Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Monday, December 22, 2008


A slide show of the McGlincheys' year in pictures is in the right margin, and there are a number of other slide shows attached to various posts. (Holiday photos accompany the "Christmas in Cowtown" post - I didn't intend to blog between now and then, but Parnell's broken arm merited a mention!). If this is your first visit to the site, the slide shows link to Picasa Web albums. If you double click on a slide show, it will take you to Picasa, where you can view the slides full-sized and with captions by clicking the "Slideshow" tab. If you see a photo that you want to print, the Picasa site will permit you to download to a variety of print sources (Shutterfly, Walgreens, etc.).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ho, ho . . . ohhhhhh

So I had a few friends over for "rappin' and [gift] wrappin'" last night - margaritas and Mexican munchies, nothing fancy - and Parnell offered to take the kids to Movie Tavern for dinner and an animated film for the duration of the party. Before he left, I asked him to clean up the front porch (move some potted plants and an assemblage of the boys' sporting goods to the backyard, etc.). Somehow, this was interpreted as "borrow an extension ladder and hang Christmas garland in a huge hurry, without a spotter" - FORESHADOWING ALERT #1. (It's been rainy and cold for days - hardly outdoor decorating weather - and the big trees in the front yard just saw fit to dump their leaves, which were clumped in wet, SLIPPERY piles everywhere - FORESHADOWING ALERT #2.) I happened to be walking through the living room just in time to hear what can best be described as "whoosh, THUD, ohhhhhh." I've been advised that "Parnell fell off of a ladder" is an incorrect summary of what occurred, because the bottom of the ladder slipped backwards and Parnell simply went down with it. Fortunately, he landed ON the ladder - had the ladder not been between him and the sidewalk, he would have landed face down, the front steps probably would have hit him mid-throat, and you'd be receiving notice of funeral arrangements in lieu of a Christmas card (or a donation solicitation from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation). Instead, he broke his left arm above the wrist and did a number on a couple of ribs.

Considering what could have happened, it's been pretty easy for us to take the whole thing in stride (well, now that we've moved beyond the, "What in HADES were you thinking?" lecture - or series of lectures, it's hard to say - I took a few breaths here and there, but the sum total of the lecturing/filibuster went on for roughly eighteen hours, with assists from my mom, his mom, various women friends, neighbors and co-workers, the kids' teachers, and the the all-female staff of our orthopedic surgeon's office). Who knew that Vicodin only costs $4.71? And, after several years of threatening to decorate a "Mardi Gras tree" like the ones that you see in the windows of the homes around the Bishop's Palace in Galveston, it looks like I'll have my opportunity - the cast will be with us until mid-January, and there's no way I'm wrangling our behemoth of a tree out to the carriage house, so why not throw some beads on it?

Please refrain from teasing the poor guy - trust me, that ground has been covered. Just forward the name of a good Christmas light hanger before December '09 rolls around . . . .

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Fun on the Web

I couldn't resist circulating this link before last week's tacky sweater party:

Judging by the number of virtual sweaters that made it into my inbox that afternoon, I'd say that my e-mail was well-received. Sarah's Festivus "Vest-ivus" was hard to beat. Speaking of my husband's favorite winter holiday, for those in the market for a good Festivus pole, check out:

For my money, nothing says "quality Festivus pole" like extruded aluminum. After airing your grievances and/or participating in the feats of strength, you no doubt will want to indulge in a refreshing adult beverage:

For more traditional celebrations, has terribly cute partyware. I couldn't resist these tumblers (which I filled with some truly potent Bacardi Rum Balls for a cookie exchange). Click on the photo for a close-up.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


As someone who has always scrapbooked by hand and sent (paper) cards and handwritten notes, I am by turns surprised, amused and dismayed by how technologically dependent I have become. The extent of my integration into the tech world has been particularly apparent this holiday season. This evening found me simultaneously uploading photos of the kids to Picasa, updating a spreadsheet of Christmas card addresses and burning my iTunes Christmas mix to CDs as favors for an upcoming holiday party. While I still insist on sending out paper Christmas cards (old habits die hard), I've begrudgingly become a fan of the Evite (both giving and receiving them), and once I permitted myself to take that first camera phone photo of a book title that interested me at Barnes & Noble (didn't have a pen and wasn't going to remember it otherwise), the floodgates opened and I soon had a whole jpeg Christmas list going for me. I was relieved when I had to borrow Parnell's phone one night at dinner (I say "had to," but in all honesty I think I used it to access the Internet, IMDB specifically, to settle an argument about an actor in a movie - further proof of my tech dependency, but, seriously, HOW USEFUL is IMDB? The days of walking around racking your brain trying to remember the name of "that other guy in Stripes and Ghostbusters" are long behind us!) and discovered that he had a slew of photos of books, toys for the kids, etc., on his phone as well.

The moment that I knew that I was developing a serious problem? When I thought to write down some ideas about what to wear to various holiday parties (which accessories would go with what, etc.) and just decided to take pictures of complete ensembles instead. Cleverness, or the height of laziness? You decide . . . and text me your response.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas in Cowtown

December often finds Dad running a zone defense while Mom exchanges a variety of things with her girlfriends - cookies, ornaments, wacky kitchen gifts, etc. Dad prefers the cookie exchanges for obvious reasons, although Mom does think that the banana slicer from this year's kitchen gift exchange will prove useful (and very empowering for young Parker). This year, we did find some time for man-to-man coverage - Parnell and Connor attended the Cub Scout pancake breakfast and space derby while Mom and Parker watched "The Polar Express" in their PJ's at the Museum of Science and History. (The BIG development - Parker discovered hot chocolate, courtesy of the Starbucks baristas who were working the museum event. And he LOVED it . . . . "Mom, now we can go to Starbucks, and you can have coffee, and I can have THIS STUFF!") We also have had the opportunity for some major family fun, some of it structured and some of it spontaneous (microwave s'mores parties!). However, the kids will no doubt remember this holiday season as the one in which the Space Shuttle came to town. Fortunately for them, Parnell's mom retains privileges at the Joint Reserve Base, so on 12/11 Parnell and Grandmother McGlinchey took both kids out of school, scored grandstand seats on the tarmac and watched the shuttle take off for Florida on the back of its jet. They got really, REALLY close, and needless to say Dad (and Grandmother) scored serious cool points.

For Mom, this season is memorable because it's the first time that Parker really "gets" the holiday. And he's very committed to it . . . . Cross Buddy the Elf with Mini Me, and you have our young Parker James. "Mom - I love chocolate. Chocolate is my FAVORITE! Candy canes are my FAVORITE!" (These outbursts of unbridled enthusiasm usually elicit the same response from cynical big brother Connor - "Parker, you're a cotton-headed ninny muggins." Yes, we are an Elf-obsessed family.) Parker is also hard at work on his present-opening technique: "It's like opening a ketchup package from McDonald's. PEENCH [pinch], PEENCH, TEAR!" It's a tradition in our family to wrap the kids' old Christmas books, which are opened, advent calendar-style, and read before bed, so he has had some good practice sessions.

Connor is looking forward to a two-week break from school, and I'm sure that after the third-grade field trip to see the Nutcracker on the 19th, the teachers will be ready for a break as well. Connor has made it through the Nutcracker 1 1/4 times. At age 5, he made it to "Waltz of the Snowflakes," then tugged on Mom's sleeve, inquired as to when it would be "halftime," and requested that we walk across the street to Barnes and Noble for refreshments (the concessions at Bass Hall having been deemed unacceptable - all beverages, no cookies). Needless to say, we never returned. The next year, family friends were among the performers, and the fascination of seeing Kendall, Reagan and their parents on stage held his attention for awhile, but we were in the lobby midway through the second act. Perhaps the third time will be the charm.

One of our favorite holiday traditions is "angel shopping." Our attention this year has been focused on two charities, Alliance for Children and the First Street Mission. Connor was charged with selecting gifts for several nine year-old boys, and Parker helped select four year-old-appropriate toys and clothes. We also stocked up on cold weather gear for the Mission's mitten tree. Our kids aren't saints, to be sure - each tends to come down with a serious case of the "gimmes" at this time of year - but we try to mitigate the commercialism of the holiday by involving them in charitable giving whenever possible. The last couple of years, we have made end-of-the-year donations in the names of various family, friends and coworkers, and the kids have helped match the honorees with appropriate donees. Not surprisingly, they tend to gravitate towards the MD Anderson Children's Art Project, ASPCA, Heifer International and other kid-friendly organizations, but this year I suspect that we may see a broader focus: as a participant in our church's summer mission camp, Connor had the opportunity to volunteer at the First Street Mission, tour one of the local night shelters and purchase food and clothes on a budget approximating what is given to those on government assistance, so his frame of reference has grown beyond "buying shares in animals is fun."

Our love to friends and family, and much health and happiness to everyone in 2009 . . . .

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Pro Bono Attorney Visual Design Team Strikes Again

For the Christmas open house at Junior Woman's Club, each department was asked to decorate a tree, mantel or table in the style of a particular artist or art movement. I remembered seeing an Asian-themed tree in Southern Living (the gold-accented tree with the kites and lanterns), and I thought that it might be fun to try to adapt that concept to a tree featuring woodcuts by Hokusai and Hiroshige (Hokusai's "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" is featured here). So I set to work tying tulle bows to art cards and making paper lanterns and origami boats (the only origami that I know, and fortunately thematically appropriate!). Garden Ridge had some red lantern ornaments, which was also fortunate, because the only unused lights that Parnell could find in the carriage house (I was trying to do this on the cheap) were red. On the way out of the house, I grabbed some Ginger jar-shaped table decorations left over from another party and a few of the Kokeshi dolls that my dad sent to me from Asia when I was a little girl. Lindsay helped me put it all together, and - considering that the tree itself was awfully threadbare - I think it turned out pretty well. We also decorated a console table on behalf of Culinary Arts - the theme was "Food in Art, and the Art of Food" (because "Arranging Random Culinary-Related Things from Lindsay's and Kathryn's Houses in a Vaguely Artistic Way, with Ribbon Candy Purchased from Walgreens in the Middle of the Night as Filler" was a little too wordy). I do think it came out cute, all things considered (sort of Bistro Louise-ish, for those of you Cowtown residents?).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

We Gather Together . . . .

Thought that I would share some photos from Thanksgiving . . . .


I have become a grown-up. Accountants and investment advisors send me holiday cards. I buy wine by the case. And I am learning (slowly!) to prioritize. I initially planned on having (and paid the registration fee for) booths at both the JWC opening party and the JWC Christmas open house, scheduled for this weekend. I waffled back and forth as to whether to paint a bunch of new inventory before this weekend or just display samples and take special orders. Then, when I sat down with my calendar and began to assemble a December to-do list, reality - or, rather, realities - began to set in:

(1) We have seven holiday events scheduled in a nine-day span (and others beyond those, but that is the "glut"). I am committed to arrive at five of these "glut" events with food in hand (four dozen spinach balls on Sunday, cookie exchange cookies on Monday, a salad on Thursday, etc.).
(2) I am (blessedly, in a recession) slammed at my real job.
(3) The JWC Christmas open house is one of only a few "family" events at Margaret Meacham Hall, and my children look forward to accompanying Mom on these days. Manning a bazaar booth cuts into my ability to keep them from breaking things/keep them from driving their dad crazy/cat-herd as the photog tries to snap their picture with Santa.
(4) Our church has scheduled an "old fashioned Christmas," featuring hayrides through downtown, that begins immediately after the JWC event, making booth packdown an issue.
(5) The last time I tried to juggle retail commerce, "catering," work, friend and family obligations under similar circumstances, I developed a middle ear infection that almost cost me an eardrum, did cause me to develop severe, incapacitating vertigo, and (as a consequence of steroid overload leading to "steroid psychosis") ultimately caused me to go 'round the bend for a very scary 48-hour period (lesson learned: manic = FUN, depressive = not so much).

So . . . earlier this week (after spending most of my four-day Thanksgiving weekend dealing with head cold/asthma issues), I advised my spouse that I would not be setting up a booth, intended to sell my existing inventory at a discount and would only take a handful of "friend" special orders. He looked, by turns, shocked, overjoyed and puzzled as to the identity of the pod person who was occupying his wife's body. Then he hugged me.

Sister-girlfriends (you know who you are), if you are stumped for friend or teacher gifts, shoot me an e-mail - I have Christmas and girl-power canvases in stock, and I am planning on taking a limited number of canvas and teacher clipboard orders (great for the bus-and-carpool line). Those of you who already placed special orders, you are in the queue!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Disturbing Development

So apparently at some point during the Texas Tech/OU game, Parnell advised our youngest that he should be cheering for OU (not a common, everyday thing in our household, but BCS algorithms necessitated that a deal be made with the devil). He reminded Parker that Parker's best friend comes from a hardcore "Boomer Sooner" family, and that factoid seems to have lodged in Parker's brain, because the next thing that I know, Parker comes in and informs me, "My new favorite team is the Sooners. All of my friends are Sooners! I LOVE the Sooners. GO SOONERS!" As I hastily attempted to explain (as gently as possible) the error in his ways, Parnell passed by and whispered, "If OU beats OSU next week, the 'Horns are in a three-way tie and may advance to the conference championship. Let him love the Sooners for another week."

Politics and college football make for strange bedfellows . . . .

UPDATE: We was robbed! This item (which is circulating around the Internet) at least put smiles on our faces:

USA Ranked 4th

After determining the Big 12 championship game participants, the BCS computers were put to work on other major contests, and today the BCS declared Germany to be the winner of World War II.

"Germany put together an incredible number of victories beginning with the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland and continuing into conference play with defeats of Poland,France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. Their only home losses came against the USA and Russia; however, considering their entire body of work - including an incredibly tough Strength of Schedule (SOS)- our computers deemed them worthy of the #1 ranking."

Questioned about the #4 ranking of the United States, the BCS commissioner stated: "The US only had two major victories - Japan and Germany. The computer models, unlike humans, aren't influenced by head-to-head contests - they consider each contest to be only a single, equally-weighted event."

German Chancellor Adolph Hitler said, "Yes, we lost to the US; but we defeated #2 France in only six weeks." Herr Hitler has been criticized for seeking dramatic victories to earn "style points" to enhance Germany's rankings. Hitler protested, "Our contest with Poland was in doubt until the final day, and the conditions in Norway were incredibly challenging and demanded the application of additional forces."

The French ranking has also come under scrutiny. The BCS commented, "France had a single loss against Germany and following a preseason #1 ranking, they only fell to #2."

Japan was ranked #3 with victories including Manchuria, Borneo and the Philippines. United States coach Harry Truman was criticized for bad taste for scheduling a "politicking" during the halftime of the Germans' bombing of Great Britian. A US fan also made the point that "the Germans got too many style points for their sexy offense, which continues to obliterate weaker opponents and show off their might after the battle is won. But what about defense?"

Fun Gift Idea

Several retailers market ribbon-threadable, write-on plates, but The Write Plate ( gets props for putting a spin on the concept and helping a charity in the process. They sell "toppers" (painted cutouts - some wood, others ceramic) that you can attach to your plate with putty that you provide, so that you can customize your plate for a holiday or other occasion. I purchased the football at Christmas in Cowtown (the Junior League of Fort Worth's annual gift bazaar), and I have my eye on the Thanksgiving turkey, the bunny, the chocolate cupcake and the longhorn (hook 'em!). The toppers are made by residents of the Brookwood Community, a "live/work" facility for adults with functional disabilities. Back in the day, the Brookwood Community had a store front in the Houston Galleria, and I bought a lot of gift items there - always very good quality and quite unique.

You can also purchase writeable napkin rings and place card holders, packages of seasonal holiday ribbon and other ribbon trim (camo, toile, vintage prints, and lots of polka dots). My plate actually came from Southern Living at Home, but the ribbon from The Write Plate is the perfect width, and of course the toppers will stick to just about anything, since they adhere with putty.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Purposefully Whimsical Holiday

Holiday order time is upon me . . . lots of folks wanting to give canvases as girlfriend and hostess gifts. "Tangled Tinsel" and "Merry Everything" were big sellers last year, but I'm pretty partial to "Jingle While You Mingle." Personalized canvases are fun, too (such as the ornament with the big "m"). I hope to have some new designs finished and uploaded in the next week or so - if I can get through multiple clipboard and "Tech Princess" orders. (Until this year, I had no idea how many Texas Tech supporters I knew!)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Requested Fall Recipes

Second Line Spinach Balls

6-oz. pkg. stuffing mix (preferably with mushrooms and onion)
1 2/3 cups hot water
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
2 (10-oz.) pkgs. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained and patted dry
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix stuffing mix, hot water and butter in a large bowl until well-blended. Add remaining ingredients; mix lightly. Shape into 60 balls, each about 1 inch in diameter. Place in single layer in two 15-x-10-x-1-inch baking pans sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Yield: 60 appetizers.

McGlinchey House Salad

1 envelope Good Seasons Italian dressing mix, prepared with olive oil and Balsamic vinegar
3-4 T maple pancake syrup (or to taste)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 large bag pre-washed romaine lettuce
1 large Granny Smith apple, chopped
1 cup crumbled blue cheese

Combine prepared salad dressing and syrup until the mixture reaches the desired balance between “sweet and tart.” Drizzle small quantity of salad dressing mixture over pecans in small bowl, tossing pecans to coat. Combine lettuce, pecans, chopped apple and blue cheese in large bowl and toss with salad dressing mixture. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Parkerisms - November 2008 Edition

Our little man turned four years old on October 29th, but he is still exhibiting some of the defiant behavior that is characteristic of three year-olds.

From the files of the Department of Irony:

"You stop calling me a twoll fweak [control freak] RIGHT NOW!"

"I . . . AM . . . NOT . . . OB . . .STI . . . NATE!" (uttered while standing in the middle of his parents' bed, arms crossed defiantly over his chest)

I also enjoyed this exchange involving his older brother (who had asked Parker, relatively politely, to stop playing with one of Connor's birthday gifts that little brother had appropriated):

"You're not the daddy of me, Connor! Are you my daddy? NO - you are NOT. You are my BROTHER, and I do NOT have to listen to you. Mo-o-o-o-m, Connor is saying bad words. He said, 'No,' and he said, 'Get out of my room.' Those are bad, BAD words."

Bad, BAD words, indeed.

But the one that had me rolling was his response after tripping and falling en route to the bathroom: "Wow. I was NOT expecting THAT."

Since Connor is the center of Parker's universe, it's really not surprising that Parker is attempting magic tricks, as Connor is magic-obsessed. However, Parker puts his own spin on things: "Mom, is the gray [silver] coin in my left hand or my right hand? SURPRISE - it's in my underpants!"

He's also perfecting his coin flip - "Mom, heads, you lose, and tails, I win." You have got to like those odds - if you're Parker, that is!

Temporary Insanity

Connor is a collector of people (a trait that he inherited from both parents, I suppose), and this can create some trouble come birthday party time. The first draft of last year's guest list exceeded sixty guests, by the time we factored in classmates, teammates, Cub Scout packmates and family friends! We therefore advised him well in advance that birthday #9 was going to be all about the downsizing . . . . As a compromise, we agreed to allow him to have a slumber party. Always one to go far afield in selecting a party theme, he asked for a "Night at the Museum." And so it was that we found ourselves shepherding eight second and third graders (and one little brother) to the Museum of Science and History's Omni Theater last night for a viewing of the IMAX movie "Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs." Five of our guests ended up spending the night. Ironically, no one was interested in actually watching NATM (one of our all-time favorite kid flicks): there were multiple Lego and MegaBlox kits begging to be constructed, and so the party rather naturally evolved into a group building session that continued late into the night.

NATM party goods are nonexistent, so we had to improvise with the cake. We had our local bakery make an Indiana Jones cake, minus the Indiana Jones stuff, and added various Papo figures to represent the characters and the exhibits from the movie (Attila the Hun, Jed the cowboy, Octavius the Roman, Dexter the monkey, the moose who tried to come through the front door of the museum, etc.). It ended up being pretty cute!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Web Sites I'm Digging in November

I've been buying stationery from Carrye Campbell for years, but she has expanded her product line to include adorable children's t-shirts. Parker now has the haunted house, the Thanksgiving turkey and the monkey superhero, complete with "P" on his chest. (It was the monkey thing that led me to Carrye to begin with - I was looking for monkey invites for Parker's second birthday when I stumbled across her site.) Stationery can be purchased through and kids' clothes through

Two fellow Junior Woman's Club/Woman's Club Members have Blogger spots advertising their businesses. Both offer some great options for holiday gift-giving:

Finally, if you are in the mood for a good laugh, check out:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Super Saturday

Parnell and I co-chaired the Fall Fiesta at Connor's school, which was by turns exhausting and restorative, the latter thanks to (1) the reaction of the kids (especially the kindergartener who informed me that Fiesta day had been the best day of his life) and (2) some new parents who jumped into the trench with us and stayed there for the duration (manning the volunteer check-in table, AKA command central, every time I had to run off and put out a fire, which I estimate happened a couple hundred of times, and helping coordinate tear-down, which we knocked out in an hour and ten minutes!). Thanks to the school staff and our volunteers, we were pulling into our driveway at 6:15 (Saturday was one of those days that I was thankful that we opted to attend the neighborhood school, which is three blocks away!), and thanks to Parnell's brother who volunteered to babysit we were walking out the door, in formal attire, at 7:3o. See, the carnival initially was scheduled for 11/1, and the JWC Gala was scheduled for 11/15. When we found out that one of the teachers had scheduled her wedding for 11/1, we moved the carnival to 11/8 as an "open day" - except that, unbeknownst to us, the Gala organizers had experienced an issue with the party venue and were forced to reschedule as
well. So we were a bit double-booked yesterday . . . but I am so glad that we attended Gala, because it was a fabulous party. We had the entire Modern Museum to ourselves, all of the galleries were open for our viewing, and the lobby was transformed into a modern lounge with low white tables, couches and ottomans. Pillows bearing embroidered JWC crests were scattered throughout (and I get to keep four of them - Parnell is so delighted to be adding to the throw pillow collection). The Cafe at The Modern was transformed into a casino, where I converted $1,000 in play money into $6,000 playing Texas Hold 'Em - I won five hands in a row, with two flushes, a full house, an ace-high straight and two pair! Shotglasses full of dessert were served in the casino, and the food in the main room was equally creative (sliders with Maytag bleu cheese, Chinese chicken salad served in individual to-go boxes, etc.). Truly a great time!

Slideshow of Gala photos follow . . . .

Monday, November 3, 2008

Anniversary Tree Update

We decided to dig our own hole rather than hire it done, and we did it by the numbers - called the "One Call" number and had the phone, electric and gas companies come out and identify their lines for us. The electric company's response was "N/A," because the lines into our house are above-ground. The line from the house to the carriage house, on the other hand, turned out to be underground - as Parnell (or rather, Parnell's pick axe) discovered. Fortunately, the breaker did its thing, and he wasn't electrocuted (in fact, the line didn't even spark). However . . . the wires are too short to be stretched, so we're looking at a wire splice, a PVC pipe splice, and much insulation, since we'll be watering the area once the tree goes in the ground. Long story short, it would have been cheaper to hire someone than to fix our mistake! We'll have to remember that the next time we catch the do-it-yourself bug.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

One More From Jen's Party

LOVED this cupcake idea - bat wings are cut out of licorice wheels, and bat heads are decapitated licorice bears with red gel icing eyes. I bet decapitating the bears was therapeutic!


Here's Ramses with his mother, the "soccer mummy" (can't see from the pic, but I'm ragged out under my denim jacket). Daddy was a pimp daddy, Parker was Superman and Ruby Dog was Batgirl (Batdog?). Uncle Zan came over to trick-or-treat with the boys, and then we headed to our friends Jen and Randy's Halloween bash. And what a bash it was . . . . Not a trace of their everyday "stuff" was in view - everything, from floor to ceiling, was Halloween-themed. Needless to say, I took lots of pictures. Slide show is below. First few photos are of our house and the graveyard next door. The Tudor in the nighttime exterior shot is Jen's, and all of the photos after that are from the party.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Shoulda Stood in Bed

This week finds me knee-deep in loan documents and commercial leases at work and slightly more than a week away from the carnival that I am co-chairing for Connor's school. Today also was Parker's birthday. The plan was for me to pick up cupcakes at lunch and take them to preschool prior to the 3 pm snack hour. Here's how things actually went down:

12:00 - Realized that wasn't going to make it out of building for lunch. Resolved to pick up cupcakes on way to school. Became aware of gnawing hunger threatening to cause me to pass out. Tossed wallet to assistant and sent her on sandwich run.
12:05 - Accepted chicken salad sandwich, wallet and change from said assistant. Devoured sandwich. Wallet and change absorbed by pile of documents on desk.
12:20 - Ran over hem of new skirt with desk chair. Ripped said skirt. Pulled abdominal muscle craning around to see how much damage had been done to skirt.
2:10 - Became aware of time. Grabbed purse and change but not wallet.
2:30 - Arrived at front of "10 items or less" line at Super Target, patting self on back for expedited manner in which cupcakes and related items had been procured. Realized that did not have wallet. Begged checker to keep items at register.
2:31 - Conducted thorough search of car. No wallet.
2:32 - Placed outgoing call #1, to office. Confirmed wallet was still on desk.
2:33 - Placed outgoing call #2, to spouse. Begged for rescue and arranged to meet spouse in parking lot.
2:34 - Placed outgoing call #3, to elementary school. Explained that was "stranded," husband was "rescuing," and oldest child would need to wait at school for pickup. (Avoided mentioning cupcakes and lack of wallet, lest emergency sound - well, kind of pathetic.)
2:35 - Placed outgoing call #4, to preschool. Begged for delayed snacktime start.
2:36 - Decided to walk to beauty supply store across parking lot and purchase colored hair spray for oldest son's Halloween costume. Forgot lack of wallet. Selected can of $4.19 purple hair spray. Remembered lack of wallet. Located $4.20 in loose change and bills in purse, which was insufficient to cover price plus tax. Muttered to self and begged checker #2 to keep item at register.
2:40 - Received incoming call #1, from spouse, who was block away. Spouse sheepishly admitted that he had left without own wallet.
2:40 plus 1 second - Cursed spouse in front of God and country in Montgomery Plaza Super Target parking lot.
2:41 - Placed outgoing call #5, to preschool. Begged for further snacktime delay.
2:41-2:55 - Waited for spouse at location equidistant between Sally Beauty Supply and Super Target. Considered crying and/or throwing self in front of moving vehicle.
2:55 - Caught twenty dollar bills thrown by spouse of out of moving car window.
2:56 - Discovered that purple hair spray was on sale for $3.20 and therefore could have been purchased twenty minutes prior.
3:00-3:18 - Hit every light between Super Target and Baylor All Saints.
3:20 - Realized that pumpkin pull-apart cupcake cake covered in way too much orange and black icing was not going to win points with preschool teachers, particularly given twenty-minute snacktime delay. Insisted on cleaning up mess and kissed up to preschool teachers in every other manner possible.
3:45 - Arrived back at office. Noticed six-inch swath of orange cupcake icing on jacket sleeve.

All's well that ends well. The class loved the cupcakes (as did the office folks who benefited from the leftovers), and - total control freak (or "troll freak," in Parker-speak) that he is - Parker appreciated knowing that he had Mom and Dad running fire drills on his behalf. Connor griped a little about being marooned, but not as much as he griped about the colored hair spray, which apparently was "too lavender" and "not a true Yu-Gi-Oh purple."

Halloween House

I've made a pledge not to acquire any Halloween decorations this season, no matter how cute or deeply discounted they may be. These photos will explain why.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Our Twelfth Anniversary

"We were friends for a long time. And then we weren't. And then we fell in love."

It was twelve years ago that this Sally married her Harry. Our anniversary fell on a weekend that was booked solid with school events, a masquerade ball and a softball tournament (how's that for variety?), so we celebrated the occasion amidst family and good friends. We did manage to find a couple of hours in between in which to sneak off to The Ginger Man for a couple of beers and some deep conversation, reminiscent of our early (best-friend, pre-dating) days at the Crown & Anchor Pub in Austin. The conversation topics have evolved over the years, but it's nice to know that, two kids, a mortgage and a lot of "life experience" later, we still comfortably share the one brain.

Adding to the deja vu feeling - (1) the discovery that one of my masked ball cohorts (a relatively recent friend addition) was in a spirit organization with me at UT (I KNEW that I knew her when I met her - I just couldn't place her in that time period) and (2) the sight of all of the softball tourney participants running around in t-shirts that I had designed. Shades of college days . . . . Photo is of Culinary Arts' adorable (cupcake-themed) entry into the base-decorating contest.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's Fall, Y'all!

. . . and most of my current painting projects reflect that fact. Attached are a couple of Halloween canvases that I completed this month (one for a customer and one "just because"), along with a selection of "college princess" canvases. (These have been hot items this year. I particularly like how the Tech one turned out - it was a special order for my friend Robyn.)

Treats and Tricks for Little Cooks

Last weekend we hosted the children of Culinary Arts members for an afternoon of kitchen-related fun. Well, that was the plan . . . . I baked 72 cupcakes and another mom baked a gross (literally) of cookies. I figured that the kids would decorate and eat some items on the premises and take the rest home. Obviously, it had been awhile since I threw one of these shindigs. True to form, the kids decorated a token few items (with the exception of Miss Matilda, who filled a tray with her creations . . . and then wanted nothing more to do with them), and then split into two camps - the boys went off to play with the boy toys, and the girls heaped much love on the pets. Likewise, when we went outside to make party crackers and candy necklaces, the young guests were much more interested in playing dress up (I had put out a couple of buckets of costumes as "filler" in case the scheduled activities ran short). I'd share some photos of the kids looking adorable in their (very creative) ensembles, but I never got around to taking pictures. You know that a party was a success when, at the end of the event, you realize that you never stopped to take photos! (As one of the grown-up party guests pointed out, you also know that a party is a success when someone gets naked . . . the streaker in question? My youngest!)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Oh, Anniversary Tree . . . .

My parents called me at work this morning to advise that they had purchased a tree for us for our anniversary and for Parnell's birthday. He has been wanting a "colorful" tree for some time, and I would say that this one fits the bill. It is an "Autumn Fantasy" silver/red maple cross and apparently has all of the tree bells and whistles (drought- and diseased-resistant, seedless, upright grower, maintains its own shape and displays tons of fall color). I have named it Tim Horton (a red-leafed maple should have a Canuck name, and IMHO Tim Horton makes the best hamburger in North America and deserves to have a tree named after him).

Delivery had been scheduled for Saturday morning, but Parnell pushed it back, as we have fifteen or so kids invading the house for a pre-Halloween party. (I, on the other hand, suggested incorporating the tree into the party - we could requisition shovels and put them all to work? Call it a treasure hunt?)

Normal people buy sweaters and Best Buy cards as gifts. I am not descended from normal people, as perhaps is evidenced by the fact that I am considering constructing a small tree fort and ladder out of popsicle sticks (Connor keeps begging us for a treehouse, but he never specified his desired dimensions . . . .).

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

If You Ask a Dad to Help You Build A Flower Bed . . .

. . . along the north fence line, he’s going to want to borrow Grandma’s truck to haul all of the supplies for the retaining wall back from Home Depot. If he is going to borrow the truck, he’s going to suggest collapsing boxes and taking them to the recycling center “on the way.” To get to the boxes in the very back of the carriage house, you’ll have to drag storage totes onto the patio and step over the pile of old doors and 2 x 4’s in the left-hand stall. Seeing the storage totes, old doors and 2 x 4’s will remind the dad that he salvaged the old doors and 2 x 4’s to construct shelving for the carriage house. He will want to build the shelving that very moment (and you won’t complain – much – because you really do need the shelving, and the dad doesn’t get these impulses that often). While the dad is building the shelving, chances are that you will start to go through the storage totes to have something to do, and you will notice how many things are in them that you no longer want or need. You will start to make a pile to take to Goodwill. By the time that you have filled the trunk and back seat of your car with Goodwill donations, the attended Goodwill drop-off site will be closed. You will then spend two hours going through Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations and switching out garden flags and outdoor throw pillows.

Seeing the Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations will remind you that you need to buy mums.

The next day, the dad will take the boys (in his car, because there is no room in your car for two children, because of all of the Goodwill stuff) to Home Depot to determine which size bag of Kwikrete concrete will make the best “stone” for the retaining wall. While he is there, he will notice three trees that might look pretty in the back yard. He will bring home two different bags and place them in front of the nonexistent flower bed, and you will both stare at them, trying to decide which one to pick. Then he will send you to Home Depot to stare at more bags, count how many bags are on a pallet and look at trees. Since you have to drive by Nana’s to get to Home Depot, you will pick her up on the way. You have to walk by the ready-made Pavestones to get to the Kwikrete pallets, and you and Nana will briefly consider buying Pavestones in lieu of the Kwikrete. When you look at the trees, Nana will mention that she has some decent red oak saplings in her yard and that the neighbor bought a lovely maple from a local tree farm. You will buy mums. You will not buy any Kwikrete. Then you will stand in Nana’s yard and discuss trees.

On the way back from Nana’s, you will stop at the garden center and buy more plants. When you get home, you will put the mums and other plants where you intend to plant them but not actually do any planting. When you place some of the mums between the shrubs that are sitting, still in their nursery pots, along the north fence line, you will think . . .

We really need to build a flower bed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Adventures in Party Planning, Part 2

Sculptural artist Rebecca Low graciously opened her gallery and sculpture garden to us for Culinary Arts' opening party. The space pretty much decorates itself, but we threw in some Matisse-, Kahlo- and Warhol-themed tablescapes for good measure. Former CA member Stacy Sanford catered for us, and everyone had a wonderful time eating, sampling a variety of wines and interacting with the art!

I am also attaching a photo of the Seurat-inspired centerpiece that Lindsay created for our new member brunch, using her "Sunday in the Park with George" umbrella stand. Needless to say, we're having fun with the whole art theme.

Check out Rebecca's gallery at

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Max-iversary

Hard to believe that our youngest "cat child" joined us a year ago this week. Photo was taken three weeks into his tenure with us - Parker was explaining Hot Wheels to him, and, as you can see, he had Max's full attention.

Evidently, the novelty of Max has worn off, as Connor is now plotting to acquire a hamster, Parker has requested a fish and Dad apparently gave them the impression that these requests may be fulfilled once we pull the trigger on our planned upstairs addition. Hmm . . . an oversized ball of feline energy and young male aggression, chasing another ball (containing one small, terrified rodent) down a flight of stairs, with two kids and a barking Sheltie in hot pursuit. We could issue tickets to the show and apply the proceeds to the costs of construction. The idea almost sells itself.

I have suggested "Sushi" as an appropriate name for Parker's proposed fish pet.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Gigi!

Grandma Kopcsak (Gigi - for "GG," or "great-grandmother" - to my kids) turned 90 today, a fact that she might not want me to advertise, but I certainly think it’s worth mentioning! If she knew that I was posting this, she no doubt would remind me that one of her sisters lived to be 107, so from that perspective a 90th birthday is just another day at the office.

We consider ourselves so fortunate to have her ten minutes down the road; the kids, in particular, benefit so much from her presence in their daily lives. That includes all of the kids – the pets, Ruby Dog in particular, swarm to her the minute that she enters our house!