Wildlife lessons

Did you know....

***Defining and defending a territory is an important part of a lion’s life. One way lions define the boundaries of their territory is by scent marking, which involves spraying a mixture of urine and chemicals from a gland at the base of their tail.***

We got an up close and personal, first-hand lesson in that factoid today when approximately 2 seconds after this photo was snapped, Mr. Lion hopped up, gave a little growl, turned around, hiked up his tail and proceeded to spray us with whatever chemical cocktail comes out of those scent glands.

On the bright side, it made what would have been The Day The Peacock Showed His Feathers, which while lovely is quite possibly forgettable, into The Day The Lion Sprayed Pee On Us, which is probably less so.

And isn't making memories what it's all about?


A weekend in June

This particular weekend began at the wholly unholy hour of 4 am yesterday morning. 4:30 AM was the time required to wake in order to have everyone properly washed and brushed, fed and clothed, packed and prepared for the final swim meet of the season. It is at these times I wonder What The Hell Are We Thinking? in supporting a sport that requires this kind of schedule. It borders on masochistic.

The kids enjoyed it, which is what really matters, right? Please tell me that's right. They both swam their events and had a great time swimming in a state-of-the-art natatorium. Natatorium. When I hear this word it seems like it would be a building where ancient Roman sexual rites of passage took place and were designed to make these rites a spectator sport for the ruling class to wager on. Am I making that up??

But I digress. After the meet we were home for a nap, which left me feeling drugged and groggy for a few hours. Then the awards ceremony which included fajitas, with chicken that looked "succulent", that I couldn't eat (dinner pre-purchased, pre-cleanse). And which lasted for 2.5 hours, which was entirely too long but I still managed to get three whole pages done in my scrapbook before I fell asleep somewhere between brushing my teeth and actually getting into bed. Those three pages put me halfway through 2007. Of course, I haven't gotten to the San Francisco/Yosemite trip which is a book in itself.

TODAY we saw WALL-E. Oh. What a great movie. It was so sweet, endearing, cute, charming, etc...I just watched it with a perpetual "Awwww....what a sweet baby chick!" face. What a fabulous job they did in making a robot so expressive. And the music was perfect...not overwhelming but played perfectly in line with the emotions of the moment. Kids loved it. Bubble Boy loved it (or at least liked it a whole lot). It had a great message. Namely, don't buy so much JUNK. Just because the Big Gulp is cheaper per ounce than the smaller size you don't NEED the Big Gulp. Don't make so much TRASH. Don't forget to talk to and connect with real, live human beings...not via cell phone or email. But in REAL LIFE. How novel.

"I don't want to survive! I want to live!"

Then tonight...IT RAINED! Not just a little spit here or there, but actual rain falling from actual rain clouds. It only lasted a few minutes but it was enough to get things nice and wet and leave that Just Rained Smell. Juno was in nose heaven with a whole treasure trove of smells that the poor girl hasn't smelled since her very earliest days. And the water dripping from the roof provided lots of entertainment (for both of us) as she jumped around trying to catch all the drops in her mouth. And it's not a Gazillion degrees outside. It feels pleasant in a Fresh and Clean kinda way. Not oppressive, thick and sticky. And I don't have to get up early tomorrow.




It's been close to a year since the last "Cleanse". This is the detoxification program I did twice last year and had marvelous results with. Like dropping 54 points on my cholesterol levels. True, I was exercising more but a 25% drop? It's not for the faint of heart though....it's hard. No dairy, grains, nuts, seeds, beans, eggs or meat for 10 days, then one small serving of fish or chicken per day for the next 11 days. Lots and lots of vegetables, fruits and a couple of protein smoothies a day. No alcohol, coffee, black tea, chocolate, bananas, potatoes, green beans, avocadoes, canola oil, soy sauce, artificial anything, blah, blah, blah. You get the point. It's harder than you might think to find food that doesn't contain one or more of the no-nos. And let's just say it's difficult to find a 21 day stretch where there isn't some activity where I know I will most definitely want to partake of something on the list due to a party, guests, traveling, etc...

So when it came to my attention on Friday that the next 19 days would be mostly party-free, CCC, Bubble Boy and I committed to another three week Veggie Marathon. Already I am experiencing lovely results. I slept, YES, SLEPT all night long. I didn't wake up at 5 am and toss and turn and try to get back to sleep only to finally fall back asleep 10 minutes before the alarm goes off. I slept until the alarm beeped. No shorter. No longer. Woke up ready to go. Bliss.

Another apparent side effect of this purging process is increased energy and mental clarity. These are areas where I have been severely deficient these last few months. Kind of a mental dullard, if you will. I look around and see what needs to be done...oh, I can identify problems with great acuity! But when it comes down to resolving the chaos and focusing for more than say, 34 seconds? Well, that just wasn't happening.

But today! Today Big E and I spent HOURS in the hellhole known as her bedroom purging her dresser, desk, cabinets, closet and bookshelves of any and all superfluous junkity-junk. We didn't get to the abyss under her bed, but you can rest easy that a peek in that vicinity tomorrow will not elicit tears of shame, frustration and/or fear.

This feeling of lightness from removing the accumulation of stuff is a heady thing. Almost euphoric. Or maybe that's lack of food. Either way, the mere thought of loading my car with all this stuff, this House Cholesterol, that's been clogging our house and hauling it away is exhilarating. Liberating. Maybe even worth giving up chocolate for three whole weeks.


Urban Assault Austin 2008

Here's what we did Sunday morning.

Big E and Bubble Boy (aptly named Team Gryffindor) teamed up to work their magic on central Austin via bicycle. JC and I partnered up and joined Team Toprope, The Asthamatics, Angry Asian Chicks, Pretty in Pink, and Team I Like Pie as we rode the streets of Austin, completed fun obstacles like riding itty bitty bicycles, towing kegs in Townlake, bike jousting, innertube battling, and limboing on bikes.

This year's ride was the largest ever with over 1300 cyclists and it seemed like we saw every single one of them waiting in line at Ozone to pick up bottlecaps with oven mitts and at Pease park anticipating how they could possible walk with two kegs attached to their feet or do a wheelbarrow on a bicycle wheel. We made the tough decision to skip those checkpoints, which meant we didn't cross the finish line with all twelve beads. The father/daughter teams waited it out but ended up missing two other checkpoints due to time.

So, while I can say I really enjoyed mapping out our route, riding it (it WAS a pretty sweet route with wide, tree-lined streets through some of the cutest parts of town and included bike paths I previously didn't know existed), and doing the fun obstacles, I left feeling a sense of disappointment and let down that the lines at the finish were endless, sponsors were running out of their freebies (and I WANT those freebies!) and the line to even pick up your ticket for the raffle of Awesomely Cool Bike-Related Things, was so long that no one in our group was willing to put their life on hold long enough to stand in it, not even for a beautiful Timbuk2 messenger bag.

I wish Big E's first experience had been more thrilling, but really...if she hadn't heard us moaning about the let down, she probably would've thought it was the greatest thing ever. It took me 35 years to ride my bike 18 miles and now she's done it before turning 10. Not bad. She got an education in potty language...something I'm sure she'll look back on with exalted fondness. She was also quite proud to have had more up close and personal interaction with kegs than most of the kids in her class. She definitely got out of her little bubble this weekend.


No breather for you!

School is out. After school activities are over. No homework. No bell ringing at 7:45 (as you frantically race toward the building so you won't have to pick up a Tardy slip). No lunch to pack, no urgent pressure to get the kids to bed by 8 pm lest they morph into Monsters on the Precipice of Rage the next day. Laundry has basically become towels, towels, more towels, and a few t-shirts and shorts. And then towels again.

It should be all easy shmeezy coconut squeezy. Right? But is it? IS IT????

Nooooooooooo!!! It most definitely is NOT.

And why? Why isn't it? I mean, swim team accounts for most of our mornings (5 out of the 7 per week). But still, the afternoons have been mostly open. Filled in as we go, of course. Playdates. Carpool shopping (it takes longer, but saves gas, and is more fun). Secluding myself under cover of heavy drapes and blinds from the freakish heat that has been scorching the Austin area for way too damn long. I have a theory called the Heat Induced Murder Rate Surge Phenomenon. It's pretty self-explanatory and while I've never seen any evidence or studies on the matter, I'd be willing to wager on it.

Speaking of the heat, I was trying to come up with something GOOD to say about it. I don't ALWAYS want to be so negative and pessimistic.

#1. Not as many mosquitoes. This is truly something remarkable. Forays into my backyard in previous years have left all exposed skin blistered with itchy bites by mosquitoes approaching the size of hummingbirds.

#2. Less mowing. Due to Prenuptial Agreement (b)(4) involving Bubble Boy and myself, I am responsible for all the lawn mowing. He has stepped up on occasion to fulfill my duties, but not without proper compensation, if you get my drift. So, the nice thing about the soft, green, lush grass turning brownish and crunchy is that it has gone into survival mode and stopped growing.

And that's about it. Anybody else have any ideas to get me through this heat wave???


A Tale of Two Shoes

School's Out! Happy Dances all around for everybody! Big E has been partying since the morning of The Last Day with multiple episodes of cake, real sherbet ice cream punch, popsicles, sleepovers, slip-n-slides, pizza, movies, swimming and more swimming. Not bad for less than 48 hours. Lucky for Little A he gets dragged along every which way and gets to partake of the festivities too. Plus, all the girls LUUUV him. Oh, the benefits of being the little brother. I can only imagine the bliss he'll be in around 7 years from now when Big E is bringing her 16 year old girlfriends around. I wonder if they'll still think he's so adorable?

The opportunity to celebrate my own End of the School Year presented itself last night and I finally took in Sex and the City. I am probably in the minority of American females in that I enjoyed the series just fine, but always thought that mostly they were pretty shallow and I totally did not get the whole fashion thing. Seriously? A BIRD??? on your head for your wedding?

ANYHOODLES....Bubble Boy took the kids to fest some more while I got a haircut and prepared myself for the big night. You really shouldn't show up for Sex and the City in just any old anything, right? So I come home and whip up a meal to await my loving family until they return and I dash out the door to pick up TRACEY JACKSON. As we make our way to get our candy booty (I REFUSE on principle to pay movie theater prices for my junk) I look down and realize that the cute little sandals (NOT the hideous bondage sandals Carrie wore during the movie for the same wacky reason that possessed her to wear a bondage spike belt with flouncy dresses...huh??) I had intended to wear with my ensemble were still at home in the closet, because....what ARE on my feet are my big ol' fluffy white house slippers. The humongous, foamy, terry cloth, flip-floppy snowshoe slippers. To see a movie where the characters walk around in $500 shoes at the beach and have spawned a sort of Shoe Revolution these last 10 years. AND there's NO TIME to turn around and get my real shoes. But there IS time to peruse the flip-flop selection at Walgreens while we pick up our M&Ms whereupon I find some lovelyish black flip flops that managed to get the job done. TRACEY JACKSON suggested I keep them in my car for the next time. She knows me.

Once I recovered from Shoe Mortification the movie was entertaining, true to the series, and a giant reminder that we're all aging. I wonder if they'll do a Golden Girls-style Sex and the City reunion when Brady or Lily try to put Charlotte or Miranda in a nursing home?


Spoiling myself

Strange how I feel that by allowing myself ten minutes to sit down and FINALLY write a blog post I'm being so selfish, so decadent, so impractical. Because how dare I spare ten precious minutes of productive, semi-lucid brain activity on something that isn't focused on the end of school, swim practice or attempting to make sure everyone makes it out of the house not only on time, but fully clothed AND respectably clean(ish).

Well, I do dare and here it is. Nothing earth-shattering, time-sensitive or chock full of significance. School is out tomorrow and THANK GAAAWWWD! These last few weeks have been spent in 6th gear, going, going, and going. And it's just such a thankless type of busy. Not like Christmas, when it's über busy too. But with Christmas you get CHRISTMAS when you're done. All the hard work pays off with happy cherub smiles and squeals of delight. Good food. Pretty packages. Remember all that fest?

But, with this busy all you get is summer. Parched, hot summer with kids who are wondering What's Next!? before they've even started on What's Now. Don't get me wrong. I am looking forward to summer and being on my own schedule. Swim practice will be done by 10 am so I won't wither in the oven of the outdoors and can get back under cover of AC before I melt into a puddle. But I love doing what we want to do in the summer. Day trips here and there. Dinner at the pool once the scorching sun has receded a bit and it's safe to come out. And Bubble Boy will be here this summer. He's taking the summer off. Mostly.

Off-topic: I can't let this blog post go by without talking about the huge elephant in the room. Surely you've seen it and I just wonder how it's not become a news spectacle. I was innocently passing a magazine rack in a local shop and nearly fell over when I spied this:

You may not be able to discern the true horribility of the cover from this photo, but this is the biggest I could find. I can only hope that SJP has her people working on rectifying this tragic mess as we speak. Because this was just mean.