I Found It!

Monday, December 22, 2014

For some reason this year, I have had the most difficult time finding my Christmas spirit. It's weird because sometime in mid June, I started dreaming about putting our tree up early...even though it was 105 degrees outside. By the time July rolled around, I had decided that we should leave our tree up - lights and all - year round and decorate it based on the holiday.

A 4th of July Tree!

A Back to School Tree!

A Halloween Tree!

A Fall Tree!

Seriously - I had it all figured out even though it was completely irrational.

Once Thanksgiving Break arrived, though, it was gone. Just gone.

We put up our tree. We took Christmas pictures. We ordered Christmas cards. We bought and wrapped gifts. We made hot cocoa.

Even with these two goofballs by my side, I felt like I was simply going through the motions.

The girls got out of school last Thursday. I worked Friday, and my dad arrived Friday night.

You won't believe what he brought with him. My Christmas spirit!!!

I can't thank him enough. It was so good to see him - we spent some time on South Congress...

I love this picture of them. There is something about this wall at Jo's. If you live in the Austin area, you have to see it. There is something about watching people see the wall for the first time that just lights up my heart - instant smiles...genuine smiles. The kind of smiles where your eyes squint and your teeth show - I just love it.

We listened to lots of live music as we walked around (which put my dad in the smack dab middle of hog heaven), and the girls can never get enough of Home Slice. There were dogs everywhere - both claimed and unclaimed. And nothing says Merry Christmas like a little bit of ringworm!

By Saturday afternoon, it hit me - it finally felt like Christmas! Funny how a family stroll can have that effect. I seriously have the best dad in the world for a million more reasons than him helping me find things I've lost. I'm the luckiest, and so are the girls.

He headed back to Oklahoma yesterday...

Today we had lots of catching up to do, all things considered. We saw Annie (completely adorable!)! I finally finished (and mailed) our Christmas cards - if you usually receive one from us and haven't yet this year, it's because of those bah-hum-bugs I was battling, but rest assured...you should have it soon!

This little lady had an early Christmas this morning - mani/pedi and the most adorable Christmas bling. All of our gifts are wrapped, our tree looks complete, gingerbread houses are done, we have a huge list of things to bake tomorrow and Wednesday, and Christmas Vacation is on the TV.

My heart is happy and full, and I can't wait to see what's in store for the next couple of days.

And I can't resist giving you just a little sneak peek of our Merry Christmas wishes to you this year...

Happiest of holidays to you and yours...enjoy all of your time with friends and family, and I hope your Christmas is perfectly wonderful!



Sunday, December 14, 2014

The last forty days have been a little bit of a blur.

I turned 39+1.
Cee turned 11+1.
And on the dog front, we are -1.

All in all, that leaves us up by one.

I know it sounds weird, but losing Browning is one of the harder things I've dealt with in awhile. Please don't judge me - he was my first kid.

Now that he is gone, our house is a little emptier, a little roomier, and I think we are very near the point of being done with the remnants of dog hair from him. It's bittersweet, and I hope to rid our home of all evidence of murder tail during the Christmas break.

My best girlfriends from college came to Austin to help me ring in #40. I love them with my whole entire heart - 20 years of friendship, weddings, first babies, divorces, more babies, laughter, tears, and everything in between. They are truly the best!

I've been trying to wrap my mind around what it means to be 40. Should I be further along? Should I be doing things differently? I stumbled across this article from the Grey Lady earlier today, and I found most of the answers I was looking for!

The girls and I have 3.5 days of school to conquer this week, and then we are going to kick up our feet, sleep in, and enjoy a couple of weeks at home...and I seriously can't wait!! Neither can they.


I'm Not a Fan of Goodbyes - Not One Single Bit...(so there).

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I definitely didn't think today would turn out like it did.

I am not a "back-in" kind of car parker, but today I backed into my spot at the vet's office because it would be easier for him to get out of my car that way, and it would be easier for him to climb back into to the car after his appointment that way.

Silly, silly assumptions that I've made in my life...

Browning and I  - we had a good run.

This is the face of the keeper of all my secrets. A guy who fought coyotes, sparred with a spike deer (or two) back in the day, took a direct hit from a porcupine (in the face!), retrieved multitudes of dove and even a few ducks, chased (and drooled on) tennis balls for hours on end, protected my babies from who knows what, and laid by my side through some of the tougher moments in my life. And he did it all with a wink, a smile, and a sloppy kiss.

Other things he did with a wink, a smile, and a sloppy kiss: took the first bite of giant birthday cakes where he wasn't an invited guest (a time or two), ate the nasty "leftovers" from a crawfish boil (a time or two), would shake, speak, and give high fives on command, thought food was the greatest invention in the whole entire world (yet managed to never eat any of our smaller pets, no matter how tempting they looked), and was always willing to help clean the floors after a big meal. Even though he never had an official middle name, it probably should have been Hoover.

I always imagined his thoughts happened in the voice of Morgan Freeman, so obviously he was extremely wise in addition to his other skill sets.

Tonight, my house is exceptionally quiet (too quiet), and I keep expecting to see Browning's sweet face at the back door (waiting to be let in for one last scoop of food) or see him trying to lug his big old self up onto the sofa right beside me (waiting for me to cover him up and pat him to sleep).

15 years and 4 days - that's a lot of time for my first fur kid (aka Fat Boy - his litter name) to have had in his lifetime, and I feel very blessed for all the lessons he taught me and all the comforting and hilarious memories he chose to leave behind with the girls and me...

...and I will miss him terribly. And I wish him...

...peace (and an infinite supply of tennis balls).

My Uncle Soonie

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Uncle Soonie passed away yesterday. He was a great man who lived his life to the fullest.

I was only able to see one of his plays in a blue-hued theater at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center (and obviously I saw Dances with Wolves - who didn't see that one?), and I know he and my grandma (the one on the right) are celebrating right now! This picture was taken in one of the cabins at my grandma's church about 15 years ago. 

He is an inspiration to me because he lived every single bit of his life with purpose. He was dedicated to his work, to a cause, and to helping others. I'm so thankful I had the opportunity to know him and love him. He will be missed dearly!


Hats and Such

Friday, October 24, 2014


Still here.

I guess, as evidence shows, I've been a little busy. Remember that post a few months ago about me starting a new job? Let me be the first to tell you that I absolutely love it! I feel like it was tailor-made for me, and every single day I feel very lucky about what I get to do day in and day out.

I have learned that my new job requires wearing a few different hats. By the end of the year, I think I'll have an invisible hat collection.

I love all of it, and it is keeping me busy.

And tired.

Today I got home at 5:30, poured a glass of wine, ate a leftover chicken strip, a slice of salami, and a pickle; then I proceeded to wash it down with said wine. On Tuesday, I forgot to eat until 5:30 pm. On Wednesday, I only had lunch. That's kinda how the last couple of months have been. Meals are hit or miss. As you can imagine, these wonderful habits are working miracles on my physique (insert sarcasm font).

What I really mean is that my body has managed to completely rebel on me and morph itself into something that I guess would technically be called an apple shape in polite, PC terminology, but instead causes people to think I'm pregnant (which is laughable in itself, considering that I'm single and almost 40). I have found myself constantly and more forcefully reinforcing to the girls the importance of not asking if someone is pregnant until all involved parties are 100% sure.

Here are just a few of the ways it has been posed to me in the last couple of months. "Oh, let me get that for you, you shouldn't be lifting that much right now!" and "All those diet cokes - shouldn't you be watching your caffeine?" and the one that tops them all, "When is your baby due?" because it's the most explicit. I'm rolling with the punches, but it still stinks and stings and hurts.

What can I say? I'm a work in progress. Nobody wants to look like this, nobody wants to be called out for looking like this. I'm trying with a reasonable amount of effort to not look like this anymore.

But it's a process...

Which brings me to one of the hats I'm wearing with my new job: The "Character Building" Hat. This is a big one for me because by nature, I'm a fixer and a pleaser. People don't always want a fix (although occasionally they do) - sometimes they just need to vent (like me, right now). Sometimes the venting can feel personal, but when you step back and listen to the bigger message, you realize it isn't. Sometimes there are people who just need to get something off their chest so they can feel better. I get that.

I'm learning that it isn't possible to make everybody happy 100% of the time, and I'm learning that I can't fix everything or please everyone. This is, honestly, a really good life lesson for me.

Another hat I get to wear is the "Helping-People-I-Haven't-Been Able-to-Help-Before" hat. I like this one. It suits my nature, and it soothes me. I've been able to see so much more of the system called school in the last two months than I've seen in the last 9 years. It's eye-opening. 95% of it is amazing. 1% of it is shocking; 4% of it is heart-breaking. No matter what, I thoroughly enjoy every single bit of it.

Regardless of everything that goes on in the course of a day or an hour or a week, my favorite hat will always be the Mom one. Cee is showing middle school who's boss, and I couldn't be more proud of the young lady she's becoming. Jay is so into her STEM magnet program that I can't even explain it, but trust me: it's a thing of beauty to see her blossoming in the smack-dab-middle of her element. Cee is doing soccer. And band. And soccer. And FCA. And more soccer. Jay is saying, "We always do stuff for Cee," and "Do I have to go to her practice?" and "I guess it's pretty cool that I'm the only one who gets to go to a-l-l the things because I really am her #1 fan."

One thing I'm really working on is keeping the Mom hat separate from the body image struggles. I definitely don't want to project any of it on them - they deserve so much better!!

So the bottom line is that I absolutely love learning. I'm a nerd, and I honestly can't help it. It's how I'm wired. This year has provided me with the opportunity to learn more about myself; more about my children; more about education; more about people; more about life; more about how much I love my job and the people I work with.

And it's only October 24th.

I can't wait to see what other lessons this year holds for me. Seriously, can't wait.

I'm very lucky and extremely blessed.

And I need another glass of wine, so that's all for now.


Little Talks

Sunday, September 28, 2014

In our household, we have some funny conversations. We also have serious conversations, and recently, the girls have become more interested in politics and current events {swoon}. My political perspective falls about half-way in between moderate liberal and super liberal, but I do try really hard to let the girls decide the whats and whys about the issues we discuss.

Also, you should know that 99.9% of the time when Cee asks me a question that involves conversation instead of a yes/no answer, Jay will ask me a nearly identical question anywhere from 14 seconds to a few hours after Cee and I finish talking about this, that, or the other. And then Jay and I have the exact same conversation about this, that, or the other.

Such is life.

This afternoon, Cee and I were discussing politics and she was asking me questions about some of the commercials she's been seeing on TV. After we talked about her questions, she said, "Hmmm...well if you ask me, he sounds like a misogynist."

I asked if she knew what that meant. She said, "Yup - a dude who's rude to women."

Pretty close - I was blown away!! I asked her where she learned the word.

She said, "Pitch Perfect," and then she giggled and so did I.

I guess that's okay because I'm pretty sure I learned it from "Something's Gotta Give."

Then Jay piped up and said, "Wait. A misogynist? That is so funny! Katie and I want to have a beauty salon when we grow up, and we're both going to be misogynists...and stylists...and manicurists!"

Therein lies the difference between a misogynist and a masseuse, and I feel fairly confident that Jay will be asking me Cee's original question in the next hour or two.

On 9/27/13, I had a proud mom Facebook post about Cee making Jump Rope Team and Jay being elected to Student Council for her class.

On Friday, we had a cool little occurrence...the tables turned. Jay made the Jump Rope Team for her school, and Cee was elected to Student Council for her Advisory class.

I'm so proud of the little ladies these two are becoming. Sometimes I wish time would slow down just a smidge, but most of the time I am just amazed by the paths they're carving for themselves.

Alright - off to enjoy the last few hours of this wonderful weekend!


Lost in Translation, and Found by a Stranger

Monday, September 15, 2014

Jay: Mom, check out this awesome thing from TED.

Shows me a picture on her phone...the following conversation ensues.

Me: Jay! How in the world do you know about Ted?

Jay: You let me watch it. All. The. Time. Sometimes you force me to watch it with you.

Me: Me?!?!?! Are you sure? When did I let you watch Ted?

Jay: Mom. I'm your kid. When did you not let me watch TED?


This has been our life lately (not the wishing-for-buses-to-hit-people part). We've been running around like crazy people since the school year started. We are still trying to get back into the groove of our daily school year routine, and from time to time, we have miscommunicated with each other (some of those times have been worse than others).

For instance, the other day, Jay asked, "Momma, you got some herb for me {in her world, the h is pronounced in herb}?"

My brain was in twelve places at once, and her simple request totally caught me off guard (and don't even get me started on her use of "got"). Turns out all she wanted was a Bay Leaf and a spring of Thyme to add as an embellishment to our Chicken Pot Pie.

We are all three loving our place in life right now. New position for me, new school for Cee, and STEM programming for Jay. And for the first time in about three years, I have zero assignments for grad school. Woo hoo!! As much as we love our place in the world and as much as I know we are doing exactly what we are meant to be doing, we are definitely dealing with a few growing pains as we adjust to the newness of it all.

This past weekend was perfect: cold, rainy, and a generous taste of fall (pumpkins are out, as is all other fall decor!). Cee had a soccer game, smack dab in the middle of the cold, pouring rain. Let me just say I would have been the first person to call it quits and walk off the field in that weather if I was an eleven year old. Not Cee, and not her teammates. They are some tough little cookies and they never cease to make me proud!

Here's an "after" selfie of the three of us. Soaking, cold, and oh-so-happy to be in the car with the heater on high, headed to Starbucks to defrost with hot chocolate and pumpkin spice lattes, and then to a perfectly fabulous lunch.

At the end of our perfectly fabulous lunch, our waiter looked at me and sincerely said, "M'am, your children are charming and perfectly behaved, and I have to say that you are a very blessed lady to have such an incredible family."

He was right, and his words completely made my heart sing. You never know when a perfect stranger will speak to you on a deeper level than what's on the surface and keep your soul smiling for the rest of the day...and into the next.

I just love our little life. Occasionally chaotic, typically calm, and never a dull moment.

Life is good.


Puzzle Pieces

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sometimes the right article, blog post, quote, image, or event happens in perfect timing with the things going on in my life. Sometimes these are "Ah-ha" moments, and other times they are quiet reminders that I made the right decision.

Tonight was one of those quiet-reminder times, and for probably the millionth time in the last twenty years, I have M.A.M.L.S. to thank for giving me some reassuring insight (and it's one of the zillion reasons I love her!).

I hope you enjoy this short read called Puzzle Pieces by Sara Courter.


Go Green!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Since I last posted, there have been a few things going on around my life that have kept me in a very reflective mode. A non-writing-so-I can-process-stuff mode.

I've processed.

And here we are.

The girls had an amazing time at their first week of girls' summer camp. It was just Parent Trap-y enough for them to enjoy it without the actual parent trap, Napa, London, butlers, or chefs. They are still entertaining me with their songs, and sometimes I catch myself singing them aloud even when the girls aren't here.

Kuma lada kuma lada kuma lada vista....

Oh - sorry. See?

I picked them up on a Friday, did a truck load of laundry, and immediately packed Cee for a week of soccer camp at Baylor in the dorms with one of her sweet (and completely hilarious) friends.

I have a confession. I'm officially giving in to the gold and green. After having both girls participate in Baylor camps for the past two summers, I'm sold. I absolutely love every single thing about their coaching philosophy.

I am a product, both as a student and teacher, of public schools, where it is imperative to maintain a separation between church and state. There have been times when I have, as a teacher, wondered if I'd crossed the proverbial line by saying something or making a connection to something that might have been deemed to be slightly beyond the basics of the secular world.

So here's what I love about Baylor. They can keep it real. They don't just promote success on the field or court; their bigger focus is about your life off of the field or court. They talk about loving yourself. They talk about taking care of yourself through nutrition, exercise, and respect. They talk about loving your community and doing things to repay your community. They talk about the value of an education and nurturing your mind. They talk about how you treat others, and they talk about the importance of a relationship with a higher power.

Yes, a higher power.

This Baptist school doesn't tell the kids who to look up to, they tell them to look up to a higher entity.

So because of all that, I caved.

I even bought a Baylor shirt, and it's possible that I have a Baylor wish list!!

Whew - there. I said it.

Eeny meeny decimeenyy oooowa oooowa....

In other news, the new pup is still doing great and we just love her to pieces. Browning loves her, too.

And now I feel like we're a little bit caught up.

I might write about the "processing" later, and then again I might not. We shall see.

Tomorrow is the unofficial beginning of the 2014-15 school year for me (Monday is my official first day), and I seriously cannot wait to get started. Lots to accomplish this year, and lots of new learning. Bring on the fun!!!

Oh, no no no, not the vista....


It's a Little Campy

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I dropped my children off at camp Sunday afternoon.

I dropped my children off at camp Sunday afternoon - the same camp I've been reading about for the last three years.

The very first time I read about it, I cried like a helpless, emotionally incompetent person.

Same thing happened the second time.

Then I learned that a dear friend of mine went to that camp when she was younger.

The next thing I knew, each girl had a friend signed up to go with them to camp, and the rest is history.

Here's the thing. Summer Camp is awesome; however, I do think there should be some sort of parental preparation program to accompany the fact that you are dropping your kids off in the middle of the higher-than-average-socioeconomic-status-woods (doesn't quite have the same ring to it as Hundred Acre Woods, does it?).

Despite the fact that I cannot communicate with them, but instead can only communicate to and from via snail mail, camp has been great. There are now photographers on staff who happily snap photos all day long and occasionally hand off their SD cards to other happy people who then upload the photographs to a private website so you can see how happy your kids are and how much fun they're having.


Also, if you happen to have the kid who requests lots of extra face paint on the first night, don't worry about it. It's simply a sign that you have adequately taught her how to self-advocate. Seriously.

The pictures are a modern-day godsend for people like me.

When I say people like me, I am referring to those former-campers who, after the 2nd day of Girl Scout camp in the bottom of some random canyon somewhere in the Panhandle, decided they were miserable hanging out with strangers, doing strange things, singing strange songs, and dodging the fierce, venomous, leaping, vengeful tarantulas in the midst of their angst in the morning dew.

People who 'accidentally' dropped their toothbrush into the depths of the port-a-potty thinking that was enough to get them sent home...

People who falsely claimed they were vomiting blood in said port-a-potty...

People who used their limited medical knowledge at the tender age of ten to fake anything possible to get out of the last 2 days of camp (which was a bit difficult without the ET-esque thermometer and accompanying lamp as a heat source)...

What can I say? Being introverted is a real thing, and apparently it starts early.

It makes me beam to see that the girls are hanging out together even when they don't really have to, it makes me smile to know they each have a sweet friend with them at camp, and it makes me happy that I can see their smiling faces online when I can't see them in person.

But nothing, and I do mean nothing, made me smile quite as much as the latest from The Bloggess. If you have a kid at camp right now or if you have a kid going to camp later this summer and you've got a case of the blues, just pour yourself an extra large glass of wine, kick your feet up, and read her take on camp.

It's magical.

I promise.

Wad-a-lee-acha and plenty of peace...

(and a doodly doo for good measure!)

Life with Mae

Friday, July 11, 2014

After a full week with Mae, I have to say that we are all just smitten with her. She is the sweetest little thing and such a snuggler, and she is already completely spoiled!

I wish I knew her whole background, but all we know is that she was taken in by someone in Austin in April and was very reluctant to trust anyone at that time. Our local shelter rescued her from the Austin shelter because she was on the "countdown" list, and she was with our local shelter for two months before we brought her home.  

She had never seen a TV before, and she is still fascinated with the concept. She is also enthralled by our fake fire which is usually only used in the winter. 

She is happiest when she is right in the middle of the mix, and she is partial to Vera Bradley products while nibbling on her bone.

We learned on day one that she is not crazy about men at all. She was very quick to growl at the girls' grandpa and their uncle, and when we took her for her first checkup (free of cost, thanks to PAWS and the wonderful generosity of Williams-Sebby!), she nearly came unglued at the thought of having to be so close to a man for an extended period. He whispered to her the entire time, "Nobody's hurting you...nobody's hurting you..." which pretty much broke our hearts in two. 

She also growled at the girls' dad, who was quick to say, "No comment on your new dog, but she's just like her mama - hates men." This was actually a big moment for me because it's the first time in a long time that I could have cared less about his approval (or lack thereof). I also realized he has zero understanding of how someone can create their own happiness without hating anyone or anything. 

click for more
Anyway, back to Mae. 

It's hard to imagine how anybody could have been unkind to such a sweet pup, but it is also pretty obvious that was exactly the case for her. She isn't necessarily jumpy, but she does flinch and wince from time to time- usually when our hands are above her. Jay has spent a lot of time covering her face when Mae has this reaction, and Cee broke down the other night thinking about all the other dogs that still need to be rescued. 

We will do everything we can to let her know she can trust us and to let her know we aren't going to hurt her. Speaking of trust, she does great on her leash, but honestly prefers to be carried. Walking on your own is hard work with you have two little ladies who are more than happy to carry you around with them where ever they go! 

As for Mae and Browning, they don't do much more than acknowledge each other which is a good, neutral response. I think they are both intimidated by each other's size, and Browning would much rather nap than play.

When I tell you she is constantly with us, I'm 100% serious. Even when she's sleeping, she's touching one of us in some form or fashion, and we learned this morning that she is a Flappy City Enthusiast and likes to check on the flappy thing after it dies!

More than anything, I think she finally feels loved. It kind of reminds me of the Velveteen Rabbit when the rabbit realized he was a real toy. I think Mae realizes that now she has a real home and a real family, and we couldn't be any happier to have her with us!!

That's all for now. 


Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue...

Friday, July 4, 2014

It's been awhile, so let's go with a simple summer formula for this update...

Old -
My first child is getting old. My fur-kid is no longer a kid. He's something closer to my fur-elder now. He's approximately 102.2 in dog years. Understandably, he's really starting to slow down, and it makes me sad.

Fetch used to mean I'd throw the ball or toy or frisbee or whatever and he would run after it, eager to retrieve it and bring it back to me. Nowadays, fetch is more like I'll throw something and sooner or later he'll get it. Bringing it back to me usually happens after a short nap.

He's 90% blind and has 90% selective deafness, too. The only words he chooses to hear are "food" and "good boy," and that's where we are. I just love him.

He's still the center of our world, and we will keep his golden years the happiest for him!!

New -
When school starts back up in 6 short weeks, I will no longer be in my classroom. I said a bittersweet goodbye to this room a couple of weeks ago...

...and I said hello to my new room!

Instead of teaching kids next year, I will be working with teachers. I am truly going to miss working with kids and getting to know them (and their families), and I can't wait to work along side the amazing teachers on my campus!! As much as I love summer, I can't wait for the school year to start.

Borrowed - 
I'm not sure if borrowed is the exact term I need for this section, but we're going to play along for the sake of my catchy post title. Yesterday, I accidentally took Browning with me to PAWS so we could look at the strays. And what do you know?? We found a little lady named Annie with whom we both fell madly in love.

So we accidentally permanently borrowed her from them and now she's at home with us! There may or may not have been some adoption papers that were signed in the process, but again...semantics.

I just love how she effortlessly pulls off the black eyeliner while keeping it classy and natural instead of all Kardashian or Snookie.

I think Annie, who is now known as Miss Mae,  will be an easy addition for our family, and the girls are completely smitten! I can't wait to see all the tricks they plan to teach her, and I guess we will have to start a special fund for her outfits.

Blue -
There are a couple of things that have me bummed out right now. First, the "Hobby Lobby Decision;" and second, the immigrant children who are crossing the borders.

As far as "Hobby Lobby," I admire all of the Supreme Court Justices, and "respect" doesn't even come close to how I feel about the female Justices and their Opinions, collective or individual.

As for the children who are crossing our borders, I have mixed emotions. As a parent, it is difficult for me to understand the circumstances that would have to be in place in order for me to send my children trekking through the desert, headed for another country. In the same breath, as a parent, I can't wrap my mind around how much I want to help these kids. Like bring a couple of the youngest ones home with me. Which would be completely illogical at this point in my life...

I don't feel informed enough about either of these issues to speak much more about them, but I know where my heart lies with both issues.

So...I guess we're kind of caught up now.

I wish you a wonderful 4th of July and I hope you are able to spend time with your friends, family, and loved ones.


Smoke Signals

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Last night I bore witness to twenty minutes of a stunningly unclear presentation by my two nearest and dearest. It's a shame they haven't learned the power of persuasion or how to clearly express themselves. They sat me down and said that we needed to have a serious talk. I'm still not sure exactly what it is they want.


I'll keep my fingers crossed that someday soon they figure out how to adequately relay their message to me.


Theme by: Pish and Posh Designs