27 June 2010

Mommy's Girl

Kayci found some $1 sunglasses like mine...I couldn't figure out why she was so insistent that we buy some. Then I realized why...

...that's my girl!

--out & about :)

26 June 2010

A DogHouse, a Mouse and a House

About a month before Sami died, we noticed that a field mouse (or mice, let's be real) lived under her house. It was actually really cute...we'd see the mouse every evening. Noble would look every time we walked out there...it was part of the Sami routine. And come on, a dog with her own mouse? How cute is that?

Well...then after Sami died, we saw the mouse for a while longer...then no more. And then a few weeks ago, in OUR house, we started seeing signs that the mouse had migrated inside. Makes sense, since its food supply was cut off out there. I borrowed a no-kill trap and thought, alrighty, this'll be easy and humane, I'll let him go somewhere else.

Um, no luck. And then I started hearing him in the piano almost every morning when I was up working, and seeing evidence of him in different places around the house. SIGH. So then we put out the snappy inhumane traps, feeling a little desperate. The little booger was having none of it. In fact, Thursday morning he was even darting around between hidey-holes WHILE WE WATCHED. I won't embarrass my Boy by telling you that he tried to catch it and oh, how funny that was...I won't do it.

Finally, last night I told James this is it, we're going to have to put poison out (Noble will be out of the house for a couple of days). I didn't want to do it, but desperate times (okay, I found out this week that the mouse CHEWED on my biggest, best Mixed Bag...and I found out as I was lugging 60 pounds of binders in it.)...so we went to the store to buy poison. But my Boy knew better, and knew that poison wasn't a way we wanted to go, so he picked up the electronic traps instead as our last-ditch effort. (Yes, Ronny, you told us that was the way to go when we told you about the mouse but I was trying to save $$. That $5 was SO NOT WORTH SAVING. You were right!)

This morning, the trap is closed and says "Mouse Caught." I wish you could have seen James' face when my response was, "oh, that's so sad." But it is sad--I didn't want it to die. Well, sometimes I wanted it to die. I just wanted it to LEAVE. But I get it...I wouldn't leave this house willingly, either. Still, it's just sad.

25 June 2010


I have intentionally NOT read anything about the iphone4 (If you're new to our little story, I have had an iphone since the day they came out...6/29/07. I'm on phone #3, currently, and I love, love my 3GS). First of all, I only upgraded to the 3GS last summer, so my phone is in great shape. Secondly, the 3GS can take the software update that will mimic the iphone4, so the only thing I'd be missing out on is hardware. And C, as James would say, he still has his original iphone and we've been waiting for the 4 for HIS upgrade. So I knew we were getting one this week, and that it would be his, and I was FINE with just being able to use his sometime. All of that, and I've been too busy with work to read articles or any of the online commentary about the new phone, so I really have no idea what I'm missing.

Well, yesterday I had to go to LaPorte (and you're welcome for the rain, friends!). I was soooooo tired on the way back, I had to work pretty hard to keep myself awake (like, I considered stopping...I was that tired). Poor Kayci, I didn't tell her why I kept talking to her and bugging her but I could tell she'd much rather be listening to her music on her headphones than talking to me. :) Anyway, so I was soooo glad to be home, and I'd talked to James at lunch so I knew his new phone had arrived. I was just glad to see him, period. I immediately came in and put away Wednesday's laundry and then started chopping veggies for salsa (I was tired--I wanted to eat and then go to bed!) and after James played with the kids for a bit, he brought his phone in. Can I just say, Apple lovers, that it is GORGEOUS? And it feels so good in your hand...he showed me a few things and he'd been telling me all day that the best part (so far) was the camera. So he pointed the phone at me to take a picture...and it FLASHED. I did NOT know it was going to have a flash! I was so shocked...and so excited. Then I saw how crisp the picture was, and then, only then, did I regret not saving enough money to buy an iphone4 for me. I told him that I'd used my phone today to snap some pictures for work (I love being able to do that!) but that I'd really needed to use a flash, and then we kind of talked through when we can afford one for me. But I knew it wasn't anytime in the near future, with vacation and summer and debt...and yes, I was a little bummed. James was talking about how he's bummed that he won't be able to video conference with anyone but Ronny (not that Ronny's not awesome, but I doubt he'll want to spend a lot of time chatting with James just to use their iphones). Then, as I'm still running numbers in my head and trying to figure out when we can find the money in our budget, James went into the office for a minute and came back and said, "I haven't been completely honest with you."

And hands me this.

The wrapper was still on the box, so I was sooooo confused, until it dawned on me that it was a SECOND phone. My sweet boy had stashed away some freelance money so we could BOTH have a new phone. (I know, I know, it's a luxury and I don't NEED it, but I'm so grateful--seriously, I'll use the camera for work and blogging. I can't wait!!!)

Shortly after dinner, I fell asleep, so I didn't get to even touch my new phone. Just for grins this morning, I snapped a 2nd picture of the box on the table so you can see the difference. Keep in mind, the pictures are taken 10 hours apart, so it was full daylight in the first picture. But see how much sharper this one is? Ahhh...

I giggle a little inside when I think about going through airport security and dumping out 4 iphones, a laptop and an ipad. Geeks. Freakin' geeks.

23 June 2010

A Whole New Level

Whenever I work with a teacher on classroom arrangement, I always talk about getting down on the kids' level and looking at the world/classroom through their eyes. When Noble was a baby and spent his days down on the floor, I found myself looking at our house in a whole new way--I noticed things I'd never noticed before and realized how, to a child, functional things must look like toys...and it was humbling. It made me really stop and think about how I talk to kids (specifically, my kids) and helped me realize that the world is a pretty confusing place to little ones. But that's not where I meant to go with this...

...a few minutes ago, I was enjoying a bowl of cereal with the Bubby. He turned around and something caught his eye. He got very excited, "Wook, MomMom...(fish)!" (Noble doesn't actually say fish...it's more of this weird nasal sh up in his head.) It took me a minute to figure out what he was talking about--it was the magazine box. I guess I never really look at it anymore, but sure enough, there's a fish on there.

Back when we were first married and James and Dad still fished every weekend (or close to it!), I found this old apple crate at an estate auction and brought it home for magazines. We've used it for so long, it's just part of the landscape. It took a 2 year old to make me take a minute and appreciate that box again after all these years...it's been a busy week and there's no signs of a slow down coming, but I'm grateful for a reminder that the stuff that's keeping me busy isn't the important stuff, after all. It just finances the important stuff. :)

Here's to taking a second look at YOUR world today!

Pop goes the...cake. :)

This was Kayci's birthday cake--I just had to share it with you guys! If you know us well, you know we eat at Brenham Olde Towne Bakery almost every Thursday or Friday and that we love, love Ms. Carol, Jenny & the crew there. The ladies could totally be on an extreme cake challenge--they are THAT good. :) Well, I have always, always made Kayci's birthday cakes (except for the year we did a breakfast party, then I stacked donuts and made a fun cake). She's been saying for a while now (since we started hanging out in the bakery, surprise surprise...) that she'd really like a bakery cake. Not just A bakery cake...THIS bakery cake. So several weeks ago we went in for breakfast and I visited with Ms. Carol and found out that a cake was totally in our budget. Placed the order, just said "popcorn box." And THIS is what they did! They are all about lagniappe there--no matter what we ask for, Ms. Carol always throws in something extra, and this cake was no exception. I'm sorry, but I paid for a plain sheet cake with buttercream icing...this is so, so much more! It was a little painful to cut into it, I won't lie, but we did take pictures. :) OH! And speaking of cutting into it...moms, this may be the best part...it tasted WONDERFUL! Like, as good as the one bite of my wedding cake good. As good as any wedding cake I've ever had (and you guys get married. A lot.). I pride myself on making amazing cupcakes, but this cake...mmm. It was GOOD. Kayci chose a strawberry filling which kind of turned me off until I tasted it...again, mmm.

So, if you're in town or anywhere in flying distance (seriously, they'll get it to you as long as the cake fits in a van or Excursion to get to the airport!), I recommend our friends at Brenham Olde Towne Bakery. And if you're just passing through, pop in and grab some homemade bread and a lemon bar and a pecan bar and a German Chocolate cookie and a cupcake...well, you'll have a hard time picking. That's why we visit frequently. :) (And nope, this isn't a paid advertisement--I just believe in honoring work done well. And that cake ROCKED!)

21 June 2010


(Yep, this is an old picture...old flower beds!)

I know we were only away one night, but I'm sitting here this morning just thinking...man, it's good to be home! Granted, the clean house we came home to is now a bit worse for the wear with the ginormous load of crap that came out of the car, and Bubby was so happy to be home he spread toys all over the living room...but it's still good to be home, to have slept in MY bed (I must be getting old, that I don't sleep well anywhere else and cannot WAIT to get back to my bed and my white sheets...), and to know that the only place I *have* to go today is the grocery store. The kids and I were supposed to go to Sheridan today, but I just can't do that to any of us...after marathon birthday weekend, we're all exhausted. And there's no way Nobley can do 4 hours in the car today, even if it means logging several hours in the pool with friends. :)

It's a big week for me this week, work-wise. Last big push, then July will be much slower and then of course August will start fast & furious with the PPCD team as we head into the new school year. This week I will finish my LaPorte contract (Hooray! Although they're a great group of ladies and I will miss that part...) and I must, must complete the ELA course which is slated to roll out to the first group next week (yikes!). I don't know how I'm going to get there from here and still make sure the kids have a great week, but I know it will all work out. (Here's a clue: so far, this summer, we have NOT been great about turning the TV off. And I'm praying they'll watch a movie this morning so I can buy an extra hour of work time!)

I asked James to wake me up at 4 this morning and he did. And I had a cup of coffee, and it was good. But I'm still sitting here, NOT working, an hour later. Sigh. :) So much for getting a couple of hours of work in while the kids are still asleep. I'm having a hard time getting motivated this morning...perhaps a rare 2nd cup of coffee is in order.

Hmm...to backtrack, Kayci's birthday party was awesome, and we got to see old friends and new friends and all 5 cousins. :) I think Kayci had an amazing birthday, and I think she thinks so, too, more importantly. I really liked the movie theater party (great price, great service, not so much work!). Her cake from Brenham Olde Towne Bakery was absolutely perfect--and even better, it tasted GREAT! Friday was lots of fun. Saturday we saw James' Dad to celebrate Father's Day a day early (and of course he took Kayci to Justice for her birthday, so she was a happy and very fancy!, girl) and then went to hang out with Mom. Saturday was Mom & Dad's 45th wedding anniversary, and the 2nd anniversary he wasn't here to celebrate with her. It was a good day, though. Kayci and I were going to go to Gracie's dance recital but we were running so late, we were on our way to dinner when the recital was supposed to start and so we missed it. (Can't wait to see pics, Mandy!) Yesterday we had a low-key Father's Day, which was just about right. James and I got to make a solo trip to Target, and it was fun to be able to just wander through the store and actually LOOK at stuff and not have to talk the entire time (sit down, put it back...) or worry about keeping track of little bodies. :) I love, love my kids...but shopping without them is a big ol' treat. After lunch we went to the Galleria to get new iphone cases (don't even ask...they no longer make the hard Julius cases and I'm just SAD) and then we went to visit Great Grandma Curtis' new apartment. It's in a great community, and we're happy for her. Then we headed home and James suggested pizza to round out our weekend of eating crap. I think I fell asleep right after my 2nd slice...and slept in the chair until bedtime. :) All in all, it was a great weekend. But...it's good to be...

18 June 2010

Charmed Life

From 1 AM...

Today (June 18th!) is Kayci's birthday. I fell asleep earlier, but then woke up and decided to go ahead and get up and decorate, put out her presents, etc. Did I mention that I love, love, love birthdays?? They're a big deal around here! In fact, I think it's safe to say I'm way more excited than Kayci is about tomorrow...and she's pretty dang excited. I say I'm more excited because I know just how awesome the day is going to be--and I can't wait to see how happy she's going to be. But that's another post. This one started out with a birthday surprise...but first I have to backtrack a bit.
I've long been a fan of charm bracelets, but I wanted to have one that MEANT something. So I decided that I'd wait until we started a family to start my charm bracelet. James surprised me with my bracelet and the first set of charms when I was still pregnant with Kayci. I was touched at how much thought he put into the charms--a mother and child since I was pregnant, a double heart like our wedding logo, and a building block because we were just starting to build our life and family. He's good, right? :) He bought me a key charm when we bought our first home right before Kayci was born, and then added charms as Kayci and I grew up together...a big mouth frog for when we just couldn't get her to eat (you had to be there), shoes for her first steps, ice cream when we moved to Ice Cream (what Kayci called Brenham that first year)...and over the years, I've also received charms from Lynn and a few other special people commemorating special events. (If you look closely, you can see the "rec" that's left of my "Precious Aunt" charm the kids got me for my 30th birthday.)
When Ronny and Amy (Kayci's Godparents; Lauren is also her Godmother) came to meet Kayci for the first time, they gave her her very own charm bracelet. Over the years we've added special memory charms, but we've never really let her wear it because she has her Mommy's knack for losing James Avery jewelry (again, another post). Now that she's older, she's interested in jewelry and asked for something from James Avery for her birthday. James and I talked it over and we think she's responsible enough to start wearing her charm bracelet in addition to whatever she gets for her birthday. When we took her to James Avery this weekend to let her try a few things on for her birthday, we took her charm bracelet in to see if it's time to add links. I also had a charm for each of us from my Grandma (more on that later...it's another surprise), so I left our bracelets to have the charms added. Grandma (my Mom) wanted to give Kayci a charm for her birthday, so I had them put that on, too and she'll surprise Kayci with it this weekend. I also went ahead and bought Kayci's birthday gifts (you didn't think we could pick just one, did you?) when James took her out to the car, and I thought I was being SO SLICK about the surprise...but it turns out he's even more slick.

The next day, I went back to pick everything up. When the lady put my bracelet out on the little velvet pad, I noticed a strange charm. At first glance, it looked like a dollhouse. I thought, crap, I told them the wrong charm to put on Kayci's bracelet. But nope, there was the charm from my Mom...and this dollhouse was on MY bracelet. So I told the lady that there'd been a mistake, and we looked at the receipt--sure enough, it said to add a house charm. And there was something about a 4-leaf clover...but I don't have a 4-leaf clover charm. Well, I didn't--but there was one on my bracelet.

It was the strangest feeling standing there wondering why these charms were on my bracelet and I was trying to figure out how long it was going to take them to remove them so I could get back on the road...then the lady who had helped us on Sunday came back from her break, and we asked her if she knew anything about the new charms. And she got the biggest smile on her face...apparently, James went BACK to James Avery when Kayci and I went to Charming Charlie and got a couple of happys for me. (You said
awwww just then, didn't you? I sure did.) It was so sweet. When I looked at the house again, I realized that he'd found a charm that looks almost exactly like our little green house. And the lucky 4-leaf clover...we do have so many blessings to be thankful for. I'm thankful for a Boy who still works hard to surprise me and make me happy, even after all these years.

*Note: I know James could take professional-grade pics of this stuff for me...but this way is faster and you still get the idea. :)

I'd Forgotten!

In honor of Kayci's birthday, I wanted to put our journal from 6/18/03 on our family blog. When I went to the website to copy it, though, I was amazed at how much journaling we actually did while I was pregnant with Kayci...I haven't read through it all, but man, I have forgotten more than I remember (surprise, surprise, I know...). Caution: James actually describes watching the c-section. You've been warned. :)

16 June 2010

I Can Only Imagine...

I heard it today in the car, and just had to smile. It used to be that hearing that song made me SO sad. But several months ago, it came on in the car and I could just see what it would be like to get to Heaven and have Dad take me around, introducing me to the people he's been visiting with, telling stories to, fishing with...then when Sami died, I heard it again and I just pictured her up there being Dad's dog again and smiling her doggy smile. :D Man, I miss them. There's so much comfort, though, in thinking of Dad as whole and healthy again, and totally in his element. Heaven's gotta be well, heaven for him, nothing but time, nothing to do but shoot the sh*t and tell stories. I bet in Heaven, Dad's friends think I'm running a school district, Ronny's telling Steve Jobs what to do, and Timmy's never had a team lose a football game. And the grandkids? Well, the practically perfect part is totally true. :) As for the rest, I can only imagine.

A Different Perspective

Once we resolved to be, and live, debt-free, our lives changed. I can't look at life the same way anymore, whether it's a big something like buying a house or a car or a little something, like buying clothes before the bills are paid. Something else has changed, too, and I just realized this tonight...here's the back story: I have a contract with a district that I HAVE to fulfill by 6/30. No ifs, ands or buts about it. As I've worked today I just keep thinking, one more hour, X dollars down...and I realized that it's like the time that I owe them is a debt. So yeah I want to go to read a book or go to bed...but I want to be debt-free more.

14 June 2010


Yesterday we took the kids to Haitham's to swim. I did something I never, ever get to do...I sat and watched. It was fun to just observe my little family, and enjoy the sun. Of course I wasn't prepared to just "sit"...no book or magazine. Luckily, Kayci finished her book on the way into town so I read an old favorite while I sat there.

Sidebar: I think it's so cool that she's ready to read some of the chapter books I read at her age...and I love the language Beverly Cleary uses (you know, she says "cross" instead of grumpy, "quarrel" instead of argue--fun!).

Back to the original post...it was fun to be an observer and just people-watch. It reminded me how nice it is to stop DOing every once in a while and just...BE. Good advice for myself as we head into Birthday Week! (Can you believe Kayci will be SEVEN in just 4 days?)

Have a great week!

10 June 2010

Soundtrack of our Life

Tonight I got to go on a real, live date with my boy. Babysitter? Check. Dinner out? Check. Great conversation? Check. Movie about a band...wait a second. So I wasn't crazy-excited about going to see the Rush documentary ("Beyond the Lighted Stage"). But I WAS excited to have some alone time with my boy, and I figured I'd just grin and bear it during the movie. Sitting there, though, I was reminded of when we were dating and Rush was often on in the background whenever we were in James' car or at his apartment...they were his favorite band, and beyond a mention in someone's Humanities project (Alf--was it you?), I'd never heard of them. But over the years I've really come to respect the group and like their music (well, okay, some of it). After watching the movie and seeing that they really are just nerds who love to make music, I think I like them even more. I know that I definitely like the feelings that I remember when I hear their music, and I'll never forget going to my first Rush concert with James. Are you ready for this? I fell asleep. Seriously. If you're familiar with Rush, you know there ain't nothin' soothing about their music...it was just a wild time in my life when I ran myself ragged and tended to fall asleep whenever I finally got still. Oh, wait, that's most times in my life, right. :) I get a chance to redeem myself in a couple of months, though...James is way excited that we'll get to see Rush, ZZ Top & Tom Petty back to back. I'm pretty excited, too--2 hot dates! Anyone wanna babysit?

PS--Highly, highly recommend the movie. I didn't even get up to use the restroom, if that tells you anything--it hooked me from the start and I just never felt like getting up--even after I poured coke all down the front of my dress. Then, in trying to clean that up, I dropped and spilled my ENTIRE bag of chocolate covered almonds. It's a gift, friends, what can I say?

Late Bloomer

More on the flowers, I know. So, I've used this week (James being out of town was a great excuse) to focus on my kids and step back from some of the work stress. I needed some perspective, and to rediscover my positive attitude and find my motivation, all that stuff. I have enjoyed the mini-vacay, I won't lie. Yesterday James headed home, and it was time for me to face my work reality again. So I did. I had a text conversation with my supervisor (you'd be surprised how much you can say that way!), and then I had a long conversation with my partner in crime and we talked out things from this year, talked about things for next year. And I hung up the phone feeling 100% better and refreshed and ready to face the challenges ahead.

I was reminded of this when the kids and I woke up this morning to find that one of our flowers had bloomed into this gorgeous orange beauty. When we bought the flowers, all of the arrangements had a few that were yet to bloom. I assumed that the blooms would just be one of the other flowers in the arrangement, and I wasn't all that excited about it. When we saw this beautiful bloom, it so exceeded anything I could have expected or imagined. And this made me think about what's been going on at work, and where we are right now. Sometimes when you look at something for so long, you just assume it's one thing. But when you turn your back, and then look again...you see it's something completely different. Or when you look at it through someone else's eyes, you see that it's more beautiful than you could ever have imagined on your own.

That's where I am right now with one of my jobs. It was time to step back and look--not at what I expected to see after looking at it for so long--at what it IS. It's not what it used to be, and it's not what I had hoped it would be after the last year's work. It is what it is, and while unexpected, it's going to be better than I could have imagined on my own. Hear that, team? We've got our work cut out for us, but we're in it together.

08 June 2010

Fun with Flowers

I recently inherited, for lack of a better word, an awesome silver tray. I didn't want to put it right into storage...so I let it sit out on my table for a few days while I contemplated it. Since it's me we're talking about, I have about a zillion canning jars sitting around for absolutely no reason, so I gathered up several different sizes and types and grouped them on the tray, then let the kids pick a flower arrangement to cannibalize. (I would have gone white and green, I think, but this is fun--Noble sat at the table with me and put the flowers into the jars...Daddy will be so proud that he has yet another awesome wife talent!).

PS**Kayci started gymnastics yesterday! Check out the post on our family blog--I'm so proud of her. And I love, love the giraffe leotard SHE picked out. I promise, I didn't influence her choice a bit.

03 June 2010

Only Me...

So, I didn't sleep well last night...too much on my mind, ready to be home with my Boy. I woke up this morning when I heard a huge crack of thunder and laid there for a while, then thought, you know, I'm just laying here awake, I ought to get up and do my report. Thinking I'd get up at like 5:00. So I get up and get ready to work...2:59.

Only me. So I'm up.

And looking forward to taking a nap with the kids when we get home this afternoon. :)

02 June 2010

A Reminder

Today was a rough day, work-wise. I finished up the day feeling all sorts of useless and questioning my role...questioning if it's worth continuing. I haven't answered those questions, yet, and truth be told, it's all still churning.

Then, as if I wasn't already bummed enough, I was running an hour later than I'd told my Mom. Noble was getting fussy and I was ready to be with my kiddos. To make up for the hour, I told Mom I'd run through Sonic and get everyone a drink. 15 minutes later, I was still there. At the 20 minute mark, I called the girl again. At the 25 minute mark, the carhop arrived...with someone else's order. At the 26 minute mark, I left. (The guy's argument? "It's that time of day...and the rain doesn't help." Um, it wasn't raining.) See...still all churny and stuff.

By the time I pulled up to Mom's house, I was just...done. Then I looked up and saw my Bubby in the window. He saw me and started waving and smiling, and smiling and waving...the pure JOY on his face was priceless. When I got out of the car I could hear him, "Mom Mom! Mom Mom here!" (It was really too cute and too sweet...but when he realized I was trying to take a picture instead of coming inside, he was confused. Poor kid!)

And for a while, at least until the next work phone call that got it all churning again, I was reminded that what makes me happy is right here...what I live for, right here. Work is just work--99% of the time, I'm so grateful to do something I love and am passionate about, with people I love. The other 1%, like today, I wish I didn't HAVE to work, that I could focus 100% on my family. Then the bad day will pass and my world falls back into balance...that's what I'm praying for tomorrow.

Right now, I'm going to close the computer and watch "Toddlers and Tiaras" with my big kid while the little kid snores here beside me. Tomorrow night, if all goes well, they'll be in their own beds and I'll be cuddling with my Boy. :) I can't wait. And I also can't wait until this melancholy passes and I'm back at 100% loving my job. It'll come...