18 April 2014

My, How Times Have Changed

This is the very first Christmas card that Brady and I sent out, as husband and wife, six months after we were married.

Look at his grin. I know I’ve talked of this grin before, but come on. I think you can see why I can’t let sleeping dogs lie. When I think of my husband, I think grin, cowboy hat, sunflower eyes, a truck full of tools, big hands, and horse tack. Mostly because this needs to be rated G for Grandmas, little Girls named Katie, and Grandpas who might read this sometimes.

We both look a little older, a little more worn, and a little chubbier these days. (Just kidding, babe…and I’m pregnant, not chubby. Ha!) Not to mention the gray hair. On him, it looks quite distinguished and refined. I’m kind of diggin’ it. On me? Well, on me, it looks like stripes, and I’m wondering how long I can limp it until I become a regular in the Clairol aisle at Target.

And I might add that I’ve never colored my hair, so it’ll probably shrivel up and fall out with the first drip of color.

*****

This morning, about 1:00 AM, Katie woke up crying. My husband hopped up out of bed so fast, I thought he might have rocket boosters in his shorts. Then, I got confused, because he NEVER gets out of bed that fast when the baby wakes up. (We’re all picturing a 3-month-old, not a 3 ½-year-old, aren’t we?)

As I listened to them discuss through the monitor, I heard him calm her down, I heard the crying stop, and I heard her telling him about how her feet hurt. It’s been a couple of weeks since she’s woken up with issues; either she’s going through growing pains, or her feet are falling asleep because of the frog-like position she sleeps in…not sure which.

They had some back and forth, and then I hear: “Why don’t you just send Mama in here? And can you ask her to bring me a rag?”

A little diplomat at 1:00 AM.

When I got in her room, we cuddled for a bit, I rubbed her feet, and then she started to fall asleep. But not before asking, “Mama, can Brother hear all this?”

“Yes, I imagine he can.”

I told her I’d lay by her bed for a while, in case she needed me, and she got very quiet. After about five minutes, her voice shocked the darkness and gave me heart palpitations: “I love you. That’s what I need you for.”

And BOOM. I’m done for. There’s no way I can ever leave her room for the comfort of a bed – not even at 8 ½ months pregnant – after words like that. I went ahead and got comfy for the rest of the night, right there on the floor next to her bed.

About three hours later, I wake up to the feeling of something putting pressure on me. You might think it was the baby in my belly, but no…it was the baby on my side. She’d somehow slid out of the end of her toddler bed in her sleep and ended up with her head resting on the side of my pregnant belly, her bottom in the crack between me and her bed, and her legs still up on the bed.

Who can sleep like this?

Her daddy can, that’s for sure. That man can fall asleep anywhere. And these days, I bet I could, too. Gimme a rocky slab of concrete and instant drool.

I tried to maneuver out from under her, but she foiled me and ended up long ways against me, cuddling my arm. I could have slept like that all night, except – again – I’m over 8 months pregnant and CONSTANT TRIPS TO THE BATHROOM.

So I had to extract myself and put her back in her bed. In her half sleep, during this circus act, she whispers, “Watch that belly, now.”

What do you know?

A comedian, even in her sleep.

15 April 2014

Back to the Old Stuff

So. I’m gonna start by posting an update to my review of Jane Austen’s “Emma.” It’s possible – only maybe – that I spoke too soon. You see, I’ve finally finished the silent movie, but I’m still not done with the book, and I have to admit: the last third of the movie is very good. The romance and anticipation just draws you right in to their world.

In all honesty, I wouldn’t rewatch the movie just to get to the good part at the end, but I’m glad I watched it all the way through and experienced the ending at least once. Here’s hoping the ending of the book brings the same happy conclusion.

Anyway, nothing Earth-shattering here; just thought I ought to update that it wasn’t all slowness and requests for hearing aids while watching the movie.

And speaking of old things and writing,

please take a look at this recipe for wine. What kind of wine, I’m not 100% sure. And maybe it’s not even wine. It’s from an older gentleman that my husband was acquainted with that may or may not take untoward amounts of pleasure in pulling peoples’ legs.

But can you imagine if all of our recipe exchanges took place on 2x4 scraps?

That’s a bulky purse right there.

I can just see us walking around Brookshire’s with a 2x4 propped on the handles of the grocery cart, as we assemble our ingredients.

Want to exchange a recipe? Let’s meet at the backyard fence. So that we can saw off a piece of timber….

Just wanted to save an image of this recipe for posterity, in case we accidentally use it to start a bonfire and lose it altogether.

09 April 2014

Warning: Pictures for Days

I say let’s just let the pictures tell the story this time around….

Baby Katie, reading a book to herself. In her house boots. I mean LOOKIT. They’re house boots in our house because they look like boots, ya’ know…not house shoes.

My baby again, reading her books in some cute little jammies.

(Man…having and discussing babies causes you to talk like an ice cream sundae.)

I already miss this sight. About three nights ago, Katie slept in a toddler bed for the first time. We took her crib apart, so that Brother can use it when he gets here, and we bought her a brand new bed. It’s so weird, seriously. It’s all low to the ground and small, and she looks about too precious just sitting or laying in it, never mind sleeping in it.

With her blanket, pillow, quilt, pajamas, and rosy cheeks, she’s just this pile of pink in the bed.

Sunday morning, I started to hear her talking through the monitor when she woke up, as usual, but I tensed, because this was Morning #1 of the big girl bed, which equals FREE RANGE BABY. Gah. I’m not sure I’m ready for that….

Anyway, after a little talking, I hear her bedroom door open and close…snap. Brady was already long gone at the fire station. Once her door clicked shut, Penelope stood straight up in our bed and started staring towards the bedroom door as if to say:

“Someone approach-eth.”

And then this tiny, blonde-headed Someone came bee-boppin’ in my room, and it was so cute! She started waving her hands around and talking all loudly, telling me how she got up because she had to use the potty. She also told me that when she got out of her bed, she tried out the pallet on the floor that her Daddy had made the night before AND the rocking chair for a few minutes.

She was reveling in her freedom, I guess.

This morning, not two seconds after Brady closed the back door at 4:15 AM to head to the station, I heard HER door OPEN.

Side note: what is this? The bus station? Are other people sleeping normally through the night? Is this just our house?

She came in my room again, moving a little quicker this time – I’d guess because the house was so dark – and said she was up to use the potty again.

I suggest we move a potty right in her room.

I was trying to get a picture here of her in this little sweatshirt that Lesley and I wore when we were little. If I remember correctly, we wore it with tiny Wranglers and gray cowboy boots.

Because that’s what went best with our bowl haircuts.

There are Care Bears on that sweatshirt, in case you couldn’t see ‘em.

What a beauty. I can’t stop looking at her.

One night, while talking to her daddy on the phone at the fire station, she suddenly just stopped talking, handed the phone to me, and walked off. I put it to my ear, where Brady was just yackin’ away to her. I interrupted, “She’s gone.”

Him: “Oh.”

Her, overhearing me tell him she was gone: “When I’m done, I’m done.”

Noted.

Does this pose drive anyone else berserk? Sleeping so hard in those pink John Deere boots, despite the broken neck syndrome. Whenever there’s a chance she’ll fall asleep in her car seat – which is WAY so rare – I always ride in the back by her, so I can hold her head back.

Yes, I’m nuts. What of it?

Oh how I loved those little owl pajamas with the feet in them! She loved to pretend to write out grocery lists…I guess from seeing her mama constantly make lists. It’s not quite shown in this picture, but she could hold a pen or pencil perfectly from the first time we stuck one in her little fist.

Every morning, before I go to work, Katie takes her two little chewy Flintstones vitamins. Each time, she wants to open the bottle, but it’s child proof, so it never works, and I have to do it for her. One morning, she asked me why it had to be this way. I told her something about protecting smaller kids and babies from getting into vitamins and taking way too many and getting a tummy ache and turning INTO Dino the Dinosaur.

So this morning, as she’s trying once more to open the bottle cap, she asks me, “Why do kids sometimes take more, even though they know they’re only supposed to take two, like their mama said?”

BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT ASTRONAUTS LIKE YOU ARE.

This last picture is from a weekend trip to Piedmont with Daddy in his Dodge. We stopped at Sonic on the way, and Katie had her very own grilled cheese sandwich for the first time. We’d moved over to the driver’s seat, because the passenger door was open, and it was really windy.

She immediately started working the gear shift and driving the wheel…just like her daddy.

Are y’all having as much fun reading every detail about my baby as I’m having writing it? I’m so sure.

You’re free to go now.

05 April 2014

Friends

Friends first is often best.

BONUS POINTS if you can guess which bandana-ed kid is me and which one is Brady.

And may I add: what a painful part of my growth and development. Have mercy.

02 April 2014

Canoe Trip 2012

Or 2014. It's basically all one and the same.... The pictures are 2012; the stories are 2014.

During this year’s canoe trip, Katie and I instigated a new tradition – I hope – of where we go shoe shopping and to lunch on that Saturday. She has a favorite storybook called “Shoe La La,” and she asked me one day if we could go shoe shopping like the little girls in “Shoe La La.”

Well of course, baby, we can go shoe shopping.

After all, the poor girl never gets to tag along for regular errands, and we just plain don’t shop. First of all, I’m a tightwad. Secondly, it’s so much easier to just purchase what she needs online, right from the comfort of my desk.

So we went, and we had a blast! One reason I really wanted to start us a tradition of doing something fun together on the Saturday of the canoe trip is because I kept thinking ahead – excitedly, of course – about how one day, Brother would get to go with Daddy on this yearly canoe trip.

(There are obviously many more dudes maxin’ and relaxin’ in this flotilla, but there’s only one I wanna be lookin’ at….)

Katie made comments all month about wanting to go with Daddy, and we had to explain how it was only for daddies. She couldn’t quite wrap her brain around that: why?

“Why, Mama?”

I didn’t want to tell her because it’s too rough for girls. Or too dirty, or because they can get a little rowdy out there on the river, so I just say, “I don’t know.”

But “I don’t know” does NOT fly in our house. Then you hear either, “Well, why do you THINK?” or “Have ANY ideas?” She wants to hear SOMETHING.

She understood so much more about the canoe trip this year, and she talked all weekend about getting to go and pick up Daddy on Sunday afternoon from the river. I guess you can imagine the disappointment and the constant whys I got when we discovered late on Sunday that we would not be going to pick him up – first year I haven’t gone since 2001 – because there was so much rain and ice that we’d never be able to get the suburban where it needed to be. And it was suddenly FREEZING outside. Why they wanted to canoe the river on that Sunday in the first place, I’ll never understand.

Tradition is strong, I guess. At least they had a gorgeous, 70-degree day on Saturday, just one day before.

Texas weather equals Crazy Town, by the way.

Taking this extreme weather development into consideration, I was especially glad that Edward and Brady made it another year without capsizing in their canoe. They’ve never tumped over, which I hear is quite a feat. So either they're really good at what they’re doing, or they’re really lucky.

And I can hear Brady from the other side of the moon saying, “I can’t believe you just said that out loud.”

Now he thinks they’ll be capsizing next year, for sure. And whose fault do you think it’ll be?

Mine. Because I said it out loud AND put it in writing.

That’s Brady and his cousin, Michael. His cousins started going a few years ago, and I think he’s enjoyed it even more since then. I’m glad he has this yearly trip, even though he’s sorely missed on that weekend. Katie and I have fun going to pick him up with Edward’s wife and girls, and I’m really looking forward to using that weekend in the future to do some things with Katie that aren't part of our norm. And the thought that our BOY will get to go with Daddy one day? Well, that’s pretty awesome.

This past year, when I told Katie we should go shopping every year over this weekend, she said, “What will we do with Brother?”

Well, I hadn’t thought that far, so I told her maybe he could just come with us.

Her reply: “Or MAYBE we could just send him to Grandma and Grandpa’s house….”

31 March 2014

Emma

Here lately, in the wee hours of a pregnant insomniac’s night, I’ve been plowing through quite a lot of books. All kinds: mysteries, biographies, and a few classics. I’ve borrowed some from my mama, some from my sister, one from a friend, and even more from the library. I even – gasp – bought one with money.

I know.

It’s like I don’t even know myself.

In addition to this, as if I didn’t have enough piled up, I went through the random shelves in our house and pulled out books that I didn’t remember or never read, so that I could read them and ascertain 1) Should they just be donated? Or 2) Are they a keeper?

Nothing makes me happier than getting rid of a bunch of clutter, so this felt like a really good idea at the time. Then, I realized that most of them were classics, bought because the eight billion English and Literature classes I took between ninth grade and my senior year at TAMU required them.

Before anyone thinks I’m all Studious Sal over here, I also spend a lot of my awake-in-the-night time eating, soaking in the tub, and watching Designing Women…over and over and over again. Oh, and Pinterest. ‘Nuff said.

First up on the literary front was Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. I’ve been staring at the cover of that paperback on my shelves since high school. I know we read it, I know it was tragic, and I know there were moors and a Heathcliff, but that’s about it. I told myself I’d read through it and decide then and there if it was a keeper, a tosser, or what. I kind of already had my mind made up, though…I was so sick of the cover of that book. Not to mention the inane high school notations I’d made in the margins. With a purple pen. And lots of exclamation marks.

Sheesh.

Anyway, I finished it. It was quite depressing, but I did it. I plowed through. It was actually a very good story, but it was like work to finish. Homework, to be exact, and who needs that? So into the donation basket it went.

Next up? Jane Austen’s Emma.

What can I say about this one? I know there’s a giant following for Austen’s work, but…I’m bored. Oh, so bored. I’ve only made it halfway through, and my hard-headed nature promises I’ll finish it, but I’M SO BORED.

I obviously read it through all the way the first time, because there are more irritating notes in the margins, but man, this is painful. I thought it might help if I actually watched the movie first – or in tandem – with the reading.

Eh.

I’m watching the version with Gwyneth Paltrow on Netflix. It’s entertaining enough for me, but my biggest complaint is that it’s SO VERY QUIET. Seriously. I can hardly hear it. They are whispering in parlors and moving their lips while they walk around with baskets over their arms, and I CAN’T HEAR THEM.

But then again, do I care? I mean, I just finished reading about 7,000 paragraphs where Mr. Woodhouse is telling everyone about the drafts and how everyone is sure to catch cold at the inn as opposed to Randall’s, and he’s never been in that room at the inn, and he doesn’t even know who keeps it. And everyone will surely fall ill with cold and….

What happened? Did I black out? How did this book end up shredded in six pieces and half in the trash?

On the up side, in the movie, the scenery is gorgeous.

Almost as pretty as our pond out in Piedmont, full of water again.

Water.

There’s an idea.

I could drown it when I’m done with it.

Don’t get me wrong. There are parts here and there just punchy with sarcasm and wit and irony, and I love those parts, but I can’t wade through the mire to get to them, so I’m sorry, Jane. You’ll just have to be satisfied with your million other fans and file me under “She’s Obviously Better Suited to T.V. Sitcoms.”

30 March 2014

BLB, I

Yah, that’s him, at the end of the ladder, working on a warehouse fire.

I think I’ve gained a little insight into this man as of late: he thinks he’s Lee Majors.

Do y’all remember “The Fall Guy?” The unknown stuntman? If you need your memory jogged, just click here.

This would explain his need to climb to the top of everything, crawl onto untrained things, hunt without weapons, and generally just try whatever might present itself. I read an article once about boys/men thinking it was an actual possibility to grow up to be a superhero, but I don’t buy that my husband actually suffers from this thought process at all.

That’s because he’s too busy becoming Lee Majors from “The Fall Guy,” including fixing up an old truck to drive around. Not only does Mr. Harvey Lee Yeary’s character fulfill the need for adventure and near death experiences, but he was also the epitome of cowboy rough on “The Big Valley” back in the 60’s. If that doesn’t wrap my husband up in a cayenne tortilla, I don’t know what does.

And before I get lost down the rabbit hole of pictures I’m finding of Lee Majors on Google Images and wondering whether or not he’s had plastic surgery (pity), I wanted to add a little installment to The Love Story.

Say that in an exaggerated swoony voice, please.

*****

So, after acquainting ourselves in the Transfer Admissions & Records Office in Heaton Hall, a friendship fell into place quite naturally. The whole group of us that found ourselves stuffed into the shoebox of a file room every day quickly became going out buddies, confidantes, and companions in college misery/euphoria – because it goes hand-in-hand.

My roommates and I settled into our groove back at the apartment, too. We decorated a little, we took funny pictures of each other, we went out, we ate, and then we sat around like zombies wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into with all this homework and studying and we’renotatBrenhamHighSchoolorBlinnCollegeanymore, Toto.

And every time the Heaton Hall friends had plans to go out, I’m sure my roommates wanted to gouge their eyes out with paperclips. My excitement level and readiness were downright annoying. Why was that? I acted like it was just because it was so much fun – which let me assure you, it was – but it was also a whole lot of IS HE GONNA BE THERE, TOO?

Our first night out, sitting in another friend’s apartment, I was having a nice time. Normal. Usual. And then. And then…I saw him and some of his buddies walk in the front door, and he was wearing that cowboy hat. And it was crooked.

Always.

And it’s like the whole room filled up with grins and cowboy blue jeans and bright lights. I’m sure I looked like an idiotic fool, sitting on that couch, smiling like I’d just found out that chocolate covered marshmallow eggs at Easter time weren’t fattening.

Then, the friend he rode with asked if I wanted to ride with the two of them – in a single-cab truck – to wherever we were going next. Who can even remember? Who even cares? It could have been the dark side of the landfill, for all I cared.

Obviously, it didn’t turn out to be any place fit for CSI or Criminal Minds, but riding in the middle of that truck seat with him on one side was definitely one of the first highlights of our relationship – that we weren’t even in yet. Think first crush jitters and cute boy mall sightings and “oh my word we’re about to talk on the phone for the first time” anticipation.

And then a couple of days later, at work, they put us in teams to handle the landslide of applications coming in every day. Who did they pair me with? Him.

At first, I was excited. Extra time and talking with him could be nothing but good. I soon realized, however, that what this meant was that I would be doing all the work, while he sat there and entertained us. I didn’t even realize it was happening in the beginning. It slowly started to dawn on me that only one of us was actually taking paper OUT of the inbox and processing it. The other one of us was just sitting near the box and lookin’ good.

And I’m still the one doing all the paperwork, all these years later, while he moves around lookin’ good.

If I had a nickel for every time I told that little joke, I’d be able to hire someone to do our paperwork for us.

Shortly after this division of duties, TAMU moved our office off-campus, to the Metro Center. Which, side note, was so weird. We all spent several weeks packing and moving and getting settled in to our new digs, which were big and spread out. It was roomier, sure, but I kind of missed us all being crammed and forced together.

It was around this time that B quit his job as a student worker. This should have come as no surprise to anyone. Brady Becker working in an office with paper is like…well, like Lee Majors taking up knitting and living with his grandma. It just ain’t natural.

One day during the summer, as I was being a star employee, I heard a lot of commotion out in the hallway. Who do you think it was? Him. Come for a visit. He stopped and talked with every person, every desk, and every student worker between the front door and where I stood trying not to pit.

He finally ended up standing next to me and asked if I wanted to go get lunch for everybody with him.

Um, do paper cuts burn?

Yes I wanna go.

And so I said, “Sure.” As if I was the boss. As if he was the boss. As if I could do whatever I wanted. I barely had the forethought to stop by my supervisor’s office – who just happened to be my daddy’s first cousin (PERKS!) – to ask if it was okay. Hallelujah to her for saying yes, because if she’d have said no, I probably wouldn’t have heard her anyway.

I thought I was being all normal and just Helpy Helperton with the lunch order, but looking back, every female in that hallway must have thought to herself: “Look at her. Gone. Bless her heart.”

So off we went in his old blue truck to Sonic.

And this is about where things started to turn a little less friend and a little more “Lawsy, pass the smelling salts….”

26 March 2014

Made to Order

I just can’t handle it. It’s like I don’t even know who these people are. Brother’s birth is speeding towards us, and it’s got me waxing poetic about our first months with his big sister. I never would have guessed back then, watching her bee-bop in her jumperoo, that she would one day be a big sister. To a little brother!

Her little legs were so short; Daddy had to pile some blankets to make it work. She loved that thing. I loved it, because she did…but I also hated it so much I wanted to blindfold it and leave it on someone’s doorstep. It played this Pop Goes the Weasel song ad naseum.

No wonder someone wanted to pop a weasel.

No wonder.

Then, she discovered her tongue. How happy and sweet is this baby? That’s part of her Tootie doll you see laying there. And now she’s known as Tootie, too, so the sweet factor is right up there with cupcake icing.

This picture shows how she would dump out the entire box of toys and use the box as a seat. So much cozier, don’t you know? Note the Tupperware and the loofah. High rollin’ up in here.

She already seems so grown to me these days. Getting her own waffles out of the freezer and putting them in the toaster and pushing the button down. Getting dressed by herself – when she darn well feels like it, thanks very much. And mostly in mismatched clothes, but hey. She somehow pulls it off. Plus, when she adds her “fishin’ fedora?” It WORKS. She owns it. Best Wal-Mart purchase ever.

Back then, it was sun hats. All day, all the time. Because SUNBURN, people. Have you seen us? This picture shows how the first thing I did most every day after work was plop down outside with her, work pants and all.

When she was this small, the evenings after work seemed timeless. Once I got settled and fed us, so much time spread before us before the bedtime routine. Now? It feels like an announcer in my ear as I park the suburban, “…aaaaand GO!”

This is where I juggle giving her attention, listening to Grandma, playing with her, unpacking my stuff, changing my clothes, starting supper, and looking for Daddy. Truly, I’m never satisfied. When Daddy IS there and they go outside to feed or play? Well, then I get to calmly and quickly get settled and get supper on the table…BUT I’M MISSING EVERYTHING!

And I’m already so exhausted by this same old heavy complaint…I gotta give it a rest.

Her latest fascination is playing restaurant. She wants you to sit at one of her little tables, and she wants to set the table and take your order…or she wants YOU to be the waitress while she gives her order. This morning, she went to Brady’s side of the bed (where he was still contemplating if Wednesday was even gonna happen) and said she was gonna be the waitress. She got her sugars from Dadder and then just stood there.

She ran back to me in the kitchen and asked, “What does the waitress do first again?”

“She asks what she can get you to drink!”

So she runs back in and asks, “Well, what would you like to drink?”

He says Coke. I move to actually make him one, to which she responds, “Mama, this is just for pretend.”

So he just got a little plastic kitchenette cup full of air. That got him jumpin’ out of bed with a mission and a purpose.

Maybe tonight we’ll go slow and really take our time and forget to look at the clock and play restaurant big-time, with pretend menus and coloring pages and the whole nine-yards….and if any cooks or waitresses wanna show up to do the heavy lifting, the door will be UN.LOCKED.

22 March 2014

Animals

Sometimes the stuffed ones are as big as the real thing.

18 March 2014

August 2011

How can we be so far past these twelve-month-old pictures? I explicitly remember driving down the highway a few days before this photo shoot and thinking about what outfit she would wear and whether we should put her saddle and her spurs in the same picture, or just one item at a time. And, of course, we were debating bringing the pony with us, too. Because these are giant decisions of epic proportions.

Plus, I was wondering how I was going to make it through the photo shoot in August – heat stroke and all. Whose idea was it to take the pictures outside, anyway?

And now. Now, we are two and a half years past this, I’ve started planning her FOURTH birthday party, and I’m emailing back and forth with our photographer now to schedule times for Baby Brother’s first year of pictures.

Have mercy and stop the presses.

When I went to get her out of her bed this morning – okay, crib! – she was stretching and showing me that she was nearly as long as her bed, from head to toes, especially when she pointed her toes. I said, “Man…we’ll have to have Daddy measure you before we get your new bed! How much more do you plan on growing?”

“Maybe 10 or 12 inches. Or a gazillion!”

I’m so glad toddlers don’t exaggerate at all.

So about that crib business…yes, our 3 ½-year-old is still in her crib. Why? Well, why not? She’s never offered to climb out, she seems to like it, and it’s just never come up. I have to tell you…it’s kind of nice having a contained cage I mean PLACE for her sometimes. There’s never any nighttime wandering or playing or waking me up, so that’s a plus.

I thought it might get tricky after she potty-trained, but it didn’t. She never has to go in the middle of the night. There’s been maybe two times where she’s woken up really having to go in the morning, and she just hollers for me. I come and get her, and that’s it.

With Brother coming in a couple of months, however, we’re finally addressing it. He’ll eventually need a crib, and she seems really excited at the prospect of a real bed. Most of the time. She has mentioned once or twice that she likes her cozy crib and will just keep it…Brother can sleep with her.

Well okay then. I’m sure that won’t be a mess at all.

So, a real bed is on the horizon, which means S.A.T.s and a learner’s permit and probably prescription drugs for me.

During this photo shoot was the first time she stood, completely unassisted, holding on to nothing, for an extended period of time. It was about a week or so before her actual birthday. A week after her birthday, she started the walking.

Now, she just runs circles through the house: “Watch me, Mama! Watch how fast I am!”

Let me tell you…there is nothing funnier than a little person putting everything they have into pumping those little arms while running in sparkly red shoes.

And then falling and shouting, “I had a tumble! I’m okay!!”

This never gets old.

Unlike her.

Who can I complain to about this?

14 March 2014

Oh, What a Morning….

This will be old news for many, but MAN did I have some kind of morning. Not that it’s entirely unusual, you see. I’m often late – either because I’m exhausted and overslept, or because I’m a sucker to my 3-year-old wanting me to read one more story or wanting one more hug or kiss or, “Do you have time to eat waffles with me, Mama?”

YES, BABY, I DO.

Job? What job?

As I headed out the back door this morning, the first order of business was to trip, at 7 ½ months pregnant, over a hose of some sort. It’s this bright yellow monstrosity that hooks up to an air compressor in the shop at one end and a nail gun or something on the other. B’s been using it to work on the baby’s room. It’s been there for weeks now.

Weeks.

And did you catch the part about it being BRIGHT YELLOW?

And I still tripped over it.

It was only a matter of time; it’s inevitable that I will trip and fall over whatever I can. The day he strung that thing out, I actually thought to myself: “I’m going to trip over that.”

And here we are.

I got one skinned knee (blends right in with my last knee-skinning), two grass-stained knees, and one muddy coat sleeve out of the deal. My co-workers were dually impressed by how put together I looked.

All I really wanted to do as I plowed down the driveway was cry like a baby, but my girl was at the dining room window, waving and blowing kisses, so I grinned and never let on. I was fine by the time I got to the post office, where I needed to pick up a package that had been sitting and waiting on me since Monday.

Or so I thought.

*****

A little background: last Saturday, as we headed to town, we passed our tiny, local post office. It was surrounded by yellow crime scene tape, a sheriff’s car, and a woman dusting for fingerprints on the outside door.

Obviously, this did not bode well. This is a big deal for our corner of the world. I bet the news travelled fast enough to cause sparks.

*****

I went up to the counter and dinged the bell. (This always makes me sweat…what if I annoy them by dinging the bell?!) The friendly counter girl came forward, took my pick-up card, and said, “We were wondering when we’d see you!”

I apologized for the delay, explaining that, when you’re chronically late, sometimes the mail pick-up has to suffer. Alas, this is not why she mentioned it. She mentioned it because my package was one of the ones stolen over the weekend.

Because of course it was.

And then I got stopped by a train.

Which in and of itself is not such a big deal, but TRIPPING GRASS STAINS STOLEN PACKAGE end of the world as we know it.

I wish I could tell you that the morning before was better, but I’m afraid that’s just not possible. Because that’s the morning that I backed into B’s truck.

That’s right.

My Suburban of Steel didn’t so much as flinch, but the bumper of his truck – made of Play-Doh, evidently – bent just enough to keep the tailgate from opening.

I don’t guess I have to articulate how incredibly pleased he was with this turn of events, or how much Katie learned that morning about backing into trucks before 8:00. In my defense, the truck isn’t usually parked there, but the day before, B had to unload a new rocker/recliner for the baby’s room. He didn’t want to have to lug the giant thing all over the backyard, so he parked the truck half in the yard and close to the back door.

And I never looked back. I’m not even gonna pretend.

Don’t be sore, B. Remember this day?

It’s blurry as all get out, but you liked me that day, and I’m pretty sure I distinctly remember Dr. Bane saying that you had to love your wife forever, whether she drug your air compressor hose all over the yard with her swollen feet or backed into your new truck.

You remember that part, don’t you?

11 March 2014

Dear Diary,

I guess you already know where I’m going with this.

This is my daddy. In the sky. In a bucket. In a tree. Way above the ground.

I realize that trees will need trimming from time to time. Otherwise, dead limbs fall, cracked ones break completely, and the grass below gets zero sunlight.

My sister took all of these pictures. I don’t guess she was worried about falling debris.

Why must everyone insist on going sky-high?

When the trees need trimming at my parents’ house, this is what they do. They use Daddy’s bucket truck and get busy with the chainsaw. Mama stands on the ground and sucks in her breath a lot.

*****

Yesterday evening, Katie’s Papa and Grandmother came to visit. Grandmother moved to go back outside with Katie right after arriving, so they could go and talk to Papa and play in the yard. As they were going outside, I called to Katie, “Stay with Grandmother! Mind your grandmother!”

She half-turned to me, waved me off, and said, “We’re fine….” in a sing-song voice.

I spent the next 30 minutes or so trying not to suck in my breath a lot.

09 March 2014

The Bitter & The Sweet

Happy day after Ash Wednesday, and welcome to another episode of “This Old House.”

A good while back, B tackled a project at the back of our barnyard that we’d been putting off for a bit. My grandpa had a barn back there used for a little bit of everything: hay, calf-feeding, storage, you name it.

Unfortunately, pieces were rotting and the tin roof was flying up piece by piece and landing…well, just any ol’ where. It was simply old and tired and a smidge dangerous. It also happened to be smack dab in the best place for a future implement barn. We used it for a while for storage and for parking the boat and a trailer, but the time had come.

And let me tell you…if there’s one thing that’s hard for a guy out in the country with animals and implements, it’s tearing down a structure and leaving nothing in its place. Covered, weather-protected space is treasured realty. Here’s a recent picture of the barn with the boat parked in it:

And here it is again, on a family work day. That’s my hot and tired daddy, God bless ‘im…and my mama and my sister and her husband, too. Daddy only knows how to work long and hard…no in-between. Guess that’s one reason I was drawn to B; he works the same way.

Lucky for me, I have a toddler, so I get a free pass from this sort of back-breaking work. Somebody has to watch her and feed and her and put her down for her nap and make sure she doesn’t get too hot. And that person is me. You all should get yourselves a small person – especially if there’s some ranch work you’d like to get out of in a hurry.

So the day came, and B went to borrow the dump trailer. It took several days – some with hired help – to get all of the pieces apart. There had to be a pile for wood and one for metal.

Everything had to be cut up small enough for disposal and then hauled away.

Then, the wood had to be burned. It gets burned and buried, so that any nails or sharp metal pieces don’t end up in the pastures as a future detriment to any animals grazing out there, minding their own business. Although horses are notoriously nosey and never mind their own business, and they are absolute masters at finding any and everything that could cut, maim, or slay them. It’s like they have magnets in their leg bones, and nothing can keep them from making immediate contact with the nearest rusted sharp thing.

“Ooh, that looks like gangrene waiting to happen. Lemme touch it….”

Which leads to a vet trip, a clinic bill, a stall-stay, and too much feed and shavings and bandaging and wrapping and why do we have them again?

I was kind of sad to see it go, but that’s life, I guess. We have our memories of being out there with Grandma and Grandpa, and we have our pictures. And soon, we’ll have the beginnings of a new implement barn that will house the trailers and tractor and boat and travel trailer – unless I convince Husband to sell it first – and anything else that might otherwise get parked in front of my house.

That sweet set-up will make the bitter pill of saying good-bye a whole lot easier to swallow.

08 March 2014

Daddy Days

I am so grateful for Daddy Days. B is home for five days out of every eight, and while most of those days are full of the horse breeding operation, hauling for the clinic, tending to the rent house, or tending to our own place and the continuous construction, there’s often room for Katie to tag along.

Because she says, “I go everywhere Daddy goes.”

Go on ahead and melt now; you know he does.

Daddy Days mean going to get donuts for breakfast.

Daddy Days mean going for walks in the creek and exploring in your rubber boots.

Daddy Days mean making sure you’ve hit up every single park in town, at least once. It’s a veritable concert tour of local playgrounds.

Daddy Days mean going to lunch with hunky cowboys…the big ones AND the little ones.

06 March 2014

Again with the Heights

Today has not been a good day, but I shouldn’t complain. We have good jobs, a safe place to live, our health, and all you really need is love. How do I dare fuss when I look around at what others have to deal with?

Yet here I am, all day, on the brink of tears like a big ol’ crybaby. Hello, pregnancy hormones. How nice of you to make sure I know who’s calling the shots.

I won’t go into detail, but it feels like every big thing I’ve had a handle on and planned for over the next several months has come crashing down, all in one day. In prickly bits and pieces. A bummer situation the evening before, a sobering realization at lunch, a tiny disagreement with a loved one, a rescheduling of best laid plans in the sleepy afternoon, and then some seriously bad news at the end of the work day…and what do you know?

CRASH.

The glass house has shattered. Everything is a mess. The Elmer’s Glue did NOT HOLD.

Weeping, gnashing of teeth, and poor, pitiful me.

It’s like that time I got bucked off a horse.

A couple of months prior, I had a life change that was not smooth. It was difficult. It was a hard learning experience, but I got through it and moved on, to some degree. Or so I thought.

After the horse bucked me, as I was finally coming to my senses on the way to the ER (concussion and all), I just kept asking Brady, “Brady, what bad thing happened? Something really bad happened, didn’t it?”

He kept telling me that I got bucked and trampled and hit my head, but I was gonna be just fine.

I got all that; that’s not what I was talking about. That’s not what was giving me that ugly feeling inside. It was something else, but I couldn’t remember it yet. I just knew that something awful had happened; it was like it was happening all over again. So I just kept asking until I figured it out. Until he figured out what I was talking about.

“Brady, what bad thing happened? Something really bad just happened, didn’t it?”

That’s how I feel now. I’ll be working away or driving or washing dishes or whatever, and I can’t shake this THING. This ugly feeling inside, and I don’t know where it’s coming from right away. So I keep asking myself, “What bad thing just happened?” And then: “Oh yah. That.”

Cue the water works.

It’s just another reminder that I seriously have no control, no matter how much I think I need it or how sure I feel of things. This is hard for me. I’m sure it’s hard for lots of people.

I know that I’m just supposed to have faith and trust and wait to see what better comes down the pike as a result of these changes, but sister mercy that is hard.

I should take some lessons from my husband.

This is him hanging from something or propped on something or something. I don’t look at it too long, because I don’t want him to fall. What’s with always having to be up as high as possible on EVERYTHING? Doesn’t welding ever take place on the GROUND?

Very little riles him. He kind of takes it all as it comes. I am so the opposite of this, it’s not even funny.

And this has become such a downer; I don’t even know how to finish it.

He was helping a friend with a welding job. It was an entrance…with this large, behemoth pipe gate. I wonder if he volunteered to be the one to go up to the top, or if he was asked.

*****

Yesterday evening, Brady and Katie met me in town on my way home, and we ate a fancy supper at Subway. Cookies AND chips…we spared no expense. After sandwiches and chips were polished off, Brady handed Katie half a chocolate chip cookie. She took it with a huge grin and looked over at me, cookie paused in thin air. She was looking at me like, “Um, look what Daddy gave me…this is okay, right? I mean, Daddy gave it to me….”

Every time he hands her something she doesn’t usually eat – cookies, candy, fruit juice – she gives me that look. I think it illustrates our little trio just about right. Daddy is the fun and adventure. Mama is the rule-maker and usual enforcer. Baby Girl is the timid one that wants to be a good girl but also wants to do the cha-cha and slide down the fun slide with Daddy.

I witnessed this again the other day when we were all three outside, enjoying some nice weather before winter decided to hit just one more time and take our electricity and water with it. She and I were outside watering and playing, and Daddy was putting a round bale out with the tractor for the horses. She wanted to ride. After I handed her up to him, I started rolling up all the big hoses and putting all our tools and toys away. And I thought to myself:

Daddy is the hero giving the fun and tractor rides. Mama is the pack horse loading up the yard.

And really, thank goodness. I am mentally and physically incapable of letting go like he can, and I don’t want my girl to only know that way. I want her to know how to be relaxed and how to play and try new things and look for adventures, and she can get that with her daddy.

*****

And so on we go with the highs and the lows. Everything will turn out okay, one way or the other.

And to lighten things up a bit….