Monday, February 28, 2011

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras - french translation meaning 'Fat Tuesday'.

I'm sitting here wasting time on the computer and grab my plastic cup of water and take a sip. As I set it back down on my desk I notice that it has the Mardi Gras schedule printed on the side of it. As I scan the dates I realize that Mardi Gras is now in procession back home. The plastic cup is one of the many that I have collected from parades over the many years of living in the city of Mardi Gras's origin.

You read right. Mardi Gras actually started in Mobile, Alabama in 1703 when it was a colony of French soldiers. After having survived a particularly nasty bout with yellow fever, they decided to celebrate, but since party favors were few and far between in the New World, the men opted to paint their faces red and just act crazy for a few hours....I'm sure they were probably hitting the bottle pretty hard also. Either way, they must have had fun because it became an annual event.

There are many uninformed individuals that believe Mardi Gras began in New Orleans...possibly because New Orleans's celebration is much larger and more well known.

My confession: In my 40 plus years of living in Mobile I never knew these facts until my history buff hubby enlightened me. Shame on me...I guess I didn't pay much attention in my Alabama History class.

Or maybe it was because I never really liked Mardi Gras in the first place. I can remember my parents taking me and my brother a couple of times as kids. All I remember is being trampled by over enthusiastic folks rushing to grab moon pies, beads and other trinkets. I could never see the parades because I was too short and there were too many people. As a child it was all too overwhelming to be fun.

I think mom and dad finally decided that it was not worth the effort to take us into the mass of over-indulgent crowds.

Then next time I ventured to Mardi Gras was when I was a teen. I had a friend who lived downtown close to the parade route so we headed there to find our spot behind the barricade and wait. I don't remember much about that night other than I had a bit too much 'liquid courage' and I tripped over one of the fallen barricades. Some paraders laughed at me and my friend took it upon herself to defend me and 'kick some ass' as we redneck girls liked to call it. Needless to say, we ended up escorted from the parade route.

The next time I remember going to the parades was with my ex and my son. Somehow it always ended up no fun then either. I was always the designated driver back then for a reason. Babysitting a partying hubby is never fun during Mardi Gras.

Heck maybe I'm just jealous that none of the floaters never asked me to show them my boobs for beads....

The very last experience I had with Mardi Gras was a couple of years before I moved to ATX. I have to admit those times were the best. I can remember a couple of pleasant experiences at Mardi Gras. Nonetheless, it's not one of the things I miss the most about Mobile...

That said, since moving to Texas, for whatever reason, every Mardi Gras season I have had the urge to book a hotel in downtown Mobile so we can celebrate one of the few things Mobile, Alabama has to offer.

Maybe one of these years I will actually get to implement that plan....

Friday, February 25, 2011

Time Sheets

Not so long ago, but what seems to me now like a million years ago, I worked for a CPA. Yes folks, at one point in my life I had real job with a real paycheck. I worked out of the home for 12 years before I took on the task of a stay-at-home-homeschooling mom.

My paying job allowed me to take breaks, sneak in some personal time, have quite lunches with adults while enjoying uninterrupted conversations, to be respected by society because I bring home a paycheck, and OH! the best one of all is there was never anyone at home during the day so the house stayed clean..I had to only deal with the upkeep. Meals were also easy....local restaurants were my best friends.

During my duration as a bookkeeper/secretary for the CPA firm I had to fill out a time sheet at the end of each day. This sheet was a way to track the time that I spent on each client or administrative work that I did. Sometimes my days were so easy I had to think up creative ways to make it appear that I had actually been working. Other days I was so busy I had only one entry for the whole day.

I have been on both ends of the spectrum. I was a working mom for 12 years and have been a stay-at-home mom for the past 10 years. The beauty of this is that I can give a biased opinion on the pros and cons of both because I have experienced both equally.

In all honesty, they both have their perks. The grass is usually not always greener on the other side but it is easier in some ways. It's all according to what you are willing to put up with and what you consider "work".

From my personal experience, I have to say the hardest job ever is to be a stay at home mom...ESPECIALLY a stay-at-home that has chosen the 24/7 job of homeschooling her child/children. Before you say or think anything...yeah, I know I chose it and I own it, I'm just including this info for effect.

For example, this would be my time sheet for the day...

7:00 a.m. got out of bed, made coffee, straightened house while coffee made...e.g..folded blankets up, opened all blinds, put dishes into dishwasher, watered house plants, etc.

7:15 a.m. take my coffee up to my computer. The time frame between 7:00a.m to 9:00a.m is "my time". It is the only time of the whole day that I get complete peace and quite because the rest of my family is still fast asleep. This is my sacred time and I use it as wisely as possible.

9:00 Prepare breakfast, clean kitchen, prepare Toby's lunch for the day or any preps for meals for the day..usually lunch. Sweep kitchen floor. Wipe down the inside of the fridge. Feed and water dog.

10:00 Strip sheets from the beds and wash. Wash dogs bed and towels. Fold clothes in the dryer. Wash more clothes. fold second load of clothes. Dust living room and bedroom. Mop kitchen floor. Wipe dog slobber tracks off sofa. Vacuum dog hair from sofa. Cut up cantaloupe for Sum a snack.

11:00 Help Toby bathe dog. Sprinkle baking soda on floor and vacuum. Play Skip Bo with Sum and her friend. Prepare snack for Sum and her friend. Wash more clothes. Straighten and sweep out garage. Pick springing weeds out of yard. Pick up dog poop. Control dog from jumping on kids. Kill ant beds.

1:00 Check and drop off mail at the mailbox. Make lunch. Clean kitchen...AGAIN. Fold clothes. Put sheets on the bed. Walk the dog. Play with the kid and the dog together. Collect all the trash out of each room and put new trash bags in. Clean mouse cage. Feed mouse and water mouse.

3:00 Try to figure what is wrong with electronic equipment for Summer. Play with dumb dog again. Feed dog. Train dog. Put treats in dog toy for dog. Answer Summers questions and look at a book with her and answer more questions about the book. Help Sum navigate a website she was looking at and answer more questions. Wipe down upstairs bathroom and clean toilet. Dust upstairs study.

4:30 By this time I'm beginning to weaken mentally because I have been going non-stop for several hours straight. This is point where I start eyeing the bottle of vodka sitting on top of the refrigerator but maintain control and keep my eye on the tasks at hand. I sweep the floor again because obviously I am the only one that wipes my feet before I walk in the door. I kill a row of ants that have made their way to a crumb on the floor.

5:00 I finally get to squeeze my shower in for the day. I was so busy I just now realized that I need a bath. Before I hop in the shower I scour the downstairs toilet and floor surrounding it and wipe it and the sink down. My relaxing shower is short lived because while I'm in there the dog gets into the bathroom garbage can and church folk are ringing the doorbell.

6:00 Finally,the bottle of booze I was eyeing earlier gets a little attention.

7:00 I'm still not off duty, but I certainly feel much better about my job after a good stiff drink. The rest of the night will be hit and miss.

All in a good days work. At least I'm the boss at my job. ☺

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I came to the conclusion the other day that I am addicted to destinations. I love to scour travel brochures and I have a nice collection of travel books and magazines.

From the moment I awaken in the morning my first thoughts are about where I will be going for the day. I like to have a destination for the day whether it be as simple as a trip to the grocery store or a day trip to a nearby town.

Recently I found this website called As I navigated the site I became aware of just how many parks the Austin area has. There is a park on almost every corner...some better than others.

I decided that my goal for the year would be to visit every single park in Travis County. After all, parks are fun for everybody...especially the parks around here. Even in the most undesirable parts of Austin the parks are equipped with adequate playground equipment and abundant hiking trails.

This week I decided to start off with the parks closest to my home that I have not visited yet and move outward.

Today it was Austin's Colony Park just a few miles down the road. This park happens to be nestled on the banks of the Colorado. I love a park on the water and plentiful hiking trails so I was excited about checking it out.

Although I thought this park had a real cool factor for being on the river and it had a decent playground and plenty of open space, I couldn't imagine it a park families seek out for weekly playdates. Then again, first impressions are sometimes decieving. Even so, while we were there I saw a couple of prophylactics laying on the ground around the playground and imagined the playground was probably used more for teenagers in heat than a child's play area.

I also noticed the area over the bluff along the river had a few makeshift campsites that were probably used as a breeding ground for some party folks to drink beer and roll in the hay with their special someones.

Luckily we were the only ones there today so it was quite and pleasant...another benefit of having your 'weekend' in the middle of the week.

Here are some pics of our day at the park...

After we left the park I had to stop by my friend Robin's to grab an item I was borrowing. When we got there her animal vet was there about to sew one of the baby goats eyelid outward. Without going into to details about the procedure I'm including a link explaining Entropion for anyone interested.

Toby was the lucky guy who got to hold the kid while the doc sewed his eyelid. I was excited about Summer getting a hands on experience with an actual medical procedure. It became apparent that she wasn't as interested in witnessing the procedure as we were wanting her to. I think she was a bit grossed out because of the needle being so close to the goats eye. O'well, we can scratch medical proffession being her forte.

Never a dull day.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Farm Fun

I'm not going to sugar coat it. Homeschooling can sometimes be relentless and tiring but it's days like today that make it worth every moment. Like most days, today was no typical "school" day for us.

My friend Robin has what I would call a small farm. She has a beautiful welcoming home, a garden, a horse, some chickens, a dog, a couple of cats, and a small herd of goats.

Luckily Robin loves kids..and I think she might even like me and Toby a little Robin is also a giver. She gives of herself, her time, her money,...whatever she has to offer she puts it out there willingly and enthusiastically. She's one of those people that make the world go 'round.

Summer loves Robin as much as I do so when she invited us over to see her newborn baby goats and to plant some veggies there was no hesitation on either one of our parts.

Me and Sum both got to feed baby goats..they are ADORABLE.....

We got to scrounge around in the dirt and plant veggies which was my personal favorite part of the day..

We also got to see a horse being shoed...I guess that's the correct term, not really sure. Another great advantage to homeschooling is that I get to learn a lot of stuff I never knew or may have forgotten. The process of changing out a shoe on a horse was something I had never witnessed before so I was pretty intrigued by the process....

And somewhere in between it all there was playtime....

A thumb's up day indeed.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Colorado River Wildlife Sanctuary

Looks like all the chaos of the past couple of months is slowly coming to a lull. We have checked off many things on the "honey-do list" and can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Today we had to make a trip to Callahan's General Store in search of a few supplies. Ever since my friend Robin told us about Callahan's we have kept it on our favorites list.

We also had to have the oil changed in the 4-Runner. I always like to kill a couple birds with one stone when we are out so since we would be in the vicinity of the Colorado Wildlife Sanctuary I decided we would drag the mongrel along. I figured if we were going to be enjoying a little bit of the outdoors the dog should have the same pleasure.

We were also a little curious to see how he would react around water. Our goal for the summer is to be able to take him on camping and river trips.

Since the Colorado River Wildlife Sanctuary was nearby we decided to take a short hike along the river. This would be the first time we have ever walked this particular trail. It was obvious that this trail is one of the less populated and maintained hiking trails but we didn't mind at all. It gave us a chance to let Bo run around off leash without distracting things like other dogs and people...and we don't like crowds.

Although the water was too cold for us to wade around in for long, it was obvious that Bo has no fear of water. I think he will be a perfect playmate for Summer in the river.

Old Iron Bridge..

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day

My Valentine's Day started off with a bitchfest about the dog and just plain life in general. I have to make some changes in ranking around here and follow through with them. If I could catch a break it may be easier to enforce. I don't work well under pressure...never have, never will. Hence, the reason I keep my family small.

In truth, Valentines Day is no special day around here anyway. Matter of fact, Toby and I do not, and have never, celebrated Valentine's Day.

When we first met it was in January 2000. When our first Valentine's Day rolled around we had barely known each other a month. He bluntly informed me that he did not celebrate Valentines Day and for me not to expect a gift from him.

Most women would have been quite offended by his statement and may have even ended the relationship. As for me, I was quite relieved and also saw it as a sign that in the future our money would not be wasted on frivilous things or ideas. I'm not a good gift giver and him not celebrating Valentine's Day was a plus for me. It mean't that I wasn't going to have to go out and be succered into the love holiday either.

So ever since that day 11 years ago there are never any flowers, candlelight dinners, or candy exchanged on Valentine's Day.

Just so ya know though, he has been known in the past to surprise me with some flowers, candy, a new camera or other special gift on any given day just because he loves me. His motto is you should show your loved ones you love them everyday, not just one day out of the year.

Smart guy I would say.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Alpha Dog

I know most of my post lately have been about one dog or another, but lately that seems what my life has been consumed with. I have come to realize that responsible dog ownership comes with a time, patience and effort.

In the past, before I had my little Brandi the dogs I had owned had mostly been outside pets. Growing up, my mother was the animal lover but my dad never allowed animals in the house so the ones we had were also outside pets. My first husband also believed a dog is an animal and should be outside...although I do remember a short while of having a dog live inside with us. He was absolutely the worst untrained wild dog I have ever known but I loved him nonetheless. I was a newlywed with a husband that worked out of town most of the time so the dog was an emotional replacement I suppose...

Anyway, my argument was always the same as my dads. They make messes, they have accidents, and they are dirty but most of all they are animals so they belong outside.

It wasn't until I had Brandi that I decided that I would once again try having an inside dog. She was little and cute and how much mess could she make...very little did she ever. Mostly an accident here and there or some stray vomit in the corner. How much pee and vomit can a 5 lb dog have?? Not much.

After we got Bo and decided that he also would be an inside dog I was, and still am, very skeptical. Although I love his sweet personality, he sort of cramps my style right now. He tries to take over furniture and our space by being right up on us...he weighs 65 lbs so he's not just taking up a square foot area.

When I'm preparing food I have to constantly watch and make sure that he doesn't jump on the counter and snatch the fixings...he's always in the kitchen when I cook monitoring the situation in hopes of a surprise snack. Also, because it's just the three of us, we eat in the living area. He moves right in on our personal space in hopes of a morsel.

His feet are the worst. They drive me crazy. When he goes outside..which is very often because he drinks alot of water and food and needs to eliminate often, he runs around the yard and pick ups every piece of wet, sticky mud that is available. Before he comes back inside I have to wash his feet. This has to be done a few times a day...very time consuming.

He also has severe separation anxiety so I have to constantly worry that he has broken out of his cage or chewed out of our wood privacy fence while I'm gone. I take him the places that I can take him but he can't always go everywhere with me. My new car now smells like a dog and there is white dog hair embedded in my seats and smudge prints all over the window. I have to constantly spray and wipe down my car. By the way, just in case you haven't caught on I like things clean, neat and tidy. Hence, the reason I will always be a small dog person.

I find that I have to vacuum and sweep constantly now. Quite honestly, he's working me to death. When Toby is home he takes over the responsibility of caring for him but in reality I am the one that is here with him the most so the brunt of the responsibility falls on me.

I knew this, I bought into it, why am I bitching?? I don't know. In the past I have been known not to make the best decisions to make other people's lives happier...usually at the disposal of my own sanity and happiness.

On the plus side, Bo is very smart and learns commands quickly so I'm hoping with a little training he can be molded into something more manageable. He also is a very large incentive for me to exercise. Every day I walk a couple of miles with him right beside me. There is something about having the dog beside me that makes my walks worthwhile..very serene and almost spiritual.

When we first got Bo we knew we wanted a well trained family dog. With Bo's size and breed we know that he won't be an asset to our family without training. He is very sweet and loving now and we want him to stay that way. Without training I fear that we may lose our alpha dog role and he may take over.

A few weeks back we took to watching Cesar Millan The Dog Wisperer and the more I watched it the more realization I had that Brandi was definitely the alpha dog in our home. Luckily, because of her size she was no match for us even so.

So, in my search for a dog trainer I have been doing extensive reading on dog behavior. It's already clear that Bo does not completely see us as alpha dog...yet.

I feel like I have a long, hard road ahead but I am determined to win this one. I don't take the responsibility I took on lightly. I have an advantage over most animal lovers in that I don't view my dog as a human.

Unlike with my child I can emotionally detach myself from an animal and use the logic part of my brain. I don't use my animal to fill an emotional void that was never fulfilled. I believe this will help me in making my dog what he is suppose to follower. I am on a mission for the knowledge that it takes to do so.

Wish me luck!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Out and About

Winters in the south are typically mild, but this year we have seemed to have more cold days in a row than in prior years. We've also had alot happen this year that has prevented us from doing "family fun stuff".

So true to the south's nature, it snowed yesterday but today it was warm enough to walk around in short sleeves. I decided to take advantage of the warm temps and sunshine and take Bo and Summer to the local park for some exercise and change of scenery.

Summer and I were "wowed" by the frozen water playscape at the pool....

I talked Summer into holding onto Bo's leash while she rode her scooter. I figured it would be fun for her and Bo....well, it was until Bo abruptly stopped to take a sniff at the pile of dog poop in the middle of the trail...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow in Austin Texas????

When you live in the south snow is rare but not unheard of. When we lived on the Alabama Gulf Coast we would get a rare snow treat...only about 5 times in the 40 plus years I lived there. In actuality, it was never really "snow" as northern counterparts would think of snow, but to us it was white and fluffy and stuck long enough to appear to be snow.

Since we have lived in Austin we have had the experience of snow for two years in a row. I'll be honest, last year's snowfall was exciting. It had been over 15 years since I had the experience of snow so I was a little pumped about it when I was able to watch those fluffy flakes flowing so elegantly down from the sky.

Last night's snowfall was not as glamorous. Snow fell during the night so I missed the magic of seeing it fall...which is my favorite part of snow. We also didn't get as much as we did last year so the coverage was not as impressive. Also, I guess the big thrill of snow was over for me after last year. Today it was nothing more than a cold, wet mess.

Even so, I did find it impressive enough to take some snowy day pics...

Bo got hit by his first snowball!!!

Bo gets daily walks and he's waiting for his snow day walk...and yes, I did take him for an extra long walk today. He's such a sissy...he was scared of a snowman someone had made at the end of their driveway and I had to drag him by it..

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Welcome Bilbo

After Brandi's death we immediately wanted to channel our love to another animal. Since the very first time I moved out on my own in my early twenties I have owned a dog.Small dogs, medium dogs, big dogs. Any kind of dog..mutts, pits, rottweilers, chihuahuas, etc.

Toby has the same affection for dogs. Since him and I have been together we have owned at least 8 or more dogs...not at a time of course. It was only natural that we wanted to "replace" Brandi. What better way to move on then to be able to give the love you had for one dog on to another that needs it.

So off to the shelter we headed. The shelter has to be one of the saddest places I know. The energy of doom, gloom and sadness there makes my heart ache.

There is no way I could ever adopt every dog in there but I can at least save one animals life and that's what I try to focus on.

My initial goal was to adopt another small dog. I prefer small dogs. Small dogs mean smaller messes and less trouble in my eyes. Although we have owned larger dogs, it's been a while since we have had one. Toby and Summer tend to prefer the larger more playful dogs and as we were walking by the cages checking out the many breeds I noticed they tended to be eyeing the bigger dogs.

I cringed but then I thought how selfish of me. I always get to choose what kind of dog we get. That said, I am the one that has the majority of the responsibility to care for it.....

Toby spotted one that he took a liking to. A year old black and white American Bulldog Mix. He had sad looking eyes but yet seemed friendly, not to hyper and yet playful. He was also listed as one of the volunteer favorites which was a plus in my eyes.

I myself spotted a little tri-colored Chihuahua mix that was adorable. I decided that we all could have what we wanted and adopt both of them. I wanted everyone to walk away happy and in the past have owned up to 3 dogs at a time so I am no stranger to multiple dog ownership.

We were required to have a meet and greet where we got both the dogs together to see how they interact. Well, as you would guess, the larger dog scared the littler one just because he was so much bigger. The shelter recommended that we not adopt them together. Sucked for me but I figured it was for the best anyway. After all, I wanted to get "Bo" home and get to know his personality before I added another smaller dog into our home.

We have now had "Bilbo"...I call him "Bo" for short, for two weeks and he is a wonderful dog...not perfect but better than I expected He learns fast and has adapted well into our home. Our largest dilemma has been his separation anxiety. He breaks out of his kennel when we leave him and has literally busted through our privacy fence....sigh..

We will begin obedience training soon to tweak out the few issues we have with our new family member.

Granted, I don't have that love connection with him yet but he grows on me a little every day and I hope that one day I will love him just as much as I did my little Brandi.

Meet Bo!