Sunday, September 29, 2013


I saw something on the news the other day that was introduced as a positive story but I found it rather disturbing - and apparently I am the only one who did. Watch it here.

The story is about a couple in S. Carolina who hired a 22 year old female babysitter for their 7 month old son. After 5 months of this child being cared for by this babysitter the family dog began do snarl and growl at the sitter when she arrived. This alerted the parents there may be something amiss with the sitter and they put a recorder under the sofa to record the household happenings while in her care.

With their recording they uncovered the sitter's dirty little secret of cursing and slapping the child while he was whining.  I have no earthly idea why this surprises a parent when they find out about this sort of thing. Most of us as the flesh and blood of our 'little angels' lose it every so often (if we are honest about it) ourselves..some more extreme than others. Other than in rare cases there is nobody in this world that is going to treat and love your child like the little angel you believe they are.

Anyway, the story went on about how wonderful the dog (and pets in general) is that he had alerted the parents that something was amiss. All the responses were praising the pet for protecting the little boy from a potential threat therefore saving the child from a potential demise.

More than a couple of things bothered me about this whole story but here are my top two thoughts:

1. I'm pretty sure the dog was also getting his share of abuse - swatting with a broom, cursing at them with negative energy, or some other form of unloving reprimands. From my studies of dog behavior (and I've done plenty thanks to my nightmare rescue pet) I'm pretty sure the dog was concerned about numero uno. He was alerting the family that HE did not like the babysitter.

I must clarify I am a dog lover myself but I know that humans have a tendency to give our furry friends human characteristics. I notice it even more these days. It seems some very enthusiastic animal lovers are choosing animal/pet companionship over human connection. I will admit it's a lot easier to get along with most animals than it is humans, but is it not obvious that it's all part of our human emotional disconnect from each other?

Over the past couple of decades pets in our society are commonly taking the place of human relationships for more and more people. Heck, people will even allow their pets to sleep in their bed with them but the idea of allowing their child to curl up next to them in their bed and sleep is considered inappropriate.

It's nice to have a furry friend. I love mine very much, but he's a dog not a human. He deserves respect and love from his humans because he is a living being but he's not capable of being anything other than what he is...a dog. I'm not really sure who these people think are going to take care of them when they can no longer be the one doing the taking care. I can't envision Bo emptying my catheter bag or spoon feeding me while I'm on my death bed.

2. If this caregiver were in fact abusing the child I'm also pretty sure there should have been cues from the child. From my experience as a mother of two kids even very young ones have a way of letting us know of their likes and dislikes. Most likely the kid was giving the same cues the dog was but the parents ignored it or made excuses for his behavior by exclaiming he was cranky, teething, had separation anxiety or some other assumed reasoning????? Apparently they only paid attention when the dog was dissatisfied??

AND if you even remotely suspected that someone was abusing your kid what would make you leave them with them again??? What the fuck is wrong with people?

No wonder our nations children are running rampant and emotionally out of control.

A Visit From Lucas

I was awoken at 5:30am this morning to the smell of coffee brewing. Any other morning I would have rolled back over and went to sleep for another couple of hours.

This morning was different. Lucas was up early to head back home after a 7 day visit. I didn't even have to drag myself out of bed. I was wide awake. There was no way I was going to miss my oldest "child's" departure without me bidding him a motherly farewell.

After we said our heartfelt goodbyes and he drove off into the darkness I came back inside to resume my usual morning routine of a cup of coffee at the computer. I opened the blinds to the study like I usually do to let the morning sun shine through but it was still dark outside. There was lightening flashing in the distance of my open blinds and it gave me a feeling of loneliness. I haven't felt lonely in a very long time. Something about the combination of darkness, quietness of the house, and the subtle flashing light made me feel very sad about his departure.....

Despite my sadness of his departure we had a wonderful week together. We spent most of our time enjoying each other's company.

This was my favorite part of the week. Me, Lucas and Bo running the park path while Skye rode her bike...

Lucas enjoying a JD and coke while lounging in the pool. My idea. I told him it's one of my favorite things to do during those hot summer months and he thought it sounded like a good idea also....

K-1 Speed and Rock Climbing!!....

Toby and I even got a night out in downtown Austin....

Even though I enjoyed having some solo time with hubby and the excitement of the downtown atmosphere I was glad to get home. I think maybe next time we get a night out alone dinner and a movie would be more appropriate. I'm getting to old to enjoy downtown party scenes.

Lucas also educated me and Skye on the correct way to lift weights.....

We did a lot of eating, stargazing, and Lucas and Skye spent a lot of time hanging out together working on bikes and other "riding" toys.

Lucas enjoying a beer after a bike ride at Walnut Creek

Bo doing what he does best

Lounging in the pool on a hot day

Lunch at Baby A's
It was a nice visit. I look forward to the next one.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Random Moments

Every so often we have family 'movie night' along with Jiffy Pop popcorn. We started the Jiffy Pop tradition a few years ago when Skye was younger. She used to like making it with Toby, watching it slowly bulge into that huge foil ball and dispersing it into the individual popcorn cups. She would sometimes even set up a makeshift snack counter and 'sell' candy bars and chips to me and Toby before the movie. Now that she's older she rarely joins us for movie night anymore.

Toby still holds the tradition and makes us the Jiffy Pop. For the first time ever the jiffy pop foil POPPED!! It almost became a small disaster when all the popcorn that had exploded out started to catch fire on top of the stove. It put a little amusement into our movie night.....

I made these Baked Cheddar Broccoli Cups last week. They are really easy to make and even Skye eats them up without even making note of the broccoli in them.....

I also made this Chicken Corn Chowder recipe I got out of my monthly Texas Co-op Power Magazine. This one was a hit with Toby. He was asking for more after it was all gone....and he's the one that ate the most of it.

Skye enjoying some ice cream with her friends after a hot September afternoon swim in the pool.....

Hiking in the woods behind our house.....

Me. Obsessed with making the best of the hiking season this year. My favorite times of year to hike are the fall and spring. I LOVE hiking and I don't get to do it near as much as I would like. I'm working on changing that. I still have so many unexplored trails in Central Texas I have my sights on. I have dreams of my own also....

Bo got into the woods behind us the other night and had a "kill". Another armadillo bit the dust. He came in with blood all over him and a look of satisfaction in his eyes. Bad dog.

At least it gave the Vultures, Buzzards, and Caracaras a feast. They spent their time lurking on our back fence and rooftop for a couple of days feasting.....

My backyard sunset obsession....

I wish I could lay my ass on the recliner all day snoozing after somebody took me for a morning run, fed me twice a day, gave me plentiful snacks, frequently loved and petted on me, and ended the day with an evening walk. The joys of being a rescued pet....

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pioneer Farms

Last Friday was homeschool day at the Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms. I was really on the fence about whether I was going to force Skye to go or not. We have been a few times in the past and she has never liked it. Not that she hated it, she just never really enjoyed it unless she was with friends.

To each his own, but there are just a few Austin attractions that have never intrigued me or Skye. Pioneer Farms is one of those places. In their defense, they are fully engaged in the function of the farm, friendly and informative, and they do try to make your visit enjoyable. I guess it's safe to say that I'm just not really that into farm history.

Despite my ho hum experience with the farm I keep going every so often just to be supportive and in hopes that it will somehow be different the next time.

Well, this time it was just a wee bit different...or maybe in the past I had just never noticed the path that leads down in a loop around to the creek. It was awesome. Older trees and lots of shade. Being out in nature, a path, and a creek and you have won my heart...

Aside from the path down to the creek most of the farm is not shaded and it was a hot day. After we emerged from the shaded trail, we made our tour of the rest of the farm a quickie.....

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How's It Going?

When we first revealed the news to our friends and family that Toby was quitting his job as a  tattoo artist at one of the most successful, established tattoo shops in Austin to open up his own shop we got a few sideways glances ranging from the fake smiles and forced good lucks laced with the underlying look of fear on their faces to outright verbal warnings and disapproval.

Equally, we also got a lot of ada boys and I Wish I had the nerve to follow my heart.

From the beginning, no matter what reaction we got, we've had support from all our friends and family whether they agreed with our endeavor or not. Speaking for myself only, that has been the single most important thing for me. It's nice to know we have people that will stand beside us, offer a helping hand, and cheer us on no matter how crazy they think we are.

Now that we are slowly edging our way out of our 2nd month of opening I frequently get asked  'How's the new business going?' I'm pretty sure most people are more curious than anything. I understand that. Somebody taking life changing risks is always intriguing to the more playin' it safe brand of onlookers.

So here's the lowdown in the most honest fashion I can give it...

From the beginning the whole process has flowed quite nicely thanks to good friends, random synchronicities, instinctive decisions we both made together, and a bit of good luck along the way.

Despite this, from the very beginning of the idea being presented to me, my stomach stayed in knots. My thoughts were in a constant state of fear and uncertainty about my future...OUR little family's future. Somber sleep was interrupted with nightmares of failure and demise. My daily thoughts revolved around what we were going to do when this whole insane idea came crashing down on us. Outwardly I forced a smile and faked positivity. Inside I was falling apart.

Toby never once wavered. He worked diligently building the business details and ignored my frantic scenarios of doom and gloom for our family. This only made me love him more. I needed a soft place to fall and he was it.

One day I finally got sick of feeling sick and scared. I forced myself into the reality of the whole situation and decided that if I kept focusing on negativity and failure that it definitely wasn't going to work. I also felt like I was beginning to bring Toby's morale down with my constant worry and negativity. I didn't want to be 'that wife" I had already given the OK for the whole idea, I HAD to follow through without losing my mind. There was no turning back and I think that's what scared me the most.

I gathered myself and started taking part in the business as a partner that had invested interest instead of the scared little wife harping about our perceived doomed future.

We started out slow with only Toby's loyal clientele, a promotional deal with Central Texas Harley Davidson, and recommendations form people Toby had worked with on THE BLING JOHNSON SHOW.

We are now getting more walk-ins and locals every day. GRIDLOCK TATTOO's name and  reputation is slowly but surely spreading. I now can see our business growing and progressing. If you care to, click here to LIKE our FB page and keep up with what goes on with the shop.

So, How are we doing? We are doing good. We managed to start the business up with very little debt and we are now better off financially than we were before we started the business.

That said, building a business takes time and energy. We don't have as much time to do "fun stuff" as we used to. Free time is usually consumed with 'business talk' and business errands.

As the business grows our goal is to add another artist to help free up Toby's time. All in due time.

I also see my husband with new eyes. I'm impressed to the point of tears.

As for now, my fears have subsided and I have become accustomed to our new routine as business owners. I don't regret saying YES!

Toby hard at work.....

Friday, September 6, 2013

Galveston, Oh Galveston

We aim for two beach trips a year, one in May and another in September.  Oddly, that's about how many times a year we made it to the beach when we lived much closer to it.

In the past we have always headed to the more southern Texas beaches where we were told by a few the water was clearer and cleaner than the Galveston beaches.

This time, we decided to give Galveston a chance and come to our own conclusion and opinion.

Well, they were right. The water was browner and not as clear as the Port A/Corpus Christi area. That said, it was cleaner than what I had expected and also seaweed and jellyfish free which is always a plus where I am concerned.

I also enjoyed the fact that I saw more active ocean life than I had possibly ever seen anywhere. Our first morning there I sat on the seawall in front of our hotel and enjoyed watching a storm roll in, the dolphins frolic, fish jump, and pelicans dive for breakfast. All this was happening close enough to the shore that it made it pretty awesome for me to sit and watch..aside from the multitude of mosquitoes that were snacking on me.

We also took a self-guided tour of Galveston's downtown. Galveston is a tourist town, so most everything was shut down or not open so we couldn't get a really good feel for it. We still enjoyed walking around looking at the architecture and stopping in a few art galleries to browse....

A year round haunted house

I understand Galveston has a nice Mardi Gras celebration

On the day we planned to go to the beach it was cloudy and threatening rain. Since we were so unfamiliar with Galveston we didn't really know where the best beach areas were so we just sort of  picked a spot to stop off. Because of the weather Toby and Skye didn't even wear their swimsuits. I wore mine. I like to be prepared.

When we first got there we walked along the beach. Eventually the lure of the ocean compelled Skye - my fish - to change into her swimsuit...even though it was sprinkling lightly and there was lightening in the distance.

Toby - my other fish - is Skye's swimming partner, but even at Skye's insistence that he get in with her he was reluctant because he assumed the bottom was about to fall out of the sky.

I was determined that SOMEBODY was going to swim dammit!! I didn't drive 4 hours through Houston traffic to come to a beach that nobody was going to swim in so I got in with her. I hate ocean water. Absolutely hate it.

Luckily, the black cloud above us slowly passed us by and the sun peeked out so Toby decided to get in with her. I sat on the shore watching them boogie board and enjoying the scenery.

In all fairness to Galveston we weren't there long enough for me have a well formed opinion of it. No matter what opinion I finally arrive at, I know that one drawback will always be that I have to drive through Houston to get to it.

Our time in Galveston was short but sweet. I know Skye must have really enjoyed it because she kept asking me the whole time we were there if I liked Galveston. I think she was making sure I liked it as much as she did.

We will go back and explore a little more next summer.