Two moms. Five kids. We so crazy!

I've heard rumors claiming Austin had a hotter July than recorded history had ever shown. Weather reports were banned from my eyesight and earshot after the 30th day of temperatures rising higher than something in the range of Satan's netherworld but I don't doubt it. Not to be held down by the oppressive heat (or perhaps crazy from it?) CCC and I somehow got the idea in our heads to go even closer to the equator and ended up with all five kids in San Antonio for some fun a few weeks back.

We ran a zone defense and I think we teamed up quite nicely. The kids all managed to have fun and I daresay, so did I, despite feeling like I was truly going to die during a few moments of overwhelming heat sufferage.

CCC, being the Movie Master that she is, put together this lovely account. I couldn't have said it better myself.


Suburban wildlife

Made a new friend while setting out the recycle bins yesterday when I came within an inch of stepping on the neatly coiled thing. The thing waited patiently under the recycle box I hastily threw on top of it while Bubble Boy and kids ran out so we could all gawk and frantically snap pics. Big E shot some video but since the poor snake was paralyzed with fear the video looks pretty much exactly like the photo.


So it begins....again....and again.

Little A did NOT wear his hair in this horned style. Although he wanted to.

After a summer of friends, sleeping in, popsicles, lazy days, nights of swimming, fun adventures hither and yon, with only a smattering of "I'm bored" and sibling squabbling rising to the surface here and there, we aired up the bicycle tires (why did I bother showering?) and rode off into the not-quite-cool morning to face the throngs of people descending upon the school for the first day of school. I didn't think to take a picture of the crowd trying to wedge itself through the hallway yesterday but here's a snap of today's crowd which I estimate at less than half of yesterday.

Big E was giddy with anticipation to get started with her fabulous teacher and class. Friends scattered throughout her classroom and the knowledge of all the privileges 5th grade holds has kept her buzzing for the last week. A bit of melancholy when she realized Monday was to be her last "First" day at the school she's attended since kindergarten. How that seems like it could have easily been last year I can't explain. Time playing evil tricks.

Little A was less giddy about moving on up to 1st grade. Moving from the cuddly comforts of his sweet kindergarten to the institutional portable building located 1/4 mile from the rest of the school, with its wood paneling and *gasp* his own desk, complete with a coloring sheet when he arrived. Not sure what to think about such an official looking classroom, he innocently reminded me, "I've never done this before". Sweet boy. Luckily, Ms. Teacher HAS done it many times before and I trust that he is in good hands.

End of First Day reports were mixed. Big E had "the best first day EVER" and enthusiastically continued similar remarks for the rest of the day. Little A was concerned about the strictness 1st grade seemed to entail and was troubled that one little girl had her name moved up to red on the very first day. That seemed a bad omen. He did not have his name moved up the naughty chart and for that he was hugely relieved but still felt very tentative today.

This was taken today so it's technically not a First Day pic. She warned me to not embarrass her in the class but I couldn't resist sneaking at least one. Absolutely no hugs or kisses though.

In other beginnings....LOOKEE! LOOKEE! A blog post! Took a little vacation there for a few weeks. Can't wait to get caught up on what we've been doing.


Momentum abating

School has been out for more than six weeks and it has taken this long for the unshakable inertia of our daily lives to finally relent enough to allow us long, uninterrupted hours at home.

And so began Operation Home Time. Not just a Stay-cation (my apologies for using that term) for our town, but for our house. A trip to the library to load up on so many books we had to drag them to the car. Not only bring them home, but READ them! Most of them anyway. Clean out the deepest recesses of the nooks and crannies. Dig out the toys we haven't seen for months. It's like they're new all over again!

Little A's marble run project.

It has since expanded into a multi-level Wonder of Engineering that spans his dresser, train table and on to the floor. The best part is how he says "Come watch this marBALL!!", with the emphasis on "BALL". He's pointing at himself to leave no doubt of exactly who was the constructor of this kinetic masterpiece.

A few friends are counting down the days until school starts. Can't say that I'm among them. For now, I'm happy to wallow in the brief respite of being the marBALL on the neverending marble run of life.


Just call me Mooch.

Recall a couple of months back when the swine flu pandemic was sweeping the country? Well, panic ensued en masse and what started out as one of those busier-than-busy weekends and weeks that can occur in the springtime when everybody schedules everything for the same three weekends, suddenly opened wide up as cancellations shut everything down. As events have been rescheduled we have had the Swine Flu Math Pentathlon tournament, the Swine Flu swim meet, and now, the Swine Flu field trip to Aquarena Springs in lovely San Marcos, Texas. This was THE field trip my little fourth grader had anticipated ALL YEAR. The bucket of gold at the end of the TAKS testing rainbow of mind-numbing worksheets. And then THEY went and canceled it on her.

Well, we showed them and rounded up friends, booked a private educational tour under the guise of homeschoolers and hopped on the glass-bottomed boat. Who says we can't learn nothin' in the summer?

Here is where the Mooch part comes in. CCC waved her directorial magic wand and put together this record of our day. Thanks!


No share! Mine!

"Share the Road", "Be kind to cyclists", "Thank you for not killing me with your car". I'm accustomed to seeing these and similar bumper stickers around Austin along with articles in the local paper proclaiming the rights of cyclists. On occasion I AM one of those cyclists, daring to ride the open road side-by-side with my motor vehicle friends. I just love the jokers among them who think it's funny as hell to blast their horn just about the time they overtake you. Oh, yeah. That is so HILARIOUS (insert snarky sarcastic laugh here).

Austin is a cycling town. Whether we have Lance Armstrong to thank for that, our lovely weather, our eclectic, earth-loving population, or a city that is relatively willing to build bike lanes into a fair number of public roads I do not know. But I do know this. One need not travel far in Austin to see someone on a bike. Even a thong-wearing cyclist is a common sight 'round town. (Side note to say I spied him again last week wearing a hot pink thong and towing a little trailer behind his bike...he looked so incredibly happy. And tan.)

But here's my question. When is it too much? Too dangerous? Not just for the cyclist but for other traffic. Three reasons why I ask...

1) As I was making a trip into the netherworld of north Austin yesterday I was driving north on a major thoroughfare traversing a wide expanse of greenbelt area on a long bridge. This bridge has no bike lanes. And yet. There in the right lane of the bridge is a cyclist, pedaling his enlarged heart out, professional-looking jersey unzipped and flapping in the 102 degree heat. Not hovering near the shoulder, but right out there in the middle of the lane. Moving along at a pretty good cycling clip of about 25 mph, I'd guess. But the rest of traffic is moving at 65. Therefore, people are having to slam on their brakes, swerve into other lanes, etc...to avoid hitting this guy.

2) Article in today's paper. Quick story. Cyclist hit from behind, driver flees the scene. Guess who has the serious injuries?

3) Upon leaving downtown Austin today at rush hour, on arguably one of the busiest, narrowest downtown streets (west 6th street for you Austinites), a man on a bicycle, in the far left lane (it's a one way street), just pedaling along like he doesn't have a care in the world and he doesn't even have a helmet on his melon head. Once again, cars slamming on brakes, moving haphazardly into other lanes. He's pedaling along, whistling a happy little tune in his head.

SO, I hate to be a hater, but really. There has to be a limit. I understand they have the right to travel how they see fit. I understand they even have the right to put their own lives in serious jeopardy if they choose. I absolutely do want to be a cycling advocate. I hope I don't make any enemies of my cycling buddies with this post. But these two scenarios put dozens of people at risk, just during the brief time I was in their vicinity. Cyclists need to exercise good judgment and be good sharers too. Sometimes that might mean taking the road less traveled.


Bring on the water

The gods smiled upon us and we were fortunate enough to be able to escape the sweltering heat by retreating indoors for the final swim meet of the season. As seasons go, this one seemed relatively short, not too unbearable, and actually kinda fun.

Game on.

Smiling with Coach and EC. How 'bout that green cast? Note for Big E in the future...don't break arm the day before school lets out for summer vacation.

Nice dive.

Swimmers, take your mark.

Despite the humid mornings spent waiting during practice, way earlier than should be expected of a mortal trying to enjoy summer vacation, I cannot deny swim team is a fun time, even for me.


Uh, yeah. It's freakin' hot.

Bet you didn't know we're all made out of teal crayons.


Summer Kick-off


Road Trippin'

Bubble Boy is giving me a weekend furlough for good behavior....



Off to a great start

Day 1 of Summer Vacation was undeniably a huge success. SJ had the great idea for herself, CCC and me to rent the pool and invite a few friends for a private Summer Vacation Kick-off party. What a great way to throw a party! Listen up, potential parents-to-be, plan your pregnancies for a SUMMER birthday. Rent the nearest pool. Order pizzas. You can even go crazy with a box of popsicles. Bada Bing, Bada Boom, YOU'RE DONE! Pizzas, watermelon, bags and bags of potato chips and Doritos, brownies and cookies. Nearly six hours at the pool. Rock Band, painting fingernails with polka dots and stripes, a little bit of Ding, Dong, Ditch, trampolining and giggling with favorite neighbors, prank-calling a certain boy, some Brady Bunch and then a sleepover. If that doesn't get the summer started off right, I don't know what does.

You see that right. Five girls huddled around the Boys bathroom. Hmmm.

On to Day 2!


Aaaaaaannnd.....they're OUT!

What a day, what a day! The day started for the grown-ups when the doggie had some tummy troubles at 4:30am. Good morning! Doggie diarrhea, anyone? Anyone? CCC has warned me about these types of hazards and I've had a dog before, but there's just nothing like sitting in your bedroom at 4:30am, with a bucket of Oxy-clean scrubbing dog$#it out of the carpet to really make you search your soul for the tiniest scrap of doggie love. Fortunately for her, she has wormed herself into my heart and I did not banish her into the rain. But let the record show I will not make any promises about the future. She's officially on Notice.

Bubble boy got the little ones off for their last day of fun and excitement at school, where everyday is a party (at least for the last three weeks) and we embarked on one last Date Day. Date Day included a trip to the lumber yard to scout out potential tropical hardwoods for what will soon be a deck in our backyard and lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. Spicy chipotle pasta, you're my newest friend! Date Day then had to be cut short so I could serve cake to 130+ hyperexcited, graduating 5th graders and their tear-streaked parents. Then Big E and I boogied out of school before the teachers could put on their annual Chicken-Dance-Around-the-Flagpole groove in the 90+ heat. She fell on the school stairs yesterday and did some damage to her wrist and elbow. X-rays ruled out a fracture but there was mention of a possible 'buckle'. Follow-up on Monday.

No bone buckle was going to keep her away from the End-of-Year party for her class. They swam and ate and swam and ate and swam and ate....you get the picture. There were ice cream sandwiches, Bombsicles, and chocolate popsicles. Not to mention the brownies, chips, dip, and goldfish. And did I recall the donuts and cookies distributed during school? Oh, it was a good, good day.

Little A's big day was yesterday. Kindergarten graduation. Party time with friends. Mommy tears. Photos coming soon. Maybe, just maybe, a video.

So, now I guess I'm back in the blogging business. My brain capacity had reached maximum levels and there just wasn't enough bandwidth to get a coherent recollection of the day out of me at night. I expect to be freeing up some of my cerebral hard drive in the coming days. I can feel the space opening up already. We'll get caught up. And it will be like I was never gone.

The end is nigh

School's out today and while I see sibling squabbling and the inevitable cries of Excruciating Boredom in our future, I also see T-I-M-E. Sweet, luscious, free time, to be precise. And oh, will we wallow in it. Like gluttonous pigs.


Happy Day, earth!

Planet Rage
Where: Standing in line at the mega-market....
Who: Two mature ladies, one apparently the other's mother. We'll call one Meany and the other Old Meany.
When: Earth day, 2009

Act I, Scene 1

Old Meany: [voice loud but quivery] What's going on with all this stuff? Is it some kind of holiday or something going on?

Meany: [distractedly looking around] It's Earth Day.

Old Meany: [interested] Really? What's that? I don't keep up with all that stuff...

Meany: [barely paying attention] It's a day when we're supposed to do something nice or be aware of the environment.

Old Meany: [voice louder and less quivery] I TELL YOU WHAT, I am SICK to DEATH of some DUMBASS somewhere telling me what to do!

Meany: [a little less distracted, nodding enthusiastically] I know.

Old Meany: [getting louder] I mean, who the HELL are they? Just some overeducated ASSHOLES, that's what they are.

Meany: [sanctimoniously] Overeducated isn't what they are. STUPID. Stupid, is what they are!

Old Meany: [starting to trail off from her rant] I mean. The Earth. Good Gawd. [Incoherent babbling]

Cashier at grocery store: [perkily] Would you like a free fluorescent light bulb?

Old Meany: Now why the HELL would I want THAT?

Meany: [I didn't get all the words on this exchange but it ended with the cashier looking utterly speechless and dumbstruck and Meany pumping her arm with a....] Drill, Baby, Drill!

Happy Earth Day.


Excuse me Copper, Mr. Crime-stopper

Some things will be forever burned into my wee brain, this being one of them. It's about 1:10 into the video....

It is impossible for me to see a police car and not think of this one tiny little phrase of that song. I do not remember the rest of the song unless I hear it, I haven't seen that movie an inordinate number of times, I definitely do not have the uncanny ability that some people have to remember quotes from movies. As a matter of fact, my memory pretty much sucks for the most part. Why this particular one continues to haunt me decades later is beyond me.

It just so happens that we are friends with a couple of coppers, and on a recent camping trip with one of these friends we were trading Ticket Stories. I recalled a particularly disheartening ticket experience a few years back and without getting into the gory details of how I was unfairly entrapped I began describing how the "cop" was hiding out of view.....

An edgy silence swept the campsite.

What? I was mortified. Is "cop" derogatory? The equivalent of the...the...."p" word and I didn't even know it? After all these years of singing my little Dragnet goat skin pants song, how could I stop using "cop"?? I professed apologies profusely and was reassured that it was not necessarily a bad word but that I might want to use "police officer" if I were to be conversing with one who did not happen to be a friend. AND I learned the HOW of WHY police officers are sometimes called "cops" by people who don't know any better. Did you know that way, way back our law enforcement officers' badges were made of.....

You got it. Copper.

Who'da guessed? Now you know. You're welcome.

This American Idol

The brilliance of David Sedaris is not his sardonic wit as many people may have you believe. True, at first reading, it IS his biting humor and sense of irony that jumps out, grabs you and won't let you go. He is one of the few authors that will illicit an out loud laugh (not a snicker...a REAL laugh), whether I'm listening to him read his work through my little white earphones as I push my oversized cart through Costco or as I read into the wee hours unable to put down one of his books as I try to muffle the laugh so as not to wake BB. Oh, he's definitely funny. A riotous hoot.

But what I love about him is more than just his rollicking hilarity. It is his ability to take the mundane, the ordinary, the colorless and make it exceptional and memorable. How he uses just strings of words to so precisely convey the flavor of any given situation and elevate it to an almost tactile experience. Sometimes those situations are funny. Sometimes they're profound. He has a knack for hiding a scoop of profound underneath the funny with an occasional topping of sweet melancholy.

He didn't remember his boozy friend, which wasn't overly surprising, I guess. The only thing there would have been to remember is a ridiculously ridiculous woman who couldn't stop giggling. I did manage a sentence or two this time that I believe was semi-coherent if you listened carefully. My heart was racing and pounding so hard I couldn't hear my voice over the thumping. And I shook Sarah Bird's hand. This was nothing compared to TRACEY JACKSON, who scored a hug and subsequent email exchanges. SHE does not let a pounding heart, sweating armpits and an uncontrollable case of nervous giggles verging on full-blown panic ruin her opportunities to speak to famous people like some people.

David's (may I call him David?) popularity continues to grow and I'm happy for him. I really am. But it was strange to have the book signing table set up beneath a 15 foot tall cross made out of crayons. Apparently, his genius has outgrown the Paramount and he was booked at Riverbend, a big-box, mega-church. Perhaps this was for the sake of irony. Yeah, I'm going to go with that.

This growth phenomenon is a result of another reason why he's one of my favorite authors. He reaches me. A thirty-something, liberal, stay-at-home mom. Not a fiction writer creating a character from the ether with whom I can identify. But making me identify with him. Seeing my own feelings and reactions or observations through his words. And it's not just me. Based on who I saw in the audience, he reaches young people, old people, in-the-middle people. Men, women, gay, not gay. Maybe even a few conservatives?

A little research has turned up that he will be in San Antonio in June...not doing a lecture series this time but an appearance at a Hastings. San Antonio isn't that far....anybody up for a road trip?


2/3 + 1/3 = 1 Tri and more

This crazy weekend started with a bang on Friday morning with me as Kindergarten teacher for an hour, straight into planning session for Spring Carnival to be held the next day, rain or shine (amidst a downpour), a Girl Scout meeting packed from start to finish with activities, wrapping up with a 10 year old girl sleepover. The poor pizza guy will probably never be the same after having been greeted by rabid, screeghing girls (screeghing = screeching + laughing). I know I won't.

I am thankful for a gorgeous Saturday which brought dozens and hundreds (dare I say, thousands?) of the community out for the school festival. So many people put countless hours of hard work into making the day a triumphant smash it would have been a shame to have it turn out less than wildly successful for any reason. Despite a few minor (and not-so-minor) glitches, it was. To say I was worn plum out by the time I got home at 9:15 would be an understatement of tremendous magnitude. BB blessed me with a scrumptious hot foot bath and The Office. Everyone needs one of him at home. Get your own. This one is MINE.

A few hours later we awoke for the Team Toprope ladies tri. I can't imagine the amount of work that went into mapping the course, setting it all up, getting shirts, snacks, etc...SJ and PJ are great race directors and I see a potential future for them. Sadly, I had to bow out of competition due to whatever the hell I did to my foot last weekend. There had been glimmers of healing by Thursday and Friday, but any progress made was reversed by 12 hours of festival work yesterday where the pedometer I wasn't wearing would have read something like 84 miles had I been wearing it. Big E decided the water at the 1/8 mile Barton Springs was too cold for her and after a mild panic attack we decided it wouldn't be right to push her in. So, she skipped that part of the tri. Ironic, since we all assumed this would be her strongest event given that she swims 1500m+, 3 or 4 days a week. Guess a heated pool makes a big difference. But who am I to judge? You didn't see ME jumping in.

The bike was next and we embarked on what proved to be a "challenging" ride, as described by our esteemed Race Director, PJ. How many race directors will chalk motivational words on the road as you're grunting up a hill that never ends? "Ride, DON'T walk!", "Granny Gear is GOOD!", and "Feel the burn!". Big E and I walked that particular hill. But she only needed to walk a couple of more times, and I happily joined her. My map-reading skills (or lack there-of) caused us to miss one of the turns and we took a little detour. Being along Ladybird Lake, it was very scenic and can't say that I was all that upset about it. Big E was more so but we managed to move past it and headed back to Transition 2 and out on the run.

As mentioned before, map-reading isn't a strong suit of mine and we once again ended up missing a turn and therefore missing part of the run. Instead of a 3.4 mile loop it probably ended up being about 2. I rode beside her (my foot) as she loped along. That girl can run.

Little A escorted Big E over the finish. It won't be long until he's in the thick of it.

Thinking back to my own 10 year old self, the thought of tackling a triathlon would have never even entered my mind. If someone HAD brought it up I would have thought they were certifiable idiots. Deranged lunatics. Triathlons are for ATHLETES and I was just a kid. The thought wouldn't have been much different when I was 20. Or 30. I think of the 25 year headstart Big E has on realizing that such things are not only possible, but attainable without much more than a little effort and hard work, and imagine what she'll accomplish. Whatever it is, I think it will be truly great.



Not a word that would usually describe me. It's not like it never happens, just that most of the time I feel most comfortable with a schedule and a plan. What we're doing, what we're going to do, when we're going to do it, how it will be accomplished, when we'll be finished and what time we need to move on to the NEXT thing. See how I make it what "WE'RE" doing and not just what "I'M" doing? There's been word that I overburden myself with these rigors and since they are the ones sharing with me I assume I must be overburdening the tellers as well.

Last weekend's plan was a camping trip to Enchanted Rock. I've only been there one other time in lo these many years we've been in Central Texas. It was hot. That's the only real memory that has stuck with me from that visit. So Easter camping at E Rock it was to be. And then the forecast came.


Oh, we do NEED the rain. Desperately. I didn't necessarily want it all over my camping stuff though. A wet dog. A wet tent. Mud in my car. I was still fresh on the tails of another camping trip and not necessarily falling over myself with anticipation of all the prep and clean-up involved amidst all the other Spring Business happening. Plus, the King Tut exhibit at the Dallas MoA only has a few more weeks in its run and this was the only weekend we'd be able to make it. Etc...etc...etc...Then an idea! Wouldn't it be great if my family (from Oklahoma) could meet us halfway and we could ALL go to King Tut? The cousins could play and swim. No cooking. No dishes. Hours of Rummikub. Two quick phone calls and a visit to hotels.com and badabing badaboom! We're all set. I couldn't believe how easily it worked out.

Then the guilty phone call to inform half our camping partners they'd be sans the Bubbles.

Traffic was less cooperative than the arrangements had been and after five hours we finally made it to Big D. We were staying right downtown and Little A's first comment while driving in through the tall buildings was "Skyscrapers. Whooooooooaaaaw". Imagine how Cheech would say it. Not excitedly or with thrilled amazement. Just true wonderment and reverence.

The weekend was fun...we relaxed. Shopped. Visited Heaven on Earth for young girls. Ice skated. Played Rummikub where my 2009 losing streak was maintained and I somehow tweaked my foot. (Seriously. I suffered a Rummikub injury. It's inexplicable but I've been hobbling around since the Friday night game marathon). We viewed ancient Egyptian relics. The sense of disappointment was only due to my previously set high expectations. Shouldn't I know better by now? Why would one possibly expect to see one of Tut's many masks or sarcophagus' (or sarcophagi?) when visiting a Tut exhibit?

When we got home and I read the recap of the camping weekend I was a little wistful and felt the guilt seeping back in. Then I saw CCC scaling a wall of rock and decided that all things happen for a reason and if I was overcome by a sudden wave of Spontaneity to bail on my friends it was probably my sixth sense telling me that I or one of my family would have fallen to certain death had we gone. This makes me feel a smidge less guilty.


Previously, on My Suburban Bubble....

Knock, knock.

Who's there?

Bubble Girl.

Bubble Girl who?


Yeah, yeah...it's been a while. I know. No excuses. Spring break got me all off kilter and out of my near-debilitating habit of checking Facebook or sitting at my computer doing any number of Lord Only Knows What for hours on end. Can't say that's all bad, but it has put a serious cramp in allowing me to keep everyone informed and current with what's going on in BubbleLand.

So, let's rewind to where we left off...a brief retrospective to get everyone up-to-date.

It was spring break. We'd gone to Oklahoma for niece #2's birthday. Fun was had by all.

Return to Austin and prep for camping at our favorite state park. No Curtis the Deer this time, but Ranger J brought his pet rattler by for a visit and everyone had fun, despite the lack of a campfire and the inconsiderate @$$ who decided to start up his diesel pick-up at 5am and let it idle for an hour or so with intermittent engine revving while he rummaged around his campsite looking for something (anything) to do that might possibly be even louder than a gigantomega-horsepower diesel engine running at 5 o'clock in the morning.

Regardless of the incivility of some campers, we have really grown to love camping and I just don't think it would be remotely as fun if not for our great camping group. Kids played in the river, bikes were ridden, trails were hiked, geocaches were located. Home by Sunday, unpacked and everything cleaned by Monday. Then came Tuesday. Absent-mindedly I scratched an itch. I mean, we all itch, right? So I scratched. "Hmm?", thought I. "Don't recall having a mole under my arm in that particular spot...that itchy spot right...there..." "Could it be?"; "Not possibly"; "But maybe??"; "But I've already done a tick check"; "Could have missed it...they WERE teeny".

Hyperventilating and weakened by the Lyme disease racing through my veins, I asked BB to take a closer look and all fears were instantly confirmed. After much ado, the tick was out or off, or whatever they are when they no longer have their heads embedded in your flesh, growing fat and distended from your blood.

On a substantially happier note, the next weekend Little A and I were at his first Math Pentathlon tournament. He hesitated as we walked into the big gymnasium where the tournament was being held but managed to hold it together long enough to get through his games and even won a couple along the way.

In other Little A news, the kindergarten culminated their study of Texas with Rodeo Day, complete with cow-milking, bull-riding, trail-riding, animal-petting, chicken-dancing and beans-and-cornbread eating. Dressed in the cowhide vest my grandfather made for me when I was a wee cowgirl, he looked and acted like a true cowboy. And if all that wasn't enough, the kids loved the beans I made! I felt so validated.

Things have been hopping for Big E too. The choir teacher held auditions for the fourth grade play and Lo and Behold! Big E landed the female lead. She seemed more shocked and surprised than anyone despite our near constant droning about her (over) dramatic tendencies since the day she was old enough to utter a syllable. The play is a take-off from Moonlighting, where Bruce Willis got set on his way to action movie superstardom and Cybil Shepherd wore kleenex box shoulder pads and glowed under soft lighting.

Stay tuned for more as our suburban drama unfolds.....


Zoos, Rummikub and back again

I'm officially 9 for 9! On niece's birthdays, that is. Present and capturing the moments up close and in candid color as each one of them entered this world and present when each one of them has celebrated every birthday since. There are more than 350 miles separating me and their birthday cupcakes but I have never wavered in the face of the hordes of tyrannical trucks swarming along I-35. Well, maybe I've wavered a little bit but I looked that near-paralyzing fear of eighteen-wheelers straight on and plowed forward anyway.

Something about my parent's house makes me very sleepy. Maybe it's the way that when the kids wake up my parents make them breakfast and take care of all their needs. I wish I could say I accomplished this or that, ran five or six miles in the beautiful weather they were having, or just....something. Wish I could. What I CAN say is that I slept until almost 11am one morning and almost 10am the next. Sleeping past 7:30am is just the height of decadence in my world lately and I wallowed in it like a fat sow.

In addition to sleeping, we made it to two zoos, ate a ton of food, saw a movie (Race to Witch Mountain....kids loved it but seriously. It stunk) and played Rummikub relentlessly. Relentlessly translates into all evening, past midnight, two nights in a row. Surely this contributed to the late sleeping. Rummikub is incredibly addictive and plays very well to my weaknesses of not being able to let go of something. Especially if I'm losing. I lost count of how many rounds we played but I didn't lose count of my win / loss stats. That would be 0 for ?. No wins. Nada. Pulled a Detroit Lions. I'll be looking for redemption when we meet again so prepare yourselves for some wicked melds.

In typical Spring Break fashion the kids gorged themselves on the Disney channel and marathon sessions of Hannah Montana, I Carly, and a few other shows with rich twins living on a cruise ship or hotel or some other hospitality industry. Symptoms of SBOS were rearing their ugly heads so the Disney / Grandparent Spoilage Detox began in earnest today and the withdrawals were epic.

I tried to distract myself from that maelstrom by attempting my first ever homemade marshmallows. You know, kids driving you crazy? Whip up a tasty treat that is easily and cheaply found at your nearest supermarket! I think they'll turn out fine, but after spending a good 20 minutes scraping rapidly hardening sugar syrup out from every nook, cranny, drip pan, underneath the drip pan and off the actual burner, it may be a while before we enjoy these gooey goodies again. Or maybe I just won't go off and start folding laundry while the pot of sugar is set on high. That would probably help. Can't wait to toss one in my coffee tomorrow morning though. No more 11am wake-up calls for me. Not for a while anyway.


A fortnight

It is with great shame I acknowledge that it has been two weeks since the Bubble has been graced with a post. No excuses this time. Just busy. Unmotivated to sit down and concentrate on any one thing for more than 2 minutes at a stretch. After much consideration as to why this might be I'm pointing the finger at Facebook. It's sucking the life out of me and reducing my already abridged attention span to an even further gross abbreviation of itself. The sweet voyeuristic appeal sucks me in. The soothing instant gratification keeps me coming back for yet another fix.

I am yanking the Facebook needle out for the moment and refusing to access Facebook for the rest of this day. Unless someone comments on my status. Or on a status I've commented on. Otherwise, no cheating. Or very little, at least.

Spring break starts in about five minutes and it couldn't have come at a better time. The last seven days have been busy ones. A week ago I spent the evening busily scooping popcorn for 50 kids and watching the original Escape to Witch Mountain at the school library fundraiser. The highlight of the evening was when the projector zonked out halfway through the movie, leaving my co-coordinator and me hyperventilating over how we could possibly entertain 50 kids for 45 minutes. It wasn't long before BB used his magic to get it back up and running.

Next morning we were up at the crack so Big E's Girl Scout troop could join 150 other volunteers in planting 240 trees at our neighborhood park. Four of those trees belong to Troop X now and I am looking forward to watching them grow. Tree planting always brings to mind The Giving Tree, one of my favorite books of all time and one that I still struggle to get through without a tear.

Otherwise the week was full with soccer, swim, book club, Salty Dogs, tapas, coffee at midnight, long overdue lunches with friends, and resuming tri-training. Today was Science Day at school and BB wowed the kids with a ball hitting robot he built. They seemed thoroughly impressed when the robot arm swung out and hit the ball and now regard him as a true hero. Nevermind that I'm the one who is there on a weekly basis getting down and dirty in the glitter. It just doesn't hold the same Impressment Factor.

Other BIG news of the week: real, honest-to-goodness RAIN. I woke to the tinkling of raindrops pinging on the bathroom fan two mornings ago and distant memories of precipitation washed over me. I saw genuine mud yesterday for the first time in what seems like years. It was beautiful. We were so desperate for moisture that I can't even complain about what it does to my hair or that we have paths of muddy pawprints all through the house. Or the fact that we went from 92 not that many days ago to less than half that these last few days. Our last winter blast before the unrelenting heat of summer bears down upon us.

But now, spring break. Oklahoma. Camping. Not much of a break, more of a Change of Scenery. Which is always good.


Good outweighs the Bad

Bad #1: Wednesday morning. Big E claimed she wasn't feeling well that morning and we reluctantly let her stay home despite the fact that she wasn't vomiting or running a fever. Since BB works at home it isn't a big upheaval when one of the kids stays home so I get to go on about my merry way, going to the gym, shopping, decadent lunching, manicuring, facialing, massaging, etc... while they stay home and wallow in their malaise. Well, maybe not the manicuring, facialing and massaging, but I went to the gym at least. Vindication was mine when I got home and she had developed a fever while I was out. I know it's wrong to be happy about the fever but I was really just happy to have concrete evidence to support my decision. Selfish me.

Good #1: SJ stopped by and treated us to two beautiful tomato plants. They smell so good. Did I say they were beautiful? I promise to do my very best by them and keep them alive.

Bad #2: School nurse calls at 2:50 pm. Never a good call to receive and this was no exception. Longtime readers will be familiar with Little A's inexplicable attraction to splinters and never one to let himself be outdone (even by himself) he picked up a whopper under his fingernail. I got a little woozy.

Bad #3: By Wednesday night, I determined that the wooziness was not just due to the splinter and I was in the sick bed. One side of my head had been filled with cement and my joints had morphed into those of an 87 year old. And my throat hurt.

Good #2: CCC came by with scrumptiously soothing chicken noodle soup and the cutest little melt-in-your-mouth candies Thursday afternoon. I reluctantly shared with Big E but BB and Little A were on their own. They weren't sick enough to warrant sharing such delight.

Good #3: CCC came BACK later with some black, tarry, nasty-smelling stuff to help draw the splinter out from under Little A's fingernail. Soaks in warm epsom salt had done nothing to help us get that sucker out, but this seemed worth a try. We globbed it on, covered it up and off he went to bed.

Bad #4: A few hours after bedtime, Little A toddled his way to my sick bed (that I'm sharing with Big E) and proceeded to puke all over the place...a few times. Sleep is hard to catch after a few episodes of The Vomitous.

Good #4: By 10am, Little A seemed to be on the mend and well enough to attempt further splinter removal. I scraped underneath his nail to show him how what I was about to do was just like cleaning his nails and the darn thing CAME RIGHT OUT. Everyone MUST get ichthammol ointment for their medicine cabinet. Read about it. It smells like asphalt, but goodness. I'm telling you I couldn't even SEE the splinter from the tip of his finger...it was only visible through his fingernail. Can you imagine? Even Dick Cheney would agree that pieces of wood shoved under fingernails is TORTURE. Poor little boy. Beautiful, black asphalt ointment.

Good #5: Literally moments after posting a Facebook status indicating the plague had struck our house, my doorbell rings and I find a big bowl of delicious cauliflower soup being thrust at me by KT. I have decided that soup is the BEST way to eat cauliflower. It is transformed from a smelly cruciferous vegetable into a succulent, creamy concoction of pure goodness.

We are all on the upswing now and should be back to the normal hustle and flow when the week starts tomorrow. And so the wonderful balance of life is continued.


Cheap labor

Weeks ago I'd committed to taking the Girl Scouts to this great sounding activity in central Austin to plant over 100 trees in a local park. They are working on racking up volunteer hours and the more involved with the environment, the better. To sweeten the pot a little more the organization was offering FREE breakfast. We're not just talking a stale bagel or nasty supermarket donut here. Breakfast tacos. An assortment of Einstein Bros. bagels and varieties of cream cheese. And coffee. Hot, steamy, velvety coffee. How could we not go, I ask you?

Of course, if I make plans for a weekend outdoor activity it seems inevitable that it is going to rain. No matter that we're in the middle of a Stage 47 drought and we haven't had any meaningful rain since I had at least one child in diapers. It rained. Not a lot, but just enough to get us a little wet and then feel chilly until we really got to working and the sun started to peek through. Lucky for the park they had way more people show up to plant the trees than they had trees themselves. We ended up spreading mulch, picking up trash and digging trenches for cut logs to help prevent erosion on the hillside. I don't think I've ever seen eight 9 & 10 year old girls have more fun working HARD before. After two hours they weren't ready to leave. It was a brilliant sight to behold.

After watching them work, and rake, and haul, and spread, and cut, and chop, and haul some more, I got to thinking. I've got a backyard where they can hone and perfect their already impressive skills. I'd offer breakfast tacos, bagels. Even powdered donuts. I'm frightened to know just what acts of atrocity my kids would do for a powdered donut. Think of the garden and wonderful vegetables and flowers! I'd take photos and post them here for all to see, so it wouldn't even be just for me. I'm a sharer! Would that be wrong?


The Bubble hasn't burst....yet

Today marks the two year point since that momentous day the world got its first glimpse at the wonder that is My Suburban Bubble. Caving to hours of unendurable peer pressure I finally succumbed and opened my heart and soul to the world of the Internet. Since then we've shared cleanses, vacations, kid's accomplishments, adventures in home gadgetry, various athletic events of the running, triathlon or biking sort, family arrivals, birthdays, the perils of politics, our separation from the world of cable, controversies, booger talk and much, much, much more. There have been ups and downs, fun times and struggles. In an effort to prevent this post from becoming the equivalent of the ever-reviled "clip show", I'll stop there.

Here we are, two years later. Dos anos. The primary purposes of this blog are still served. Vast, cavernous holes in my memory have been dammed and contacts with faraway friends and relatives, maintained.

An unintended outcome for the blog has been the pleasure I've found in the writing down of happenings, thoughts, and feelings surrounding our day to day lives. It is easy (SO EASY) to get caught up in the daily functions of keeping our routine clicking along that the little things, the nice things, the things I WANT to remember later, when these routines are mere memories, are recorded. And to pay attention to those times now, while in the process of becoming those soon-to-be treasured memories. I expect the next two years to sail by at least as quickly as the last. Then the next two. And on and on. By keeping a record of those days perhaps that time will not be gone but will simply pass. That seems MUCH more acceptable to me.

The Quiche by which to measure all Quiche

Always looking for something easy to throw together that can do double duty by serving as dinner for two nights in a row and get itself eaten by even the likes of Little A without the often obligatory "I REALLY hate THIS!", I have found myself turning to quiche more and more frequently. Usually the most acceptable form of quiche is something sans chunkage, nothing that's going to require too much chewing. One evening found my veggie drawer aching with leeks and mushrooms that were getting close to that point of being too skanky to eat. SO, I chopped them up nice and fine, sautéd in some butter and vóila! Mushroom Leek Quiche To Die For. Here 'tis:

Pie crust (I use RJ's recipe)
2 T unsalted butter
1 leek, chopped (white and light green parts)
1 cup of chopped mushrooms
1 cup of fresh chopped spinach leaves
1 t salt
1 t herb seasoning blend (my favorite is a Costco blend *Rustic Tuscan Seasoning
1 red potato, sliced thinly and steamed until firm/tender.
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated swiss cheese
3 eggs
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350. Pre-cook pie crust for 7 - 10 minutes. Heat butter in pan, add leeks, mushrooms, and spinach. Add salt, pepper and herb seasoning. Sauté until leeks and mushrooms are softened and spinach is wilted.

Mix mozzarella and swiss cheese together. Whisk together milk and eggs.

Sprinkle half of cheese on bottom of pie crust and top with half of leek mixture. Lay potato slices on top of leek mixture. Add half the remaining cheese over the potato slices and then the remaining leek mixture. Top with the rest of the cheese. Place pie pan on sheet pan, carefully pour in egg mixture. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, until quiche is set (knife inserted in center should come out clean). Cool 5 minutes before cutting.

I wish I had a picture because it was even pretty. But we'd already demolished half of it before the notion struck me. Next time I will be making two so I can have one in the freezer.

*Rustic Tuscan Seasoning from Costco:
Dehydrated garlic, sea salt, spices (rosemary, basil, black pepper, oregano, red pepper), dehydrated red and green bell peppers, lemon peel, dehydrated green onion.


We'll be coming down the mountain....

Last Wednesday I ran around the house frantically packing despite the fact that I had spent hours the day before making various piles throughout the house. Pile of coats. Pile of mittens and gloves. Pile of socks, snowboots, goggles, hats, etc... Piles of doggie belongings for her journey down the street to Coolboots K9 Camp. It doesn't matter how behind on packing I might be but the house has GOT to be clean before I can leave. The last thing I want to come home to is a messy house in need of a scrub. As I cleaned out the fridge and accumulated a nice sink full of food that wouldn't withstand the five day absence, the garbage disposal konked out in memorable fashion. After a stomach-turning disposal of the disposal contents we swooped through the school, picked up the kids, met our convoy partners and headed north to Lubbock, our pit stop halfway to Red River, New Mexico.

In case you had forgotten....Texas is big. It's like a whole other country I've heard tell. We traveled through small towns, bigger small towns, wind farms with eerily synchronized red flashing lights for miles and miles in the west Texas blackness, before finally making Lubbock around midnight. Whew. Long day.

Next day we finished the trek and made Red River in time to get all equipment, lift tickets, ski school reservations and even a swim in the pool (seriously???!). CCC and I peeked out the door long enough to get a photo but I stand firm in my belief that if snow is piled up around the pool then one should not be swimming in it. That's just me.

We hit the slopes bright and early the next day, enjoying some grown-up ski time while the kids spent their all-too-brief time in ski school. The weather was fantastic, the snow was really good, especially for New Mexico, and the crowds were relatively thin.

I did experience one of those split-second moments that seem as if the wheels of time suddenly get stuck and every second ticks by like minutes. Bubble Boy, CC, MC and Little A had just come down from an afternoon up the mountain killing the slopes, they get to the bunny slope, I'm hearing about the awesome-ness of Little A's abilities, when I look 30 feet below me where a snowboarder (f@&%ing snowboarders!) is careening down, out of control. He's digging in with his heels, making that infamous snowboard scraping sound, but still seeming to flail forward. Little A is innocently skiing along, so proud of what he's done. The snowboarder is headed straight at him. I see this. I know it's going to happen. But I'm too far away and what could I do even if I were closer? He's a grown man hurtling down a slope totally out of control. The snowboard hits, knocks A off his feet, he's falling backwards. Snowboarder is trying to fall forward over him. They're both down. Snowboarder is on top. I don't remember getting there, but I'm there, pulling A up. He's wiping the snow from his face looking stunned. Are you OK? Are you hurt? There's snow in my jacket, he says. Snowboarder looking dreadingly at me, expectantly waiting for me to get my maternal freak on. He offers lame apology. I decide it's better to say nothing. Relief that we've avoided what could have been something really, really bad. All is well until 30 minutes later A slips and face plants into packed snow, scraping up his face. My fault for asking him to stop climbing on the outside of the deck railing.

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Snow TripZ

I lost my glove from the chair lift trying to get this photo. It was worth it. Right after this shot, Little A asked me what my favorite thing was. You and Big E, I say.

His favorite thing in the wide, wide world? Skiing.

Good trip.


Rhetorical questions I just can't stop asking myself or anyone who happens to be unlucky enough to be near me. That would be you.

When will Republicans realize they lost? What makes them think they have ANY street cred to offer up to a stimulus bill? Hello?? Just who was it who got us here? Who was minding the house for the last eight years and earmarked, porked and cut our taxes all the way to the bottom of an economic demolition? Didn't they have their chance and screw it up nice and good? NOW? NOW they have ALL the answers and are really speaking up for the American people?? Now?? When will enough people speak up and tell THEM to get on board to help or sit down and shut up?

Ooooh. They make me so mad.


I *heart* you

Previous years have seen me scrambling at 10:30 the night before whatever Valentine festivities were to be taking place at school trying to throw together a last minute piece of paper vaguely resembling a Valentine, usually a square of pink paper with a heart drawn on and maybe a piece of candy taped on if it was a good year.

I have a Masters in Classical Procrastination Studies and have been known to call upon those finely honed skills with great frequency. But not this year! We are Cupid-ready, having spent the better part of yesterday addressing and candy-ing up little cards for two classrooms, two art teachers, two music teachers, two PE teachers, one principal, two asst. principals, and one crossing guard. We even managed a special Valentine mailbox which Big E believes will win one of several categories, probably Most Original. I don't know about that since we hardly invented the fine art of decoupage. If I'd had more gumption I'd have papiér machéd a heart-shaped receptacle, but that would have required more initiative than I could spare.

The sad thing is that we're ready but neither of the kids will be taking part in their class parties since we'll be heading off to ski in New Mexico. As excited as they are about skiing with their friends they are both very sad to miss out on their class parties. I remember missing my fourth grade Valentine's party because I had to have a root canal. It hardly compares, but here I am, almost thirty years later and I vividly REMEMBER the pain and angst I felt from missing that party. I'm pretty sure it wasn't just the root canal.


Clean and Crunchy

You may have noticed Suburban Bubble got a little spitshine today, polishing up the windows and sweeping the scary spiders and dustbunnies out the door. Since I can't motivate myself to finish the closet cleaning that commenced a solid month ago I figured why not try out about 200 new Blogger configurations? In between monitoring the goings-on over on Facebook with voyeuristic passion. This obsession is quickly becoming the equivalent of being a Target-aholic. Several trips to Target a week, each costing in the range of $50 - $100, and all you have to show for it is a double pack of Viva, a storage bin, and new measuring cups. Oy.

In other news I've been making some delightful granola when I can rip myself away from trying to figure out how to get my Flair to show up on my Profile page. I started making it for Bubble Boy whilst I was in the middle of the latest go-round of The Cleanse, so I had to take his word for it that the granola was not only edible, but very good. Finally got the chance to give it a whirl and I am in complete agreement. Previous attempts at granola had left me with what was basically bland chewy oats, but this turns out crunchy and sweet and just plain ol' yum.

Bubble Granola

4 cups rolled oats
3/4 cups oat bran
1/4 cup flax seeds
a combined total of 2 cups of whatever nuts you want (finely chopped). I've used pecans, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, & sunflower seeds.
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil.

2) Combine oats, oat bran, nuts/seeds in large bowl. Stir together salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, vanilla and almond extract in a saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients. Stir to coat. Spread mixture evenly on baking sheets.

3) Bake in preheated oven until crispy and toasted. About 20 - 30 minutes. Stir once halfway through. Cool and stir in dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, etc..) before storing in airtight container.

Bubble Boy wants to try his hand at making yogurt. I'm afraid if we keep on this path we'll have goats in the backyard soon.


Looking for Mr. Goodbody

Today I drove two crazy girls and three stunned boys to see this:

Well, actually it was the modern version of Mr. Slim Goodbody, so the hair wasn't quite as puffy and the background colors weren't quite as earth-tone circa 1977. The New Slim utilizes a handy PowerPoint with 3d graphics and some catchy tunes to impart just how terrific our bodies are. There was a lot of giving ourselves a hand, patting ourselves on the back and shaking our own hands. If nothing else, Slim taught us to be our own best friend.

One recurring thought during the presentation was my hope that Slim is making a good living dancing around in his unitard for 4th graders. As someone who is terrified to speak in front of people under the best of circumstances the thought of standing in front of a group in a ridiculous (and not even anatomically complete) unitard singing goofy songs and dancing goofy dances is almost enough to bring me to a complete shut-down.

But the real news of the day is that Big E and her friend were maniacs in the car. I believe this to be brought on by the fact that there were three boys joining us in the mom-mobile so those girls cranked up the crazy like nobody's bidness! The boys sat in virtual silence in the back row, eyes wide and mouths agape as these girls basically laid down some pretty unforgettable memories on just what the future held for these poor boys. And they weren't encouraged.


Killing two birds with one stone

There's some tagging going on over on Facebook and I sat down this evening to list out 25 Random things about me. I think there is another list of this type in the archives of this blog. Maybe when I have time I will find it and compare lists.

1. I love comic book movies. Batman, Spiderman, Ironman, X-Men, Fantastic Four, 300. I could even argue that a certain vampire movie of recent months was kind of a comic book movie and therefore justify loving it despite the initial disappointment I felt after watching it.

2. My biggest pet peeve is the misuse of "their, "there", "they're", "two", "too" and "to". That is not to say that I never make those mistakes, only that it really bothers me when others do.

3. I grew up on a small farm in a small Oklahoma town. We made our own butter, shucked corn, snapped beans and shelled peas. Then canned 'til the sun didn't shine. We had a potato and onion cellar. I found a lot of snakes in the henhouse. I had a Shetland pony named Lucy Lightning. My fingers would be stained red when strawberries came out and I'd have peach juice up to my armpits when our neighbors peach trees made fruit and we froze gallons of peach slices. Thorn scratches on my arms and legs from plum and blackberry bushes. We had bees and collected honey and chewed honeycomb like gum. I fished and shot critters with my BB gun. There were a few summers with me in the back of a pick-up selling watermelons and/or tomatoes on the corner of our dirt road and the local two-lane highway. And many, MANY weekends working cattle. De-horning. De-worming. Ear notching. And.....yes, castrating. At the time, it seemed like torture. In retrospect, not so much. I'm sad my parents don't live there any more and my kids will miss out on those things.

4. My favorite foods are crabcakes, chicken salad and chocolate. Never noticed they all start with "c" before.

5. I played with Barbies well into my teen years.

6. The most famous person I've met is one of my writing heroes, David Sedaris. Met him with my friend, KT, who tagged me here. We giggled like schoolgirls when it was our turn to get books signed. We will forever be his "boozy friends" and I would like to have that engraved on my headstone, which is only fitting since I will be buried with my signed copy of Naked.

7. My first car was a 1979 Buick LeSabre. It was very green. Light green paint. Darker green roof vinyl. Medium green faux leather seats. Slightly darker green carpet. Trust me, it's not as sexy as it sounds. But it sure was sturdy. I graduated to an Oldsmobile Firenza after a year and I thought it was way cool since it had louvers on the rear window.

8. My first real job was working at Piccadilly cafeteria (just like David Sedaris!!). I started out bussing tables and was promoted to Salads after only a few weeks. The uniforms were brown double-knit with orange plaid aprons. I quit when the manager was going to make us "line girls" start wearing hairnets. It WAS at the mall and I have SOME dignity. $3.35 an hour just wasn't worth it.

9. I would love to have a cat. The day I realized I had developed a cat allergy (first pregnancy) was a gloomy one. We got a dog last year and I do love her. But a sweet cat to sit on my lap at night and keep me warm would be a good thing.

10. My new favorite cocktail is Dr. Pepper with vanilla vodka. Sinfully good.

11. I survived on Diet Mountain Dew, Snickers, Cool Ranch Doritos and Taco Bell for the last two years of college. I haven't had any of those particular "food" items in at least 10 years.

12. I love to read. After a string of heart wrenching books a few years ago I vowed never to read another tear-jerker. I've been true to that vow with one exception. Life is too short and has enough sorrow. I don't need to read about someone else's made up misery to know I am incredibly lucky.

13. Thanksgiving is fast becoming my favorite holiday. I wouldn't say it has completely usurped Christmas yet, but it's gaining fast.

14. I love thunderstorms and snow days. Not Western Kentucky kind of snow days, but the Austin kind where we just stay home, drink hot chocolate, make soup and play games or watch movies in our PJs.

15. Willy Wonka is my feel good movie for all time.

16. I have lived in five states. Oklahoma, Arizona, Wisconsin, California and Texas. Texas for the last nine years.

17. I love to cook and read cookbooks. I look forward to a day when my kids will appreciate something beyond pepperoni pizza. I also look forward to a day when I actually have time to cook.

18. I've never met a card game I didn't love. Oh, and board games! I don't really like video games but if someone talks me into playing one I get obsessive about it and find it hard to stop.

19. The Container Store is my happy place. I meander through the entire store every time I go. Even if I need only one thing.

20. I love the beach. And the mountains. I appreciate all landscapes with the exception of the desert.

21. I hate to admit it but I was a mean big sister. I like to think that I helped build my younger sister's character into the strong woman she is today by putting her through psychological boot camp for 15 years. I'm tagging her here in my continued attempts to compensate her for the years of abuse.

22. Most fun job: cocktail waitress in a bar called JW Bimbo's. I don't know what the "JW" stood for, but that was one fun job. Least fun job: Bill collector. You can understand why it would be the least fun. I was the nicest bill collector ever. And the least effective.

23. I have never liked macaroni and cheese. Blech. The strangest things I've eaten are squirrel and bear. Squirrel tasted like chicken. Bear tasted like...well...bear, I guess.

24. Having children continues to change who I am. They have made me appreciate things I previously took for granted or was so selfish I was not even be aware enough to take for granted. The range and depth of that love, joy, hope, and fear is scary as hell but I am so grateful for it.

25. I met my wonderful husband in a bar as my friend was attempting to set me up with his friend. We spent that first night playing a lot of foosball and jumping on a trampoline in the middle of the night. He stole my watch so I'd be forced to call him again. Six months later we were married.


Athletes Foot Saves the Day!

Betcha never would've thought a yucky fungus lingering silently on the damp floors of a stinky gym locker room, waiting patiently to creep onto a stray flip flop thrown haphazardly amongst the multitude of items that may come into contact with your sweet, inviting flesh would be the source of my unending appreciation and gratitude. And yet, yesterday was just that day.

I flopped my overstuffed gym bag on the floor as CCC and I wrapped up our toilette when CCC urgently hissed "pick up your bag!". I snatched it up and hastily set it on the bench. I looked at her. She looked at me. The understanding was that something horribly bad had happened on that patch of floor in my absence. My imagination quickly ran through a full range of possibilities, including a potty accident or someone sitting their naked derriere on the floor and scootching around like my high school boyfriend's terrier who had something terribly wrong with its bum. Turned out it was neither but rather a conversation had by previous lockermates in regards to a raging athletes foot infestation and the persistent nature of said athletes foot.

Which is why I promptly emptied my gym bag when I got home in order to put it in the laundry. Which is why I noticed immediately that my gym clothes were not in my bag. Which gave me the opportunity to race back to the gym and get my most favorite gym pants in the whole wide world where they had JUST been scooped up by the locker room cleaning lady. And I mean JUST. There was a brief moment when I thought she might give me a hard time when I told her they were mine, and I really didn't want to have to fight this lady for them, but I would have without hesitation. THAT'S how much I love those pants.

Thank you Athletes Foot lady!!!


Where Girls Grow Strong...

.....lugging damn cookies all over here and there and everywhere.

I am probably the most anti-Girl Scout Girl Scout leader of all time. Sort of like if Billy Graham ended up being a screaming atheist. When Big E expressed interest in joining Girl Scouts in kindergarten, she had no idea what that meant, other than lots of "girls", of which she approved greatly. Being the perfect combination of "sucker" and "control freak" that I am, it wasn't long before I was walking away from the rally with my arms filled with paperwork and instructions on how to form a troop. That was five years ago and I suppose I will continue to be a leader as long as Big E continues to be a Girl Scout. Remember? Sucker + Control Freak = Me.

The concept of Girl Scouts is great and I do believe the organization does good things for some girls, especially those girls whose families are struggling to provide the necessities let alone opportunities and / or positive role models.

But after walking the streets of our neighborhood peddling cookies in the frigid cold (OK, it was only about 40 degrees, but that is brrrr-y COLD in Austin, especially for me who has strongly considered configuring a harness that straps to my body to carry my hot water bottle with me everywhere I go), the acrid taste won't leave me alone.

Here's the problem. I feel like our girls are being pimped out to raise money for an organization that doesn't give back as much as it gets to MOST of the girls. We keep a ridiculously low amount from the sale of each box of cookies (about 12%) and yet still have to pay full price to participate in Girl Scout events and activities. The uniforms are exorbitantly priced. Then we are asked to donate even more money from our troop to support other Girl Scout programs. Oy vey! It's turning me into a bitter lady and I don't like that. I want it to be a positive experience for the girls and it still is for now. But what about when they get old enough to realize they're being taken advantage of?

Soooo, want to buy some Girl Scout cookies?


It's still about Hope.

Much like the short-timers who have been clogging MY treadmill at the gym for the last two weeks, I started off '09 on such a roll! Five posts in the first seven days or some nuttiness? Then nothing. Zip. A desolate blogging void. Is it possible I'm becoming a Bi-polar Blogger? There's certainly some evidence to indicate so. Even the resolution-crazed treadmill hogs at the gym have lasted longer than I did. I give 'em another six days until I get my trustworthy treadmill back all to myself. Mine!

Of course, this day couldn't pass without a brief comment on the big events of this day so I am being yanked out of the Blogging Abyss. So, let's see...what happened today?...I got all the laundry done (an undisputably magnificent feat that happens with the frequency of an eclipse), I got a ticket (darn out-of-date inspection sticker and suck-the-fun-out-of-my-day, John McCain-loving policeman!), and Little A got a pencil from the substitute teacher for being such a good boy today. Speaking of which....he had a substitute teacher because his teacher was in Washington. Seriously! AND Big E's teacher was in Washington! Super Seriously! I have been eaten alive with piercing jealousy because they got to go to.....

.....this little gathering of politicos in Washington. That's right. TODAY was the inauguration.

Somehow the PTA watch party ended up at our house (one of only seven houses in all of Austin without cable. Sorry, no CNN or MSNBC...and you wouldn't get FOX even if we DID have cable because it just would not be allowed. If you want to see what "the other side" is saying, you'll have to watch elsewhere). So we flipped between the networks and were careful not to stand in the way of the rabbit ears as we watched, commented, laughed, cried, exclaimed, and admired. And THAT was all over Michelle's dress. Badum bum! But seriously folks....

As the Obamas escorted the Bush's to the helicopter I began to feel a slight trace of pity and sorrow for GW, who (I feel) was never really up for the enormous job that was thrust into his lap.

But I digress... It was a sensational day. The sun shined. The Obamas shined. The American people shined. Tomorrow, back to the real world and the real problems. But today - was a good one. Now we hope.


Bring on the cold

I will never fear camping in November again!

Unless it's really, REALLY cold. Because I'd have to get out of THIS sooner or later and THAT would not be good.

I couldn't wait to try out my new sleeping bag today and sure enough, it was toasty warm. The whole time I was in it I couldn't escape the vision of this As Seen On TV apparel / blanket contraption that assaulted my eyeballs at the gym this morning:My tolerance for temperature variance in the winter is below low. Our thermostat stays at 68 degrees during the day and I bundle up like I'm preparing for an dogsled race. If I'm sitting, I'm under a blanket. And yet. I don't think I could put myself in one of these. All I can think is Sith Lord or Helen Roper (remember Three's Company?) and her famous caftans, which pretty much defined mature ladies of the 70s, in my mind.

I definitely prefer the Sith Lord.


My Sally Field moment

Facebook: The best thing to happen for birthdays since the cake.

I've been fairly effective at spreading the word about my birthday over the years, incrementally adding the amount of "airtime" I give to that particular topic each year so as to not overwhelm everyone years ago when I first moved to Austin. It's all about baby steps! It seemed I needed to ease into my birthday being front and center in January rather than hitting everyone hard.

This tactic has been a smashing success and now, with Facebook, the word is definitely out. The full breadth and scale of my birthday was felt yesterday when every time I checked my email the Inbox was overflowing with birthday wishes from friends from coast-to-coast, and even a few from across one or two oceans. Or the phone was ringing. Or my phone was buzzing with texts. I feel so loved.

You like me. You REALLY like me!



The Christmas pilgrimage to Oklahoma took place before the holiday this year, completely throwing off my MoJo. Although it was a great trip with Much Fun and Family Togetherness, I was unable to get my Christmas cards out. I had decided to switch to a postcard format to Save the Earth but then days slipped through my fingers and it just didn't happen. My disgraceful procrastination resulted in an email greeting, which, on a good note, has literally added years to the Earth's life expectancy. Or so Bubble Boy has reassured me.

The Togetherness Activities in OKC always include a trip to the Science Museum of Oklahoma, aka The Omniplex. After about 20 years of not changing anything, they've finally made some great updates and there was fun for all. Explosion shows, rides on a Segway, pirates, legos, marble runs, and multiple studies on motion, electricity, and all that other science-y stuff.

We couldn't get The Boy away from the marble run.

Somehow we managed to get eleven people to The Nutcracker on time. My crowd-a-phobia was threatening to rear its ugly head but I stamped it down and think I was successful in not seeming too bitchy and short-tempered. If you didn't see it that way, please hush up and let me enjoy my fantasy. Little A watched with rapt attention as the music played and the dancers danced. He was equally mesmerized by the orchestra as the dancers. We had the opportunity to meet some of the dancers after the performance. Little A was so excited to have his photo taken with the Prince / Nutcracker. His comment afterwards (with a VERY concerned look and in hushed tones), "he looks REALLY different up close". Um. Yeah.

Clara did not look so different and was very sweet.

This is what I was off doing when I should have been addressing and stamping Christmas cards. I hope that my public confession here will beg a smidge of forgiveness. Think of the earth.