Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Family Saturday

I have been feeling a real need to get out and enjoy some natural beauty lately. I always feel so much better physically and mentally when I am able to get out and do some trail walking. Forget yoga, there is nothing more relaxing to me than trampling in the woods with the sounds of nature all around me.

Our plan for the day WAS to walk the trails of Bull Creek. We even made our weekly Walmart trip to pick up Toby's shop supplies last night so that our day would not be wasted on errands.

To my disappointment, the weather had turned from 85 degrees to 35 degrees overnight. It was not in the forecast but all of us southerners know the weather is very unpredictable from day to day and hour to hour.

We even contemplated going on and following through with our plan. After debating it, I decided the mixture of 50 mph winds and the shade of the creek would not make me a happy hiker. Yes, I am a weather sissy.:-)

It was pretty easy to find an alternate plan. There are a few museums we still haven't been able to visit yet so we chose the Elizabet Ney Museum. She was a world renowned sculpture who resided in Austin many years. Of course, I would have never known who she was if it weren't for the museum.

The museum was actually her home where she did most of her work. The house reminded me of small castle. The inside was really neat. It had a lot of winding staircases and a neat little upstairs viewing room with a door out to the balcony. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to take any pics of the inside, but here is some outside pics:

Here is Toby playing like the gatekeeper. For some odd reason he likes to play like he is a character when we go to places like this. His antics make our trips to museums much more interesting. :-)

After the museum it was time for lunch. We decided to check out a different restaurant. Hoover's has been featured in Southern Living Magazine and many other cooking magazines and articles. It is one of the few southern/soul restaurants here.

The food was very good and a nice change from the usual TexMex. Summer and I ate the barbecue chicken. It was super delicious. The barbeque in Texas can't be beat. I don't know what they do to get their barbeque to taste so scrumptious. Barbeque is also a big thing around here and the Mexicans cook the best barbeque I have ever stuck in my mouth.

After our stomachs were full we hit Target just for the fun of it. No pics of Target...I'm sure everyone knows what a Target looks like. :-)

Before we headed home we stopped by Toby's tattoo shop so he could pick up some stuff he needed. I got a pic of the outside of the shop but I would have felt a little weird about going around taking pics of the inside of the shop.

I would have rather got a pic from the front of the shop but then I would have had to run across the busy street....'round here you will get ran over jay walking.

I believe Toby has finally found a home at this shop. He is doing so well there that he will be putting in his 2 week notice at Siddons on Tues. We feel very grateful Siddons was there for us while Toby was looking for a tattoo shop home.

Laziness in the Midst

I am really feeling the effects of lethargy lately. With Toby's busy work schedule the past few months I have managed to work myself into a undesirable routine. I have never been one to like to do things by myself so I have made my home a comfort zone....a little too comfortable. I have been at home so much lately I almost feel like a hermit. I love my home and enjoy it, but I know I need to get out and move more.

The winter months don't help much either. I absolutely despise cold weather so I do my best to stay inside and avoid it when at all possible. Cold weather does not facilitate me to get out and move. The wind factor around here also makes it feel 20 degrees or more colder than it actually is.

Okay, okay, I know these are all lame excuses to be physically lazy, but they are the only reasons I can come up with at the moment. ;-)

Aside from mine and Summer's once a week play date and a once a week grocery store trip that has been the extent of our venturing out the past few weeks...maybe even months.

Summer doesn't seem to mind in the least. She is as satisfied as a "bug in a rug". She has homeschool in the mornings and free time in the afternoons. By the time she has had her "school" day, her neighborhood friends are home from school.

It's not that there is a lack of things to do in Austin, I just can't seem to get motivated lately. I am in a rut and it just seems more comfortable to stick around my comfy home.

It's no secret that I am a middle aged woman. Sadly, I am beginning to feel the effects of lethargy with aches and pains and of course the extra weight around the middle from my new lifestyle.

I need to snap out of it and get moving. Good Luck to me!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Memories From the Past - 1978 cont'd

Although I was very controlled by my "love", the one area of my life that he had no true control of were my days at school. I did my best to keep my social life to a minimum which was very easy. I was shy, insecure, and emotionally abused. It never even entered my mind that any other boy would ever be interested in me until that day in 10th grade.

His name was Rick Vaughn. If my memory serves me correct, he had been transferred in the middle of the year from an area public school to the private school I was attending.

I didn't really find him physically attractive at all but he had a confidence about him that made him alluring. Although I tried to avoid his gaze for the most part he was very insistent on conversing with me....which made me very nervous. All I could think about was what Duncan would do if he ever found out.

Rick seemed alot more mature than the rest of the 10th grade boys. This may be inappropriate, but one of the things I remember most about him was that he was very well hung. I know this because when he dressed out for P.E he wore those tight short P.E. shorts that were popular in the 70's era. My friend Tracie and I would always giggle and talk about his "package" and blush profusely when he approached us to talk while he was wearing them.

Rick made it a point to seek me out everyday in school. I began to look forward to his kind attention. He would give me cards with different Barry White lyrics written on them. I always made a point to keep these well hidden in my locker.

At one point, Rick asked me where I lived. I gave him the vicinity of the area I lived just to be polite. Somehow or another he found out my exact address.

I'll never forget that evening when he came rolling into my driveway in his 1970's El Camino. Duncan I were sitting outside on my front porch like we usually did every evening for the past couple of years.

With Rick's attention I had become only a little more rebellious in my relationship with Duncan, but when Rick drove up and I saw it was him I was in panic mode. I soon realized Duncan was more in a panic than I was. Wearing a black leather jacket and blue jeans, Rick sauntered up very confidently and said hello to me. I was scared stiff and very uncomfortable. He then turned to Duncan and proceeded to introduce himself.

Of course, Duncan wanted no part of introductions. Duncan was not familiar with anyone that was not scared of his controlling, abusive, demeanor. In a desperate measure, he marched straight to my back door and knocked on it. Of course, since I was trying to get rid of Rick I didn't know what was actually going on with Duncan.

This is the story that my mom told me with great satisfaction;

She said when she answered the door Duncan was very frazzled and upset. He said.."Do you know who your daughter is out there with?!" Mother told him she didn't care as long as it was not him. :-)

After that night I think Rick decided that I was not attainable and had way too much baggage for him to deal with. He soon was pursuing another female of interest at school. As for me, I had alot of explaining to do to Duncan.

Rick was not at all my type, but I have to admit I missed having a normal teenage boy showing me attention. Although it would be 3 more years before I would break free of the "Duncan" cycle, Rick was the beginning of my independence.

My mom relished in this story often with great appreciation. Rick was the first person that ever stood up to Duncan. That night gave my mom ultimate satisfaction. I have to admit I was pretty impressed with Rick's accomplishment myself.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Memories From the Past - 1978

I believe this memory sticks out most in my mind because it seemed to be one of the highlights in my deceased mother's life.

First, let me say this story involves my first love, Duncan....whom my mother disliked with every core of her being that her religious upbringing would allow her. For us everyday "sinners" that would be translated as hatred.

This particular boy was a neighbor who lived 2 houses down from me. I was the tender age of 12..almost 13, when I first noticed him noticing me. The song "Baby Come Back" by "Player" was playing on a nearby radio.

He was the ripe age of 14. I can still vividly remember him riding around on his bicycle in the street in front of my house watching me in the way a "dog in heat" will watch his potential mate. He was wearing a maroon windbreaker and ragged, navy blue cut-off shorts that came down to his knees...a trademark of what he would wear in our years together to come.

We had been neighborhood playmates for a couple of years, but this particular day was the "turning point" in our relationship.

Now that I am much older and have a daughter of my own, I can see why mother disliked him so and what torture it must have been for her to watch my soul be eaten alive by this boy. In just a few words, he was selfish, arrogant, verbally abusive, manipulative, and narcissistic. Unfortunately, I loved him. Yes, even at 13 I was in was inexperienced love, but it was still love, my very first experience at love.

Fast forward 3 years of being in an emotionally torturous relationship with this boy. I was in high school during my 5 year relationship with him. When I got home from school I was expected to give an account of every person I had talked to during the day....male or female. It didn't matter what I said, I would always be interrogated as though I was a murder suspect instead of a high school student that was suppose to be enjoying her teenage years.

Makeup was not allowed, having friends or going to the movies with friends was off limits too...that included my family. Something as simple as going to the grocery store with my mother was also off his eyes, that would mean that I was out looking at a cute stock boy that I may attract the attention of.

For 5 long years my days consisted of going to school and coming home to hang out with him until it was time to go inside for the night. I think by this time my family had found it was easier just to let me writhe in my torturers hands than fight the battle it would have took for them to keep me away from my "love".

Isolation was the key for him. I had no friends and my family had given up on me. I was under his control.

In the end, it really didn't matter what I did. There was always something that would offend him enough to have an excuse to verbally and emotionally torture me. It was his addiction and I was the drug.

Like it wasn't already bad enough...if I made any infraction, which was usually daily, I was expected to get down on my hands and knees with my hands put together in a prayer position and beg forgiveness before he would talk to me.....this is not an exaggeration or a joke. I usually would have to stay kneeled on the ground in a begging position for 30 minutes or longer as he decided if I was worth his time or effort for the day.

After he was tired of playing the submission game, he would finally talk to me where I would then have spend the next two or so hours trying to figure out what I did that was so wrong. He would just shake his head in amusement and laugh that evil laugh of his. He used to claim he was the anti-Christ....he may not have been the true anti-Christ, but he was certainly my own personal anti-Christ.

As I write and reflect it all seems like a nightmare. In a way it also seemed somehow it is what I was worth and all that I was worthy of...all I knew in a relationship with a boy. Pitiful of me isn't it?

I am a little ashamed to tell about this part of my life. Looking back on the whole relationship it was utterly ridiculous...and of course very sad and a waste of my teenage years. Maybe not, I am a very strong woman now....maybe I should thank him instead of hate him.

Stay tuned...the bad memories are flowing quicker than I thought and I still have the plot of my story to tell.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Small Treat

One of my Christmas gifts from Toby this past Christmas was a pedicure gift certificate. My very generous sister-in-law started my addiction to pedicure's a few years ago when she purchased me my first one in the form of a gift certificate.

I hardly ever splurge on myself. I get a haircut once a year, buy my clothes at the thrift store or Goodwill and only buy cheap blush and lipstick to brighten my slowly aging face.

Please don't feel sorry for me. I do these things by choice not necessity. I am very frugal and would much rather spend my money on things like traveling or other family oriented activities.

Even though I totally LOVE a pedicure, my husband knows that I would never go out and get one on my own, so that was one of his gifts to me for Christmas.

Today I finally got around to going and redeeming it. Thanks to the mild temps in the South, I wear flip-flops year round, so I will be sporting my new toenails immediately.

While I was at the salon I couldn't let my baby girl go without getting some girl treatment so she got her fingernails and toenails done.

To any mom out there with little girls I recommend the salon treatment. It's a great mom and daughter bonding activity. After we had our nails done we grabbed an ice cream. My little girl is emotionally challenging at times, but it's times like these that I feel so blessed to have a have a daughter.

There is a saying...."A son is a son until he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for life." We will see.....

Here are some pics of our nails....

Aren't the flowers on the thumbs so cute??

Of course mama only gets her toes done...I like to keep my fingernails pickable and gnawable.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Never Ending Battle of the Weeds

I have a battle....the battle of the weeds. Since I have been old enough to have my own home I have always wanted a nice lush green lawn like the ones I remember from my childhood. The ones you could walk barefoot in, lay in while gazing up at the clouds during the day, or roll around playing in...even if it did mean coming inside with a very itchy back.

Just like everything else, I guess grass changes too. I know my parents never used weed killer or did anything to make the grass luscious, it just was. Their extent of lawn care consisted of a good grass cutting every couple of weeks.

I am somewhat environmentally conscious so chemicals are out of the question if I can avoid it. In our home in Alabama Toby and I would painstakingly hand pick all of the weeds out of the yard so they would not take over the grass. Our acreage was fairly small in Mobile so it was pretty easy to keep it manually under control.

Here in Texas we were lucky enough to have one of the larger lots that back up to the greenbelt. Sometimes luck is bittersweet. I can keep up the front yard with my weed handpicking pretty easily...the backyard is a whole different story.

Our 2008 severe drought didn't help the situation at all. Not being used to dormancy, all the grass in central Texas this time of year looks dead to me anyway. I'm not sure what is dead and what is dormant. Because my backyard is so large I focused most of my attention on keeping the front yard maintained. Water is expensive so I was conserving on the most important part. So where there is weak grass, the weeds will overtake.

Another downfall with living in a new neighborhood is that there is absolutely no vegetation....only the two measly trees they planted when they built the house. The whole yard is bushes, no established trees, nothing that would take up any grass space in the yard.

It has been one of my goals since living here to study up on native vegetation and plant, plant, plant. Unfortunately those plants take time to grow....a very long time.

Today while I was outside digging up weeds it got me to thinking about what constitutes a weed. Who decides what is a weed? Who decides what word is a "bad" word? Who decides what is good or bad....pretty or ugly? Acceptable or unacceptable? The list could go on and on.

The particular weeds I am battling in my yard actually yield a very pretty flower in the spring. So why are they such a bad thing? Just contemplation on my part, but I do wonder.

The other day I instilled Summer's help in digging up the "weeds". She got paid extra money to do manual labor. I know I am fighting a loosing battle of the weed, but in the end I will find a solution to make both me and the weed happy.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Day at H-E-B

I just couldn't go without posting about my day today.

Menu planning and grocery store trips have always been my downfall and the most stressful areas of my stay-at-home/homeschooling mom life.

Before I moved to Texas I had always been a Walmart shopper. I know, I know everybody hates Walmart...even me, but it was the most economical place to shop for me, so that's the store that I endured..and I do mean endured.

When I moved to Texas, I resumed my shopping in Walmart..that is until I discovered H-E-B. I LOVE this grocery store. Shopping in H-E-B is almost a pleasant experience. The variety is endless. Any ingredient you ever wanted is located in this store AND the best thing about it is it has the best prices in town.

H-E-B's are located on every corner here. I have two main H-E-B's that I shop at depending on what part of town I am in.

Well, today I hit my what I call the "ghetto" H-E-B. And I mean ghetto in the fact that it's not the fanciest one in town. Most of the H-E-B's here are central markets, meaning they have small eating areas with deli areas placed randomly about the stores and maybe an ice cream shop or other attached eating "facility" to them.

Well, today Summer and I decided to hit a favorite thrift store of ours and try to get a head start on our Spring/Summer attire. We hit the jackpot and left the store with a bag of clothing for $10! Boy, I love bargain shopping.

Anyway, after our thrift store trip we headed to H-E-B to grab a few necessities before the weekend.

I had my list and all was going well at first until I realized that everything in the dairy and frozen section was turned backwards...I mean EVERYTHING! Instead of seeing the front of the merchandise I was looking at the backs. It was like somebody stocked everything reverse of the way they should sit on the shelf!

Grocery shopping is not fun for me in the first place...much less when I have to turn everything around to see what the product is. To boot, I was already tired from my thrift store shopping and ready to just grab my stuff and get home.

I should also mention that for some reason or another Summer was on a thousand question binge, so on top of having to decipher backwards grocery store items I was having to answer inquisitive questions from 7 year old.

Anyway, I thought maybe there was some sort of festival going on that I didn't know about that might be called "backwards day".

After having to turn everything around so that I could see the name of the product that I was searching for....which took an extra long time I might add...I headed to the checkout.

At the checkout Summer pointed out that all the magazines were turned backward and upside down in their racks!

I don't know if somebody considered this a cool joke or the stocker for the day was just dyslexic. Either way, it made my shopping experience an "experience"

Needless to say, by the time I made it home I had felt like I had been through a rat maze.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Strange Dreams

You know how most people have dreams they remember right when they awake, but slowly forget as the day wears on? In fact, some of us don't even remember our dreams at all.

I for one, always remember my dreams. So much so, that every morning when I awake it is my first goal to recall my dream from the night before. Upon waking, I will decide if it is a dream worth remembering. This is not a hard task at all. Some end up being very vague, and quite honestly, ridiculous. These are the dreams that slowly fade into oblivion.

But some dreams, like the one I had the other night are still very clear in my mind. I often wonder what it is that makes us remember some dreams so clearly and others slip so easily from our mind.

Here is a summary of my dream the other night:

I was sitting on my front porch chair. All of my neighbors were out and about chatting with each other while the kids were running around playing.

Slowly it started to quickly turn to dusk. All of a sudden I heard a noise in the sky. When I looked up it was a small airplane flying above my house. Not knowing much about airplanes I guess you would call it a twin engine. It was black and it had shiny gold bars trimming the wings and the front windshield area.

As I watched the airplane in the darkening sky it started slowly descending closer to the house, just above the roof. It began to hover like a helicopter. The more I watched it the more I noticed it was moving closer to me, to where I was sitting on my front porch. In an odd way, I knew it was watching me.

It slowly hovered closer and closer to me. All of a sudden it changed form into a sort of movie projector shape with a periscope-like shaped view finder. It carefully landed on the edge of my roof. When it landed, at first I couldn't see it but I instinctively knew that it had landed on my roof.

By this time it was totally dark. I wasn't scared at all but I was totally aware that it was still there lurking somewhere on the top edge of the roof of my house. I then heard a noise and when I looked up towards the edge of the ceiling of my front porch I saw the scope looking directly at me.

It was rather intimidating for an object to be that close to me, observing me...especially an object that had human characteristics. I then heard another odd noise and saw a "human" emerge from the door of the object. "He" was then directly on my porch in front of me. What emerged was in fact a human.....but not of the world that I am familiar with.

He/it started to communicate with me. At this point in the dream I must have awoken because I have no memory of the conversation that took place with the being.

Coincidentally, this dream came a few nights after there was a strange occurrence in our sky here in Central Texas. Sunday, there was a strange object reported flying through the sky by many Austinites and other areas of central Texas. One of the speculations was that is was falling debris from the collision of two satellites in space, or that it was a large meteor.

No, I was not one of those Austinites who witnessed the flying object but I did see the video on T.V. Here is a link if you haven't seen it already.

And no, I do not think my dream had anything to do with unexplained fireballs falling from the sky.:-)

A Little Whine With That Cheese

I don't even want to put my mouth on this topic we have waited so long for this moment. I guess with every rose there are a few thorns. Before I proceed, I want to say there are many more roses than thorns at the time.

Those who follow my blog know that Toby has been searching for the right tattoo shop to follow his dream of tattooing for quite a few years. Well, I believe he has finally hit the jackpot. I have postponed posting anything about his new shop because I wanted to wait and see how it was going to turn out for him.

So many times he has gone into a tattoo shop and it ended up being a dead end shop with dead end artists....which is very common in the tattoo world.

Although his career choice tends to rock my world, I have always stood behind him in his decisions. I trust him to follow his instincts and his heart AND I know he is very serious and professional about his tattooing and he conducts himself appropriately around half naked people....I hope anyway. :-)

That being said, there have been many times in our past 10 years that I have just wanted him to throw in the towel and go get a "real job". We have had many confrontations over this issue in the past about his tattooing. Being the structured, organized person that I am, it has never been easy for me to have my schedule constantly changed, or not having a set amount of money to work with each week for the budget and paying bills.

Over the years, I finally saw he was going to stay true to himself and that he wasn't budging. I figured if he had that much faith in something than so could I. Lastly, I would never want him to have hatred or resentment towards me if I had insisted that he keep a "real job" and forget his dream just for the sake of satisfying my ideals.

For the past month he been working in a very successful tattoo shop in Austin. I know a month doesn't sound like a long time but in the tattoo world a month tells a hole story about a shop.

When he first got the job at Atomic I told him if he didn't succeed there than he just needed to just pack it in and give up the tattoo least in Austin. Atomic is one of, if not the most, successful shop in Austin. They have not only one location, but four different locations in the Austin area. The shop is ran like a business and has a good reputation. It is also very professional and successful...which of course appeals to Toby and I both.

Everyone knows we are in an economic crunch right now. It is also the slow season for a tattoo shop right now. Without going into financial details I will tell you that neither of those two factors have seemed to affect Toby's income from that shop. He is finally making "real" money and doing what he loves....which is of course, the most important thing.

Now...that was the roses part, now here is the thorns part....

He has held onto his welding job to make sure that the tattoo job was going to pan out. Well, for whatever reason, even though he doesn't have to, he has held on to the welding job. Maybe, loyalty, security...I don't know.

That's why you haven't seen me posting any adventures on my blog lately....there hasn't been any adventures. No adventures can come to families that just see each other in passing.

Busy lives, busy people, lots of money.....but no time together. I miss our family adventures and hope that everything will soon get back to normal. I can only hope that the success bug hasn't bit Toby and he remembers he has a family at home waiting...waiting...waiting....

Monday, February 16, 2009


The public schooled kids next door were out of school for President's Day today. Summer still had school today but after "class" I allowed her to go outside and enjoy the day with her friends.

While she was outside playing I used my time wisely by getting on my computer to catch up on preparing her weekly lessons, weeding out old e-mails, and going through my old pics on disc for a new project I am contemplating, and of course, surfing.

I always keep the blinds to my study open when it's not 100 degrees outside. As I was working away my little dog who is always by my side, started barking. I was so busy that night time crept up on me without me even noticing.

I turned and located her within the room to see what she was barking at. It seemed that she was barking toward the open blinds. I picked her up in my arms so she could get a better view of her perceived offensive subject.

I am on the top floor so I know that she is seeing nothing but the sky or the tops of the neighbors houses. I soon realized that she was barking at the reflection of me in the window. She thought I was somebody looking in the window.

As I sat holding her in my arms while she barked relentlessly at the "stranger" I couldn't help but think how we all see things that really aren't there.

How many times have we seen that shadow lurking in the closet that we just knew was a monster ready to take us when we fell asleep or our friend that is having a bad day and is a little distant is mad at us for some unknown reason or another.

How many times have we made up scenarios in our head and perceived them to be real. Mirages...things that we think are real that are not. How much of life is really real I wonder.

In reality, I guess nothing is real...unless of course you perceive it to be real.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What To Do With All Those Pictures?

My friend Angela and I have decided that we want to make our girls a homeschool yearbook. The idea came from my former homeschool group in Alabama. I have two years of Summer's memory filled homeschool yearbooks from her first years of homeschooling on our bookshelf. Summer and I love to periodically thumb through them and let the photos take us back to the memories of our first years into our homeschool journey.

When I presented the idea of a homeschool yearbook to Angela she immediately jumped on board. We are now in the process of going back and gathering our pictures of our homeschool get togethers for the year 2008.

As I was going through my box of burned picture discs, I came across my families older pic CD's from the early 2000's.

Of course I couldn't help but to pop the oldest one in the drive and start reminiscing. I must have spent an hour or more looking at old photos I had not seen in a few years.

Being the photo fan that I am I couldn't help but think how all those wonderful family pics were just wasting away on a disc....never to be seen unless they are pulled out randomly for whatever reason.

I also have a box of old family photos I inherited when my mom died. They are crammed together in a box wasting away only to be pulled out once in a blue moon.

I keep asking myself..what can I do with all these pictures? How can I display my favorites in a creative, useful way?

I love my family photos to surround me so I do have a large collection of photos randomly displayed throughout my home. I have often wondered how odd it may seem if I covered my walls with wall to wall picture collages. To me, there is no better artwork than the photos from our life displayed for us to admire everyday.

As I scoured disc after disc of family photos I wondered....there has to be a way to display all of those memories. I love the idea of photo there a such thing???

And of course being the photo lover that I am, I couldn't end this post without attaching a few of my favorites I have recently uncovered from the past...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine Eve Playdate

We had our weekly play date today. Since it was the day before Valentines Day I decided to extend our celebration from yesterday into today. We ate cupcakes and exchanged valentines.

My good friend Angela is a week away from her due date of her third child. I'm sure our play dates will be postponed for a couple of weeks after her delivery. It will be a very exciting time for her and her family and I am excited for them but another part of me will miss our weekly get together and the change in our weekly get together routine.

Things change and I will adjust. Speaking of change, it seems life has been full of changes the past year or so. Toby's hours at his new tattoo shop stay in constant change....therefore I have to constantly change my schedule. Being a creature of habit this isn't an easy task for me but it does get easier as the months go by.

Somehow all this change is exhilarating. Change IS good.

On with the day...after playing awhile the girls decided they were ready for their cupcakes. What child can't resist a decorated chocolate cupcake??

Jaiden, Angela's little one, had some leftover's that one very curious red squirrel was more than happy to take care of:

Life is Good.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

An Early Valentine's Day Celebration

This past year every holiday that has come around Summer has wanted to have a party. She even tries to make up occasions to have parties. She will go as far as making up handwritten invitations and planning the activities. She will then go and tell all the neighbors she is having a party. In the past I have had neighbors show up at the door ready to join her "party".

Recently I have had to fill all my neighbors in and let them know unless they get the invitation from me it's probably not a valid party.

She is definitely not related to her mother when it comes to this form of socialization...I believe it may come from her father who has suggested having parties for different occasions in the past.

Of course I hate parties and do everything to avoid them. Guess who gets to prepare the house for them? Guess who gets to plan the menu and go shopping for the supplies? Clean up afterwards? and on and on. So no, I don't like parties unless I am the attendee that gets to just sit back and enjoy.

The other day when she suggested we have a Valentines Party I couldn't say no. She gets so excited about them and I just didn't to have the heart to disappoint her on an occasion that is meant for love. After all, I knew it didn't have to be anything big to satisfy her. Matter of fact it took very little effort on my part to make it a "party" for her. She was very helpful with the party planning.

A few treats, cupcakes, fancy drinks, and a few of the neighbor kids and she was happy.

Here are some pics of her day:

Summer and her friend Isaac. He lives a few houses down from us. He and his two younger brothers are also homeschooled.

This is Phillipe. I am afraid to say that one day this little boy may be the first one to break my daughters heart. They're good buddies right now though. :-)

Summer and Phillipe found some roly poly's that seem to have them intrigued for a while.

Here is Summer, Lesly,(Phillipe's sis) and Summer.

Summer and Lesly.

Treat time.

I am glad I could be part of my baby girls Valentine party.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How You Know You Are Getting Older.....Or Just Wiser.

I will be turning the ripe old age 45 years old this coming July. Having an almost 8year old little girl tends to make you look back on your own young life. So many times she will say or do things that take me back to a time that is a mirror image of my thoughts or feelings at her age.

No this is not always a good thing. Mostly a distressing thing. No, my daughter has never molded well....just as I never did. Like her father and I she inherited the being "different" gene.

Through her, I have to live the nightmare of adolescence all over again. I have to constantly keep myself in check and remember that I am the experienced one that has lived and learned. It's so hard not to be pulled back down into the black hole again.

Anyone who has been blessed with these "out of the ordinary" type children knows that God does not like you. Just a joke...almost.

Anyway, we all know that Valentines Day is on it's way. Summer has made the process of exchanging Valentines very technical. It seems it really matters which Valentine each particular person gets, even though in a nutshell, they all say the same thing.

Here are a just a few other observations I have made in my old age:

My hair is no longer an issue to me. If the wind blows it out of place, o'well....that's why someone invented the brush.

Who cares if nobody likes me...I don't mind being by myself.

Say what you want to say...people are going to like or not like you no matter what you say.

I don't feel the need to impress anymore...I want someone to impress me.

I am now smart enough to know that money is not everything but it sure does matter when you don't have it.

People that are religiously over zealous are mostly that way so they can convince themselves they believe what they have been taught to believe....poor souls.

Just because someone is your "blood" does not make them a pertinent part of your life.

You can never really judge someone unless you have walked in their shoes. It's very easy to judge someone when you have never lived what they have lived. Rules always change if you were to live their life.

Some people are just born lucky....I don't care what "The Secret" says.

EVERYBODY has a vice so never let anyone tell you that you have a problem...because they do to.

I can now say "no" without feeling guilty.....people will milk you for everything they can.

Only those that are capable of scamming can get scammed....honest people can see the signs of dishonesty.

And last but not least, do one thing every day that scares you....just so you know that when you die earthly life was not a total waste.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Memories From The Past...How I Knew He Was The One. (Part II)

It was December 1999. Toby and I had managed to contract a contagious illness from his brother Charlie who thought our living room recliner was a really great place to come and recuperate himself. Covered by a blanket in our recliner for days he lay coughing and feverish. Toby and I were at work most of the day so we really didn't take too much notice to him other than to fetch him some Kleenex or a drink ....until we caught whatever killer germ that he had been spewing all into the living room air.

Thank goodness Lucas was staying with his dad the week during the Christmas holidays. Luckily he was spared the dreaded illness that Toby and I managed to contract. Looking back, it was a real blessing Lucas was not there during that time. Toby and I could not even take care of ourselves, much less take care of a child.

(I will go ahead and mention that also during this time my mother and Toby's dog, Bourbon he had for 5 years were slowly dying as these two details are pertinent to the story.)

Of course, by the time Toby and I got sick Charlie was back to his old self conducting his daily business at the house...washing his car, eating, watching T.V., etc. Toby and I were literally in the bed for 2 days without being able to get up. It was him and I together in sickness..and of course Bourbon laying on the floor in there with us slowly dying. We were both SO weak that neither one of us could get up to take care of ourselves much less each other.

I can remember weakly calling Charlie's name from behind our closed bedroom door in hopes that he would hear me and come and at least bring us a bowl of soup and some water to drink. In the 2 days we were bedridden he never once knocked on the door to even check on us. I guess he thought we were in there having fun. We could have been dead in there and no one would have known for at least a couple of days if not more.

Finally it was Toby who mustered up the strength to crawl out of the bed. You see, among all the sickness that was running amok in our household there was one that was not going to get any better. Bourbon, Toby's dog of five years was very sick and had been for the past few months. We didn't really know what was wrong with her and neither did the vet...that is without paying out a small fortune that we didn't have in vet bills to figure it out.

Although Bourbon was not my favorite animal in the world (she snapped at me anytime I came close to Toby) I still felt sorry for her as I watched her slowly turn to skin and bones. We tried to prod her to eat by giving her people food and real meat but she was on her deathbed shriveling away just as my mother was.

On Christmas eve of the year 1999 my husband got out of his sick bed and located his brother to drive him to the pound to have Bourbon put out of her misery. He was too weak to drive himself but business had to be taken care of. I knew he really wanted me to go with him for moral support. It was one of those times in my life that I just couldn't muster of the physical or mental strength to get out of the bed and be there for him. There was too much sickness and dying going around and I just wanted to stay hidden in the bed until it was all over. I let him down.

As I said my mother was also slowly dying. It was her last year to be with us. As a Christmas gift for her I had been searching for a bed tray that she could use to hold her water, medications, magazines, and other essentials so she wouldn't have to get up and down much after her chemo treatments.

I looked everywhere for a particular bed tray I had seen on sale @ K-Mart. Unfortunately every K-Mart that I had searched was out of the tray.

That Christmas eve, after Toby had done the dirty deed of putting his dog down he took his feverish self into the one K-Mart that I had not been able to check due to my illness, found the bed tray on the shelf, purchased it and brought it home to me so that I would have the gift that I had been looking for to give my mother on Christmas.

At that moment when he walked in carrying the bed tray in his hands with puffy sad eyes from his dog loss but a big smile for me because he had found what he knew would make me happy, I knew I had found the person that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Through all his grief and sickness he had found the time and strength to do something to make someone else

Since our first horrible Christmas together he has never let me down not once. Yes, he can frustrate me but through our years together he has been there for me through thick and thin....and believe me with me it's mostly thick. Marriage vows made no difference to us. Our commitment has been to ourselves and our children..they way it's intended to be.

And that, my friends is how I knew Toby was "the one".

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Memories From The Past....How I Knew He Was The One. (Part 1)

Realistically nobody ever really knows when they marry someone if it will last forever. You can never predict the future..things change and people change. True, our goal under our marriage vows is to stay together "till death do us part." I'm sure that unrealistic marriage expectation is one reason why many people choose to "live in sin."

Don't get me wrong, I do believe that certain people are meant to be together until the end, but then again just as many are not. That piece of paper is just a technicality, not a reality.

After my first marriage I came to the conclusion it's best to live with someone before you marry them. After all, I would never go out and buy a car without first giving it a good test drive and a mechanic once-over. Why should we choose our mates any differently? Unlike a car, they will last forever so you really need to be sure before you sign that contract.

Example: You don't want to end up with someone who has extreme or odd sexual preferences if you prefer the simple stuff, or you're a compulsive neat freak and he's a total slob. I have witnessed many marriage disasters based on these two simple parameters. There are many more marriage mishaps that happen from not "test driving" your "vehicle" before you drive it...I only mentioned some obvious ones.

So, by now am sure you have guessed that I lived with my current beloved hubby for a year before we "tied the knot". Honestly, we probably would have lived happily ever after in sin together till the end, but both of our mothers weren't as satisfied with our living arrangements as we were. So to satisfy the moms we were united in Holy Matrimony January, 10, 2000.

Quite honestly after a year of "living in sin" I already knew he was the one anyway. One particular event that took place sealed the deal for me. Ready?.....

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Laura's Week.....

I have been somewhat overwhelmed the past couple of weeks. With Toby and his new tattoo job hours and still keeping part-time hours at Siddons it has left me with much time on my hands....which has a bittersweet effect. I don't see him during the week at all except for during sleeping hours and when he comes in to shower, eat, and dart out the door for the next job...the bitter part.

On the flip side the only two people I have to worry about satisfying during the week are Summer and I...the sweet part. I find myself getting resentful and selfish sometimes and have to snap myself back into reality and think..Do you really want to go to work and lose out on the opportunity to homeschool your child or do you want stay home and take care of the household and raise the child??? Of course I pick the latter and be thankful that I have a husband that is willing to do anything to make our household function on an old fashioned level.

We do still have our weekends to spend doing the fun family stuff, but lately somehow those days get spent letting him get some much needed sleep and running around town doing errands that he somehow forgets to get me to do during the week.

This morning I was flipping through the circulation of "Austin Family" searching for a Saturday activity. I love this mag that comes out once a month and always make sure that I grab a copy at the beginning of each month. I can see why Austin got voted one of the best cities to raise a family. It is chock full of activities for every much so, that I get really overwhelmed when I look at them. Like a kid in a candy store I just can't decide on what event or activity I will end up doing. I never realized what a stressful thing this would be for me..but it is. I have never been offered so many choices.

While scanning through the magazine this morning I got so aggravated with all the choices to do for the day that I just chose an old favorite from Mobile. Michael's Craft Day it was. Summer has always loved the Michael's craft day and I rather enjoy it myself. While Toby was doing a little "art" shopping Summer and I made beaded jewelry.

Aside from today this past week was spent with our usual playdate, school, grocery store trip, and hanging out at the house. Here are some highlights:

Who can't be grateful that you can practice reading in your P.J's at noon?

Or explore music on the Casio while relaxing on the trampoline in the warm sun?

There is an endless supply of rocks here. The girls main focus at this particular park always seems to be rock collecting and categorizing. It's really funny to watch them try to keep the toddler park goers from wanting to add to their...or destroy, their collections.

Enjoying a tree at the park.

I have never really known what the purpose of these bars are for. Maybe just the child's imagination:

One stolen frozen moment in time. I believe if more dads were willing to freely love their daughters as depicted in this pic some of us wouldn't be as "fucked up" as we are.

I save my favorites for last:

Enjoying an evening sunset on the trampoline:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lost.....and Found

Anyone that keeps up with my blog knows that a couple of weeks ago the ring I inherited from my mother went missing off of my finger.

Most hopes of ever finding my ring were lost. For whatever reason I really believed I had lost my ring in Walmart, therefore had no real hopes of ever finding it again.

There was still a small part of me...the hopeful part, that thought I just might be reunited with the ring again one day. Over the past couple of weeks I have periodically looked behind beds, underneath my computer desk, down the sink drain, etc.

Even though I looked, I never really thought I would ever see the ring again. It's kind of like a drowning person. Even though they know they are drowning they still try to hang on to life with all their might in hopes they will survive. Like me and my ring, I felt it was gone but I still kept searching anyway in hopes that it would show up.

Well, I guess it shows that no one should ever give up hope 'cause sometimes that's all you have.

Here is what happened.....

I looked out my office window and felt the need to go outside and see what all the birds were singing about.

It was a perfect day.....75 degree temps, not a cloud in the sky, and a very light breeze.

I walked around my yard admiring the yard work Toby and I had done this past weekend and enjoying the break from my everyday routine. Before I walked back inside I stood at my back door for a last glance at the blue sky and soaking up the warm sun on my face.

To the universe, or God, or whatever technical name you want to give it/he/she, I gave thanks for such a beautiful day and the wonderful family and home I have to share it with.

As I turned to walk into my back door a bright glistening light caught my eye. I looked down and there it was! Right up against the house at the back door. How many times in the past couple of weeks I had passed it up and never saw it...until this beautiful day that I was giving thanks for everything I had.

I quickly picked it up, cried tears of thanks once again and went inside to enjoy the rest of the day doing my daily tasks.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chinese New Year in Austin

Who would ever know there was a Chinatown in Austin, Texas? Thanks to my friend Angela who is married to a Vietnamese, we know there is.

This weekend happened to be Austin's Chinatown New Years celebration. I won't pretend I know anything about the Eastern side of the world's culture or celebrations but it is on my list of things to learn before I die.

Lately I have been intrigued with other nationalities cultures. Both of my brothers are married to women of other cultures. Unfortunately, I have never had enough time with either one of them to learn much out of my realm of Americanism. No, I am not very cultured but I hope to make sure my daughter learns more than just her bubble of good reason I love to homeschool.

To be quite honest I don't even really know what the technical difference between Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, etc. is....but I'm sure they know. :-).

So our destination for the day was Chinatown for the Chinese New Year celebration. I never knew there was such a population of Asian people in Austin. At one point I almost felt like I was in another country. Like always, that is a really cool experience other than I don't know the language.

The whole experience was really cool to both Toby and I. Neither one of us had ever witnessed a celebration outside of educational t.v. I don't think Summer was as enthralled with the experience as we were. Once she saw the rows and rows of firecrackers, the fun was over for her. She has always hated loud noises and likes to enjoy a safe distance from fireworks/crackers when somebody other than Toby is lighting them.

As usual, I got tons of pics but I think you will get a feel of the experience better by video. I uploaded a couple of videos that hopefully tell a better story than pictures:

After the celebration we were in the mood for some Chinese, so off we went to stuff ourselves full of Chinese buffett. :-)

Happy Chinese New Year!

Capitol of Texas Zoo

When Toby bought the 4Runner from the guy in Bastrop they both were a little unfamiliar about the process of vehicle transactions. By the way, I forgot to mention that the man we bought the 4Runner from son lives in Fairhope, Alabama....small world.

Anyway, because the bill of sale was not done to Texas's high standards (eye roll) we had to get back up with the guy so that he could fill out the paperwork properly.

I figured since we were already in the area we would hit the zoo located just a couple of miles from Bastrop. These days I like to utilize my time and my gas well.

The zoo was located down a very long half-ass paved country road. When we got there we walked on in...even though there was a sign on the door that said "blow your horn when you pull up". When we got inside we figured out why. There was no one in the front "office" area.

The inside was dark and dreary....and there were huge tortoises roaming around freely in there. This place was slowly but surely reminding me a lot of the Mobile Zoo in Alabama.....which was strangely comforting.

Anyway, the lady finally showed up and took our admission. You can't always judge a book by it's cover. In the end it ended up being a pretty interesting zoo. They had a few animals that we had not ever seen or heard of before, saw bats actually hanging upside down together in a group through a very tinted glass window, saw a couple of fossas which we learned that Capitol Zoo houses the only successful captive mating fossas which Jack Hannah has the offspring....we were even lucky enough to be there to witness the mountain lion and fossa feeding.

The male fossa:

I won't bore you with all the pics of everything we saw. I probably took about 50 plus pics while we were there. Here are some highlights:

The deer were roaming around freely like dogs. Here is Summer hand feeding one of them:

I caught this peacock sneaking some grapes out of the feed bags:

There was a whole pin of guinea pigs:

And of course there was a tank FULL of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches....ick. It's been a while since I have seen a roach this size, even though Austinites claim to have cockroaches I have not seen any bigger than water bug size in the year that I have lived here.