and even a sweet little abandoned fawn named Curtis bottle-raised by afore-mentioned nicest park rangers.

Two things that must be done before the next camping trip. 1) Get warmer sleeping bags, and 2) train Little A and Big E's bladders to go more than a few hours without having to get up for a potty run. Because dragging yourself out of a semi-warm sleeping bag on a cold night to walk to the bathroom (no matter how clean)? Uh....no.


Twilight's Darkest Hour

Watching this movie must be exactly what it's like to be a 'vegetarian' vampire. It counts as sustenance, but it's never fully satisfying. Oh, it's definitely a movie alright. It's a way to spend two hours that doesn't totally suck, and if you're with friends, it'll even count as time well spent because it was fun. But if you're looking for a quality cinematic experience my suggestion is you switch your ticket out for Bolt. Not that I've seen that, but surely, it's GOT to be better.

Now for the introspective portion of the review. As I've pondered the movie today, I've wondered WHY do I continue to ponder this movie that suffered greatly from struggling to find an overall "feel" and never could get the timing quite right? I'm sticking with my assertion that these actors CAN actually act and blaming inept directing / editing. There is a little part of me that continues to look for excuses to see the movie again. Maybe I could take Big E. Or I could sneak in another secret, anonymous 9:30 showing. Any other friends who'd want some company? Seriously. It wasn't a good movie. And still there's a nugget of me that thinks I should see it again. Maybe I just missed the "thing" that would make it great.

The books are the same way. They're not great writing. Great story, yes. Competent story-telling even. But the writing? Eh. Very simplistic. As subtle as being hit in the head with a can of corn. And yet. Could I stop reading them? No. Did I continue to contemplate beautiful, sensitive Edward, Bella and their forbidden love? Yes. Yes, I did. And why? Why would I not just move on and put it behind me like most everything else I read? It's like Stephanie Meyer put some kind of Mormon curse on me.

I want to read those books after they've been rewritten by a great writer (and including the previously deleted scenes...you know what I'm talking about). I want to see that movie after it's been redirected and edited and a new stylist has fixed the Edward Scissorhands-esque crazy mess that was the Cullen family's overly abundant hair and absurd make-up.

This shot isn't truly representative, but was Jasper meant as a joke? He's the one in the back, on the right. I thought so, since we laughed every time he appeared on the screen but then I realized that no one else was laughing. This happened several times and it started to become awkward.

I do hope they make the rest of the books into movies. And I hope they step it up a notch. We deserve better.


Going Retro

Like two weeks retro. Because while I was consumed with pre-election statistics, polls, October AND November surprises, and Joe the Plumber, life was steadily marching forward in that way it does. Halloween came and with it the annual triple batch of Uncle Whit's chili. Some of you may recall the mishap that occurred last year in which paprika and cayenne pepper became indistinguishable and therefore several tablespoons of the latter made it into the batch. I've heard cayenne pepper has "cleansing" properties and I think a few brave (and polite to the point of being self-harming) souls can attest to the accuracy of those claims.

No such confusion this year as I was careful to not even remove the cayenne from the spice shelf in case the jokester in me decided it sure would be funny to ruin a huge batch of chili two years in a row! Wouldn't that be a riot? Right, PJ?? Right??

We had so much good food, the kids played and had a great time and headed out for the obligatory candy begging at dusk. They are moving a lot faster these days and Little A led the pack. Gone are the days of us dragging and coaxing him and hollering at Big E to slow down so we can try to stay together.

So these are the pictures that I will look back upon when I'm a little old lady and reminiesce of the days when my kids were little. The annual photo on the stairs with our co-beggars and the one in front of the neighbor's puffalump pumpkin.

He's Indiana Jones, in case you were wondering. This seemed like an odd choice to me, but what do I know? I'm just a mom.


Riding the Wurst, '08

How can we be so lucky two years in a row to have beautiful weather on a November day? Austin is known for its lovely weather, but we do get rain and strong winds and even the anomalous cold day. Or a really hot day in the 90s. Especially in November - just about anything is possible. Wednesday there were winds gusting in the 30 mph range, so I was a bit nervous about what Mother Nature would serve up for Saturday.

I needn't have worried. It was chilly-ish at the beginning but definitely manageable. There was a slight-to-moderate headwind that slowed me down a bit but otherwise, gorgeous. The rest stops were well stocked with bananas, pickles peanut butter pretzels, MoJo bars and cookies and not overly crowded. My luck wouldn't hold out when it came to documenting the day...I had counted on using my phone to take pictures but when it was finally warm enough to switch from my warm biking gloves into my fingerless (and therefore photograph-capable) gloves, the battery was dead.

The sausage was fabulous and the beer was icy cold. Sausage and beer never have tasted as good as they did after a 62 mile bike ride. The sauerkraut was divine! I even made it over to Wurstfest for some homemade potato chips (oh my God! I need to buy a deep fryer JUST so I can have homemade potato chips much, much more often) and an eyeful of lederhosen.

I missed out on lots of fun at home. Little A had his last soccer game against the much talked about Millenium team. They're hard core over there and it showed. The Dragon's winning streak was halted right quick but Little A still had a fun game. Except for those boys that pushed a lot. Then two birthday parties, back-to-back. Bubble Boy had his hands full doing Dad-duty all by himself. November weekends are crazy.

Top all that goodness off with a hotter than hot shower, some deliciously hot tea, a cozy blanket and a foot massage and lights out by 9:30 and it was a pretty darn great day.


It happened.

Challenges in healthcare, social security, and education.

Two wars and economic upheaval.

And yet.

I feel hopeful.


Media Blackout!

After weeks of obsession The Day has arrived, and in the way highly anticipated events tend to be, it's a letdown. Awareness of this phenomenon doesn't change the outcome but does makes it less emotionally disappointing. Had I done any of the things I had said I'd do today, such as help out at a phone bank, or help drive voters to the polls, or even sit around watching cable news all day eating all the kid's Halloween candy, I'd feel guiltily satisfied. Well, not guilty over the phone bank or driving voters, just eating all the candy.

And yet none of that happened today. Child-related responsibilities prevented me from doing any of those things and have kept me in a virtual media blackout for nigh on 48 hours. Other than a snippet here and there I've had no word on the latest polls, voter troubles, speech-related controversies, pundit predictions or Joe the Plumberisms. I did hear that Obama's grandmother had died and my heart broke that she did not live long enough to see the man she raised as her son win the presidency. I may be getting a bit ahead of myself with that statement, but whatever. Whether it ends up being true or not, I hope someone whispered in her ear that it was over and he had won. Every mother of a president (EVEN those for whom I have nothing but contempt) deserves to know that she raised a President.

The media blackout will end soon as I commence my Election Night activities. If you haven't voted. Go. Now. And do us good.


Wake me when it's over

How much more political news can I take? Rock-bottom is very near as I find myself sitting in my car for extended periods so I can geek out just a few more minutes listening to XMs POTUS '08. When I come home I rush through all my ridiculously petty responsibilities, like feeding my family - nothing seems quite so important as to trump the FUTURE OF THIS COUNTRY - or so it seems. With that pettiness out of the way I can sit down in front of my internet machine and read, watch news clips, read some more, scan headlines, watch a few more news clips, and on, and on, and on, and on. And yet I still miss big moments such as McCain's brain fart when trying to recall the specific Secretaries of State who have thrown their support his way.

I almost felt a little sorry for him there until I remembered he's running for PRESIDENT of the United States and I'm tired - so very tired - of listening to a President who comes across as a jerk at a tailgating party rather than leader of the free world. And seriously. He can't get by without taking and reading copious notes. Do we really want an Oval Office plastered in little yellow Post-its?

Someone needs to yank the needle out of my arm. Or just push the plunger down and wake me up when it's over. But only if it's good news.

Edited to add: I don't know what's up with the video. I have tried multiple codes and tried to track it down from the source, Meet the Press, and it seems that someone's showing McCain some love and preventing me from spreading this gaffe out there to all my many throngs of readers. A sign, perhaps? Naaah - just bad code.

Edited AGAIN to add: I guess blogger got itself figured out and the video is now working. Guess Someone is on my side after all.


What friends are for

It is so good to know I've got friends out there who've got my back. If not for KT this might have passed me by, unnoticed. And THAT, my friends, would have been a Very Bad Thing.

Now YOU can rest easy knowing that I'VE got YOUR back and you too can enjoy the brilliant genius of David Sedaris. Because you've either pondered the same question my writing hero explores in this article and will enjoy his analogy and anecdote or you are the subject of this article and need to read and consider it very strongly in order to justify your continued use of oxygen on this planet.

Just my way of spreading the wealth.


A heapin' dose of sanctimony

Don't you just love reading, listening, talking to people who think they know everything? There was a time when they used to irk me, and truth be told, sometimes they still do. I AM a living, breathing human being after all. But I think I have outgrown the tendency to let the Holier-Than-Thous get me down.

I have turned that frown upside down and NOW I get a big ol' hoot out of 'em.

Like today. Bubble Boy and I had a date to go Early Vote and try a new Mediterranean place in the 'hood. We so crazy! How liberal can you get? Add in some fair trade double hazelnut skim soy latte and we'd have had ourselves a perfect trifecta of leftist, anti-Americanism. But we didn't so it was just our normal liberal selves as we wrapped up our civic duty when Bubble Boy ran into an old colleague back from his Working For the Man days so we got to do a little catching up. Upon mentioning some of the projects he's working on, including some educational software stuff, this person made some kind of monumentally weird jump and proceeded to school us on the pitiful state of our public school system.

Not only are 'the public schools' (all of them - no exceptions) pathetically, utterly pitiful but she would never DARE to THINK to POSSIBLY send HER children to a PUBLIC school! NEVER! Ugh! I mean, seriously? CAN you IMAGINE?

Uh. Yeah. Can imagine. Since we do. How could we possibly, you ask? Isn't it obvious? Must be that we don't love our children as much as she WOULD love hers.

That is IF she had any. Or was ever going to have any. Or even WANTS children. But since she never has and never will she has subsequently declared herself EXPERT on all things child-related as only someone who has never HAD children can.

Oh yes, these self-declared child-raising experts can talk the talk and even walk the walk for a while when practicing with a friend or relative's child. The breakdown in their thought processes doesn't start until after a few consecutive days with the child. Once the kid is done with the trying to impress and seeking the positive attention. Maybe they're a little tired and no longer willing to allow themselves to be distracted from whatever their mission happens to be (GIVE ME JUICE! NO! I WANT IT NOOOOWW! NO! NO! STOP! AAARRUUGH!!! etc...). It's a little bootcamp of sorts for the Non-Parent-Know-It-All. And oh so much fun to watch.

So she provided BB and I with fun conversation over our baba ganoush and tabouleh. Thank you Sanctimonious Lady!


What is a decade?

Ten years, right? 3,650 days. A long time and yet, not a long time at all. Surely the first ten years of my life crept by at a glacial pace. The next ten didn't seem much quicker, maybe even stalled a bit there between 14 and 16 as I anxiously awaited the freedom that was magically waiting for me when I turned 16 (fooled again!).

The third decade moved along at a fairly slowish, steady pace for the first half and began accelerating at that mid-point range. College was over, some life experiences were under my belt and life was chugging along like a train finally getting up to speed. Then along came Big E and someone cut the brake lines.

Now life is more like that bus from Speed, where Sandra Bullock can't let the bus get below 50 mph or the bomb the crazy man installed on the bus will blow up the bus and everyone on the bus, including Keanu Reeves! I am driving that bus but there is no bomb. I'm just powerless to stop this relentless acceleration of time as we throttle full speed down this road.

So, yeah. Big E turned ten last weekend. I think having a child who is turning ten forces one to become momentarily philosophical. Something about TEN. A decade. A tenth of a century. I'm guessing there will also be a similar moment of introspection at thirteen, maybe sixteen and definitely eighteen. Then there's twenty when the 'teens' are over to cause one to look back and reflect on how that could possibly be.

But ten. Double digits. Not just a big kid but bordering on becoming a much bigger kid and seeing glimpses, tiny little flickers, of not being a kid at all but a young woman. How can there be these little peeks of the person she is going to be when she was only last week a warm, soft, sweet-smelling infant learning to sit, an enthusiastic toddler learning to talk, walk, and run, an always smiling preschooler playing Polly Pockets or plastering the walls with her abundant artwork, a kindergartener who kicked the backs of the car seats when I failed to pick her up with a juice box at the ready, a child anticipating Halloween starting in July, a slightly bigger child with slightly bigger opinions, and then a kid who not only has those bigger opinions but articulates them with sophistication and clarity that causes me to stay on my toes - or else.

And she's almost as tall as I am.

Yep. Time to put on the brakes. I wish.


I am Chicken Little

Every time I sit down at my little silver laptop that links me to the Wide, Wondrous World where heretofore I found hours of entertainment and news, or turn on the radio I am overcome by the nearly uncontrollable urge to run down the street screaming "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" I guess you could say my personal consumer confidence level is in the sewer. Thank goodness we don't have TV.

Since I really don't want to spread more panic than is already sweeping across the world I guess I'll settle for sticking my fingers in my ears while I sing "Lalalalalala!!!".

That's much better.


Quite a legacy

This has been around a while but seems even more relevant given the last couple of weeks...I guess it ain't over 'til it's over!

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency


Blue Bell

Not sure what Pierre Cardin was going for with this number. My first thought was it must be a new hybrid of blue pear and they're adding it to a new designer line-up for Fruit of the Loom. Then I thought what a practical combination of a warm and cozy shawl and a hooded ski jacket. But what is that little stem on top? An antenna? Some teletubby inspiration?


My name is Bubble Girl and I'm a Politi-Junkie.

Everyone all together now! Hello Bubble Girl! Some people know better than to go here...but not me! So here we go.

Y'all. When I am home I can barely rip myself away from the limitless political news and video available on this miracle called The Internet. Maybe you'd heard? There's an election in just about a month and the very future of the country depends on the outcome. As Sarah Palin so eloquently fear-mongered last night we may find ourselves telling our littl'uns about the good ole days back in aught-eight when we still had "national security freedoms". I'm not sure what a national security freedom is exactly but it sure does sound important and I sure don't want to have to explain to my grandchildren why having economic security and trying to end a war that has no definition of victory other than "we'll know it when we see it" were more important than the national security freedoms they can be eternally grateful to enjoy while they're picking through garbage cans.

You see? I can't stop it. There is a constant diatribe going on inside my head of these things. We played Palin Bingo last night (Bubble Boy won) and cringed when she winked and when she pronounced nuclear not as the correct "NEW-klee-ur" but "NEW-cue-lurr" a la our Decider-in-Chief, GW. During these past weeks of "Debate Camp" couldn't somebody have fixed that? It is not endearing. I promise. Sarah, dear, click here. Give it a listen five times. Practice it five times. Repeat every day for a week. I think you can get it. Also, she sure was counting on the NATO commander in Afghanistan backing her "surge principles" but couldn't seem to get his name right. She must have been misreading it from the stack of papers on the podium that she couldn't stop shuffling and reading. McKiernan DOES look a lot like McClellan at first glance. Then it turns out that wasn't exactly what he said...it was kinda the exact opposite. Whatever...let's not get lost in the details, people. Let's talk some more about energy independence.

One can hope, but not surprisingly, she did not run from the stage in tears or begin speaking in tongues. She appeared comfortable and amazingly self confident given the horror of the past week. I wish I could muster a smidgen of that self confidence when addressing more than five people at a time. I probably would have passed out from dehydration approximately 12 minutes into the debate from the copious sweating that would have been taking place. This is what I looked and felt like when speaking in front of a couple of dozen people, most of whom were actually friends.

I know I'm being mean and I just can't help it...I've held it in a long time! Sarah Palin seems like a nice enough person. But so do lots of people and that is not a qualification for being Vice President of the United States or else we could be electing Kelly Ripa. I can even acknowledge she's smarter than your average moose and even more charming.

Favorite quote of the post-debate analysis: "It's like watching 'Gidget Goes to Washington'."

There are a lot of people who feel like the 'gotcha' media is coming down hard and unfairly on her. The real issue is not her. It's what she represents which is more than what she is alone. How did she come to be in this position? What decision-making process went into her addition to this campaign? A one hour phone call and a hasty offer only to be backed up with cocky condescension when someone dares to question the qualifications of someone who could possibly become President of the United States?

You betcha.


Eight years and one sledgehammer later....

We have deck demolition! Bubble Boy and I have talked about ripping out the eyesore that was our deck from the day we moved into this house eight years ago. But that conversation inevitably led to What to put in its place. Another deck? A patio? Concrete? Stained? Stone? Pavers? Cover it? How about a pool? A pool would be nice. But then there's the upkeep. Oh, and we need a shed. Bubble boy has a healthy amount of tools, not to mention his brewing hobby, those things along with all the bicycles, paint, wagon, camping equipment, etc...and our garage is on the full side. And that leads to the question of where to put the shed. Build a shed or buy a shed?

You get the point. We can talk ourselves out of just about anything and have been very good at doing so for the last eight years. Until last weekend! Bubble Boy shocked me and walked out the back door and just started taking it apart. Just like that. I don't think this was his way of taking out some built-up frustration and/or anger. But if it was I'm happy to start driving him crazy and ticking him off. Just say the word, BB!

I have by and large removed myself from the decision-making regarding what is going to take its place and have chosen to just trust that my sweet, handy husband will replace it with something aesthetic and practical.

This is where the shed will go. We'll be moving some of those plants. Wish me luck. I've had less than spectacular results when moving plants in the past. They die a horrible death, the only bright side to which is that it is fairly quick. It won't help that most of them are stressed from the unrelenting drought and my lack of additional watering.

I'll keep you posted.


Movies, debates, cousins and clips

Many things going on here in the Bubble 'Burbs, and yet What to write about? This weekend we welcomed Auntie A and the M cousins, Little M and Big M, which has accounted for mucho grande good times. Big E realized her recent dream of being allowed to babysit for her little cousins. Bubble Boy laid low in the background while Big E took charge of the little girls and her brother while Auntie A and I were gallavanting around Austin. Upon our return everyone was in tact, fed and relatively clean so she earned herself a cool $10. Not bad for a first gig.

I think this is where she kept them while we were gone.

Part of that Sister Time was spent watching Burn After Reading. Great performances by all the big players, George Clooney who plays a paranoid sexaholic, Brad Pitt as the dim-witted personal trainer, Frances McDormand as the depressed, desperate middle-aged woman feeling the weight of years of loneliness and the prospect of being unloved forever. And John Malkovich. Lordy, that man. I can't even imagine him as being anything in life other than an actor. Right? Can you see John Malkovich selling cars? Or being a dentist? No. He's an Actor. So, the acting and writing were fabulous. I'm still deciding on the story. The Coen brothers often leave me wondering What's the Point? and I'm thinking that IS the point. This is life. Random things happen. Innocent actions can set into motion an entire range of events that can affect an infinite number of people in an infinite number of ways and why? Bad things happen to good people and vice versa. So there is no "point". Just a "Look. See what happened when this person did that?"

Auntie A and I have also spent many hours catching up on the political and financial upheaval of the past week by watching clip after clip via various internet news organizations, including The Onion, where one can always count on up-to-the-minute, unbiased coverage that will bring a smile during even the most dire of circumstances. Thank goodness because couldn't we all use one? I also enjoyed this account of Sarah Palin's CBS interview. Katie Couric's interview equivalent of a colonoscopy.

Big E asked to stay up and watch the debate Friday night (our old TV has rabbit ears that will pull in a static-y signal from PBS, so we spent much of the debate explaining the difference between Wall Street and Main Street and just who were Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and why did their parents give them such silly names? It was painful to watch without the DVR function for which I had developed such a deep and abiding addiction. No pausing for witty commentaries of contempt or rewinding to hear the brilliant or the ridiculous one more time. How did we manage to hear things the first time for so many years? Somehow we coped and were able to muddle through.

Now the house is quiet, the cousins back on the road heading home. The next few hours free to relax, recharge and get ready for the week ahead. In these parts if you don't hit the ground running on Monday morning you don't stand a chance of keeping your head above water.


Assorted sundry

Where are the days going? Even when beginning my days at 5 am and going strong 'til 11 pm I still don't feel I can get it all in. How do people do it? I look around and the appearance is that those around me have it all together, at least mostly. I wonder if I put out that aura. The aura I imagine I am projecting is one of frenzied, frantic borderline crazy woman. Or maybe not even 'borderline' so much as 'definitely'.


Big E exclaimed this morning, "Did you know Richard Nixon was actually ALIVE during Super Bowl SIX!!!!"

"REEEEAlLLY????" I said. "How ancient. So was your dad!!"

"No way!!" she gasped.

"Oh, yes way! Ummm, wait a second - maybe it's not so ancient - I think I was alive during Super Bowl VI too."

"Wow, I thought the Super bowl started like 496 years ago!" she said.

"Uhhh....yeah. Might as well have," I say.


***We pause now for a momentary rant***

I'm appalled that John McCain is contemplating putting his campaign on hold and suggesting canceling Friday's debate in the wake of the financial crisis. If ever there was a chance to look Presidential then here it is. But I guess if it's too easy to be linked to the deregulation and credit frenzy that's been the hallmark for the past 5 years, then I guess hiding out isn't such a bad plan. The media is orgasmic in their coverage of the ordeal, as usual. The whole thing makes me really pissy (can you believe this language!!?). And for the people who got us into this mess to even have the gall! the shamelessness! the nerve! to suggest that a blank check be handed over is beyond outrageous.

****Rant over - Thank you for your patience***


On a happier note Little A got to play soccer this weekend.

He had a great time.

Big E? Not so much.

On an even happier note, I received two funny emails today. Unfortunately for you one is not appropriate for this blog....I do strive to maintain a certain level of G-ratedness here, despite some of the gutter language that oozes through occasionally.

Lucky for you the other was quite acceptable to all audiences. You can thank me later. I think you'll want to.

Old, Grizzled Third-Party Candidate May Steal Support From McCain


It's up! It's down! It's mostly down.

I haven't looked at the news all day. I accidentally heard a snippet on the radio yesterday about the stock market situation. Supposedly safe listening to POTUS '08 on XM, which in theory is 100% election coverage 24/7 (truly as scintillating as it sounds! I'm such a wild girl), and they sneaked in an economist to talk about how we're slipping into another Great Depression. And how this AIG bailout is like nothing we've EVER seen before! Ever! The government is taking over businesses! Beware! If your business is failing the government might just swoop in and steal it out from under you. I guess she was advocating letting the $1 Trillion worth of policies at AIG just sink and fail. That probably wouldn't be any worse. The whole thing was making my Lady Brain hurt, so I just retreated back into my bubble where I continued contemplating just how much iron per cookie I'd have if I added 2 Tablespoons of blackstrap molasses to the dough. Again, scintillating, no?

Bubble boy has long stopped discussing our financial plans with me. As I've grown older and more cautious (dare I say more Mom-ish?....there are little people depending on me to feed them!) there has been a certain shift in my financial planning priorities. I used to be all "Go for the Aggressive fund! What?! is THAT as aggressive as you can get it?? Come on! Show me risk and I'll eat it for lunch!". Now it's more like instead of socking money away in mutual funds maybe we should sock money away in our sock drawer...in the form of gold coins in case we somehow end up in a barter economy again.

Between Ike, the stock market, the fiasco of the election (don't EVEN get me started on THAT!) it was seriously bringing me down. Which made the bike ride in the cool morning air with a group of friends and my lovely spouse that much nicer. And what made it EVEN nicer was lunch at WeFuse downtown afterward. You should totally go there.

So that picked me up a little bit. Due to an accidental encounter with a headline I learned that Wall Street still has a little fight left in it. And although you've probably seen this, you should see it again. Or maybe you've been intending to google it all week and just keep forgetting. Not to worry. I've got your back.



Lucky for us this weekend's soccer game and the Girl Scout training I had registered for over a month ago were cancelled this weekend so we Austinites could brace ourselves for the brunt of the hurricane. Gas stations were running out of gas, grocery stores were running out of water on Thursday. Costco has their portable generators displayed prominently at the entrance and as we sat and enjoyed our pizza this afternoon I watched as four of the $700 behemoths began the journey to their new homes.

So, maybe you'd expect it to look like this today.

Really, it looks more like this.

Wait a minute. I'm having déjà vu! This is very reminiscent of Hurricane Rita three years ago, right after Katrina had devastated New Orleans and the Lousiana / Mississippi coast. The country was still reeling from the massive failures to secure the safety of hundreds of thousands of people. Then along comes Rita. No slacker was she! She packed a big wollop and Austin braced for the fury. Flashlights, batteries, water, gas, bread were all snatched off store shelves. Preparations were made for storm of cataclysmic proportions. Events were cancelled.

And while Port Arthur, Texas was being hammered by Rita's ravaging winds and rain, Austin was 100 degrees under a cloudless sky.

My point is this. It does not diminish the severity of the storm to acknowledge that it possibly may not be calamitous HERE. We should do everything we can to shelter evacuees and provide assistance in getting people to safety. But Austin's demise is not going to happen in the eye of a hurricane and here's why. We are above sea level. We don't have sub-par levees or sea walls protecting us from the storm surge - because there is no storm surge - because we are 200 miles from the closest coast. Yes, we might get buckets of rain and yes, we might have strong winds. Tornadoes even. But must we act as if the apocalypse is coming?

In fact, our self-centered focus on ourselves at a time when our neighbors and loved ones at the coast are facing REAL peril is, is, is....well, it's self-centered.

Not that I wouldn't have liked to see some rain come our way. Just a little.


The Candy Man

+ a bag full of Jelly Bellies

= A face sweet enough to eat


In full swing

One of my favorite nights of the school year is the night when Mommies and Daddies converge upon the school to gather in their child's classroom, cramming themselves into a little bitty desk or around a shiny bright new alphabet rug, to listen to the wisdom of The Teacher as they share all the wonders that await their young little learner. We get to hear all about reward systems involving "Taking a Break" because it sounds so much sweeter than "Time Out", exciting field trips and the importance of getting to school on time, but how that isn't going to be a problem in THIS class, but PLEASE get your kids to school on time.

Or if the kids are a bit older you hear about how they brainstormed and came up with their own class constitution using a fourth grade version of parliamentary procedure, their reward systems, and the new math curriculum. Oh, and about the importance of getting to school on time, but how that isn't going to be a problem in THIS class, but PLEASE get your kids to school on time.

I am just so darned happy with the kids' teachers this year it makes me giddy. I'm sure some of that giddiness is from legendary lack of sleep, but mostly it's from the awesome teachers. Big E's teacher began teaching the year I was born. And although it would be easy for her to slide into the dull rut of Burn Out, she is as enthusiastic and motivated and open to new ideas as any young whipper-snapper teacher.

Like Little A's teacher, who came along in this world when Big E's teacher already had 6 years of hard time under her belt. She is sweet and innovative and energetic and BORN to be a kindergarten teacher. I don't think this is something you can learn. I am the progeny of a long-time 1st grade teacher who possessed all the little clever, craftsy knacks for doing all the things 1st grade teachers do. Like using Contact paper to pretty up anything and everything, creating all those precious bulletin board themes to highlight the kids' work and making word walls, etc...

Not to mention the ability to connect with little kids. My mom has never met a wee one she couldn't sit down and chat with for hours. Kids are great, I really do like them, but they still make me nervous. I feel like they're looking at me, judging me and wondering how I got to be so ridiculous. I usually just end up shoving cookies or popsicles at them because I so desperately want them to like me. I've come to believe that these abilities are genetic and I got skipped.

But that's okay because we've got The Teachers and they didn't get skipped. Now here we go.


I feel it coming

Everywhere I look, everywhere I turn somebody's talking about the election. Maybe it's because we just came off of two weeks of conventions but I can't sit down at the computer or turn on the radio or have an innocent glass of wine with friends without hearing a whole lot of something about somebody associated with the election.

Now don't get me wrong. I love it. Eat it up, as a matter of fact. Not only does the election topic haunt me through the media but it's going on in my own head as I fold laundry, cook dinner, lay in bed at 5 am wishing I could squeeze in one more hour of sleep before I have to start the day.

One of the problems is I want to keep my friends. And while I'm perfectly happy to have friends who have differing political views than my own, I'm not sure that THEY want to have friends who not only have different points of view but actually talk about them AND share the occasional disgust I feel with some of the more underhanded and diabolical activities I perceive.

The other problem is that the election process (for me) is much like Love. You open yourself up and let your candidate in. You learn all the backstory, much like you would learn about a new boy/girlfriend's scars. "Where is THIS scar from?" translates to "What will you do for healthcare?". "How many girl/boyfriends have you had?" equals "How many special interest groups or lobbyists to you cater to?". You dare to dream of the future and there's your candidate, doing good things.

So, come November, IF things don't go the way I want them to go, there is great potential for heartache. Do I want to set myself up for possible disappointment or is it better to just be cold and standoff-ish?

I will try to keep it to a minimum. I really will. But I can tell as we get closer and closer to November I'm going to have a harder time keeping my opinions to myself. I can feel it bubbling up in my throat just waiting to be spewed out.


More Just Doing Nothing

The decision to be a "stay at home" mom was one that initially just happened to me rather than one that was contemplated, pros and cons considered, discussions had, plans made. It didn't come from a deep previously-held belief that I absolutely had to stay home. I had fully intended to return to my job at that six week mark (a mere 42 days!) and can look back at the assurances I gave to my skeptical looking employer that I would indeed be back and know that I thought I was telling the truth. Even when, at four weeks, I was able to determine that there was no way I could go off and leave my teeny wisp of an infant in just a matter of days so I could sell more software, I still thought another couple of months would make all the difference.

Looking back at how naive I was to my own feelings is like reviewing those first attempts at driving a car. I thought I looked fairly competent and even felt confident in my abilities. But in reality, it's a miracle I made it through those first couple of years. I was fooling myself better than I was fooling everyone else. My boss knew I was done. He humored me, allowed me to maintain the act, but he knew that I wouldn't be hocking any more mortgage reports for him. Ever.

Twice in the last week, two separate people have told me they work because they always knew that they "couldn't just do Nothing". Those exact words - both of them - independent of each other. It may be foolishly optimistic of me, but I don't believe they meant that statement to be highly offensive to the likes of me, one of those "do Nothing"-ers. Or did they realize it? Maybe they caught themselves after it had already slipped out, but it was too late. Or maybe they didn't care.

I've never taken part in the Mommy-wars. "To each his own" has truly been my mantra when it came to work vs. stay home. Moms work for a whole variety of reasons and who am I to judge them? There was a time when it was required that I go back to work for a period of 8 months and the whole time I spent feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed and cranky as hell. Knowing my limitations, I got out of there as soon as the getting was good and before I completely lost my will to live. That's me. It doesn't have to be you and that's cool with me.

Very soon after leaving that job I was expecting Little A and I started to feel deeply that I was meant to be a stay at home mom. My "calling" - at least for the next 18 years or so. Not because I was better at it than the next person or because I thought it would be so much easier, but just because it felt right to me.

You will not get any complaints out of me for my current situation. Except maybe the typical ones about the kids driving me crazy or how I just can't seem to get a handle on dinner, laundry, lessons, school, etc...

Funny how a few thoughtless words can be so thought-provoking. I know I've got it great. The freedom and flexibility to choose whether to work or not. That may change six months from now, so I appreciate it while I've got it. The time to do things for myself and still make sure my family is getting what they need. Time to participate in meaningful ways in the community, volunteering in various capacities. Maintaining my sanity.

These are privileges that I will never take for granted while I'm hanging out here Doing Nothing.


Two more weapons in the domestic arsenal

Every now and then I make a new discovery that I am certain will change the way I do business. My business being keeping my children alive so as to propagate my genes in the Great Chromosome Pool. I conduct my business ruthlessly, as most moms do, and part of that ruthlessness is making sure my offspring eat lots of veggies so they can grow up big and strong, like Popeye! But what a pain that becomes when I've been forced into storing those cut-up vegetables in SEPARATE containers! Imagine the fridge clutter! It's an eyesore. Really.

But now! That's ALL about to change. Check out this lovely....

Can you just close your eyes and see in your minds eye the efficiency with which lunches will be assembled? Easy and simple enough for a 5 year old kindergartener to do? And the fun! Having all those goodies right there TOGETHER! No more in and out of the fridge. Open. Close. Repeat. Just one reach in and YOU'VE GOT IT.

And these. CCC's kids have been sporting these for months now and after many smelly Asian markets, the Bubble kids will be Bento-ing tomorrow.

But here's my big question for the day (actually three questions). They may be culturally insensitive (you know when a question is preceded by THAT disclaimer that it will most definitely be culturally insensitive). I'm asking in innocent curiosity and with no intention to offend. SO, here goes anyway.

Why do those markets smell so BAD? Do people of other cultures think they smell like rotting corpse also? Is this pleasant to them?

OK. That's all. We're all giddy with the new food containers and enjoying the change they've already brought to our lives. Now my biggest job is keeping the kids from contributing to the gene pool for another 30 years.


School rocks!

Dressed in their first day finery the kids were both ready and out the door in plenty of time to get to school and witness the mad crush of people that could best be described as European soccer stadium stampede-ish. Of course, Little A was in his "B" outfit since 8.7 seconds after descending the stairs, all gelled and coiffed, he dumped chocolate milk down the front of his *gasp* WHITE shirt. Luckily, this misfortune didn't ruin Big E's first day outfit or we'd have seen drama the likes of which we might not recover.

I SWEAR he was more excited than this photo indicates.

The gym where they sequester all the kinder kids and families while the big kids move like crowded blood cells through clogged arteries to their respective classrooms was boiler room hot. The kids all looked a little too clueless to pick up on the energy in the room which went between Verge of Panic Attack to Collapsing in Sadness in intervals. I had my verklempt moment but it was while we were still at home and the kids stood on the stairs ready for the traditional photo to be snapped. Big E just looked so BIG and Little A wasn't looking so little anymore.

That's a "K" Little A is signing.

Luckily, when the kinder classes started pouring out of the building at 2:30 they DID look little. Really, really little. And it made me feel a whole lot better.

I'm hoping he wasn't looking up his teacher's dress here.

Any misgivings Big E had about fourth grade and the tremendous pressure that would now be thrust upon her were gone by 8 am and she decided that her teacher is THE BEST fourth grade teacher EVER. Believe me, we heard about her and all her wonderocity from the moment we picked her up until she finally crashed in bed, completely and utterly in love with fourth grade.

Little A decided kindergarten is The Bomb, his favorite parts being (surprisingly) music. He was absolutely WORN OUT when he came home but mustered the energy for a quick preschool ice cream reunion with his old pals so they could swap kindergarten stories. Then some playing around the neighborhood before he came home, announced he was FREEEEZZIIINNG!! and a forehead check indicated a fever. Sorry neighborhood kids...I didn't know. He's home today and fever free so hopefully we'll be back on track tomorrow.


Paybacks are a B!tc#

Can you believe this profanity? I do try to keep this a pretty family friendly blog but this title is just too appropriate to not use it. The b!tc# in question is Juno. Remember her?

She looked like this about three months ago.

Now she looks more like this.

Perhaps this isn't the best photo to highlight her rapid growth but suffice it to say she has more than quadrupled her weight in the three months she's been with us and grown to be a strong, energetic puppy. And smart? Oh, the brains she has! I was awestruck with her ability to learn something new. Sit, Stay, Leave it, Come....all the basics were a breeze. Potty training took what I considered a reasonable amount of time. Certainly not longer than I had prepared myself for. I'd say we've been pretty good in that department since the beginning-ish of summer. We had even taught her to ring a small wind chime we had hung from the door pane with a suction cup when she wanted to go outside. We were all happy and things were good.

Until Port Aransas. While we were swimming and sliding, boogying and body surfing, this sweet angelic puppy was stewing in her organic Doggy condo, sucking down Pupcicles and plotting her revenge for her apparent abandonment.

It didn't take her long to put her diabolical plan into action. The night we returned home she watered the upstairs carpet THREE times, in less than an hour. As I escorted her outside, scolding her for her transgression, I could hear her smug thoughts - "That will teach YOU to go off and leave ME at a pet ranch. Pupcicles or no, THIS will NOT be tolerated.".

Silly me, I foolishly thought the worst was over when while seated at my desk two days ago I looked over, she looked me straight in the eye, squatted and EMPTIED HER BLADDER on my antique Persian rug. AAAGHHHH!! I know you're wondering why in the HEEELLL would I have a Persian run on the floor with a puppy in the house. I've asked myself that very question many many times. And it wasn't on the floor until just a few weeks ago. We had been accident-free for several weeks before I finally felt confident enough to unroll the rugs. And everything was fine. It really was. Until Operation Fiendish Recriminations started.

Phase Two of that undertaking began yesterday when Juno made a Doggy Doo ON THE STAIRS. What? Are you kidding me? On the stairs?!? What dog takes a dump on the STAIRS?? A vengeful dog that fully intends someone to step in it, that's what dog.

I hate to say that this kind of Doggy Terrorism is making me dread the day we have to put her back in the kennel. Or imagine what lengths we could go to in order to avoid it altogether. I don't want to be one of those people who lets the terrorists win, but maybe we can negotiate some kind of treaty beforehand.


The Beach

Lookee!! Blogger let me post these photos...on the first try! The ease with which that happened makes me positively giddy.

This is our friendly neighborhood pelican. The kids called him (or her) Pete. He/she hung out for a good long while and entertained us immensely.

There was a big sand castle and this reservoir built to contain the creatures we gathered.

Like this sand dollar. EC is THE person to have around when you're searching for critters. She will make a brilliant biologist someday.

CCC caught this fish with a NET. Just swooshing it around in the water. Caught it. Just like that. She was channeling her inner Jin.

Boogie boarding and wave riding passed many hours of the day and Little A would never get tired of doing it. Both kids had smiles on their faces the WHOLE time. Except if they were fighting with each other, but otherwise, the WHOLE time.

Did you know you could stick a hollow pipe into the sand and pull out one of these.....

Yuck. We attracted quite a crowd with the critter getter. I threw up in my mouth just a little every time I had to look at one of these.

Little A almost got hit by a car, but I didn't get a photo of that. Crazy-effing white PT Cruiser driver! I wanted to run that car down and beat the doors in with the bait bucket, rip them out of whatever idiotic daze they were in and dump all those nasty ghost shrimp on them while yelling obscenities specially chosen to make them think TWICE before they barrel haphazardly down a beach access road where HELLO DUMBASS!!??? CHILDREN ARE PLAYING! ever, ever again.

But I didn't want to ruin everyone's good time and HE was fine after all. It was MY heart that stopped for a few seconds. "Almost" DOES count in horseshoes, hand grenades, and getting hit by a car. Thank goodness.


Public apology

To all the customers who were peacefully going about your grocery shopping at Whole Foods, around lunchtime today...

So, SO sorry. Yes, that WAS Little A screaming his head off and pitching a hissy fit and NO I wasn't beating him or teasing him mercilessly. See, he wanted pizza for lunch. And I said sorry. No pizza for lunch. There was no "nana nana boo boo! No pizza for you, you!". But still, he didn't take the news well. You understand. The boy loves his pizza.

I know it was disturbing to hear such bawling and squawling from someone not a tiny infant. I could tell by the way you peeked around the end of the aisle to see who was committing infanticide. But he's got a lot on his mind. Kindergarten is next week and although he'd never articulate it, I think he's nervous. There have been mysterious tummyaches and a series of emotional outbursts. A lot of unsolicited, out of nowhere hugs and cuddles for mommy.

I swear he's just trying to make sending my little one off to the harsh realities of ABCs and 123s that much harder for me.

And it's working, dammit.

All about the ratings

Beach volleyball at the Olympics? THIS is an international sport worthy of the mighty Greeks? Yes, surely they would have loved watching four tall, bikini-clad women jump around in the sand. Oh wait. I guess they wouldn't have even bothered with the bikinis.

I haven't researched the sport so maybe I'm totally off base here and I certainly don't mean any disrespect to these ladies, who I am positive are perfectly nice and dedicated to their event.

But what's next? Frisbee gold medalists? Cheerleading? Or maybe Olympic kite flyers?

Bright and Early

This cute little crabby was caught our first night in Port A. Roaming the beach with flashlights watching the crabs scurry to and fro on the wet sand is a lovely way to spend an evening.

Lucky for the kids, CCC is an early riser. And lucky for them they were staying in HER room, not mine. Not so lucky for CCC....I owe her lots of chicken-sitting which will be a walk in the park compared to having Big E wake up at the crack and start in with the What Are We Doing TODAY??? Believe me, I live that every day and I don't think chicken-sitting will even scratch the surface for a long time.

All this happened before I dragged my lazy self out of bed.

When we did finally roll out somewhere around mid-morning we geared up for some quality pool time where we spawned down the waterfalls, went down the slide too many times to count, and practiced diving, leaping and jumping from the waterfalls. Even Little A and SC were granted temporary access to the slides despite their height deficit.

The next day was spent at the beach getting sandy and catching lots and lots of sun. But those photos will have to wait. I guess blogger is getting high and mighty and putting a limit on the number of photos I can upload in one day.