Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Houston, we have a problem....

The problem is that I got a new camera for Christmas and I am OBSESSED with it! I am afraid it is to the point that I am going to have to try to find a support group of some kind. I can't work, I can't clean my house, cook, shower (Kidding! But not really! Well sort of kidding! Let's just forget I said anything about showering!) Really, all that I want to do is look at the pictures I have taken with this camera. I am not a professional photographer, not even an amateur photographer really. I do however love pictures of my kids and probably take way more than most folks.

I make on-line KodakGallery photo albums of all of our family events to share with our family in Bama. It keeps them in touch with the boys and their activities. I will admit that sometimes it is a bit overkill. I sent out a KodakGallery photo album of a garage clean-up we did a few summers ago and caught some real flack for that. It was a serious overhaul of the garage and there were some great before and after pictures. I guess enough is enough.

My poor sister-in-law said it is embarrassing that she has more pictures of my boys than she does of her own two girls. What can I say, I like pictures. I haven't taken very good ones until now. Now, I just point and shoot this Nikon beauty and it is practically ART!!

Look....it is grass...up close, beautiful grass and I am just in awe of it.



These berries...are you kidding me??? Look how the bush behind it is all soft and out of focus. LOVE THAT!!! I didn't do it on purpose - wouldn't know how to do it again.


The grass from a distance. Look at that...I find it so amazing that the tree limbs in the forefront are soft and the background is sharp. How do you do that????


My husband's chin whiskers - taken from the passenger's seat of the van with a zoom lens. The man is a saint. If the roles had been reversed and he had pointed a zoom lens at my chin or chin(s), whatever the case may be, I would have left him on the side of the interstate. Probably hit him with the camera and then left him on the side of the interstate. Might have even run him over. Seriously DO NOT take an up close picture of my chin.

But look at the detail in this picture - you can see each individual whisker. So cool!!!


And this sunset picture just makes me happy. There is a "sunset setting" on the camera and you can point the camera directly at the setting sun and get a totally cool shot like this. Driving 70 miles an hour down a Texas interstate snapping shot after shot through a dirty windshield. I probably took 50 pictures by the time the sun actually set and I know for sure I was having a hard time seeing! Now it is hard to pick which picture is the best. I can't delete any of them! I particularly love this one though, with the car cresting the hill and the huge fireball of sun that looks like it is melting.


It is going to be hard to be in the same house with this camera and get anything done. I haven't had the heart to tell the dog that there is actually a "pet portrait" setting on the camera. I think in exchange for a piece of cheese, he may be my most willing subject!!!

So, let me issue a warning to anyone reading this that might be local. Don't be alarmed if you see me roaming the neighborhood with a zoom lens! I will try to stick to fascinating plants, animals, objects, children and not chins!! If I take a picture of your chin, you may hit me with the camera and run me over with your car!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

We've Been Horned

We went out of town for the holidays and returned home tonight after 10 days on the road and 13 hours of driving. We were road weary and exhausted. Where did we go you might ask? We went to God's country, more commonly referred to as Alabama. We have celebrated Christmas with our family and that definitely included the exchange of various football merchandise such as SEC t-shirts, Alabama jerseys, Crimson Tide hats, glasses, and autographed memorabilia. It was glorious to be out of Longhorn country for a while and walk among some other Bama faithful. We even watched a DVD of the SEC Championship Game today on our drive home. It was even more unbelievable watching it the second time. Who was that offensive machine that showed up in Alabama uniforms? We so hope they show up one more time for the big National Championship game on January 7th!

As we made our way back to Texas today, and the Longhorn logo started showing up on trucks and shirts, we whispered quietly about what kind of plans we can make for the game. We concluded that since we live smack dab in the middle of Longhorn country that we will just lay low and cheer and/or cry together as a family the day of the big game! It will be hard to be a Bama fan here whether they win or lose!

We pull into the driveway at dark - so happy to be home - crap falling out of the van as the doors opened. Everyone grabbing something to carry in and making their way into our dearly missed home. We turn on the kitchen light and what do we see, but this....




and this....




and this....



Our home had been defiled and defaced by the very good friends we had left our house key with. They were supposed to be taking care of the cat, but it looks like they had a little fun while they were here. We are finding Longhorn merchandise all over this house! A can opener in the utensil drawer, a mug in the cabinet, a bag of chips in the pantry, a pen on my desk, a picture frame with their children's picture! What we didn't notice until about six trips out to the car to unload was this exterior decoration on our house.


WHAT??? Oh no they didn't! And to top it all off - the damn cat was still alive!! Seriously!

We had some great laughs about this Longhorn welcome home and assume we will continue to find Longhorn surprises all over our house! For now though, we might have to reconsider who we leave our house key with....at least until football season is over!!!

ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Crafty Ideas

We have been working on a couple of crafty gifts over the last few days that I am excited to share! First up...a cute little arrangement for 7's second grade teacher made out of school supplies. It has dry erase markers, erasers, scissors, rulers, glue dots, magnetic tape, post-it notes and lots of candy canes. We taped the school supplies to a regular wooden kitchen skewer and arranged the skewers in a Christmas tin filled with a styrofoam insert. My son had a great time helping with this one. Check it out!



Next up....I am giving my 18 year old nephew cold hard cash for Christmas. It is what he wants, but I just hate handing over money with no fanfare. So, I sent out a call to all my girlfriends to see if they had any cute ideas for giving kids cash. I have already done the money in the kleenex box and a money sandwich, so I was looking for something new and different. I got several great ideas, like cracking open walnuts, putting money inside and gluing them back together. May have to use that one in the future. For this Christmas I finally had a bit of a brain storm and came up with a new one that I haven't seen on-line. I thought I would share it for any of you that might be in the same boat.




I bought a couple of big bags of multicolored straws ($1.49 at HEB). I cut the straws into thirds, which is surprisingly very similar in length to a dollar bill. I rolled the $1 dollar bills into tight, tight rolls and slipped them inside a straw. I have about 1,000 straw sections in a shoe box. It looks colorful and fun...but the best part is that it is going to take him forever to find the straws with money and then he will have to get the dollar out of the straw, unroll it and hope it doesn't stay rolled forever! Definitely not going to go into a vending machine! This will keep him entertained for a while and I do hope it gives him some laughs! Should be fun!


Also, a little celebration in our house this morning. Today is the 26 year anniversary of me and my hubby's first date! December 17, 1983. We were just babies back then. I can remember it like it was yesterday. He picked me up in his sister's red Firebird. He left it running in the driveway so it would stay warm. My mom thought that was crazy, but I thought it was super sweet. We went to El Palacio for dinner and they had these paper placemats with some Spanish/English word translations. I quizzed him and we laughed so hard over his mastery (or lack thereof) of the Spanish language. Guy took three years of Spanish in high school and could barely say taco! Then we went to a movie - I can't remember what was playing but I do remember holding hands in the theatre. After that, we went to Big Spring Park and walked out to the bridge. Hubby had two Alabama sweatshirts in the car that we put on because it was colder than we thought. We matched - it was so 80's - but I was smitten. It was on that bridge 26 years ago that we had our first kiss. Eight years later on the night before we got married he called and asked me to meet him at Big Spring Park. I thought he was getting cold feet. Turns out, he still had those two sweatshirts and we put them on again and walked out to the bridge again. Best pre-wedding EVER!!! Oh, makes me swoon now just to think of how romantic that was!


What a great walk down memory lane this morning - makes me feel young again. Or, very, very old - 26 years is a LLOONNNGGG time! Young or old, I am a very lucky girl.




'Tis the Season to be Busy

Why is it so hard to wrap up things at work to get ready to be on vacation for a few days? Then you come back and it is hard to catch up on what you missed while you are gone. It is like a one two sucker punch that makes you wish you had never been gone. Well, probably not that you had never been gone, because vacations are fun. Maybe it really makes you wish you didn't have to screw up vacations with work. Oh, that must be the joy of retirement! One of these days....in the meantime, I may have to pull an "all-nighter" to get it all done. When I say "all-nighter" I really mean I might have to stay up really late, like 11:30!! I don't do all-nighters any more. Too old.

We are in mass chaos mode around here...trying to get caught up with work so I be only just slightly behind after Christmas, semester finals, class Christmas party, pajama day, oil change, wrapping presents, trying to prepare for much colder temps, a long drive, a flight, a birthday party and last minute preparation for heading out of town. Tons to do and not much time left to do it. It always gets done and hopefully it will again! I have my list and am determined to mark some things off of it today!! GAME ON!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stop Growing Already

This morning before school my youngest son was all snuggled up on the couch. I sat next to him and started my normal routine of convincing him to come out from under the blanket and get dressed. He says "Mom, I have some bad news. I think I grew some more last night." If you have ever seen my youngest, you would know that he has probably did grow over night. He is a big strapping fellow!

Anyway, I went through my antics of making him stand up so that I could see for myself if he did in fact grow any bigger. When I told him I was sure he had grown, he just beamed with pride because he knew what was coming next. I told him he was in big trouble. I forbid him to keep growing. He must stop growing immediately. He thinks it is funny that I want him to stay little. I think it stinks that he is growing up so fast.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Favorite Traditions

What is it about traditions that just make a family feel like a family? Yesterday, was the annual Christmas Sugar Cookie day at our house. It was insisted on by all the boys. It is not even that we love eating sugar cookies so much, but it is the process of rolling out the dough, cutting out the shapes and decorating the cookies within an inch of their lives! It is surely one of the most favorite traditions my kids love about Christmas. Thinking back, I guess we have set aside one weekend morning a year to make sugar cookies since 13 was a baby. The production has ramped up in recent years, not just with the number of cookies, but with the detail and design. It used to be that I could roll out some dough, kids could grab a cookie cutter, sprinkle on (or pour on) some colored sugar and they were in the oven. Destroyed the kitchen, but it was relatively easy.

That is no more. About five years ago, when 13 started loving sports as much as his father, we started cutting out a few football helmet shaped cookies. May seem odd, but it is College Football Bowl Season and in this house that is a pretty fantastic time. So, we used frosting to decorate a helmet or two with a solid color and put a name or number on it. It caught on like wildfire. Now, over half of our Christmas cookies are helmets! Yesterday's production required nine different colors of frosting, decorating tips, samples of helmets to copy, etc.
So, in the beginning we would get some laughs about the gingerbread boy who was absolutely covered in a mountain of sugar (oops) or the Christmas tree with so many M&Ms on it and there was hardly any cookie to hold it together. Now, it is trying to get the colors right, the face mask to look like a facemask, the logo to look remotely like a logo. We are certainly not that good at it, but they are definitely looking more and more like actual football helmets! Definitely a different kind of production. About the only thing that is the same is that the kitchen is destroyed.
Here is a sneak peek at some of our creations! See if you can identify some of the teams!




So, maybe our Christmas Cookie day has changed and is not a "traditional" tradition, but it definitely feels more like Christmas around here now!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hunter

A very close friend of my sister, has a 14 year old granddaughter who was born with her heart backwards, upside down, wired incorrectly, hooked to things it isn't supposed to be hooked to, just a medical marvel. Not sure they thought she could survive for 14 years, but she has. She is such a rare case, but the doctors keep finding ways to mend or support her heart. She has had multiple surgeries, a pacemaker, a fake valve, all things that have helped her lead a relatively normal 14 years. She is loved so profoundly by her family and oh, her grandma just crazy loves that girl. Well, this week she was back in the hospital. Tests were showing that her heart was not functioning optimally and they thought she might have a blockage. She did. They did surgery recently and were able to improve her blockage from a 10 to a 5. It wasn't a perfect surgery, but the family was so thankful for the improvement. This morning at 5:45 a.m., Hunter had a stroke. She is unable to move anything on the right side of her body.

I sit here in my office, a long 1,000 miles away from this hospital, and I pray hard for this young girl I have never met. I pray for her family. I pray for the doctors. Just over and over, "Please, please, please." More like begging than praying, but coming from deep in my heart. So many challenges, with no choice but to face them head on. I hope in some small way it gives them a tiny bit of peace to know that so many prayers are being said for Hunter. I don't think it changes God's plan for Hunter to know that so many of us mere mortals want her to get up and walk out of that hospital, but I think it does let him know how special she is to so many.

If you read this note, and even though you may not know Hunter, whisper her name in prayer please. Imagine if it was your own child, or niece, nephew, brother or sister, in that hospital bed fighting this really hard fight. Prayer is really all you can offer, but it is free, it is powerful and it works!

I have so much on my holiday "to do" list today, but this email from my sister this morning has slowed my brain down to a screeching halt. Puts a microscopic focus on the things in life that are most important. I have tons of things to get done, but maybe I will wait a while, grab another cup of coffee and go snuggle on the couch with my boys.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Food Fight

So yesterday evening I launch my Blog, full of ramblings about how I love my life, kids are the bomb, husband makes me happy - and then a FOOD FIGHT breaks out! In my own kitchen! It was mayhem! Husband threw a cucumber slice at 7 (that is the youngest) ...7 laughs so hard that there is a possibility he may never be able to catch his breath. 7 turns around to walk away and husband throws another cucumber slice at him that sticks to his back. If he was laughing before, well now he is absolutely hee hawing! It was so funny!

Then it wasn't.

13 (that is the oldest) gets in the mix, red pepper slices and baby carrots are being tossed. I will admit that I participated in some vegetable slinging as well. Then, Husband spills an entire cup of Sprite on the table and floor. People are still throwing and walking through the spilled Sprite. Mom goes ballistic. Children can't figure out why she is so mad. Then the laughing is over and the mopping and cleaning commence. Then I made them pose for a Christmas picture and it went downhill from there.

Good times.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jumping in...

For months now, maybe even a year, I have followed several blogs written by complete strangers. It has become a routine part of my day to check in on Pioneer Woman, Kelly's Korner and Glamorous Life of a Housewife. I don't know them, but for some reason I enjoy sneaking a peek into their lives, hearing about their adventures, seeing pictures of their children. It is a bit like stalking, but doesn't require leaving your house. I have often considering trying this blog thing myself. I love to write, although I can't imagine what topics I could pick that would interest anyone other than the handful of people who hear it from me in person on the daily. Regardless, I am going to try my hand at it. Maybe I will be lucky enough to capture some daily happenings around my house. Kind of like a virtual scrapbook of sorts, although at this point it would be filled with my complete and utter disdain for eighth grade Algebra (going to be the death of me). As my thirteen year old says to me every night...when am I ever going to need to know this stuff in the real world. I have no answer to that. Just sit down, figure out how to plug that stupid equation into a graphing calculator and get an answer that doesn't have ten decimals or no intersection!!! Writing is what I love, not MATH! We shall overcome Chapter 6-1, of that I am certain! If he will ever used the algebra skills we are struggling to master I have no earthly idea.

Some general information - I am a wife and have been for eighteen years or so. Best thing that has ever happened to me, hands down, is falling for the right fella. That great decision led to an even better one. I am a mom to two boys - six years apart and as different as night and day in some regards and identical clones in others. Is there anything better than being a mom? I can't imagine it if there is. It is hard sometimes for sure, and I wish there was a parent handbook on many days, but the rewards, the snuggles, the seeing life again through the eyes of your child, oh that is the good stuff. I think I am blessed beyond measure, lucky in love and just absolutely enjoy my life.

So, feel free to sneak a peek at my life and hear some of the ramblings going on between my ears. It could be painfully boring or slightly entertaining...we shall see.