Welcome to my world

I am a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister and a friend.
I've learned that who you have in your life matters more than what you have.
Thank you for stepping in to my world!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ring out the old...

and ring in the new!

How do you feel about New Year's resolutions?  Millions of people make them (usually the same one over and over) and not many of those millions actually keep them.  In a way I feel that new year's resolutions are kind of corny.  Why do you have to pick something you're going to change or you want to change, just because it's January 1st?  On the other hand, I'm sure there is something in everyone's life that they would like to stop, start or do differently, and picking a day to put that plan in motion seems like a good idea.  The start of a new year is sort of symbolic in that way.... starting "fresh" and all that.

I have never really come out & said "My new year's resolution is _________".  I don't plan to this year, either.  That doesn't mean there aren't things I'd like to change about myself, and since everyone else is passing out their good intentions, I thought I'd mention a few of the things I want to focus on:

  • I want to exercise more and eat less.  That could be a huge problem because I love to eat and I hate to exercise.  Once the kids are back in school, though, I hope to get back on a more regular walking schedule and actually use my exercise bike for something other than a dust collector.  I try to eat relatively healthy and I'd succeed if I didn't have such a sweet tooth.  I can bypass the chips and the ice cream, but if there's chocolate anywhere near me, you can forget it.  If I need to have a goal, it would be to lose ten pounds, but as I have no intention of stepping on a scale, I'll have to judge my success by how my clothes fit!
  • I want to say yes more often than I say no.  Admittedly I am a creature of habit so when someone else suggests something, my first inclination is to say no.  Not because I don't really want to do it, but mostly because it wasn't my idea and I hadn't given it any thought.  This is also true when it comes to my kids.  Is it a huge deal if K wants to set up her room to have a concert or if J wants to build a Lego set on my kitchen floor?  No.  The clutter and chaos will bug me, but sometimes I just need to relax a little.  I want to be someone that people want to be around, and that includes my friends, my children and my husband.  
  • I want to do a better job keeping in touch with my friends.  A lot of my friends do not live near me, and it's SO incredibly easy to let life take you away.  Getting caught up in everyday wife and kid stuff is not an excuse to put aside the people who mean so much to me.  A ten minute phone call or an email every few days is not that hard and I want to do better!
  • I want to be a woman my husband could fall in love with.  Talk about getting caught up in everyday life.  After ten years of marriage and two kids, it's ridiculously easy to forget to put forth the effort to make him feel special.  Hubby is a really good guy and he has enriched my life in so many ways.  I don't want him to take me for granted or feel like I'm the roommate who helps with homework and washes his socks.  Twelve years ago he fell in love with me, the woman, and every now and then I'd like to recapture that in love feeling with him, whether it's a date night or a loving note or doing something special for him.
I hope that 2011 was a good year for you.  I hope that 2012 will be even better. 
Here's to good health, laughter and love.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tis the season

It's no secret that this time of year is hectic.  We are all busy, running errands, buying gifts, mailing cards and packages, all on top of the everyday stuff like work, school, chores, etc.   All craziness aside, I adore Christmas.  I love everything about it:  watching the holiday tv specials, decorating, the challenge of finding JUST the right gift for someone, listening to Christmas music.  If I could start celebrating Christmas in September I would, but Hubby refuses to acknowledge anything about this time of year until Thanksgiving at the earliest.

I don't really have any rhyme or reason to my thoughts for this post, so I'm just going to write down some random musings and you can make of them what you will.

I am OCD enough to keep track of gifts on a spreadsheet so I know exactly who I have to buy for and how much I spend. 

I still do Christmas cards the old fashioned way - using actual cards with either a photo or a Christmas letter inside, not just a printed photo card. 

Thanks to my daughter's prompting, I started listening to Christmas music weeks before Thankgiving. 

Much to Hubby's dismay, I insist on putting up a real tree every year.  Even though I no longer live in an area where we can go and cut down our own tree like we did when I was a kid (what fun times those were!), to me there is nothing like walking through the trees until you find just the right one.  The smell of a fresh cut tree is so "Christmas-y" that they now sell ornaments that are scented like real pine or fir trees.  Why not just get the real thing, that's my question!

I am one of the few people who actually likes wrapping presents.

My sister-in-law is undergoing treatment for breast cancer and she is facing it with such strength and humor.  I told her tonight that she is my hero.  Thanks to chemo, she started losing her hair this week.  Instead of a 'woe is me' cry fest, she not only smiled the entire time her nephew shaved her head, she posted pictures on Facebook of her before, during (loved the mohawk!) and after, along with her new hairdo (a wig that looks GREAT).  Good for you, S!

Putting aside the feel-goodness of this time of year, I want to mention that my thoughts and prayers go out to a certain family I know.  Their lives were turned upside down this week, right before Christmas, and as a mom, my heart hurts for them as I know they are hurting.  I pray that God gives them hope and strength and that the spirit of Christmas touches them even a little bit. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

a week late...

Happy 10th Birthday to my charming, smart, funny, caring, creative son!  He has had the birthday that just won't quit.  We spent Thanksgiving in Las Vegas at my brother's house, where we had a mini-party the day before J's birthday.  We had cake and J hauled in the loot, coming home with more money from Vegas than we did!!  He had a present waiting here to open on his birthday when we got back (from his Grammie).  Then almost a week later we had yet another party with our family here.  Two cakes, presents and more money than any ten year old needs.  Happy Birthday indeed!

J, you are one of the brightest lights of my life.  You will always be my baby boy.  You are funny and fun to be around.  You love video games and Legos and football.  You have the sparkliest eyes and the longest eyelashes of anyone I know.  You are a wonderful boy and I'm proud to be called your mom.  I love you!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 24 of Thanksgiving: November 24, 2011

I am thankful for my husband, who was willing to go way out of his comfort zone to go above and beyond to be with us on our trip.  Our family vacation would not have been the same without him, and it has been a very happy Thanksgiving.

Day 23 of Thanksgiving: November 23, 2011

I am thankful for the kindness of others.  Allyson - you rock for letting me and my kiddos take over your house for a little while, even though you weren't there.  Our sort-of matching white vehicles look so cute in your driveway.

I am thankful for Google Maps and Navigation, which helped me avoid a miles-long traffic jam on I-20 yesterday.  I will never understand why cars have to STOP simply because the road narrows from two lanes to one. 

I am thankful for having children who are exceptional travelers.  We spent two hours running errands before we even left town yesterday morning.  Add to that a three hour drive, a taxi ride to the airport, a three hour wait at DFW and then a three hour flight.  J and K were so well behaved, they made this mama proud. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 22 of Thanksgiving: November 22, 2011

I am thankful for Redbox.

Seriously - how can you beat $1 movies???  My children were released early from school today for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Hubby is out of town and we have nothing on our schedule until K's gymnastics class later.  What to do when it's chilly and wet outside?  Rent a movie!  My kids are happily watching Rio and eating snacks, giving me time to pay bills, go through the mail, pack for our trip, reserve a taxi, cancel a hotel reservation, do laundry and the gazillion other things I have to do today! 

Day 21 of Thanksgiving: November 21, 2011

I am thankful for my warm home. 

Having grown up in upstate New York, a cold, wet winter is nothing new to me.  It doesn't take long, however, to get acclimated to a different climate, and after a long, hot summer, a day of fog, thunderstorms and 40-something degrees feels downright cold!  I was out running errands for most of the day and I was so very glad to be able to come back to a warm, dry house.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 20 of Thanksgiving: November 20, 2011

I am thankful for my son's football coaches.  It's so easy to complain when you don't agree with something, or get wrapped up in how much time we spend at practices and games, but sometimes I have to remind myself that however much time & effort we are putting in, the coaches are doing more.  These four guys have been there week after week since the beginning of August to teach and motivate our team.  They have spent almost as many waking weekday hours with my child as I have.  At times they were strict and serious, and at other times they could joke around like they were the 10 year olds.  Coach Chris, Coach Mike, Coach Moses and Coach Chris have turned a ragtag group of boys who, for the most part, didn't even know each other, into a championship football team.  I'm thankful that my son had the opportunity to play on such a fun and talented team, but I'm even more grateful for the men who gave so much time and effort to help this team reach their potential.

The Junior Pee Wee Wylie Bulldogs White ended the year with a 10-1 record and won the Super Bowl today against the Sweetwater Mustangs by a score of 39-13. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 19 of Thanksgiving: November 19, 2011

I am thankful for my son's compassionate heart. 

J is not normally the most emotional person.  He is more the even keel,  go with the flow type.  Sure, he is prone to the normal kid tantrums and crying jags, but for the most part he is stoic like his dad.  Sometimes, though, he really takes things to heart and it makes me glad that he can be empathetic, sympathetic and sensitive. 

Last night he and I went to Dallas to watch our high school team's playoff game.  It was a rough night for the Bulldogs,  and the loss not only ends Wylie's season but Austin's (J's "big Bulldog") high school football career.  When we went down to visit with Austin after the game, he was visibly upset.  J walked up to give Austin a hug and his eyes were filled with tears.  He was sad that they lost, but even more, the "finality" of it really touched him, too.

I love a tough, "let me shoulder your burdens" kind of guy and I hope J will grow up to be like that.  I don't subscribe to the "men don't cry" theory, though, and I hope he is never ashamed to tell or show someone how he feels.

Day 18 of Thanksgiving: November 18, 2011

I am thankful to have a pediatrician who normally gets us in ASAP for a sick visit.  We have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much going on right now for anyone to be sick, but that's exactly what happened Thursday night.  K came in my room crying at 2:30am saying she wasn't feeling good.  A bad cough and a temperature reading of 100.9 confirmed that.  I called the doctor when they opened at 8:30am and they told me to head that way.

We were supposed to go out of town Friday night for the high school football game.  J and K were signed up for the gymnastics play day on Saturday, and then K and I had a date to see the Nutcracker.  Sunday is J's Super Bowl, and we leave Wednesday for Vegas.  When am I supposed to fit an illness in there???

Thankfully we got in to the doctor first thing and were able to start K on antibiotics right away.  Hopefully by the time we get ready to fly next week she will be all better. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 17 of Thanksgiving: November 17, 2011

I am thankful for the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom.

My husband works hard.  He is one of the few people I know who doesn't complain about work.  He may complain about something that didn't get done, or how much paperwork he has, but I can't remember him ever getting up and saying, "I don't want to go to work today."  Maybe that's because he's not a morning person and doesn't say anything at all in the morning.  ha!

I am grateful beyond measure that I am able to be here in the mornings to get my kids ready for school and also be here when they get off the bus in the afternoons.   I love being able to bring lunch to my kids, schedule doctor appointments without having to worry about my schedule, and attend their school parties/programs every single time.  We are able to leave early for out of town football games and I can go back to bed once the kids leave when I have a migraine.

None of this would be possible if I didn't have a hubby who is a hard worker and a supporter of his wife making motherhood her number one priority.  I'm also blessed with the opportunity to work from home and bring home some spending money.  We often do without luxuries, we never get ahead, but we have everything we need and I am able to put my entire focus on taking care of my family.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 16 of Thanksgiving: November 16, 2011

I am thankful for Christmas music. 

This morning when I got in the shower, the house was too quiet.  I pulled up a Christmas playlist on my phone and listened to that while I was getting ready.  Christmas music lifts my spirits.  The songs are so beautiful and heartfelt and full of faith & love. 

Day 15 of Thanksgiving: November 15, 2011

Oops - I missed a day again.
Let's just say I took a day off to grieve for Pumpkin.  It's hard to say who misses him more, me or Shadow!

I am thankful for texting.  It is fast and convenient (and often rude, but I guess that's the trade-off).  I love being able to send a quick message when I don't have time (or the inclination) to have a phone conversation.  It's so great to instantly show a picture of something to my mother who lives two thousand miles away.  Yesterday when I had a sick boy at home, it was very easy and helpful to be able to communicate with K's teacher regarding her afternoon transportation, without having to wait for email or go through the office.  And last night when I needed a pick-me-up, some late night texts from a good friend helped cheer me when I was down.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 14 of Thanksgiving: November 14, 2011

Meet Pumpkin. 

It is with a very heavy heart that I say today I am thankful to have been Pumpkin's "mommy" for over twelve years.   This big, fat, fluffy gentle giant has been my buddy since I took him in when he was only weeks old.  He was the nicest, calmest, most loving cat in the world and today he went to heaven.  My heart aches with his loss.

In the summer of 1999, my coworker asked me if I wanted an orange cat.  I already had three cats and really should have said no.  Could I?  Of course not.   Someone she knew had found him living in a used car or junk car lot behind a KFC.  He was teeny tiny, scrawny, starving and flea-ridden.  He was missing a piece of his nose from where he must have burned it on a car engine.  He was my buddy from day one.  He loved me through some really tough times, and he loved my kids, too.  My daughter is as much of a cat person as I am and she is going to be completely devastated when I tell her.  One of my friends said Pumpkin is the only cat who would let her over-exuberant daughter pet him.  He loved the smell of tuna, he loved to eat turkey, he loved to romp around the house with Shadow like a kitten, he loved to lay under the end table, he would sit outside the bathroom waiting for me whenever I went in there, and he took his insulin injections twice a day without complaint.  

Pumpkin, you were well loved, and you will be sorely missed! 

Day 13 of Thanksgiving: November 13, 2011

I am writing this a day late because my weekend ended on a completely chaotic note.  I am thankful that we somehow managed to get in contact with a friendly, honest and efficient locksmith last night!

You know what they say about hindsight, right?  Let me tell you, if you don't have a key to your house somewhere outside (or with a neighbor or family), DO IT NOW!!  We went out to eat last night and when we came home, the garage door wouldn't open.  We have an automatic garage door opener, and we could hear the motor running but the door wouldn't budge.   I didn't have my keys because hubby drove, and hubby left his key ring in the house (his new truck has one of those crazy new keys that's not really a key, so he didn't have a house key with him).

This happened to me once before - I came home in the midst of a violent thunderstorm and the power was out - therefore no electric door opener.  Luckily I did have a house key on my car key ring, so I was able to get in the house that way.  Even though we have the passcode keypad for the garage, I usually always bring my keys (even if someone else drives).... just in case.  I didn't even think about it last night, though, because I never bring keys when hubby drives - he has his own keys!!!

We tried every key my father-in-law and brother-in-law had, and none of them were our spare.  Of course all of our windows were locked, too, so we had no way in.  Thankfully before hubby gave in to his urge to kick in the door or break a window, I suggested we call a locksmith.  That's not as simple as it sounds.  The first one we called, which said on their web site "Serving Abilene, TX" (hence the name Abilene Locksmith) told hubby they no longer serve Texas.  Huh?  The second one, Pop A Lock, which lists under services on their web site "Residential lockouts", told hubby they don't do residential.  People, there is obviously a boatload of false advertising online.  Thankfully the Pop a Lock people gave hubby another number.  This guy a) answered his phone on a Sunday night, b) came right out to do a RESIDENTIAL lockout, and c) only charged us $65.

All's well that ends well and we got back into our house in under two hours after we initially got home.  On a positive note, the garage door mechanism had not crashed down onto my car.  Unfortunately, the thing is kaput and we'll have to replace it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 11 of Thanksgiving: November 11, 2011

All across the world there are men and women who fight for our freedom every single day.  My life is better because of the people willing to make huge sacrifices for our country.  America truly is the land of the brave and the FREE, and I hope we never forget that.

Today I am thankful for my number one veteran - my dad!!

Happy Veteran's Day to everyone who is serving and who has served in our armed forces.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 10 of Thanksgiving: November 10, 2011

I am thankful for friends.

I have never been the type of person who wants or needs to be surrounded by a lot of people.  At any given point in my life, I have had a few close friendships and a bunch of "acquaintance-ships".  Hubby is also that way to some extent, and so are our kids.  I don't think that's a bad thing.  I would much rather be surrounded by one or two people who truly know and love me versus being in the middle of a crowd of people who wouldn't notice if I went missing.

I am really blessed with the friendships in my life. 

BFF:  I have known my BFF since we were twelve.  We have lived miles and miles apart for most of our adult lives and yet our friendship remains the same.  We can go for two weeks without talking and then talk on the phone for two hours like teenagers.  Whenever we are lucky enough to see each other, we pick up just as if it was yesterday that we were last together.   She understands me, she knows the best and the worst about me, she is my summer concert buddy and my know-everything-about-what's-on-sale buddy.  Her family is like my own and I wish our friendship could be more every-day and not so long-distance.

S - I met this friend through church over five years ago.  She's my every-other-Tuesday lunch buddy who makes me laugh, is a good listener and is always up for a gripe-fest.  She is always there for me to talk to, she loves my kids and can always tell me where to buy the most obscure item when I need something. 

R - I met my walking-partner friend through another friend.  She is generous and caring and always the first to help out whenever someone (especially me) is in need.  She loves my kids and my cats.  She is fun to hang out with and gives me that day-to-day friendship every woman should have.  

K - A couple of years ago I met a friend who also happens to be my employer.  Her daughter and mine are the best of friends and they are just good people.  They are generous with their time, love and affection.  When I am with K and her family I feel like I have known them for twenty years, not just a few.  

A - My very first "mommy" friend is someone I met when Jared was just a year old.  Her oldest is the same age and we have been friends ever since.  Though time and distance  have kept us apart more than together, I love her like the sister I never had and am grateful for her warm and faithful heart. 

I also have friendships galore online.  I'm not talking about "yes, I'll be your Facebook friend" kind of friends... but friendships that started over a decade ago thanks to a web site called Babycenter.  We all had children at the same time and have talked and complained and celebrated and cried together over the past ten years.  These girls have been there for me through thick and thin, even though most of them I've never met in person.  We have now migrated over to a Facebook group, but our core friendship is still alive and well.  November 2011 Babycenter girls - you rock!

I may not surround myself with a lot of people, but the friends I choose to surround myself with fill up my life and my heart, and they mean the world to me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 9 of Thanksgiving: November 9, 2011

I am thankful for a certain kindergarten teacher.

For some reason I have had a harder time adjusting to K going to kindergarten than I did when J started school.  That's a little absurd to me, considering he is my first "baby", and I've already gone through this with him.  Maybe it's because K is my last baby?  Maybe because J was almost six when he started, while K was just a couple of months past five?  Maybe it's the differences in their personalities.  J is Mr Social, loves to be around other people and meets new situations head-on.  On the other hand, if you looked up the word "clingy" in the dictionary, you would see a picture of my daughter.  She is sweet and lovable and kind, but she is a mama's girl through and through.  Even after two months of school she still tells her teacher that she misses me.

I'm sure most, if not all, of the teachers at my children's schools are absolutely wonderful, and J has been lucky for most of his five years at Wylie so far.  I think kindergarten is such a pivotal time for kids, though.  Even though K attended preschool for four years, this year is her true introduction to full-day, five days a week school.  And for someone like her who is shy, sensitive and unsure, having the right teacher is crucial.

You have no idea how many prayers I said before this school year started that K would be in Mrs. O's class.  She was Jared's kindergarten teacher and I just knew she would be a perfect fit with my little girl.  Mrs. O is fun and sweet and loving and just the right amount of strict.  She's also the mom of a kindergarten girl, so she knows where I am coming from!

Today, as I do every Wednesday, I went to the school to have lunch with K.  When I saw my little girl walking hand in hand down the hall with Mrs. O, my heart melted.  Knowing my child is with someone she loves and trusts makes it a little easier for me (and her) to stand being away from her all day.

I wish everyone could have a teacher like Mrs. O when they started school.  She is truly a blessing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 8 of Thanksgiving: November 8, 2011

Today I am thankful for my parents.

I love my mom and my dad.  Not only did they give me and my brother the most "normal" childhood someone could have, they are loving, honest, thoughtful people who I am lucky enough to also call "friend". 

Mom & Dad - I hope in thirty years my children will say the same about me.  Hopefully I learned how to be a great parent from you guys!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 7 of Thanksgiving: November 7, 2011

I am thankful for my health. 

I know so many people who have dealt with (or are dealing with) serious medical issues.  Two of my best friends are cancer survivors (and are only in their thirties), and my sister-in-law is fighting cancer now.  My husband lost both his mother and his stepmother last year and my BFF's sister had a heart attack this past summer at age 42.

In a world where so many people struggle with being healthy, I am grateful that so far I seem to have inherited my good health from my parents!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 6 of Thanksgiving: November 6, 2011

I am thankful for modern medicine.  We have the ability to lower blood pressure & cholesterol, calm indigestion, recover from the flu and fight cancer. 

Unfortunately I've learned the hard way that I need to read labels carefully when taking medicine.  I woke up this morning with a headache.  As a migraine sufferer, I've learned to be grateful for any headache that is NOT a monster one, but this one just wouldn't go away.  I finally decided to take something around 11am.  My headache is better, but I couldn't figure out why I was so dizzy and sluggish.  I've never reacted to simple pain reliever before.  When I went back to check the bottle, I discovered that instead of taking regular Ibuprofen, I had taken two Ibuprofen PM.

There is not enough caffeine in the world to counteract the effects of a "help you sleep" medicine taken before noon.  <yawn>

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 5 of Thanksgiving: November 5, 2011

I am thankful for being warm.

Now that the temperatures are cooler and the winds have picked up, it makes me even more grateful to have warm clothes, a new car with a good heater and GREAT heated seats, and a warm, cozy house.  I am still chilled from being outside at J's football game this morning, so right now I am sitting on the couch with a warm rice bag on my legs. 

I can't help but think about the millions of people who don't have these things.  Every day there are people who don't even have a coat, let alone a closet full of warm clothes.  People can't afford their electric bill so they have no heat.  There are homeless people everywhere who suffer through the brutal winter months with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. 

Today I am thankful for readily available sweaters, blankets, hot chocolate and heat!
(And yes, I know I live in Texas, but come join me in 30 mph winds at an 8am football game and you'll agree it can be downright COLD!)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 4 of Thanksgiving: November 4, 2011

I am thankful for my children.

Sometimes I look at J or K and can see so much of the other in them.  Other times I can only marvel that I gave birth to two such totally different personalities.  They share the same brown hair & dark eyes.  They share their mother's love of sweets, an obsession with cartoons and the same sweet smile.  They are both people-pleasers and want to be friends with everyone.  They are smart, inquisitive, nice, loving children.

If you could be in my house on school mornings, though, the differences between them become glaringly obvious.  J is so much more easygoing than K could ever hope to be.  When I wake him up for school, he will stretch and smile, maybe ask for one more minute, but generally wakes up happy.  (On weekends he's always the first one up, thanks to his Grammie's early bird gene)  He eats his breakfast (whatever I give him), brushes his teeth when I ask him to and will pull on whatever clothes I set out for him.  K, on the other hand, could have coined the phrase "waking up on the wrong side of the bed".  If there's a way to wake this girl up happily, I haven't found it.  She will grunt and grump and pull away from me, she whines and argues, takes forever to choose a breakfast, complains that her socks bother her or her shoes are too loose, and she refuses to hug or kiss me unless I've already taken a shower (apparently bedhead and no makeup turns her off).

Generally they don't even see each other in the morning because J leaves on the bus before I  wake her up.  Today, though, I let him sleep an extra hour and sent him in to wake her up.  I stood outside K's bedroom door and just listened & smiled.  She is nowhere NEAR as grumpy with him as she is with me first thing.  They were laughing and talking and playing around on her bed and it just made my heart melt.  Almost five years and a million miles of personality differences between them means nothing when stacked against the sibling bond.

I am so thankful that God granted me the privilege of being mom to J and K, and I'm so thankful for the love they share for each other.  They fight like cats and dogs, whine and complain about each other and basically act like normal big brother/little sister, but when it comes down to it, the caring they have for each other is evident every day.  It may be a single minute that I would miss if I wasn't watching, but it's still there.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 3 of Thanksgiving: November 3, 2011

Today I am thankful for the Wylie Bulldogs.  All of them, but in particular the special young men we have come to know through the Adopt-a-Bulldog program.  This is J's fifth year participating and aside from the first not-so-memorable one, we have been extremely lucky to form friendships with some very nice young men and their families.  Caleb, Derek and Austin are three examples of what I hope my son will be like when he is a teenager.  They are all smart, polite, grounded, faithful individuals who have made it a point to get to know my little guy.  During their respective years with us, they have visited J each week without fail, they have brought gifts, cheered him on at his football games and even taken him out for some fun.  K somehow even wormed her way into Austin's heart this year and she manages to score a gift and time with him as well.  I know that hanging around with a fourth-grader isn't high on the priority list for most 18-year-olds, but these guys make it seem like they enjoy it.

After three months of the football grind (practice, youth games, high school games, and the ever-present challenge of finding just the right treat for our football player), it's still fun and part of that is due to our Wylie football players.  We have met a bunch of wonderful people (moms & dads, friends, girlfriends, etc) through them and in a world of increasing selfishness and immaturity in younger generations, I'm proud to say we have been blessed with forming relationships with young men who are anything but selfish or immature.

This is J's first year of playing football as a Wylie Bulldog, and I hope if he continues with it, that one day someone else's mom will be complimenting him as their "big Bulldog".

Our "Boys of Fall":

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 2 of Thanksgiving: November 2, 2011

It's day number two of thankfulness and I am thankful for the internet.  Seriously.  This amazing, intangible, high-tech "thing" is a huge part of my life.  I use it to earn a paycheck.  I use it for parenting advice, travel arrangements, recipe-finding, shopping, even book trading.    I can figure out how to harden playdoh using glue and water!  I use it to order insulin from Canada for my diabetic cat.   The internet gives me a way to communicate every day with people I wouldn't normally be able to (unless I sat and talked on the phone all day).  I can send pictures of my kids to my mother and I can catch up with old friends.  I have made some wonderful new friends through online sites.  Most importantly, without the internet, I would never have met my husband!

Day 1 of Thanksgiving: November 1, 2011

November means chilly weather (unless you're in Texas on certain days), football, comfort food, pumpkins, Christmas decorations in the stores, and Thanksgiving.  I have a whole lot to be thankful for in my life (and I haven't been very good at posting to my blog) so I decided I would write each day about something I am thankful for.

(Yes, I realize I'm a day late in starting this.... I'm a busy mom, cut me some slack!)

First and foremost, on this first day of November, I am thankful for my husband.  The other night I told him "I'm so glad I married you."  His response?  "Are you crazy?" or something like that.  Ever the romantic, that's my hubby.

No matter who you are, where you live, or what you have, life is guaranteed to hand you ups and downs.  Hubby is definitely an "up" for me.  He is my strength when I'm feeling weak.  He makes me smile when I need a lift.  He works so hard for his family and never (seriously) complains about doing so.  He accepts all of my quirks (well, most of them) and has a few of his own.  He loves our children and he loves me and I'm so grateful for that.  He is a good, good man and I'm lucky to call him "husband".

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ten years ago today...

I know it sounds like a cliche, but on October 15, 2001, I was lucky enough to marry my best friend.  Ten years of marriage means a lot of "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health".  In our years together we have had triumph and tragedy, failure and success, laughter and tears.  But through it all we have had the most important thing:  each other.  Hubby has gifted me with unfailing love and support, no matter what.  He has opened his home to me, shared his family with me, and given me a life that I love to live. 

If you were an outsider looking in, you would see that we are definitely two halves that make a whole.  Have you heard the song "Honey Bee" by Blake Shelton?

If you'll be my soft and sweet, I'll be your strong and steady;
You be my glass of wine, I'll be your shot of whiskey;
You be my sunny day, I'll be your shade tree;
You be my honeysuckle, I'll be your honey bee.

Now I'm not too sure about the honey bee part, but the rest?  Yeah, that's us.  Hubby truly is the strong and steady that I need in my life.  In contrast, (I hope) I am the sunny day that he needs.  I am definitely the glass of wine type (actually strawberry daquiri, but that doesn't quite fit the song!), and whiskey is more his speed.  He is practical, down to earth, calm and quiet.  I am a dreamer, a hopeless romantic, sensitive and emotional.  Somehow when you put all of that together it works beautifully.

Hubby and I have been blessed many times over.  We have a warm house (or a cool house if he has his way with the thermostat), beautiful children, a wonderful friendship and unconditional love.  Life is rarely easy, but being part of a strong, happy marriage makes the ride sooooooooooooooooooo worth it.

Happy 10th Anniversary to us!  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Just WHEN do the teenage years start????

I don't think I'll survive them.  I have a surly, selfish, smart-mouthed nine-going-on-fifteen-year-old.  He's about to be listed as free to a good home.  And that's just my boy!  I can't imagine when my daughter is old enough to act like this.  All this, plus girl hormones, too? 

I hate, I mean really hate, being the screaming, bossy, unkind mom who always tells her children "no".  I hate it.  I love my children, I'm proud of my children, and I want them to be happy and secure in their family life.  However, when my child acts like an ungrateful, spoiled, bratty two-year-old, something's gotta give. 

Why does everything have to be an argument?
Why do you get mad at ME because you have to do homework?  I'm not your teacher.
Why do you tune everything out unless it's the exact thing you want to hear?
There is more to life than television, Legos and video games.  I promise.
Just because it's not important (or fun) to you doesn't mean it's not important.
The excuse "I forgot" doesn't fly anymore, especially when I just TOLD you two minutes ago.

Look at this cutie!  Where is my happy, smiling, fun-loving, funny, sweet boy?
I want him back.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker

It has been more than fifteen years since I was officially a resident of New York.  I lived in South Carolina for several years, and I have lived in Texas for more than a decade. Deep in my heart, though, I am still a New York girl at heart.  The tragedy that struck our nation ten years ago shocked, saddened and angered us all, but I don't think, unless you were directly affected, you can really understand the "hurt" that the people of New York really felt.  I am not, nor have I ever been, a resident of New York City, so I can't even imagine how the people that lived & worked there felt.  Having grown up a hundred miles from that great city, though, means New York owns a piece of my heart, and like everyone else, my heart has and will continue to heal, but it will never forget. 

There are certain events in American history that are forever branded on one's memory.  People talk about knowing where they were when President Kennedy was shot, or when the Challenger exploded.  I was seven months pregnant with my first child when the terrorist attacks happened.  My mom called and woke me up early that morning to tell me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  I immediately turned on my television and watched the coverage of the horrific events on September 11, 2001.  I couldn't force myself to look away.  At first it was like the bottleneck at a roadside car crash.  Curiosity and a sort of morbid fascination kept me glued to my tv.  When information came trickling in about just how horrid it was, I felt my heart break.  A plane crashing into a skyscraper is a horrible accident, but a plane being crashed into a skyscraper is an act of hatred and terrorism that I cannot understand.

The terrorist attacks inspired many different emotions in me.  I was so incredibly sad that there are people and nations who hate our country enough to do something like this.  The loss of lives from that day is so unbelievable.  I think about the passengers on the planes, and wonder what they thought as they could do nothing but watch their aircraft slam into buildings.  The heroes of flight #93 who managed to overtake the hijackers and take their plane down before it could endanger anyone else have my everlasting admiration.  The rescue workers (not just the firemen and NYPD but also the "regular" people who helped out their fellow citizens) inspired a deep and heartfelt patriotism in me, and in our nation.  Watching the people of a city as large and diverse as New York dig deep, come together and stand strong in the face of such a tragedy is something I will never forget, and I will never cease to be proud of.

I realize that there was the plane crash in the fields of rural Pennsylvania, and also at the Pentagon.  Many, many innocent lives were lost, and my heart bled for them and their families.  The falling of the twin towers in New York City, though, hit me so incredibly hard.  I remember standing on the observation deck of one of the towers while on a field trip in elementary school.  The elevator ride up to the 104th floor was a huge thrill for a kid.  You could stand on the roof and look at the other tower and actually SEE the building sway.  The view of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty and the rest of Manhattan is incomparable, and I still remember it vividly, thirty years later.  As a kid, when I thought of NYC, three things came to mind:  The Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the World Trade Center.  That one of those is gone is just wrong.

This past summer we took the ferry out to Liberty Island and I took this photo of the lower Manhattan skyline.  At a glance, it's a big city, a pretty city, and maybe to most people the glaring hole of what's missing isn't so obvious.  It saddens me to this day, though, to look at that and NOT see those two everlasting (or so we thought) symbols of strength and power that epitomized the heart of New York City.

While watching the coverage of that terrible day, it was crazy enough, in my mind, that actual airplanes, BIG airplanes, just disappeared into those buildings in a billow of smoke and fire.  I thought about the people on the planes dying on impact, the people sitting idly at their desks in the buildings caught totally unaware and trapped or killed immediately.  Never in a million years did I ever expect that both of those skyscrapers would completely collapse.  How does something like that happen?  They are there, and two hours later they are gone?  As I watched, live on tv, each tower fall, I felt like a part of my soul disappeared with them.

I have visited New York City several times since that day, but I have yet to venture anywhere near Ground Zero.  We saw, from a distance, the building that will be called One World Trade Center (personally I liked the initial name "Freedom Tower" better) in the process of being built.  It will eventually be the tallest building in America, and maybe once it is finished, New York City will be, while not "fixed", a little more complete.  Someday I would love to see the 9/11 memorial.  I am glad that nothing was built on the actual site aside from the twin pools where the bases of the towers stood - very symbolic.   New York City, and our nation, were forever scarred that day.  Lives were lost, landscapes were changed, and a large part of our innocence was lost.  I hope and pray that the people directly affected have been able to heal, and I hope our country continues to grow stronger.

America truly is the home of the brave and the land of the free.  I'm proud to be an American.

I wrote this blog entry last night on the eve of September 11, 2011.  Today, on the tenth anniversary of that sad day, something just moved me beyond belief.  I was watching NBC's television coverage from the 9/11 memorial and they were about to sing the national anthem when I realized the flag they were unfolding was the torn & tattered flag that had hung over Ground Zero during the aftermath of the attacks.  What a profound moment.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Are you ready for some football?

It's that time of year again (thank God).  Time for falling leaves, meals in the crockpot, cooler temperatures and weekend after weekend of football.  Oh wait - we're in the desert formerly known as Texas.  There are no trees still living that have leaves to fall, between school, gymnastics and football I have no time to cook, and our temperatures are nowhere near cool (jeans and long sleeves are still way far on the horizon).  Thankfully there is one facet of autumn that remains the same.  FOOTBALL! 

Tonight is the start of the NFL season.  I don't really care about the Saints vs. Packers, other than the fact that Aaron Rodgers is on my team in a fantasy football league, and that I picked the Packers on a football board.  However, football is football and in this house, that word is golden.  We've been known to watch reruns of old Cowboys games during the off-season in order to get our football "fix".   With having to pick a winner in each of the sixteen games every week, playing in two different fantasy football leagues and watching as many games as we can every weekend, football is pretty much a full-time job around here!

In addition to professional football, we also try to catch UT games on tv (that's University of Texas, not Utah!), as well as University of Houston because their star quarterback went to Wylie where our kids go and we watched him lead our team to state championship!  Speaking of high school, we also have those Wylie Bulldogs to cheer on.  We missed the first game this year because it was a 4+ hour road trip and J had a scrimmage that day, but normally on any given Friday night you will find us in whatever football stadium the purple & gold are playing in.  

Wylie does this neat thing called "Adopt a Bulldog" where kids in grades kindergarten through sixth can "adopt" a varsity player.  They spend time with each other, exchange little gifts each week and are able to hang out on the field after their games.  We have been extremely lucky with our players the last few years.  We've been blessed to form relationships with incredible young men who it has been a pleasure to get to know.  Both Caleb (who we adopted two years in a row) and Derek were good guys both on and off the field.  They made a point to see J every week, were very thoughtful and friendly and we enjoyed spending time with them.  We've only seen Austin (this year's player) a few times so far this year, but he seems to be a terrific guy.  He's pleasant and unassuming and seems to really appreciate J and the gifts we give him.  Since my fourth grader obviously isn't going to have the time, inclination or money to present Austin with something each week, that task falls to me.  Unfortunately I'm not as clever as I wish I was and I'm constantly hounding friends and family for ideas!

As if our high school, college and professional football obsessions weren't enough, we also have another Wylie Bulldogs team to cheer for.  After two miserable (losing) seasons on the youth football Panthers, J switched leagues this year and now plays for the miniature purple & gold (or should I say white since his team is the Bulldogs white).  He has practice three times a week for two hours each, and then games on Saturdays.  His first game this past Saturday was a resounding success as they won 34-6.  I was proud of our guys and thrilled with the win, but as a soft-hearted mom of a child who played on a losing football team in the past, I was secretly cheering for the other team when they scored their lone touchdown.  It's never any fun when you're the team with a big goose egg on the scoreboard.

Aside from taking K to gymnastics on Tuesdays and actually cooking a meal for the family on Wednesday nights, our lives will pretty much revolve around numerous football schedules from now until it snows.  Or, given the weather this summer, at least until we can start wearing pants.  Maybe.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Warning:  I try to keep my blog posts upbeat and cheerful and fun, or at least meaningful.  This one will not be.  I need to bitch and moan so if you don't want to hear it, stop reading.

I will be the first to admit that I love my children more than anything.  Just about everything I do revolves around hubby, J & K.  My "job" as a stay-at-home-mom is to take care of them, and I do it gladly.  I do my best to fulfill their needs and I think I do a good job.  Sometimes the lines blur between 'needs' and 'wants', though, and I get blamed for that. 

My eldest is fun, playful, imaginative and so, so smart.  He's also selfish, lazy, demanding and impatient.  If it's not all about him, he either wants to make it so or he wants nothing to do with it.  If he could just let it go & walk away gracefully, life would be so much easier.  But I often end up paying the price for his self-centered behavior and frankly today, I've had enough.

Last week J came up with an idea for something he wanted to do.  It's harmless, free, and keeps him busy for a long time so I'm all for it.  It involves using my digital camera and I explained exactly what he'd need to do in order for me to put the finishing touches on it (on my pc).  Apparently in this, like with everything else, he tuned me out and just went about his business, confident that he knew what to do on his own.  Normally I am all for self-confidence and figuring something out on your own.  But when it's something he hasn't done before and *I* knew how to do it, I think his best option would have been to actually listen to me and follow my instructions.  Instead, my words went in one ear & out the other, so when he brought me the finished product and wanted me to "do my thing" with it, I had to explain that it wouldn't work.  He didn't do if the way I told him and I am not sure I can make it work the way he DID do it.  What happens?  His eyes tear up & he loses his temper, at ME, because it won't turn out the way he wants. 

To backtrack a little, in addition to my job as the matriarch of this house, I also have a small online job that takes me thirty minutes to an hour each day.  That's it.  That's all I ask for... 1/24th of the day to get my work done so I can get paid on the fifteenth of every month.  So when J walks out with the camera and asks (demands) me to make his video, I told him I would as soon as I finished my work.  He looked at my computer screen and said, "What are you doing?"   I said I was working.  He pointed to my screen (which had switched to my screensaver) and said, "Then why is it THAT screen?"  First of all, I've already said that I'm doing my work.  I said I will help when I am finished.  End of story.  Second of all, since when do I have to explain myself to my nine-year-old child? 

He starts crying, he yells at K for looking at him, and then I yell at him. 

All of this unpleasantness could have been avoided if he had actually paid attention in the first place, and instead of blaming me for the fact that he didn't, maybe he could show a little respect for his mother and her time and simply WAIT for me to help him when I can!  See the afore-mentioned line between 'want' and 'need'???????

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where's the camera?

Yesterday, J reminded me that he's not always an obnoxious, mouthy 9-year-old teenager wannabe.  I was sitting out on the front porch waiting for the bus to bring my children home after school.  When it pulled up, immediately out popped J.  I waited to see what he'd do, because he has strict instructions to look after his baby sister on the bus & make sure she gets off at our house.  Not only did he make sure she got off, but he HELPED her off the bus!  He literally turned around and lifted her down off the bottom step.  Nothing has touched my heart quite like that in a long, long time.

When they got to the front door I hugged them & asked about their day, then I pulled him aside to tell him how much it meant to me that he did that.  He said, "Yeah, after the first time, I looked back at the step, then at her legs and knew it was too high for her." 

It's the little moments like this that make me hopeful that I'm raising a gentleman a mom can be proud of - and moments like this make me wish I had my camera at the ready!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The circle of life

You know the old saying, "The Lord giveth, and He taketh away"?  That was never more obvious to me than this past weekend.  Saturday morning my BFF passed word that her sister had a massive heart attack and they weren't sure she was going to make it.  She's only 42 and her cardiologist said her heart is the worst he's ever seen.  She surprised doctors by improving some over the weekend, but then took a turn for the worse when she went into cardiac arrest last night while in the process of being transported to another hospital.  She needs surgery in order to save her life and buy her more time to wait for a heart transplant.  Unfortunately the hospital she's at doesn't perform that surgery.

BFF has been my dearest friend for more than twenty-five years and her family is like my family.  I know them and grew up with them and love them and hate, hate, hate the fact that they are going through this.

On the flip side, Saturday evening our family attended a fiftieth anniversary/vow renewal ceremony for hubby's uncle and aunt.  Fifty years.  Wow.  It was such a joyful, humorous, touching occasion.  This couple is near & dear to our hearts (he is brother to hubby's mom who passed away last year).  They are sweet and loving and fun to be around, and even though we spent seven hours in the car for a three hour celebration, it meant a lot to us to be included. 

It really struck me on the way home, though, how life really is full of ups & downs.  On one hand we had a couple who have been together, raised a family and stayed in love for more than half a century, and on the other hand someone who hasn't even been alive that long is fighting for her life.

At the risk of sounding cliche, live every day to the fullest.  We all hope to be the ones celebrating more than fifty years of anything, but we could all very easily be the ones trying not to die too soon.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Shhhh.... do you hear that sound? What is it???

SILENCE!!!!  For the first time in months and months, I have the house all to myself.  For HOURS!  {happy dance}

Ok, maybe not so much a happy dance as a "let's try and enjoy this" dance, at least for today.

This morning I took my youngest child to kindergarten.  You'd think it would be easier, after all, I've been down this road before.  Right?  I am proud to say that there have been no tears.  She was all smiles all morning, asking when we would leave for school.  Hubby and I walked K to her classroom where she gave us each a hug and then took off inside without a backwards glance.   Considering this is the child who cried when I dropped her off at preschool almost every time, for FOUR YEARS, this is a big deal.  Huge.  I'm not entirely sure if hubby went along for my sake or for K... or maybe even for his?  I'm grateful for his thoughtfulness!

J was happy as a clam when I woke him up for school.  He is more than ready to be back in a routine where he's kept busy and gets to see his friends.  He is in fourth grade and all three of his teachers seem like they will be terrific.  I gave him strict instructions to make sure his sister gets off the bus!!!  He has taken the bus to school the last two years and rode it home last year, but it didn't even cross my mind to let him ride in kindergarten.  K really wanted to, though, especially since J does, and I'm praying it all goes ok since she has big brother to watch out for her.  If he remembers that she's actually ON the bus!

I hope it's not a bad omen that we saw his bus on the side of the road with the flashers on this morning when we drove K to school.  It eventually got going & we actually saw it pull up at the elementary school when we were walking in, so I'm not sure what it all was about.  I'm sure J will have a story to tell!

I managed to kill a couple of hours grocery shopping and putting things away, but now the next four hours loom ahead of me.  I know I will eventually fill up all of this "free" time and wonder how I ever got things done with kids around, but for today I'm really just counting down the minutes until that bus pulls up and I know my kids are happy and home safely.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Today marks the first day of the last week of summer vacation for me and my kiddos.  I am filled with conflicting emotions about this.  We have had a long, busy, FUN summer.  There were road trips and even longer road trips.  Swimming, golf, beaches, lakes, more golf and more swimming.  We saw family and friends we haven't seen in a long time.  Despite all of the incredibly fun times we've had, I think my kids are getting sick of each other and, more importantly, sick of me.  I have turned into the (sometimes) screaming-always-saying-no kind of mom that I don't want to be.  After spending all day, every day, all summer long, with my children, including 4 weeks and 3 days of single-parenting, I am ready for a break. 

Now that we are down to the bitter end of summer, though, I am starting to feel sad.  I'm happy for J, because I think he thrives in school.  He is smart, and friendly, and loves to be with other kids.  Unfortunately the only kid he's been around all summer, for the most part, is his baby sister!  I'm glad that he's getting "boy time" with his football teammates, and that he'll get to see old (and meet new) friends when he starts fourth grade.  He will be in the same school as last year so there is no real apprehension (on his or my part!) this year.

On the other hand, my baby girl is starting kindergarten.  This one is hitting me hard.  Harder than it did when J started kindergarten.  This surprises me, because he was my first baby, and the first one I sent off to school.  Maybe it was easier (for lack of a better word) because I still had a baby at home.  K was barely a year old and she definitely kept me busy, and kept my mind occupied.  Now that baby will be joining the ranks of new students at Wylie Elementary.  I think she is ready.  I hope she is ready.  She is so, so smart.  She loves to learn.  She tells everyone that she is going to kindergarten to learn to read.  She is beautiful and thoughtful and imaginative and sensitive.  It's the sensitive part that worries me.  She laughs with her whole heart and she also cries with her whole heart.  I hope and pray that she is blessed with a teacher who will nurture and love and support her in the ways that she needs, and that her classmates are kind and friendly to her so she will feel confident and bask in newfound friendships.  She started preschool when she was a year old and even (still!) this past year would cry when I left her.  So if you're a parent or teacher at Wylie, don't be surprised to see me, in tears, leaving my daughter, in tears, the first day (or week or month!).  I hope she surprises me and adapts well, because I had enough tearful goodbyes over the past four years with her!

It's hard for me to believe, but this beautiful baby girl...

is turning into a beautiful little lady who will be a full-time student in seven short days!
Good luck, K!  I love you.  I'm proud of you.  I will miss you!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The 25th hour...

In this age where technological advances rule the world, don't you think someone, somewhere, would have figured out how to get more hours in the day?  It seems like having more "help" in our lives only allows us to put MORE into our lives, not just give us more time for what's actually there.

I'm feeling very overwhelmed with life lately.  I think part of that is the almost-end-of-summer-will-my-kids-ever-go-back-to-school blues.  I was basically a single parent for over four weeks this summer while my kids and I were in New York.  That's not (totally) a complaint.  I love my vacation, I love seeing my family, and I definitely loved escaping this awful Texas heat this year.  However, being the go-to parent 24/7 for weeks on end is so exhausting.  My kids are sick of me and I am definitely sick of my kids.  K is going to kindergarten this year so I'm reluctant to wish the end of her summer away, but I'm running out of energy, patience and ideas on how to deal with my kids all day every day!

Being gone for 31 days meant no real chores or housework for a month.  Fabulous.  Until I come home. Thankfully hubby kept the house up pretty well... but hubby's version of clean and "Michelle clean" are two totally different things.  I have layers of dust upon layers of dust.  I can barely see through the globes on my ceiling fan lights.  I don't know when the sheets were washed last and my kitchen floor is sticky.  Somehow in between running errands and arranging playdates and swimming the heat away every afternoon, I'm supposed to find time to "fix" everything in my house that is getting on my nerves.  I'm very, very tempted to pay someone to come in and really clean, because while it's bugging me (a lot), I can't seem to muster up the time or inclination to actually get it all done.  If I can put up with the dust and fingerprints for three more weeks, the kids will be in school and I can maybe have a minute or sixty to breathe by myself!

I have rejoined the land of the working people.  A few months ago a friend of mine who owns an online business hired me to do search engine optimization for her.  It's easy work and only takes me thirty minutes to an hour a day.  But when I'm already feeling stretched VERY thin, even finding that thirty minutes is next to impossible.  I end up doing my work at night after the kids are in bed (which is later and later as the summer progresses!), which bugs hubby because then he's going to bed alone. 

So to whoever invents these nifty gadgets that save time, make money, entertain us and keep us connected, could you please invent something to make more hours in the day as well as find a way to allow us moms/wives to keep everyone happy?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My vacation top 10 list...er... lists

Top Ten Things I Will Miss About Being on vacation:
  1. My mom
  2. My dad
  3. My brother
  4. The beach
  5. Playing a lot of golf
  6. New York pizza
  7. Not having to clean my house
  8. Jolly Cow ice cream
  9. Hanging out with my BFF and her kids
  10. Brushing my teeth with COLD water!
Top Ten Things I Missed While On Vacation:
  1. My hubby
  2. My swimming pool
  3. My hubby
  4. My own bed (sleeping on the floor is more fun when you are a kid!)
  5. My hubby
  6. Chips & salsa
  7. My hubby
  8. My cats
  9. My hubby
  10. My friends
We have had a very eventful summer.  I drove 5040 miles over four weeks and three days.  We saw sunshine and drenching rain.  Dolphins and fireworks.  Old friends and even older friends.  I learned you can never have too much New York pizza, and I did my best to prove that!  My  71-year-old dad is the least "crotchety old man" I know.  He laughs, he preaches at his church, he takes his grandkids fishing and he still kicks butt at golf (although I can claim victory rights ONCE this summer).  My mom drives 40 miles back & forth to work each day, makes time for her friends and even more time for her family.  She makes her home our home and my kids and I were so comfortable there.  My daughter absolutely loved her Grammie's yard.  She would be outside from morning to night:  blowing bubbles, looking for worms, calling out for the neighbor's dog.  My son, as we were driving around one day, said, "Paradise!"  I asked him what, and he said, "This town."  He has good taste, as Saugerties was named one of the top ten coolest small towns in America. 

My daughter has had quite a few firsts lately.  She caught her first firefly, taught herself to swim underwater, found her first seashell and dug up some sand crabs.  She also lost her first tooth and got stung by a bee for the first time ever.  Five years old is turning out to be a busy age for her!

As much fun as we had (and we had a LOT), it is so very good to be back home.  I missed my hubby and my kids missed their daddy.  I know he missed us a lot, and I am so grateful and thankful that he allows me this trip every summer.  My kids and I enjoy it so much, and I know my parents cherish the time with us.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Free-speaking Friday

I know it has been nearly two weeks since I've written in my blog, and I realize it is Thursday, but I'm on vacation so I'm entitled to bend the rules a bit!

*I wish I could play golf for a living.  I have played five times over the last seven days (72 holes total) and have loved every minute of it.  I'd be ready to hit the links again tomorrow!

*I'm not a fan of 100 degrees.  It's no fun in west Texas and it's no fun in upstate New York. 

*I love seeing how much my children love my parents (and vice versa). 

*My big brother is one of my best friends (and if you were a girl who went through the teenage years with a big brother, you know how rare that is).  He's a good guy and a great uncle!

*Four weeks is a long, long time to be away from home (and more importantly, my hubby!)! 

*Online banking, credit cards and texting makes being away from home for four weeks a little easier.

*My son is a natural at kayaking.  Who knew?

*If you grew up in New York but no longer live in New York, you can never get enough New York pizza when you come back!

*I'm very thankful that my children are having a slumber party tonight (J is bunking in the living room with Uncle D and K is bunking with Grammie).  My 38-year-old bones will appreciate not sleeping on the floor!

*I find it amusing that I'll be going back to Texas with a better tan than I left with!

*No matter how long my visit is, it's never long enough to see everyone and do everything!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Hubby!

Today is my husband's birthday.  Birthdays are always a celebratory day, aren't they?  Everyone loves a party (and everyone certainly loves cake...or at least the frosting, if you are my children).  Everyone loves to get presents.  Everyone secretly loves to have a fuss made over them.  For us, though, thanks to our annual New York trip, hubby's birthday is a bittersweet day.  It's sweet because a) he's a sweet man and b) it's his birthday, but it's bitter because we are almost never with him on his special day.

Since we knew we would be gone for his birthday, we had a special celebration before we left.  Thankfully hubby is pretty laid-back about things like that and doesn't mind celebrating weeks ahead of time.  In fact, he probably wouldn't mind not celebrating at all, but we can't let him get away with that!

So today I am thinking about Hubby, wishing he could be with us, wishing we weren't apart for his birthday.  Forty-nine years ago today, a baby was born who would turn into the strong, caring, funny man I am lucky enough to call my best friend and husband. 

Happy Birthday Hubby!  I love you more every day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Are you ever too old for fireworks?

Even though I moved away fifteen years ago, I still try to make it "home" every year for July 4th.  If you grew up in a town that didn't have a special celebration you probably wouldn't understand.  But everyone from Saugerties, New York (one of the top ten "coolest small towns in America" knows that nobody does "the fourth" like Saugerties. 

If you think of your typical small-town America patriotic holiday, what do you think of?  Parades and cookouts and fireworks.  Saugerties has the biggest and best parade around (especially if you have a particular fondness for firetrucks).  There are trucks and tractors and horses and bagpipes, and of course, the kids especially love the floats where the people are tossing out candy!  Along the parade route there is a house that has pretty much become "party central" for the parade.  The biggest crowd gathers there, there is loud music, freely-flowing drinks and they even have a P.A. system (which they mostly use to heckle the parade marchers).  They play the Star Spangled Banner when they see the start of the parade heading their way, and in the lulls between floats, they play the music for the Chicken Dance and everyone gathers in the street to dance.  They also have a "theme" every year.  Two years ago when I was here, much to Jared's delight, the theme was Star Wars.  They had Darth Vader and Storm Troopers.  You never know who might show up.  This year the theme was Christmas in July, so there was Christmas music and Santa hats.  Watching the parade from any other street just wouldn't be the same!

For a small town (20,000 people), Saugerties puts on an incredible fireworks display.  The crowd gathers for HOURS, there are booths selling lemonade and fried dough (no lousy funnel cakes here!) and the kids run around with patriotic-colored glow sticks.  The fireworks last night began right on time (hallelujah!) at 9:45 and lasted for more than 30 minutes, with a grand finale that had the crowd cheering and clapping.

Happy Birthday America!
(and well done, Saugerties, well done)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Things we learned about croquet

We don't really know the correct way to set up the "course".

Playing at 7pm invites WAY too many insects to the game.

Golfers make better croquet players (as evidenced by the fact that I won and J came in second!).

K is much happier "smashing mushrooms" and wandering around than actually participating in the game.

The mallets are not very effective when used to hammer the stakes into the ground.

A backyard full of roots does not make for a smooth croquet playing area!

A nine-year-old would rather aim for someone else's ball than the gate you're supposed to hit the ball through!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Life is a highway

but I don't want to drive it all night long!!!

Give me 10 hours of driving in the rain on Interstate 40 across Tennessee over 2 hours of stop & go bumper-to-bumper traffic on Rte 17 in northern New Jersey.  Can I just say THAT SUCKED!?!?!?!?

We have safely arrived at Grammie's house and are unpacked and settled in for the next couple of weeks.  Woohoo!!!  We sooooooooooooooooooo enjoyed the beach and hated to leave, but at least we still have this part of our vacation to look forward to.

p.s. My kids earned back their best traveler awards today!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Only two things could make this week better...

having my hubby along, and having our backyard swimming pool!  I could live at the ocean.  Seriously.  This is the best.  Listening to the sound of the waves from our condo, watching the beach from our balcony, walking to Dunkin Donuts every morning for breakfast, hearing the joyful sound of my children as they play in the surf....

Today was a perfect beach day.  The weather couldn't have been better:  mid-80's, sunny and just a slight breeze.  I sat in my beach chair this morning and watched J & K build sand castles while Grammie and Godmother S went for a walk.  When they came back, it was my turn and I have to admit my solitary walk was bliss!  I haven't had any time away from my children since I left Texas and it was nice to be able to hear myself think!

We drove down to see the Fenwick Island lighthouse, which is in a very odd location.  It is about five blocks INLAND from the beach - right smack in the middle of town!  It is a pretty lighthouse, but unfortunately it is only open on Saturdays & Sundays so we couldn't go inside. 

Tonight we had a wonderful dinner at a bayside marina restaurant called Harpoon Hanna's (where they serve the BEST bread:  muffins to die for, homemade rye and pumpernickel, etc), then we all played a round of putt putt at Old Pro Pirate Ship golf.  I think we are all quite pleasantly tired and will be ready to do it all over again tomorrow after a good night's sleep!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Ahhhh.... the relief of finally making it to your destination, and leaving the shortest travel day for last!  Sometimes I'm so smart I amaze myself.   421 miles was a piece of cake after the previous two days. 

We were back on the road yesterday morning at 7am, headed from Advance, NC to Ocean City, MD.  There really is no direct route from point a to point b, so we ended up going down winding, hilly country roads throughout Virginia.  Dealing with 55mph speed limits and traffic lights after almost 1300 miles of interstate driving was annoying.  It was worth it, though, when we reached the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.  That is an amazing drive!  J was enthralled - the bridge, the tunnels, the water, the boats, etc.  So neat.

We arrived in Ocean City about 30 minutes after Grammie & Godmother S did, and thankfully they had already checked in and acquired the keys to our place.  And WHAT A PLACE!!!  The condo is so perfect it's ridiculous.  You know how you see pictures online or in an advertisement for a place, and you just know the pictures make it look nicer than it really is?  This place is BETTER than the pictures!  Everything is in great shape (except the washer/dryer combo, but that's a whole other post), there is plenty of space, great parking, elevator (we did NOT want to lug all that stuff up 4 flights of stairs!), and best of all, OCEANFRONT!  We have a huge balcony that overlooks the sand dune and beach.  Perfection.  The beach is gorgeous, and since we're way on the north side of Ocean City, it's not even crowded.  We couldn't ask for anything better.

My children LOVE the beach.  The last time we went to the ocean, J was 5, K was 1 and we went to New Hampshire where it was cold, foggy and rainy all weekend.  J didn't care, he was out there in the waves regarless, but K was not a happy beach baby.  She basically sat in the sand and cried.  Fast forward four years and it's a whole different ball game.  My children are bursting with excitement.  They are squealing and running and screaming and laughing, sitting in the sand, trying to ride the waves, digging for clams, etc.  The epitome of joy.  Unfortunately the surf is a bit on the rough side and J took a tumble in the waves with his boogie board.  A few scrapes and a sore back, but he got right back in the water later today.  If I could figure out  a way to keep my kids' skin from getting sand/salt rash, we'd be much happier campers!

We played at an awesome indoor putt putt place today, enjoyed some ice cream, shopped for t-shirts (and new flip flops for me since mine BROKE while I was walking around the store), then had a great dinner with a friend of mine and her daughter who drove down from Dover.  We attempted to fly a kite tonight, and saw a boy catch a skate (sting-ray type fish) while fishing on the beach!
So far we couldn't ask for a better time at the beach.  It's supposed to storm tonight, but by tomorrow morning clear skies and smooth sailing until we leave on Friday.

Life's a beach.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


miles driven today.  99.9% of which were on Interstate 40!  Driving across Tennessee is beautiful, but staying on one road the entire time is Boring with a capital B, and of course it RAINED.  Thank goodness we seemed to miss the severe weather that blanketed the area today, but I can not drive through that state without getting caught in rain (about 5 or 6 times today).  It did make K happy, though, because she was able to use her new Hello Kitty umbrella when we stopped for lunch. 

I drove on a part of Interstate 40 I have never been on before (southeast of Knoxville, TN toward Asheville, NC through the Smokey Mountains) and I have to say it is THE most fun road I've ever driven on.  It really made me wish I still had my little red MR2.  To give you an idea of what this road was like, the posted speed limit for trucks was 35mph.  On the interstate!!!!!  There were twists and turns and hills and valleys galore, and even a couple of tunnels.  I wondered why I saw a sign that said, "Take off sunglasses".  Ha!

Unfortunately I was a little too proud of my children yesterday.  Considering we have spent 22 hours in the car and driven almost 1300 miles in two days, it's understandable, but they were not nearly the super travelers today that they were yesterday.  J took two naps and K took one long one, which did help (especially since we were on the road before 7am today), but I can't tell you how many meltdowns my little girl had.  Even J, toward the end of the day, got very antsy and started acting up and they asked me EVERY FIFTEEN MINUTES all day long "When will we get to our hotel??"   I'm trying to be Super Mommy and not lose patience because I know this is a crazy schedule for them, but there's only so much I can take after driving that much and doing it solo!

On the fun stretch of I-40 I was surrounded by huge NASCAR semis who showed no disregard for the speed limit or the fact that trucks were restricted to the right lane.  I don't know if the NASCAR drivers were driving the trucks themselves or what, but it was insane!

We are now at our super cool hotel which has a nice pool, hot tub, AND two tubular water slides that go outside the building and end up inside the pool area.  J is going up & down over and over again, but unfortunately K isn't tall enough (or brave enough).

Tomorrow is another long day of traveling, but thankfully not as long as the previous two.  We should reach our destination by 3pm.  Ocean City, MD, here we come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011


That's how many miles I drove today to start off our annual summer trip.  My kids and I left Abilene, TX this morning at 7am (which was a miracle in itself since that was my scheduled take-off time!).  We drove down Interstate 20, Interstate 30, and arrived at our hotel off Interstate 40 in Memphis Tennessee just before 6pm.   Luckily the skies were clear, the roads were even relatively clear and we had a great day of travel.

Here are a few observations:

My kids are the best travelers ever.  Period.  We were in the car for eleven hours.  We stopped once for lunch at 11:30, where we hung out for an hour at a cool McDonalds featuring touch-screen video games in some of the booths!  We stopped again at a rest area around 4pm to stretch and make a bathroom pit stop.  That's it.  No whining, no fighting, only a few thousand "how many minutes till we get to our hotel?" from K.  They were unbelievable! 

O'Charley's (a place we haven't been to before) has awesome food!  We walked down the street from our hotel to the restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful meal (how I got away with a non-fast food meal on our trip is a mystery!).

My son calls white people "peach".  (The majority of the people in Memphis are black, and while he and K were swimming, he announced "We are the only peach people in here!")

Porsche makes an SUV.  I saw one today.  If you can afford a Porsche, why would you get an SUV? 

My husband is as good (if not better) at packing the car as I am at loading the dishwasher!  My car is loaded down with two golf bags, two suitcases, a tote bag full of shoes, a sleeping bag, two beach chairs, three pillows, a tote bag with swim stuff & beach towels, and our toiletries bags.  And I can still see out my back window!!!  (Don't laugh, but I took a picture of the packed trunk with my cell phone so I can re-pack everything the way it was)

I'm impressed with my SUV's highway gas mileage.  Around town at home I'm lucky to get 19-20mpg.  Today I averaged 27.0, and that's with a loaded-down car!

SiriusXM radio is fantastic.  99% of the time I listen to country music, so I don't need the variety of 250 channels, but the ability to listen to WSIX out of Nashville my entire trip without searching for a good country station is awesome!

I can't wait to see the ocean.

I miss my husband already.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pet Peeves

Advertisements for "plus sized" clothing featuring models who are skinnier than I am!  I wear a size 8 or 10, which is not even close to being plus sized, and yet I am heftier than any of the models displaying these clothes!

Speaking of clothes... why are sizes so un-universal?  It's the worst with kids clothes.  My 5 year-old daughter needs size 8 or even 10 shirts.  Really?  I know she's above average in height & weight, but she's not fat, huge, gigantic or plus sized.  How can she possibly wear the same size as her 9 year old brother?  And my clothes are no better.  Most of my jeans are size 8, my shorts are either 8 or 10, and yet today I am comfortably wearing a size 12 pair of shorts.  Huh?

Other drivers.  If you've ever been in front of me going slow, behind me tailgating, next to me in my blind spot, putting your blinker on at the last minute or, better yet, WHILE you are turning, pulling out in front of me when there is not another car for miles behind me, I apologize for any rude thoughts, words or gestures.  But I honestly can't stand people who don't follow the rules of the road, both the spoken AND unspoken.

The silent treatment.  If you have a problem with me, or just a problem in general, don't sit and stew in silence or give me a cold shoulder.  Tell me what's wrong.

Bad editing in books is the worst.  I am not a writer, and I wasn't an English major in college, but even I know the difference between "there" and "their".  Or halfway through a book when an author uses the wrong name for a character.  Or a baby who reaches age 5 in about three years.  Really?  They didn't catch it, none of their editors and/or proofreaders didn't catch that?  

Hotel rooms.  No matter how nice the hotel is, I still get grossed out.  I don't really think I'm crazy about germs or anything like that, but sleeping in a bed thousands of other people have slept in?  Walking around on that dingy carpet (or better yet, my children LAYING on it?)??  The hotel pool?  Gross.  Not good thoughts when I'm about to embark on a cross-country drive with my children, staying in hotels and a beach condo along the way.

If you are a salesperson, I give you a lot of credit, because frankly it is the most annoying profession ever.  The people working the kiosks in the mall?  LEAVE ME ALONE!  I don't want you to straighten my hair, I don't want to try some lotion, I don't need new cell service.  If I did, I would come to your booth and express an interest.  Since I didn't, I'm obviously not interested!

Off my soapbox now.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Most of the time, when a woman exclaims the word  "men", it is tinged with negative connotations.  Today I use the word in the most positive of ways.  I am blessed to have wonderful men in my family.  My son is one of the lights of my life.  He is so smart and funny and inquisitive and loving.  He is all 9 year-old boy wrapped up in a handsome package.  My brother is one of my best friends.  We share a love of family, a love of football and a love of golf.  He is a shining presence in my and my children's lives.  My father-in-law (Peepaw) is a quiet soul, a hard worker and a joy for my kids to be around.  He lost his wife this past winter and my heart aches that this wonderful man will spend his remaining years without that companionship.  He is strong, though, and continuing on in his life, trying to enjoy every day.  The two men I want to honor most today, though, are my husband and my father.

My dad is such a kind, steady, rock of a man.  Very little ruffles him (why couldn't I have gotten that from him?).  He is strong in his faith, loyal to his friends and playful with his grandchildren.  He is 70 going on 50.  He is very active in his church, bowls twice a week and plays golf regularly (and beats me almost every time!).  "They" always say that a girl looks to her daddy for the kind of man she will fall in love with.  I will agree with that to an extent.  My hubby is also a kind, steady rock of a man.  He is the even keel to my over-sensitive Type A personality.  He is a hard worker, a loving family man who always puts his wife and children first.  I wish I could hand him the whole world on a platter this Father's Day for being such a good, good man.  Since that would be impossible, he'll have to settle for a "Big Comfort" camp chair, some t-shirts and a new bathing suit.  Let's not forget the homemade brisket (my first) that turned out better than either of us anticipated!

Happy Father's Day out there to all of the terrific men in the world who grow up hearing the word "Daddy".