Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Potpourri: A Short Trip Down Pumpkin Patch Lane

Having a little trouble coping with the idea of my kids being as big as they are this Halloween.  That, and the fact that I will be spending this Halloween in exile, make me nostalgic for bygone days.

This is our oldest in his first Halloween costume, circa Y2K:

Cute, huh? No part of his costume looked like innards - no hint of disembowelment whatsoever. Also absent: blinking LED lights.  Just Polar fleece and baby socks, the kind with the little no-skid dots on the soles.

It was a much simpler time.

Here he is the following year, playing in the pumpkin patch at Mainstay Farms:

The hair's pretty much the same. And the smile. Yup, I'm gonna focus on the hair and the smile.

The last two pictures are a bit grainy, because they were taken using a product called "film."  The images, I believe, were scanned onto a disk, which I inserted into the computer, and I saved the picture image onto my computer.  It was all very complicated.

Maybe it wasn't such a simple time after all.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

World Series Postscript

Conversation between me and one of the valets in my parking garage:

Me:  You watching Game 7 tonight?

Valet:  Nah.  Too stressful.  I was so upset after Game 6 that I had to go to a strip club.

Me:  And that helped?

Valet:  Little bit.

Huh.  So that's what we did wrong, North Texas.  Friday would have gone much smoother for the lot of us if we had agreed to meet up at the strip club.

By the way, my husband has endorsed this plan for the next time that the Rangers find themselves in a pennant race.  Or, you know, for any other time.

Kid Stuff: Seriously?

I swear that this photo was taken only yesterday.

Except, apparently not.

Happy seventh birthday, youngest child.  Where, oh, where, has the time gone?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Things I'm Digging: Bat Swag

Okay, really wish that I'd seen this prior to the 28th of October:

It's like the superhero version of the tuxedo t-shirt: I want to smite evildoers, but I'm also here to party.

Oh, well. Next year.

The following have been added to my Christmas list:

Wouldn't I look cute wearing this in my new kitchen? When I'm actually allowed to move back home?

I would pair the apron with these bad boys:


It doesn't get any cooler than that, peeps.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Apropos of Nothing: Musings During a World Series Game

Scenes from a Thursday night, watching the hometown Rangers attempt to win Game 6 of the World Series.   Stream of consciousness thoughts, presented in sequential order.

Joe Buck needs to SHUT THE BUCK UP.  Seriously - he's jinxing this thing. 


The Rangers are hell-bent on giving up their lead and going into extra innings.  I blame Joe Buck.


Missing: One happy place. Must find it. Offering a reward.


Jumping jacks and jogging in place are not working. I’ll check Facebook. Hey, what do you know? One of my law school friends just posted that he, too, is doing jumping jacks. They aren’t working for him, either. Moving on to Plan B.


Just poured myself a glass of Glenlivet. You know that I’m desperate, because I’m a Glenfiddich girl. (Didn’t discover that I was married to a Glenlivet boy until we were already married. Thankfully, we were already married, or I might have backed out.) How you also know that I’m desperate: I am drinking Glenlivet out of a plastic tumbler. On account of how the DOF’s are in a box somewhere in the belly of the Blackmon Mooring beast.


Hey, we just scored two runs in the 10th! More Scotch is in order.


Just witnessed a highly private moment between Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton in the dugout.  Had to avert my eyes. 

Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch. How it goes down, down into my belly . . . .


“Anchorman” is a highly underrated movie. Such a wealth of great movie lines. Not unlike “Fletch.” Apropos of largely nothing, I got to use a “Fletch” line at Lowe’s on Sunday. We were looking at an oven, and the sales dude pointed out something involving ball bearings. Inspiring me to say, “It’s all ball bearings nowadays.” Sales dude looked confused, but my husband laughed appreciatively. Our mutual love of “Fletch” is part of that which allows us to overcome the great Glenlivet/Glenfiddich divide.


Oh, crud. I kept drinking Scotch, and now the Cards are surging. Apparently, the Scotch mojo works both ways. Switching to wine.


Damn . . . we sure do like cabernet. Seriously. How much cabernet does one couple need? I’ll open a bottle of Waterstone. Nah, I think I’ll save the Waterstone. I’ll open a pinot noir instead. Oh – that’s why we have so much cab. Because we’re saving it for – some undetermined special event that, apparently, hasn't happened yet. Like a World Series win, perhaps.


This is not going well. Why do I even care? It’s not like I grew up in North Texas. I grew up cheering for the Astros. And I’m not even a baseball person. I’m a basketball person. Seriously, I need to get a grip.


Wow, this is a great bottle of wine. For a pinot noir. Need to remember this one.


Exit kitchen, enter master suite. AND . . . the Rangers are peeing it away. Again. Need to move into another room.


Letterman is interviewing Johnny Depp in the living room. They are both amazingly calm, given that the world is ending.


Oh, Craig Ferguson is hosting Raj from “Big Bang” tonight! Love Raj. Have a sort of weird crush on him.


Okay, now we’re tied. Again. WHY DO I KEEP WATCHING THIS? Just keep swimming, .just keep swimming . . . .


Wow, again. We have a LOT of TV’s. How many TV’s does a family of four need in one temporary 1,200 square-foot residence? Answer:  Apparently, one per 300 square feet.


Oh, hey – “Puss in Boots” is coming out tomorrow!


Just passed my spouse. On his way to the liquor cabinet.


Spouse wants to know why I drank his Glenlivet.  Answer:  The Glenfiddich was towards the back.

Back in the living room. This just in: Foster the People has a song other than the “Pumped Up Kicks” song which I really, really dug until I listened to the lyrics and realized that it basically describes a Columbine High School scenario. So now every time it comes on the radio I have to be THE RESPONSIBLE MOM and turn off the song that is encouraging my children to use firearms on their classmates. You know, the ones with the pumped-up kicks.


Sometimes I hate being a responsible mom.


The other Foster the People song kind of sucks.


I have now completely blocked the Rangers debacle out of my mind. Am surfing the Internet, looking for charcoal gray polos for the boys to wear in our family picture.


Hey, Lands’ End has a new art director!


Craig Ferguson is channeling his monolog through a white rabbit puppet.


Still with the puppet? Seriously?  BRING ON RAJ!


Spouse confirmed that we officially peed away Game 6. I mean, THEY peed away Game 6. I am officially not from North Texas again. Yup, I’m a Houstonian. The NBA lockout needs to end so I can resume cheering for the Rockets.  The Rockets who, back in the day, loved to give up penultimate games and force ultimate games.


Buck it.  I'm becoming a cricket fan.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kid Stuff: Prank'd

Seems like Ashton Kutcher has his hands full these days - perhaps on multiple fronts.

Fortunately, my six-year-old* is ready to step into the breach.

(* Soon to be seven, thank you very much - he gets mad if I don't acknowledge that his personal odometer is about to flip.)

Apparently, Little Bro handed Big Bro a note this morning while Big Bro was - um - indisposed.  The note was written on all four sides of a piece of notebook paper that had been folded into a little booklet, but one that opened top-to-bottom, not right-to-left - imagine, if you will, a tiny replica of a steno notebook.  On the "front cover" were the following words:

When you are finished pooping, flip me over.

"Back cover":

You have been prnkd [pranked].  Signed, PJ

(Note:  I don't know for sure if Big Bro actually finished pooping before "flipping over."  He's a law-and-order type of guy, so he probably waited.)

On the inside pages:

I really love prnkng you.

Oh and I love you too.

Clearly, we need to work on our pranking skills - and our spelling.  But isn't that kind of sweet?  In a kind of creepy, only-a-little-bit-gross way?

Friday, October 21, 2011


Sorry, Flounder - I can own the "OH BOY" part of your iconic line, but I'm not sold on "THIS IS GREAT!" - yet.  Maybe another National Lampoon scene better sums up where I am in my head:


(You'll have to imagine me as Clark Griswold, warming up my upper body as I get ready to jump into the pool - except the pool is actually the "Money Pit" from the Shelley Long movie of the same name.  Too many 80's film references?  Okay, I'll stop.)

So there's precious little of my actual house left.  Walls - yeah, we have those.  Well, except for the large penetrations in the hallway and master bedroom where the plumbers have been working.  The upper cabinets are in place in the kitchen, and the ceiling molding.

Yup, that's pretty much it. 

Floors - gone.  Baseboards and quarter round - gone.  And giant cast iron tub - gone.  As in, no trace that it ever existed.  They must have pulverized that sucker to bits.  Spouse said that he expected to see large pieces of it in the construction trailer, but no large pieces to speak of - just tiny ones.

I take Spouse's word on these things, because I don't venture near the job site.  Issue #1:  I am a klutz.  Chance of me falling into the space where my subfloor used to be:  100%.  Chance of me being irretrievably traumatized:  also 100%. 

Issue #2:  I don't want to see how the sausage is made.  Period.  Paragraph.

Not that Spouse doesn't try to force me to look at how the sausage is made.  He takes all kinds of pictures with his Google phone, and he texts them to me.  Fortunately, more often than not, I cannot make out what they are pictures of, so they don't traumatize me too terribly much.  To me, they are the functional equivalent of sonogram pictures.  I know that I am looking at - something.  A work in progress.  Or part of a work in progress.  I just can't figure out which part, and - quite honestly - I don't care to expend the brain cells.  I will take your word for it:  that's a baby.  Or, you know, my HOME.  And it's developing, and eventually that process will be complete, and all will be revealed to the world.

All I know is, as of yesterday, the tub is gone.  And, with it, the surrounding tile.  Not just the immediately surrounding tile, but, basically, all of the tile in the room.  Um, not sure why all of THAT got demo'd.  Because some of it got damaged in connection with the tub, and - because some of it got damaged, it all comes out, and we get an allowance to replace it?  Or because at one point in time I advised the contractor that, probably, we would want to replace the tile no matter what.  But then I recall asking for this little thing called a BID.  Which I have not received and, therefore, have not reviewed or approved.  So, yeah, small problem with the removal of the tile if it didn't have to come out as part of the insurance work.  That would be like me saying, "Hey, I know that we theoretically discussed you forming a limited liability company to lease some space in a shopping center at some point in the future after some other stuff happened, so - as a time-saving measure - I took the liberty of forming your LLC and picking your lease space and negotiating a lease with the landlord.  And now you have to sign this document, and here's my bill.  AND YOU'RE WELCOME."

Haven't really had the time to get angry about the tile demo, on account of how work has exploded all over my desk.  That's always the way it goes, right?  But it's good - I need the distraction.  Also, it is heartening that a number of "on-hold" deals are suddenly poised for resolution.  It signals that, one way or the other, things do resolve themselves.  You just have be patient.  And take a deep breath before saying, "So . . . about the tile . . . ."

Back to the grindstone.

Things I'm Digging: Fisher-Price Gets Its DC Comics On

PJ asked for (and is getting) this for his birthday next week (it's okay, he doesn't read my blog):

I pointed out that he already has an Imaginext Bat Cave, to which he responded, "But that one is long.  This one is TALL.  They are totally different.  And I could put them together and have one huge Bat Cave that is both long AND tall."  I could not argue with this logic; it was the same logic that I used on my own parents, vis-a-vis multiple Barbie Dream House products.

So now we will have four different Bat Caves, three of them coming courtesy of the Fisher-Price Corporation.  PJ has conceded that the Thomas the Tank Engine stuff and the Little People pirate ship and castle can go into "granchild storage" when we return to The House, which will allow him to set up all of the Bat Caves on the train table, along with his Imaginext Oa play set.

In recent weeks, we have acquired an Imaginext Flash and Hawkman, and my grandma is giving him this Clayface for his birthday:

The great thing about Clayface:  when Ace the Batdog cannibalizes him (it's actually not cannibalism when he gnaws on a Batman villain, as opposed to a member of the Bat Family - when he chews on a villain, technically he's just doing his batdog job), it will be difficult to tell that he's been partially digested, since he already looks like a shapeless lump.

It's ironic that we just conceded that we are all, collectively, too old for Fisher-Price Little People, and almost immediately thereafter I learned about this addition to the Little People product line:

SERIOUSLY?  You introduce a Little Person version of Wonder Woman NOW?  When my youngest child is about to turn seven, and I am, um, considerably older than that?  If you think that that is going to dissuade me from purchasing a Little Person Wonder Woman of my very own, you are sadly mistaken.  She is going on my desk.  And then, ultimately, into "grandchild storage."  On the off chance that one of my kids breaks the all-boy cycle in my husband's family, my granddaughter will benefit from my pre-planning.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Adventures in Party Planning: Army Party

Friend Melissa (and Friend Melissa's husband Thomas, who is a hands-on, in-the-trenches dad like my own dear spouse) put on a great Army-themed seven year-old boy party a few weekends ago.  The new recruits began their training by running an obstacle course around the backyard.  Upon completing the course, they earned their field backpacks, which were stocked with Nerf guns, Velcro-tipped missiles and parachute toys.  Challenge #2 was target practice using the Nerf guns, and challenge #3 involved tossing plastic parachutists off of a backyard fort. 

The piece de resistance was a Nerf gun variation of "capture the flag."

Great party, and I enjoyed watching my younger child that day. Pretty clearly, he is a second-born with a significantly older brother. I watched several kids skip through the timed obstacle course ahead of him, each of them evidently unconcerned by the clock. And I watched my child watch those other children through narrowed eyes. He memorized the course, made note of his competitors' mistakes and inefficiencies, and, when it was his turn, put his shoulder down and tore through that sucker. Not all stereotypes about birth order are true, but the one about after-borns being more competitive bears out in our house: six year-old Connor definitely would have skipped through the obstacle course. Stopping to pick dandelions along the way.

Six year-old Parker has learned from an older, and now considerably wiser, master. Six year-old Parker refused to remain on the playing field while changing out his Nerf ammo. Like any good soldier, he retreated behind a tree or a bush. And then he went into full-on sniper mode:

Big brother would have been proud. Clearly, little brother listens to him.  Although, I think, little brothers are born snipers, anyway.

Here are some Army party ideas courtesy of The Hostess With the Mostess blog:

"Cake Grenades."  Me likey.  I also like these cupcakes, although I cringe at the thought of what all of that dark green food coloring could do to little faces, hands and - um - digestive tracts.

Same issue with these "Cake Bombs" from the Pizzazzerie blog (are cake bombs substantially different from cake grenades?  Discuss).  But they are so gosh darned cute that they might be worth the trouble.

Also love the camo popcorn - popcorn, green M&Ms, watermelon Jelly Bellys.  Perfection.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Night in the Life

(A companion piece to my summary of my week - thus far - at a glance.)

Stopped off at my beloved Montgomery Plaza Super Target, and my not-quite-as-beloved-but-certainly-respected Montgomery Plaza Dollar Tree, after leaving the office at some point between 7 and 8 tonight.  Procured, among other items, six pieces of foam core board, two pairs of glow-in-the-dark shoelaces, couscous and a container of pumpkin spice almonds.  Also procured for the older boy a fleece-lined knit hat that he'd had his eye on (gray, with a multicolored "Space Invaders" retro video game design knitted into it), which MPST had been so kind as to mark down 20%, and - in the interest of parity and sibling harmony - picked up a fleece camo hat with ear flaps and fringe for the youngun'.

There was a new checker at MPST . . . except that he thought that I was the new one.  "Are you a frequent shopper with us?"  Um, yes - here's my well-worn Target Visa card to prove it.  He looked unconvinced.  I started to give him a long-winded explanation:  "I used to shop here five days a week, but then I was forced to move, so I have been shopping at the Overton Ridge Super Target because it's closer to me, but I REALLY DON'T LIKE THE OVERTON RIDGE SUPER TARGET on account of how it has the old floor plan, and it takes me forever to find things there, and I STILL HAVEN'T FIGURED OUT WHERE THEY HIDE THE EGGS - they aren't in the half of the dairy section that's upfront or the other half of the dairy section that's torwards the back, and, seriously, WHO SPLITS UP THE DAIRY LIKE THAT?, and the fact that you don't know who I am really sort of makes me want to starty crying right here in Aisle 12."

I didn't give him the long-winded explanation; I just checked out.  And then I comforted myself by cutting through the 7th Street retail development to get to Lancaster and then to University, which is totally a West Side thing, SO BOO YAH, New Target Guy, who's the seasoned veteran NOW?  Another West Sider had the same idea, and followed me along Foch, past La Familia and J Rae's (yum, J Rae's) and Times Ten Sellers, and he was following me a little too closely, which irritated me, because when you merge onto Lancaster at the light you have the ramp coming off of the bridge from downtown right behind you, and you have to merge into bridge-departing traffic, and I didn't appreciate him forcing the issue.  Mr. Impatient passed me, and got into the left lane ahead of me, poised to turn left on University, but then he apparently determined that he wasn't going to make the light, so he moved over one lane to the right, cutting off someone else, then went through the intersection heading into the Museum District, where he made what I'm pretty sure was an illegal U-turn to get himself into a position to turn right onto University, ahead of the rest of us, BECAUSE BASED ON THE EMPIRICAL DATA AT HAND BEATING THE REST OF US ONTO UNIVERSITY HAD BECOME MR. IMPATIENT'S SINGULAR GOAL IN LIFE.  Except . . . there was a car in the right lane ahead of him, and the light turned red, and that guy didn't immediately turn right, so, long story short, THE GOOD, NON-IMPATIENT TRAVELERS OF LANCASTER AVENUE, MYSELF INCLUDED, SUCCEEDED IN MAKING IT ONTO UNIVERSITY AHEAD OF MR. IMPATIENT, AND HELLS, YES, I DID A LITTLE FIST PUMP IN HIS GENERAL DIRECTION AS I CRUISED THROUGH THE INTERSECTION LEAVING HIS IMPATIENT, SORRY BEHIND STEWING IN THE EASTBOUND RIGHT TURN LANE.  Karma's a witch with a capital B, bud - just in time for Halloween.

Being your stereotypical numbnut, Mr. Impatient dealt with his embarrassment by flying past us at a zillion miles per hour - once he finally (heh, heh) caught up to us.  So I decided to take his picture with my camera phone.  Because, clearly, he had to be someone important to be in that much of a hurry, right?  So as his front window came up even with mine - SNAP! - I took a picture of him.  It was dark, so the flash went off, meaning that Mr. Impatient had to take note of the fact that he was being photographed, and here's the funny thing - Mr. Impatient was so confused by the fact that I took his picture (a picture of HIM - not his license plate, but of HIM, and after I took it I smiled genuinely and waved, like you would do if you encountered an important celebrity) that he forgot to drive like an a-hole and actually decelerated to the speed limit.

I waved to him again as I exited onto the freeway.

And then I spent the next five minutes cursing the Fates as I made my way to The Apartment.  Yes,  you read that right - the net result of our relocation is five minutes added to my commute each way.  But those five minutes are extremely annoying minutes, and they add up - ten minutes a day, maybe ten times a week, translates into more than an hour and a half per week, which means that due to our displacement I AM LOSING THE BETTER PART OF A FULL DAY THROUGH DRIVING ALONE.  Believe me when I tell you that I do not have a full day, or the better part of one, to spare.  Also, did I mention that I am a West Sider?  Five minutes well exceeds the window for crankiness in a West Sider.

Over the weekend, I realized that I behave like a West Sider even when I am not living on the West Side.  As in:  on the way home from church, I announced that I needed to run into the mall to find a belt for the older kid, and I also needed stretched canvas, so I directed my spouse to proceed to Hulen Mall and the Michael's across the street.  This direction confused the heck out of my spouse, who knows that I hate both Hulen Mall and Michael's:

"Um, you mean Ridgmar Mall and Joann's, right?" 

"No, they're too far."

"Far from where?"

"The Apartment."

"But we're not there - we're here [our church - surprise! - is on the West Side], so we're near Ridgmar Mall and Joann's RIGHT NOW."

"But we LIVE in The Apartment.  And I shop the stores that are in the immediate vicinity of WHERE I LIVE.  So now I shop at Hulen Mall, and Michael's.  And when we move back into The House, I will resume shopping at Ridgmar Mall, and Joann's."

I actually articulated this to my spouse - and then thought, what the WHAT?  How does that even make sense?  Well, it makes sense to a West Sider, to whom straight line distance means everything - even shopping at places you can't abide.  (See "I don't know where the eggs are at the Overton Ridge Super Target," above.)

So tonight I, once again, made the laborious and soul-sucking trek to The Apartment, and walked into said residence and bestowed upon my youngest child (who was doing his homework at the dining room table, under the watchful eye of his father) his new winter hat, greeting him thusly:

"Happy It Finally Got Cold Day."

I think that this should be an official holiday in Texas, don't you?  Government offices should close, and the kids should get out of school, and everyone should enjoy a day walking around outside and not being hot, without work to distract them from the sheer bliss of walking without sweating.

Youngest Child liked his hat.  Youngest Child's Dad, who was fiddling with the time and temperature clock that my parents bought him for Christmas, asked me what sequence of buttons he needed to push to readjust the time.   The gadget is more useful than it sounds - it gives you the inside and outside temperature simultaneously, and it does other things like report barometric pressure, and the clock part is actually the least important part, but also the most vexing part, because when the time changed in the spring we couldn't figure out how to adjust it, so for several  months we had a clock that rather annoyingly displayed an incorrect time.  Last week, I got tired of looking at it, Googled the manufacturer, typed in the model number, pulled up the user instructions and adjusted the time - and then, for reasons that I can't fathom,  my spouse apparently unadjusted it.  And then wanted to know how to readjust it.  Because I am now The Keeper of All Weather Clock Knowledge.  I debated whether to share my wisdom with him.  Wouldn't want to become superfluous.  Oh, heck with it:  "Hold the SETUP button for exactly three seconds.  Anything more or less and it won't work.  Let go of the button at the three-second mark, and the clock will blink 12H.  Select that - unless you want it to be on military time, which i assume that you don't - and that it will let you change the hours and minutes."

Having resolved the Weather Clock crisis, I took the older kid his hat, receiving a thumbs up.  Then the older child advised me of the following:

"PJ was talking to me, and I needed to go to the bathroom, but he kept annoying me, and he was getting in my way and sort of provoking me, and - MOM, THIS IS IMPORTANT, DON'T WALK AWAY, I'M TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING  - he kicked me, sort of, and I ended up twisting around a little, and I peed on the hem of my shirt."

If the younger child had told me this story, my immediate question would have been, "Are you STILL wearing the shirt NOW?"  Because, with the younger child, you just can't ASSUME.

But this was the older child - the one who,  perhaps because he shares my sarcastic sense of humor, more often than not elicits a sarcastic response from me.  A response like the one I gave him (or, more precisely, intoned in my best Thomas Jefferson voice):

"When, in the course of human events, a little brother kicks you, SORT OF, forcing you to PEE ON YOUR OWN SHIRT. . . ."


Sorry, kid - sometimes Mom can't help herself.

Walked back into the living area, where Dad was chuckling appreciately (see, this is why I love the man - he not only tolerates my dorky Declaration of Indpendence riffs but actually finds them funny).  Dad encouraged me to step out on the balcony.  Why?  To experience the relative cold?  Yeah, I'm a fan and all - refer to my proposal to make The First Day of Cold a state holiday - but I just came inside from the relative cold.  So I'm familiar. 

"No, just . . . go outside."

"Ummmmkay.  Oh, you moved the chairs over to the side?"

"No.  Do you smell that?  Someone's smoking weed in the complex."

For some reason, my spouse thinks it's hilarious that we are temporarily living amongst college students who indulge in gateway drugs under the noses - literally - of their neighbors.  He is also fascinated by the people who live under us (we call them the Clown Car People, because when the door opens, six or seven people always come out) who frequently are seen coming and going with buckets of fried chicken.

Hmmm . . . fast food by the bucket.  Pot smoke.  I'm starting to make a connection here.

I gave my dorky, but lovable, spouse an obligatory eye roll, then retreated into the bedroom to change.  Younger child followed me, and advised me that his new hat can be worn several ways:

"The normal way."


"Green Arrow."

He kept referring to the normal, flaps-down configuration as "the German way."  Huh?  Okay, if you squint, maybe there's a shape reminiscent of a kaiser's helmet.  I told him that the hat reminded me of a gladiator, or a Spartan.

"Midas, Mom."

Oh, cool - we're displaying a budding interest in mythology.

"Remember him?  He was the 'bot that Noisy Boy fought in 'Real Steel.'"

Ah.  Never mind.

The half hour before bedtime was spent watching Phineas & Ferb.  I will admit to digging P & F:  it's a cleverly written show and basically plays out like a dramatization of "The Dangerous Book for Boys."  (But boys aren't the only ones who benefit from the wisdom imparted by the show:  a sorority sister posted on Facebook the other day that she was both impressed and a bit confused by her daughter's knowledge of basic welding - knowledge that she ultimately determined came from P & F.)

The other day, PJ asked me, "Have you tried meatloaf?"

I love it when kids assume that you don't  know about things. 

"Not only have I tried it, but I make it."

"Cooooool.  Meatloaf is cool, Mom.  It's like bread made out of meat.  Except it's not just meat - it has breadcrumbs in it, and egg, and other stuff."

"Correct.  And we know this because?"

"Phineas & Ferb sang a song about it."


During tonight's episode, I commented that Perry the Platypus has an interesting working relationship with his archnemesis, Professor Doofenschmirtz.  To which PJ responded:

"Um,  Mom, that's kind of the point.  Perry and Professor Doofenschmirtz are FRENEMIES."

Wait, what?  How does my six year-old know about frenemies? Oh, wait - we discussed the general topic of knowing things the other day:

"Dad, can 'late' mean 'dead'?"


"If someone says, 'my late wife,' does that mean that their wife is actually late or that she's dead?"

"Um, well, it could mean either one, but, yeah, most of the time, it's referring to a dead person.  How exactly . . . "


I [heart] my kooky family.  Particularly at the end of a long and trying day.

My Week At a Glance (And It's Only Tuesday)

In case you were interested . . . .

Thus far this week, I have:

Finalized an asset purchase agreement for an assisted living facility;

Worked two hours at the Junior League resale shop;

Authorized a plumber to create ginormous holes all over my house (as if the holes in my floor weren't enough);

Revised 3/4 of a commercial lease form received from a major retailer (can you say "one-sided"?);

Worked three more hours at the Junior League resale shop;

Approved haircuts for picture day;

Processed laundry - lots of laundry;

Literally jumped out of bed at 6:15 in the morning, screaming to my spouse, "WE'RE PUTTING THE DISHWASHER IN THE WRONG PLACE!";

Burned through several sheets of graph paper preparing aerials and elevations of my kitchen, placing my cabinets just SO in order to work around existing window penetrations (and ensure that my dishwasher will end up in the optimal location);

Been assured by my plumber that it doesn't really matter where I put the dishwasher, because everything ties into the sink line and yadda, yadda, yadda;

Kicked myself for having an unnecessary panic attack over the dishwasher;

Researched a child support issue after one of the plumber's employees hit my husband up for free legal advice;

Planned two birthday parties;

Sent a series of demand letters, revised a DTPA petition and negotiated terms of a compromise and settlement agreement (wait, I thought that I wasn't a litigator?);

Gotten a flu shot;

Become obsessed over a VERY SPECIFIC medicine cabinet that I want to buy (or, more precisely, pay to have built) for the boys' bathroom;

Analyzed issues relating to platting and zoning requirements (or the lack thereof) applicable to real property in located in the City of Houston's ETJ;

Choreographed part of a dance routine for my Junior Woman's Club department;

Brainstormed potential sponsors for an upcoming charitable event;

Assembled an outfit (out of the random selection of clothing that did not go into storage with Blackmon-Mooring) for another charitable event that goes down tomorrow night;

Played "musical cars" with several family members (Parnell got his tensioner-thingy installed, and Mom needs a fuel pump);

Signed up for some more volunteer hours at the Junior League resale shop;

Negotiated monthly lease rates on a second commercial lease deal;

Traded several e-mails, the subject of which was my somewhat oddly exhaustive list of contacts within the Miss Texas Scholarship Pageant organization;

Geared up to close a major business deal that has been pending for eons but has to go down right now; and

Missed my child's Whiz Quiz competition (but it's okay, Dad simulcast it via smart phone).

This is only a random sampling of what I have done in the last - oh, 38 hours.  I did sleep some, and I went to the bathroom at least twice, and I glanced through an oddly thick Restoration Hardware idea book that came in the mail.  (Seriously, the thing is Sears Wish Book big - in fact, that's exactly what it is, the Sears Wish Book for grown-ups, only all of the toys are slipcovered in linen or constructed out of reclaimed wood, and all of them are beige - or ecru, or parchment.  Clearly, the RH folks didn't grow up with the standard 64-Crayon box.)  I believe that I showered this morning.  And I am pleased to report that my shoes match my outfit.  And, also, each other.

That is all.  Carry on.  And if you find my sanity, please return it to me.  Thanks in advance.

Eat This: Spinach Artichoke Lasagna

Created this recipe by borrowing pieces and parts from several other recipes, and it was a big hit with my extended family.


1 lb. ground beef
2 (20-oz.) jars marinara sauce with mushrooms
16-oz. cottage cheese
2 cups shredded Italian cheese (I use a four-cheese blend)
1 egg
1 (10-oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 (14-oz.) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 tsp. Italian seasoning blend
8-oz. pkg. lasagna noodles
1 cup water

Brown ground beef and stir into marinara sauce.  (Okay, full disclosure:  I make my own meat sauce and freeze it in batches.  My meat sauce has everything in it but the kitchen sink - whatever spaghetti sauce I have on hand, stewed tomatoes, chopped and sauteed vegetables, a little red wine, a little brown sugar, etc.  Can't provide a recipe for it - hence, "brown ground beef and stir into marinara sauce."  Feel free to go a little crazy, like I do, or keep it simple as suggested here.)  In bowl of stand mixer, combine cottage cheese, half of the shredded cheese, egg, spinach, artichoke hearts and seasoning.  Mix until blended.  In large, greased lasagna pan, layer 1/3 of the sauce, 1/2 of noodles and 1/2 of cottage cheese mixture.  Repeat, topping with remaining sauce.  Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese over all, and pour water around edges of pan.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes before serving.  Yield:  8 generous servings.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Kid Stuff: Dia de los Crafters

When we brought the Halloween decorations over to The Apartment, this was at the bottom of the Rubbermaid tote:

Random pieces of ribbon, a bunch of skull-shaped light covers - junk, but junk ripe for conversion into decorations for our new Halloween tree.

I can do all things with my glue gun, which strengthens me. 

The tree, and this skull, inspired PJ and me to do a little mom-and-son painting:

I took my inspiration from the skull and the oilcloth that I currently have on the dining room table.

PJ took his inspiration from . . . well, wherever a six year-old boy gets his inspiration.

We also collaborated on this piece:

If Dia de los Cupcake is not an official holiday, it should be. As should Die de los Crafters.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Event: Napping House

Insurance work at The House is progressing slowly.  Bids for additional remodeling work are trickling in incrementally.  Relocation company advises that we will be in The Apartment until at least mid-December.

Those of you who know me know that "snail's pace" is not my customary speed.  But I'm learning to adapt.  Things are gonna happen when they are gonna happen.  No use forcing the issue.  What's the saying? "Never try to teach a pig to sing.  It wastes your time and annoys the pig."

Only the pig in this scenario is a snail.  And the snail's only gonna go as fast as the snail's gonna go.

So this weekend was pretty uneventful, and pretty slow.  On Saturday, we paid a visit to our kitchen cabinet supplier and on the way home we stopped at The Wal-Mart to pick up socks for PJ, who seems to burn through socks at a ridiculous rate.  (You have to call it THE Wal-Mart, just like you have to call Applebee's THE Applebee's and Waffle House THE Waffle House - this is Texas, after all.) Then I worked a few hours at the Junior League resale shop, while Parnell and the kids made a trip out to Irving to pick up a part for Parnell's car.

Funny story about Parnell's car:  he had his AC belt replaced awhile back, and since then the belt has fallen off three times.  (Okay, that part's not particularly funny.)  On Friday, when I was also working at the JL resale shop (are you noticing a pattern?), he called and asked if I could meet him at Fort Worth Tire and Service at around 6 pm.  They would be closed, but he was planning on leaving his car, and his key in the overnight lockbox, and after that he would need me to drive him home.

I beat him to Fort Worth Tire by a few minutes,  The Fort Worth Tire guys were still there, kicking back on the front porch with a beer.  An aside about Fort Worth Tire:  Parnell's family has been patronizing them for eons.  They know and like our family, a lot.  So I don't know if everyone would have qualified for the special treatment that I received upon stepping out of my car and advising them that I wasn't in need of help, just waiting on my spouse:  the owner nodded, pointed to the cooler and said, "Corona?"  And I said, "Why not?  I'm not planning on driving home."

And so it was that my spouse and children drove up to The Fort Worth Tire (I've decided that any business that offers free beer with service is sufficiently downhome Texas to qualify for a THE) and found me kicking back with a bunch of auto techs, swigging out of a longneck.  I was in business attire, they were in overalls.  And it was just perfect.  THIS is why I love living in Fort Worth, people.

Initial prediction was that his compressor was out (that part REALLY wasn't funny), but while we were at the cabinet supplier's, we got the call that he only needed a tensioner rod (a bargain at $95) and that such a rod was waiting for Parnell at the front counter at Don Herring Mitsubishi, if he was inclined to pick it up and save himself a delivery charge.  (Another reason why we like The Fort Worth Tire . . . .)  He was so inclined.  And he knew that I would be tied up at the resale shop for a couple of hours.  I have to do fifty hours by the end of December, and I'm trying to knock out as many this month as I can, knowing that the end of November and beginning of December will (HOPEFULLY) involve a lot of packing and unpacking.

Also on the agenda for Saturday:  proving to my family that we really are okay in The Apartment.  It seems like folks have trouble accepting that we are fine living in 1,200 square feet, with neighbors on both sides and underneath.  But here's the thing:  the neighbors are quiet as church mice, and the 1,200 square feet lay out really well.  Also, we haven't cluttered said square feet with a bunch of stuff, and what stuff we have was recently organized, so I can find EVERYTHING.  This is an improvement over The House.  Also, we have on-site maintenance.  Very prompt and attentive maintenance.  As  in:  in the first 23 days of occupancy, we received 8 service calls.  (When we saw that on the repair form, we apologized profusely, but the maintenance guy advised us that they actually find us refreshing:  unlike your average college kids, we bring repair items to their attention early, when they are still a cheap fix.  The blessing/curse of being homeowners, I guess.)  We have had our microwave replaced, and the flapper in the boys' toilet replaced, and our outside AC unit replaced.  And when the outside AC unit conked out, they brought us two window units, one for each bedroom, to get us through the night, and they had replaced the outside unit by 9 am the next morning.  If you are not a homeowner, let me enlighten you:  magical elves do not bring you window units, free of cost, when your AC blows, and 24-hour turnaround on AC replacement is virtually unheard of.

So, long story short, we're kind of spoiled living in The Apartment.

But my family has seemed to have trouble conceptualizing this.  We had not had them out here yet, on account of the steps up to the apartment being a bit steep, but we collectively decided that they could make the ascent at least one time, to assure themselves that the kids were alright, and to have some lasagna.  The lasagna was good - will share the recipe later this week.  And, as I expected, the 'rents were favorably impressed with our digs, and we all enjoyed a nice evening together, culminating with the boys conducting an epic light saber battle in the shadow of the T. Cullen Davis Mansion while we watched from the balcony.  The cherry on the top of the evening:  the little dog, who ADORES my grandmother, trotted down the steps after her and jumped into the car and into her lap.  She felt the love, as did we all.

Then came Sunday, bringing with it some really bad air quality.  Not sure what just bloomed, but it put the pollen count through the roof, and we all felt the effects this morning.  Managed to make it to church, but barely:  at various times while singing hymns, Parnell and I both found ourselves gasping for breath, which would have been laughable, if we had had enough lung capacity to actually laugh.  So, long story short, we headed home after church - and never left.  Took turns napping throughout the day.  All of us.  Pets included:

That's Barkley snuggled under the covers.  Max doesn't need no stinkin' covers:

Max is REALLY loving The Apartment.  This is Max surveying his domain from on top of the refrigerator:

From the refrigerator, it's a hop, skip and jump to the top of the kitchen cabinets:

Needless to say, we don't have these great vantage points available to us at The House.  Yup, we're kinda, sorta spoiled here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Kid Stuff: Scary Dudes for Halloween

Turn out the lights. The party's over.

My original baby - the one posing so sweetly at eleven months of age in a green polar fleece frog costume - is wearing THIS for Halloween:

Actually, this is just one of the costumes that he'll be wearing this year. The other costume will be homemade and is both simple and conceptual: combine a set of rubber prosthetic teeth and a flat paddle-shaped tail cut out of sandpaper and, BOOM, you have "Justin Beaver." Well, you have Justin Beaver if your child has a mop top like my first-born does. (I wasn't born yesterday, so fully understood that the Justin Beaver costume idea was carefully calculated to achieve two goals, the first being to buy his shaggy mane a haircut reprieve. The second goal? Yeah, we're in middle school now, and middle school girls like Justin Bieber, and girls in my son's class have taken note of the fact that my son has hair like Justin Bieber. Any questions?)

Full disclosure: I bought the light-up mummy getup for him, at the end of last season. It was on sale, and it struck me as a costume that might pass muster with a tween boy. It's lighweight, it's gruesome, it involves a scary mask, and did I mention that it lights up? And C has a thing for dressing up like a mummy, with each incarnation being scarier than the last. We started out as a the "Mummy in the Morning" from the Magic Treehouse book of the same name. Next was a scary version of Ramses straight out of one of those Brendan Fraser films. It was inevitable that we would graduate to "love child of Ramses and an extra from a George A. Romero film."

Meanwhile, my most recent baby has graduated to THIS:

For those of you who aren't glued to every episode of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" or don't own a Clone Wars encyclopedia: first and foremost, good for you. As I sit in the living room of The Apartment watching the Rangers play Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, I have a clear sight line to the coffee table that the insurance company was sweet enough to rent for us. Displayed on the table's double-decker shelves are a handful of coffee table-type books that we deemed important enough to bring with us into exile. Right in the center, on the top shelf, there it is: "Star Wars: The Clone Wars, The Visual Guide." ("The Batman Encyclopedia" is on the bottom shelf - on top of our wedding album, as it happens. I really can't judge, as my must-have selections included "Hello, Cupcake!" and the sequel, "What's New, Cupcake?")

Anyway, if you have a working knowledge of SW:TCW, you know that Savage (pronounced SahVAHGE) Opress is Darth Maul's brother. You probably noted that, in the picture above, Mr. Opress is wielding a double-sided red light saber.  If you have a working knowledge of SW:TCW, then you know that this puts him in the same coolness class as Asajj Ventress.  Except that Asajj Ventress is a girl - so, correction, Savage Opress is cooler than Asajj Ventress, because, if you are a boy, YOU CAN DRESS UP LIKE SAVAGE OPRESS FOR HALLOWEEN.  AND CONVINCE YOUR PARENTS TO GET YOU A DOUBLE-SIDED RED LIGHT SABER.  Except - whoops - Super Target only had the regular model, and we decided to snap it up, if only as a backup, because (believe it or not) we got THE LAST SAVAGE OPRESS COSTUME ON THE SHELF (and the Target Web site indicates that the costume is out of stock online - making us wonder if the accessories to go with the costume would be similarly difficult to find).  We told PJ to leave the light saber in its package, but - whoops again - THAT didn't happen.  So now we can't return the single saber, which means that our impatient little Savage Opress will be rockin' the economy model, authenticity be damned.

I guess we can add to the growing list of things that our family of four has outgrown:  "cute Halloween costumes."  No more Bam-Bam Rubble (C, age 23 months) or Elmo (C, the following year), and no more pirates (PJ, last year), unless you're talking about truly menacing pirates.   Zombie pirates, perhaps?

Oh, well - cute Halloween costumes are  overrated, anyway.  C's Bam-Bam  costume, sewn for him by my mother out of the softest animal print fleece, went over like a lead balloon with toddler C.  Reason:  it  was one-shouldered.  "One-shouldered" does not compute with a toddler.  He spent the entire day slipping in and out of the single strap.  Fortunately, he was wearing a thermal tee underneath.

Elmo was no better.  Mother of the Year over here forgot to insert the voice box into the costume, robbing C of his ability to generate "tickle me" phrases at the click of a button.  Then someone gave my almost three year-old a lollipop.  Here's a tip:  red faux fur and lollipops don't mix.  C licked the pop twice and then held it against the costume, sticking it to the fur.  By the end of the night, we wasn't wearing a costume so much as occupying a storage unit for half-eaten sweets.

It doesn't surprise me that little brother is already gravitating to menacing costumes.  After all, he is the (significantly) younger brother and therefore takes his cues from an older crowd.  As noted above, C's first Halloween costume was an adorable frog.  PJ's first costume?  Evil medieval prince.

Big brother advises that the Savage Opress costume is economical, in that it is versatile.  Wear the mask, and you're Savage; leave it off, and you're . . . um, one of the more humanoid Sith lords.  One with brown hair.  "The Visual Guide" wasn't much help in offering suggestions as to possible character profiles, so we went online and searched Google Images for brunette Sith baddies.  The result:  PJ's alternative costume (because, apparently, one is not enough) shall be "Darth Caedus," AKA Jacen Solo, AKA the child of Han Solo and Princess Leia.  Who, like his parents, has dark hair.

Does this make me Leia?  Do I need to wear cinnamon bun hair?  Nah - I have my own costume in the works.  Two, actually.  Oh, crud - THAT's where they got it from.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Kid Stuff: Parkerisms

(Listening to LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem"):  "I love this song.  We listen to it in Gym.  I do the dancing, and Caden handles all of the shuffling."

(Typed into the YouTube search window on my smart phone):  "All the videos for Mawoon 5's Mooves Lyke Jager."  Great taste in music, kid.   Spelling, now that needs a little work.

(Driving to his friend's birthday party; uttered at the midpoint of a long monologue about everything and nothing):  "I don't remember my one year-old childhood, or my two year-old childhood, or my three year-old childhood - and I regret that."

Kid Stuff: Stop the Boy Mom Ride, I Want to (Temporarily) Get Off

Add to the list of phrases I never thought I would have to use:

"Don't take the Slinky into the men's room."

I have seen what my own boys can do to their bathroom, so the mind reels at just how down-and-dirty a public men's room can get.

The Little Kid's first first-grade report card came home, and I was pleased to see that he got E's ("excellents") in "obeys school rules," "respects authority" and "talks at appropriate times" (a lifelong thorn in the Big Kid's side).  I was unsurprised to learn that Mr. Popularity gets top marks in "works/plays well with others."  Also unsurprising:  the satisfactory scores in "does neat work," "follows directions" and "has supplies and cares for materials."  Reason why this is unsurprising:  I cleaned the boys' bathroom this morning, after noticing that the Big Kid had moved his toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant into our bathroom (a sure sign that the Little Kid's lack of concern over cleanliness had hit critical mass - it takes a lot to make the Big Kid head for the hills).

Among other items, I found his toothbrush on the floor (eww), a Mountain Dew can on the counter (he's not supposed to be drinking Mountain Dew, and certainly not outside of the kitchen or eating area - see "follows directions," above), sticky Mountain Dew residue on the actual surface of the counter, and underwear balled up in the corner that - um - contained certain telltale evidence that, for the eleventy billionth time, he confused his undergarments with toilet paper.  (This reminds me of a particularly poignant story that my husband recounts about his own Boy Mom, who had it exactly twice as badly as I have it:  Son #4 screamed that Son #3 rubbed a "skid mark" on his head, and my mother-in-law reflexively turned to my husband, AKA Son #2, hugged him, and moaned "I don't even know what a skid mark IS, and I don't think I WANT to know."  I do know what they are, Mom, and apparently a predisposition to create them runs in the family.  As a female person, this confuses the heck out of me, because short of acquiring senile dementia I see no scenario in which my brain would overlap "underwear" and "toilet paper" on a Venn diagram.)

I should point out that I HAD JUST CLEANED THEIR BATHROOM.  It does not take the kid long to funk something up, but good.  I mean, I expect to deal with hygiene issues with the Big Kid, but nine times out of ten when we are packing one of the boys off to take a shower or bath, holding our nose and saying "you smell like a goat," the goat in question is the Little Kid.

Showers with him are tons of fun, too.  The master bathroom in the apartment has a garden tub, and he's quite fond of lying down in it - while the shower is running overhead.  Inevitably, his foot engages the plug, and the tub starts to fill with soapy water.  I get him upright and (leaning over the side in the most uncomfortable manner) shampoo his hair and rinse it clean - and then he promptly LIES BACK DOWN IN THE SOAP SUDS.  You've heard of "lather, rinse, repeat"?  This kid LIVES lather, rinse, repeat.

I have said it before, and I will say it again - God knew what He was doing when He gave me boys.  On balance, I know that, given quirks of my own personality, I am far better off navigating Boy Parenting than Girl Parenting.  But the hygiene issues . . . those I could do without.  Part of the problem is I lack a  frame of reference:  I was an only child, my parents showered on a regular basis, and no one in my house smelled remotely goatlike, ever.  I didn't have a brother to break me in on all matters stink-adelic.

Friends with girls assure me that they can be just as foul - but I would pit my Parker James against them any day with a Y in it.

Food for Thought: First World Problems

My current Internet meme obsession is the growing list of complaints being posted to various boards with the hash tag #firstworldproblems.  Idea behind "First World problems" is that Americans complain about things that would cause folks in the Third World to roll their eyes - or kick us square in our collective nards, if they were in range.

Here's a sampling:

I don't have enough dip for my chips, but if I open another container I won't have enough chips for my dip.

My hand is too fat to shove into the Pringles container, so I am forced to tilt it.

Someone in the office heated up fish for lunch, and now the office smells like fish.

I'm single, because my culture doesn't practice arranged marriages.

I never know what to ask for for Christmas, because I always buy things that I want when I want them.

I forgot to take my iPhone into the bathroom, so I was bored while I was in there.

This software update requires me to restart my computer, but I have a bunch of programs running that I don't want to close.

My GPS routed me through the ghetto.

I dare you to tell me that you haven't complained about these, at least once:

"United States" wasn't at the top of the dropdown menu, so I had to scroll all of the way down to "U."  (I curse the existence of Tennessee every time I try to check out of an e-commerce site, and typing "T" to bring up the name of my state generates two options.)

My feet are cold, but I can't put socks on because I just painted my toenails.

I missed the Thursday night comedies last night, and had to wait until this morning to catch them on Hulu.

The following items off of actual "First World Problems Web" sites happened to me this week, and I complained about them, a little, in my head:

It was raining this morning, but then it stopped, and now I look like an idiot carrying an umbrella around.

There was no traffic today, so I ended up arriving at work too early.

Facebook keeps telling me I have a message, but I already read it.

LinkedIn's icon is too similar to other blue icons on my smartphone, so I keep clicking it accidentally.

I also took note of these First World problems highlighted, somewhat ironically, on the Web site of the "Occupy Fort Worth" protest movement:

There is now a table with electricity setup so those with cell phones, cameras and laptops can get a recharge. This helps because yesterday, many had to use a car to get a charge, with some running to keep the batteries from going down.  (This prompted a friend to note, "So I guess all corporations are greedy and evil . . . except Apple.  And Motorola.  And Samsung.  And Canon.  And Dell . . . .")

_______________ is arranging some porta-potties to facilitate the nature calls that we all have from time to time. More information on that as it comes in.

The last one, I think, definitely would elicit a nard kick out of the collective populace of the Third World.

It's been a heck of a week, and it's only Wednesday, so it's helping me to cope by focusing on the fact that, really, all of my problems are First World problems:

I sleep on the left side of the bed.  At the house, there was a plug on the left side of the bed, but in the apartment the plug is on the right side - so if I am sitting in bed working on my laptop and the battery charges down, I have to move to the right side in order to plug it into the wall.

I have too many Junior League-related time commitments this week, but I have to get as many hours in at the resale shop this month as I can, in order to reserve sufficient time in November and December for packing and unpacking.  I really want to attend a networking happy hour tomorrow night, but it conflicts with Parnell's tennis league.  And the charity luncheon that I am attending on Friday conflicts with Rotary Club, and I really miss my friends from Rotary Club. 

I needed to find a specific provision to incorporate into a contract today, but the search term involved was too generic to effectively use Microsoft's search feature.  Thus, I had to manually search files for a document with that provision.

The contractor hasn't told us when the floors will be 100% removed, so we can't provide the plumber with a time window for replacing the plumbing, but the plumber hasn't given us a bid, anyway, and we still don't have a bid on the kitchen or an idea of how many square feet or linear feet of material we will need, which sucks, because there is a sidewalk sale at a kitchen place nearby, and if we see something that we like and that's scandalously cheap, we won't know how much to buy. 

(Note to self:  When stressing over the mechanics of replacing plumbing, take a moment to be grateful for actually having plumbing when others have to use a hole in the ground, or, in the case of certain local protestors, a hole in a shed.)

I frequently remind clients who are whining about the tax implications of their successful business ventures that paying taxes is a good problem to have - it means that you are doing something right.  And I frequently give myself a similar lecture:  most of the "problems" that I have aren't problems so much as minor annoyances that accompany things that I am incredibly lucky to have.  Things like:  a loving family, an expansive network of good friends, a great job, multiple opportunities to serve my community, a roof over my head, food in my fridge and clothes on my back.

An embarrassment of riches, really.

And my new shorthand note to self any time I lose sight of the embarrassment of riches with which I have been blessed:  #firstworldproblems.  Boils the lecture down into one convenient hashtag.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Event: Having a Master Retreat Is Kind of a Treat

The McGlincheys are nothing if not consistent.

The Apartment is a three-bedroom with a split floor plan. One of the two front bedrooms was awarded to the boys, who initially complained about having to share - but then I reminded them that, basically, they share a room at home: yes, Parker has his own room, but he never sleeps there. He sleeps on Connor's bottom bunk, and Connor sleeps up top.

Their room in the apartment also has bunk beds - a rental unit very close in style to the one back home. And Connor immediately called "top," so Parker sleeps on the bottom.

Just like home.

The second of the front bedrooms was designated Parnell's office. At home, Parnell's office doubles as a den. His office at The Apartment bears no resemblance to a den - no sofa, no non-office-y furniture to speak of.

Nevertheless, the kids insist on calling it "the den." "Where's Dad?" "In the den."

Just like home.

The insurance company sprang for two (rental) televisions, and at the last minute (after the movers carted off to storage the small TV/VCR combo that we intended to take with us) Parnell decided to bring over two largish televisions of our own. That means that there is a TV in each of "the den," the boys' room, our room and the living room. All of them are hooked up to U-Verse (what the heck - it was $7 per extra hookup, and if you're going to live in exile, you might as well have unlimited premium movie channel access). This means that, when Daddy's in "the den" and the kids are in their room, I would actually have the option of watching something that I want to watch in a room other than the master bedroom - the master being my office-slash-retreat, for all intents and purposes, back home. However, largely out of force of habit, I end up camped out in the bedroom more often than not.

Just like home.

THIS bedroom is bigger than mine at home, though, and it has a fireplace (which has not been utilized as such - but I do enjoy having a mantel to decorate). It also has a "retreat." I think that's what you call it - small sitting area off of the main room where the bed is?

THIS is the retreat.

The furniture comes courtesy of the insurance company. Desk was initially designated for Parnell, but he needed a SERIOUS desk, so the movers brought over his office furniture, and now I have a desk of my own.

Did you notice the seasonal decor in the corner?

Truth in advertising.

The nice thing about having a large dresser with nothing on top of it (ours at home supports a television) is that you can put geegaws on it. Like pictures. Lots of pictures.

Here are some of the photos that made the trip with us.

Our holiday card photo a couple of years BP (Before Parker). Taken - obviously - at Sea World. Taken completely against my will, and against Connor's. Here's the scenario: emcee announced that Shamu would be available to pose for pictures (which you would have to pay for, of course) after the whale show. Parnell was intrigued by the concept of Shamu posing (really, who wouldn't be?) and advised us that we WOULD be having our picture made. And so the protesting began. We had been in the water for hours. I wasn't wearing a stitch of makeup, and my hair had dried on its own. I had no idea what my hair looked like, given that a mirror had not accompanied me to Sea World (and what belongings I had toted with me were locked in a locker on the other side of the park). Connor wasn't concerned about his own appearance; he was concerned about Shamu's. To a little kid, Shamu is, apparently, scary as hell - big, and powerful, with a very obvious mouthful of sort-of-sharklike teeth. Connor was none too thrilled with the concept of getting up close and personal with Shamu - panel of thick aquarium glass notwithstanding.

As is typical in our household, Parnell prevailed, and Shamu posed (if you are wondering, frozen fish tossed into the front of the tank near the glass is involved). And danged if the picture didn't come out fabulous.

And, also as is typical in our household, Parnell gloated.

Photo #2:  me and 2/5 of my frimily, taken at the pre-party for the 2010 Junior Woman's Club "Queen of Hearts" gala.  Good times.

Photo #3:  Another frimily photo.  All members of the frimily present and accounted for.  This is one of the many fun shots that resulted from the five of us descending on Portrait Innovations last November.  In addition to various boa shots, we also took photos in Santa hats and Christmas pajamas.

Also good times.

Photo #4 is of #2 Son.  Note the dark chocolate color of his eyes.  My husband has a theory:  his eyes are that dark brown because the poop (that's not the word that my husband uses - feel free to insert a better one) rises that high.

If you know my #2 Son, you will understand why my husband says this.

Photo #5:  Our wedding day.  Let the record show that I did not blow sunshine up the bridesmaids' rear ends and tell them "you'll love the dress, and I know that you'll want to wear it again."  I believe my exact words were, "They're big, and they're green, and you're only going to wear them once, so I'm underwriting most of the cost.  You're welcome."  Funny story about my bridesmaids, who are all ladylike and modest women (MUCH more so than yours truly):  none of them remembered to pack a strapless bra.  Fortunately, the dresses had a peplum jacket that went over them, so no one noticed.  But I thought it was kind of amusing.  Still do.

The little guy on the end is my youngest brother-in-law, who was just barely a teenager when Parnell and I started dating - really, not much older than Connor.  He just got engaged, which makes me feel both old and nostalgic at the same time.

Photo #6:  My sweet father-in-law as a Boy Scout.  He went on to become an Eagle Scout, and then he quarterbacked the first football team at Aledo High School - scoring the first touchdown in school history.  As a grown-up, he was a Naval officer, a U. S. Attorney and, finally, a federal judge.  Yup - Boy Scout sums it up.  But he was a quick-witted and hilarious (and occasionally downright wacky) Boy Scout, and I miss him to pieces.

Photo #7:  Me and the 'rents.  They cleaned up nicely, didn't they?  The Asian child in the middle is me.  Seriously, I looked Asian in my toddler years. It's a Hungarian thing. Every generation has at least one throwback to the Mongol Horde. In my mom's generation, it was her younger sister, Kathy, and Kathy's daughter also got the almond eyes (which, let me tell you, are downright cute next to the freckles that she inherited from her dad). I had them early on (the Asian eyes - the freckles came later), but I guess the proportions of my face changed as I grew. Oh, well - at least I kept the cheekbones.

My eyes were squintier than usual in this picture, because I had been crying. Reason: the evil photographer had tried to pry out of my chubby fists the two mini-Barbie dolls that I am clutching in the picture. See the way the flash glances off of their long synthetic hair? Yup, Kathryn 1, Photographer 0. It was the only way that they could get me to cooperate. The dolls are cropped out of the individual shots that came out of the same session - except for one pose, where I am basically brandishing the dolls like weapons, with a semi-evil grin on my face. "Come one step closer with that camera, and I'll cut you with the wire protruding from the rubber calves of these babies, which is exposed because I am totally orally fixated and have chewed the legs to shreds." You can't tell in this shot, but the dolls are wearing go-go boots (very 1973) which is actually silver duct tape that my mother wrapped around their legs to keep the dolls' wire skeletons from cutting the inside of my cheeks.

Photo #8:  Connor's first year at camp.  He's embedded in the cargo net at top left, and the red curls in the blue shirt belong to his best preschool friend, Jake, who is now taller than I am.

Photo #9:  One of the pictures that my in-laws had taken shortly before his passing. If something seems a bit off about the pic, it's because the photographer Photoshopped my father-in-law's head from another shot into this one. My dad-in-law just decided he liked the other head better. The other funny memory from this photo shoot:   there were wardrobe changes involved, and in some of the other photos my mom-in-law is wearing a mauve dinner suit and my dad-in-law is wearing a sportscoat and a tie to coordinate with her outfit.  She bought her getup first, and she got it for a song (it was an expensive designer ensemble, marked down to next for nothing).  Then she went out in search of a tie to match, had a heck of a time finding one, and ended up buying an expensive designer model that was not something that my dad-in-law would ever pick out for himself, but he wore it enthusiastically, because it afforded him the opportunity to tell EVERYONE WHO SAW THE PICTURE that "my tie cost significantly more than her dress."

Photo #10:  #1 Son posing in front of the TCU goal post.  Note the gap-toothed fake smile.  This was during our fake-smiling years.  Oh, wait - we're still in our fake-smiling years.

Photo #11:  Me and my two best drinking buddies from law school.  I eventually married the one in the Delta Gamma cap.  I am, maybe, 23 in this picture.  Pre-mortgage, pre-homeowners' insurance, pre-Event, pre-everything.  Don't I look happy?  Back then, insurance was something that one carried for one's car (and the bill went to one's parents for payment).  Back then, a swatch was a watch with brightly colored rubber straps and an illustrated face.

Back then, I didn't have a care in the world.  But I also didn't have a master retreat, with a rented dresser bearing 40-plus years' worth of photographic memories
Grown-up Kathryn 1, young Kathryn 0.