Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wait, I'm Lost...

My predictions for the "LOST" season premiere:

1. Charlie lives. He must live.

2. The person in the coffin is Ben.

3. The coffin will not be mentioned again on the show (in order to reveal that it is Ben) until the end of next year, so you will have to remember until then that I made this prediction.

4. Nobody is getting off that island any time soon.

What do you think?

19 months, 2 weeks, and 3 years:

(Just reminding myself how much easier my life is now.)

Monday, January 28, 2008

This 3 Year Old

-Rarely smiles for a picture.
-Has the most beautiful laugh I've ever heard.
-Puts her hands on her hips and shouts, "STINKER" any time her brother tries to bully her.
-Is not a morning person.
-Loves to sing "Old NacDono have a farm"
-Loves to substitute words in songs for potty talk ("Old NacDono have a BOTTOM")
-Tells knock knock jokes with punch lines that are several paragraphs long.
-Thinks her jokes are hilarious.
-Feels compelled to scale to the highest point on any piece of playground equipment.
-Hates to brush her teeth.
-Loves to snuggle.
-Insists on pouring her own ketchup.
-Was clinging to a branch in the pear tree about 10 feet off the ground when I glanced out of the window yesterday.
-Climbed down from the tree all by herself. When I asked her how she got up there, she said, "It was easy. I just put my feet on the branches and then put my bottom on the branches."
-Is going to give me a heart attack.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rainy Rainy Friday

Cold, rainy, yucky, moody. That's all that's going on around our house today. Other than washing laundry and dishes, which goes on just about every day. So, not a whole lot of blog-worthy stuff.

Meanwhile, I've been meaning to post on a great idea for Christmas presents. I know, wrong time of year, but I have pictures that must be shown to grandparents, so deal with it. My children are very blessed to have two sets of grandparents who shower them with love, affection, and presents. I'm very blessed that both of their grandmothers consult me on which presents they should give them for Christmas. Oh, that is a wonderful thing.

This year I thought of the perfect gift for the kids from my mother-in-law, who hates to shop. She and my father-in-law got them a season pass to the Dallas World Aquarium. So perfect! It's easy to shop for, doesn't break, doesn't require batteries, and never needs to be cleaned up. And never underestimate the value of pre-paid, climate-controlled family fun. Everybody wins.

Furthermore, my new goal for 2008 is to learn to photograph the Aquarium properly, (the glass! you must not flash it!) as evidenced in these trippy, wiggly photos:
I call this one: Trippy Fish of Unknown Origin
Another favorite: Blurry Shark
Blurry Children who are freaked out by the tunnel under the shark tank
And finally: The only thing at the Aquarium that has good lighting and sits still for a picture.

Another fine lesson in the Art of Photography, free of charge.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Random Ramblings

My life is much too boring to really blog about right now, so I'll just give you a brief summary:

1. My husband is swamped at work; must work late every night. Blah. I've been keeping busy by watching all of the Harry Potter movies, and now have moved on to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. So that'll take me another two weeks or so.

2. Greg and I have also been watching an episode of The Office on DVD every night after he gets home, and we just watched the one where Michael cooks his foot on the George Foreman grill. It was so funny we watched it twice. I miss The Office.

3. I cooked dinner tonight on my own George Foreman grill. It tasted awful. To top that off, the kids fell all to pieces for unexplained reasons, and we had ourselves a scene straight out of SuperNanny. The beginning of SuperNanny, I mean, not the end where everyone miraculously reforms.

3. I've been organizing my house (BORING), and I've accumulated eight garbage bags of stuff to give to Goodwill, or whatever charity offers to come pick it up first. On a slightly more interesting note, my laundry room is Beau-ti-ful and so containerized, but I have no pictures of it, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

4. I've been making the rounds with my daughter selling Girl Scout cookies, and she has almost reached the level where she gets the free Samoa Lip Balm. I really want some of that lip balm.

5. I do love Samoas.

6. Every day, two or three people find my site by googling 'how to throw a 7th birthday party'. Apparently I am the leading authority on the subject. Who knew. Also, if you google 'belching bloated noodle chunks', I am the number one result. No one has actually googled this, but just in case the need arises, I am here. I feel bad for anyone who is belching bloated noodle chunks, but I am afraid I won't be much help.

7. LOST is coming on again very very soon! I'm not sure if I remember all the drama that happened last year, so I need to get caught up before the big event. Although I have been mourning Charlie's untimely death all week as I have watched him dressed up as a hobbit in Lord of the Rings. (But is he really dead? Okay, he probably is. Poor Charlie.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Declaration

Several years ago, I was working at a school and was introduced to one of the teachers. Mr. So-and-so, my coworker explained in an awed tone, "makes his own homemade granola!". That was her way of referring to how environmentally friendly and health-conscious the guy was. He really did, too, and often brought it in for lunch. At the time, it seemed like such a nutty, hippie thing to be earth-conscious.

Over the last year, for some reason, the idea of being more earth-conscious has really begun to appeal to me. I'm not sure why, but all of a sudden I am recycling, buying organic (when I can afford it), and trying to reduce the amount of trash that our family produces. And you know what? It's not as hard as I thought it would be. Our city has an easy curbside recycling program, and our school collects anything that is made of paper or cardboard. It's just a matter of setting it aside instead of trashing it.

On the issue of organic foods, I have a long way to go. I recently started buying organic milk, and then I stopped again because I just couldn't spend $6 a gallon on milk. It hurt my feelings too much. I have compromised by making an extra stop at a local store that produces its own no-hormones-added milk, and their prices are about the same as the grocery store milk. I've also switched to all-natural peanut butter, again balking at the price for full-on organic. Other than that, I do try to buy the organic fruits, because that is mostly what my kids eat, and vegetables when I can. My big project this spring will be to attempt to grow a little organic garden with a lot of the vegetables that I regularly buy. We'll just see how that goes.

One other area that I am really trying to cut back on is the purchasing and using of disposable items. This one is a little harder. I have a husband who is happiest when using a paper plate and a Solo cup, although I am not sure of his reasons. But it occurs to me that I am repurchasing these items, along with Ziploc bags and paper towels, month after month, and I am just throwing away my money. So this month I am trying to reduce the amount of disposable products I use. Don't worry, we're still going to use toilet paper and Kleenexes, but the baggies and juice boxes in my daughter's lunch are gone. I own 87 pieces of Tupperware, and they are going to be used. It will mean more dishes to wash, but guess what, I'm washing them every day anyway, so what's a few more?

So there you have it: I'm green now. Well, not totally, perhaps just a shade. I'll welcome any suggestions you might have. Should I go ahead and spring for organic milk? What other things have you all tried that work well for your family?

Oh, guess what I made the other day: granola. It was surprisingly easy to make, and quite delicious. I'm going outside now to hug my trees.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Texas Snowflakes

We don't get much cold weather around here, so whenever the temperature drops below freezing, it seems to be a newsworthy event. And by 'seems to be', what I mean is that every local news channel begins a three-day-hype-up of the coming 'Winter Blast 2008', and starts interviewing people on the street on how they are going to prepare for it. Last night, I saw a reporter hounding people who were pumping gas, and each interviewee, clad only in a sweatshirt or light jacket, exclaimed about how quickly and frostily the cold front is coming in. (Here's my suggestion to these people for how to prepare for it: WEAR A COAT.)

The arrival of cold weather, and the inevitable hype and disappointment of the possible -remotely possible- arrival of a particle of ice or two along with it, stirs something in my children. They begin to lament the fact that we moved to Texas where there is no snow.

Until three years ago, we lived in northern Virginia, where the snow is plentiful and beautiful, at least in their memories. I'm not sure that the younger two even remember the horror snow at all, but they have seen pictures and painted memories of themselves frolicking, making snow angels, and drinking hot chocolate.

But I know differently: snow is fun for the first day. Maybe even the second day. Then it's three months of brown slushy freezing cold torture, wet mittens, and icy water seeping into your socks. No thanks.

In honor of tonight's forecasted record-setting low temperature (26 F), the kids and I are going to be trying out this recipe that I found in the Dallas Morning News:

Texas Snowflakes
12 large flour tortillas
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Fold a large flour tortilla in fourths. Using clean kitchen scissors, cut shapes into the folded tortilla. Open the cut tortilla and place on a cookie sheet that has been coated with cooking spray. Using a pastry brush or a paper towel, brush the surface with melted butter. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the tortilla. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the tortilla is golden. Makes 12 tortillas.Don't you think these snowflakes are amazingly realistic? The color of them, I mean. They look just like the nastiness I had to trudge through to get from my townhouse to my car back in Virginia, while toting an infant car seat and two wiggly toddlers.

I'll take Texas any day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Response to my 12 Year Old Self

Earlier this week, I posted a letter I had written 20 years ago, addressed to myself in 2008. I jokingly instructed myself to write back, and after Maypole suggested it again, I decided to give it a try.

Dear Chrissy,

Where should I begin? First of all, 32 is not old. It is not old at all. So just get that out of your head. Now that we have that out of the way, I have some advice I would like to give to you.

Middle school is tough. It stinks. It will be one of the unhappiest times of your life, not because of your circumstances, but because of your attitudes and mood swings. What would help you an awful lot is if you would just quit pining for things you don't need.

You don't need to be friends with the popular girls. They're just not very nice. They are not the kind of people that you need to have in your life. They will disappear from your life in a few short years and you will never hear their names again. Some of the friends that you have right now are the kind of friends that will stay with you through the many changes that will be coming your way in the next 20 years. Stick with them, and you will do well. Oh, and that girl named Joy with the glasses that you see in Chorus every day? Get to know her. She is a good egg. Don't be resentful of her just because she is a better singer than you and the teacher loves her.

You don't need to give your mother such a hard time. You will regret this later on. Don't throw a tantrum just because she won't spend the money for those acid-washed Guess jeans. She is actually being a good mom by denying you those things. It is hard to believe, I know, but it's developing your character. Besides, those braces on your teeth are a much better investment.

You don't need to pretend that your not smart just to be cool. Getting bad grades is not cool, it's self-sabotaging. You should always try your best, even if the other kids make fun of you for it. You will need those good grades when you start thinking about college, and you will regret the years you wasted goofing off.

And finally, let's talk about boys. You don't need them either. I know you desperately want them to like you, and they don't. I know that hurts. Eventually, you will blossom and they will take notice, but I would really like for you to feel content with who you are, regardless of whether or not you are receiving their attention. That alone would help to smooth out the bumpy ride you'll be taking through adolescence.

I guess the best advice that I can give you is just to enjoy being a kid while you still can. Growing up will happen soon enough, and there's no need to rush it. You're going to turn out fine, you know. You're going to grow up to be a wife and mother, and you're going to be thrilled with the life you've been given. You are and will continue to be blessed by God. He has a wonderful plan for you, and you won't regret choosing to follow Him for one minute.

Take care of yourself,

P.S. Go ahead and eat all the Oreos you want after school. The day is coming when that will actually make you gain weight, so enjoy it while you can.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Letter from My 12 Year Old Self

This is a letter that I found this week while cleaning. I wrote it in 7th Grade as a school assignment. Written on the envelope are the words: Do Not Open Until 2008.

May 10, 1988


Hey! How's life? OK here I guess. You might or might not remember me. I'm your 12-year-old self. Well I'm almost 13. Our birthday is next month. I wrote this to you 20 years ago. So how does it feel being old? I bet you're sitting at home laughing at all this. Right now I'm sitting in Homeroom and Mr. Stone is calling role. You remember Mr. Stone, don't you? The weird guy with the mustache.

This is a Probe assignment. I'm supposed to tell the future. I'm also supposed to tell everything about you since I know you so well. Let's see, you probably live somewhere in Atlanta. You work either at a radio station or as an interior decorator. You're still friends with Debbie and Jody and Anna and Jennifer. (I hope) I can't decide whether you're married or not. Probably not. But if you're married to Richie or Troy I'm going to kill you.

I hope you graduated from high school and maybe college. Otherwise I'm doing all this work for nothing. (Ha Ha) Welp I'd better go. Bye.

Your friend

P.S. Write Back! (Ha Ha)

Obviously, I didn't make it as a radio DJ, which was my big dream in 7th grade. And I think it is fair to say that I do not possess ANY interior decorating skills, although I must have thought so back then. Most likely I was watching too much Designing Women, and imagined myself as Suzanne Sugarbaker or something.

The only accurate predictions on that list were that I graduated high school and college, and that I am still friends with two of the four girls I mentioned. I wonder if the 12 year old me would be impressed with the life I have now: married, living far from Atlanta, driving a minivan full of kids, paying a mortgage and working part-time at a non-glamorous job.

At least I didn't marry Troy or Richie.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lesson Learned the Hard Way #894

Noodles: they expand when wet.

And when you put them in your garbage disposal and grind them up, they get angry and expand all up in your plumbing, causing pipes to overflow into your laundry room and belch out bloated noodle chunks into your yard, and just over the property line into your neighbor's yard for good measure.

Consider that a free lesson, folks. Write it down and refer to it often.

Another lesson that I learned this week: I have become oblivious to the many quirks and eccentricities of my house, but the minute a repairman walks in the front door, they become glaring eyesores.

My house was built in the early seventies. My husband and I fell in love with it at first sight; we loved the floor plan, the spacious bedrooms, the newly refurbished bathrooms, the back yard, the beautiful trees shading the entire lot.

Being that it was built in the seventies, well, it does have its quirks. (But as its owners, we were also built in the seventies and have quirks of our own, so we are very understanding.)

It has a seventies-style mirrored wet bar in the living room. Just in case walking the extra ten feet into the kitchen is too far to go for a lukewarm drink. It has electrical wiring in certain rooms that sometimes works, sometimes not. It has a ceiling fan that comes on at random in the winter, but refuses to work in the heat of summer. It has doors that don't always close just right, and if you get cold in one room of the house, you can invariably find another room that is five or six degrees warmer. It has outdoor lighting with such oddly-sized bulbs that we finally just quit trying to replace them. Every one of the toilets in my house runs funny. The handles have to be jiggled just right, or held down an extra moment or two while flushing. The faucet in my kitchen leaks. The shower button in my bathroom is permanently fused in the 'shower' position. I could go on and on.

All of these things I have learned to live with, and in fact, I have become so accustomed to them that I hardly even notice them any more.

Of course, they were pointed out to me this week by a very helpful and moderately-priced plumber who knew a cash cow when he saw it. (The house, I mean, not me. I hope.) He also gave me a terrific lecture about how I should not be putting any food down my garbage disposal. At all. Basically I guess the only reason I should use the garbage disposal is for chopping up liquids. So helpful.

If you were hoping I was going to wrap this up with a witty life lesson or at least a decent joke about plumber's crack, well, you would be wrong. (He is coming back next week to fix a few bathroom issues, so I'll try to come up with something by then.)

I am curious to know, is your house this way, too? Or do you immediately repair anything that goes awry?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Accomplishments in Housewifery, or, the Answer to the Question, "What do you do all day?"

Here is just a sample of the things that I have accomplished as a homemaker in the last 36 hours:

1. Resolve to clean out laundry room. Tackle giant mountain of laundry before bed in order to get a good start in the morning.

2. Hear water flowing onto the laundry room floor. Learn the hard way why it is not good to let miscellaneous junk accumulate on the laundry room floor.

3. Throw out all the wet junk, and pile the rest of the contents of the laundry room in the dining room along with all of the Christmas junk that has still not been put away.

4. Clean out murky water with old towels, then realize that I now have no way of washing these nasty wet towels.

5. Get up the next morning and remain in complete denial about the issue of the washing machine, spend the day cleaning up Christmas stuff, rearranging furniture and accessories, and cooking a pot roast and mashed potatoes from scratch for no reason whatsoever.

6. Take the pot roast out of the oven and spill the hot roast juice all down my legs and into my shoes, burning my pinky toe.

7. Frighten children with my screaming, even though I am not seriously burned. Clean up pot roast juice with more old towels that I still have no ability to wash.

8. Feed pot roast to family, who hates pot roast and will not eat it.

9. Discover that pot roast juice and murky washing machine drainage make for a very slippery kitchen/laundry room floor.

10. Take pot roast and potatoes over to my friend Julie's house and borrow her drain snake. Bask in her praise of my pot roast.

11. Spend time googling plumbing problems and try various yokels' advice on how to clean out my washing machine drain.

12. Talk to another friend on the phone, who suggests I may have water damage in my wall. Quote Scarlett O'Hara by saying, "Ah can't think about thayut today. Ah'll worry 'bout that tomrorruh". Friend is puzzled by the reference. It may not be an exact quote.

***edited to add:

13. Walk outside the house and discover water backed up into the yard.

14. Call plumber.

15. Lose mind.

Pretty busy couple of days, don't you think?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Today I finally started dismantling all of the Christmas decorations, sadly. I do love the soft lighting and the festive mood it lends to my otherwise unremarkably decorated home. However, my annual New Year's organizational/cleaning jag has taken effect, and so everything had to go.

Thankfully, all of my helpers were busy playing a board game with their Daddy, whose competitive nature is irrepressible. I was cracking up listening to him in the other room talking junk to those kids. (Is it junk or smack? I know Kelly on the Office had a whole monologue about that, but either way, it wasn't nearly as mean as Kelly.) He would get within one point of winning, and then let them all catch up, then he would intentionally score the winning point and crow about it, while calling the kids 'Grasshopper' and telling them they have much to learn from him. They loved it, of course, but were continually perplexed by the nickname.

The whole scene made me smile; the nostalgia of the Christmas ornaments, the playful laughter emanating from the kitchen, the open windows blowing fresh air through the house.

This week I'm launching Project Organization around my house. (You have to emphasize the last syllable like it's French, because that makes it sound more fun. Kind of like saying Target, Tarjhay.)

Anyway, the first mission is the laundry room. Wish me luck, and if you don't hear from me in the next few days, call the authorities, as I may be trapped underneath the mess.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Is it too late to reflect on 2007? Because I was out of town.

Okay, okay, it is a little late, but I got home and started reading everyone else's reflections from last week and I thought I would plagarize give it a try.

2006 was the suckiest year in history for our family, and in January of 2007, we had no steady income. The Lord provided a way for our basic needs to be met while my husband interviewed 16 times for his new job.

In February, my husband was hired at his new job at a mid-sized Mega Church in our area. A mid-sized Mega Church in Texas can be translated as a gigantically huge church anywhere else in the country, but around here it is just considered mid-sized. I don't make the rules.

March apparently was not too memorable. I'm sure we had a spring break and I know Katie turned 3, but I don't actually remember what we did for either event.

In April, my sister and her kids came out for their spring break, and we had a great time taking those country bumpkins out into the city. Unfortunately, it led to me doing this

while my sister was standing nearby with a camera. I promise that's my jacket pooching out in the back, not my butt. Wait, I think that is my butt. And no, I wasn't pregnant. Let's move on, shall we?

In May, Gracie was released from her prison known as Kindergarten and we started the ever-fabulous Summer of Freedom. I never realized how much I valued my freedom until that kid was confined to a school schedule. Too rigid for me, thanks.

In June, we drove out to Georgia to visit my parents, and we observed our time-honored tradition of cramming as many relatives as humanly possible into their house. Katie fell off the dock into the lake without a life vest and I FREAKED OUT for 1.2 seconds until she bobbed. Then I continued to FREAK OUT for several hours afterwards, and incidentally, when we were there last week, even though there are only 6 inches of water in the cove due to the drought, I FREAKED OUT whenever she went near it.

Also in June, I celebrated my 32nd birthday by going camping at the beach with my parents, sisters, and 7 little ones in tow. Katie wore a life jacket the entire time.

Ahhh. A picture taken well before the kids were awake. So peaceful.

Back to June...We stretched the vacation out even further by crashing in on my in-laws in South Carolina, then lingering for another week at my parents' house until everyone was sick of us vacationed out. (Don't you love how I'm all HTMLly now? Thanks Joy!)

In July, I ran a 5K. I achieved my goal of Not Dying While Running a 5K. In case you were wondering: July + Texas + 5K = completely insane.

In August, it was hot. I have blocked that month out. Except Tommy had a birthday, and right after it, I started a blog.

In September, I mourned the passing of summer. On my blog.

October, well, that was the greatest month ever, because my sister and I took our epic journey to Big Bend National Park, which you will find well-documented in my archives here, here, here, here, oh, and here in case you missed it. If you did miss it, you are obviously not one of my family members because I have forcefully shown each of them all 150 photographs that I took there on our visit last week.

In November, I was busy making fairy wings and cooking up a storm for my parents' visit on Thanksgiving.

In December, I did what everyone else did, ran around in a frenzy while complaining about running around in a frenzy. In the end, though, it was a lovely Christmas, and a lovely year as a whole.

We had a much-needed year off from bad news, from loss, from drama, and our financial situation is slowly but surely returning to normal. God has worked in my heart and has blessed my life in countless ways, and I am grateful.

Here's hoping for more of the same for 2008.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig.

We made it back from our marathon family-visiting, baby-head-smelling, driving-until-my-head-might-explode vacation this afternoon. We had a wonderful time with both my family and my husband's, and now after spending such an obscene amount of time on the road, I never ever ever want to go anywhere in the car again. Ever. I'm going to have to walk everywhere now. Except the only place within walking distance from my house is the liquor store. So be it.
On a more positive note, I just love this picture of my three little explorers: to find another adventure at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Actually they're chasing a quick-footed puppy. These same little adventurers are going to bed at 6:59 today because their mother CANNOT TAKE ANY MORE FAMILY TOGETHERNESS. Not one minute more. But it really was a fun vacation.

The kiddos

The kiddos

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