Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sayonara 2009

I've never been very good at introspection and reflection. When you combine my weaknesses in those areas with my complete lack of insight and my terribly deficient memory, well, I guess I should be thankful I have a blog through which I have chronicled my last year with mediocrity and inadequacy.

It's better than nothing, right?

So here are what I consider my Top Ten Blog Moments of 2009.

1) I started the year with a blog name change. However, I never got a cool banner.

2) I talked about American Idol and The Bachelor a lot.

3) In February, we survived some bad weather.

4) I single-handedly solved the problem of how to deal with terrorists. Haven't heard anything from the government yet, though.

5) Here, I rambled a bit. And Missy's room never got painted. Goals- I achieve them!

6) I got to talk to Dave Ramsey on his radio show!

7) The boys played T-ball over the summer while I cursed the myself for such a crappy idea.

8) Jason busted a shop lifter Chuck Norris style. Sort of.

9) Cade had his gorgeous hair lopped off. And I cried.

10) And the culmination of my bloggy existence was meeting The Pioneer Woman in Austin. And then having HER LINK TO MY BLOG FROM HER BLOG. It was truly the highlight of my blogging year.

I'm generally not one for goals and aspirations because I seriously have enough arbitrary internal pressure in my life. But I do have a few improvements I'd like to make to the ole blog, which I plan to outline tomorrow if I can possibly tear myself away from all the cleaning and organizing I plan to do, so stay tuned!

And no, I will not be starting a food blog, so please stop begging.

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

World Wide Web Wednesday 12.23.09

In fake honor of our non-existent Latino heritage, it's become tradition in our house to rock Christmas Eve with a full fajita fiesta. Then we dance around with maracas to Jose Feliciano (OK- not really on that last part).

For the last few years, we've (and by "we" I mean Jason) grilled up fajita meat, smashed avocados into oblivion for guacamole and melted American cheese product into the most divine melt-y queso dip ever.

It's totally authentic. Just like the Tex-Mex restaurants do it.

That's why I was really sad when I found out that Jason has to work until 7:00 PM on Thursday, AKA Christmas Eve, this year.

So this year I decided that heating up the grill sometime around 7:30 and waiting roughly an hour to get everything prepared with 3 impatient children SOUNDS pretty much like the best way to extinguish any amount of Christmas cheer I might have left by that time.

Instead, with all the Christmas optimism I could muster, I suggested that it might be fun to have a huge brunch before Jason goes to work and then do finger foods and desserts for the evening. Since that puts me in the kitchen from here until New Year's instead of Jason, he thought it was a great idea!

I spent some time researching and developing a well-rounded menu that includes items from all four food groups: cheese, cream cheese, butter, and sugar. Seriously- I bought 6 blocks of cream cheese and 12 sticks of butter. Come to mama!

In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, I now share them with you. Some of these I've made before and others are new to me.

(And apparently, in my world, most Christmas goodies take the form of a ball. I'm going to leave that one alone.)

Pepperoni Bread (I just took this out of the oven and I suspect it may take a chain saw to slice it. Not sure where I went wrong with a recipe designed FOR KIDS. Oh, maybe it was when I actually thought I could do it.)

Oreo Balls (These are TRIPLE YUM! Except something funky happened with my coating which reminded me how much I HATE WORKING WITH ALMOND BARK).

Cheese Ball (Haven't tried this one yet. But how can you go wrong with cheese, cream cheese, and ranch dressing?)

PW Holiday Bacon Appetizers (I KNOW these will be a success. I've made them three times recently and everyone always goes back for more. With a side of defibrillator.)

Sausage Balls (One of my favorites that I only make around the holidays for some unexplainable reason. They could totally be breakfast, dinner, or a snack! SO versatile.)

Chocolate Chip Cake (One of my all-time favorite desserts. And it's pretty easy except for grating the German chocolate, but I'll probably employ some slave labor in the form of one of my children for that part.)

Mini Cheesy Garlic Popovers (I'll be the first to admit that I probably shouldn't bake a popover when I'm not 100% sure what a popover is. But maybe this way I won't know if it goes exactly WRONG. And they sound easy and I have all the ingredients already, so y'all just pray for me in this endeavor.)

And because nothing says "Happy Holidays" quite like frozen meatballs in a crockpot, we're throwing some of those bad boys in to thaw with some BBQ Sauce. Meatballs will provide a nice balance to all the bread and cheese, don't you agree? Because I'm all about gourmet cuisine. Watch for my food blog coming soon!

Merry Christmas y'all!

"But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Luke 2:10-14

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Tour of Homes 2009

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

For WEEKS I've known that The Nester was hosting this year's Christmas Tour of Homes. Possibly MONTHS, but I plead the fifth regarding the exact timeline.

So let's all just agree that we are not surprised that I'm scrambling around way past the last minute trying to put together some kind of coherent blog post. Add in some poor photography and I may have taken mediocrity to a whole new level.

This is my first year to participate in the Christmas Tour of Homes. Which means that I have at least one thing in common with the all-too-fabulous Nester because it's her first year to host it! I totally heart the Nester and her decorating inspiration.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was feeling completely uninspired as I began unpacking my Christmas finery a week ago. The internet has SO MANY GREAT IDEAS that, even though it means well, it can still make one feel a teeny weeny bit inadequate in her holiday beautification capabilities.

Or maybe I'm projecting.

However, I just wasn't happy with what I had. So I dug down deep and came up with a touch of creativity and made peace with myself over the fact that it might not be perfect, but we love it. And that's what matters most!

Here's how it turned out:

The inside of our front door is decorated with a gold ribbon to which we affixed paperclips (Klassy) to hold our Christmas cards. Then we use the number of Christmas cards we receive to gauge our level of popularity each year. It's still early, right?

On the wall next to the door hangs this little piece. During the year, I have sets of metal antiquey-looking keys hanging here. So I feel these balls are a little anti-climactic, but acceptable. For now. I promise to do better next year.

The tree! The piece de resistance! You'll never guess which ornaments were placed on the tree by the boys, so I'll give you a hint: It's all the red ones strung across the bottom. It looks really fab all lit up, but something about my mad photog skillz makes it looks kinds pitiful.

I went a little crazy buying Christmas decorations a few years ago and then a year or two after that. Back when berries were all the rage in the Pottery Barn catalog. The problem with going a little crazy trying to recreate the pages of a home design periodical is that they can afford to set the trends each year and you get stuck with a bunch of fake berries that look soooo early 2000s. And you also have our centerpiece.

Our sideboard is home for my Willow Tree Nativity. I really do love this set. The set of candlesticks on the left belonged to my great-aunt. Too bad one of the the pillar candles was broken in the process of knick knack redistribution process by some one who shall remain nameless, but his name rhymes with Fason.

Here's a faraway (technical term) of our mantle. Clearly, we are masters at disguising the pesky extension cords used to power the lighted trees and garland. We may use flourescent pink cords next year. Wrapped in yellow caution tape.

Funny story about the pillars on these candlesticks. Jason and I got engaged 2 weeks after our first date. We got married 6 months later and found out we were pregnant (surprise!) 6 months after that. We don't particularly spend liberal amounts of time making important decisions.

So, no one was more surprised than I when I found myself wandering around Kohl's a week ago with $20 in cold hard Kohl's cash with no idea how to spend it. Seriously. I'm ashamed to admit- I agonized.

I won't bore you with the details of all the items I considered and decided against, but I actually thought about giving up and leaving $20 cold hard Kohl's cash unspent. But I was afraid of turning into a pillar of salt.

Then I saw these nifty candles! They are battery-operated for a "life-like flicker." No flames to remember to extinguish and they do look waxy and irregular. Life-like!

The green sign by the pillars is actually a painted brick. It has our family name on it, but I blurred it out. I probably have enough personally identifiable information on this blog without leading creeps to my front door.

The frame is one of my finer triumphs this season! It used to be a mirrored tray that broke. I used the mirror on the table centerpiece, and just hot-glued the jingle bell to the back of the frame. Cute! And simple!

The Waterford ornaments are from my parents- they bought a dated "My First Christmas" ornament for each of my children when they were born. The crystal is much too heavy to hang on the tree. But even if they were light as feathers, I'd still be terrified of them falling off and breaking into a thousand irreplaceable pieces.

Here's a view of how it all flows together. It's one medium-sized winter wonderland!

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pioneer Woman in Austin

As I mentioned yesterday, my friend Mandi and I loaded ourselves into my minivan to head down I-35 to a bookstore in Austin to meet the Pioneer Woman and have our cookbooks signed.

No matter how many times I tried to explain, I decided that it never gets easier, or starts to sound any cooler, to say, "There's this blog I read. On the internet. And the lady who writes it? Well, she also wrote a cookbook. And I'm going to drive 3 1/2-4 hours round trip in order to get her to sign it."

If you haven't tasted the PW kool-aid, you just won't understand.

Mandi packed some snacks for us since we couldn't leave town until shortly after 4:00. Because who has time to stop and eat dinner when rumor has it that Ree/PW's Dallas event lasted until 2:00 AM (as in THE MORNING. Or really, THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. Or as I like to call it, "The Time Of Day That I Hope I Never Have To Be Awake For Again. Ever.")?

We were desperately hoping beyond hope that 1) no one in Austin knows about Ree/PW beacuse they're too busy being weird or, the more likely scenario, 2) we would get to the event early enough that we would be able to be back on the road for home before midnight.

Another friend, and local Austinite, gave us excellent directions for avoiding the interstate in Austin at rush hour and instead took us around MoPac, assuring us that MoPac would be moving smoothly at that time of evening.

Unfortunately, I was a bit unclear about the exit to MoPac and ended up taking the wrong one. Which ultimately meant that, to head back in the right direction, I had to drive over a freakishly tall bridge.

And I have a phobia of freakishly tall bridges. Gephyrophobia.

But that's a post for another day. Or never.

To the 183S bridge: You blindsided me with your presence, but I conquered you with my perilous 25 mph speed, sweaty palms, and palpitating heart. You kept your end of the bargain by not throwing us over your edge to plummet to our fiery death. So I will uphold my end of the bargain and will never intentionally drive over you again.

We did indeed hit stand-still traffic on MoPac. And do you have any idea how stressful it is for a Type A personality to watch the ETA minutes on her GPS climb and climb and climb and not be able to do anything about it? No? IT'S STRESSFUL.

That GPS feature is simply a technological torture device, taunting me with its smug satellite accuracy.

My Austinite friend might be dead to me today had she not suggested an alternate route which got us moving out of traffic so that we reached our destination approximately 30 minutes before the event was to begin.

When we found the bookstore, we got our wristbands for the signing line and found out we were in the 4th group, which meant there were about 180 people who would be in line ahead of us. Ree/PW was going to come out at about 7:00 for a brief Q&A, then we'd cut to the chase and get the signing thing going.

We all crowded into a space the size of a cracker jack box and waited until about 7:20/30ish. One of the bookstore associates, bless his heart. He split the group down the middle and had us shout "PIONEER" "WOMAN" back and forth, and frankly it was rather embarrassing. I refrained. He called it a "Rock Star" entrance, but I think it was just his feeble attempt at killing time. Because let's be honest. The last time any of us did something like that, it was in 3rd grade.
Ree/PW came down and was just as delightful and charming as she is on her blog. She joked effortlessly and was truly absolutely adorable.

I realize the picture quality from my iPhone is astounding(ly bad). Objects in picture are closer than they appear.

She wrapped up the Q&A about 7:40/7:45ish. And then we all got to stand around and wait for our color to be called for the signing line.

Mandi and I spent the next coupleish of hours browsing the store, chit-chatting with other PW fans, and people-watching. Austin might be the people-watching capital of the universe.

I found that all the waiting was making me particularly thirsty. Or my nagging thirst could have been due partially to the fact that I had a slightly elevated body temperature as a result of wearing 3 layers of clothing because some irrational part of me was afraid we might have been expected to wait in a line located outside. In the elements. The freezing, blustery, downright stinking cold elements.

Black Friday lines have traumatized me and I may never be the same. But as God is my witness, I'll never be cold standing outside in a line again! As God is my witness! {fist held high}

We went to the bookstore cafe and purchased bottled water from a guy who was as bland as toast, then hung around and waited some more. At 9:15ish it was finally our turn to get into the maze of a line and wait. I truly thought the line moved fairly quickly and Mandi and I were taking bets on whether we would be out of the store by 10 or 10:30.

At 9:30 we still had to go

up this set of stairs (yes, that's Ree/PW's oldest "punk" on the left. She was wearing some super cute boots (which I also snapped a picture of, but this post is already getting a little tired, don't ya think?)

up this set of stairs

and across this landing into the room where PW was signing.

While standing in line, we chatted with Marlboro Man for a minute about how bizarre it feels for tens of thousands of strangers to know everything about you, from what time you roll out of bed in the morning to the names of your pets to what kind of sandwich you like best (I bet Jason can't even name MY favorite sandwich). But he agreed they are friendly strangers and said he's enjoying the book tour.

To pass even more time, Mandi and I solved all of the worlds problems, except for the phenomenon of why my purse still felt liked it weighed the same heavy amount when I only had one cookbook in it (mine) as it did when I was carrying 2 books in it (hers and mine).

Finally, after all the waiting, it was my turn! While Ree/PW was signing my book, I babbled on about how my husband does all the cooking (with good reason), but that everything I've made from her cookbook has been delicious (totally original, I KNOW!). And then she said to me...

She said...

I have no idea what she said. Everything started happening at once- my book was signed, she moved on to sign Mandi's book, there was more talking, some vague directions from the bookstore associates, shuffling around into a pose for a picture, thinking about how much I hoped I didn't look like an idiot, a flash and then, "Thank you, girls, for coming out." Next!

And it was over. We didn't even get to discuss our possible shared lineage based on our overwhelming similarities.

Marlboro Man and Ree/PW's brother-in-law (who I recognized from her blog, of course) were passing out t-shirts, which Mandi and I gladly took. We thanked them, bid them goodnight and set out for home. At 10:00!

It felt nice to sit down once we got in the car after All the Standing In Line. And my shoulder was hurting from lugging my crap around all night. Because Mamaw is 90 and doesn't get around quite as well as she used to, so pass that Ben-Gay over here while I find my Dr. Scholl's.

It turned out to be a great night, despite the dicey-ness of the traffic and the bridge. So thanks, Ree/PW for blogging, for cooking, and for photographing, and for being an all-around charming human being!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's like we're twins separated at birth.

She takes beautiful pictures and fabulously edits them with her self-developed action sets in Photoshop.

I own a DSLR that I keep on autofocus because I have no idea how to operate it (Manual? What manual?). Or I hand it to Jason to take the pictures. The use of the word Photoshop and the slightest inkling that I would have to operate it makes my head feel like I'm developing an aneurysm.

She creates original mouth-watering recipes and has compiled them all into a best-selling cookbook that you can practically read cover-to-cover.

I catch pans on fire. And burn frozen pizzas. And submerge my hands into boiling marshmallows without thinking first.

She homeschools her 4 beautiful children after getting up before the sun rises to document the sweat and hard work that goes into raising cows and horses on her family's huge expanse of acreage.

I work full-time and come home to a small rent house in a slightly, um, urbanish area. After I pick the children up from school/daycare. It's a good day if I refrain from yelling at the kids in the morning when it's really my fault we're late because I woke up too late.

Her blog posts gets trillions of hits per day (each with terribly witty comments), even if she isn't giving away one of her amazing prizes like a $500 gift card or a fully stocked kitchen. When she hosts an unbelieveable giveaway, she gets zillions of hits.

No one is knocking on my virtual door begging to give away prize packages on my blog because my blog is completely unknown on the interwebs. Do I even exist? Is there such a thing as a blog? (I'm feeling existential.)

She's a thin redheaded former ballerina.

I'm a brunette with a slight "winter" build (in preparation for hibernation) who stomped around on her high school's dance team performing military and pom routines without any formal training.

I'm pretty sure The Pioneer Woman and I couldn't be more dissimilar, but that may be why I love her blog more'n my luggage. Her recipes are accessible (even to me!) and her photography is inspiring. Her writing is random and hilarious.

I'm thrilled to be making the trip down to Austin tonight to meet her and have her sign my copy of her new cookbook. My friend Mandi and I may have to wait in line for hours, but it will be great blog fodder a blog-worthy adventure!

And then I may sleep with her cookbook under my pillow in hopes that some of her fabulousness rubs off on me!

World Wide Web Wednesday 12.02.09

I grew up in the age of Atari 2600 and the Apple II-E with their 5"x5" floppy disks and KILObytes of memory.

Today I carry tens of thousands more bytes of memory in my purse or pocket on a daily basis.

Back in my senior year in high school when we students were working on a major biographical research project, our teacher herded us into the library and excitedly informed us that the librarian had access to an amazing new invention that allowed us the ability to use a "search engine" on the computer to locate and print articles related to the subject of our research.

One by one we were allowed into the inner sanctum of the library where the lone computer with internet access (probably dial-up) was housed. The LIBRARIAN, not the student, typed the search words into the Yahoo search engine to see what information would magically appear from the nebulous expanse known as the INTERNET.

Today it's no wonder I'm constantly in awe of the inspiration and information out there on the interwebs. And what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't give shout-outs (Shout outs? Props? Whatever the kids are saying these days...) to all the incredible bloggers out there with their astounding creativity?

I'm making these coasters as gifts for friends, teachers, and maybe even family. These directions are slightly different, but the concept is the same. These are super cute, yet INEXPENSIVE gifts. Right up my budgeted-to-the-hilt alley.

I've also made some pillows combining these directions with these directions. I prefer using the canvas drop cloth, and the freezer paper stencil idea works like a charm! I cut the stencils using my Cricut, but you could certainly do it using a craft knife on print outs from the computer.

My recent ardor for gluing, cutting, painting, and papering, means that no inanimate object can escape my scrutinous eye. I'm like the crafting eye of Mordor. Only slightly less evil.

Or I'm eight years old again.

And since our family's eating space has been reassigned to the two bar stools on the kitchen island (you do the math- 2 sdults, 3 children, 2 stools) due to an eruption of crafting supplies, Jason agreed to let me transform our laundry room/storage room into a craft room. Complete with washer and dryer!

In an effort to prepare for the transformation, and in a feeble attempt to organize my supplies, I've recently copied this idea as well as this one.

If I was a more accomplished or effective blogger, I would probably have taken pictures of my handiwork. Lo, I am apathetic.

OK, I'm not really apathetic. I'm just too tired at night when I finish my projects to take pictures, download them, blah blah blah, zzzzzzzzzzz. PAthetic might be a better word.

So here's a huge THANKS to everyone who brings glances of inspiration straight to my Google Reader daily.

Yes I love technology, but not as much as you, you see.
But I still love technology.
Always and Forever.

(I'm linking up to to WFMW because I really do love those coasters that I've made for gifts. And mostly because I think these are adorable!! And now I have a chance to win one!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Blazings, I mean, Blessings

By now, this post is completely irrelevant in the blog world right now. Everyone has moved on to Advent/Christmas/Holiday blogging and I haven't even managed to download my Thanksgiving pictures until today.

Oh, the woes of a working mom... Just wait until this blog starts making me enough cash to replace the income that my masters degree currently secures me. Just you wait...

We did have a nice Thanksgiving, thanks for asking. That is, until my mom's oven caught on fire and the rolls almost didn't get to bake. And how is one expected to complete one's annual Thanksgiving carb loading without a brown-n-serve roll or five (those things are pretty small...)?

Turns out the pan my mom roasted the turkey in had small holes in it (weird) and so some of the turkey grease dripped through onto the heating element. The smoke is created was manageable through the use of fans and open windows, so we thought we were in the clear. Unfortunately, we were wrong.

Not long after we put the rolls in the oven to brown, a small grease fire sparked in the bottom of the oven.

Thankfully my mom had the presence of mind to remove the oven racks and dump baking soda to extinguish the flame while the rest of us yayhoos stood around with our thumbs up our noses.

Unthankfully, I did not have the presence of mind to take a picture of the blaze. I did, however, manage to snap some shots of the fire truck that arrived.

The security system at my parents house called the fire department as soon as the smoke detectors went off. Once they found out there was no need for the services of these men, they tried to stop them before they headed out for our "emergency" but it was too late.

My mom, in true Southern style, offered the fire men a plate of lunch for their time, but they insisted that they had just sat down to their own lunch when they got the call. Murphy's Law, right? They were good sports about the entire incident, though.

My mom insists that this is the first time the we've had an actual fire on Thanksgiving, although we've had several close calls with the marshmallows on top of the sweet potatoes.

I, on the other hand, distinctly remember the marshmallows catching fire one time years ago.

Those innocent white puffs are highly combustible.

I spent the rest of Thanksgiving day strategizing for Black Friday. My mom stayed up to head to Toys R Us with me at midnight, but the line was entirely too long for me to wait for a half-price light saber.

To quote Micah, he wants another one to "complete [his] collection." My time, however, is worth at least the extra 5 spot it's going to cost me for not waiting in line in the middle of the night to purchase Star Wars weaponry.

Jason and I headed to Kohl's at 3:00 AM because they opened at 4. It's at this point that I must retract my statement from last year about Kohl's allowing holds on Wednesday. It seems some Kohl's employees are much more uptight about such things and refuse to allow this practice. It may be regional.

Anyway, Jason sat in the warm car while I froze my appendages off standing in lone for an hour. I couldn't even use my iPhone as a distraction because my fingers were too numb. At about 5 minutes 'til 4, Jason got in line and I reviewed our next play. He was to fetch the camera for Micah while I selected a new scarf for myself. In hopes of making the wait in the Target line more bearable.

Jason and I were the first people to check out at Kohl's, and then we headed to Target. Once again, Jason waited in the car while I stood in line. We got what we needed at Target fairly quickly.

When our total came up, we were a few dollars short of the $100 needed to get the $10 gift card, so Jason threw in a $4.00 bag of beef jerky. Our total still came up short, so he threw in 2 more bags.

The moral of the story is that it's unwise to spend $12 on beef jerky for a $10 gift card. In our defense, we were pretty bleary-eyed thanks to the early hour.

We stopped by TRU after that, but that place was pretty much cleaned out. It was totally fine because we were broke by that time anyway. I still have a couple of gifts to buy online, but I'm happy with our BF success!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving and a Black Friday Flashback

As I sit here being eternally thankful that my parents' house didn't burn down around us today (despite the oven's best efforts. But that's a blog for another day. With pictures!), and sharpening my elbows in preparation for the execution of my Black Friday shopping strategy (which begins in just under an hour and a half from now), I decided to pull an old blog from the archives to repost. It's a retelling of my adventures from Black Friday 2008. I promise to be back soon with tales of more Black Friday shopping tomfoolery. Lord willing.


Friday, November 28, 2008

I Braved Black Friday Crowds and Lived to Tell the Tale

As everyone knows, today is THE biggest shopping day of the year. And could I even pretend to claim shopping as my spiritual gift if I were unwilling to venture out pre-sunrise on Black Friday? That would be a negative, Ghostrider. So after 3 stops last night to locate a newspaper for the ads, I finally got my hands on the ads and planned my shopping strategy, which began with getting to JC Penney at 4:00 AM. I cannot tell you the last time I saw 4:00 AM willingly. Or if I've EVER seen 4 AM willingly.

The line at JCP was pretty short when I parked at 3:40 AM (WHAT?!?!). So I waited in my locked van (Have I mentioned that, due to my stranger phobia, I rarely, if ever, venture out in the dark alone? Let's just say I've seen 1 too many TV shows where fake crimes have been committed against fictional characters. I'm a little jumpy in the dark. Today was a real breakthrough for me.) until 3:50 and then got in line to wait. To my supreme luck, it began sprinkling. But seriously, due to my bad habit of neglecting to clean out my van of all the extra crap that accumulates over time, I was surprisingly prepared with a waterproof pull-over.

I got into JCP at 4, and went straight to the toys where I was hoping to score a Batmobile for Cade for the low low price of $15. Too bad it was a remote-controlled vehicle, which was not what I was wanting at all. I browsed the jewelry section briefly, until I noticed a Chester Molester looking fella who seemed to be following me around (paranoid, much? I told you- it's a real problem). So I hightailed it out of JCP and drove to the-store-who-must-not-be-named, where all the great deals started at 5:00.

Apparently, our store-who-must-not-be-named is open 24 hrs. Which means that, rather than everyone waiting in line outside, these same crazies were INSIDE WITH THEIR CARTS clogging up the aisles. It was ridiculous. I could barely get down any of the aisles to figure out where the cheap crap I wanted was located. I was on a mission for the $29 bike and parked my own cart right next to them. I befriended 2 ladies who were shopping together and they shared some Black Friday secrets with me and 1 of them even kept an eye on my cart whilst I mapped out the remainder of my plan of attack. As I was standing in the Crayola aisle examining an art set, a kind lady politely informed me that I had put my top on inside out. Nice. It was one of those longer tops (a friend of mine calls them "shresses"- is it a shirt? a dress? It's a shress!) and I did have a sweater over it, so I don't think it was too obvious. In my defense, I got dressed quickly AND in the dark, so it was an honest mistake, to be sure. I made a mental note to turn it the right way once I was safely back in my locked van.

At 5:00 store-who-must-not-be-named time, someone must have blown a whistle or threw down a flag or something, b/c all of the crazies simultaneously began lunging toward the pallets loaded with merchandise. I quickly got my bike and even scored the Batmobile. I was checked out and loaded back in my van headed to Toys R Us by 5:10. Not too shabby.

By the time I got to TRU, there was no waiting in line. The crazies were inside the store already. Thankfully, my children are not of the age that electronics are the order of the day, so I was able to steer around those crowds and head straight to the Iron Man dress up costume that I think Micah giggle with delight over on Christmas morning. Actually, I had one helpful associate help me locate my item and the poor guy got accosted 4 different times with various questions while trying to point me in the right direction. I hope those employees got holiday pay or a back massage or something extra for helping all the crazies today.

I was out the door of TRU by 5:30, so I scooted on over to Target for the $15 Air Hog helicopter, which is the ONLY thing Micah has asked for this year. Cade, on the other hand, wants one of everything. When I took him to TRU a few weeks ago, his pure unadulterated joy at every item on the shelves (Wrapping paper! Awesome! Transformers! Awesome! That dino thing! Awesome! That unidentifiable toy! Awesome! Literally this is how it went until I threatened to take him home if he didn't stop making me look like the mom who keeps her kid locked in a closet with little to no contact to the outside world.) was endearing and yet disturbing at the same time. Either we need to teach him more about thankfulness and appreciating what you have or this kid needs to get out more.

ANYWAY, when I got to Target, the line was wrapped around the building. Obviously, I missed the memo that Target had some not-to-be-missed deals, b/c I was just there for a flimsy plastic helicopter. I conducted an informal poll of people standing in line near me and the general consensus was that no one was there for any one thing in particular. Except me. By the time I located the Air Hogs, there were only 3 left. I picked up one to look at it and while I was examining it for suitability, the other 2 got snatched up. So I decided to purchase the one I was holding by default.

The checkout lines at Target weren't too intimidating either and I was back in my warm (locked) van by 6:20. My next stop was Kohl's, but I knew I needed some edible reinforcements before I braved the looooong lines that Kohl's is notorious for every day of the week, not to mention Black Friday. To my credit, I went to Kohl's on Wednesday and put the toys I was purchasing on hold. Now, my friends, aren't you glad you've read this diatribe thus far for that little tidbit of info? Yes, it's true. If you do holds on Wednesday, they will still be waiting for you at the customer service counter on Friday. It took no time to get the goods, but it took forever to check out. 20 minutes. By far the longest wait to checkout, hands down. It was 7:30 when I drove away from Kohl's.

I made a couple of other superflous stops on the way home, including a stop in the McD's drive-thru for breakfast for the children. I was home by 8:00 AM on a major shopping high, just 4 short hours after beginning my excursion. Once the kiddos were seated around the table chowing down on their eggs and sausage, I went back to bed.

For the most part, my Christmas shopping is complete!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Google feed questions

I realized recently that my blog only shows up as a partial feed in Google reader. Is this a completely annoying turn-off for blog readers?

I've had a continuously burning mental struggle considering the merits and drawbacks of partial and full feeds. Which probably means I need to get a real life.

On the one hand, I feel like a partial feed makes my stats more accurate because it pushes my traffic to the actual site so I can see how many people actually read my blog. Or at least navigate to it, even if they did find it by googling "I'm a very humble person t-shirt."

And let's be honest- I'm no Pioneer Woman. If my blog was getting zillions of hits daily, I don't think I would really care about stat-counting anymore. I would just know people were reading. I'd know it by the fact that my blog would have hundreds of comments. Because I'm intuitive like that. But if I get 20ish hits in a day, I'm pretty pumped. 30 or more and I'm ready to break out the good wine. The one you drink from the box.

On the other hand, I prefer to be able to access full feeds through reader which makes me a hypocrite, plain and simple. There are few blogs I find myself interested in enough to click through the partial feed to the original post. I try to leave comment love on all of the smaller blogs I read (which means accessing the original post), but the others, like PW, I just peruse in my reader because I'm lazy.

So, what say you, readers? Both of you. Partial or full feed? Or Choice C, which is "I think you should just shut this whole operation down, stat!"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I have a confession (Alternate title: The Dumbest Reason Not to Blog)

I haven't blogged in almost a month. Have I been busy? Absolutely. But has a tiny part of me just been avoiding blogging altogether? Absolutely.

See, I have a serious case of blog envy. Serious. Because my blog doesn't have a niche. I've faced this before. I tried to pretend it doesn't bother me. But lately it's been paralyzing to the point of avoiding the blog completely.

I don't have goals for my blog. I never really figured I needed them. I was blogging because I liked it. But somewhere along the way, I realized there's so much more that REAL bloggers do that I don't. I don't have a niche. I can't take pictures worth beans. Based on the number of meals I've burned/overcooked/otherwise rendered inedible lately in my lifetime, there's no need to be tuning in for the debut of my cooking blog. I work full-time, so I'm not writing a homeschool/preschool/mom-blog. I consider myself successful when I access wireless internet on my iPhone without imploding the universe, so I certainly can't add anything to the tech blog scene. Of course, there's nothing like good writing, and this is nothing like good writing. And have you read Boomama and Bigmama? Wit that cannot be matched.

So, what exactly am I doing and why would anybody want to read (besides you, mom)?

I considered participating in NaBloPoMo just to get back on the bandwagon, but seriously, NOVEMBER? That's like saying, "You know what's brilliant? For me to impose completely unnecessary and arbitrary stress into my life really close to the holidays when I'm already thisclose to needing a dose or ten of Prozac in order to manage all the gift-buying, menu-planning, schedule-juggling, budget-drafting, house-decorating, school-partying hoopla that accompanies this quarter of the year!"

So, maybe I'm having a tiny identity crisis. An itsy bitsy pity party. If you want to join me, I'll bring the black balloons and you bring the snacks. You definitely don't want me cooking.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WWW Wednesday 10.28.09

I came across a real gem today. The ultimate website for a smart arse like me.

Do you know how many times in my entire life, or at least in the last 13-almost-14 years since Google's been available, I've wanted to tell someone, "Your Google is as good as mine!"? Now I can, in an equally condescending, yet more passive-agressive tone:

Let Me Google That For You

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Piper!

My precious little love, my ray of sunshine, my pretty princess turned 3 today!


Happy 3rd birthday, baby! I love you!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Recognizing Weirdness

Today as I was driving the boys home from school, Micah, in a moment of introspection, asked, "Mommy, do you know what's weird about me?"

I had an answer on the tip of my tongue, but in an unusual moment of self-control, I simply asked, "What?"

Micah: "Well, sometimes I say I don't like to eat something but I really do. Like graham crackers. I say I don't like them, but I really do a little bit."

Me: "Why do you say you don't like something if you really do?"

Micah: "I don't know. That's the weird part."

Me: "That's not weird. There has to be a reason why you say you that."

Micah: "I wish I'd never gotten into this.

I know the feeling, buddy. I really do.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I'm such a great blogger that I forgot to title my post before I hit publish. Seriously.

I know it seems like I've abandoned my blog lately. Probably because I have. I just haven't felt much like blogging, I suppose. I'm actually pretty content to just read the blogs of other people who can do things like "employ sound writing techniques" and "find their blog's niche."

But today I discovered, quite by accident, how to add that cute little signature to the bottom of each of my blog entries. Maybe now I'll have a new reason to live blog.

For fun, I created this:

Because it looks exactly how I sign my name each day with my calligraphy pen.

And by calligraphy pen, I mean whatever writing utensil I can locate in my exact moment of need, including, but not limited to map pencils and crayons. Yes, I have stooped that low. But only because I have children who occasionally render my soundness of mind nonexistent.

And does anyone call them map pencils anymore? Or is "colored pencils" more politically correct and inclusive?

In other news, I have no idea how to conclude this blog post, so I'm just going to hope my cute new signature distracts "all" my "readers" by disguising my complete lack of writing ability.

Kind of like how fancy talking and a little charisma can win you the Nobel Peace Prize.

Yes, I went there.

See, here it is:

And one more time:

Bye now!

Friday, September 4, 2009

DipTacular 2009

*For some reason, blogger is being very ornery and is choosing erase all the spaces I'm typing between paragraphs. I apologize for the craziness and the unappealing layout of this blog entry. If anyone knows how to help, kindly email me.

**Now there are too many spaces, but when I start looking at the HTML code so I can fix the megabytes in order to correct the RAM settings for the IP address, I get my computer knowledge all confused. Basically I have no idea what I'm talking about and my eyes are starting to glaze over. And my head hurts. I should make dip immediately. Not to be confused with "take up" dip, which is an entirely different (and disgusting) vice. Conclusion: too much space is better than too little, right? Right.

I have been looking forward to a DipTacular blog carnival ever since Boomama posted about it yesterday. So, for literally hours.

I just peeked at her blog to check on the number of participants in the Dip festival today, and MY WORD the blogosphere is enthusiastic about some dip! I'm later than I wanted to be in writing/publishing this post and I'm practically going to be the eleventy billionth link.

Maybe if our current administration planned a big dip party, we might be thatmuch closer to world peace. Because obviously nothing brings people together better than a bunch of melty ingredients combined for the sole purpose of allowing people to substitute a chip for a spoon.

My favorite dip EVER is also the easiest dip EVER. Not original, but delicious. And most importantly, simple.

Spinach Dip
1 c. sour cream
1 c. mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip. There's no miracle in Miracle Whip. Just nastiness. And I tried substituting a negative word for "Miracle" and it's very difficult without turning the entire name into some kind of "adult" title when you have "whip" at the end. Moving on...)
1 pkg. chopped spinach (thawed)
1 pkg. vegetable soup mix
Combine all ingredients, chill, and serve!

You can also make this by substituting the mayo with sour cream. Just use 2 c. sour cream and no mayo. I call that the "healthified" version and I swear it tastes the same.

The next recipe has been handed down all the way from Mexico Chiquita (a now defunct Tex-Mex joint) to my aunt to me. If you want quick queso, you cube some Velveeta "cheese," add some milk and a can of Ro-Tel.

If you want some DELICIOUS queso, you make this:

1/2 stick margarine
1 small onion, chopped extremely fine

Cook in microwave until tender

4 Tbs. flour
2 tsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1 can Ro-Tel
This is like your basic Ro-Tel dip on steroids.)

Mix until thick.

1 1/2 c. milk
One pkg. Velveeta (ahhh, there it is!)

Cook in microwave until cheese melts.

Now, I'm off to get some ideas for dinner peruse the rest of the delicious dip recipes!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Overcoming my fear of commitment

There is a crafter inside of me just screaming to get out, but then I can usually convince that persona that her project will never turn out the way she pictures it in her mind (and I know this from lots of experience) and that's usually enough to shut her up.

And I admit it. I have a HUGE fear of commitment when it comes to designing and COMPLETING craft projects.

This phobia doesn't manifest itself in any other aspect of my life, including my love life. Jason and I met and were engaged 2 weeks later. 6 months after that we became husband and wife.

True story.

But when it comes to redoing a piece of furniture... That's when I get sweaty palms, an irregular heartbeat and have difficulty breathing.

I just can't make the decision. Something about choosing seems so...terminal. I walk into the craft store, good intentions at the ready. But then I get so overwhelmed by All The Choices that all my intentions become the pavement on the road to hell.

That is, until I discovered the fabulousness of Mod Podge. This stuff is foolproof (coming from one who truly knows). It's genius. I'd like to hug the neck of the person who invented it to show my appreciation for their brilliance.

Although, that might just make things too awkward between us. So maybe a thank you note is more appropriate.

Most recently I decided to redo this fine specimen of a table:

I didn't know I had such mad photography skills. Just look at how I captured that layer of dust on the bottom rungs with such clarity.

That table is the last remnant of furniture from Jason's bachelor days. We still had his old couch and oversized chair until we moved last year and decided that split and stained cushions and caved in arms were just not worth the energy and space it would take to haul them.

I was a little sad because that couch had been really good to me during all three of my pregnancies. I was afraid the couch felt a pang of betrayal after all those years of taking care of me.

Then the new stuff was delivered to our new house. And my heart fluttered with euphoria on the inside. Old couch be darned, the new furniture is wonderful!

Anyway, he tried to convince me the table was an antique, but chances are he probably found next to a dumpster at his old apartment complex or something. I never asked for the full story.

I knew the table was going to have to be sanded first, so I armed myself with fine grain sand paper, plopped myself down on the front porch one day (we're Klassy) and got to work. I thought I had done a pretty decent job of "roughing it up" so that I could spray paint it, but when I cleaned it off, the finish looked just as glossy as it had before I started, so I pulled out the big guns: The Power Sander.

Once I power-sanded the table into submission, I spray painted it off-white. The technical shade is called Heirloom White.

I didn't take pictures of any of the in-between steps because I'm lazy like that. And I really wasn't in the mood to give myself a heat stroke by staying outside any longer than I had to.

Boy, I am really dragging this out. So sorry. Could we just get to the point?

Once it was spray painted, I let it dry for about 2 weeks.

I may not be a crafter, but procrastination is practically my spiritual gift.

I was planning to Mod Podge some paper to the top in a pattern that would coordinate with Missy's room, because her room doubles as the guest room and the big bed was in desperate need of a nightstand. Guests need to have a place to put their miscellaneous crap at night.

Long story entirely too long, I cut the paper into the sizes that I needed, rounded the corners with a paper punch and mod-podged all of it to the top of the table.

I was actually quite pleased that my inner crafter did such a fine job.

Please excuse the blue wall. I'm sure it was a lovely coordinating shade for the nursery decor of the people who lived here before us, but it's rather hideous next to Missy's lavender, black and off-white scheme. We purchased the paint for the room about 6 months ago. Along with a paint sprayer that Jason promised me would help get the job done faster. Clearly.

I've been experimenting with Mod Podge on a few other projects. I find it to be incredibly therapeutic. And I'm not even kidding.

Head on over to Mod Podge Mania to see what other awesomeness people are creating with Mod Podge!

Friday, August 28, 2009

7 Quick Takes: 08.28.09

Because I sometimes usually have difficulty composing slightly-better-than-mediocre posts out of the daily goings on at Sturghaus, and because my brain is so fried from the week that I can't even surf the internets AND watch TV at the same time (My goals. They are lofty.) when I originally saw this blog carnival on my blog friend Kacie's page, I decided to join in. Hang on to your seats, people. You're in for a moderately-paced ride.

I've had a dull aching discomfort behind my left eye all week, and based on sophisticated diagnostic testing (i.e. Google-ing "pain behind eye") I either have a tumor, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma or hysterical hypochondria. I'm going to try a new pair of contacts tomorrow and hope for the best. It's probably just sinuses. At least, I hope it is.

This was the first real week of the school year that I've been responsible for getting myself and the children out the door and to their respective drop-offs so that no one is tardy. Including me. While I'm not the model of self-discipline (please keep the gasping to a minimum), I have made it my goal this year to get up early enough to get myself ready before I rouse my little angels. I started strong, but woke up slightly later each day, which meant every morning teetered closer and closer to complete chaos and breakdown. I'll have to do better next week. If anyone has any great morning tips (besides preparing as much as I can the night before), I'd love to hear them. Especially if it will keep the boys on track with the morning expectations, without nonstop nagging on my part.

I can't WAIT for girls' night tomorrow night! I'm having some friends over for snacks, drinks (probably homemade Sangria, thanks to Lauren's blog), and chick flicks. Maybe we'll even braid each other's hair and play Truth or Dare. But I'm going to draw the line at prank calling the boys down the street. I'm afraid their parents would be most displeased. And we don't need anymore rude neighbors.

I got "The Call" from Micah's teacher this week. You know, the one requisite "positive" call teachers make in order to build a good relationship with the parents so that when the teacher has to be the bearer of bad news, the parent is more receptive. I was a teacher long enough to know that 76% of education is good PR. So now I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I almost had a panic attack today when I THOUGHT I had left my iPhone at my office when I made my Sonic Happy Hour run. How was I going to sit and do NOTHING for LITERALLY MINUTES while I waited for my Vanilla Diet Dr. Pepper to be prepared and delivered? Thankfully it was a false alarm and I was back to my newest app addiction, Flood It, in no time. I'm not even going to reveal the embarrassing number of games I've played, but I've won 36% of them. I'm also addicted to free apps. But I will never admit that I'm such an iPhone nerd that I PAUSE iPhone commercials to check out the cool apps on the TV iPhones. There really is an app for everything.

I'm completely desperate for new fall TV, but I'm also thankful for the discovery of previously-unwatched -on-my-part shows this summer. Now I'm watching The Rachel Zoe Project (Thanks to Melanie) and reruns of How I Met Your Mother. Not to mention the countless hours of Phineas and Ferb I've enjoyed with the kids. It's seriously the BEST cartoon ever produced. Try it. You WILL like it.

I never knew how difficult it would be coming up with 7 quick takes until now. Since my memory is 35% better than a goldfish, I may need to make notes for future posts. If I remember.

For more quick-takes, visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary. Write your own quick takes and leave some comment love for others!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The grass isn't always greener. Especially in the middle of a drought.

(Indeed, this is a picture of our actual lawn. I wish I could say I found it on Google Images, but it's just a benefit of living in Central Texas.)

This summer our little neck of the prairie hasn't seen much rain. There's no strolling barefoot through the grass around here. Because who strolls barefoot through straw? Add to that the fact that the pesky heat index reaches unfathomable heights on a daily basis with no relief in sight and you pretty much have Death Valley conditions out there.

In the interest of full disclosure, Jason and I haven't been too concerned about keeping the grass in our yard watered and growing. Partly because the city requires its citizens to water their yards in the dead of night while we prefer to do more important things like sleep. Plus, if you water your yard, there's the unsavory but required mowing that has to be done on a more regular basis than just once per season (which would be our preference). So we just agree that the brown provides lovely contrast to the color of our house and roll with it.

Mainly, we just don't really care that we aren't going to be winning the Greenest Yard in the Universe award this year. We'll keep the money we would spend in water bills and buy our own trophy.

Our neighbors, on the other hand, are diametrically opposed to our laissez-faire lawn care and maintenance philosophy. They choose to water, fertilize, and mow with a religious fervor to rival the Great Awakening.

Unfortunately, some of their good faith efforts end up crossing the invisible boundary that separates the two yards.

Now, I don't begrudge the people their watering. They have every right to run their water bill through the roof in order to have the greenest yard on the block. Even though the statement their grass makes is that they obviously they don't give a flip about the fact that we are experiencing drought-like conditions. Water shortage, shmater shortage.

And what about the children all across the world who don't even have access to clean water? The neighbors are just throwing that precious commodity away to save their grass. So, who's really being green, huh?

OK, maybe I do begrudge them a little. Especially when I come home and see this:

The left side of the photo is our yard. It's a charming shade of brownish-grayish-dryish. We haven't mowed since I-don't-even-know-when.

The right side is our neighbors' freshly mowed lush green lawn. Made so by the water they stole from the thirsty kids.

The middle? Apparently, it would have taken our neighbors too much time and energy to make one more pass with their mower. It appears they took the liberty to deem the no-man's land in between our respective properties as our yard. But the reason it's overgrown is by no fault of our own. THEY are the ones who have been watering, thereby causing the grass to grow and need mowing. But I suppose they were plum wore out from watering the yard to who exert the force of labor to MOW THE REST OF THE YARD THEY WATERED.

I have one word for this type of petty behavior.


This incident comes on the heels of another in which our former neighbors (who built the fence around their backyard so we wouldn't commit the sin of jealousy in our hearts at seeing them frolic in their crystalline in-ground pool while we soaked our feet in a plastic kiddie pool) called the city on us because the grass was too high. At a house in which WE HAVE NOT LIVED FOR OVER ONE YEAR.

We had renters occupying the property for awhile and they kept up the yard. But since they moved out and we've really been trying to sell long distance, we haven't given much thought to the fact that the yard might be getting a bit unruly.

Funny thing, these neighbors were there when we moved out. They knew we hadn't been living there and that the house was vacant. They even went over and took our front porch swing one day after we moved because they said it had really belonged to them and they just loaned it to the previous owners of the house (a fact which, though debatable, is difficult to disprove). Nevermind that we lived there for 5 years with nary a word about the swing.

I suppose I understand they did what they had to do. It would be just too much trouble to give us a call and ask when and/or if we were going to have the place mowed. It's much simpler to just turn people in to the city so they get a weighty fine for lack of proper maintenance.

Who knew grass could be so controversial?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sometimes less is more...



(Clearly he's broken up about the whole ordeal. And he needs a higher dose of personality.)


...And sometimes less is just....well it just is.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The glamorous life of a mom

There's nothing quite like a full afternoon/evening of plans being thwarted by a virulent stomach bug. Today, my friend an I had an elaborate plan to get our children together for swimming and dinner.

That might not sound elaborate, but when my part involves getting 3 children rested, dressed, and packed for an early evening swim PLUS preparing my part of the dinner, things can spiral out of control very quickly.

We headed out to our friend's house, but when we were about 10 minutes away, she called me and told me her daughter was experiencing severe gastrointestinal distress.

To put it mildly.

We decided that I would go ahead and bring my kiddos for a swim and quick dinner because the chips, carrots and dip I "prepared" for my half of the deal weren't really going to cut it for a well-balanced dinner.

We drove a bit further and just before we reached their house, Piper decided it was her turn to vomit. Because I was ill-prepared to clean breakfast reruns off of her carseat, I continued to my friend's house to at least get some paper towels before we turned around and drove back home. Which was now the inevitable choice.

We had no more walked in the door at home when Cade rushed to the toilet.


Micah appears to be fine for now. I suspect the germ culprit was something the children picked up while swimming at our local YMCA yesterday. The common denominator between all the illnesses.

Since we've been home I've had to wash Piper's hair 3 times. Currently she's just playing in the bathtub. Mainly because she insisted and I didn't argue because I thought I might save some water in the long run.

I've also made PB&J for the children, which went mostly uneaten except for Micah whose appetite actually seems to increase with every bite he takes. I made myself a BLT, but held the L and the T and added some cheese. Because if anything is going to see me through this evening, copious amounts of fried pork can do the trick. Coupled with a strong drink. And probably lots of chocolate.

Hope everyone else has had a fab weekend! Now I've got to disinfect.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Pictorial Tribute to The Hair

Wednesday will be a monumental day here in the House of Sturg. Micah has lived to see 1st grade and Cade starts Kindergarten. Oh glorious day!

It will mark the end of the boys' Summer Justice League Training Camp, which is really just a ruse for the disobedience that is them climbing over, under and on top of the furniture for the sake of improving their super hero powers. My non-stop gentle reminders that "We DON'T CLIMB OR JUMP ON THE FURNITURE," may also cease. We'll all be much happier.

And let's be honest- the boys are no closer to meeting the admission requirements of the Justice League now than they were when summer began. But it's good for children to have realistic aspirations.

Cade is absolutely beside himself with delight over the start of school. He's been asking me daily since May if it's the day for him to begin school. And just this morning he informed me that "tomorrow will be the best day of [his] life!" Bless his heart. I just pray his teachers are ready. May my angels not cause their respective sweet-spirited teachers to lose their religion. At least not on the first day.

So our summer is officially drawing to a close today. Although it's not like the real season of summer is going anywhere soon. This IS Texas, where the only seasons we have are Warm and Hotter then Hell.

Last night J, the boys, and I had the opportunity to Meet the Teacher(s) at the school. On the way home from the school I asked Cade what he thought of his teacher.

"Well, she's beautiful is all I know," he said genuinely.

I think they'll get along just fine.

Unfortunately, just moments before the car ride home, as we were leaving the school, we ran into the Head of School. Innocently, she said to me (regarding Cade), "He's going to be getting a hair cut, right?

Uh, wha-, 'scuse me???

Cade has long-ish hair. Amazing, gorgeous, and TOTALLY AWESOME long-ish hair. It's part of him and his personality. And I'm very particular about cutting it because most people don't have the skills it takes to style it properly. He's received the "Lloyd Christmas" look one too many times for me to let just anyone take the scissors to his locks.

But now, Cade's hair and the previously-unbeknownst-to-me school regulations are at irreconcilable odds. If he's going to go to school at the institution to which we've already paid a boatload of money, his hair cannot touch his collar, can be no longer than the middle of his ears, and must be above his eyebrows.

When I heard this news, I rent my garment, shaved my head and fell to the ground. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, right?

I can't think about it. I can't even consider it. I'm not sure I can even call and make The Appointment, much less actually drive him there, put him in the seat and WATCH as his gorgeous hair is stripped away.

The date for the shearing is yet to be determined. For the first time, I'm actually quite grateful that our regular stylist is generally booked weeks in advance. But inevitably the day will come. And after that day, all I will have left of his hair will be in pictures.

Thus, the following tribute. To Cade. And his beautiful hair.

Please pause for a moment of silence.


Monday, August 10, 2009

There is no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard. There is only another fist.

My husband is a hero today. Not unlike Chuck Norris, except without the mad martial arts skills. And the TV show. And all the tough Norris jokes.

So pretty much the only similarity is the reddish beard.

J's latest Chuck-Norris-super-feat was busting a dude who was shoplifting magazines out of a local bookstore.

Let's all pretend that the offender was NOT wheelchair-bound, shall we? Yes, he was actually stacking magazines on the seat of his chair, sitting on them and then smuggling them out of the store.

You have to give the guy props for style.

And Jason didn't round-house kick the guy in the face either. J just chased him out of the store and managed to get his license plate number. Then he left the rest up to our fishing buddies, the local authorities.

In honor of J's heroism and bravery, I post the following video. One of my favorite SNL Digital Shorts of all time- it makes me so happy! Kind of like my own hero. Love you, baby!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

On the lookout for smokies in plain brown wrappers

(Name that movie. Hint: It's obscure.)

When Jason and I moved last year, we didn't relocate with the notion that our new city would be crime-free. But we also did not imagine that we would have to call the local PD so frequently that we're starting to consider ourselves fishing/shopping buddies with Our City's Finest.

Late one evening a couple of weeks ago, J and I heard helicopters circling. At first I thought it was possibly CareFlight, but by concentrating on the sound pattern of the chopper(s), and the fact that we could hear them flying for several minutes, indicating that if it WAS INDEED CareFlight, the intended recipient of Care had quite possibly passed on, it didn't take up too long to realize they were circling our area. So I called the police station to get the scoop.

(Make no mistake. This was not the first, second, or third call I've made to Our City's Finest in the last 12 months.)

The phone screener informed me that we most certainly were not in an impromptu war zone. But there had been an "incident earlier" and if we needed to know anything further, an officer would come to our door. In other words I was on a need-to-know basis and apparently I didn't need to know.

When I hung up the phone I felt like I was on an SNL episode of "REALLY?!?! With Seth and Amy."

REALLY?!?! The incident was "earlier" and they were still flying helicopters? REALLY? An officer is going to come to my door? REALLY? Because wouldn't it be more efficient for them to be out, I don't know...chasing the bad guys?!?!

Not 30 minutes later we saw flashlights (yes, plural) shining in the back of our house. Wanting to avoid the helpful phone screener, I went straight for the big guns...911. This time they told me that they had reports of a suspicious vehicle in the area.

REALLY?!?! A suspicious vehicle? And they think it's in MY backyard?!? Whatever happened to just running the plates and finding out who the vehicle belongs to and running the plates? Wouldn't that be easier than scaring the mess out of me when I'm ALREADY A LITTLE ON EDGE FROM THE HELICOPTERS?

J and I pretty much didn't sleep that evening with what we imagined to be a maniacal murderer on the loose, possibly hiding in our bushes. When the next day dawned, we kept a lookout in all the media outlets to get more information on our local terrorist. But there was NADA. Not a single word.

So fast forward to Saturday. I woke up with the knowledge that the contents of our pantry was paltry. I had no milk, no bread, and no cereal.

Basically, that means that I had no fixings for breakfast.

My plan was to take the children to enjoy a nutritious breakfast at McD's and then head to do some grocery shopping at The Store.

As I was loading them into their carseats through the passenger side door, I noticed the driver's side window looked oddly mottled in the corner of it. When I looked closer, I realized I was not looking at the window at all, but the SHATTERED REMAINS of the glass that once protected the insides of my vehicle from outside elements AND THIEVES.

Major fail.

Glass shards covered the driver's seat as well as the ground under the window. Exposed wires hung loosely where our stereo/DVD combo once existed.

Our Garmin GPS was also stolen, meaning that until we can afford to purchase a new one I may as well embrace the feeling of pretty much never knowing how to find my way out of a paper bag. My marriage may not survive.

I ushered the kiddos back inside where I fed them a hearty breakfast of chocolate chip cookies (graham crackers for Piper) and coke.

I wish I was kidding.

But I REALLY needed them to just be happy and BE QUIET so that I could regain some semblance of a normal thought process to figure out the next steps. I decided to call Jason, the police, and the insurance company, in that order.

When the friendly officer made it to the house, he took my statement and offered no platitudes that the thief might be apprehended and our things located and returned.

Because I can't stand missing out on a good story, I tried questioning him about the "incident" and the "vehicle" from previous week, but he told me he had no knowledge of the situation. Whether he was playing dumb or being completely truthful, I'll never know.

But I wisely let it drop.

I did make an off-hand comment that our neighborhood seems to be keeping them busy lately, and he casually responded that it's the entire town that's keeping them busy.


(I know that sentence is awkward. Consider it stream of consciousness. It doesn't always make sense. Thanks.)

For the time being we've decided the best we can do is to be diligent about setting our security system each evening before bed.

By "security system" I mean that we're letting our previously-kenneled-at-night miniature dachsund roam free about the house whilst we sleep because she will surely bark and awaken us should any stranger make the mistake of even looking in our home's direction.

She also frequently barks at the cat who lives on our porch, so that may wake us, too, but we aren't really sleeping well anyway, so what's the difference?

She also barks at absolutely nothing, so I fully expect to be jolted out of a dead sleep into an immediate panic at least once per night for no reason, but have I mentioned I'M NOT SLEEPING?

Let me just say, burglar beware of our attack dog. Oh, and Jason's rifle. What can I say? It helps me sleep.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

World Wide Web Wednesday 07.29.09

Still here, still not much time for blogging. I'm on the downhill side of my own summer, meaning that I will be returning to work in approximately 4 days, 18 hours, and 20-some-odd minutes (by the time I post this).

But whose counting?

Anyway, for WWWW, I just had to post a video. I know this video has already gone viral so everyone has already seen it, but I think these people would be so fun to have as friends. Judging solely on their dance skills and complete lack of inhibition, I can say they look like like they have a total blast!

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

World Wide Web Wednesday 07.15.09

Jason and I are having an incredible time ministering to high school seniors at Super Summer this week. These students are being led in amazing times of worship and are falling deeper in love with Jesus this week.

In that same vein, I have a couple of links that will help you fall deeper in love with the Savior.

For the entire month of July, you can go here to download a copy of Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love. I've listened to about 3/4 of this book so far and let me tell you, it will rock your world! It's not necessarily profound or new, but it's an amazing reminder of the awesomeness God.

You can also go here to download a free copy of Phil Wickham's CD "Singalong." It's a live recording, but the lyrics are beautifully worshipful.


Monday, June 29, 2009


*I'm horribly tardy in completing/posting this. Obviously, since Micah's birthday was 6/28 and it's now over a week later. Blame it on life, blame it on the heat, blame it on my straight up lack of motivation to do much of anything lately. It doesn't really matter. I just want to honor my precious eldest, so better late than never, right?

My oldest baby turned 7 recently. SEVEN!!! As in, he's been alive for 70% of a decade! It's surreal, that's what it is. I can still remember the day of his birth so clearly.

The names of all the visitors who came to see us on his big day...

The names of the nurses who aided in his delivery...

The way he weighed a teensy 6 lbs. 8 oz...

The way Jason passed out cold when I got my epidural...

(I'll let that one sink in a minute. It was special. And it was a lesson LEARNED.)

I keep threatening to put bricks on Micah's head to keep him from getting any bigger. I might try it if I thought there was the slightest chance it would work.

Unfortunately, we were so busy with family birthday bidness yesterday (I actually started working on this post 6/29) that I didn't get to post and tell everyone how amazingly exceptional this guy is. So I'm going to do it now. Because he is truly amazing.

Micah is one of the smartest children I know. And I don't say that because he's mine. I say it because I know a lot of children.

His brain is always thinking, and even though he can be a little random at times (I wonder where he gets that quality? I need to clean out the fridge. So where was I?) he asks questions and comes up with ideas that are far beyond his years.

Like the idea that, when he grows up, he's going to open a restaurant for people who aren't hungry and don't want to eat. That way they have a place to go and hang out and they don't have to pay anything.

Because who wants to just stay home?

Folks, that strain of brilliance can only be explained by good genetics.

His heart is tender towards the things of God and it's the most amazing thing to see Jesus working in his life. Our prayer is that the Lord will continue the great work that He has begun in him throughout Micah's 8th year and into eternity.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go bawl my eyes out over how much he's grown while you enjoy a mini-shrine to his precious life.

And he's only going to cost "one million dollars (evil laughing)."

Always playing when he's supposed to be sleeping.

Becoming a big brother the 2nd time around

The last day of kindergarten with Saint Morris, I mean Mrs. Morris.

(Seriously, if anyone reading this knows how I can nominate someone for sainthood, please contact me because if anyone deserves canonization, it's this lady. Or maybe all kindergarten teachers could be the first canonized group of saints known for their miracles of teaching small children with unwavering patience and gentleness in the face of untied shoes, bodily fluids, and endless random questioning.)

I love you, Micah!