near perfection (in a day)...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

'surround yourself with people who make you laugh so hard that you forget about the bad, and focus solely on the good. love the people who treat you right. after all life is too short to be anything but happy.'  
~karl marx
yesterday was one of those nearly perfect days where life gives you the chance to see how blessed you are by both people and circumstance. the girls and i met a couple of our dear friends who were in town (from out of town) for a late breakfast. it was great to catch up, laugh, and reminisce.
then we went to see parental guidance. i knew it would be cheesy and a little bit cliche, but what i didn't expect was for the girls to love it as much as they did.
cee and i have been traveling down a slightly bumpy road lately (queue the rapid onslaught of gray hairs), which i hear is pretty normal. not fun, but expected. i've read positive discipline for single parents from cover to cover (i'm generally a big fan of nelsen, although i'm not crazy about how she victimizes single parents - because for me it was a conscious choice...but that's just me), and the book has helped; but there is no specific chapter on ten year olds and that's what i really need!
jay watches the debacles unfold in sheer amazement, and that peace-loving child really doesn't like the bumps at all. neither do i, neither does cee, and we're doing our best to work through them.
with that said, our cheesy movie choice yesterday ended up being exactly what the three of us needed to see. i cried at the end. cee cried at the end. jay asked why everyone was crying at the end.
sometimes good messages come from unexpected places.
bumpy roads or smooth sailing, i will do my very best to make sure this sweet face knows that i love her unconditionally.

i will also do my very best to make sure this little pumpkin knows the same goes for her, always and forever.

they've recently acquired new nicknames: cee-note and jay-rock. my kids are much cooler than me, and in their spare time, they run with people who are equally as cool as them and create magnificent rapper nicknames for them.

yesterday i received a pretty sweet gift. i love ornaments, and this one was a keepsake from the april wedding i was in.

isn't it adorable? here are shots of the other sides...

you can bet i'll be giving these for gifts next year! if you like them as much as i do, feel free to order some for yourself. here's the link to elusive images' etsy page.

since my last post, i have, among other things, created a new background for the blog. i got the new banner up on wednesday, but i cannot for the life of me figure out how to upload the new background. i think i embedded the current image into the html code but i don't know enough about it to mess with it for fear of ruining things. so for now, i'm keeping it the same.

maybe i'll feel like trying again next week...but today i'm going to embrace karl marx's advice and enjoy another great day with incredible friends.


shopping spree

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

i've done lots of shopping in the last few hours. after a couple of wonderful days filled with giving and receiving, i opted not to join the droves of people who are taking it all back trip into the sheer madness of christmas eve was enough to convince me to stay home until tomorrow.

in the meantime, i've decided it's time for a wardrobe change for the blog. i've been thinking about it for a couple of months, but i just haven't had the energy (or the spare time) to make it happen...until now!

after clicking through lots (and lots) of options, i've settled on and ordered new papers, new flowers, and new fonts! the sweet lady i buy from lives in australia, and she should be waking up soon...which means she'll be able to email the new goodies to me.

which means i can stop clicking on my yahoo inbox every five minutes...

here's a peek at some of what was on today's shopping list:

i am admittedly not the most patient person in the world when it comes to waiting for things i really want, so now i'm off to find something to keep me occupied for the rest of the afternoon.

on that note, i just checked out some of my blog analytics because they always make me smile. the current most searched terms that bring people here are: whipping stick, the better snow man, ostrich in a pear tree, and tripping at church. this is fascinating to me, and i just thought i'd share a little useless information with you on this lovely wednesday...

i hope you had a wonderful holiday with your family and friends, and i hope you're getting some time off to relax and enjoy the things that make you the happiest!


'tis the season

Monday, December 24, 2012

i've said it before and i'll say it again: this is the most wonderful time of the year (in my book)! i love christmas. always have, always will.

we've watched almost all of our favorite family movies (polar express, christmas vacation, miracle on 34th street, the santa clause) and i've watched all of my favorites the girls can't watch yet (the holiday, love, actually), and tonight we have a christmas story and it's a wonderful life ready to go .

the girls and i tried something new this morning that i've been wanting to do for awhile. today seemed like a great day to start. we made our first donation to heifer international. they were already familiar with the organization, and naturally they wanted to donate a cow.

we can't afford a cow.

or a water buffalo.

or to send a girl to school.

we're budget people. we try to stick to our budget. but reading through this gift catalog puts life into a beautiful perspective.

what we could afford was a few flocks of chickens, because who wouldn't want a flock of chickens? in our house, we love chickens, and we hate the 'no poultry' clause of our hoa.

heifer is a great cause and i feel like it's a great way to encourage the girls to do kind things for people in need. if you have a few extra bucks after your holiday bliss is over, you should check it out and consider a donation of your own.

we spent a good part of our morning in the piano room, and i'm happy to report that i have two musical daughters and a musical old man in my house now.

here's jay practicing the song i taught her (please notice browning is checking out the whole process)...

cee never has been a fan of me videoing her, but today she was all about it. i'm pretty proud of her - we just started practicing this last night.

and if you noticed browning in cee's video, you realize that he was just getting him self spiffed up for a performance of his own, which i could not get onto youtube because i was laughing way too hard to attempt to film him.

but hopefully now you have an idea of why i think he's so amazing. whoever said you can't teach an old dog new tricks has never met my dog. or my girls for that matter.

and lest you think i'm not about equal video access for my children or that i would ever show you a video of one's musical talents without highlighting the musical talents of the other, i have one more little treat for you, circa 2009.


alright - we're headed out to our christmas eve destination and we hope you have a wonderful christmas with your loved ones. we will have lots of laughs tonight, and i'm anticipating a few tears too because jay always hates saying goodbye to jerry.

i haven't written a lot about jerry (the tiny elf) this year because i feel like there's a lot of elf backlash and elf hate in the social media world and i didn't want anybody to hate on our elf, but i did want to let you see how lucky we are to have a sweet and thoughtful elf (as opposed to a selfish, mess-making, nuisance) in our humble abode...

merry christmas (and lots of wine) to all!

peace (and hippos and heifers and elves and merry gentlemen and singing dogs)...

be merry.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

yesterday was our last day of school for 2012. whew!!

i think we've all earned a break, and today it finally felt like christmas! a cold front made its way into our neck of the woods last night, and like most of america did a couple of months ago, we finally followed suit and made the transition from shorts to sweaters.

tonight, the girls and i took in the ambiance of our local trail of lights. on our drive from point a to point b, i was reminded of how i first fell in love with our small town eleven years ago.

when we first moved here, there was one stop light, and it blinked. i made an accidental turn through this little town in december 2001, on my way from a christmas party in central austin to a family birthday weekend in bandera, and my accidental shortcut was a necessity due to my impatience with the traffic.

the twinkling christmas lights adorning all of the downtown buildings combined with the billowing garlands hanging over the streets had me wrapped around their little finger in a matter of seconds. it was just two months after september 11, and somehow i knew this rockwellian place was where i needed to be.

and here i we are. we're up to almost four stop lights that no longer blink, but instead transition between red, yellow, and green...with arrows.

and despite my best efforts to capture a picture of the main street that runs through downtown, i can't seem to catch a decent one to show you the magic of christmas here because it's never completely empty and the glow of red brake lights interferes with the beauty. of course, i could probably sneak out in the middle of the night and get the exact picture i want, but i really like sleep.

regardless, it's been fun to grow here...

the park where we went tonight has only been a park for a few years, and it is now one of our favorite places to go year-round, but especially during christmas because of the fabulous lights.

the girls even got to catch up with santa, which was an unexpected cherry on top of an already great night. their santa letters were consistent with what they discussed with him, which works out well for everyone.

watching the girls take it all in, watching them hug their friends who they haven't seen since yesterday, listening to the sounds of families and friends and happiness and christmas music and general cheer, and watching the girls joke and giggle with each other as they sipped their hot all really restored my energy. and my spirit. and my smile.

i felt like i was running pretty close to empty, and tonight was exactly what i needed...

right now, my children are nestled all snug in their beds, and i'm not far behind them.

but first, i think i'll enjoy the last couple of hours of the mayan calendar with a glass of wine and my latest nook download.

more soon, unless that giant cement slab is right, and then, at the very least, i'll go out as a very merry, content woman.

either way, peace...


Saturday, December 15, 2012

"the majority of those who died today were children - beautiful little kids between the ages of five and ten years old. they had their entire lives ahead of them - birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. among the fallen were also teachers - men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams."
~president obama
december 14, 2012
i started writing this post late last night, and i had to stop because i'm having an exceedingly hard time wrapping my mind around the enormity of this senseless tragedy.

i managed to keep myself together yesterday at school - we were specifically instructed not to tell our students about what happened. but i worried about how 'plugged in' they are. would they get texts like i did informing them about the shooting? would they stumble across the news in a computer lab or see it on their twitter feeds? either way, i knew my students were in safe hands, and i also knew cee and jay were in safe hands.

jay's teacher sent out the sweetest email to parents of kids in her class..."hearing about the tragedy today stopped me in my tracks and broke my heart...know that when your sweet angel is with me they are loved unconditionally and i do everything in my power to keep them safe."

as a parent, an email like that means more than words can express, and i feel very blessed that both of my girls have been in her class. she is a pretty special lady.

talking to the girls about what happened, while staying composed, wasn't an easy task. i held them both in my lap while we talked, and they had so many questions. i reassured them that they are in competent, safe hands every single day when they go to school. but most of all, i made sure they knew how much they're loved and how lucky we are to have each other.

immediately, they wanted to know what we could do to help the families who lost loved ones in the shooting. this amazes really, really does. it makes my mama heart proud.

by the time i was finally able to watch the news last night after the girls were sleeping, holding it together was no longer an option. my heart broke for the families who lost loved ones. my heart broke for the children and adults in that school who lost their lives and for the children and adults in that school who will never be able to forget what they experienced yesterday. my heart broke for the entire community of newtown, and my heart broke for another school shooting in our country.

i don't think right now is the time for rhetoric {specifically the political kind}. instead, i think this is a great time for wrapping those we love the most tightly in our arms and taking some time to appreciate and cherish each moment we have together. there are no promises for a tomorrow...not for any one of us. nothing should be taken for granted in this life.

right now, i am more thankful than usual for my sweet little family.

we're here, we're safe, and they are loved with my whole entire heart.

they both made revisions to their santa letters today (yup, even cee) know what they added?

cee: prayers for the families who lost their children...
jay: things for all the sad families in connecticut...

i've said it before: writing is therapeutic for me. case in point - while i was writing this post, struggling to make some sort of sense out of yesterday's events, the phrase 'peace that passes understanding' came into my mind.

and it hit me. maybe this shooting is next to impossible to understand. maybe it's not even meant for us to understand. but regardless of how we process it, we do have to find peace in our own hearts (peace...not acceptance...just peace) so we're able to remind our little ones to embrace the peace in theirs...

the gift of sight

Saturday, December 8, 2012

after putting it off for way too long, i finally got my eyes checked today.

any time i'm in a doctor's office, i'm always compelled to look at their medical licence. i'm not sure why, but today i was really glad i looked.

today was my lucky day: the lovely, cursive-embossed name on this license, at first glance, informed me that my eyes would be examined by...

bich what.

i patiently waited to meet bich what, and i wondered several times in that five minutes if i was part of some sort of an elaborate hoax. i looked for other interesting things in the room.

i found nothing else that indicated a potential ruse.

i thought it would be funny if anyone ever asked me for a recommendation for an optometrist (which happens as frequently as you might imagine), and i would simply answer, 'bich, what?

when bich what walked into the room and introduced herself as dr. le, i was visibly disappointed.

and you know how the rest of the exam part goes, so i'll spare you the details.

an hour later, i left with a new pair of contacts, and i honestly felt like bella swan-hyphen-cullen when she first wakes up as a vampire in breaking dawn: part 2 (which i've now seen...twice).

i could see things i'd never seen before...completely remarkable, and i decided that even if i was part of an elaborate hoax, i didn't care because i could see, which means that everybody wins.

and then i looked at my receipt so i could write my follow-up appointment in my awesome old-fashioned calendar.

as it turns out, my dr.'s name wasn't bich what, it was bich nhat.

i bet she gets that a lot, though...especially with the cursive font on her license and even more especially when working with people who can't see very well until they leave her office.

and that's that.


all part of the journey

Monday, December 3, 2012

don't stop believing.

one of my all time favorite journey songs.

as it turns out, they knew what was up and i didn't even realize it.

i got so many sweet texts and calls regarding my comment in the last post about things happening on the home front. y'all are seriously too sweet, and you made me feel like a million bucks. and i'm sorry if i made anyone worry - that was definitely not my intent.

so here's the deal - thing one sat in my lap two days before thanksgiving (which also happened to be the day before her 10th birthday), and she took my face in her gentle, sweet hands. she looked me right in the eyes with her big, inquisitive brown eyes.

and she said, 'mom, tell me the truth. don't even try to lie because i know you better than anybody. is he real, or are you him?'

are you following along with me?

because in the spirit of believing and spreading the magic, part of my struggle with this post is actually writing about it and potentially ruining the magic for others.

do you know what i did to her?

i lied to her.

for the next nine days, we went through the same song and dance.

by about day six, i knew she knew, and i knew she knew i knew she knew.

but i just couldn't bring myself to tell her, and at some point i realized that i was trying harder to save face with my own lies than i was to protect her from the truth...because i knew she knew i knew she knew.

so friday we went outside, just the two of us.

and i told her the truth.

and i cried (a lot).

and she hugged me and told me it would be okay.

and she was right (because she's wise like that).

and we talked for quite awhile about how important it is to keep the magic alive, no matter how old someone is. if they're 2 or 80 and they believe, we help them keep believing. whether it's our younger cousins or our school friends or mama o's girls* or our grand parents, we keep the magic alive for everyone who believes.
absolutely no exceptions to this rule.
(*mama o helped me keep things in perspective by informing me that will and kate are preggers and kate's had horrible morning sickness, which i never had, so - double woo hoo!!)
i felt better that we talked about it and that we came clean with each other.

what i wasn't prepared for was the onslaught of questions that would follow.

questions about the letters she's written to him....

questions about how old i was when i found out...

questions about food for his eight (or nine) buddies and the food we leave out for them...

questions about jerry...

questions about who still really believes and who just pretends (i was ambiguous)...

questions about why we pretend in the first place...

so, so many questions.

by last night, i felt like a tiny part of me (and a bigger part of her) had been cheated, on my account.

we talked about it again before she went to sleep last night, and either by coincidence or intention, she made me feel a million times better about everything we covered in 48 short hours.

i'm sure this will be one of many moments we have that will parallel this revelation, but this was the first for us. and i felt like it was a big one.

and i know how much she loves/adores her little sister (who loves to stand right in front of me and entertain me from sun up to sun down)...

...and i know she'll keep the magic alive with everyone she encounters, because deep down inside, she really is a little heart-broken...and i know this because i know her better than anybody.

so that's that. no undoing to be done here.

so don't stop believing, okay?

bittersweet peace...

inspiring (to me)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

i watched rock center the other night (possibly thursday?), and i was inspired. and i wanted to write and tell you all about it before i went to bed that night.

but i didn't.

and then i put it off until last night...

...which obviously didn't happen either, and now i'm really tired but i still want you to know about something that i think is pretty amazing.

did you know about the two awesome nfl brothers?

{no, not the mannings...}

i'm talking about husain and hamza abdullah.

such an amazing story of a family who went above and beyond in achieving the american dream, faced ridiculous forms of bigotry after september 11, and went on to do amazing things for themselves and others.

and now they've passed on (as in they said 'no thank you for now'...not as in they passed it on to a new generation) their million-dollar salaries...all in an effort to complete part of their dreams.

it's a pretty spectacular story, and i think it's a great example of how much you can achieve if you just put your heart and your mind to whatever it is that means the most to you. the phrase 'human potential' came to mind when i was watching this the other night...

check it out when you have a chance.

there are some other things that have happened on the home front, but i'm not ready to tell you just yet because i don't really know how to tell you...and because on a scale of one to ten, my communication skills can't wait to reach a five when they grow up.

right now, i'm watching the holiday, and i love this movie. a lot. and i love you've got mail even slightly more. and don't even get me started on other christmas classics like christmas vacation and it's a wonderful life and love, actually...

but we'll talk about those later.

because right now it's bedtime.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012, i am not hunting saber-toothed rabbits.

i'm just settling in for a quiet night at home.

for those of you who know me, you know i value my alone time...peace and quiet is a very necessary component of my life.

for those of you who don't know me, my introverted self starts to malfunction after too many days without at least a few moments (ideally a minimum of 720 minutes) of solid nobody-but-me time.



do i mind being weird in this scenario?

not a bit.

i did get to go to the tech v. baylor game on saturday, which was seriously a great time. i yelled and screamed and pretended i knew about football until i was completely hoarse. the girls really got into it, too, and we won't even talk about the way the game ended. overtime was not pretty.

but jerry's world was amazing.

really - such a beautiful stadium (and yes, i have a few others with which to compare it).

and speaking of jerry's world, it's that time of year again...the little man in red is up to his usual antics.

our elf is back, and the girls are totally down with early-to-bed/early-to-rise. all i have to say is 'it looks like jerry moved last night...' and they are out of bed, on an elf hunt in the blink of an eye.

it's pretty awesome.

enough about all of that. at the present moment, every candle in my house is glowing, a fire is crackling in my fire place, the christmas tree is twinkling, and i have a glass of wine close by.

i have had the following quote in mind all day long because it's totally apropos...

'do not take anything for granted - not one smile or one person or one rainbow or one breath, or one night in your cozy bed.' ~terri guillements


several things have happened in the last few days that have made me appreciate each and every breath that my loved ones (family and friends) are able to take. there are so many things that each one of us take for granted, and despite my best intentions, i need to take more time to appreciate every bit of what life provides to me...including the health and harmony of some of my very most favorite people.

on a more shallow (but equally sincere) note, i also take my bed for granted. i will, in the very near future, dive directly into my very own cozy bed in between my incredibly awesome sheets and covers, and i hope to sleep very soundly and peacefully (hopefully for about 480 minutes).

and tomorrow when i wake up, i will be a new more pleasant person than i was today.


peace (and quiet)...

grateful heart

Thursday, November 22, 2012

today (and every day), i have a million and one things for which to be thankful, with family and friends being at the top of my own list. the 'thankful in november' thing seemed to be pretty huge on facebook this year, and i love reading what everyone posted...

but it's never floated my boat because i really do make a conscious effort to appreciate what i have at the end of each day. on the good old life list, it's actually listed twice: once as 'practice daily gratitude' and the second time as 'celebrate life's gifts each day'.

i feel like a very lucky person who has been blessed probably more than necessary in too many ways to count, and i'm not complaining a single bit. i truly do appreciate each and every one of my blessings.

spending time in the middle of nowhere with the girls gave me plenty to appreciate...what a beautiful place! here are a few of my favorite pictures from our time at the ranch.

these two had a blast on the polaris...they can be so girly-girl, and then so rough and rugged. either way, it seems to be the simplest things in life that keep them happy.

the youngest gets the gate. apparently, this is a long-standing ranch rule. she was perfectly fine with that rule.

i grew up about two hours away from this ranch, so driving down the red dirt roads gave me lots of time to appreciate everything around me.

happy as a long-horned lark...

here's my quintessential texas picture: a cow (she tried to run off at first) who wanted me to get her picture by the tank and the windmill.

i think this was called dry salt creek - which made me laugh. dry. salt. creek. there's an oxymoron somewhere in there, i think, or at least a little bit of irony.

gate work isn't for the faint of heart, and after about two hours of driving around, jay was worn smooth out.

we found so many deer stands, and the views were amazing.

this was exactly how my sweet cee wanted to celebrate her 10th birthday. on a ranch, with her family, playing outside. such a simple request, and there isn't very much that i wouldn't do for her. she would eat brownies for every meal if i would let her, and i hope she enjoyed her time there as much as i think she did.

as much fun as i had, and as much time as i had to just 'be', i have to tell you that i don't do well without quick access to internet connections.

i realized that major world events could have unfolded and i would have no idea. i realized that i am a little too in to fantasy football and i don't like not being able to make roster changes. i realized that even though i'm not a huge twitter follower, i miss it when it's gone.

i realized that as long as i have the girls by my side, there isn't too much else that i need.

i realized there are so many things i take for granted, and i guess that was an unintended side effect of my journey to the unknown:

more time to appreciate things in the sense of absence makes the heart grow fonder. i'm not exactly sure where that falls on the spectrum of lessons learned, but it's definitely something.

here's jay's list of greatness, which made my heart smile...

i hope you and your families had a wonderful, safe, and relaxing thanksgiving, and i hope your turkey naps were good to you. until next time, peace...

going, going, gone...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

in just a few minutes, i'm leaving for the land of the unknown.

there's very little cell service where i'm going, and at best, there might be a dial-up connection. this alone is what i imagine that hell is probably like. you'd think i'm going on a foreign mission extravaganza to a third world country, but really, i'm only going a few hours north.

but still...

who doesn't have wireless or high speed internet access? it's 2012, people.

these two lovelies are the ultimate goal of my destination, which means that i can't wait to have them in my arms again...and that will be heavenly!

i can't wait to rescue them from the sugar and caffeine-induced madness to which they've been exposed.

not really. their dad tends to mess with me via the pictures he sends my way. he has probably been feeding them veggie dogs on organic whole grain buns with tofu cheese and a side of roasted root vegetables (also organic) and filling their days with other healthy things like sunshine and laughter and breathing in plenty of fresh, unpolluted air.

but i need to see them and hug them and hold them in my arms...just to be sure my suspicions are correct. :)


vampires, racecars, and practice turkeys

Saturday, November 17, 2012

i love sleep. a lot. i also love my friends. a lot. and i love twilight...not in a teeny-bopper way, and not in a vampire-lore kind of way, but i'm a sucker for romeo and juliet love stories.

there. i said it.


after waiting (impatiently) for over a year, thursday night, i went to see the new breaking dawn with a group of dear friends. so much fun! so worth staying up well past my bedtime! so fun to sit by someone with a british accent! so shouldn't have had the second vodka that i ordered...

and yesterday i really wasn't sure i would be able to make it through the day without dozing off.

somehow, i managed to survive, and after 12 hours of sleep last night, i feel like a new woman. i'm ready to conquer the world today!

when i say 'ready to conquer the world,' i mean that when i woke up at 7 am, i actually thought, 'i'm going to go for a jog!!' and then i checked the temperature and decided that 39 degrees wasn't ideal jogging weather, but instead an indicator that i should sleep for two more hours.

and so i did. that's how i intend to conquer the nap at a time.

i have nine days of no school, the girls are with their dad for a few days, and i have a million things i want to accomplish at home between now and tuesday.

something that's been all the buzz around austin for the last few months is finally here - formula one racing, aka f1, at circuit of the americas, aka 'cota'. it's finally here, and i think austin is going to be a huge, giant mess of people this weekend. messier than normal.

the whole home screen of today's statesman is nothing but f1...

i won't even pretend to know anything at all about f1 racing, but it has been fascinating to follow in the news. a real estate friend of mine was managing high-value properties for this week/weekend and there are ranches/estates renting for $20-150k for this event. i heard on the radio that a sheik booked the top three floors of the four seasons for the week. pocket change, i'm sure.

madness, right? i'm always amazed by events like this in the midst of a struggling economy. i can't quite put all the pieces together in my non-business-y mind, but supply and demand combined with the mindset of 'it takes money to make money' play a huge role in this, i'm certain.

my plan for the weekend is to hunker down at home (to avoid the mayhem), cross a million (or twenty-three) things off my to do list, meet up with a few friends for some much-needed catching up, fix a few things at home, and cook a few things (also at home).

cee's 10th birthday is wednesday (how is that possible?), and our thanksgiving is going to be a little different this year. i'm a creature of habit, so i'm going to have my own version of thanksgiving in advance of the real deal.

in the last few weeks, i have spent more time on hold with time warner cable than one would think was humanly possible, and i promise not to bore you with the gory details. hopefully i'm spending my last few minutes on hold with them right now, and then my weekend can officially begin.

i've been working on a couple of other posts for next week, and with any luck at all, the limited internet access i'm anticipating will allow me to get those out to you late next week. fingers crossed. :)

i am so excited for tomorrow's food network live thanksgiving show that i am literally counting down...23 hours and 53 minutes to go.

until next time, i hope your weekend and your week are filled with at least a little time to reflect on all of your own blessings and the things for which you're thankful. and i also hope that you are able to carve out some time in your life for truckloads of peace...

channeling garfield

Tuesday, November 13, 2012




it's been on my mind for the last 9 days.

the girls and their dad brought me the best lasagna ever for my birthday (which i've somehow managed not to mention until now). there is a divine little italian slice of heaven in downtown austin called carmelo's. they brought me the lasagna di manzo, and i swear it was the best thing i've ever, ever eaten.


i think the sauce had braised short ribs in it, and i think there were thinly sliced portabellas in there. regardless, whatever composed this fabulous dish was magical.

and don't even get me started on the side of broccoli mousse that came with it.

i made up my mind that i was going to recreate the lasagna on my own because i feel like something that great should be readily available to me at all times, without driving 15 miles and paying $18.

sunday i finally settled on giada's version. just to be clear, she and i have entirely different things in mind when we tell you something is easy to make.

for the next two and a half hours, i felt like martha as i bechamelled, mireproixed, and chiffonaded. i diced just like the recipe said. i tended to my sauces so they wouldn't scorch. i gently mixed this ingredient with that. i even folded and tempered.

and guess what...

it was just okay. i love giada...but this was not what i expected.


i feel like my life is suddenly incomplete - like i'm missing the keys to the universe, in the name of a recipe for the yummiest lasagna in the whole wide world.

or maybe i just need a key to carmelos. alas, my search continues.

in the meantime, if you have a great recipe for some great lasagna, feel free to share!!

peace and pasta...

friday's flock of faux-feathered friends

Saturday, November 10, 2012

yesterday, the girls and i got in the car to head to school, and when i opened the garage door, jay literally squealed. and then she said 'guys! there are flamingos in our yard!' not something i was expecting to hear.

what a super fun start to our day!!

rumor has it that mama o and her brood may have had a part in bringing these lovely visitors to our yard...the gift that keeps giving. i love them so much that i kind of want them to stay. but, knowing a good thing when i see it, i'm more than happy to donate to the cause at hand.

and speaking of getting flocked, my work email also got flocked yesterday in its own special kind of way. without getting into too much detail, a tech guy came to fix a problem with my email. in doing so, he inadvertently sent three emails to the entire district...from me.

the first one was called 'test', the second one was called 'dsgrhagrkl', and the third one was called '1234567890'. now, i'm not sure, but for some reason i feel like these emails would be been received more favorably if they at least contained a coherent, articulate message like 'testing group list'.

regardless, i had about 100 replies in less than two minutes of those emails being sent, and none of the replies i got were from people who were amused. even worse, instead of hitting reply, there are a lot of people in the district who have their settings fixed on 'reply all', so the irritated replies didn't just go to me. i may or may not have shed a few lots of tears.

among my favorite replies were:
-what are you testing and when can you stop? {wish i knew}
-have you been hacked? {yes, sort of}
-who do i contact to stop receiving your emails? {your guess is as good as mine}
-can you please unsend your original message so we stop getting all of these? {seriously? seriously.}
-please make it stop! {i would if i could}
-do you realize you're sending a lot of email messages? {again - seriously? seriously.}
-this is getting very annoying. {charming}
-followed by: i agree; and me too; and yes. {even more charming}

if it's never happened to you, trust me when i tell you that it's surprisingly alarming to get so many negative emails in such a short time frame - for something that wasn't your doing. it's weird to feel attacked and have no control over it.

i have to tell you, though, that these sweet smiles are all it takes to make everything better in my world.

and these guys also really know how to put a flocking smile on my face.

in case you were wondering what's up with the flock of flamingos, it's a fund raiser for project graduation. $10 to shoo them away, $15 to relocate them, and $20 for a no-return guarantee. this flock will be landing at a nearby elementary school in the very near future (sniff, sniff...i may need to make a flamingo purchase of my own...even my elderly neighbor friends are enjoying their company!).

today is cee's last soccer game of the season which means i'll have a few free weekends before jay's basketball season starts. always fun things to do and see. alright, we're off to enjoy our flocking weekend. hope you'll do the same!


a false sense of security?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

austin is a very liberal area. tonight, while watching the election results as they come in to cnn, i finally found something negative about living in such an amazing place as austin:

i've determined that surrounding yourself with a highly liberal demographic, while generally entertaining, exhilerating, and liberating, can create an air of a false positive.

when you see that we're a large group of blue liberals who are actually squished smack dab in the center of a bunch of 'red', you get a wicked gut-punch reality check.

no matter how you slice it, we're hunkered down on our own in a predominately red state.

and when you see the maps, even on cnn, that highlight how red your state actually is and how surrounded by red your state actually is, it causes lots of additional stress for a blue person like myself (yes, i realize my granny is probably shushing me right now).

so here's my question for you. do liberal people in the solid/consistently blue states stress as much as i do on election night? i swear i take away a few years of my life on the first tuesday of november, every four years.

it is my bed time (okay, fine - it's past my bed time), and i can't wait to wake up in the morning for some 'official' results.

peace and polling fun...

in case you were wondering...

Friday, November 2, 2012

...i managed to turn a few heads at home depot earlier this week.

usually i walk in and feel instantly invisible from the moment i cross the threshold...that place is definitely a man's world {insert james brown song}, and i'm normally more of a lowe's kind of gal.

however, if you walk in and ask for rope, duct tape, a black light, and a plastic tarp and flash an innocent smile, i guarantee that you'll garner some quick attention.

before you panic on me and think i've committed a horrible, messy crime, let me explain.

last weekend, i trimmed my front shrubs and i raked all the loose branches to the side of my house because my neighborhood has huge dumpsters this weekend (and those branches would have taken up all the extra room in my trash can). my genius plan was to wrap the branches in a plastic tarp so i didn't get leaves in my car. clean and neat.

and the rest of my mastermind supplies?

nothing more than a simple halloween decoration and a spooky light for my porch.

i'm sad to tell you that i have just relinquished my mom-of-the-year title because i did not a get a single picture of the girls dressed up in their costumes this year - while fighting a sinus infection, i've managed to have a fair amount of medicine head this week.

the great news is that i now have a z-pac and some tussin pearls (which are effective, but not nearly as glamourous as they sound like they should be)...

now i hope you'll excuse me while i wash those down with some chilly vino.

sleep awaits me in the very near future.

peace (and pearls)...

measurably better now than in the last post

Monday, October 29, 2012

for those of you who don't know me well, sleep is one of my most favorite things and not really because i'm inherrently lazy, but mostly because lack of sleep makes me mean and grumpy. i've felt mean and grumpy for the last week.

i don't like feeling mean and grumpy.

i didn't sleep well because i was worried about my last class in grad school. i was convinced that i'd be the one exception to the rule and i'd be the person who made a 'c' in the class and didn't get to graduate due to said 'c'. whenever i'm stressed, my silver-lining-self becomes a horrible hybrid of a pessimistic, glass-half-empty fatalist.

on top of that, and i'm not trying to be a griper (because i really do love what i do), last week couldn't have been more busy if it tried. monday i had an after school 'thing' and an evening obligation for school; tuesday i had two assignments to complete; wednesday i had one more assignment to complete; thursday i had an after school 'thing' and another evening obligation for school. by friday, i was completely worn out, and on saturday i had a training from 8-3. i know this might be a normal work week for  some people, but it isn't a normal work week for me, and i'm a creature of habit.

the girls went to work with their dad saturday while i worked, and the three of us had a fun time unwinding saturday evening...

we chilled out with robert randolph & co., and let me tell you - that was some much needed soul fuel. we tried to hang in there for zz top, but we were all three way too worn out before they went on stage. the girls fell asleep before we were home, and i love putting them to bed like i did when they were little.

so here's what i learned last week:

1) cortisol is real. very, very real. i was so stressed last week that i could literally feel copious amounts of cortisol coursing a pathway through my body and wreaking havoc on all facets of my life, from head to toe. seriously.

2) even when i want to give up, my friends (and my stubborn-to-the-core mind) won't let me. i am a lucky, lucky lady to be surrounded by such supportive people.

3) strangers can be unexpectedly nice, and people who you think you aren't strange can be unexpectedly punk-esque.

4) anne lamott's political insight makes me happy.

5) there are no words more reassuring, after a week like the last, than these (especially when you're convinced you've royally botched everything):

i can tell you without hesitation that this weekend was much, much sweeter than the last 72 weekends simply because i got to enjoy my time with the girls and i didn't have to worry about an assignment that was due on sunday, or a reading response that was due on friday, or a reply that was due on saturday, or what books i would need for the next class.

what a fabulous feeling for all three of us!! here's a mini-celebration photo of the girls congratulating me for the end of grad school...for us all!!

alright, enough about that.

my next social dilemma is figuring out how to occupy all this free time i have on my hands now (in case you're worried, i have a few ideas up my sleeves)...

suggestions welcome - maybe i should learn a new language. french? spanish? italian? knowing myself the way i do, i need a new challenge. sooner rather than later would be ideal...thoughts?

alright, that's all for now.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

after a year and a half of grad school, i am unofficially done. i submitted my very last assignment for my very last class in the program tonight. whew!!

because i'm a big nerd, it has been fun for me to watch this collection of books grow...and grow...and grow. this picture doesn't include the ones that i have at school or the ones that reside on my nook. i was looking at this picture tonight and i realized that i've given a big chunk of money to pearson and heinemann by way of their publishing companies.

i'm not going to write much tonight, but i have to say this has been a heck of a week. i'm very happy to have completed this accomplishment with the better part of my santiy intact.

now, where's my wine?


helmets for horses

Saturday, October 20, 2012

okay, hold on - we're going to time travel real quick. ready?

september 3, 1994. texas tech v. new mexico. something big went awry, and the masked rider fell off of her perch atop a giant quarterhorse. double t went crazy. ultimately, the horse freaked out and its animal instincts chose flight over fight. when he made the turn up the ramp in the southwest corner of the endzone, he skidded and smacked into the concrete wall.

i was sitting with some of my college (and current) faves, one who grew up around horses. he said double t died instantly from blunt force head was so gut wrenching to see the black tarp being drawn over that ramp. public death of a powerful, regal animal: not something you see too often.

as of this moment, i am extremely hoarse. i just spent the last few hours cheering (okay, fine - hollaring loudly and emphatically) for my red raiders. huge victory last week over west virginia. huge victory today over tcu (triple overtime!). we are now 3-1 in big 12 play.

some of my best memories from college center around texas tech football games.

and without fail, whenever i mention that i'm a texas tech alum, people always have horse jokes to share with me. it's almost as if i have an invisible slogan tatooed on my forehead inviting people to share their horse humor with me (for the record, i don't). usually their jokes aren't funny, but i oblige their comical attempts anyways to appease their faltering senses of humor. and plus, i don't like hurting people's can take it for what it's worth.

however, i got one text today taunting my red raiders for their lackluster first half performance. i had a pretty witty comeback, but i couldn't compete with their reply.

it simply said, 'get your horse helmets ready.'

i'm not sure why that made me laugh so hard, but google it - maybe you'll laugh too?

photo credit
in a world filled with animal rights activists and human rights activists {i saw a garage sale sign today that said 'garage sale - proceeds benefit human trafficking'.....sorry, but i need some clarification. are we supporting it or are we against it? i'm gonna need to know because one of your neighbors has starbucks at their garage sale, and the other has beer...serious garage sale competition...let me know when you make up your mind...i'll either be wired or asleep}, you would think we'd be a little further ahead of ourselves.

in a world where we are bombarded with commercials about the ethical treatment of animals, why on earth haven't we invented a helmet for horses who are bound, at some point in their sweet equine lives, to go slightly postal and challenge a cement wall head-first?

because we are the wiser species, we know the cement wall will win nine point nine times out of ten; but the horse does not know this.

and that's why horses need helmets.

we have political yard signs. we have garage sale activist signs (albeit with high levels of ambiguity - is there a limit on how many cups of coffee or mugs of beer i can have?). we tell people not to loiter, and we beg of them not to solicit. so why don't we have animal activist signs? if we don't speak out for protective head gear for horses, who will?

maybe this is my million dollar idea.

just maybe.

i'd hoped to save the world in other ways, but i won't deny my true calling in life a great opportunity when it comes my way. :)


rain or shine

Sunday, October 14, 2012

it's acl weekend in austin, and the girls and i made our way out to the festivities yesterday afternoon. our chariot dropped us off near the front gates, and we stepped out into the land of annual musical bliss. shortly after our shuttle pulled away, the clouds decided to have some fun with us (and the 60,000+ other people who were there).

jay is my 'type a' child. she likes order and organization. she likes to have a plan in place, and once that plan is in place, she needs for that plan to unfold accordingly.

the rain, which was not part of her itinerary, caused us to scurry for cover, and in the process we had to leap several puddles and dodge strangers. by the time we got to our destination (which really only took about two minutes), she looked up at me and i could tell she was about to lose it.

i asked her what was wrong, and she said, 'mommy, this just really stresses me out...everything seems very unpredictable right now.'

fair enough, little one.

i was quick on my feet and one step ahead of her - i'd already scouted out the loot that would turn her day around. while wringing out her hair, i said, 'i promise you will have candy and a new bag in less than three minutes. will that help your stress?'

twizzlers and swag to the rescue!

after our pit stop in candy land, the girls were starting to dry out and we made our way back to another part of the fun: there was a jumpy castle for the kids, a covered picnic table, and a nice selection of help-yourself beverages for the adults. right next to a great of musical bliss.

this is my anti-type a child. there are several pieces of earth on her neck here, a few leaves stuck to her back, a twig sticking out from behind her right ear...and she's happy as a lark.

 the people-watching is off the charts in the behind-the-scenes areas of acl, and between that, listening to the girls laugh and squeal, and enjoying the music, there really was never a dull moment...sensory satisfaction.
we eventually headed out into the main area - it was soggy and muddy, and so were the people. the girls were seriously amazed, but it wasn't long before jay decided she's had enough. cee could have stayed there all night - dancing, meeting new people, finding novelty in every direction she looked.
i knew it was time to go when jay was holding her sno-cone in one hand, holding her nose with the other ('mom, it smells like illegal funny cigarettes. this is not good, people are breaking the law.'), and saying 'oh my gosh,' every time she heard or saw something gross.
we made it home safely, i made them strip down in the garage, we each took a steamy shower, and they were sound asleep before 10. acl mission accomplished, and now all that's left to do is clean up the aftermath.
we just finished a late breakfast at one of our favorite places, and now we're off to fulfill a couple of fun sunday adventures.
more soon! peace...

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