17 October 2014

What I Wanna Know

I’ll tell you what I wanna know…what happened to my tiny toddler girl? She’s four now, and she’s so independent. She’s so grown up and doing so much by herself. I know some of it has been accelerated because of her brother’s arrival, but she was on the cusp of so much of it already, before he got here.

She had a dental check-up a couple of days ago, and it was the first visit where they used the electric tools on her and took x-rays. She took it all like a seasoned professional. Just stoically nodding yes to the hygienist and staying put in the dental chair with her pink sunglasses on her face.

We never wore sunglasses at the dentist’s office when I was little to block that glaring light. But then again, we didn’t watch a T.V. on the ceiling, either. Instead, I stared into the mouth of Dr. Wade’s trusty hygienist for years on end. She had a haircut like Janet on “Three’s Company” and wore yellowed glasses the size of binoculars. I knew exactly which of her front teeth had a chip.

I found this ironic for a dental hygienist. I probably would have preferred staring at cartoons.

How about that look? I can already hear my mother, my sister, and my husband: Gee…wonder where she gets those cutting eyes, MAMA. Yah, yah…I hear ya’. I’ll work on it. But maybe it’s hereditary.

Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.

As I scroll through pictures from the past, when she was so tiny and barely able to walk around by herself, I wonder at my reactions. I’m really lucky to have a sister that shows up with a camera attached to her eyeball and takes pictures of our people and shares them with me. Especially when I hound her mercilessly for days to please send me the pictures and videos already!

If I’m not careful, she’ll quit on me altogether.

Anyway…I’m lucky to be in a good bit of the pictures, since Lesley is taking them for us most of the time. I see me watching my girl and looking at my girl. In a lot of them, I look very happy or elated or content or enthralled. In some of them, though, I look…well, normal.

I look entirely too normal. Untouched. Unaffected.

Too “this is every day and what of it?”

It seems so wrong to me now, looking back. Shouldn’t I have been over the moon in every picture? I didn’t know what I had standing right there in front of me. It’s amazing, really. I’m glad I’m able to appreciate it all now for what it was. Not that I wasn’t appreciating it then, but that’s just life. I’m sure if I was eating chocolate strawberry tarts from Christopher’s every day for breakfast, I’d eventually want to throw chocolate strawberry tarts under the nearest 18-wheeler and pick up a piece of toast, but since I don’t have them every day for breakfast, I start drooling just hearing a mention of them or passing by the restaurant.

*****

The top two pictures are from the buckle ceremony of her winter rodeo series. It was sponsored through the Grimes County Cowboy Church, so right after that Sunday morning’s church service, they presented all of the kids with their buckles or prizes. She was so proud to walk up there with her daddy and get her buckle.

Once we got back home, it was naptime…or, as evidenced on this day, Sing Naked in Your Crib Time.

I wish I knew how to put a video on here, so that all the world could hear this sweet babe singing “The Old Gray Mare.”

She ain’t what she used to be, you know.

The mare…not the baby.

Although, it fits: the baby ain’t what she used to be, either. She’s more. So much more.

25 September 2014

Snow White: The Toddler Years

This is my mother. Aged young. A few things stand out in this picture: the freckles, the black hair, and the whacked bangs. I really want to know if she cut them herself before school picture day, or did my grandma do that to her?

Mama…if you’re reading…comment, please!

She doesn’t look much older than my Katie in this picture. And now the little girl in this picture takes care of MY little girl. The little girl in this picture never could have imagined a blonde-headed little granddaughter that she’d eventually care for nearly every week day.

My mama – and her two older sisters – grew up in the same house that I live in with my family now. Her bedroom was Katie’s current bedroom. It all looks a little different now, but the shell is still the same. Can you imagine…two little kids laid in that same room, looking at the same ceiling…and now they spend their days together in that same house.

Mama always tells stories about when she was little and how much she helped her daddy, my grandpa. It’s sometimes hard for me to imagine my quiet, sweet mother hunting rabbits and feeding bobcats and working cows and beheading chickens and castrating sheep.

When she was little, as the youngest of three children, she was often used as a toy, I believe. One of their favorite stories to tell is of the time they had a box big enough for Patsy Jane – my mama – to fit in, so they had her sit in it, and they pulled her all over the house. She lost count of how many times her head was banged into a wall as they turned a corner too fast.

One time, my grandpa caught a bobcat. They kept it in a cage for a while, which meant they had to feed it. So my mama went out and hunted small rabbits to feed it. She soon discovered, however, that it wouldn’t eat an animal that had already been “killed” by a trap, so she’d tie a string to the dead rabbit and pull it a little, so that the bobcat would think it was alive and “kill it” himself.

Those country days were a little more REAL, I think.

Although maybe not. After all, I could never imagine my girl baby helping to clean dove after one of Brady’s hunts, but that’s exactly what happened. All four of us were at my family’s place, and he hunted while we swam. She rode home with him that night, and he immediately started cleaning his birds. She hung around for the action and even asked if she could TOUCH THE MEAT. Maybe because we just had dove for supper a few nights earlier, or maybe because she’s rough and tough, or maybe because kids are just naturally so curious, or maybe because kids are just gross.

Whatever the case, she touched it, and then she helped Daddy feed the wings to Rosie the Cat.

So I guess it’s gettin’ a little real over here, too.

09 September 2014

Just Another Donkey Day

Five or six years ago, Brady went on a trip to Montana. The same Montana where we went on our honeymoon two years before that. And he went without me. To our honeymoon state that I love.

Hey…I’m as shocked as you are.

He went to help one of his good friends, Jess, work cattle. It’s not so much that Jess needed the extra help as it was for the experience. Brady and another guy flew to Montana and then made the hours long drive to the middle of nowhere, where Jess’s family ranch is located.

This is a different Montana than what we saw on our honeymoon. On our honeymoon, we were surrounded by impressive mountains. Mountains that no one would ever call a hill in error.

Side note: it always kind of irks me when I hear people call the hills of Texas mountains. Those are not mountains. Mountains, to me, are bigger than life and often snow-capped…the kind you can’t see the top of out the side window of your car unless you roll your window down and lean your head out the side, puppy-style. Their summits get lost in clouds, and it always looks like the road you’re driving on is going to drive you straight into the side of one, but you never quite reach it….

I wasn’t there, but it seems to me that this experience must have been straight out of a Lois L ‘Amour western. It was just the cowboys, the horses, the cows, and the open plains. They gathered the animals in, processed and branded them, and then filtered them back out into The Big.

They were there in June, but I’m told the weather was perfect and pleasant; and if you’re wondering how I can remember so clearly the time of year, it’s because he was gone over our anniversary.

That’s right. He went to our honeymoon state without me. On our wedding anniversary.

But he did bring me back some beautiful jewelry to make up for it…though I didn’t need it. Truly, I was happy he got to go and experience the Montana side of cowboying.

At least, I felt that way until I had to handle all of his animals by myself, in his absence. Basically, it was just hot and grueling getting them all fed and watered every day. Until the Day of the Donkey happened. I think every bad day I have from here on end is going to be called The Day of the Donkey.

We had this donkey named Dinky - this already sounds like a children’s book – that Brady used to train his horses for tracking and roping…that sorta thing. Dinky was snow-white. Well, at least he would have been if he wasn’t covered in dirt and mud and burrs from running wild in Piedmont.

So while Brady is gone, states away (on our anniversary, in our honeymoon state), Dinky gets OUT. LOOSE. FREE. As in no longer penned.

It is now my job to put the donkey back in the pen in the heat of the day in the bald sun out in the middle of the biggest open pasture. Also, I was in dress clothes. Why am I always dressy when this happens?

This time, I was dressy because I was going with my in-laws all the way to Arkansas for my first nephew’s dedication. All of this ACTIVITY happened about one hour before we were scheduled to pull out of their driveway. Because WHAT BETTER TIME.

There I was, dressed to the 8 ½s, trying to pull a dirty donkey with a lead rope across the pasture, getting soaked in sweat. First, I cajoled. Then, I tempted with feed. Then, I prayed and pleaded. Then, I cursed the situation as politely as possible – hey, I’m only human.

AND HE MOVED! Guess I was speaking his language. He actually started to move forward, all the while giving me the stink eye. I’m not kidding you, we got about two yards from the gate, and he STOPPED.

Then, he grinned and lit a cigarette.

After he watched me cry for a while, he finally crossed the last two yards and went back in the pen. But just barely. I had to put all my weight into the gate to get it to close on his behind, which he refused to suck in. Then, I drug my sweaty and sunburned self to my in-laws, so that I could make a really good impression on our first road trip, just us.

Yah. So anyway. Montana. Love it.

I love this Piedmont, too, but only when it’s donkey-free.

30 August 2014

The Happiest Mug Shot You Ever Did See

Many times during our years together, I have been immensely proud of my husband. When he’s attempted risky business ventures, when he went back to school, when he graduated from TAMU, the day we got married, whenever I see the projects he’s welded, every time I get to introduce him as mine, and every time I watch him being a daddy.

And most especially when he finished the grueling task of becoming a Houston firefighter. It’s still hard for me to swallow some of the physical demands and literal fires they were forced to go through. And the running. My word, the running. They all ran so much and so far and so long, there was nothing left but bone, sinew, and muscle.

Brady ran his mustache smooth off.

They got up in the dark every day. They had to live in close proximity to the training academy, which meant being away from home five days a week, every week, for almost eight months. They had to eat a lot of bananas to keep from doubling over with muscle cramps. They had to run around the globe 700 times. They had to hurry up for everything. They had to read half a dozen textbooks. They had to take a written test EVERY SINGLE DAY. They had to drink stock tanks of water and Gatorade. They had to walk into things on fire on purpose. They had to climb seven story buildings and then repel their bodies down them from ropes from the outside.

And I don’t even know what else.

I can vividly remember the first time we went to the academy for an informational meeting. Spouses were encouraged to attend. Probably because they knew that our lives would be changing forever, too. They warned them about all the running and mentioned that yes, they would indeed be climbing that tower outside and that yes, they would indeed be setting all those train cars on fire.

I sat in that folding chair and got knots in my stomach. It didn’t seem to bother Lee Majors sitting next to me.

The mustache-less picture of him is from their graduation program. What an exciting weekend that was. They all wore their dress uniforms, and he walked across the stage and got a BADGE. A badge. Katie and I got to go on stage with him during the pinning, and you know what sister did? She wailed. I think I’ve written about that before….

He’s at the station today, as a matter of fact. A while back, I signed up for these text messages from a Houston news station. This way, every time there’s a big fire or something related to the fire department, I get a text message and can start sweating before I ever even hear from him. Nifty, huh?

They sent a text today that said: WATCH LIVE. Firefighters battle warehouse fire in South Houston.

Watch live? No, thanks.

I sent Brady a text: “Does this involve you?”

His response was just a picture of him in full gear with a smoked out warehouse behind his left shoulder.

I guess that was a yes.

I’ve had several people ask: doesn’t this scare you? Don’t you worry? Well, not unless someone asks me that, and then I start to think about it. Or if something tragic happens to another firefighter, of course. The rest of the time, mercifully, I am half asleep. Ha. I’m kidding. Kind of. Except not really at all.

I’m so used to him doing this sort of thing. As his friend Jeff says, “shaking hands with danger.” Getting on unbroken horses, welding from a hundred feet up, wrestling hogs…now he just gets paid to shake hands with danger.

Knowing that the fire department would never send the guys into a potentially dangerous situation unless it was absolutely necessary helps a lot, but ultimately, it’s because I trust him. I trust him not to do anything foolish. I trust him to use his brains. I trust his confidence and his toughness…both mental and physical.

I’m kind of surprised at myself. Of all the random things I worry about…not this? God only knows. I worry that the clutter in my house is worse than I think, but I don’t realize it, because it’s been such a gradual progression. I worry that I’ll never get to sleep or take a leisurely bath again. I worry that my teeth feel funny because of all the Coke I drink to stay upright. I worry I’ll have to switch to coffee when the Coke completely stops working. I worry that I won’t be able to put my Christmas decorations up with two kids under foot.

I worry that I’m nuts and someone will read this and suggest I be committed.

Back when I was pregnant and Brady was in the academy, I would sometimes go down to where he was staying in the travel trailer on a week night and stay with him until the next morning. We’d eat supper together, and then I’d quiz him for his test the next day. Then he would collapse into a deep sleep, and I would sit there looking at my fat ankles, worried that I’d oversleep the next morning and not make it to work a couple of hours away on time.

And then I’d worry that if I stopped at a Sonic too close to Houston for breakfast on my way, I’d have to use the bathroom before I got to work. But if I waited too long, I’d be close enough to just forget stopping altogether and arrive at work starving with no food in sight until lunch.

Yes, I bet strait jackets are kind of cozy.

In any case, the warehouse fire got put out, and the nice ladies that dance in the night from next door to the warehouse bought them all chicken sandwiches from Jack in the Box.

That’s about the most family-rated way I can think of to relay that certain piece of information.

He got home, he was tired, and then he got back up the next morning at 3 AM to do it all again. Here’s hoping today is completely void of any overzealous text message from Click 2 Houston.

24 August 2014

Quote of the Day

“My absolute favorite thing about today was all the stickering.”

~ Overheard from a 4-year-old with a new sticker book and lots of time on her hands.

Katie: not at 4-years-old, but at LOOK AT ALL THE CUTE-years-old

06 August 2014

He's Sprung a Leak

We’ve busted out the first bib over here! Not because we’re eating real foods…no, we’re only just 3 months, but because we are DROO-LING! Is it too early for teeth? Who knows? Every baby is so different. All I know is that we both come away sopping wet when I hand him to Daddy or put him in the bouncy seat.

Teething. There’s something to look forward to.

Which reminds me:

For the first four months of Katie’s life, she went to daycare. Part of the daycare experience was writing a letter to Santa to be published in the local paper. Obviously, at four months, she simply didn’t have the hand strength to write out her whole letter, only the “Dear Santa” part, so I helped fill the gaps. She was teething heavily at the time, and all I could think about was Alvin and the Chipmunks.

I’m so glad we all survived her teething…only to watch them all fall out here in a year or so. Does this seem like a lot of wasted energy to anyone else?

Speaking of wasted things, I’d like to bring up wasted resources: gifts, presents, etc. Shopping and buying cute pink things and plastic parts and battery-operated bunnies. It’s all useless, really. Our girl has a room full of toys and Barbie sets and ranch parts and enough horses for The Man from Snowy River’s modern remake. And really, who are we kidding: this stuff is not relegated to her room. It’s spilling out into the dining room, kitchen, and living room, too. Not to mention the bathroom. Nothing like finding a box of princess puzzles perched on the edge of the tub.

Although that’s really no more surprising than finding our whole family in the bathroom together at any given moment. It usually goes down the same way: Daddy is in the shower, and baby girl has to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW. When a toddler says RIGHT NOW, you know that actually means 5 minutes ago, so everybody moves like lightning. So he’s behind the shower curtain, she’s on the throne, and I’m standing there holding the baby, in case she needs assistance. This is when I usually look around and realize that our entire family is in the bathroom together. Again.

The family that bathrooms together stays together, right? Somebody print up a t-shirt….

Anyway, when I got home from the grocery store yesterday, did she choose any one of those pink or plastic toys to play with? No. No, she didn’t. She played with red Solo cups and cotton balls. You heard me. She made an oven out of the cups to roast her marshmallows (cotton balls). So this year, for her birthday, I’m buying her Scotch tape, paper towels, and toilet paper.

She’s gonna love it.

The trick about it is you have to be really, super duper careful about what you throw away, because you never know if it’s actually a used toilet paper roll that belongs in the garbage or a telescope that’s meant for hunting Baby Redbird. And people, that is not a mistake you want to make. Trust me.

So for those near and dear to her preparing for her birthday, just bag up all the shiny stuff from your junk drawers. It’ll really get her creative juices flowing!

She’s gonna love that, too. Because really, she’s always happy, and she’s always excited for everything. Except Brother’s drool: “Bro, you smell like milk.”

02 August 2014

This Day Last Year

So. It’s August 1st.

I’ve been back in the Real World for about five days now. It feels a little bit like being dragged behind the back of a speeding boat…but without skis or a bathing suit. And I don’t know how to water ski.

I’m trying to hang on; if I let go, there will be a giant splash and flailing and breaking of limbs and possible drowning, right? However, once the hullabaloo is over, it’ll be all peaceful floating. So maybe the crash is worth it sometimes.

*****

Today marks my seven year anniversary at my place of employment. Thirteen years in the business total. The business that I never knew about or aspired to but that just showed up on my doorstep.

Daisies from Brady, because they’re my favorite. How common of me, right?

I don’t remember the occasion…birthday, perhaps? They weren’t apology flowers, as the guys in my office like to joke. We don’t really “do” apology flowers. Flowers for birthdays and for Stacey typing Brady’s homework while back at A&M? Yes, we do those kinds.

This day last year, I was celebrating my six year work anniversary. More monumentally, however, Brady and I had just decided to have another baby, God willing. We were sitting in a booth at the Chappell Hill bakery after a doctor’s appointment I had in Houston. We took the whole day together. The day was supposed to be all about that doctor’s appointment, but it ended up being all about that booth in the bakery and the Homemade in the Shade ice cream I ate after our lunch.

I’ve been buying that ice cream and inhaling it ever since. It’s the perfect blend of chocolate and vanilla, you know? Too much vanilla and I’d have to add syrup. Too much chocolate, and Brady and Katie wouldn’t eat it. Of course, that might be good news for me….

We kinda said that day it was now or never, if we were going to go for two instead of one. We listed all the pros and cons and ultimately decided that we wanted Katie to have someone. A Forever in Her Life to Support and Love Each Other Someone. Like Brady and I have in ours.

I know siblings don’t always get along, but a lot of the time they do. And a lot of the time, they really like each other. At least once they don’t live in the same house together.

Yes, I do always take pictures of the flowers I get, because they’re so beautiful and vibrant. They need acknowledgement. Also, I like to send a picture of the flowers I got to whoever sent them with my thanks, so they can see how pretty they turned out.

In any case, not to get too personal (I could get kicked off the internet for that statement.), but a week later, we were on our way to our new normal. That seems like so long ago. Is a year long? From words in a booth to a soul and a beating heart in one year: maybe a year is short.

Beau is here now. A boy. We feel like we’ve won the baby lottery over here, and I kind of always knew there would be a Beau in my life. Before Katie was born, we chose that name in case it was a boy. And here he is, almost four years later. He’ll be three months on August 8th, and he’s slept for 7 ½ hours the last two nights in a row. Of course, I’m guessing that streak is over now, what with all this typing about how I would really be relishing that sweet sleep if not for my husband’s nutty schedule that’s waking me up instead.

Waking up at 3 AM, leaving for the station at 4 AM, leaving at 5 AM to haul dogs across the country named Texas to get to El Paso. That sort of thing.

Are these quality photos, or what? These kind of gave me a roaring headache. We’ll just stick with daisies and wildflowers/weeds from the pasture, I think.

Everything is going well, and I plan to write more about Beau’s birth and my maternity leave soon, for posterity. I’m missing my babies like I’m missing a limb, I’m enjoying the return to a routine and a schedule, I’m grateful for my Wednesdays off, and I hope I can figure out how to give them both all the love and attention they need and desire. I hope it’s possible. I pray it is.

Brady is tired and working hard every day, but he’s having more fun than a barrel of pickles (as Katie says) with both kids. Katie loves her brother and thinks we need one more, so that she has “one to love on while Mama feeds Beau.” In case you’re wondering, I’ve told her to find a pony to love, because our house and family are full. And Brady Beau is smiling his big, toothless smile and grunting and drooling and blowing spit bubbles and generally being a piece of Heaven on Earth.

So, August 1st seems to be a good time of year. Here’s to seeing what 2015 has in store….

30 April 2014

Seven Words are Worth a Thousand Panic Attacks

“I don’t see her in her bed.”

How many times have I texted that to Brady in the last week or so? A handful. Remember the move to the big girl bed?

Well, I ended up having to move the video monitor onto the bathroom counter, so that I couldn’t see it from our room.

Because an addiction was forming.

I couldn’t stop looking at the screen. Right after we put her to bed, right before I went to bed, while I was doing stuff in our room, falling asleep, middle of the night… Not to mention that I kept having to unplug it to take it into the bathroom with me when I was home alone and going for a bath or a shower.

So when I do go in there and look at it and don’t see her: “I don’t see her in her bed.”

Where IS she?!

Usually, she’s either so buried in covers and flattened that I can’t discern her. Or she’s at the foot of the bed, all scrunched up, and lost. Or she’s on the rug in front of her bed, where the monitor doesn’t reach, or on the pallet that Brady or I may have made that night to camp out ‘til she fell asleep.

It’s a roll of the dice, really.

Of course, nothing is spookier than not seeing her, texting him (like what’s he gonna do all the way from the station?), and turning back to the monitor a few seconds later, and THERE SHE IS.

She’s doing this to me on purpose.

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….”