'Tis the Season

Saturday, December 19, 2015

I always look forward to the obligatory "I'm-so-over-you-and-your-camera-and-these-pictures," shot each year when we stop to capture that one eventually magical moment that will grace the cover of our Christmas card. I am so behind on Christmas cards. This year they'll be Celebrate the Season cards instead, if we're lucky, so that should buy me some time through about February, right?

I just can't quite grasp why catching that one picture is so difficult each year or why I try so hard to capture it, but I did get it yesterday, I think. We prepare ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally for our Christmas pictures, but when it comes down to it, Christmas pictures don't usually end in happiness and such...

And therefore, I tend to lean on the side of pessimism by looking forward to the fun times that have become our out-takes. These happened spontaneously while I continually asked them not to step on the bacon bits in the water, to stand here and there, and the next thing I knew, there were poses I didn't expect.

Here are my faves of our shoot...

Just as I plan for several months in advance of where we'll take our Christmas pictures, I'm pretty sure they equally conspire on what words I'll say that force them into these poses...kind of like a coach calling plays, but with out the same level of competency generally associated with someone called "coach."

Yesterday was the perfect storm for great pictures and a fabulous "we-all-lost-our-mind-at-the-same-time" scenario.

But I got the pic.

And it will be in your mailbox before 2016.



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

POTUS - aka The American President.

The American President is my 4th most favorite movie ever. Ever. I'm a hopeless romantic, and if you add anything even slightly politically compelling to that, I'm hooked, and I have been since 1995 (or 1974 - whatever).

Pretty sure I watched with my best friends on opening night from the front row of the Cinnemark in Lubbock ( by "The Mall"), awkwardly craning my neck because I didn't plan ahead, and probably wearing overalls with a nifty chest pocket to hold my Sweetarts (#dork). I may or may not be watching it while I'm writing this, although instead of my besties, I'm watching with my four-legged fur kids tonight (the humor is lost on them, but not on me), the overalls have been replaced with PJs, the sweetarts with wine, and the front row is my comfy, cozy couch.

I just realized that minus:
-- widower status
-- ISIS, and
-- second-term reelection,
most of the undertones of the movie still ring true.

Gun control and crime control remain an issue. Global warming and energy emissions are still an issue (thank you, Volkswagen). We even have a laughable, slimy, repugnant, conservative character who is still an issue!

In 1995, Michael J. Fox wasn't suffering from Parkinson's yet, the Pentagon hadn't yet been damaged by a plane, the Twin Towers were still standing, and Chief Justice Rehnquist was still with us. I was taking a class called "Welcome to the World Wide Web (true story)," and cell phones still flipped and weren't personified as "smart." JFK, Jr. was still alive, and all of this combined is probably why I wanted to lobby in the name of education (straight out of college, not a foot stepped into a single classroom of my own, no knowledge of the real issues at hand). I was ready to change things I didn't even know about!

If you've read the blog for awhile, you know I'm a news junkie. You also probably know anxiety is my nemesis.

The things going on in our world today are so upsetting to me. I am definitely aligned with the philosophy of making the most of each and every day, and I won't try to pretend that the events during the last few months haven't created a new rumbling of anxiety in me.

As things hit closer to home, they become too close for comfort. I used to talk with the girls about the things they would see on the news because I truly believe/d  it helped them process some of the major events that have happened throughout the world during their lifetimes.

The closer things get to home though, the fewer answers I have for them, and I think that's what scares me the most. I'm a firm believer that I can't single-handedly protect my family from all of the ugliness in this world, but I do like feeling that I am confident and competent enough to talk through almost all current events with the girls. Lately I've found that hasn't entirely been the case. It's frustrating at best because I want them to know they're safe.

Last weekend, we spent a night in Dallas at a hotel filled with Christmas joy, lights, Nutcrackers, and wonder. I think the girls had a great time, and I did as well, but all I could think about was keeping them safe and trying to avoid feeling vulnerable in a crowded area.

Crowded areas are usually my downfall.

But I did get some adorable pictures of them!!

And my Christmas Spirit is how I am managing my anxiety about our world. It's the most wonderful time of the year, and I'm trying so hard not to let current events get the best of me.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Happy birthday to my sweet Cee!!

We celebrated last night - she wanted to try a Hibachi grill, and that's exactly what we did! Both girls loved it, our chef was exceptionally entertaining, and I caught a piece of shrimp on my first try. :)

This morning, we woke up early to open presents, went to her favorite place for breakfast (Spicy Bite rocks!), picked out paint colors - because all she really wanted for her birthday was a bedroom update, and then we headed back home.

They gathered a few things they needed, and this is the only pic I got of Cee on her actual birthday...one of my favorites!

They headed to Steamboat this afternoon, and I'm already counting down the hours until they're home next weekend!

I'm not even kidding you - this was the scene when they left, and I felt the same way.

This will be my first Thanksgiving without Cee and Jay at home with me, and I am navigating my way through it. I know they are going to make memories that last them a lifetime while they're in Steamboat this week, and I am so excited for everything they are going to experience! And I'm going to miss them terribly.

While I was mentally preparing myself for not seeing them on Thanksgiving, I realized that Thanksgiving is all about family and giving thanks for the things that mean the most to you, and we will celebrate our Thanksgiving together when they are back from their trip. In the meantime, I'm going to keep myself reasonably busy - I have so much I want to accomplish while they're away: 3 books on my iPad just begging to be read. A whole bedroom to redecorate. Holiday crafts to begin. Fall decorations to put away, Christmas decorations to get out (of course I won't decorate a thing until they're home...family tradition). A puppy to train. People to see, places to go. Goals to achieve!

Sometimes I look at both girls, and I just can't believe how incredibly lucky I am to be their mom. They are amazing, thoughtful, appreciative, and kind-hearted. And let's not forget funny - Cee's quick wit combined with Jay's newly-acquired rapping (yes, without a w) skills keep me laughing! I just don't think I could be any more blessed by each of them.

Here's to a great week of projects, sleeping in, watching movies, and catching up on some much needed rest!!

Happy holidays!

Excess and Tragedy

Sunday, November 15, 2015

 $40; 1,933 tickets; 2 hours. I think we have earned honorary mention for pictures that define excess...I mean, who wouldn't pay $40 bucks for a couple of sets of redneck teeth and a little bit of candy?

Jay's end-of-season soccer party was nothing short of a great time, and I am so proud of those girls for the great season they played!

In the meantime, I'm completely overwhelmed by all things Paris.

I spent 2.5 weeks in France when I was 20. Ten days in the French Alps, and the rest of the time either in Paris or on a train going to/from Paris.

Paris is a place that, if it's "for you," you just instantly fall in love with - hard and fast. What an amazing city - full of beauty, history, and culture. I will never forget my day trip to the Palace of Versailles, riding a double-decker bus with a melting pot of cultures, and feeling completely safe and like I couldn't possibly soak in enough of Louis XIV's residence (after having just learned all about him in Western Civilization, coincidentally my most favorite college course ever).

I walked around Le Seine, visited the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Catacombs, the Tour Montparnasse, Sacre-Coeur, and of course, the Eiffel Tower. I saw David and Le Musee national Picasso.

I wanted to move there, live there, start my life there. I still love Paris with my whole entire heart, and I am shocked, saddened, and overwhelmed by the tragedy that hit one of my favorite cities last Friday.

Obviously my love affair with this incredible city isn't abnormal - the world has truly come together to support the City of Lights and wrap their collective arms around it during this incomprehensible time of tragedy.

Prayers for Paris, prayers for all...


My Dad

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I have the greatest dad in the whole world. Seriously. I'm not even kidding.

He has the ability to be proactive and pragmatic, diplomatic and realistic, all at the same time, and for that I am ridiculously grateful.

I admire his ability to see the big picture from all sides as opposed to only one side of any given issue. I love him for his ability to see the larger picture in seemingly isolated situations on life's path.

When I ask him for advice, I don't receive instant gratification. Instead, he takes the time to prepare his response... a reflective response that he shares with me when he's ready. I would never expect him to defend me; instead, I am grateful for all the times I've learned from him due to his ability to teach me to learn from my own mistakes instead of glossing over or completely ignoring my mistakes.

In other words, he doesn't rush to my rescue; instead, he takes the time to evaluate every scenario from an impartial, third-party-set-of-eyes. Could I possibly be any luckier?

As a single mom who gets to play both roles in the parenting scene, I admire this quality in him more than he'll ever know.

I understand that not everyone is fortunate enough to have a dad with this level of reflection and insight - I understand that it's much easier to jump to the defense of your kid, protect them at all cost, and instantly profess your loyalty regardless of common sense. Easier does not mean better.

The harder and more challenging part of parenting is letting your kids know when they are in the wrong and providing them with the opportunity to truly learn from their mistakes. I am forever appreciative that my dad taught me from an early age how to recognize when I was wrong, and I have tried my hardest to take advantage of teachable moments with my girls. The beautiful part of this is such an incredible bonus: you get the opportunity of teaching your kids how to better themselves; you have the opportunity to teach them how they can learn from their mistakes instead of telling them you will be in charge of helping to conceal their mistakes for them.

If you're covering for your kid, nobody wins in the grand scheme of things.

It's funny to me how life repeats itself. I see so many circumstances in children's most formative years where the parents choose to gloss over their children's attempts to buck authority and instead place the blame on adults who choose to hold their child accountable for learning, behavior, and respect. I can tell you with pretty solid confidence that the parents who 'let it fly' and 'put the blame on the educator/adult' are doing favors for exactly no one. Eventually the child has to learn the difference between respect and disrespect, right and wrong, and growing from mistakes through trial by fire.

Yuck! Why not learn and grow together as you navigate this road called life?

My dad has provided me with so many truisms throughout the past 41 years, and I will always be thankful for the lessons I learn from him and the opportunity to share those lessons with my girls.

This guy has had my heart for as long as I can remember, and I wish there were more like him! 



Feeling Adult-ish

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I'm 13 days shy of my 39+2 birthday, and I just realized that I've been feeling quite adult-ish in the last 36-48 hours.

It started after school yesterday. Our 7th grade ELA crew returned from day one of two with Gretchen Bernabei, who I simply adore. I had a small favor to ask of that group: Can you pretty please get a selfie with her {begging may have been involved}? I waited and waited for the selfie pic, but I never got it. At the end of the day, this awesome ELA crew came bounding through the doors and showed me a pic...


I was instantly beside myself...their humor. The heart. The #hashtag. My name!!

And then they showed me this one...

I couldn't have been more proud! They are fabulous.

I may or may not have posted these pics on FB, and a friend may or may not have replied that this reminded her of the time I got Kelly Gallagher's autograph for her. There's a 35% chance that I stalked him as best as I could at IRA in San Antonio a few years back...when someone tells you they would eat yellow snow if Gallagher told them to, the least you can do is get them an autograph, right?

On Wednesday, a friend and I looked up Diane Ravitch's speaking schedule and were genuinely disappointed that she isn't going to be in our area for awhile.

Today I had yet another dreamy experience smack dab in the middle of my own personal little slice of heaven, aka Nerd Land.

I was supposed to go to Kansas last summer to attend an update conference. When I realized I couldn't go, I was completely bummed. The good news? My Education Service Center (Region 13) is hosting a satellite conference! It started today and ends tomorrow. And I'm going to get a Micro-Credential!

I spent all of today immersed in hog heaven. I learned from the Director of Professional Development of The University of Kansas - Center for Research on Learning. I fell in love with Jean Schumaker's story of he she was influenced by her parents, education, and circumstances to become one of the founders of the Strategic Instruction Model. I was taking notes because I wanted to remember every single thing she said...and then I stopped because I realized I would never forget what she said...

My "Ah-ha!" on the drive home today was when I realized that I couldn't remember George Clooney's name on Tuesday, but I could remember every context in which I've learned from some of the most amazing educational influencers.

No longer am I hoping to run into famous people in random places, like South Congress or at Kerby Lane or the Four Seasons bar; instead, I'm looking forward to opportunities where I can engage and interact with some of the most impressively intelligent people and bask in their knowledge.

That kinda solidifies my adult-ish status, right? ;)

Girl Time!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fabulous Friday night with these lovelies! Celebrated Tabs' 40th - lots of laughs and love!

It's our new thing - last year we celebrated my 39+1, and everyone else will be joining the 39+1 club in the next 10 months.

I'm so proud of us for sticking together for all these years!

2013 Girls Weekend in Houston

2008 in Dallas, sans Carrie...I still have that dress - it might fit my thigh.

2002 in Chicago for Whitney's bachelorette (plus Gonz, plus snowflakes)...I'm pretty sure that's a Motorola Razr in my hand. :)

1999 in Farwell for Jill's wedding...

And it all started in the Fall of 1994...half of our group is in this pic, and we met up with the rest shortly after for one of our very first nights of fun.

My 19 year old self, in 1994, would have never had the foresight to see how strong our friendship would be and how it would provide me with so much strength, love, and support. Their friendship is such a blessing to me! Already looking forward to next time!!

What a Week!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Last week 1; me 0.

Tough loss, rough week.

I don't even want to go into details, but last week was a beat-down from start to finish. This is actually a pretty easy fix for me...I need to readjust my mindset.

Dear Last Week,
I'm so over you. 
Let's try this whole thing  
again next week, shall we? 
Love, Me

And also, I need flowers. I love flowers. Actually, I love turning stems of flowers into arrangements, which is not always the most affordable way to combat stress. But it totally works for me, and now I have the weekend to embrace the spirit of fall!

The scarecrow on the left has always been my favorite: a little bit Travolta, a little bit Bee Gees.

Next on my list for today is shopping for more fall foliage. More pics to follow, and this is my mantra for the weekend...and probably next week, too!

{But my cute new flipflops go with quite literally everything!!}

Well, Hello There!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

I'm back. Hi!

In the last two weeks, I have facilitated three trainings; had two super sick kids (curse you, wicked stomach flu!) and conquered an evil sinus infection; attended four soccer games, six soccer practices, my first volleyball game as a parent. I also attended my first middle school football game as a middle school parent of the cheer manager (whoever's idea it was to give Cee a clipboard and a whistle - thank you...you made her 7th grade experience complete with both of those gestures!!). I've been amazed time and time again by my girls, their influences, and their motivations; and to be perfectly honest with you, I have enjoyed every minute of being present with all of it.

I'm not sure my girls have ever been that sick at the same time, and I'm not sure I've ever felt so needed as a mom. It's such a relief that they're both feeling better!

I think one thing I really missed out on last year was being present for all the moments of the girls growing up, and it feels really good to be back on track. This quote showed up in my life last weekend, and I can't get it out of my mind. It's profoundly perfect for where I am right now.

So, in case you missed it, the Pope was here. One of my children asked me on Monday morning, "Who's Pope? He's all over the news!"

It's the end of the previous week and the beginning of the coming week - they now have a full understanding of just exactly who the Pope is, they wish we could have gone to the east coast to see him, and the girls know exactly who he is. What an amazing man!

Speaking of inspired, Jay came home on Thursday talking about Lizzie Velasquez. She told us the whole story of how Lizzie was belittled and bullied, how she was loved unconditionally by her family, pushed to new limits by her teachers, and how she used the hatefulness of others to leverage herself into the position of Activist.

A big part of Jay's enthusiasm for Lizzie was that her teacher was in the movie - pretty cool!

This was us waiting for the movie to start today...

...you won't get an "after" picture because I was a red-nosed, tear-stained mess. The power of the punch created by Lizzie is just incredible to me, and I am glad Jay encouraged us to go see it.

If you have a chance, I hope you'll go see it, too.

If you're reading this, thanks for hanging out and coming back during my "overwhelmed break" - I appreciate it more than you'll ever know!

That's all for now...


253/365 - Fin.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

It's official. I hereby concede.

I can't keep up. I'm not going to use the q u __ __ word because that bothers me. I tried my best on the #365tolife project and here I am.

It has become a chore instead of an inspiration, and I've lost my steam...for now. I need a little break and then I'll be back to blogging.

However, the teacher in me needs to know how successful I was. I'm taking the mathematical liberty of rounding up based on no math rule whatsoever: 70%.


My friend Lindsey sent this to me the yesterday, and I love it. It pretty well covers the #365tolife project.

I think it's important for you to know my backyard has been a dove hunter's dream this week. And I love it. I think I've become a semi-legit bird watcher/enthusiast!

I also think it's important for you to know that I am irrationally excited about football season. And fall. Sunsets, sunrises. Oranges, reds, and golden tones. Seeing Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations at Hobby Lobby. The school year (for me and for the girls). Soccer season. And everything in between...


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I was trying to sneak a few pictures of the girls being sweet to each other.

This happened instead.

Can't you just feel the cup runnething over on their sisterly love?

What I can tell you (even though I'm sure you could come to this conclusion on your own) is that Jay is trying to jump {literally} into Cee's lap because she knows it will make her mad (thus the evil, one-eyed smile/cackle) and Cee is yelling, "Ssssttttttooooooooopppppppppppp," in a voice that is not at all different from fingernails on a chalkboard.

Makes a momma proud.

I think it's time to embrace the grays - they're regenerating and sprouting at a completely illogical rate, and I think they're over the whole idea of me trying to suppress them.

Maybe this battle isn't one worth fighting.


251/365: First Visible Customer

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I was scared to get up for this picture, so you're just going to have to trust me. The prettiest cardinal visited our new bird feeder this evening.

Also we are trying super hard to grow grass so the focal point of our backyard looks "real" instead of "like dirt." Thus the yellow hole poker thing and the exceptionally dark soil. This is Cee's passion project right now, and she's doing an amazing job of tending to her crop.

What I really want you to notice, though, is the yellow bird feeder. This was Jay's purchase because she loves nature, outdoors, and {seriously} every living creature.

They're with their dad tonight, so I had to snap a picture of this guy - our first guest.

It's starting to cool down from the nasty summer heat, and this evening was filled with a very gentle breeze - just enough to keep the cardinal spinning in lazy, slow circles as he nibbled on his kibble.

He stayed for such a long time, and I wondered if this was an experiential moment for him. Like having a nice dinner at the Tower of the Americas or taking in the scenery and fine cuisine at SkyCity in Seattle.

And then I realized I was definitely over-analyzing a lovely moment instead of just enjoying it at face value.


Monday, September 7, 2015

It was a wookie kind of day for us, and Jay has been saying, "May the 4th be with you..." all day long!


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Guerrilla Warfare meets some sort of Red Carpet...

Weapon of Choice: Nerf.

Game? On.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Nothing better than a little fun in the sun with these two!

Also, super proud of my Red Raiders.

Not sure if you can view these, but if you can, it's well worth your time!

This one makes me infinitely happy...

And this one does, too!


Friday, September 4, 2015

Once again, I've botched this thing a little bit.

Fortunately, catching up is going to be extremely easy.

We were in desperate need of a three day weekend because my girls are worn out and at each others' throats - 94.2% of this is due to sheer exhaustion.

So here goes my catching up post! Ready?

{hint: Cee=Pink, Jay=Turquoise;
rudeness leads to phones taken away}



Tuesday Morning:

Wednesday (legitimate fail - they were with their dad and I didn't snap a single picture):



And at one point this week, I completely forgot where I put one of their phones.

Not. My. Best.

And now I'm questioning myself. Why do I hide their phones when I take them away? I do not have an answer for this. It seems like I'm creating extra work for myself. They've never taken their phone from its time-out location.

Maybe I should just go with a Phone Jail.

Yes. Yes, I should.

The end.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Soccer day.

Lots and lots of soccer today.

Like got to the fields at 11 am and left the fields around 6:30 pm.

What a long day, and totally worth it!

All smiles after a first-game victory. I should also mention we won in a shootout and I am NOT a fan of the shootout scenario!

Jay was less enthusiastic during game 2.

Cee and one of her faves with some great on-field communication...

Working the ball during game 3...

Winning game 3 meant playing in the Championship Round...again, some of us were happier than others about this.

Game 4 was hard fought, and...

We won!!! So proud of these kiddos!

(Not only did we win the tournament, we were the only team with females players! This made me super double proud of their hard work!)


Friday, August 28, 2015

Guess what.

We survived the first week of school!

It was a rough week - athletics for Cee each morning at 6:30, school for Jay at 7:15, me to work by 7:30. Soccer two nights, and as a result we are all worn smooth out.

We did have a fun time playing outside tonight - it's getting a smidge cooler, and it felt so good with the little breeze we had.

Take 1:

Take 2:


Here's to the weekend!

239/365 - I'd Totally Hire Her

Thursday, August 27, 2015

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