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.


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